How to Grift for Satan

Today’s item concerns a real proposal that was presented to lawmakers in Iowa by one individual. The meeting is pictured above. They were launching a bill to hand out money for private religious schools, so he turned up and explained …

I’m starting Little Devils Academy. Little Devils Academy is going to be a K-12 school aimed at very specific targeted groups because, quite frankly, I want a nice chunk of this grift money, too

Yes, those are his precise words.

Now, before we get into the details, I first need to make something abundantly clear, especially to those of a sensitive religious disposition. He was not actually proposing to start “Little Devils Academy”. It was of course a protest against a breach of church-state separation.

Permit me to translate. He was actually telling them, “Honestly guys, you really don’t understanding the consequences when you start pandering to religious beliefs. You don’t get to pick a specific belief, you get them all, including all the truly crazy ones“. To put that another way, “Oh, so you want to start funding religion, well let’s see how you feel about funding this one“.

Now that we have that out of the way, let’s get into the details of what is going on here.

The Proposed Iowa Voucher Program

This all relates to Iowa House Study Bill 1 (see here).

The proposal is to give away vouchers to the value of $341 million per year to enable students to attend private schools. There are various problems here. To be specific …

  • Church/State separation issues … because many, not all, private schools are religious.
  • Families with special needs kids also often find that private schools will simply refuse to accommodate them.
  • Families where either the parents or the kids are LGBTQ are often discriminated against by some religious schools.

To be wholly clear, a private school gets to pick who attends, and so voucher or no voucher, they can and often will cherry pick students.

Over four years this proposed scheme will cost $918 million. Just imagine what the public schools could achieve with even a fraction of that.

Comments have been submitted online regarding the proposal – 73% opposed it and only 27% supported it. Unfortunately, Iowa Republicans, led by Reynolds, have made it clear that this bill is their top priority for the session, so public comments are simply a box ticking exercise that they will ignore.

Beyond that, procedural games are being played here to ram this bill through. House Republicans advanced a rules change that will exempt this bill from going through the standard Appropriations and Ways and Means committees. They normally consider bills that have an impact on the budget or on taxes, respectively, but apparently that part of the process has been bypassed.


It enables them to bypass good governance and force this through.

The Satanic School Pitch

How can you protest something like this at the public hearing?

You can of course turn up and simply list all the problems with it. As you do so, you would also literally hear the sound as eyes glaze over, then when done with your slot, all you would hear is “Next”.

Joe Stutler decided that a different course of action was needed. Instead of pushing against it, he decided to play the game by embracing the proposal with deep enthusiasm.

Here is how that played out …

Here is a transcript of what he said …

Good evening. My name is Joe Stutler. I’m a disabled combat veteran who lives in Marion, Iowa.

I’m here today… I would generally be opposed to bills like this because there’s definitely issues. However, watching the elections over the past few years, it’s clear that Republicans are going to have Iowa stay red for quite a while. So, you know, I learned years ago, can’t beat ’em, join ’em… And following some things I learned in Germany… when I was stationed over there… learning the lessons of the 1930s Europe, probably time to brush off my German, as it were.

So having said that, I’m starting Little Devils Academy. Little Devils Academy is going to be a K-12 school aimed at very specific targeted groups because, quite frankly, I want a nice chunk of this grift money, too. As long as you guys are gonna be handing out money, why not let a veteran handle it? 

I’m already in discussions with The Satanic Temple. They’re very interested in this bill and in our curriculum. So… this is something that we really need to do. You really need to get this bill passed… You got to give the devil his due, and you got to give him your tax dollars, too. 

So as long as you’re gonna be handing out money,

{At this point he is interrupted … “Thank you sir, thank you sir” …}

I want a piece of that, too.

I’m only at 100 .. er, a minute and 28 seconds, thanks you for interrupting me.

So basically … long story short, you’re gonna be handing out money to schools that are run by all kinds of organizations that have all kinds of weird stuff going on. Of course if you’re going to be supporting religious schools, you’re supporting the devil. 

So, ya gotta give the devil his due. Satan wants your money, and I want a piece of this lovely grift action. Thank you, Trump-publicans.

You really do have to admire his style.

He has basically told them to their face that they are a bunch of fascists who are running a grifting scam with public money.

Is he serious about actually opening a Satan school?

Anybody asking if this was a serious proposal has perhaps missed the entire point of what he was actually telling them.

They might indeed believe in promoting their religion and paying tax dollars to support their religion and private schools, but only if it happens to support their specific variation of religious belief.

In other words, “Oh, you want to support and pay for religious schools, OK then, how about this school“, then stand back as religious heads proceed to do a 360 swivel and then explode.

If you rush bills though without following due process and also without truly understanding all the implications of what you are doing, then such legislation has the potential to bite back by backfiring in a very dramatic and unexpected manner.

In other words, if this bill becomes law, then Hogwarts schools of witchcraft and magic will now get $7K of public money per kid.

When you vote clowns into office, then you really should not expect governance, instead you need to anticipate a circus.

The Bigger Picture, the real agenda in play

There is an article over on 538 that lays it all out. Titled “Conservatives Are Bringing An Old Policy to A New Fight Over Public Schools“, it lays out the details of how bills are being introduced around the country to use vouchers for the funding of private schools.

Officially it is supposedly all about “choice” and is presented that way. In reality it is driven by a manufactured fear of kids being taught deeply dark evil nefarious things that are at odds with conservative values such as evolutionary biology, science, history, critical thinking, and empathy.

There is of course a need for a civil reasonable evidence-based debate. However, when people are being manipulated emotionally then no volume of rationality will prevail. Joe Stutler’s satire approach is a truly elegant strategy for handling that scenario.

It was a truly beautiful bit political diplomacy – he was telling them that they were a bunch of fascists and to go to hell, literally, in a manner that perhaps enabled some to look forward to the trip.

You don’t see it on the clip, but when he left the room and walked back into the Rotunda, he got a cheer from those outside waiting their turn to come in and comment, they had seen it all on the monitor.

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