Last week, House Bill 583 failed in the Montana House by a margin of 18 votes, 41 to 59. Sponsored by Randy Pinocci, R–Sun River, the bill would have opposed the 1992 United Nations resolution known as Agenda 21.
According to the Washington Post and George H.W. Bush, Agenda 21 is a set of non-binding guidelines for sustainable development. According to the Bozeman Tea Party, Agenda 21 is a plan to abolish private property and move everyone to cities. I quote BozemanTeaParty.com:
"'Sustainable Development' sounds like a nice idea, right? It sounds nice, until you scratch the surface and find that Agenda 21 and Sustainable Development are really cloaked plans to impose the tenets of social justice/socialism on the world. At risk from Agenda 21 is private property ownership, single-family homes, private car ownership and individual travel choices and privately owned farms."
This kind of disagreement is difficult to resolve. Who is right about what Agenda 21 does—the former president who signed it, or The John Birch Society? Lines 16 through 19 of Pinocci's bill make it clear which source he believes:
"WHEREAS, Agenda 21 is a voluntary pact arranged by the United Nations in which 178 national heads of state agreed to voluntarily implement a 40-chapter document known as Agenda 21 that calls for the abolition of private property throughout the world, education for global citizenship, and the use of technology for the management and control of all human activity ..."
I'm against that. The problem is I'm not sure it's what Agenda 21 says. Granted, I did not read the entire 351-page PDF, but I did a lot of skimming, and I could not find the part about abolishing private property and outlawing the single-family home.
I did find plenty of information on that aspect of Agenda 21 at various websites with "Patriot" or "Truth" in their names. I also found this plank in the 2015 platform of the Montana Republican Party:
"We recognize the destructive and insidious nature of the United Nations Agenda 21 and hereby expose to the public and public policy makers, the dangerous intent of the Agenda 21 plan."
I recognize the insidious nature of using commas to separate verbs from their direct objects and hereby expose that. I also hereby declare Rep. Pinocci a bidder for the admiration of our dumbest citizens.
- photo by Chad Harder
Since President Bush signed Agenda 21 in 1992, the various municipal, state and federal governments of the United States of America have taken exactly zero action to abolish private property or use technology to control all human activity, unless you count Candy Crush Saga. No one actually involved in operating the state of Montana has taken steps to move us all to cities or reported anyone else doing same.
Yet somehow, Pinocci's bill made it out of committee and onto the floor, where it was deliberated and voted upon as if Agenda 21 were a real thing and not—here I quote the Southern Poverty Law Center "anti-Semitic fear-mongering." For a few hours, the Montana State House operated the same way as Infowars.com.
The good news is that HB 583 did not pass. Even better, the 2015 legislative session is now halfway complete, and we have reached that time of year when Pinocci's caucus traditionally stops embarrassing Montana with stupid bills.
It's been a good year for crazy. Lord knows I've enjoyed myself. From Doc Moore's HB 365 (outlaw wearing a costume with a prosthetic anus) to Kerry White's HB 371 (lift the ban on concealed weapons in bars and schools,) the Republican Party of Montana has entertained us by taking a series of pretend crises seriously. We've all had fun, but now is the time to get serious.
There is still a budget to pass. More than 70,000 Montanans are not getting the Medicaid coverage their federal tax dollars already paid for. Deadbeat dads have stuck the state with thousands of dollars in unpaid child support, and the Montana campaign finance system is scrambling to adjust to Citizens United v. FEC.
Unlike the imaginary UN scheme to control our minds with sustainability, these are real issues that affect one million Montanans. Addressing them is not as easy as pandering to screen names, but it is the business we elected a whole State House to do.
I like a good piece of stunt legislation as much as the next guy, and there's no question that the Montana GOP has a flair for it. If you want a laugh, you can't ask for much better than the 2015 House. But the voters of Montana sent Pinocci and his colleagues to Helena to do something more important than amuse us. They should get to work.
Dan Brooks writes about politics, culture and the conspiracy of the missing fudge at combatblog.net.