Republican lawmaker in New Hampshire criticizes kids’ suggestion to make hawk the state raptor, says it reminds him of abortion

March 24, 2015 • 3:10 pm

I’m pretty confident in saying that only a Republican could be this mushbrained and callous. A group of New Hampshire kids wanted to get a lesson in politics, and so drafted a bill that would make the red-tailed hawk (Buteo jamaicensis) the Official State Raptor. (I’m sure Stephen Barnard would be on board with this). But in this crazy country of right-wing loons, here’s what happened next. PuffHo reports:

A New Hampshire Republican lawmaker said last week that he strongly opposed a bill drafted by local fourth-graders to establish the Red-Tailed Hawk as the “State Raptor” because the predator bird reminds him of an abortion provider.

The hawk “grasps them with its talons then uses its razor-sharp beak to basically tear it apart limb by limb,” State Rep. Warren Groen (R) said on the House floor as the class of 10-year-old students watched from the gallery. “And I guess the shame about making this a state bird is it would serve as a much better mascot for Planned Parenthood.”

The fourth-graders from Lincoln Akerman School in Hampton Falls, New Hampshire, had drafted House Bill 373 as part of a lesson on how politics work. Lawmakers rejected the bill in front of the students by a vote of 133 to 160, with some arguing that the legislation was unnecessary.

“Do we need a state waterfowl, a state pet bird, a state wild bird?” Groen told The Huffington Post in a phone interview. “How many types of birds do we need?”

Groen said he directed the abortion metaphor at the adults in the room, not at the kids, although he knew the students were there watching. “The selective outrage about this I find quite curious,” he said. “Every week in Manchester, the fourth-grade class from 2025 is killed out. Babies that would be 10 years old and in fourth grade 10 years from now are aborted in Manchester, and there’s no outrage.”

Seriously, if you were to write a comedy script about Republican political foot-in-mouth syndrome, it would be this one. But you probably wouldn’t be so imaginative! I can only echo the statement of one of the student’s parents: “”I am ashamed of these people we call our representatives.”

Here’s a funny video by John Oliver, the British political satirist, about this debacle, showing some of the House debate. A live specimen of Buteo jamaicensis appears at 2:50, which he proclaims as the Official Raptor of his Show (“Last Week Tonight”). It’s followed by a video honoring the bird. Be sure you watch it all, because there’s some really nice raptor footage in here:

h/t: Robin, Mark

102 thoughts on “Republican lawmaker in New Hampshire criticizes kids’ suggestion to make hawk the state raptor, says it reminds him of abortion

  1. Though I find the examples to be ridiculous, I really don’t want 4’th graders writing law.

    I agree with their rejecting this and agree with the 4’th paragraph.

    1. Please! Although technically they are writing law, it’s not as if they are determining budget allocations. I thinks it’s important to keep the legislative process available to students for trivial matters such as this – too few people participate in politics and this is a good educational exercise.

    2. I’m perfectly fine with anybody drafting legislation, and I would be repulsed to discover that a legislature dismissed it out of hand based solely on who the original author is.

      Presumably, since this was a class exercise, the teacher had a good deal of input into the bill’s language. It’s also a good bet that there were various political staffers involved who made sure it was up to muster.

      And, even if there were some technical flaws in the bill, that’s what amendments are for — for the legislators to fix the bill before they vote on it, at which point they can vote based on the actual merits of the proposed legislation rather than inconsequential errors.

      There’s really no good reason why this bill should have been voted down. A good part of any legislature’s time is spent on fluffy PR stuff like this, and this was a perfect example of the genre. There should have been a short presentation by the students, a couple short speeches by members in a similar vein with added praise for the students and their teacher, and either a roll call with unanimous (or at least overwhelming) support or a call for unanimous consent.

      The whole thing should take no more than fifteen minutes of floor time and could be done in the middle of a filibuster or some other procedural something-or-other that would be taking up the time regardless.

      And, next legislative season, when some other class proposes an official state songbird, you do it all over again.



        1. Why not? It’d be a great exercise for next year’s batch of fifth graders. Now that we’ve got an official raptor, should the official prey be a rodent or a bird? Start with some good biological fieldwork to see what the hawks prefer, maybe work in some nutritional analysis, and so on. When the science teachers are done with the kids, hand the results over to the civics teachers to turn it into legislation.

          A teacher (or administrator) with even a smidgen of imagination could turn such an idea into a generation’s worth of lesson plans.


            1. Yeah, I don’t want 4th graders writing legislation. Much better to have the lobbyist from big corporations doing it like it’s done in Washington.

              Please give us a break with the attempts at serious political chat.

              1. Maybe we need to designate honest, high quality politicians an endangered species.

      1. Ayeup!

        (To Ben’s comment. This is a very “yankee” rejoinder which anyone with NE roots will get)

    3. I can’t imagine 4th graders doing a worse job of legislating than the current f#ckwits the voters have actually elected to do the job.

      We may not need state birds, rocks, reptiles, dinosaurs, and so on, but we do need to get kids involved in the government, as future voters, as future candidates, as future elected officials. I see nothing wrong with encouraging them to be active, even if it is something as simple as suggesting a state bird. We have too much apathy, too much idiocy, in this nation and I delight in seeing any child attempt to take an active part in politics. Far better than the shiftless, brainless, twits that I tried to educate in 11th grade American Government who had NO IDEA what a democrat or a republican was. If I have a choice between barely literate rethuglican lawmakers in New Hampshire, complete and total morons in an 11th grade Missouri public high school, or 4th graders attempting to get a hawk designated as an official bird for their state, I choose to support the wonderful 4th graders. Kudos to those fine young student citizens and shame on the absolutely worthless, pea-brained, reactionary republicans who stopped them.

    4. Sorry. I think that we have too much snowflakery as it is. They don’t obtain the right to have their class project taken seriously because they are cute kids.

      What’s next: having every elementary school writing a bill for…the state hot dog?

      This doesn’t mean that I want corporate lobbyists writing legislation either.

      Save the “aw, aren’t these kids smart and cute” for the dreary facebook walls of parents.

      1. Right, I’m not sure it has anything to do with your “cute kids” hypothesis. Speaking as an educator, it was most likely an attempt to get students to take an interest in politics and civics, but whatever. Think what you want, after all, we wouldn’t want the politicians to lose valuable time fundraising. Maybe they can also kick a puppy and piss in somebody’s Cheerio’s on the way to yet another Koch brothers dinner. We sure don’t need any kids getting it into their heads that “we the people” should have anything to say or do with how our country is run, even when it’s just these little “fluff” bits.

          1. That was patronising. One could say the same about the legislators we saw in that video, actually…

              1. You seem to be in a minority in regarding it as ‘realistic’.

                I’ve said before I think all these state symbols are a bit silly, but as John Oliver said, it doesn’t matter, and with the kids in the room it’s not necessary to pooh-pooh them in public. The legislators could at least have had the taste not to be assholes about it.

              2. “You seem to be in a minority in regarding it as ‘realistic’.”

                Sort of; I wonder how seriously the commenters would take it had this class come up with a “new scientific result”

                “The legislators could at least have had the taste not to be assholes about it.”


              3. “The legislators could at least have had the taste not to be assholes about it.”


      2. Perhaps there is a reason you are a math professor at a small university as you certainly have no creativity to be able to teach fourth graders about politics. Stuffed shirt comes to mind!

        1. What does my lack of mathematical ability have to do with my thinking that law ought not to be written by 4’th grade students?

          And when did I criticize the project or the pedagogy involved?

          I always thought that there was a difference between what is taken seriously by a legislature and a project designed to teach students.

        2. Jeez Bill, I don’t think blueollie deserved that. Maybe you don’t like what he/she said but the ad hom didn’t really endear your point to others.

          1. Oh, I am fine. If his point was that I lacked the intellectual credentials to have a viewpoint worth listening to, he…well…helped make my point. 🙂

            (and yes, my research record isn’t what anyone would call distinguished, though I have one)

            I do not spend time worrying about how random people on websites view my career.

  2. Yet these same politicians don’t appear to be all that concerned when chemicals from fracking, for instance, lead to higher rates of miscarriage and infant mortality.

  3. A group of New Hampshire kids wanted to get a lesson in politics

    … and they did! Maybe not the one they wanted or expected, but very instructive all the same.

    1. Indeed. “See children? A politician can twist any well-meaning proposal put forward by the citizenry into a rhetorical talking point.”

      Or putting it another way: “note how the politician grasps your ‘state raptor’ proposal with its rhetorical talons then uses its razor-sharp speech to basically tear it apart limb by limb”

    2. Indeed it is a lesson in politics. One that might very well turn these kids away from politics, allowing the sleazeball special interests more wiggle room. The shenanigans of politicians turn most people off. Over half do not turn out at congressional elections.
      Practically speaking, I don’t see any down side to approval of the hawk bill. It took lawmakers longer to complain about having to do it than it would take to approve it.

      1. Well I’ll give the grandstanding Repug this: at least he didn’t use the occasion to hold forth on the different kinds of rape, and which ones are more and less “true” rape.

    3. Yes! You beat me to the same point. A sad lesson, perhaps, but they will have learned about the cynicism of many modern politicians.

  4. I get something about the user having disabled other sites from showing the video. It has to be watched at the YouTube site.

      1. Indeed. I’d call this guy an a$$hole, but he’d need an extension ladder and a grappling hook to _attain_ the level of “a$$hole.”

      2. Does he chew with his mouth closed? Does he wipe his mouth with a napkin or his sleeve? Does he think his wife should be “graciously submissive” (as the Southern Baptists say) and subordinate to him?

  5. They sure did learn their lesson about American politics.

    But I’m confused. Wouldn’t the passing have provided plenty of heartwarming photo ops that could have been wonderfully exploited for campaigning?

    1. Well, I think Ken Ham and his followers would argue that all the nasty, flesh-ripping stuff only came about as a result of the “Fall”. Hawks, tigers, sharks, Tyrannosaurs and other predators were all peaceful vegetarians before Eve listened to that damn talking snake and messed everything up for the next 8,000 years.

  6. I wonder what the Hon. Mr. Groen’s position is on the talon-like characteristics of hollow-point ammunition in particular and on gun control in general.

    1. “The stupid is strong with Mr. Groen.”

      Remember, brethren, take especial care not to misspell his last name here, of all places. 😉

    2. That is being too generous. Though he is undoubtedly stupid the real issue is that he is an unsavory asshole.

  7. I expect they just didn’t like the idea of legislation they didn’t write themselves. Once that idea gets out all kinds of horrors may come to pass. Marriage equality bills for example, the Red Tailed Hawk was the thin end of a very scary wedge.

    1. Yes. Much better to get the Heritage Institute or the American Enterprise Institute to write your legislation for you than to let the hoi polloi in on the action.


  8. You just can’t make these things up! Amazing!

    I’m not really bothered by the bill being voted down — or passed. Either one is a lesson in politics for the kids. However, that Republican certainly has a weird mind.

  9. It is safe to say that in the years 200o to 2001 the Republican party morphed into a nightmarish National Lampoon parody of itself.

    The second half of the 20th century saw 2+ relatively decent Republican presidents, Dwight Eisenhower, Gerald Ford, and (marginally iffily) Ronald Reagan. Reagan could at least distinguish the different founding fathers, unlike Sarah Palin.

    Throughout the 21st century the Republican party seems to have cast up one lunatic after another in truly frightening ways.

  10. Why does New Hampshire need more than two hundred members in their legislature? Some cities with far larger populations than NH get by with very small councils. There are 16 members on the Houston council for instance.

  11. I heard about this story on the radio, while my wife and I were driving in to work. We were so incensed that we were shouting at our poor radio who did nothing wrong.

  12. Among all of the other scary things about this whole scenario is the fact that there are *293* politicians, just in New Hampshire. This cannot end well.

      1. The mere thought that a fourth grade class’s bill to name an official state bird could become a matter of partisan politics demonstrates how seriously fucked up our entire political system is right now.


  13. Considering the apparent knowledge and intelligence of many of the politicians, it might be better to have legislation drafted and debated by fourth graders….

  14. I wouldn’t call John Oliver a “political satirist”. On the contary, I rely on him to tell me what’s really happening in the USA, unlike a certain vulpine channel. An an Americanised Englishman, like Alistair Cooke, Quentin Crisp or Christopher Hitchens, he takes a martian view of the USA, which is to say a more nearly objective view.

  15. I recently poked fun at the number of state symbols – which I find faintly ridiculous.

    BUT, as John Oliver said (twice), “This doesn’t MATTER.” FFS, with the kids in the room, just vote “Yes” and get on with the next order of business.

    As for the obsessive dickwit who tried to drag abortion into it – get a freakin’ life. Does he do that with every bill about something completely different? What an idiot.

    1. Yes, it’s surely unprecedented for a state to have more than oneState Bird. Well, except for six of them. A State Raptor would be shocking though. Eagles are some kind of duck, aren’t they?

    2. Yeah, it’s kinda like the “official” whatever of the Olympics.

      Is there an official hemorrhoid suppository or laxative of the Olympics?

            1. If you have the latest version of autocorrect, I think it has a flag which defaults to punblock = ON. Uncheck it at your own risk of embarrassment.

  16. That is a huge legislative body for a mere 1.327 million people! maybe there are too many of them – they could sack a third & save a shed load of money…

  17. What a joke! Truth is really stranger than fiction.

    What an absolute moron this politician has shown himself to be. Forget the need for a state raptor or not, how in the hell do see similarity between a bird of prey and abortion?

    That’s a leap that could cross the grand canyon, but then again maybe the grand canyon is offensive as well. I mean after all if you throw a baby in canyon…..

  18. The irony here is this Republican is tacitly saying our nation symbol (the eagle) is a symbol for abortion.

    The eagle “…grasps them [prey] with its talons then uses its razor-sharp beak to basically tear it apart limb by limb…” It also engages in siblicide and infanticide.

    Unbeknownst to the teacher, children just weren’t observing this bill, but arguing against it.

    1. Why not violent? It’s like power and domination. Better than submission and consumption. Ben Franklin wanted the wild turkey to be the symbol of the U.S. but the pentagon balked.

  19. I think the (homeschooled?) Congressman really should be made to repeat the 4th grade biology class that so obviously excited and inspired the kids to share the awesome science they’ve learned with the people of their state.

    I laughed as he repeatedly referred to his scribbled notes to remember the careful list of ornithological groups his Gawd-addled brain was able to conjure:

    – flightless birds
    – water fowl
    – pet birds
    – garden birds
    – wild birds

    Why, so many kinds of birds the Lard haz msde!

    1. I somehow doubt those are valid taxonomic classifications. Why, some of them might even overlap!

      And he forgot a couple of important ones, as in
      Big Birds
      Angry Birds

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