The Right Lies Again in the TX Speaker Battle

TFN Insider has already reported about the religious campaign the far right has been waging against Texas House Speaker Joe Straus, R-San Antonio. Now PolitiFact offers a clear example of how the religious right is also spreading distortions and falsehoods in the effort to replace Straus with another speaker far more likely to obey their commands on radical social policies.

PolitiFact notes today that Texas Eagle Forum has claimed that Straus “was co-author of a bill that would have allowed Planned Parenthood to control public school sex education.” But after looking at the public record, PolitiFact rates that claim as a “Pants on Fire” lie.

You can read the PolitiFact article for all the details, but here’s the summary. During the 2007 legislative session, Straus was a co-author of the Prevention First Act. As PolitiFact explains, that legislation, which didn’t pass, “directed the state to promote family-planning services for low-income women and required school districts that provide sex education — including instruction on contraceptives — to explain the difference in effectiveness between correct and incorrect use of contraceptives.”

Planned Parenthood supported that common-sense bill, as did the Texas Freedom Network. After all, Texas has one of the highest teen birthrates in the nation while more than 9 in 10 school districts in the state have been teaching abstinence-only or nothing at all about sex education. Yet PolitiFact rightly reports that nowhere did the Prevention First Act allow Planned Parenthood to “control” sex education in public schools. Texas Eagle Forum was simply spreading a bald-faced lie.

In defense, Texas Eagle Forum’s Pat Carlson said her group got the claim about Straus from Donna Garner. Seriously? Garner, you will recall, is a right-wing gadfly from the Waco area who has played a prominent role in helping the State Board of Education politicize public school classrooms the last four years. During the state board’s debate over science curriculum standards two years ago, for example, Garner promoted the claim that Jeffrey Dahmer had been a serial murderer because he “believed in evolution.” Yet Texas Eagle Forum seems to think an extremist like Garner is a reliable source of information.

Liberty Institute, the Texas affiliate of Focus on the Family, doubled-down on the lie by telling PolitiFact that simply by seeking to “influence” state law on sex education, Planned Parenthood was seeking to control it. If that’s the case, then Liberty Institute — which lobbies at the state Capitol — is seeking to “control” a lot of policy in Texas.

Of course, control is the real issue here. Liberty Institute, Texas Eagle Forum and other far-right pressure groups don’t like Straus because he is too independent to obey their every command. So those groups want someone more obedient in the Speaker’s chair — someone who will promote their radical and divisive social policies. Never mind that lawmakers have far more important things to do during the next legislative session, like closing a massive budget deficit, redistricting and promoting policies that actually help working families during difficult economic times. All of that makes little difference to religious-right groups like Texas Eagle Forum and Liberty Institute. No, they would rather see Texas burn in the fires of the never-ending culture wars. And if it takes lying to do fan those flames, well, they have no problem with that.

5 thoughts on “The Right Lies Again in the TX Speaker Battle

  1. It must be a very strange experience to have a brain that functions like Donna Garner’s. I wonder if she realizes how much of a hypocritical liar she is. Her sort of thinking can fairly be classified as pathological. Yet it’s obvious that she thinks she’s doing the right thing. I just can’t get a handle on that. If I told lies like she does, I would feel very guilty about it.

  2. I wonder what Donna Garner would do with the true life statement below from a muddle-headed Christian fundamentalist mother. This kind of insufferable ignorance is just one more reason why Donna Garner’s approach to sex education will not work and why Texas students are getting pregnant every day because of it. This mom could have used some real sex education in her school days. This statement is from the Top 100 list of Statements by Christian Fundamentalists in Chat Rooms:

    “I am a bit troubled. I believe my son has a girlfriend, because she left a dirty magazine with men in it under his bed. My son is only 16 and I really don’t think he’s ready to date yet. What’s worse is that he’s sneaking some girl to his room behind my back. I need help, God! I want my son to stop being so secretive!”

  3. I find it vital that sex education be viewed with a lens of reality. A “just say no” approach to sex education does not affect the underlying reasons that teenagers have sex. There are several emotional/societal/cultural factors involved:

    1. Some teens from all all cultural, ethnic and socioeconomic backgrounds have sex in order to be be liked, be loved, and be accepted.
    2. Some teens view sex and having babies as desirable and congruent with their immediate societal/familial expectations. Sometimes this is cultural; sometimes it is not.
    3. Some teens have sex because it is not considered taboo or undesirable in their family unit.
    4. Some teens have sex due to the extremely high level of influence of heavily sexualized messages that are predominant in today’s full range of public media.

    I believe that the goal here is to “educate” not “indoctrinate.” Appropriate public education addresses all factors; it doesn’t try to pretend that they don’t exist or that our families must align to one particular paradigm. A well-rounded education facilitates informed decision-making. That is the goal.

    Ideally, yes it would be great if our teenagers did not choose to have sex. But in reality, many will. In fact, according to a study I read, over 50% will by the time they leave their teens. I applaud Straus’s efforts to promote honest, reality-based sex education that gives our teenagers all the facts, from abstinence to birth control, and educates them to weigh all factors and make informed decisions.

  4. A couple of weeks ago we were informed by a poster on this blog that Joe Straus has a “100% rating” with NARAL. Though I know nobody will appreciate it, I checked it out anyway to see if the statement was true. Not surprisingly I found the poster’s statement to be inaccurate. Fact is that in 2009 (the latest stats posted) Mr. Straus’ rating is listed as # (whatever # means). Others were given 100% ratings but not Mr. Straus. In fact, no Republicans were rated at 100%. (Big surprise, eh?)

    In fact, NARAL gives the entire state of Texas an F. Gov. Rick Perry is anti-choice. The TX Senate is anti-choice. The TX House is anti-choice. Ninety-three percent of Texas counties have no abortion provider.

    It’s no surprise either that a conservative would put out a false statement such as Joe Straus getting a 100% rating from NARAL. This is what conservatives do now. They lie. And their automatons soak it up and spread the lie.