Seaton: The SFL Index

I learned yesterday of a resolution in the Tennessee House of Representatives that, if passed, would condemn CNN and the Washington Post as “fake news.”

Micah Van Huss, representative for an area with two main roads and one stoplight, penned this poorly-worded series of “Whereas” clauses. The two-page screed takes issue with references to those who support our current president as “cultists,” praises President Trump for taking on the establishment for the working man, and if passed, officially declares CNN and WaPo as “the media wing of the Democratic Party.”

It’s all a political stunt designed to garner favor with certain voters. Van Huss is up for reelection this year and faces a primary challenge, in addition to the November general election.

The resolution is, to be nice, completely fucking stupid. It’s yet another in a series of hokey bills filed in a legislative session that takes away from real issues facing constituents. From mandatory vasectomies to officially recognizing a state fruit, elected officials in just about every state pull shit like this every year. It’s a waste of taxpayer money and everyone knows it.

Because I’m an optimist and a visionary, I believe there’s a way to combat this asinine method of politicians behaving badly. It’s time to create a real registry that works* for the people: one pointing out stupid proposed laws and the people who push them.

This Shitty Fucking Laws Index, or SFL Index for short, will be a national database accessible to all with a mind for civics. It will be a tool for eliminating wasteful bickering over asinine issues and force politicians to address constituent needs.

Here’s how the Index works: if citizens think a politician’s proposed bill is stupid, they can link the text of the bill, along with the sponsor’s names and representative districts, to a submission form. The information will then go to an online searchable database. Users will be able to search the SFL Index and upvote or downvote a particular piece of legislation.

“Upvoting” means users think the bill is actually of use and could be something beneficial to the public. “Downvoting” signals contempt for the legislation and legislators behind it.

If a piece of legislation gets 10,000 upvotes the proposed law and legislator will be removed from the SFL Index. Ten Thousand Downvotes gets the law and its supporting officials a place on the Index’s “Hall of Stupid” for one calendar year.

Any legislator with five total proposed laws in the “Hall of Stupid” is placed into another list: the “Legion of Idiots.” Repeat offenders deserve extra shame for their reckless stupidity and callous disregard for those who voted them into office.

It is my belief that if we put a large enough spotlight on the amount of stupid laws our nation’s legislators try to push at the federal and state level, we can get career politicians to stop this kind of nonsense and focus on what their constituents actually want.

Who’s ready to really find out how much stupid shit goes through the halls of our state and federal capitols each year? Let’s get some of the tech companies on board and really disrupt something that needs it: career politicians and stupid laws.

*I would be remiss if I didn’t mention I can’t type a phrase like that with a straight face.

17 thoughts on “Seaton: The SFL Index

  1. Charles

    So if I like your idea, am I supposed to “upvote” it and push it closer to getting removed? Or am I supposed to “downvote” it?

    1. CLS

      Given this is an idea in a blog post and not a piece of proposed legislation, the whole “upvote/downvote” thing doesn’t really work. You’re free to share this post if you like, though!

  2. Dan

    The beauty of the term “Legion of Idiots” is that it accurately (albeit sadly) shows that they consist of massive numbers (a Roman legion consisting of about 5000 soldiers). Unfortunately, the resulting size of the list is going to greatly diminish its value.

  3. Raccoon Strait

    That idea about mandatory vasectomy’s is a good one. Apply it to anyone of high school age that has shown any propensity or expressed any desire to run for any public office (school governments don’t count, unless those are gateway positions). It will take time, but eventually we can cull the herd to the point that no one who wants to be a politician will be left and we can find actual thinking people and sentence them to office for the good deeds they have done.

  4. JD

    The flaw in this plan is the same people who would vote on the stupidity index are the same people who voted for the legislators who proposed the stupid laws to begin with.

    But an alternative does exist. I defer to the master himself, Robert Heinlein:

    “I note one proposal to make this Congress a two-house body. Excellent — the more impediments to legislation the better. But, instead of following tradition, I suggest one house of legislators, another whose single duty is to repeal laws. Let the legislators pass laws only with a two-thirds majority … while the repealers are able to cancel any law through a mere one-third minority. Preposterous? Think about it. If a bill is so poor that it cannot command two-thirds of your consents, is it not likely that it would make a poor law? And if a law is disliked by as many as one-third is it not likely that your would be better off without it?”

      1. Bryan Burroughs

        Frankly, I’m surprised that you frequently manage to get two reasonably formed sentences in succession sometimes: p

  5. Tom H

    I have a candidate for SFL index. In my town of 45K we have a councilman running for mayor. He has proposed a city ordinance making abortion illegal. Never mind there is no place to get an abortion here.

  6. Anonymous Coward

    How do I nominate the National Popular Vote Compact? This is both monumentally stupid (throwing away a state’s electoral power) and wide spread with many legislators in multiple state’s writing this.

  7. Howl

    CLS, though you claim “this is an idea in a blog post and not a piece of proposed legislation,” it damn well should be. And don’t worry about planning “for every contingency.” We can work the kinks out later, as they say. In the meantime,

  8. Ned Freed

    stupidlaws.com has been around for a while. Check it out.

    My personal favorite was when the Texas Legislature passed a resolution commending Albert DeSalvo for his “efforts a population control”. This was actually a demonstration that nobody in the legislature was actually reading the stuff they were voting on.

  9. Matt G Brown

    I rarely write here, but I have to disagree very strongly. I think legislatures should absolutely be able to appoint state birds, &etc. To the argument that it’s a waste of time and money, I live in Florida. Look at the other laws; our state statutes could be improved by replacing almost any of them with a state bird.

    Our state bird is the Northern Mockingbird, which either reveals a sly cynicism on the part of our legislature or their stupidity, another point in favor of bird laws (as opposed to Bird Law, which I don’t understand.)

    The upvote thing sounds fine though.

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