Have a good long look at the face of the predator in the photo above. You may even recognize him. He is South Carolina State Senator Kevin Bryant.
Let me be very clear: Senator Bryant is not a sexual predator. But that baby is still in danger. She’s his constituent, and he is a religious predator.
Kevin Bryant is a theocrat – a believer in a government in which a deity is officially recognized according to the doctrine of a particular religion. This is not me choosing a title for him, he brags about his governing philosophy on his website:
“Bryant is a born-again Christian, having trusted Jesus Christ as personal savior not by works, but through faith. He came to this saving knowledge at 8 years old. Christian principles are an important part of Kevin’s enthusiasm to display a servant leadership approach to public office, as well has his business, family, and community obligations.”
Rachel Maddow called him a “Woolly Bully” – just before she hit him with her giant spotlight, and saved eight-year-old Olivia McConnell from the powerful Senator.
Usually if you Google a kid, not much comes back. But, like Jayden Sink and her lemonade stand across from the Westboro Church, or Christian Bucks and his buddy benches, Olivia is one of the special kids who is already making her mark on the world. When she was 7, she raised $4000 for the March of Dimes with her lemonade stand (photo below) and the auctioning of a custom handmade purse (photo right.) Most kids dream up ideas, Young Liv acts on hers.
As Olivia tells the story, she and her dad frequently eat at a local restaurant that has all the state symbols on its place mats. Noticing there was no state fossil, Liv wrote to her state representative, Robert Ridgeway, and to state senator Kevin Johnson, and asked if they could name the woolly mammoth the South Carolina state fossil.
I, for one, think Senator Bryant might have been a better choice for state fossil, but Olivia had three cogent selling points:
- One of the first discoveries of a vertebrae fossil in North America was on an S.C. plantation when slaves dug up wooly mammoth teeth from a swamp in 1725.
- All but seven states have an official state fossils.
- Fossils tell us about our past.
Here’s part of her hand printed letter:
State Senator Johnson and State Rep. Ridgeway were impressed by young Olivia, and each introduced bills in their own chambers to designate the woolly mammoth as South Carolina’s state fossil.
Here’s Rep. Ridgeway’s simple, uncontroversial bill, that passed the South Carolina House on a 94-3 vote:
- Whereas, giant mammoths used to roam South Carolina; and
- Whereas, scientists have identified the fossils of about six hundred and fifty species of vertebrates in South Carolina to date; and
- Whereas, it has been recognized that fossilized mammoth teeth were discovered in a swamp in South Carolina in 1725; and
- Whereas, this discovery has been credited as the first scientific identification of a North American vertebrate fossil. Now, therefore,
- Be it enacted by the General Assembly of the State of South Carolina:
- SECTION 1. Article 9, Chapter 1, Title 1 of the 1976 Code is amended by adding:
- “Section 1-1-712A. The Columbian Mammoth is designated as the official State Fossil of South Carolina.”
- SECTION 2. This act takes effect upon approval by the Governor.
Senator Johnson’s identical legislation looked like it would pass the state senate as well – until theocratic Senator Kevin Bryant poked his bible into the bill.
Senator Bryant proposed Amendment HB4482 that would add verses from the book of Genesis to the fossil proclamation.
- “And God said, Let the earth bring forth the living creature after his kind, cattle, and creeping thing, and beast of the earth after his kind: and it was so.”
- “And God made the beast of the earth after his kind, and cattle after their kind, and every thing that creepeth upon the earth after his kind: and God saw that it was good.”
- “And the evening and the morning were the sixth day.”
Things were not looking good for the woolly mammoth, but Lt. Gov. Glenn McConnell ruled Senator Bryant’s amendment out of order because it introduced a new topic. But before a vote could be taken, Senator Mike Fair (right) an evolution denier and a theocratic ally of Bryant’s, blocked the bill from proceeding without the bible verses attached. He said he wanted to see how serious the woolly mammoth backers were – which I interpreted to mean, if you want your fossil, you’re going to have to wrap it in religion.
It looked like religion just might kill Olivia’s wonderful idea for a state fossil. But State Rep. Ridgeway went the extra mile for her. He cornered Senator Fair and told him the backstory of Olivia McConnell, and shamed him to withdrawing his objection. But don’t cheer yet. Senator Fair’s interruption of the bill’s progress had given Senator Bryant time to regroup.
When the bill was introduced once again on the senate floor, Senator Bryant was ready with an amended Amendment HB4482. This time he did not wander so far afield, but he got his bible in.
“The Columbian Mammoth, which was created on the Sixth Day with the other beasts of the field, is designated as the official State Fossil of South Carolina and must be officially referred to as ‘the Columbian Mammoth’, which was created on the Sixth Day with the other beasts of the field.”
Bryant told reporters:
“I just had a notion that we ought to consider acknowledging the creator as we acknowledge one of his creations.”
On Wednesday, Bryant’s amendment and the woolly mammoth bill passed the senate unanimously. Since the bill had changed, it was then sent back to the House for a vote.
Rachel highlighted the story of the young girl who wanted to be a scientist, and showed the nation how her idea for a state fossil had been stolen and then beaten beyond recognition by the anti-science theocrats of the South Carolina senate. Rachel mocked Senator Bryant. She made him look small-minded and petty in his need to thwart a child’s request which he felt should not be honored unless it also spoke to his religious belief.
On Friday, the South Carolina House, which had unanimously passed the unamended bill, rejected the new senate version – unanimously.
The bill, scrubbed clean once again, now returns to the senate where Senator Bryant will have to decide whether to continue his religious war and thwart the dream of an eight-year-old with the national spotlight shining on him. If it is of any help in discerning his intentions, Senator Bryant posted this on his Facebook page after the defeat:
“For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who suppress the truth in unrighteousness, because what may be known of God is manifest in them, for God has shown it to them. For since the creation of the world His invisible attributes are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even His eternal power and Godhead, so that they are without excuse.”
I know what you’re thinking. That’s not a good sign. Under normal circumstances, anytime the zealots start with the “unrighteousness” talk, I feign deafness. But this time my money is still riding on eight-year-old Olivia and her cable news wingman Rachel Maddow. When it comes to dinosaurs, science always wins out.
Jean Ann Esselink is a straight friend to the gay community. Proud and loud Liberal. Closet writer of political fiction. Black sheep agnostic Democrat from a conservative Catholic family. Living in Northern Oakland County Michigan with Puck the Wonder Beagle.