The following Op-Ed was submitted by David Goerg. Note: Op-Eds do not necessarily reflect the views and opinions of those at the Idaho Dispatch.
You are probably aware of a recent controversy that has exploded in the Idaho press, in which one “Branden Durst” stands firmly in the center of a flurry of accusations.
According to a host of clone-like news stories, Durst may well be the perpetrator of “bad behavior” or “egregious conduct unbecoming of anyone,” at least according to a very formal and very official Press Release which was released by the combined leadership of the Idaho State Senate on Jan. 19th.
Perhaps many of us are already asking ourselves, “Who is this terrible person (Durst), and who in their right mind let him into the Senate chamber?”
Such a fearful reaction is probably what certain political opponents of Durst are hoping to inspire across Idaho. This makes sense, given the fact that Durst is currently running for the office of State Superintendent against a herd of other candidates, including that offices’ incumbent.
When a partisan group of influential politicians issues a damning Press Release and then promptly retreats behind a viral media, the public is usually left with the impression that the subject of the attack is an unsavory menace.
In the feeble light of the Senate’s Jan. 19th press release, the entire state of Idaho is being instructed to believe that Branden Durst is a bad person.
But the questions that many of the citizens of Idaho are quietly posing in this election year prove that Idaho is taking its politics seriously, this time around.
Many of the conservatives in our state want to know: “Who is Branden Durst, and what actually happened in the Senate chamber on Jan. 18th?”
“Is there any truth behind their vague accusations of Durst’s “bad behavior?
“What did he do, exactly?”
And more importantly, how did this trivial and petty matter become “newsworthy” in the first place?
These are all important questions. And Idaho deserves a response.
THE IDAHO PARENTAL FREEDOM IN EDUCATION ACT
To begin, it is probably important for us to pause for a moment and consider the content of the “Idaho Parental Freedom in Education Act,” which is the true source of the conflict and controversy surrounding Durst. After all, it was the rejection of this bill in the early stages of a print hearing that sparked the controversy around Durst.
The “Idaho Parental Freedom in Education Act,” or Bill was authored by Branded Durst and introduced to the Idaho Senate by Sen. Christy Zito on Jan. 18th. Through this legislation, the duo sought to secure a group of rights on behalf of Idaho’s parents.
More specifically, their legislation articulated provisions which would allow parents immediate and constant access to the content of their child’s educational curriculum. In other words, it would ensure that public schools must show their curriculum and lesson plans to any parent who requests it – immediately, and without hesitation.
If you are anything like me, you might already be questioning why this “right” does not already exist.
And yet it doesn’t, apparently.
I should say that while I haven’t spawned my own offspring at this point in my life, I am looking forward to rearing “David Jr.” as I see fit, in the ways of the Force and the faith of my Father’s, rather than in a progressive cult of radical and confused leftists.
I mean to say that I – and many others, including Durst -are becoming increasingly aware of the fact that there are people in our country who would like to strip our sons or daughters of their biological gender at the drop of a hat, before they even hit puberty.
The idea that our children would be physically altered beneath the point of scalpel and with hefty doses of chemical hormones, as their parents sit behind bars facing charges of domestic terrorism for speaking up at a School Board meeting is simply unfathomable and unacceptable.
And yet somehow – impossibly – these dark scenarios have been playing out in communities across America, and it seems as if a shudder-worthy future lies clearly in our view.
Enter Branden Durst, and the “Idaho Parental Freedom in Education Act.”
DIVINE RIGHTS OF PARENTS
“Parents’ rights to make decisions for their children are not granted from the government, but are divinely given[.]”
These powerful words stand at the core of Durst and Zito’s Parental Rights bill.
And yet this self-evident premise of all civilization from time immemorial, reflected in Durst’s Bill, is somehow under fire in our modern day and age.
Even if we were to turn into a heartless society that mocks and derides the family unit, or that strips suckling babes out of the arms of their mother’s embrace to place them on an assembly line of public education as subjects of indoctrination, it will still be difficult to destroy the fact that we – as a species – proceed from generation to generation, or in other words, from parents to children, in more ways than one.
In this regard, the “Idaho Parental Freedom in Education Act” is a unique and lawful Bill in which Durst correctly links fundamental and inherent human rights – in this case, the rights of parents – to a source of self-evident power that lies far above and beyond the authority of any group or government.
Just to be clear, this is the same bill that was rejected by two Republican senators and two liberal Democrats on Jan. 18th.
And all these things together are the reason for Dursts’ display of indignation on the floor of the Idaho Senate on that fateful Tuesday afternoon.
THE NECESSARY CONTEXT
“I can’t believe that we need a bill like this for Idaho because frankly it seems like common sense,” said Durst in a private interview a few days after the press exploded with his name. “The flipside of [parental rights] is totalitarian or authoritarian, driving parents away from the educational environment.”
Durst remains undaunted in the face of the PR firestorm that followed his fiery and heartfelt reaction to the rejection of the Bill.
“We have heard reports from families from parents that have experienced a lot of difficult things in the last year and a half,” he continued. “The actual level of respect that parents are getting in the educational system has really been called into question.”
Of course, Durst is referring to the numerous reports of COVID-19 related mischief across the state. In some areas, such as Bonneville county in Eastern Idaho, the mutual outrage and dissatisfaction of parents with their local school districts and schools has prompted grassroots community action, much of which centers of COVID-19 related mandates.
Yet there is more than one issue between Idaho parents and their public schools.
Things like Critical Race Theory, questionable sex-education practices, and blatant LGBTQ activism frustrate many of Idaho’s parents. And they, like Durst, are speaking out against it, even at the cost of offending officials in power.
“It doesn’t have to be happening now to prevent it from happening,” Durst said. “Why do we always have to be reactionary?”
While the petitions, protests, and pleadings of parents have largely fallen on the deaf ears of apathetic school boards, Parental Rights issues are blossoming into serious lawsuits, as Idaho parents’ revolt against what they perceive to be numerous threats to the well-being of their children.
“Parents have the authority to do certain things on behalf of their children,” asserted Durst. “The [Idaho Parental Freedom in Education Act] provides parents with defensible presumption for things like being able to go to their kids’ classrooms, being able to review curriculum and educational material, or being able to withdraw their kids from course materials that were inappropriate. If a school district tried to keep them from doing one of those things, they’d be able to say, ‘Well, Idaho Law says I can.’”
By all accounts, the Bill appears to be a reasonable solution to a set of troubling problems.
Durst and Zito will bring an updated version of their Parental Rights Bill back to the floor of the Senate in early February. According to Durst, the new version will make it clear that the authority of the bill extends to outdoor athletic facilities.
In other words, we haven’t seen the end of Durst or his crusade for Parental Rights.
Durst says that he was blindsided by the palpable apathy of two Republican senators who sat in the hearing for the Idaho Parental Freedom in Education Act.
“These are things that need to happen for families, and here we have a Republican (at least a Republican in name) stopping it from happening,” Durst lamented. “You know, I expect the Democrats to be anti-family but I don’t expect the Republicans to be anti-family, anti-parental rights.”
Durst is of course referring to Senator Carl Crabtree from Grangeville and Senator Jim Woodward from Slagle. Both of these legislators voted against the Idaho Parental Freedom in Education Act on Jan. 18th, siding with two liberal Democrats to halt the progress of Durst’s Parental Rights Bill.
To be fair, critics of the Parental Rights Bill have mentioned a variety of complications that could arise from the Bill. However, none of these objections has gone unanswered by Durst, and it is increasingly obvious that any complications and challenges that could arise due to the acknowledgement of “Parental Rights” are well-worth the effort to fix and correct.
Notably, Sen. Woodward is on record as having remarked prior to the hearing that he was willing to hear other parental rights bills, but not Dursts’. That is to say, before he had even heard the Bill in the hearing, he had already made up his mind to vote against. And he said as much.
Such a dramatic predetermination by a sitting legislator spits in the face of the purposes of the Senate. Why was Sen. Woodward elected, if not to engage in the legislative process of debate and scrutiny?
Yet the state senator from Slagle sat silently throughout the hearing, refusing to “play ball;” and arrogantly giving the entire legislative hearing a conspicuous “silent treatment.”
As far as political power-moves go, I would place Woodward’s conduct in the category of “overly confident” and “ultimately ineffective.” I say this partly because it is now obvious that Durst is not a money-grubbing push-over. He is a different breed of Idaho legislator.
Additionally, anyone who is familiar with politics will admit that every vote and every word uttered by candidates in an election year will become part of the political fodder wielded by their opponents. Saying so to Woodward’s face in a public setting isn’t a threat – it’s a statement of fact about the organic operations of political conflict and debate in a free society. Accordingly, in the midst of all this controversy, it is important for us – and our elected representatives in the Senate – to avoid the triviality of Woodward’s accusations.
We are being distracted from a powerful and important Bill by the antics and theatre of a group of full-grown men whose feelings were hurt. All of this makes me wonder what they are so afraid of. Such a disproportionate response seems to indicate an excessive level of fear on their part; an overreaction to a small and petty thing.
All controversy aside, the events of Jan. 18th ought to be remembered for the true issue at stake.
Our mutual assertion of trust and confidence in the principle of limited government comes along with equal trust and confidence in the ability of Idaho’s individual parents – at large – to live their lives and make decisions for their families without the intrusion of any public system or source of presumed government authority.
The “Idaho parental freedom in education Act” itself represents an incontestable expression of trust and confidence in individual parents in the State of Idaho.
The principle that all American citizens are presumed to be “innocent until proven guilty” surely applies to the merits of parental authority on a case-by-case basis; and any policy or action that presumes an parent to be irresponsible or incapable of making wise decisions for their children is an insult to the character of American parents – a preemptive strike at the heart of American liberty.
As such is the case, we should all be actively invested in the outcome of this legislative challenge as it continues to develop.
THE QUALITY OF SERVICE
In considering the great significance of Parental Rights, are we really surprised that Durst was upset and vocally frustrated in the aftermath of the official rejection of the Parental Rights Bill?
What should we have expected from him, or rather, what should we desire from him, or even demand from him in the future?
That he have no emotional involvement in his political work? Can we demand that he view himself and the legislation of the State of Idaho through a merely political lens, and have no investment in the outcome of the most powerful legislative body in the entire State?
Placing such demands on Branden would be impossible, and additionally, they would be unnecessary.
What we need – as citizens of the State of Idaho, and as Americans, as a free-people in a possession of free form of government, which is entirely and completely beholden to the Will of the People, being based upon OUR voice, and our permitted by our patience and goodwill – are self-sacrificing champions.
We need men and women who are willing to preserve, to contend, to fight, to promote, and to publish the cause of our own liberty and freedom.
We need men and women who will not shy away from a debate.
We need legislators and public officials who will navigate a corrupt and degraded political system, wading through the intrigue of monied influence and partisan debauchery.
We need men and women who will not give up the fight; men and women who will call attention to the deviant acts of public officials and deliberative bodies, rather than turn a blind eye to it, in order to “get along” and preserve their careers as politicians in the eyes of Senate, House, and State leadership.
We need men and women who “pay their dues” to us – to the Will of the People – in tears, in sweat, sleepless nights, and if needs be, in blood.
We need men and women who fight for us – men and women who have done exactly as Branden Durst did on Jan. 18th on the floor of the Senate and every day since beneath the heavy accusations of a tilted press.
Branden fought for us on that day, and he fought for our children alongside his own.
I mean to say that on the very day that he was slandered and censured by elements of the Senate that are drenched in partisan expediency, Branden showed his true colors as one of Idaho’s best friends.
THE MARK OF VALIANCE
I’m sure that everyone reading this piece has heard of the accusations against Branden. And I’m equally sure that all of us are going to make up our own minds on what happened that day.
I, for one, am glad to see that the mark of valiance has graced the life of Branden Durst, taking the form of some of the most severe and formal opposition I have ever seen leveled against a single individual in the State of Idaho.
Consider for a moment, that a group of storied legislators – the leadership of the entire Senate, in fact – thought it necessary to combine their forces and target one solitary man and his sincere and heartfelt efforts for the people of Idaho.
It will make sense to most readers, then, to remember that in the race for the office of State Superintendent Durst is one of several candidates.
“I’m running on three primary objectives: first is to end Common Core; second is to stop Critical Race Theory,” said Durst. “And the third is to have the money follow the students. That’s what I believe in.”
Additionally, it is of interest that the senators in question, with whom Branden has come into conflict, have pledged their support and their money to his opposition.
If we were to discard an explanation of the controversial events surrounding Jan. 18th that denied or ignored these political realities, we would be doing ourselves a serious disservice. I would even go so far as to say that discarding these considerations amounts to our consent in a peculiar type of ignorance – one that eventually permits bloodshed and murder in the name of politics, if left unchecked.
Slander and insult is a slippery slope that has plagued humanity for a long time; and God-willing we will have the sense to stave it off in our own time by discarding sentiments of “political expediency” when the character of honest and brave men and women – such as Branden Durst – are assassinated in the public square, regardless of whether or not the weapon is as subtle as a whisper campaign or as bold as the trumpet of state-wide press release.
Branden has been through something that few of us will ever know: the thrill and fear of a genuine (though non-violent) battle, a political war of words, and almost certain social death at the hands of a seemingly insurmountable enemy.
Anyone with an ounce of common sense will see through the charade and slander of powerful people who prefer the will of corrupt and decaying political party over the Voice of us – “the People.”
Don’t get me wrong. I’m sure that Branden Durst has many personal failings, but Jan. 18th isn’t one of them.
In acknowledging that Durst isn’t a perfect person, we ought to be relieved that apparently, he doesn’t put on vain appearances or act posh and polished in the public eye.
With Durst, what you see and hear is what you get.
Isn’t that what life should be like, when we live our lives around honest people?
I commend Branden Durst as a hero of virtue and truth. And I hope that in our heart of hearts, many of you will do the same.
Tags: Branden Durst, Christy Zito, David Goerg, Jim Woodward