Kicking the Cat

Kicking the Cat - February 15, 2015

State Representative David Perryman

Harper’s Magazine is the second oldest continuously published magazine in the country, just behind Scientific American. Through the years, both have addressed a behavior named “Displaced Aggression.”

One account was in scientific terms and the other in simple straightforward verbalism. This type of aggression occurs when one person is frustrated by another person who cannot be aggressed.  The instigator is often a boss or someone who has power or control over the frustrated individual.

Consequently, if not checked, a cycle of redirected frustration is initiated through a series of individuals with decreasing amounts of authority until the least powerful person may simply “kick the cat.”

In 1871 a Harper’s New Monthly Magazine article observed that “…women are like that when they’re put out. You kick them, and they’ll kick the cat.” Men on the other hand were defended in a New York Times article in 1874 that promoted a man’s right to blow off steam and advised that he be given “… a glass of wine; let him kick the cat, and do a little healthy growling if he feels like it.”

Unfortunately, the passage of time has done little to change human behavior.  We need to look no further than the 2015 Oklahoma legislature to identify a number of “cats being kicked.”

Perhaps because the state legislature perceives that it is being pushed around by Congress, the President or basically anything federal, frustration ensues and the greater the level of frustration, the louder the call for “States’ Rights” and “Local Control” with the idea being that the closer an individual is to a level of government, the more likely the decisions made will be correct for the local community.

The concept of local control makes sense; however, in reality the actions of the Oklahoma legislature are tantamount to hypocrisy.  During committee hearings and on the floor this week, I encountered three different bills that fly in the face of local control.

HB 1440 prevents a community from determining how long a volunteer may serve on its school board.  If passed in its current state, it would be possible that patrons could be barred from serving on a school board more than 10 years and one day.

HB 1621 removes from all cities and towns the ability to decide whether to prosecute DUI or DWI cases in the municipal court or to send them to the District Court.

HB 1722 limits the ability of a city council or planning commission to protect citizens’ property by removing from those local governing bodies the ability to regulate certain oil and gas operations within its city limits and prevents the city from adopting rules that are inconsistent with the statewide rules of the Oklahoma Corporation Commission.

For over 100 years, Oklahomans have enjoyed the ability to make local decisions on all three of these issues and to determine locally what is best for themselves in their own community.

If the Oklahoma legislature does not like Congress to impose rules on Oklahoma and Oklahomans, that is understandable; however, if there is a thread of empathy or even an ounce of the Golden Rule in their being, legislators should give pause before treating the communities across Oklahoma like Congress treats them. 

Unfortunately, there is no difference. Kicking the Cat is currently a parlor game of displaced aggression that seems to appease the savage beast…or their lobbyists.

Thank you for allowing me to serve as State Representative.  If you have questions or comments about this issue or any other matter, please contact me at David.Perryman@okhouse.gov or 800-522-8502.