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Right-Wing Republicans Halt Third Grader’s Campaign for a ‘State Fossil’

A South Carolina third grader recently got a tough lesson in politics. Olivia McConnell’s bid to have her home state designate a state fossil is currently in limbo after state Republicans complained that recognizing the woolly mammoth did not honor God enough.

A self-proclaimed fossil lover, 8-year-old Olivia wrote a letter to lawmakers signed “Your friend, Olivia,” pointing out that South Carolina did not have a state fossil. She also had a fossil in mind; The Columbian mammoth was first discovered in the state by slaves in 1725 making it the perfect choice for the state.

Rep. Robert Ridgeway (D) and Sen. Kevin Johnson (D) both received Olivia’s letter and decided to give a state fossil bill a go.

 “Why not? It can’t hurt anything,” Ridgeway said. “But the benefit to this is to the children and young people of South Carolina, letting them realize that they do have a say-so in what happens in South Carolina and, No. 2, it gives them experience and information about the governmental process and legislative process in South Carolina.”

As it turns out though, Olivia also got a lesson in just how mean politics can be. Soon after the bill was introduced, a pair of Republicans set to stop the bill to make it better align with their creationist theology.

Sen. Kevin Bryant, a climate change denier and born-again Christian, said that the bill could not go through unless God was properly recognized as the creator of the woolly mammoth and sought to have the bill amending to include verses from Genesis.

“I think it’s a good idea to designate the mammoth as the state fossil, I don’t have a problem with that,” Bryant said, insisting he did not mean to squash an 8-year-old’s dreams. “I just felt like it’d be a good thing to acknowledge the creator of the fossils.”

Then, Sen. Mike Fair, whose district includes Bob Jones University, added his own objection demanding the bill was re-written to include God, a move Bryant told the Daily Beast, “had no intention of blocking the bill.” Instead, according to Bryant his Republican crony just wanted time to reconsider rewriting the bill to better reflect the (fundamental Christian) beliefs of those he serves.

Now the bill is on hold, blocked by the two Republicans, and its seems clear Olivia will not get to see the woolly mammoth recognized as state fossil any time soon, which is a shame since, as the 8-year-old pointed out to to the grown-up lawmakers, “Fossils tell us about our past.”

Photo Credit: Lou Gruber




About the author

Tamar is a New York based freelance writer and photographer whose work has appeared in over 15 publications. You can catch her work regularly on Issue Hawk, Latest, Jspace, and MediaGlobal.