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Just when Ronda Storms started making sense …

Another legislative session, another round of high jinks with state Sen. Ronda Storms, R-Holier Than Thou, her most recent pitch being for religious license plates and faith for Florida motorists in general.

Her brand of faith, anyway.

But wait — did I find myself nodding ever-so-slightly in agreement with some Storms­isms this session?

Saying to myself, "you know, she might be right?"

The subject was bodies, and the hot museum trend of displaying dead ones "plastinated" with the skin peeled back for a graphic view of how we're put together. Fascinating, but controversial.

Yes, our legislators have plenty on their plates. But given questions about the potential for exploitation and human rights violations — were bodies in certain exhibits Chinese prisoners, some asked? — regulation deserved a look.

Lawmakers moved to require museums to show where they got such bodies, and that they were donated by the persons themselves or their next of kin.

Which is where I found myself agreeing with Storms, who spoke of "deference and sensitivity" as the Senate unanimously passed the bill.

Then there was public art.

State law uses a fraction of the construction cost of new state buildings to pay for such art. Given the grim realities of our current economy, public funding for art faces serious scrutiny. As it should.

Please, please, do not stone me in the town square. Who doesn't react to any art that is out there for everyone — exploding chickens in front of tall buildings, big red chairs by city hall, giant licorice twists in parks, murals, sculptures, paintings, fountains — provocative pieces to get people talking? Love or hate that giant slinky, there's no question art is key to making cities more attractive, interesting and alive.

But we are in hardscrabble times here, when nothing is sacrosanct, not raises nor salaries nor even jobs. Neither is money for art, even if it ultimately survives.

What sounded a smidge disingenuous, however, was Storms' contention that we must choose between funding for art and for abused children (is it me or do you hear violins?). Public art is, in her words, "fat" and "a luxury."

Not surprisingly, she has given public art funding the evil eye before. Since she does not shy from mixing personal belief with public duty, one could assume that for her, proper public art would be a tasteful manger scene, provided the baby is modestly diapered.

So as the regular legislative session winds to a close, did she stray from her essential Stormsness?

She did not, pushing for an "I Believe" license plate with cross and stained glass window, in the same bill with the Jesus plate. (And, oh, the potential political peril in being labeled as against God, when what you actually are is for separation of church and state, your God and your faith being your business.)

You can plaster your car with stickers supporting or decrying the president, the war, life vs. choice, atheism vs. fundamentalism, Labradors vs. chihuahuas. Your ride, your platform.

But that's an important concept, keeping our government out of religion, any religion, and imagine we were not talking about Storms' own here.

Then again, we wouldn't be talking about it at all, would we?

Just when Ronda Storms started making sense … 04/28/09 [Last modified: Wednesday, April 29, 2009 1:07pm]
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