A Republican Tennessee lawmaker introduced a bill this month that would ask the state attorney general to report any existing "no-go zones" and work to eliminate them, The Tennessean reported. State Rep. Susan Lynn's bill does not specifically mention Muslims, but may allude to the non-existent Muslim "no-go zones" referenced on Fox News and by Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal (R) following the January terrorist attacks in Paris. The legislation defines a "no-go zone" as a "a contiguous geographical area consisting of public space or privately owned public space where community organizing efforts systematically intimidate or exclude the general public or public workers from entering or being present within the area."
About a month ago, Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal (R) impressed far-right activists by shining a spotlight on a problem that doesn't exist: "no-go zones" in Europe where, in his mind, Muslim populations are so large and intimidating, non-Muslims, even local law enforcement, are too afraid to visit. Soon after, the Republican governor said these imaginary "no-go zones" may soon appear in the United States.
All of this was quite silly, as Jindal probably realized. But it appears some have decided to take the nonsense seriously.
The Republican state lawmaker has no evidence of any "no-go zones," but she told The Tennessean that there "some people who claim that there are some areas of Tennessee where they feel this is happening."
And evidently, if "some people" believe in an imaginary problem, it's time for elected officials to start approving public policies to address these imaginary problems. By this reasoning, legislation related to Bigfoot will also be necessary.
In the larger context, the funny thing about efforts like these is just how common they are.
We talked a year ago, for example, about House Republicans passing a bill to prevent the Department of Energy from blocking approval of offshore-drilling permits. In reality, it's the Interior Department, not the Energy Department, that regulates drilling, but GOP lawmakers apparently didn't look into this before supporting the bill. It seems "some people" believed the authority rested with Energy, so Republicans acted accordingly.
This wasn't unique. ACORN doesn't exist, but Republicans keep approving measures to block the group from receiving public funds. In 2013, House Republicans approved a measure to block an Obama administration policy on welfare reform that didn't exist.
GOP lawmakers tackle measures to prevent the imposition of "Sharia law" on the public, despite the fact that there is no effort to impose such a policy. My personal favorite was the effort to stop the "NAFTA Super-Highway," which also never existed outside the overheated imaginations of the political fringe and Rand Paul.
So why not work on legislation related to "no-go zones," unicorns, and Loch Ness Monster? It only helps reinforce a ridiculous trend.