A group of New Hampshire fourth-graders drafted a bill for their state’s legislature as a civics lesson, part of a project for the kids to learn how the legislative system works. But the New Hampshire state reps gave the kids a lesson in real world politics. And the lesson was — don’t bother.
The kids, who were watching from the gallery as the New Hampshire state House of Representatives debated their seemingly uncontroversial bill to name the Red Tail Hawk as the official “New Hampshire State Raptor,” listened as some legislators made jokes comparing their bill to abortion and “the state hot dog.”
The New Hampshire House of Representatives did finally vote on the “Raptor” bill drafted by the group of 9-year-olds from Lincoln Akerman School in Hampton Falls, New Hampshire — killing it by a majority of 160 against, 133 in favor.
Oddly enough, just last week, the House approved a similar bill, naming the bobcat the official New Hampshire “state wildcat.”
As the kids and their teacher, James Cutting, looked on, Republican Rep. Warren Groen complained that the Red Tail Hawk was too vicious to represent New Hampshire, then finished off his remark with what drew wide criticism as a tasteless remark about abortion.
“It grasps them with its talons then uses its razor sharp beak to basically tear it apart limb by limb,” Groen said on the State House floor. “I guess the shame about making this a state bird is it would serve as a much better mascot for Planned Parenthood.”
That brought a hearty, “Shame on you!” from the editorial board of one local newspaper, which also slammed the legislators as “bullies.”
Another state rep, Republican John Burt, sarcastically remarked that he was against the bill because he got campaign contributions from the “Big Chicken” lobby.
Burt then added, “Bottom line, if we keep bringing more of these bills, and bills, and bills forward that really I think we shouldn’t have in front of us, we’ll be picking a state hot dog next.”
Democrat Christy Bartlett said that House Environment and Agriculture Committee, which voted in favor of the schoolkids’ bill, had “caved” to the children.
Not every legislator, however, saw the attempt to educate children about the workings of government as a frivolous waste of time.
“The process of creating a bill is powerfully educational,” said Democrat Peter Bixby. “Fostering education in this way is a very worthy use of our time.”
But instead of “fostering education,” these fourth-graders, according to one parent, were left asking, “Mom? Dad? What’s Planned Parenthood?”
[Image: State of New Hampshire]