UPDATE: [by Ed. Michael Bryan] Apparently, #JustMeanWadsack is following our coverage of her disgraceful behavior carefully. She denies having anything to do with harassment at Tucson’s beloved Bookman’s (she was probably auto-corrected to ‘bookmarks’) nor the church behind it. While I’m sure she is careful enough not to use her official email to foment her rabidly bigotted base, we might see about that…:

Send us ALL your emails for the last 3 months you’ve been in office, from BOTH your official account and any personal accounts, and we’ll consider whether to believe your denials!


I’m beginning to think that the QAnon Witch is really upset that drag queens are horning in on her look. Just an observation.

Arizona state senators agreed to have the state Department of Education come up with a list of books that cannot be used in public schools earlier this week. Arizona Senate votes to have state create list of banned books:

Monday’s 16-12 party-line vote came after Sen. Justine Wadsack, R-Tucson, the sponsor of SB 1700, said school libraries in Arizona have copies of “Beyond Magenta,’’ a book about transgender and nonbinary teens. What concerns her, she said, is there is “very explicit imagery of 6-year-old children giving oral sex.’’

Multiple reviews of the book do mention a description of a boy describing his own experiences at that age, with no references to actual images. And Wadsack acknowledged she has not actually seen the book.

Classic religious zealotry: let’s ban something I have never seen or read, but I heard about it on the “internets”!

“But I have seen others,’’ [Have you now? I want to see your reading list] she told Capitol Media Services. And she provided fairly explicit drawings of nudity and sex organs she said parents have forwarded to her as found in books in general circulation at schools.

Are you certain? Maybe these parents are into pornographic images and are projecting their own discomfort with their own sexual obsessions onto their children and schools. I mean, who goes around looking for this in books unless they are really into it?

Monday’s vote came over the objections of several Democrats.

Sen. Christine Marsh, D-Phoenix, a former teacher, said existing law already gives parents access to the titles of books that are being used in classes and in libraries. And she said some may be inappropriate for some children.

“However, there’s no room for banning books in the classroom simply because it upsets one group of people at the expense of so many others,’’ Marsh said.

She said SB 1700 is set up so that any parent can ask the Department of Education to place a book on the “banned’’ list if he or she finds the books to be “lewd or sexual in nature, to promote gender fluidity or gender pronouns or to groom children into normalizing pedophilia.’’

The law of unintended consequences at work: this is how to fight back against religious extremists, using their own fascist bill against them.

There do not appear to be specific rules for that agency to determine what crosses the line. Instead, the legislation says the department will review each submission along with the parent’s basis for concluding it fits into one of those categories.

“And if the department agrees with the parent’s findings, the department shall add the book to the list,’’ it says.

And it’s not just books. That list also can include anything made available to students in electronic or print format.

Marsh said creating such a list is just asking for trouble.

“Those will be the books the kids want to read,’’ she said.

True dat! Years ago I picked up the list of “most banned books” and made it a point to read every book on the list. This is how to resist fascist book banners. There are a number of  banned book reading clubs, you should join one or get some friends together and form one of your own. The Ultimate List of Popular Banned Books You Should Read in 2023.

Sen. Anna Hernandez, D-Phoenix, said her concern extends to what the legislation decides is unacceptable. She cited the verbiage making off limits anything “to promote gender fluidity or gender pronouns.’’

“Gender fluidity is not a thing promoted,’’ Hernandez said.

“There are no brochures trying to sell it,’’ she continued. “Gender fluidity is a naturally occurring phenomenon some people experience.’’

In essence, Hernandez said, gender fluidity is simply “part of the human condition.’’

“You might as well include books that promote left-handedness or curly hair,’’ she said.

“They don’t come as consequences of promotion,’’ Hernandez said. “Gender fluidity will happen whether there are books mentioning it or not.’’

And she said that just because some lawmakers don’t understand it or have experienced it does not mean it should be legislated.

The QAnon Witch Wadsack criticized the Democratic foes of her bill.

[A]nd Wadsack said there’s no gray area here. [There never is for religious zealots.]

“You open the book and you look at the pictures and you can see very clearly when you have 6-year-old children giving oral sex that the book is explicit,’’ she said, a picture that, again, Wadsack acknowledged she has never seen.

Monday’s vote sends the measure to the House.

What has gotten less attention from the local media is the QAnon Witch’s support of the Christian Nationalist evangelical church, The Bridge Christian church in Tucson, organizing harassment of Tucson’s iconic bookstore, Bookman’s, for hosting drag queen story hour.

Blake Morlock at the Tucson Sentinel writes, Wadsack’s bill that would imprison Az drag performers is worth fighting out loud (excerpt):

[S]tate Sen. Justine Wadsack (R-Tucson) says Li’l Miss Hot Mess belongs in prison.

Yup the drag performer whose day job is teaching public humanities at the University of Arizona (not in drag, mind you) should be doing up to a 10-year hitch in the joint for “sexualizing children.” Iron bars. Lights out. Orange scrubs. Eating only with her race, while trying not to get stabbed to death.

Senate Bill 1198, which passed the Arizona Senate on a 16-14 party-line vote, was meant to criminalize drag queen story hours.

See, the Republicans and the Proud Boys have put a bullseye on these story hours because it’s not OK to hate gays for getting married anymore. A vast majority of Americans firmly support a right to marriage. The rightwing had gone after gay marriage because it wasn’t OK to publicly hate African Americans anymore. The whole chanting about the Jews while carrying torches in the streets only went over well with a small segment of the population.

So the GOP has manufactured a ridiculous “trans panic.” Because there aren’t enough actual transgender people in the world to even pretend to point to them as the root cause of a potential downfall of all of Western Civilization™ (and many of the trans folks you know are passing so well that you don’t even know that they’re trans), the rightwingers are working to lump the purposefully flamboyant into their conspiracist fantasies about “grooming” children by pedophiles.

Someone needs to ask on a debate stage: Why is it such a vital part of right-wing politics to identify and criminalize human beings for being different? Don’t they have a strategy other than pointing fingers and blaming the “others” for everything?

Maybe Sen. Wadsack isn’t up on current events. In the United States of America, circa 2022, we don’t imprison people for being different and treating individuality as “child appropriate.”

It’s why we don’t imprison pro-lifers or politicians who believe the rich are overtaxed.

Wadsack says the bill is meant to prevent “the sexualization of children.”

For starters it’s sick, twisted and wrong to accuse entire groups of people of being guilty of pedophilia. That’s just evil. I don’t accuse Wadsack of being a Satanist because she wears those Morticia Adams bangs.

What is it about drag queens that in anyway suggests pedophilia? What? Are they going through seminary?

To say it’s “grooming” or sexualizing children is to believe that merely witnessing a drag queen read a story will turn kids gay, or make them more likely to be victims of abuse. Then again, the modern Right is freaked out about the frogs turning gay, so take it for what its worth.

Kids aren’t quite that impressionable, and sexual identities don’t stem from seeing art and culture. I can vouch that my favorite show as a kid was “M*A*S*H.” Corporal Max Klinger’s cross-dressing joke did not a thing to my sexual identity. My daughters’ generation didn’t turn LGBTQ because they saw “Mulan.” My grandparents weren’t suddenly “fabulous” because they saw the Honeybun scene in “South Pacific.”

Crime statistics make it pretty clear who’s sexually abusing children, and it ain’t drag queens, or any LGBTQ folks.

What’s disturbing here is the cadre of political people who are eager to use the specter of child sexual abuse to frame people who they’ve already worked to marginalize. The people actually sexualizing children are those who can’t stop thinking and talking about kids and sex.

Gov. Katie Hobbs has said she will veto bills if they aren’t bipartisan. So this one could get stopped at that particular drawn line. That’s hiding behind the issue. Even if it is bipartisan, it’s a horrible idea that violates Freedom 101.

SB 1698 is written to make performing in drag in front of minors a class 4 felony. Performing to anyone under 15 would subject a drag performer to prosecution of a dangerous crime against children. The sentence runs up to 10 years and forces them to register as sex offenders for the rest of their lives.

You won’t find the word “drag” in the language of her proposed law, but Wadsack’s clear what she intends with it.

Wadsack’s bill is championed by her fellow members of the so-called “Freedom [sic] Caucus.” That a group calling itself the Freedom [sic] Caucus is anywhere near this legislation proves they are about as pro-freedom as vegans are pro-steak.

Freedom is the ability to live your life on your terms even if a majority disagrees with your decisions or how you identify. Wadsack clearly defines her freedom as the rest of us living under her thumb and doing what she says.

* * *

The other monstrous thing about this bill is its clear effort to conflate the people performing at story hours with “transgender” folks, ‘cuz I guess that’s bad. Drag queens come in all shapes, sizes and personal identities. Cisgender straight (yes, I typed it and still like football) dudes can perform drag. Very few trans people are jumping up on stage and performing as if they’re a different gender than the one they present as in their everyday lives.

But who cares if they happen to be transgender? We’ve got to get over this idea that somehow there are some people who aren’t popular enough to have their rights protected.

By the way, those who do identify as transgender are already taking enough grief from society that it threatens their very existence.

Two studies done in the last five years showed 40 percent of transgender teens have attempted suicide. Holy mother of God.

That would seem to be the public health emergency. Let’s stop that first and deal with the rest later. And if it helps those kids to see that people who don’t identify as “straight” are accepted in the community, then I say Hallelujah, praise the Lord. Let them let their queer flags fly.

This supposed “grooming”? The UA professor and member of our community who has done dozen of drag shows says that’s not the case at all.

“To suggest that goes against all evidence,” Li’ll Miss Hot Mess says (and we at TucsonSentinel.com are in agreement. Best. Drag Name. Ever). “What we’re able to do is show kids that who they are is OK.”

* * *

OK, so Wadsack is extreme and her bill is an abomination. The rest of us are accomplices if we buy into their us-versus-them garbage. Remember, you are very likely “them.”

The entirety of the right-wing culture war can be distilled to one sentence: “It’s our country, not theirs.” They mean it’s not yours unless you voted for Kari Lake in both the primary and the general election.

* * *

Know what is an archetypical form of heroism? Standing up for the people meant to feel isolated and alone and telling their tormentor “Ya ain’t touching them. They’re with us.”

Democrats need to get off their asses. Don’t just pivot to kitchen table issues. This is serious and dangerous because, again, it’s about threatening people with prison.

They should try the “married, straight, Christian, suburban mom” speech Michigan State Sen. Mallory McMurrow gave to help rally normal people to victory after victory in that state during the last election.

In the meantime, Wadsack may want to remember she won her election by just 3,000 votes. She’s acting like a safe-district nutbar while representing a 51-49 district in a 16-14 Senate. Wadsack could cost Republicans their control over that chamber.

Couldn’t happen to a meaner demagogue.

Sane people aren’t going to let strange people imprison drag queens. Period.

That’s how you “message” against this bill. Tell it like it is.

Democrats had better be recruiting a strong candidate to run against this QAnon Witch, and start running now. There is simply no good excuse for someone like her serving in the state legislature (of course, I could say that about half of the state legislature), especially representing the very blue City of Tucson.

UPDATE: It’s on:

From sackwadsack.com:


The Unapologetic Recall

Recall effort for Arizona Senator Justine Wadsack

We believe Justine Wadsack does not accurately represent her constituents. We have a series of events lined up and we need as many volunteers as possible to gather signatures of LD17 residents.

Please see our events page or if you would like to volunteer email: sackwadsackld17@gmail.com or follow us on Twitter.