From the Arkansas Statehouse...

Senate State Agencies puts hurt on Paine.

In Resolutions and Ceremonies on 27 January 2009 at 1:28 pm

The Senate State Agencies Committee was not impressed this morning with Rep. Lindsley Smith’s bill to annually commemorate Thomas Paine’s birthday. After Smith’s half-hour presentation on Paine’s merits, the committee decided that he wasn’t worth even an essentially empty dedication that would have gone unremarked by the majority of Arkansans every January 29.

Sen. Steve Bryles motioned that the bill pass, but didn’t get a second. That means the bill will remain on the committee’s schedule and that Smith can attempt to pass it again later.

But Smith said afterwards that she may not do that in front of this cold crowd.

Committee member Sen. Jack Pritchard told the committee that Paine was not worthy to be honored among the likes of Douglas McArthur, Abraham Lincoln, and Jefferson Davis, all of whom have commemorative days. After the meeting, committee member Sen. Kim Hendren said the legislature should be careful not to increase commemorative days indiscriminately.

(Hendren will hope for a different outcome when he introduces a resolution honoring Ronald Reagan — albeit not a commemorative day — which he said he plans for next week.)

Other topics at the meeting included Paine’s religion and the question of whether he was an atheist. Apparently some legislators are wary of honoring a man with that reputation. John Brummett had more on the opposition over the weekend.

One other note of interest: Rep. Smith told the committee that her personal religious beliefs had been impugned as a result of her support for the bill. After the meeting, she declined to say whether any state legislators had been among the accusers.

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  1. […] — which means there’s much more than the slavery issue at play here. As with the Thomas Paine showdown yesterday, it appears that some members are making dubious historical claims in order to fight a […]

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