Sunday, January 21, 2018
Opinion

Ruth: Terry Kemple's school board candidacy a columnist's conundrum

This ambivalence probably qualifies as the columnist's conundrum.

Our fair hamlet's resident Good Book political huckster Terry Kemple, the Harold Stassen of the New Testament, has announced he plans to run for the District 4 Hillsborough County School Board pew in 2014, which certainly deserves an extra olive in a perfectly dry martini, or two, or three.

And therein lies the conflict of self-interest.

As a Hillsborough County taxpayer the thought of someone who is anti-Muslin, antigay, antiknowledge and even antimatter sitting on a government body charged with educating our community's children would be a crime against sanity.

But as a columnist, and thus one who is always on an utterly shameless quest for fodder, what other response can one have to a potential Kemple candidacy, except — Thank you Lord!

Terry Kemple on the School Board would visit a plague of demagoguery on the body politic. His term would be a fractious, disruptive, moveable feast of Bible-thumping, self-righteous hectoring and faux Puritanical preening. Uh, any chance for an early election?

It was Kemple who inveighed against inviting a Muslim speaker to discuss Islam before a high school world history class, overlooking all too conveniently that Muslims are sort of an intrinsic part of — ahem — world history.

He is homophobic, opposing efforts to create domestic partner registries and even more concerning is that a Terry Kemple on the school board might well endeavor to undermine state science curricula when it comes to the teaching of evolution.

This would be like an anarchist trying to get elected to a judgeship.

Let's put it this way, former Hillsborough County commissioner and former Florida state Sen. Ronda Storms, the Madame Defarge of Leviticus, would be a breath of fresh air on the School Board as opposed to Kemple's "I am the God of hell-fire!" approach to governance.

And yes, I can't believe either that I just wrote that paragraph.

But the simple fact is that despite her penchant for engaging in obtuse moral harrumphing at the drop of a sack cloth, Storms is quite capable from time to time of actually uttering a coherent thought, as opposed to Kemple who sees bodies such as the School Board as really nothing more than a Love Boat of proselytizing.

Terry Kemple would be to public service on the School Board what the Costa Concordia was to the leisure cruise industry.

On the other hand, and at the risk of engaging in pure self-indulgence, all my kids are long gone from Hillsborough's public schools. So run Terry, run!

This will be Kemple's third bid to get on the School Board. Now you would think if you had run twice before and the voters had previously suggested they would rather shove shards of broken glass up their eyes than allow you to serve in public office, that might be a pretty good indication the political career is going over about as well as if Tim Tebow tried to get a quarterback job with the Baltimore Ravens.

Still stranger things have happened. And this is Hillsborough County after all, which once elected to the County Commission a guy who made his living in a bumble bee Speedo.

So anything is possible, even a School Board member who would turn the educational clock back to the stoning of witches.

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