Sunday, January 8, 2017

Iowa Lawmaker Targets Universities with "Suck It Up, Buttercup" Legislation // Hangs Up on CBC Radio Interview When Challenged about Stories of Therapy Ponies in the Classrooms // UPDATE: Rep Kaufmann Drops Plans for "Suck It Up, Buttercup" Bill

(Originally written on 11/16/16): Rep. Bobby Kaufmann (R) of nearby Wilton, IA, has grabbed some attention this week after presenting a "Suck it up, Buttercup" bill that essentially is used to financially attack Iowa's universities and student population.

Here are the two areas that it addresses: 1. It would penalize any university that establishes an election-related "cry zone" above what it normally available to the student body. The legislature would then budget-cut double the amount of money spent on such activities. (Jon's Note: According to university representatives, they've spent $0 on such activities.) 2. It would make it easier for law enforcement to criminally charge protesters who block a highway or roadway. Basically, the roadway aspect is a tool to gain popular support while farcical "cry zones" will be used as an excuse by the legislature to fiscally chip away at the state's university system for reasons that have little to do with "cry zones."

Keep in mind that we just wrapped up an extremely polarized election season. People from all walks of life are hyper-stressed and worked up right now. Plus, there are ongoing reports of minority and international students who are being targeted to varying degrees by others over the past week or so. So if group debriefing sessions are needed to help people move from one step to the next, then maybe it's better to allow a few opportunities. Just a thought.

Regardless, Kaufmann's bill has grabbed lots of attention and he's been all over the news. Including one of my favorite Canadian news/talk shows, "As It Happens." Carol Off interviewed Rep. Kaufmann for today's program. And it didn't go well for Kaufmann.

It seems that Kaufmann doesn't like to be asked for specifics. Orr asked him in the interview about who he's referring to when he talks about "Buttercup." He then goes off on a script about fragile university students who cannot cope with reality. He then relays vague stories that have supposedly been relayed to him by constituents, about professors who offer all levels of emotional coddling.

It went downhill from there:
BK: I'm not ready to point fingers on specifics but I think we've all seen the reports across the entire country. We've seen them live on reports from reputable media sources. I have people reaching out to me from different states saying, hey, my kid, at this particular college today, the professor was actively discussing the possibility of bringing in a pony — a miniature pony so that people could use it to feel better about the election

CO: Can I ask you where did that happen? Where was the discussion about bringing a pony to school?

BK: My job is to be finding this out. I'm not prepared to name names right now. I'm doing an investigation.

CO: I'm not asking you to name names — just where did it happen?

BK: Okay… [hangs up]
Kaufmann's interview with "As It Happens" lasted just over two minutes. It appears that he could not actually back up his tales of ponies in the classroom and wasn't prepared for an interviewer who actually pressed for details that could be researched and independently verified.

Suck it up, Buttercup. Indeed...

Updated on 01/09/17: Rep Kaufmann announced this week that he's no longer planning on moving forward with his "Suck It Up, Buttercup" bill. Turns out that the emotional coddling that he accused Iowa's universities of providing was largely nonexistent and exaggerated.

The best of the bunch? It was the University of Iowa here in liberal Iowa City -- usually the punching bag for otherwise red state Iowa:
“Out of the three regent universities, the University of Iowa acted the best and in the most responsible way when it came to handing the election,” Kaufmann said. “So I want to offer them some kudos.”
Kaufmann did indicate that Iowa State University pushed the unspecified limits when it came to post-election events, mostly because some of the students and faculty attended a rally in Ames. Which I thought was one of our legal rights.

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