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Real Civics Lesson?

It sounded like a good idea to take fourth graders to their state legislature to observe how democracy works.

In the spirit of learning by doing, students drafted a bill to learn the process of how a bill becomes law. They proposed House Bill 373, an act establishing the Red Tail Hawk as the New Hampshire State Raptor.

The proposed bill passed out of the Environment and Agriculture committee and came to the floor for a vote, which is when things turned … well, normal.

Legislator Warren Groen opposed the selection of the Red Tail Hawk because of the way it attacks its prey:

It grasps them with its talons then uses its razor sharp beak to basically tear it apart limb by limb, and I guess the shame about making this a state bird is it would serve as a much better mascot for Planned Parenthood.

Would it surprise anyone that Groen is a crusader against abortion and has assisted crisis pregnancy centers? (He’s also against marriage equality for gays.)

Another Republican opposed the bill:

Bottom line, if we keep bringing more of these bills, and bills, and bills forward that really I think we shouldn’t have in front of us, we’ll be picking a state hot dog next.

The lawmakers (aka children’s dream destroyers) voted down the bill 133 to 160, while the students watched from the gallery.

Some people objected to the comments from Groen, especially since there were children and their families watching. But Groen defended his comments: “Should we limit free speech? Or should we limit who goes in the gallery?”

Maybe there is another group whose killer instincts might make them better suited to using the Red Tail Hawk as their mascot.

[Hat tip to Slate.]



  1. Ray wrote:

    Well, what did the kids, their parents & teachers expect? The bill did not strip the rights from some minority group! Of course it would not pass Republican muster.

    Monday, March 23, 2015 at 8:45 am | Permalink
  2. ThatGuy wrote:

    I love my home state… But our state congress makes it pretty difficult sometimes. NH has one of the largest legislatures in the world for one of the smallest state populations in the country and, clearly, that makes the election of some real nutters a lot easier.

    Monday, March 23, 2015 at 8:56 am | Permalink
  3. Chris wrote:

    I kind of agree with “Another Republican,” honestly. I remember about a decade ago a friend of mine who was then a state legislator venting about how his entire afternoon had been spent on a bill to make some kind of apple the Official Apple of Minnesota. It was almost exactly the situation above, in fact, only the parties were reversed (Republican-sponsored, my friend was a Democrat) and without the floor drama. But even without that drama, the bill took up half a day, at a time when there were lots of important things that the Representatives should have been working on (there was a government shutdown that year, in fact!). While it’s true that legislators can multitask, they’re only in session a limited number of days in the year, and every year a bevy of proposals get left to languish simply because lawmakers ran out of time. Was “name an official state apple” really more important than all of those things?

    With all that said, using Red Tail Hawks as an abortion segue is bat-guano levels of crazy. Good grief.

    Monday, March 23, 2015 at 11:07 am | Permalink
  4. Michael wrote:

    It’s easy to make slippery slope arguments based on pure conjecture and hyperbole. Watch: My home state of Indiana just passed an RFRA bill that could be used as a shield for legalized discrimination against gays. Bottom line, if we keep bringing more of these bills, and bills, and bills forward that really I think we shouldn’t have in front of us, we’ll be passing laws that legalize killing gays next.

    Come on, seriously. If there were really a glut of such legislation, there is a mechanism to kill that easily and quietly: committees. Passing one fricking state animal mascot is not going to open the flood gates. And state legislatures and municipalities pass meaningless symbolic bills, like designating a day that recognizing some group or person, all the time.

    And if these clowns really were concerned about how much work they have to do, they’d just vote no and move on with their lives, rather than taking extra time to grandstand.

    Tuesday, March 24, 2015 at 7:07 pm | Permalink