Incompetent Elected Official Of The Month: Tennessee State Senator Kerry Roberts (R)

What an idiot.

On his conservative radio talk show on September 2, Senator Roberts complained about a witness who supported abortion in a Tennessee legislative hearing. He attributed her opinion to the influence of college,  and announced that to “save America,” we need to get rid of higher education. “If there’s one thing that we can do to save America today, it’s to get rid of our institutions of higher education right now and cut the liberal breeding ground off! Good grief!” Roberts said.

Good plan! Even if colleges were a true scourge of the nation, and while I won’t go that far, they are failing their mission while over-charging their victims, getting rid of them is impossible, of course. It’s such a ridiculous thing to suggest that it qualifies as irresponsible public discourse, and comes mighty close to signature significance, meaning that only a complete fool would say something like that in public, even once.

After his comments went viral in the media, social or otherwise—he’s a Republican remember, so he should know that any gaffes will be news— and the state senator was mocked from coast to coast, Roberts claimed  he was joking.  If so, Dave Chappelle he’s not.

He posted on Facebook, “A week ago, I went on a rant on The Kerry Roberts Show calling out higher education as a liberal breeding ground and calling for its elimination. My listeners clearly understood the humor and hyperbole of it.” Then he added,

That was a week ago. But today, it’s a news story. “Tennessee Lawmaker Calls For Elimination of Higher Education” the headline screams! That’s hyperbole, too. So the word for today is hyperbole. Knowing the definition is knowledge. Knowing when it exists is understanding. It’s a good word to know and an even a better word to understand…including reporters who have a degree from an institute of higher education. The word for tomorrow is patience…as in giving someone time to respond to your question before filing a story. Class dismissed.

Now somebody explain to Roberts what the word  “joke” means. It is a statement that is funny, not just stupid.

30 thoughts on “Incompetent Elected Official Of The Month: Tennessee State Senator Kerry Roberts (R)

  1. Jesus! He just gave them a hundred extra years of life to the claim that education is the exclusive domain of leftists, which by their logic means they’re more innately intelligent. Way to go, moron! I was hoping to live long enough to hear the end of that garbage.

  2. Even if we accept his excuse that he was joking, any Republican should be well aware that the Left and its allies have no sense of humor. Anything said by a conservative, even in jest, will be taken literally and as the gospel truth of the speaker’s intent.

    Conservatives almost have to become the Left’s caricature of them as stodgy and humorless.

  3. If you go to about 49:00 in his radio show you can see and hear when he made those statements about higher education. It was, of course, in the spirit of hyperbolic jesting — making a point to his audience about how the education institutions have such influence over the *thinking* of the kids — but it was in the larger context of his adamant position against abortion, which was largely the topic of his show that day (and maybe always, I don’t know).

    I believe that if I would have been listening to that show independent of any commentary about it after the fact, and if I had heard those statements and the way he said them (raising his voice in a mocked seriousness), I would have understood them as ‘jest’. I would not have taken them seriously.

    More or less I do not really care much about his ‘jest’, and the present media-systems will distort things to the degree they want and when they want, yet it is pretty obvious that in the US the so-called ‘educational system’ is not that at all. It really is — taken on the whole — a system where citizen-youth are more or less indoctrinated to modes of non-thinking in order so that they can fulfill a role to private corporate interests and a general governmental system that we now live under. This has next to nothing to do with Republican forms and a great deal to do with the subverted forms that best define what the US has become. A pit of sickness, a rapidly declining empire, a culture and society in deep crisis because of a range of choices that were made. There: that is the necessary starting point for a conversation involving renovation and renewal.

    The purpose of education now then is to provide docile, mindless young persons to the private sector who see the world in this coerced, indoctrinated way that we could call ‘Americanism’.

    It is true — I certainly hope that it is true — that at the more elite institutions they have to demonstrate to the youths what free thought entails and therefore they have to allow and encourage critical thinking. But even about this I have some doubt given the videos I have seen — at supposedly elite institutions — of mindless, over-emotional, screeching babies.

    So, here is a bold statement: it is impossible to be a free thinker, and to fully engage in clean, open, critical thought in America today. Not on TeeVee shows, not on talk shows, not on the majority of blogs and those places where such critical thought should go on. All *thinking* is constrained thinking because in this present environment it is illegal to hold and purvey ideas that run contrary to the coerced status quo. The reason this happened is I think quite interesting. I think that in a Republic, when anti-Republican interests assert themselves they have to do so through devious, dishonest means. They have to lie and use trickery to get the ‘masses’ to do what they want them to do. I think that the World Wars demonstrate where this begun (in earnest). That is, the use of coercive propaganda, infused with Americanism and false-patriotism, which become a giant social lie. But once you invest in it, you are stuck in it. You become interiorly wedded to the falsehoods and to confront them involves a painful confrontation with the self. Since this ‘self’ does not want to, and perhaps cannot, face the ‘real truth’ (which also involves one in not knowing and not fully understanding the cloudy machinations of power), so one’s best option is to continue to hold to the Lies that understructure one’s civic personality.

    Oh and September 11th: Two planes, three buildings. See what I mean? 🙂

    • There is a serious problem with college education and the general inclination is to just disregard anyone who criticizes education with the understanding that their criticism is unfounded and ignorant. However, leftist indoctrination is now so bad that they have had to introduce the term ‘negative learning’ when assessing what students learned in college.

      https://ahsociety.org/content/reversing-decline-historical-and-civic-literacy

      We have a state funded system that excludes 1/2 half of the population based on political views. How can that be allowed to stand? We have a state-funded system that forces some people to publicly admit that they are evil and lesser people because of their skin color. How can that be allowed?

      http://www.binghamtonreview.com/2016/08/stopwhitepeople2k16-is-an-official-part-of-residential-assistant-training/

      Multiple studies have found that colleges have dumbed down the curriculum. A study in 2011 concluded that over 1/3 of college graduates essentially learned nothing in college. It has gotten dramatically worse since then. How can we continue to pour taxpayer dollars into a system that fails its students and wastes their money and lives?

      https://thefederalist.com/2019/08/15/study-students-graduating-college-gotten-easier/

      CLA+ and subject-area exams have shown that majors have a huge impact on what is learned in college. The CLA+ exams show that math, science, and engineering students score at the top for critical thinking skills. When assessments were done at various schools in the 90’s and 00’s, I noticed that the same trend was shown on end-of-college tests in English, History, Math, and Science. Despite scoring higher in every single subject, these students had drastically lower GPA’s that the rest of the student body. The depressing news is that students with math-intensive degrees account for less than 12% of college degrees.

  4. I watched the video and in my opinion he wasn’t joking, he wasn’t being sarcastic with hyperbole, he was being quite serious. I’ve heard this particular kind of nonsense before. Even though colleges perpetuate the problem Senator Roberts is wrong to put all the blame on colleges, he’s missing the big picture.

    “Anyone interested in the truth will be shocked by the way American social engineers have systematically gone about destroying the intellect of millions of American children for the purpose of leading the American people into a socialist world government controlled by behavioral and social scientist.”

    “Mrs. Iserbyt has also documented the gradual transformation of our once academically successful education system into one devoted to training children to become compliant human resources to be used by government and industry for their own purposes. This is how fascist-socialist societies train their children to become servants of their government masers. The successful implementation of this new philosophy of education will spell the end of the American dream of individual freedom and opportunity.”

    Charlotte Iserbyt September 1999

    Colleges are certainly a festering ground for illiberal, anti-American and illogical ideology but the reason they are that way is because of the indoctrinated stupid people that occupy the halls and the silent apathy from those that didn’t succumb to the indoctrination. The indoctrinated are currently the ones with the loudest voices and the ones the media is promoting. The pre-college indoctrination starts in the home for some youth but it switches into high gear for all our youth when they enter the public school system and they are inundated with indoctrination by their surroundings. Remember this quote that’s been attributed to Hitler, “If you can indoctrinate them when they’re children, you will have them forever”, for the indoctrinated there’s rarely any turning back without deprogramming that’s why I call them the Lost Generation. Don’t allow these indoctrinated stupid people to gain power and we should strive to do better with the next generation.

    Destroying the colleges does nothing to reverse the pre-college indoctrination that’s made the colleges the way they are.

    • The pre-college indoctrination starts in the home for some youth but it switches into high gear for all our youth when they enter the public school system and they are inundated with indoctrination by their surroundings.

      In respect to this pre-college indoctrination that begins at home, can you outline more clearly what this is? Do you mean that parents at home are indoctrinating their children?

      Iserbyt is a resource for many parents who home-school. Do parents that home school their children thereby avoid indoctrinating them?

      What is the proper sort of ‘Americanism’ that one should have? How do you define this? How do you account for the fact that there are many different definitions of what ‘Americanism’ is (and what America is)?

      Is there just one ‘Americanism’? If that is so, who best expresses it in our present? If there is not one version of Americanism, are numerous definitions possible? Would numerous definitions be permissible? Should one version of Americanism be taught? But if it was taught, wouldn’t it be more or less a monolithic doctrine? And would this support or contradict its own tenets?

      Of those who are educating their children ‘properly’ in the sort of Americanism you value — which is not the anti-Americanism that you don’t value — what educational material do they study?

      What is the relationship of the so-called Alt-Right or the Dissident Right in America right now to the sort of ‘Americanism’ that you see as good, proper and necessary?

      Is the Americanism that you support unilaterally and ideologically ‘pro-capitalist’? How does the Americanism you define (as good and proper) fit in with ‘the global economy’ and ‘globalism’?

      Is the Pro-Americanism you define — if you recognize Anti-Americanism it stands to reason that you have a definition of Pro-Americanism — also Pro-Zionist and Pro-Israel? This is a touchy question of course but not at all a bad one, and certainly one that deserves an answer.

      The question could be extended to that of war — America’s present wars in the Middle East. Are these wars necessarily ‘pro-American’? Must one support these wars to be ‘Pro-American’? Are those who do not support these wars ‘anti-American’ by definition?

      Could one be anti-Zionist and anti-Israelist (by that I only mean opposed to Israel’s involvement in America’s foreign policy to such an extreme degree) and also Pro-American? Or is to have a position against Israeli machinations in American politics necessarily an expression of anti-Americanism?

      I am standing on my head right now and won’t come down until at least 2 of these questions are answered. This will go on for WEEKS. I don’t mind because it is a challenge to my brain to type upside-down and backwards! Feel free to take.your.time.

  5. Update: Tenn. lawmaker clarifies call to “get rid of higher education”

    by Associated Press/WTVC
    Monday, September 9th 2019

    Tuesday morning, Roberts’ office send a news release by email, clarifying his position. Here is the statement in full:

    “While the call for eliminating higher education was clearly hyperbole, I stand behind my general critique of liberal arts education in America one hundred percent.

    Many higher education institutions have unquestionably become liberal breeding grounds where radical values and hatred for America are fomented. Conservative parents are often spending (or borrowing) tens if not hundreds of thousands of dollars to participate in an elaborate bait and switch. They sign up their children for education and advancement and instead receive intimidation and indoctrination.

    And with each passing year, leftist policies grow more aggressive in an attempt to normalize behaviors, attitudes, and beliefs that just a few short years ago were considered unhealthy, morally bereft, economically bankrupt and un-American.

    Hostile learning and working environments are suddenly acceptable when the leftists are zealously doing their duty of quashing any dissent. Repulsive stories abound of First Amendment rights abused, shamed or denied. There are no safe spaces for conservatives on many campuses.

    It’s time for conservatives – whose taxpayer dollars significantly fund these institutions of higher education – to rise up and demand the restoration of balance in our halls of higher education.

    Do we literally need to abolish higher education in America? Of course not. There are institutions that have found balance and they are to be applauded. But it’s time for lawmakers to question the efficacy of higher education in America, meaningless majors, liberal bias, and intolerance of traditional values and conservative points of view.”

    • “But it’s time for lawmakers to question the efficacy of higher education in America, meaningless majors, liberal bias, and intolerance of traditional values and conservative points of view.”

      That looks like another signature significant statement from Senator Roberts?

      • I can’t tell if your comment is tongue in cheek or not. Obviously lawmakers can question the efficacy of anything the state supports. Obviously our education system, including higher education, is rotting. Obviously denying this is irresponsible. And equally obviously, critics who default to “get rid of college” in talk radio rants have no credibility in the public policy debate, and deserve none.

        • I really wasn’t being tongue in cheek but I did intentionally throw in the question mark to indicate that I thought I was open to more than one interpretation.

          My thought process was along these lines…

          If this statement “if there’s one thing that we can do to save America today, it’s to get rid of our institutions of higher education right now and cut the liberal breeding ground off” was a signature significant statement in that it was a single act that is “so remarkable that it has predictive and analytical value, and should not be dismissed as statistically insignificant” thus being a Freudian Slip revealing the subconscious feelings of the author then when the same person says this “But it’s time for lawmakers to question the efficacy of higher education in America, meaningless majors, liberal bias, and intolerance of traditional values and conservative points of view.” it’s difficult not to combine the two and infer that the second statement is how he would like to accomplish the first statement.

          Now for the questions.

          Should I have ignored the existence of first signature significant statement when reading the second statement?

          Did the first statement create an unfair bias that caused be to jump to a conclusion that was unwarranted?

          • 1) “it’s difficult not to combine the two and infer that the second statement is how he would like to accomplish the first statement.”

            No, it’s not. The second statement is how a staff decided to try to rescue its idiot boss. That statement doesn’t suggest eliminating higher ed, but reforming it. If that’s what he meant on the radio, he should have said that.

            2) “Should I have ignored the existence of first signature significant statement when reading the second statement?”

            No, because the second statement is standard political rhetoric, could have been generated by a computer, and has no significance, signature or otherwise.

            3. “Did the first statement create an unfair bias that caused be to jump to a conclusion that was unwarranted?”

            There’s no bias, and concluding that an elected official who would say something that stupid is stupid is not unwarranted.

            • I guess what struck me was that the second statement seemed to be implying that they could somehow legislate away or punish colleges because of apparent liberal bias and obvious intolerance of traditional values and conservative points of view and that lead me straight back to the first statement where he wanted to cut the liberal breeding ground off specifically because of their political point of view.

        • How would you fix a system, like a major pubic university, that is broken? Would any judge in this country have the guts to tell Ohio State University that it has to stop punishing students for being conservatives? Would any judge or legislature have the guts to say that taxpayer dollars can’t go to a school that endorses political candidates and punishes students who support the wrong candidate or political view? I haven’t seen a judge in this country with the guts to actually force a leftist college to allow freedom of speech*, I know they wouldn’t fix the issues we have. Would any politician have the guts to do it? Would anyone demand they cut the funding to programs that are of no value to the economy and end up forcing students into debt with no marketable skills? Is anyone even willing to stand up to the “Colleges are not here to get people jobs” bait and switch that has been the hallmark of academic for decades?

          Even if someone was willing to do these things, how do you go about firing the 50% of the faculty that would need to go in order to have some kind of ideological balance on our college campuses? You couldn’t do it because many areas do not allow students who aren’t leftists from studying those subjects. It isn’t just unfair grading, letters of recommendation, and school disciplinary action for wrongthink. Areas that have ‘social justice’ as goals are allowed to remove students from the program who don’t meet their ‘social justice’ goals. It is more or less required by accreditation bodies. Education is one area that is really bad about that. There are not even close to enough qualified people in these fields that are conservative to bring any type of ideological diversity to them. I think I saw that less than 10% of Ph.D. psychologists were moderates or conservatives.

          We know from studies that although most conservatives wouldn’t refuse to hire someone because they were a leftist, more than a majority of leftists would refuse to hire someone merely for having conservative views. So, you can’t ever fix the problem unless you have a solid majority of conservatives. Any area that gets a majority of leftists becomes almost totally leftist.

          This doesn’t even cover the whole ‘dropping diplomas from airplanes’ problem we have with institutions that are little more than jokes academically.

          So, what is the solution?

          *Yes, judges have ruled that colleges can’t do it, but none of the judges awarded the damages that deter them from doing it again. It has been ruled time and time again that colleges can’t restrict free speech to ‘free speech zones’. Despite this, over 15% of colleges still restrict free speech to ‘free speech zones’. Missouri and Virginia have passed state laws against it, but still have universities with the zones. These schools have lawyers that know it is illegal, and they do it anyway. Why? Because they want to and because no one will stop them.

      • Hostile learning and working environments are suddenly acceptable when the leftists are zealously doing their duty of quashing any dissent. Repulsive stories abound of First Amendment rights abused, shamed or denied. There are no safe spaces for conservatives on many campuses.

        It’s time for conservatives – whose taxpayer dollars significantly fund these institutions of higher education – to rise up and demand the restoration of balance in our halls of higher education.

        Do we literally need to abolish higher education in America? Of course not. There are institutions that have found balance and they are to be applauded. But it’s time for lawmakers to question the efficacy of higher education in America, meaningless majors, liberal bias, and intolerance of traditional values and conservative points of view.

        He clarified his view — quite nicely I think. One would have to sit down with him, as one would have to sit down with Zteve (and everyone else who writes on this blog), to have them describe, in detail, what is ‘pro-America’ and what is ‘anti-America’.

        It is likely that he — a wishy-washy and largely sold-out ‘Conservative’ — would become mealy-mouthed when pushed to answer the difficult questions. It is comforting to know that he seems to support ‘free speech’ and thus free thought.

        It makes great sense to critique the political Left and the ‘progressives’, but then it also makes great sense to question — deeply and profoundly — every step taken by the American state in the 20th century and now in the 21st. That certainly does mean being capable of seeing and describing the degree to which the country’s values as originally stated have been completely subverted.

        It also means questioning every single — all — social conventions of things that we are coerced to regard as ‘normal’ and also ‘good’.

        And that means opening up a conversation that cannot take place in any medium of consequence, nor talk show, anywhere in America. If this is not a solid fact, I wish to be corrected.

  6. State legislatures are besieged every year by their state university systems begging for more and more of the taxpayers’ money as if not getting more money will lead to the collapse of society as we know it. Are we really supposed to be surprised that a state legislator may be having a case of buyer’s remorse?

    • I think I’d analogize this guy’s off the cuff remark to wanting to get rid of NPR and PBS. Do we really want the taxpayers funding media outlets that are intent on taking down one of the two political parties? Defunding NPR and PBS is treated by the left as being the equivalent of ending the world as we know it, but it’s a perfectly reasonable idea.

      Give they guy a break. He’s a state legislator. What a horrible job but somebody’s got to do it. He’s also evidently a talk radio guy with hours of air time to fill up. At least he knows how to look professional.

      • If we’re going to single this guy out as an incompetent elected official, we’re going to have to do the same thing every day for every single Justice Democrat thing that comes out of AOC’s mouth.

        • But getting rid of the liberal arts faculties throughout the entire country and starting over might be doable. And pretty much necessary, as near as I can tell.

          • For example, let’s start with getting Leon Trotsky, I mean Robert Reich, off the faculty at Berkeley.

            “Getting rid of NPR and PBS is very, very doable.” Would that it were. Sigh.

            • OB
              The issue should never be removing voices but to add balancing voices.

              If we lament the loss of critical thinking skills we cannot rectify that by limiting access to ideas

              Fixing higher ed will be an additive process.

              • Not as long as all these career lefties are making all the hiring and tenure positions. They dominate the administrations and faculties. These places are closed societies. They are rotten to the core.

  7. Every Democratic Candidate for President has promised to get rid of fossil fuels entirely. How is that any more preposterous than getting rid of higher education?

  8. OB
    The issue should never be removing voices but to add balancing voices.

    If we lament the loss of critical thinking skills we cannot rectify that by limiting access to ideas

    Fixing higher ed will be an additive process.

  9. Since Roberts is a CPA and a graduate of Lipscomb University, I doubt that he seriously wants to do away with higher education. I do believe his use of hyperbole was poorly chosen and ill-advised. As a state senator, it is doubtful that he has much of a staff. Most of the state senators I know have two, perhaps three at the most. Act -or speak- in haste, repent at leisure.

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