It will be said and remembered about Sally Kern that she went out swinging with punches of hate to the very end of her legislative career. It’s obviously what she wanted. She knew she could get everyone’s attention at least one more time.
The controversial Oklahoma Republican state representative gave a goodbye, hate-filled speech to her legislative colleagues last week, and she didn’t even begin to apologize for how much she has embarrassed Oklahoma throughout the world with her vitriolic rhetoric aimed at gay people and minorities. She’s leaving the state Capitol because she’s term limited this year, not because of the damage she leaves behind.
It seems weird and discombobulating to realize that we’ve been dealing with Kern’s fundamentalist thinking and mean-spirited rhetoric since she took office in 2005. What’s weirder to consider as open-minded and inclusive Oklahomans is that she was elected to office by people who think like she does. Bible-thumping, right-wing, hate-filled arguments and rhetoric are not unique to Oklahoma, of course, but Kern took it to a new level, and her conservative constituents and colleagues mostly supported her.
— KFOR (@kfor) May 12, 2016
Actually, I wouldn’t even write about Kern because it’s tiresome and, frankly, it creeps me out a bit at this point that I expended so much mental energy on her antics, but I need to do so at least one more time for the historical record. This blog has chronicled her career through ALL her years in office in a countless number of posts. Okie Funk was established the same year she was first elected. You might say Okie Funk and Sally Kern’s political career were a fated Oklahoma binary.
But before I get to Kern’s latest remarks, let’s review the record of hate and maybe, hopefully, never have to do it again. In 2008, Kern, who represents House District 84, garnered national attention for uttering this collection of crazy words:
Studies show that no society that has totally embraced homosexuality has lasted more than, you know, a few decades. So it’s the death knell of this country. I honestly think it’s the biggest threat our nation has, even more so than terrorism or Islam, which I think is a big threat… If you got cancer or something in your little toe, do you say, well, you know, I’m just going to forget about it because the rest of me is fine? It spreads. OK? And this stuff is deadly, and it’s spreading, and it will destroy our young people, it will destroy this nation.
Let me point out the obvious that Kern, a former school teacher, never presented any convincing evidence or “studies” to support her bizarre claims about lasting societies and homosexuality.The false comparison between homosexuality and terrorism goes beyond the ludicrous or the fallacy. The terrorism/homosexuality comparison, the cancer metaphor, the “this stuff is deadly,” reveal a misguided obsession. Here are Kern’s overall equivalents in the remark: Homosexuality, terrorism, Islam, cancer. It’s conflating, calculating and mean.
Her 2008 remarks set off a firestorm of criticism across the country from lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) people and communities and their families, friends and supporters. Even Ellen Degeneres got in on it. Meanwhile, Oklahoma looked as backwards and ignorant as I guess it really is in some places here.
But we should have known Sally’s hatred for people who identify within the LGBT spectrum was only matched by her racism. In 2011, she said this:
We have a high percentage of blacks in prison, and that’s tragic, but are they in prison just because they are black or because they don’t want to study as hard in school? I’ve taught school and I saw a lot of people of color who didn’t study hard because they said the government would take care of them.
Kern, in other remarks in the same legislative debate, also claimed that the reason women don’t earn as much as men is this: “Women usually don’t want to work as hard as a man. Women tend to think a little bit more about their family, wanting to be at home more time, wanting to have a little more leisure time.”
These were failed, error-filled utterances, but that’s what she believes. Kern did later apologize for her remarks about African Americans and women, but she didn’t resign from her legislative seat even though many people, including the president of Oklahoma chapter of the NAACP, wanted her to do so. She was reprimanded with no real penalty by her colleagues. Her remarks, of course, made the national news and embarrassed the state once again.
In her farewell speech last week, Kern, 69, didn’t apologize for her hateful 2008 anti-gay remarks. Kern says basically she has no regrets:
Same-sex marriage has been forced on every single state by the courts, when 31 of our states voted overwhelmingly to define as God has always defined it. All across the nation, children are being encouraged to try the homosexual lifestyle and even to play like the opposite sex, because they could be a transgender. I didn’t apologize in 2008 and I don’t apologize today either, because God’s word has not changed.
Kern, of course, obviously thinks she has the final word on “God’s word,” whatever that vacuous term even means. Her comments, again, became a national Internet sensation.
I guess there are different ways to frame and contextualize Sally Kern’s career in religious, political and even psychological terms, but that seems like a waste of time. I could write more about all her specific antics and bad proposals through the years, but it’s all chronicled on this blog and elsewhere. So good riddance to her hatred and nonsense. She caused immense damage to the state’s national image and helped her fellow conservatives break this state with their folly as she carried on her failed, anti-LGBT and anti-same-sex marriage crusades.
Kern will be remembered publicly and solely for her hatred, ludicrous ideas and her anti-gay obsession. That’s her legacy and nothing more. She wanted attention, she got it, and now, fortunately, she will soon no longer be a state representative.