Monday, February 6, 2012

Alabama's McGill doubles down, questions critics' faith

Last week, I brought to your attention the lunatic remarks of one Shadrack McGill, a first-term legislator in Alabama who defended pay increases for legislators like himself but opposed pay increases for public school teachers.

He said paying lawmakers more protected them from lobbyists' temptations. He said paying teachers more would violate Biblical principles, but he didn't cite any specific Scripture.

(I assure you, the photograph at the right is an accurate portrayal of young McGill; nothing has been done to cause him to look pointy and narrow, the photograph appears precisely as it was found at the website of WAAY-TV.)

Well, it appears that what odd lawmakers in Alabama say sometimes makes it to the attention of the national media. McGill's story did and, just as stars once fell on Alabama, a rain of hellfire has fallen on McGill's tiny little corner of the state.

Here's the news from the coincidentally-named Fort Payne:

Ft. Payne, AL - Alabama State Senator Shadrack McGill is in the national spotlight this week after making some controversial comments about teachers at a function in Ft. Payne last week.

According to the Ft. Payne Times-Journal, the first term Republican from Jackson County was asked a question about a recent salary hike for lawmakers, and how it might relate to increasing teacher salaries. According to the Times-Journal, McGill argued that paying lawmakers more made the less likely to accept bribes, but then turned around and said increasing teacher salaries would attract undesirable candidates to the profession. "If you double a teacher's pay scale, you'll attract people who aren't called to teach ... and these teachers that are called to teach, regardless of the pay scale, they would teach. It's just in them to do. It's the ability that God give 'em." McGill is quoted as saying by the paper.

Mind you, McGill was speaking to a friendly crowd; this was no heated campaign debate. He was under no pressure to think quickly. He had plenty of time to consider a response before speaking.

And it appears that McGill is known for this sort of behavior.

In addition, McGill has been taking heat for comments he made in a WAAY 31 FirstNews exclusive story earlier this week about the Jackson County "Bible Man". In an interview with WAAY 31's Ellis Eskew, Senator McGill said "I don't believe you keep God out of state. Church represents the body of Christ, Christ being the head of that body. No, I don't believe in that separation,"

McGill was raked over the coals by commenters here on waaytv.com, and on the nation-wide political sites as well. On Thursday, McGill sat down with WAAY 31 to clarify his remarks, and stand by them as well.

"Some things got taken out of context. I'm not hearing any negative feedback out of those who were there." McGill told us Thursday afternoon.

McGill says that his remarks at the prayer breakfast made sense to those in attendance, but came out wrong when printed in the paper. "The point that I was trying to make in the speech is simply that .. Things ought to be in balance. I believe God made everything to be in balance. He weighed the Earth and the valley and the mountains and the hills on a scale to keep them in balance because he knew he was going to be spinning it real fast, so that's the jist of it."

Now, I have studied Genesis and the subsequent works of the testaments -- o, how I've studied them -- and I'm utterly convinced that McGill's edition bears no resemblance to any I've seen. He clearly refers to Isaiah's concept of Jehovah measuring creation. But who in the name of holiness has read that the Almighty "knew he was going to be spinning it real fast"?

'Tis McGill who is spinning it real fast, I conclude.

Back to the point -- which is, for the casual reader, that individuals so tenuously bonded to reality ought not wield even a fraction of Constitutional power over the affairs of state:

Still, the comments caught some off-guard. Many commenters online asked if McGill thought he deserved more money, or if there was some irony to saying that paying teachers more will cause problems, but paying legisators more won't. McGill doesn't see it that way.

"Legislators pay ought to be in balance. They don't need to make too much, they don't need to make too little, both lead to corruption. Likewise, I think with teachers salaries, things need to be balanced on their education, based on the performance, class size, etc.. Work load. But by no means was I insinuating that a teacher should make less."

McGill didn't "insinuate" that teachers should earn less, he said so plainly and directly. To insinuate means to suggest obliquely without saying a thing in a straightforward fashion.

Nor did he insinuate that Alabama's public employees and retirees shouldn't be concerned with their retirement benefits. He said plainly that he expects the world to end before such benefits would be paid out to those who have earned them:

McGill was asked repeatedly about changes to the Retirement System of Alabama. Nearly two and a half hours into the breakfast a man asked McGill another retirement question. McGill replied, "Well, you know what? I think we're going to get raptured out of here before it comes that time for you anyway."

McGill said what he meant to say, which reflects what he believes.

McGill says he's learned from his first major brush with controversy, and he now has a better understanding of why politicians say the things the say. "I have learned from the situation, and I understand why politicians become politicans and how they answer questions. It's hard to be human and answer questions straightforward and truthful with someone because they have a tendency to want to turn that into a dagger and stab you with it. Hence, politicans sidestepping direct questions." McGill said with a smile.

Thus, a young man with political ambition learns to hide his true thinking from the public and to "spin" in order to keep a grip on the reins of power -- AND to discount the rational thinking of others, in one fell swoop:

"I'd say I've had more positive feedback than I've had negative, but it's amazing that those would claim to be Christians would give me negative feedback in regards to that, so but never the less, it's where I stand."

So Christians who recognize the fatuousness of his commentary are not quite fully Christian?

Bless his heart.

Y'all make sure one another is registered to vote over there, now, and has a way to the polls this year. We'll be praying for you.

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