Thursday, May 13, 2010

Hawaii says "get lost" to birthers

Here's a cute line from Joseph Farah at WorldNetDaily, who says he "would like to see Barack Obama's actual, long-form birth certificate as the first step toward determining if he is constitutionally eligible to serve as president. "

The first step? Not only is the official state record, attested by the State Health Director and the registrar of vital statistics, not sufficient to establish Obama's nativity, but even that fabled long-form birth certificate would still not settle the issue! I have no idea what further evidence Farah would require; he probably doesn't know, either, but figures he's bright enough to think up something quickly. It's a Sisyphean task, anyway. Presenting evidence to a birther is like speaking louder when someone doesn't understand English.

So, I'm completely sympathetic to the poor employees of the Hawaii Health Department who have to deal with persistent requests for Obama's birth certificate. Hawaii has just passed a special law that allows those harassed civil servants to ignore any repeat requests for the birth certificate and my first impulse was to agree. After all, the birther movement is a grade-A piece of lunacy and doesn't deserve a soft answer, especially when the soft answer only increases the wrath.

But on second thought, no, Hawaii should not have done this. Getting 10-20 emails a week is annoying, to be sure, but that level of inquiry shouldn't impede the real work all that much. Can't it be treated like a FAQ? Set up a web page with a canned response and respond to each email by pasting in the link. Surely that's as quick as searching through your email to confirm that you've heard from this particular nut before, isn't it?

The slippery slope argument may be overdrawn. This is a truly unusual case, over a fully-answered issue, and the level of stupidity far beyond the normal level of background stupid. Still ... these folks do elect their own and I hate to see the precedent established, allowing public records requirements to be ignored when you get frustrated with a particular issue. The wingnuts might not hesitate to copy this as soon as they have power and have something to hide. I hate to give them that much of an opening. Hawaii should suck it up and find the least cumbersome way of dealing with the birthers, without compromising their public records laws.

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