I have occasional reasons to cross the state line into Tennessee. Lotsa North Carolinians do business in Johnson County. But after catching up on the craziness right now out our back door, I'm thinking of going cold turkey on the entire Volunteer State. Their leaders are currently volunteering to be the worst public dicks in the nation. Economic reaction is the only pressure that works. (See how NC suffered after the "Bathroom Bill" passed.)passed joint legislation to create a new felony offense for anyone engaging in an "adult cabaret performance" on public property or in any location where the performance "could be viewed by a person who is not an adult." The criminalization of these "performances" would presumably extend to costumed dancers in Pride parades and to off-color jokes told by a trans comedian (there are plenty such professionals; check Netflix).
On the very same day, Thursday, February 23, Tennessee House Republicans also overwhelmingly passed a ban on gender-transition health care, including hormone therapy and surgery, for anyone under the age of 18. That's telling those "confused" teenagers! "You're going to be what I say you are. And you're grounded."
The Drag Show Bill (H6/S3), "An Act to Amend Tennessee Code," lists its favorite erotic fantasies -- topless, go-go, and all "exotic" dancers, plus strippers and "male or female impersonators who provide entertainment." That capaciousness for criminalizing sexy displays actually deploys the adjective pruient, a little used relic from an earlier era of shocked Victorian prudery. Any of the "entertainers" listed above who arouse pruient thoughts will be subject to prosecution.
Pruient comes from Latin pruiens, originally meaning an itching (no lie!). For Roman soldiers, beset by fleas and lice and armor-rash, pruiens meant a physical itching but quickly took on a metaphorical meaning, itching for sex. In other words, it's ancient and obscure enough to become the standard for criminal intent in a new felony class in the State of Tennessee.
The Tennessee legislators worry about the itch because they by God have the itch, feel the itch, and by-'n'-by scratch the itch (like all God's creatures). Their denial is a confession but also a power play. The Puritan tyrant is always covering for his own sin. Accounts for the obsession:
"Republicans are troubled by homosexuality and can't figure out how not to think about it."
Democrats hold a dismissible minority of seats in the two chambers of the Tennessee legislature. Republicans have a veto-proof majority in both houses and a Republican governor to boot, willing to sign whatever they want. One of the minority Democrats in the House, Rep. Justin Jones (who goes under the handle @BrotherJones on Twitter) stood up during the debate on the Drag Show Bill and delivered one blistering takedown of Republican hypocrisy (video can be seen here). “If we want to address the issue of obscenity and what’s harmful to minors, my colleagues on the other side of the aisle don’t need a bill — they need a MIRROR.”
If there's still a shred of justice at any level of power in this country, the Courts will see that the State of Tennessee is legally persecuting an identifiable group, and you simply cannot do that in our Republic.