Take your kid to watch 'Mulan' and wind up in prison? What will lawmakers think of next?
Opinion: A Republican legislator in Arizona on Tuesday hit a new high in the hysteria over drag queens. Her bill is flat-out bonkers.
Update: The bill was amended on March 2 to remove the definition of drag that caught up parents who let their kids watch "Mulan" and "Mrs. Doubtfire." The bill now criminalizes those who expose children to sexually explicit performances.
The Arizona Legislature on Tuesday hit a new high in the hysteria over that most critical and horrifying of dangers that threaten our children.
Yep, they’re going after the drag queens again, only this time they’re also going after parents.
Senate Bill 1698 would criminalize anyone who exposes a child to a drag performance.
Take your daughter to see “Hairspray” and, by my read of the bill, you’d be guilty of a Class 4 felony, punishable by up to 15 years in prison. You’d also have to register as a sex offender.
Multiple bills would limit drag shows
This bill is brought to you by Sen. Justine Wadsack, R-Tucson, a member of the Arizona Freedom Caucus.
Freedom, that is, unless you allow your child to watch “Mulan,” in which case you’d be guilty of a “dangerous crime against children” if said child is under the age of 15.
I realize there’s political gold these days in demonizing drag but isn’t this just a tad … I don’t know … full-on, flat-out bonkers?
Drag has been around since ancient times, but it became the latest front in the far right’s culture wars last year after a gay bar in Texas hosted what was billed as a family-friendly drag queen show. One would think “family friendly” should be in the eyes of the family. In this case, the parents who took their children to see the show.
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But no. The far right was scandalized. So naturally, our leaders swung into action in January, pumping out bills to bar drag shows in places where children might see them and to limit when such shows can occur, even when kids aren’t around.
Republican Sen. John Kavanagh of Fountain Hills wants to bar state-funded drag shows for kids (SB 1026). Never mind that not even Kavanagh can point to any state-funded drag shows for kids.
Republican Sen. Anthony Kern of Glendale wants to ensure that no drag performances occur within a quarter mile of a daycare center, school, playground, park, house or church (SB 1028). He also wants to prevent drag performances between 1 a.m. and 8 a.m. Monday through Saturday and between 1 a.m. and noon on Sunday (SB 1030).
Watch 'Mrs. Doubtfire,' break the law
Now comes Wadsack, with SB 1698.
The bill, one of 50 she introduced on Tuesday, would make it a crime to expose a child to a drag performance.
The bill defines drag as any performance in which one or more people dress as a member of the opposite sex “to exaggerate gender signifiers and roles (and) engage in singing, dancing or a monologue or skit in order to entertain an audience of two or more people.”
So “Mulan,” the story of a fearless young Chinese woman who impersonates a male soldier to defend her homeland?
“Hairspray,” the musical in which spunky Tracy Turnblad’s mother is John Travolta?
That’s criminal behavior, if a parent allows a child to see it.
It also would be a crime to expose your child to Robin Williams (“Mrs. Doubtfire”) Dustin Hoffman (“Tootsie”), Julie Andrews (“Victor Victoria”), Tom Hanks (“Bosom Buddies”) Martin Lawrence (“Big Momma’s House”) or Jamie Farr (M.A.S.H.)
And what about that holiday standard, “White Christmas,” in which Bing Crosby and Danny Kaye perform as a sister act?
'Freedom Team' says it's about protecting kids
Wadsack didn’t respond to my questions about why she wants to send someone to prison for allowing his or her child to watch certain episodes of Bugs Bunny.
But her fellow freedom warrior, Rep. Rachel Jones of Tucson, took to social media to sing the bill’s praises.
“Yes,” she tweeted. “The AZ Freedom Team unashamedly sponsored this bill. It has NOTHING to do with discrimination against anyone and EVERYTHING to do with protecting children. Advocates for children being exposed to over-sexualized burlesque for adults should really rethink their stance.”
Over-sexualized burlesque? Jones should really read the bill she co-sponsored.
Had it been law, even a certain unsuccessful gubernatorial candidate might have gone to prison, having once allowed her young daughter to watch one of the Valley’s best-known drag queens perform as Marilyn Monroe at a baby shower.
If a parent is OK with that, really, what business is it of the supposedly freedom-loving Arizona Legislature?
Reach Roberts at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow her on Twitter at @LaurieRoberts.
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