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For the week of February 28 through March 6, 2001

Politically incorrect and proud of it

Idaho needs license plates with a new catch phrase. Our nomination is "Idaho, Politically Incorrect."

It’s time to face the facts. It’s time to admit that Idaho’s image has little to do with imported wackos. Instead, it has everything to do with the folks in power in the Legislature.

All year long, the Department of Commerce has fretted about the state’s image with new businesses and visitors it wants to attract. It’s fretted about developing a public relations campaign to counteract the reputation that a handful of neo-Nazis gave the state. Now it’s got more on its hands than a few skinheads.

The part-time Legislature has been busy the last eight weeks giving the state new black eyes.

It’s embarrassing.

Consider yesterday’s 10-9 vote by the House State Affairs Committee to hold a bill that would result in the removal of the word "squaw" from Idaho place names. The word is a derogatory reference to female anatomy that Idaho’s Native American tribes want removed.

Changing the offending place names is no wild-eyed idea. It’s an act of respect for the descendants of the West’s first inhabitants that has been undertaken by other states, including Montana, Maine, Minnesota and Oklahoma.

The Idaho Senate had passed the bill with just one dissenting vote. But the House committee folks stopped the bill in its tracks.

They wrung their hands over the expense of the changes. They said they feared they were stepping onto a slippery slope of "political correctness." Where, they wondered, would it all end?

So, they stopped the bill cold.

Whack! A new shiner for the state.

Other self-inflicted wounds this winter:

  • Arranging to spend $64 million on remodeling the state capitol and endorsing a tax cut while leaving Idaho schools to rot—literally. The Legislature offered only low-interest loans to poor school districts to help construct new schools to replace old and dangerous ones.

  • Allowing a proposed law to masquerade as one that requires that farm workers be paid minimum wage—when it really doesn’t.

  • Refusing—again—to meet requirements of the federal Clean Water Act by designating the state’s pristine rivers as Outstanding Resource Waters.

Nice record for a few week’s work. There’s no chance anyone may think the Legislature is politically correct. It’s on the record in favor of offensive names, insensitivity to minorities, decrepit schools, poverty and dirty water.

That’s Idaho—politically incorrect and proud of it.

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Copyright © 2001 Express Publishing Inc. All Rights reserved. Reproduction in whole or in part in any form or medium without express written permission of Express Publishing Inc. is prohibited.