Listen, sometimes I wonder whether Sen. Jason Rapert was created in a lab by the Arkansas Times to give us material.
Here’s the latest, broadcast last night on KATV: When a reporter had the gall to ask Rapert about the hypocrisy of his political positions, the senator had a minor hissy fit and threatened to end the interview.
The background: Rapert wants the legislature to pass a resolution requesting that Congress call a constitutional convention to ban same-sex marriage. His argument is that the people of Arkansas voted overwhelmingly in 2004 to ban gay marriage by referendum. He is furious that federal law supersedes the will of the people in the state of Arkansas. However, he is also proposing a bill to delay implementation of the medical marijuana amendment because he says that it’s in conflict with federal law classifying marijuana as an illegal drug. In that case, his argument is that the will of the people in the state of Arkansas must be superseded by federal law.
KATV reporter Matt Mershon asked, “Do you not see some hypocrisy?” Not exactly a hardball question, honestly! But Rapert interrupted and became haughty and heated. “Watch your language with me or we’ll stop the interview,” he said. Then he said it again.
Mershon’s demeanor seemed polite and professional and he was asking a predictable question. Purely speculating here, but perhaps the “language” that upset Rapert was the reference to hypocrisy, a frequent no-no mentioned in the Gospels. (“Beware of practicing your piety before others in order to be seen by them … do not sound a trumpet before you, as the hypocrites do.”)
“There is no hypocrisy,” Rapert said. “It’s standing up for what you believe in. It is not bigoted to say that marriage is between a man and a woman.”
The careful viewer will note that Rapert did not answer the charge of hypocrisy at all, but changed the subject.
I’m going to confess that political hypocrisy is so common that it’s hard for me to get worked up about it. Rapert hates gay marriage and he hates medical marijuana. Those are the first principles he cares about more than the will of the people of the state versus federal law. So be it.
Perhaps it’s worth articulating that the legal situations aren’t equivalent: In one case, the Supreme Court has ruled that a state law violates citizens’ rights guaranteed by the U.S. Constitution. In the other case, a state law conflicts with a federal criminal statute in a situation in which the feds have chosen not to enforce the criminal statute in such states, and Congress has indeed barred such enforcement; federal courts have ruled that the federal criminal statute does not prohibit states’ individual choices about how to regulate marijuana. I don’t expect any of this to change Rapert’s mind, or anyone else’s — because he’s not actually arguing about federalism at all, he’s arguing about gays and weed.
I can’t embed the video of the KATV encounter, but check it out, it’s something.