Bender: Recruiting puritans to the great wide un-woken

"Technically, if that censorship bill passes, the Bible will have to be banned from libraries and available only under gas station counters in plain brown wrappers."

Tony Bender
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People have mocked Gov. Burgum's reboot of the “Find the Good Life” worker recruitment program that spent $848,000 last year and brought in nine workers in six months to fill 40,000 openings.

Personally, I find that heroic under the circumstances because 40,000 is also the number of bills introduced into the Legislature that'd ban books, depictions of “turgid” genitalia, half the letters of the alphabet — especially LGBTQ and, I presume but haven't checked, Froot Loops.

You may call it legislation; I call it anti-marketing unless we're targeting northern Idaho or firing up the flux capacitor for a trip to 1630 England to hire Puritans with coding skills.

All I know is RuPaul ain't coming. And Republicans are policing kitty litter.

Other anti-alphabet legislation pays homage to “Bill and Ted's Excellent Inquisition.” Put them (LGBTQ citizens) in the Iron Maiden!


Supporters of the proposals say they protect children from left-wing ideology. LGBTQ advocates say the wave of anti-transgender legislation is bigoted and harmful.

Remember the dystopian Tom Cruise movie, “Minority Report,” and the “pre-crime” unit? (Drew Wrigley ought to look into this to go along with pre-sentencing.) What if we could determine which pregnancies would result in nonheterosexual children? Abortion, another popular legislative focus, would be making a legendary comeback in North Dakota.

It all sounds so enticing, doesn't it? What educated, evolved, freedom-loving American wouldn't be excited to be bossed around in North Dakota? Unless Saudi Arabia's hiring. Excited? Sure, if sadism makes you turgid, which so far is still allowed (turgidity, not sadism) as long as you're reading the Bible when it occurs. But not about the incest in Genesis or the prostitution in Judges.

Technically, if that censorship bill passes, the Bible will have to be banned from libraries and available only under gas station counters in plain brown wrappers. Or Fargo adult bookstores, wherever they're hiding them these days.

The most benign proposal so far would make curling the official sport but even that sounds a little fruity. Not that there's anything wrong with that. Except in North Dakota. But if that bill's approved it'll relegate bigotry to just a leading pastime right behind drunk driving and frostbite.

Another bill would grant teachers authority to address students by the pronoun of the teacher's, not the student's, choosing. Considering the increase in onerous dictates coming from Bismarck, I call that a win. At last, local control!

While we're further devolving, and who knew that was even possible, surely it's time for a different motto. Some possibilities:

  • You be you. We'll tell you who that is.
  • Sure it's cold, but we'll have book burnings to keep you warm.
  • Times change. We don't.
  • So un-woke, we're comatose.
  • Forgive us for we know not what we do.

Yes, Find the Good Life Here. We're not complete zealots. You can still legally milk a cow with your bare hands as long as you avert your gaze and don't put it online. Just say no to revenge milking porn.

Notably absent from Rep. Dawson Holle’s proposed definition of milk are drinks made from soy, oats, coconuts and almonds.

Frankly, if the state doesn't use this column for recruitment in Boise, it's a mistake. I'll even waive royalties. Enclose it in the packet labeled “Long-haired freaky people need not apply.”


Or we could simply mail recruits a $45,000 signing bonus which would save us $2,000 per person over the average cost so far. The governor wants $25 million more for the program. He'll need it to overcome all this anti-marketing.

Opinion by Tony Bender
Tony Bender writes an exclusive weekly column from North Dakota for Forum News Service.
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