Was Senator David Omdahl born insensitive, or is it a lifestyle choice?
After spewing his ignorant spite toward transgender kids in a shocking public comment in Sioux Falls February 6, the District 11 Republican launched his aging white male rage at a Senate colleague from his own party yesterday during formal debate on House Bill 1008, the now infamous anti-transgender school potty bill headed for the Governor’s desk.
Senator Deb Peters (R-9/Hartford) raised a couple of questions about HB 1008 (why exempt private schools? why specify “elementary” and “secondary” schools but not “middle” schools?), then said she would vote against HB 1008 because for the kids she talks to, including the boys and girls on her sons’ cross country team, “This isn’t an issue that’s an issue in the high school. Kids don’t see this as a hot topic in their school.” After supportive comments from Senator James Bradford (D-27/Pine Ridge), Senator Omdahl rose for this oppositional exchange with Senator Peters:
OMDAHL: Of what I understand, you have boys? You don’t have any girls? Is that correct?
MICHELS: Senator Peters, do you care to answer the question?
PETERS: It’s pretty evident, but, obviously, yes, I only have boys.
OMDHAL: I guess my point is, I’ve got a nine-year-old granddaughter. She’s an innocent girl. And girls – I’ve talked to teachers about this – girls are conscious of their little bodies. They don’t even like to shower together. So I ask you, please, please support this bill. These young, innocent girls don’t need to be exposed to the male anatomy at that age. Thank you [South Dakota Senate, floor debate, transcribed in Kealey Bultena, “Transgender Bathroom Bill Moves to Governor’s Desk,” SDPB Radio, 2016.02.16].
How did Senator Omdahl violate decency and Senate decorum in this attack?
- Senator Omdahl attempts to use an aspect of a fellow Senator’s personal life to discredit that fellow Senator’s testimony.
- Senator Omdahl uses this personal attack to dodge the substance of Senator Peters’s statement, that real kids, the kids Senator Peters knows very well, perceive none of the threat to their innocence that Senator Omdahl projects onto them to justify HB 1008.
- Senator Omdahl presumes to understand female psychology better than Senator Peters and implies that Senator Peters does not understand the concerns of innocent nine-year-old girls, completely ignoring the fact that Senator Peters has more experience as an innocent nine-year-old girl and a female than Senator Omdahl ever will.
- Senator Omdahl promulgates patriarchal sexism, portraying females exclusively as defenseless and males like himself as their brave protectors.
You can view Senator Peters’s questions and comments at 2:10:05 and Senator Omdahl’s attack at 2:14:50 in the SDPB video of the Senate’s February 16 floor debate.
Senator Omdahl’s insulting sexism fit a broader pattern of patronizing rhetoric from HB 1008 backers, who portrayed opponents as emotional (thus, not reliable) and called for respect and civility in the debate (implying that they hold a moral high ground in this discourse and that their opponents are somehow misbehaving in their passionate and far better reasoned and evidenced responses). But Senator Omdahl’s personal attack on Senator Peters epitomized the arrogant insensitivity and male insecurity (you want to dish? we can dish, Dave) motivating HB 1008.