Arizona Superintendent of Public Instruction John Huppenthal held an impromptu news conference this afternoon in front of Arizona's self-proclaimed "Gayest School in Phoenix", to throw a temper tantrum and deride Governor Jan Brewer's announcement that she was implementing a mandatory gay conversion therapy program in all Arizona schools on November 1.
|Not a real Arizona school, but|
Huppenthal printed out a banner
of this picture and stood in front
of it for his news conference.
"The Governor cannot do this! Arizona's schools are not straightening out on November 1st," Huppenthal screeched. He paused dramatically before adding: "At least, not without my input!"
Huppenthal then went on to detail his own gay conversion program, which will entail school visits and counseling sessions by high-ranking elected officials. Huppenthal announced that he, Secretary of State Ken Bennett, State Treasurer Doug Ducey and Congressman Trent Franks - all Republicans - will divide the state into quadrants and each begin their visits.
|Not from today, but from|
Huppenthal's main initiative as state school's superintendent had been to convince the Legislature to better fund the Department's computer system; he promised that this new effort would be his top priority. "This will not require taxpayer's money and will only impact gay students' standardized testing scores, as already-straight students will not need to be taken out of class for the counseling sessions," Huppenthal said.
To most-effectively reach the target audience, Huppenthal has asked his staff to compile a list of the faculty advisers and meeting dates/times for all high school, middle school, elementary school, and kindergarten Gay-Straight Alliance clubs. "We did not include preschools only because I have no authority over them. But, I would be happy to counsel their students on my own time," Huppenthal proclaimed.
The Schools Superintendent also invited Brewer to drop her curriculum in favor of his program, and said he would give her first pick as to which schools she'd like to visit, no matter which quadrant they were in. Brewer could not be reached for comment this afternoon, as she was in a closed-door meeting with close friend Rep. Michelle Bachmann (R-MN) and her husband to work out curriculum.
Huppenthal did say he rejected a couple of potential participants, though he would only identify one. "Former State Senate President Russell Pearce (recalled) called me to volunteer his time. I appreciate that, but we are not trying to replicate "Scared Straight" programs. Have you seen that guy when he gets going? It's UG-ly!"
He also offered free Greyhound bus tickets to all of the counselors in New Jersey who are effected by New Jersey Governor Chris Christie's campaign decisions.
(UPDATE, 2:55: Updated to reflect that Phoenix New Times was the first to report the spoof.)
Satire typically requires some degree of reality to make it believable. Such was apparently the case this week when a satirical news site published an article about Governor Jan Brewer's new gay conversion school curriculum. The Phoenix New Times had the scoop this morning (followed by the Arizona Republic this afternoon on the flood of reaction to the satire. The Republic article notes that the satirical article got further attention when it was "converted" into a news release format and posted on a press release distribution website; unfortunately, that satirical news release has been removed.
We briefly considered posting this humorous-yet-typical focus on Arizona politics as a "straight" news story. We think that the "satire on satire" format was more fun and - hopefully - effective.
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