State Rep. Bobby Franklin, R-Marietta, was found dead this morning at his home. The cause of death hasn’t been determined officially, but friends say he’d been complaining with chest pain for days, so you can get a pretty good idea of what killed him.
Franklin was a conservative of the crazy radical ilk. In this year’s session of the General Assembly, the first 21 bills dropped in the House were his. Among them was legislation that would:
- Require the state to conduct all its business in gold and silver, rather than that paper currency stuff that the federal government tries to call “legal tender”
- Abolish driver’s licenses (under the assumption that driving is a “right,” as opposed to the “privilege” that I was brought up believing it was)
- Allow parishioners to carry guns into church (as Jesus would’ve wanted it)
- Require that women who miscarry be investigated for murder
- Change the terminology in the Georgia Code’s rape law to refer to women as “accuser” rather than “victim”
And House Bill 1 of the 2011 General Assembly was Franklin’s legislation that would make women who have an abortion eligible for life in prison or the death penalty. People on the Internet fumed, wondering just how in the hell someone this outside the political mainstream was able to get himself elected to anything higher than dog catcher. But then, he represented a rather wealthy part of northern Cobb County, in a district where many believe that you can’t be too conservative. His seat, the Atlanta Journal-Constitution declared in February, was “safe.”
Now, some have noted a few odd things about Franklin’s passing. Not that he was murdered or that foul play was afoot, mind you, but that some things are just sort of… off.
For instance, he was found Tuesday morning, dead in his bed by someone who was concerned because he was not at church on Sunday. Franklin had been married for almost 30 years, a union that had yielded three children. Yet, it was a family friend that found him dead; not a loving wife of three decades or one of his adoring children.
And even if the wife had taken the kids to the beach or the mountains for some R-and-R, was it not odd that they didn’t check in on him? Odds are good that he was dead Sunday, but possibly could’ve been dead longer. My relationship with my own wife can get tenuous, but I’m pretty sure if she didn’t manage to get in touch with me for a few days, she’d be on the horn with the law to find my wayward ass.
Was there trouble in paradise for this God-fearing man? Maybe the misogyny got to be more than she could stand.
But here’s where it gets conflicting. Franklin was crazy as batshit. That’s a given. And I don’t feel too terrible about talking ill of the dead when the things we’re talking about are a) true and b) creations of his own choosing (that is, he gained fame because he decided to run for office and say crazy things, not because some circumstance beyond his control propelled him to notoriety).
So there’s something fishy in his personal life. Something that don’t seem right. Maybe it is as minor as he and his wife were taking some time apart. Maybe he had a mistress. Maybe she had a mistress.
Maybe, for a week every summer, they took a week and decided that they’d not speak, e-mail or look upon one another. He was crazy. I think this is still possible.
The conflict arises when we question whether or not this is any of our business, anyway. The angel on my shoulder tells me to shut the hell up. The devil is saying, you’re damned right it’s our business.
It’s our business because he made the conscious decision to become a public figure. It wasn’t that something happened to make him famous. He wasn’t the sole survivor of a plane crash, a victim of abuse by a fallen priest or anything like that. For people who didn’t ask anyone to pay attention to them – to whom things just happened, and we all watch as they try to deal with their changed life – I understand respecting their privacy in times like these.
That’s not the case here.
Here is a man who saw it as his obligation to force himself into our private lives. He wanted to dictate our most personal and intimate decisions, stripping away our rights and feeding us the bullshit that he was out to protect our liberty. Had his legislation been successful (which, thank God, it wasn’t – but could have been), think of how many people would suffer. Think of the women, already suffering after losing their unborn child, who would then – under his proposed legislation – be forced to prove to the state that the miscarriage occurred through no fault of their own. Think of the church members who would not even be able to escape the presence of violence in the sanctity of the sanctuary because of the implied terror produced by one member of the congregation feeling it necessary to wear his gun to the service. Think of the drunk we couldn’t remove from the road by revoking his license because this crazy asshole decided that operating an automobile was a God-given right.
I’m inclined to believe that what he tried to do was more damaging and more damning than any private problems he was having. The news is still fresh and more details are destined to come to light – perhaps this very evening – but for now I pause and ponder: is his business my business, given that he tried so hard to make my business his business?
His peers at the Capitol seem inclined to remember him fondly, and for all intents and purposes he was probably a reasonably cordial and polite person. But the positions he took and the legislation he filed was abhorrent, disgusting and divisive.
At this point, were there something nefarious or embarrassing going on, would that make me a better person for knowing it? Probably not. But then, I’m fond of pointing out hypocrisy when it comes along – particularly in such an incendiary and terrible way.