Search This Blog


Intemperate LA lawmaker owes colleagues apology

No Louisiana lawmaker quite merges inarticulateness and incoherence as well as does Democrat state Rep. Barbara Norton, but she also recently managed to throw intemperance if not hypocrisy into the mix.

Known for asking the House to honor (and subjecting it to listen to) her godson’s obscene music output, and notable for her unconventional use of grammar, Norton expanded her reputation with her response to last week's rejection of HB 101 by the House’s Committee on Administration of Criminal Justice, on which she sits.

Her bill would have required movie theaters, at their own expense, to install and monitor metal detectors, which also would entail additional personnel costs. After about 10 minutes of video presentation and opening remarks by her, and a few minutes of questioning and an amending to make an exception for holders of concealed carry permits, Republican state Rep. Tony Bacala said the end product would create a false sense of security. He pointed out that theaters that voluntarily did this in other states had trained personnel, and moved to defer the bill involuntarily.

That move, which essentially kills the bill for the session, came unusually before the typical hearing of testimony and closing statement, and narrowly succeeded with Republicans present voting for the motion and Democrats against. Afterwards, Norton caustically remarked, “Thank you members, and thank you Mr. Bacalat [sic], for not saving our children.”

Only her utter lack of decorum exceeded the arrogance and stupidity of her statement. The conceit of fools such as Norton makes them entirely unaware of the manifest inadequacy of policy preferences they believe infallible, of which this bill serves as prime example. The incident she described as its genesis, occurring last summer in Lafayette when a mentally-unstable individual discharged a handgun into a movie theater audience in Lafayette, occurred in a place where the corporation already banned all firearms – including for those with a permit to carry them, which without such a restriction allowed in state law may have discouraged the gunman in the first place or cut short his lethal rampage.

As Bacala pointed out, a determined individual could start shooting at the theater’s entry point. More likely, such shooters would pick another venue with many people, meaning the only way to prevent these incidents would be to have metal detectors mandated everywhere in public commerce and spaces, the hassle of which the public never would tolerate. More’s the pity that Norton seems unable to work out the logic behind the utter futility of her bill to the point that she so mistakenly considers it crucial to “save children.”

But it’s inexcusable for her publicly to judge her Republican opponents on the bill and explicitly Bacala with a desire to leave people threatened just because they reject an ineffectual bill. Such intemperate behavior soils the dignity of the office, even though she might have felt slighted by the bill getting the bum’s rush; as it turned out, the committee still had an hour-and-a-half’s work ahead of it with almost an hour gone at the time of its hearing.

If her motive for acting so unbecomingly, then Norton as well additionally displayed an element of hypocritical behavior. A few days previously, she had sat in a House Committee on Transportation, Highways, and Public Works meeting and listened to state Rep. Rick Edmonds stump for his HB 1021, which would force public votes to let government gather revenues from traffic enforcement cameras. He gave an opening statement of a few minutes in duration, and then said he wanted to work on the bill some more and asked for a voluntary deferral, meaning the committee could address the bill again later this session.

Instead, a fellow Republican moved to defer it involuntarily. That motion passed almost unanimously – with Norton voting to do that. So in her mind she thinks it’s all right not to let a fellow legislator have his preference on his bill, but when others cut her bill off she gets into enough high dudgeon to insult her colleagues?

Regrettably, Norton’s Shreveport district doesn’t seem too concerned about the quality of her legislating as its constituents have reelected her twice, but unfortunately the rest of the state must tolerate her antics through her participation in the House. She owes nothing short of an apology to Bacala specifically and generally to the entire institution.

No comments: