Tag Archives: focus

Gov on Gay Bills: ‘Better Things to Focus On’

Gov. Bill Haslam told reporters Wednesday that he doesn’t think bills dealing with sexual orientation are the best use of lawmakers’ time this session, according to TNReport.
Haslam was asked specifically about whether he sees a connection between bills such as one to ban teaching about homosexuality in lower grades and two teen suicides in as many months by Middle Tennessee students who were reportedly bullied for being gay.
“Obviously, that’s not the environment we want to set in Tennessee,” he said. “In terms of legislation, I think there’s better things for us to focus on this year.”
…The topic of much conversation Wednesday was the bill known to critics as the “Right-to-Bully.”
The original version of the bill, sponsored by Rep. Vance Dennis, R-Savannah, and Sen. Jim Tracy, R-Shelbyville, was filed last year but never came to a vote in either chamber. Talking to reporters Wednesday, Family Action Council of Tennessee president David Fowler said the bill’s language had been reworked and that a new version would be filed Thursday. Fowler is a former GOP state senator from Signal Mountain.
Fowler acknowledged the bill’s original language was “apparently not sufficient to communicate what we were trying to do.” The initial bill had drawn national criticism for language that critics said would protect bullying, as long as it was done on religious or political grounds.
But Fowler said the bill’s aim is actually to reduce bullying in public schools — but without infringing on the rights of students’ to engage in free speech and religious expression.
“We have to appreciate that the same First Amendment that is disregarded today to suppress speech you don’t like, is the principle that tomorrow may be used to suppress your speech,” he said. “So, we have to appreciate the First Amendment cuts both ways.”
As for the new version of the bill, Fowler said it would try to define situations that called for action by school administrators.
“Specifically, if a student reports harm to themselves or their property, or the threat of harm to themselves or their property, that in itself should be enough to demand that the administrator investigate that situation, take action, and in our bill what is done would need to be reported to others who can monitor the situation,” he said
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Lack of Focus a Problem for Occupiers?

The Occupy Nashville protesters have been clear in their resolve to remain at the foot of the Tennessee Capitol, writes Chas Sisk. But what it will take to persuade them to leave is as uncertain as ever, a fact that both sympathizers of the movement and its detractors say could lead to its undoing. Nearly two months after the Occupy protests started, no one seems to know where they are going — not even the protesters themselves.
The Occupy Wall Street movement and its offshoots have raised questions about wealth distribution and the role of money in politics, but they have failed to articulate concrete solutions. Leaderless and fragmented, the movement may not even have the ability to do so.
The Occupy protests stand in stark contrast to the civil rights movement of the 1950s and ’60s, which for the most part was disciplined and well coordinated. But with the rise of social media and an unsettled political environment, some observers believe the movement could still lead somewhere significant.
Two years ago, many people doubted tea party protests could exert much influence without clear goals or leadership. Yet, those protests have redirected American politics.
“(Occupy protests) are a populist impulse on the left, just as the tea parties were a populist impulse on the right,” said Gary Gerstle, a history professor at Vanderbilt University who specializes in social movements. “What the two movements share is a sense of people being exploited.”