…Theresa Manzella, state representative from Ravalli County.
On January 20, Manzella journeyed to Paradise to hear Cliven Bundy, the guy who held an armed standoff against federal agents over grazing rights.
(Bundy) delivered a long speech focusing on how he doesn’t recognize the federal government’s powers.
“Go and read your Constitution and start acting like you’re a sovereign state,” he told the crowd.
Bundy gets to talk about defying federal law. That’s your First Amendment at work. And Manzella vehemently defends that right — until it comes to high school students concerned with getting shot at school.
She took to the Ravalli County Republican’s Facebook page* to rail against the students. She claims it wasn’t the students’ idea to have a 17-minute walkout protesting gun violence. It was a communist plot.
In a post, Manzella said she was working to expose the MEA/MFT as being part of the radical left.
“It’s become painfully obvious the teachers union is working against our constitution and for socialism and communism,” Manzella wrote.
Hamilton High School Principal Dan Kimzey has a slightly different take:
Kimzey said a student approached him shortly after the Florida shooting saying she and some of her classmates planned to participate in the #Enough — National School Walkout set for March 14 from 10 a.m. to 10:17 a.m.
“The students who are planning and participating in this walkout believe strongly that school shootings are an epidemic that needs to immediately remedied in this country and intend to exercise their First Amendment rights, just as many opponents to this sort of protest have indicated equally strong beliefs in the gun rights protected by the Second Amendment,” Kimzey wrote. “This is an extremely complex issue, which can’t be distilled to the simplicity of First Amendment vs. Second Amendment rights.”
It’s nice to see someone in the Bitterroot taking a thoughtful approach to the issue.
But that didn’t satisfy Manzella. Obviously, high school students can’t think for themselves:
“People felt like a lot of kids might not have a clear understanding of what it was they were doing or if they were participating just because they want to get out of school,” she said. “The concern is that they will be used as pawns in a political statement.”
Again, Kimzey counters Manzella:
“In short, school shootings have caused many students throughout the country to fear attending school and the Bitterroot Valley schools are no exception,” wrote Kimzey. “Many kids have expressed a feeling of helplessness and some of our students, and their fellows around the state, will most certainly walk out of school on March 14th in order to feel like there is something they can actually do to make a difference.”
I won’t go so far as to say that Manzella will have blood on her hands after the next school shooting — and at the rate our leaders from the municipal level up to the president are responding to these massacres, there will be another — but her siding with public lands scofflaws over frightened high school students certainly reveals her priorities.
For God’s sake, someone run against this woman in House District 85.
UPDATE 1: Manzella continues to step in it. Teachers union responds. The Missoulian has the story here.
UPDATE 2: And here is the Flathead Memo’s take on it.
*The Ravalli Republican’s Facebook page is a closed group. I asked to join but the first question posed on their page is, “Are you a registered Republican?” Since I am not, I doubt I’ll be invited in any time soon. And it’s a damn funny question because in Montana, people don’t register to vote by party affiliation.