Sally Kern has written a book. We won’t be reviewing it. Kern, as you no doubt recall, is the state legislator who infamously stated that gay people are more dangerous than terrorists, which, in addition to being inflammatory and slanderous, is empirically untrue. (I suppose she may have been confused by the repeated promises of gays to burn down the dance floor.) Kern recently stumbled back into the cold light of media scrutiny by claiming, on the senate floor in front of God and everyone, that black folks and women are lazy.
I have had great fun railing against Kern for several years now. Sally is a train wreck of a politician, and the fact that she continues to be re-elected says something frightening about the mindset of the terrified elderly white people of the near Westside who she represents. I have called for her birthday to be an annual citywide day of Dionysian excess, I have mocked her in print, I have written a parody of her morality pledge and passed out hundreds of Xeroxed flyers urging her to step down. I have no doubt that her book is a laugh riot, and I’m sure I could get mileage out of it for years to come. I could, but I won’t. It’s time to leave Sally Kern alone.
I don’t say this out of any warm feelings or sympathy for her. I don’t like bullies and I don’t like people who use positions of power to tear people down. The reason we need to ignore Sally Kern is that she is a true political lightning rod, drawing the ire and energy of progressives and discharging it harmlessly into the ground.
Sally Kern is, in terms of political power and prestige, a nobody. She isn’t even farm team material. Even her Republican house colleagues- hardly a liberal bunch- are embarrassed by her antics. Sally Kern is no political mastermind. Sally Kern is exactly what she appears to be: a mostly harmless crank. If she had never run for public office, we would most likely encounter her political views in the Letters to the Editor section of the Bethany Tribune, right next to an editorial about how kids today play their music too loud. The politicians who scare me are the ones who don’t get headlines. They are the smart people who just show up to work every day, work hard, sweat bullets all session, and at the end of the day walk away from the process having made Oklahoma just a little less livable, a little less welcoming, and a little more friendly to oligarchs.
My uncle had a theory that the entire point of the constitution, with it’s convoluted checks and balances, was to trap our most dangerous citizens in an unworkable bureaucracy, allowing the rest of us to go about our lives unmolested. It’s an appealing image on some level, but it undersells the ability of politicians, especially at the local level, to make decisions that really do impact the lives of the average citizen. The Sally Kern Show is pure spectacle, and it’s entertaining to watch, but while we’re over here berating an old woman and speculating on the sexuality of her son, people like Randy Terrill are writing actual legislation and fantasizing about black helicopters and FEMA camps.
My proposal: we make Sally Kern irrelevant. Let us try our best to imagine a world where she isn’t part of government and try our best to make that world a reality. I hope one day that the only section of the newspaper she appears in is the crank file.