Mae Be, Mae Be Not

By Dan Conaway

MAE BE ONTO SOMETHING. State Sen. Mae Beavers – really, that’s her name – has offered legislation that makes it against the law in Tennessee to obey the law in the United States – really, I couldn’t possibly make that up.

Ah, the sweet memories so many of us want to hold onto down here in the grits belt – states’ rights, secession, the Civil War – you know, when we went to war with our own country. Oh, the halcyon days of Jim Crow – segregation, voter suppression – you know, like the voter I.D. law our legislature recently gave us. Alas, the loss of the frontline defenders of our separate but never equal way of life – Faubus in front of Little Rock Central High, Wallace in front of the University of Alabama, Bull Connor in command of the fire hoses and dogs of Birmingham – you know, like making damn sure, no matter what and damn the cost, that Tennessee doesn’t do anything that might be perceived as supporting the President of the United States, well, this one anyway.

Mount Juliet Senator Beaver’s law, supported in the House by Rep. Mark Pody of Lebanon and other retro types, would make it illegal in Tennessee to cooperate with or participate in or enforce in any way the Affordable Care Act – never mind that it’s federal law, never mind the some 40,000 Tennesseans who have already signed up, oh, just never mind.

There’s no outrage from her party’s leadership, from anyone really. Taking his usual strong stance, our governor said he hadn’t, “had a chance to review its impact and how it would work.”

Let me help with that, Bill. Its impact would be embarrassing for Tennessee, it won’t work and merely proposing it is an affront to the responsible leadership of both parties if not the basic intelligence of the rest of us.

But that’s what’s coming our way out of Nashville. Our own Mark Norris, senate majority leader and supposed champion of less bureaucracy, had the state turn our two school systems into seven, creating seven new boards and enough new bureaucratic red tape to wrap the county several times over. Our own Brian Kelsey, he of smaller government, is asking the state to relieve us of two judges, assuring an already backed up court of a huge mess.

But wait – maybe Mae and the boys are onto something.

If you don’t like the laws big bad government passes – say your country and, by logical extension, your state – just refuse to obey them. Better yet, make them illegal.

Instead of a nation of laws, we can become a nation of laws we like.

I’m sure we can find somebody local willing to call attention to themselves and whatever bone they’re chewing on at the expense of the many – Janis Fullilove on the council and Terry Roland on the commission come to mind – to propose a law that makes it illegal for anyone in Memphis or Shelby County to obey the law in Tennessee.

I’m a Memphian, and so it goes.

Dan Conaway is a lifelong Memphian, longtime adman and aspiring local character in a city known for them. Reach him at dan@wakesomebodyup.com.