Let’s say something nice about Republicans. No, not those still defending the bigoted,  misogynistic fascist who tried to overthrow our republic.

          But, last month, the Republican-dominated Oklahoma Legislature introduced Gov. Kevin Stitt to the notion of separate branches of government. In a flurry of activity, House and Senate members overrode 13 bills that Stitt had vetoed.

          Granted, some of those overrides were of bills that a petulant Stitt had vetoed simply because they originated in the Senate, with which he was feuding at the time.

          But, I’m sure Stitt had personal interest in HB 2263, which changed the appointment mechanism for the six members of the Oklahoma Turnpike Authority from the governor alone to two each for the governor, House and Senate.

          And, in April, Stitt was vocal in his veto of SB 299. If not overridden, that action would have put the kibosh on the 67-year run of OETA, the state’s public TV provider, the promulgator of educational programing for kids, science shows such as “Nature” and “Nova,” and “Masterpiece Theater” and “Great Performances.”

          Dale Denwalt of The Oklahoman also cites OETA’s impact on state arts, especially through “ ‘Gallery America,’ OETA’s long-running, Emmy Award-winning series spotlighting the visual and performing arts in Oklahoma and across the nation. ‘Gallery America,’ which celebrated its 20th anniversary in 2021, is billed as the only broadcast television program in Oklahoma dedicated to shining a spotlight on the arts from this state.”

          Stephens County’s two State Senators, Chris Kidd and Jessica Garvin, and Rep. Marcus McEntire each supported those 13 overrides when they first passed and then to make them law. Rep. Brad Boles supported all 13 bills initially, but voted against science, culture and educational enhancements to allow Stitt’s veto of OETA funding to stand.

          At the time of his veto, Stitt said, “Although the OETA may have played a principal role in the provision of educational television services at one time, today the OETA’s long-term, strategic value is at best unclear, if not outright imagined.”

          Paul Monies of Oklahoma Watch also reports that, “His office later singled out several children’s TV shows and news segments that it said were “indoctrinating” children. 

          “Indoctrination” is conservative-speak for any program that suggests viewers should be aware, and even tolerant, of people from different backgrounds or cultures.

          The danger that art presents is it that can awaken new views and understanding of our place within the world.

          Such an openness is anathema to dogmatists. They insist upon the conformity that preserves their power.

          Immersing ourselves in art provides us with new vistas which can change our perspective and ignite inspiration. Others can help us see more, hear more, feel more, become more than our own limitations.

          So, thanks to some Republican legislators, OETA is safe until July, 2026. And this could be a harbinger of more resistance to our tinpot autocrat. He became a lame duck as soon as he took the oath for his second term.

          For now, Oklahomans can risk exposure to the great art of the world.

          Art stops time as we enter an alternate universe and explore new ideas that provide us with new insights which we can incorporate into the lives we’re living: changed people in an ever-changing world.

          Celebrate diversity. Appreciate the options our cultures create. This smorgasbord presents us with new possibilities in a mix with infinite connections.

          (Gary Edmondson is chair of the Stephens County Democratic Party.)

OETA survives Stitt’s opposition

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