...it's not dark yet, but it's gettin' there...

May 04, 2005

Silly Texas Bill Update

Back in March i alerted you to the silly Texas bill that seeks to outlaw suggestive cheerleading routines. As a former high school cheerleader this is an issue close to my own heart, although i will admit the routines have gotten racier in the ten years since i used to shake it on the track. But i'm still a libertarian on this issue.

i'm sure there's a heck of a lot more urgent problems that they could be worrying about in Texas than sexed-up cheerleaders or even this lowlife? Both are symptoms of bad parenting - a failure to teach kids the meaning of "respect" - but not a reason for the state to crack down on freedom of expression.

The committee's revised bill was weakened somewhat, removing the former draconian punishment of suspending the team for the rest of the school year and the punitive reduction in the offending school district's funding.

Instead, the revised bill gives the school district the authority to "take appropriate action against the performance group and the group's sponsor, as determined by the district." Pretty vague, but of course the whole law is hopelessly vague, in my opinion.

Speaking against the bill at the March 29th hearing were two ACLU representatives (see trolls? i can agree with the ACLU sometimes), including eighteen year old high school senior Margeaux Goodfleisch (that's got to be a stage name, right?), who made this quite reasonable point:

I agree that sexually suggestive performances are inappropriate for school events and school-sponsored competitions, but exactly what is a sexually suggestive performance? It could be someone’s opinion that any time a group of young, attractive girls dance, it’s sexually suggestive. If you put on paper those moves we specifically cannot do, we would be more than happy to comply.
Well, you had to know that the legislature wasn't going to do that. Too much work and too easy to get around. A law like this has to be written vaguely or not at all. And the vagueness is what makes it so ridiculous.

Texas House Bill 1476 was voted out of committee by a vote of six to nothing, with three committee members absent. Today the Texas House of Representatives approved the bill by a vote of 85-55 with three present but not voting. Next, it goes to the Texas Senate for consideration.

See also: Grits For Breakfast with props for Margeaux.

Yet more: Blogger Jason Plotkin was apparently in the chamber for the debate and recorded these fun snippets:

What was funny is how they also had the song 'shake, shake, shake, shake, shake your booty' in the background at one point, I'm assuming, someone in the gallery played it.

. . .

'This is a ridiculous bill. I don't know how it got to the floor,' said Rep. Senfronia Thompson, D-Houston in a Chronicle article. 'We don't have any business mandating anything. We are spending time on "2-3-4, we can't shake it anymore." It's an embarrassment.'

. . .

Rep. Carter Casteel, R-New Braunfels, who agree legislators should not be legislating morality or telling people what to do, but she voted for the bill.

. . .

'When I was 15, anything a cheerleader did was interesting to me. When I was 17, I knew better' said [Rep. Rene Oliveria (D-Brownsville)]. Oliveria brought up how President George W. Bush, Governor Rick Perry and Senator Kay Bailey Hutchinson were cheerleaders and we should recognize them to vote no.

i should "revise and extend" my previous comment regarding the Democrats legislating morality with this bill. Despite being introduced by a Democrat, it appears that on the floor quite a few Dems were on the right side of this one.

Finally, In The Pink Texas gives us a timely warning about what happens to cheerleaders gone bad. And Frank J makes the connection between terrorism and slutty cheerleaders... sort of.

Posted by annika, May. 4, 2005 |
Rubric: Legal Mumbo Jumbo


You know what worries me? George Carlin is now going to feel compelled to fly to Texas, put on a cheerleader outfit, and shake suggestively.

And I really don't want to see George Carlin's pom poms.

Posted by: Ontario Emperor on May. 4, 2005

Actually, I think we shouid let them shake as much as they want to, but just make them wear bhurkas.

Have the Taliban moved to Texas? Maybe that's where Osama Bin Laden is hiding?

Posted by: shelly on May. 6, 2005

Ya know, I just disagree with all of you about this. From Annie's post:

"... the revised bill gives the school district the authority to 'take appropriate action against the performance group and the group's sponsor, as determined by the district.'"

In today's legal climate, WHAT is wrong with a state legislature strengthening school districts' authority to "take appropriate action"? NOTHING is wrong with it, that's what. The legislature has apparently left the judgment call to the individual local school districts - which is where it belongs.

You guys are knee-jerk reacting over a bill which, once it got debated and worked over and whittled down and approved by the legislature, looks like it came out good and reasonable.

Now, on your next 25 knee jerk reaction issues - I'll be right there with you!

Posted by: gcotharn on May. 6, 2005