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Kansas Outlaws Dinosaur-Themed Toys, Cartoons

"Barney Ban" Will Protect Children, Says State Attorney General Kline. Legislative Leaders' Goal: "Healing Wounds of Darwinism"

May 13, 2005
Satire by David Albrecht

TOPEKA, KS - Kansas Attorney General Phill Kline stunned many Kansans yesterday by announcing that books, toys and cartoons depicting or featuring dinosaurs were now illegal across the state.

Kline, no stranger to controversy on such hot-button issues as abortion and gun control, defended the actions of the Kansas Legislature, which in a special late-night session overrode Democratic Governor Kathleen Sebelius' veto of the Childrens' Defense & Truth in Science Act.

"The people of the Sunflower State understand rock-bottom honesty," he said. "They know that this is not some sort of anti-science conspiracy. We're not moving backwards. We simply believe that this is the best way possible to heal the partisan wounds that decades of rule by the secular left have inflicted on this state."

Kline emphasized that information on dinosaurs would remain available to students in university paleontology classes, provided they supplied waivers signed by their parents or guardians.

The new state law, effective immediately, makes it illegal for Kansans to purchase for or supply to children any book, toy, game, video or electronic media which portrays dinosaurs or "to import, send or ship" any such materials into Kansas from outside the state.

The prohibition on viewing dinosaur-themed items applies to all Kansas residents under the age of 21 and allows courts to impose penalties of up to five years imprisonment for adults who make saurian information available to minors.

The law justifies these penalties as appropriate for "conduct detrimental to public morals." Minors engaged in Mesozoic malfeasance would, however, be subject to the juvenile code rather than adult penalties.

The legislative override, which coincided with hearings by the State Board of Education on science standards and evolutionary theory in public education, surprised observers both inside and outside the state. Many thought that the hearings, which were boycotted by scientists, would mark an end to the controversy, at least pending the board's vote on science standards later this year.

Dr. Thomas Jenkins, head of the prestigious National Academy of Scientists, one of the world's most prestigious scientific bodies, had no response when asked for comment on the ban beyond peals of hysterical laughter broken by convulsive gasping for breath.

But socially conservative Republicans in the state legislature were able to move the bill from committee to the governor's desk in less than 72 hours. In an impressive display of party unity and clout, they were able to override the governor's veto in less than one day.

"We're proud of this bill," said State Senator Kay O'Connor (R-Olathe), "and we're proud of the fact that the children of Kansas are finally safe from the pernicious influence of godless evolutionary theory. It starts with dinosaurs, but believe you me, it doesn't end there."

O'Connor, who won notoriety for her public statement two years ago that women should not be allowed to vote, said that "stopping the infection at the source" was the only way to bring Kansans together and the only long-term solution to the creationism controversy.

Many at a press conference called by the attorney general questioned whether diverting law enforcement resources to raiding bookstores, searching cars and opening packages in search of black-market brontosauruses was a sensible use of taxpayer dollars. Kline, however, was outspoken in his support of the new law.

Pressed by one reporter for the Kansas City Star, who pointed out that methamphetamine-related crime had risen 37% in the past year, Kline posed a rhetorical question: "Who can say where the road to drug abuse begins? I believe that it begins for many young Kansans with the cold, brutal message of Charles Darwin, imposed and enforced by the secular left. It ends, as you point out, in meth labs and prisons across the state."

In Lawrence, home of the University of Kansas and arguably the most liberal corner of the state, Borders Books & Music was one of the first targets of suddenly reassigned KBI agents. General Manager Lisa Bakke stood by in shock as officers hauled boxes of Barney videos, Dinotopia books and Jurassic Park DVDs off to waiting police cruisers.

"It's just beyond belief," she said, noting that she had still heard nothing about compensation for businesses like hers in cases where authorities seize merchandise. Also seized in the raid were works by Stephen Jay Gould, Dougal Dixon, E.O. Wilson and Richard Dawkins.

KBI agents who participated in the raid said they had no idea whether CDs by the seminal alt-rock group Dinosaur Jr., or the popular 1980s AOR dance track "Walk The Dinosaur" by Was (Not Was), would be covered by the ban.

"We're just waiting for clarification from Mr. Kline's office", said Sgt. Frank Pickering, who declined further comment. However, legislators are preparing to revise the law with an eye towards answering troublesome enforcement questions.

This will include just what Kansas intends to do about national broadcasts of Animal Planet and Discovery Channel. Law enforcement officials are also concerned about how to handle comic strips like BC and The Far Side, which occasionally depict dinosaurs, as well as the caveman-themed 1950s hit song "Alley Oop," the 1933 horror classic "King Kong," and Blue Oyster Cult's 1980 heavy metal magnum opus "Cultosaurus Erectus."

For the time being, Kansas "Flintstones" fans and collectors of Sinclair gasoline memorabilia will also be left hanging.

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