I have seen the future, and it looks much like Washington State.
But let’s get there by steps. The Pacific Northwest, for much of its history dominated by the logging and fishing industries, has an aggressive blue-collar tradition. Radical groups like the Industrial Workers of the World — or so-called Wobblies — used to congregate there. Sometimes on a Saturday night in downtown Seattle old anarchists can still be found singing their ballads of longshoremen’s revolts. The place has been called ‘the hideout capital of the USA’, a far-flung outpost where generations of the nation’s failed, fed-up, and felonious have gone to disappear.
The Northwest also has a substantial college-educated population and a booming tech sector, with about 50,000 Microsoft employees living and working in greater Seattle. It’s to this constituency that our local politicians perhaps spoke when they nodded through the decriminalization of marijuana in 2012, or when the-then governor of Washington Chris Gregoire made it her business to push for the passage of State Bill 5168. This reduced the maximum penalty for ‘Gross violations of the existing US Immigration Code’ from 365 days to 364 days, thus at a stroke removing the stigma of ‘aggravated felon’ status, and likely deportation for illegal guests to our shores.
Completing our state’s social-engineering trifecta is the law originally passed in 2008, and subsequently endorsed by referendum, that allows physicians to write prescriptions for lethal doses of drugs for individuals who in their opinion have less than six months to live. The measure applies to any patient over the age of 18 who can produce an accepted form of ID, which, thanks to the largesse of our state’s SB 5023, specifically excuses the applicant from providing ‘Proof of citizenship, a Social Security number, or command of the English language.’ If you happen to find yourself here in Washington, are aged 17 or over, can pass the not-demanding traffic safety test and sign your form with an X, the state will happily issue you with a driver’s permit valid as photo ID, and you’re good to go.
It may fail to surprise readers that Washington was also in the vanguard of the same-sex marriage crusade, or that the last local politician to openly question the ethics of providing publicly-funded abortions, a Republican assemblyman named John Koster, was roundly mocked for admitting that he was guided in such matters by his reading of the Bible. This is what ‘political debate’ has come to in my state. We’re a land all but denuded of politicians who might dare to challenge the consensus. Our newspapers seem disgusted at the idea of pro-life or otherwise traditionally-minded readers, doing all they can to shake them off. They run endless stories and editorials about such people being ‘fundamentalists’, or — as if there could be anything worse — ‘getting their views from God’.
It’s difficult to escape the less attractive aspects of life nowadays in the Pacific Northwest. They’re as varied as they are ubiquitous.
Just last week Washington electors struck another blow in the ever-accelerating culture wars when they passed the nation’s first voter-approved ‘sexual health education’ law. It goes by the anodyne name of SB 5395, and among other things it requires that children receive ‘accurate and clinical information about their bodies, about consent, and about relationships’, and that this process start at the age of five. As the Family Policy Institute of Washington noted in its forlorn statement of opposition, ‘The most popular [local] sex ed curriculum recommends that fourth graders learn the meanings of words like “clitoris” and “ejaculate”’. It teaches kindergarteners slang terms for female and male genitalia, and then has them use Post-It notes to identify those parts on fellow students.’
Here in Washington, even if Johnny still can’t read, it seems, he’s cool with his own body, not to mention commendably blasé about the profusion of lurid music videos such as that for Rihanna’s song ‘S&M’ — 143 million YouTube views and counting — which shows that supreme artist hog-tied and writhing in a variety of combinations with men and women whose mouths are covered in duct tape.
Somehow predictably, SB 5395 began life as the brainchild of Chris Reykdal, the 48-year-old Washington superintendent of public instruction. Reykdal, a Democrat, has sometimes seemed to display the characteristics of an especially animated pitbull when interacting with his critics. Last year he reportedly called on the Washington state legislature to cut transportation funding to counties that supported I-976, a measure passed by voters that limited taxes and fees on Washington motorists. Reykdal had previously stigmatized those who opposed his policies as ‘people who don’t believe in geometry’, ‘flat-earthers’ and ‘Holocaust deniers’.
From Reykdal it was but a short step to the sex-ed bill’s passage in the Washington state legislature, and from there to the desk of the relentlessly progressive Gov. Jay Inslee. On March 27, 2020, Inslee took time away from his now-daily frenzy of COVID-related rules and regulations to sign Reykdal’s brave new vision for our kids into law. It was a mere formality that it would go on to be endorsed by a 58-42 percent popular vote in the general election.
Is there a point at which a hitherto reasonably civilized and secure society votes itself out of existence? The question, writ large and small, of course hung over last week’s election. The passage of SB 5395 provides a partial answer, particularly since it was officially ratified by the indefatigable workers at the Washington State Elections Division on the morning of November 11. I looked up the relevant Veterans Day statute on the books, and read that: ‘The principal or head teacher of each school building shall be responsible for the preparation and presentation of 60 minutes of suitable activities each year in the week of Veterans Day’.
As mandates go, this seems to be on the flexible side. One Seattle teacher took the opportunity last week to tell her eighth graders in a videotaped online presentation that ‘Our country is divided, our leader is pushing that, he’s not an advocate for peace like Obama was’, before going on to quote the lyrics to John Lennon’s vapid ‘Imagine’. I’m reliably told that even this was a model of rhetorical brilliance compared to the offerings elsewhere in the Seattle public school system, which ranged from the militant (‘Uniformed aggression is structural and embedded into all aspects of society’) to what might be called the stream-of-conscious (‘I believe that peace can only happen when we have equality and justice. We don’t have that. How can you have peace when we’re having, like, just for an example, equal rights, human civil rights battles, because a lot of groups are not treated equally and that’s really coming across…’)
At around this time each year, my fellow citizens in Washington swallow another small pill as part of our protracted communal suicide. Teaching little Jane and Johnny to marginalize their nation’s veterans and instead dwell on their own body parts is surely just another incremental step towards legislating our way to our own extinction.
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