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Steinberg: Let’s all play Ted Cruz connect-the-dots

Neil Steinberg connects what he calls the fear-mongering behind Ted Cruz's stance on transgendered people using public bathrooms, and the sentencing of former U.S. House Speaker Dennis Hastert, an actual child molester. | File photos/Getty Images, Associated Press

Remember connect-the-dots? I do, which is scary. Pages covered with numbered dots, plus a few embellishments that pretty much give the game away unless you’re a particularly dim child. Grabbing your squat blue pencil, you draw a line from one dot to the next, using your newly acquired counting skills. An image emerges. Oooo.

Long gone now, I imagine, another victim of computers.

Still, we can play connect-the-dots by relating disparate news items until a picture forms.

Dot 1: Woke up Thursday morning to WBBM radio playing a Ted Cruz campaign commercial — right, Indiana, our slice of the Southland next door, is having its primary Tuesday. The Cruz ad does its own little connect-the-dots, taking the common fear of transgender people, marrying it to Donald Trump, who in a rare moment of common sense, said “people go, they use the bathroom that’s appropriate.” Cruz offers that as his plea for your vote.

Rex Huppke wrote a bold explanation in the Tribune this week of just how cowardly, offensive and un-American Cruz is for singling out a long-besieged minority for further abuse. Readers know I am not in the practice of touting the competition, but such considerations are a trifle compared to the welfare of the nation, and must be set aside so long as there is the threat, no matter dwindling, that Cruz could prevail. He’s worse than Trump, and that’s saying a mouthful.


Dot 2: The front page of Thursday’s Chicago Sun-Times, featuring a photograph of former Speaker of the House Dennis Hastert, and the echoing damnation, “SERIAL CHILD MOLESTER.”

Anyone see why these two dots connect? Here you have not just Cruz, but an entire swath of Republican governance, passing laws designed to keep transgender people from using restrooms appropriate for their identities, interfering with a right so basic it never had to be enumerated before — the right to go to the frickin’ bathroom — and basing it not on their squeamishness that transgender people exist, which at least would be honest, but on some imaginary fear of potential abuse that might happen someday to someone somewhere, maybe.

Simultaneously, one of the most powerful Republican legislators in the past 20 years is being sent to the clink for really molesting real boys. I’m sorry, it would make more sense, based on the facts before us, if one’s concern actually were cutting down on molestation, we should bar from public restrooms not transgender persons, but straight Republican men, who have a proven track record of preying upon those who have the misfortune to stray into their clutches.

See the picture yet? Let’s toss in a third dot. Thursday was Take Our Daughters and Sons to Work Day. Lots of precious boys and girls holding tight to mommy or daddy’s hand, heading to the office, gazing in fresh wonder at this marvelous city of Chicago. I had to resist the urge to tap the parents on the shoulder and say, “Before you know it they’re in college.” But they’ll find out. Nor did I have to ask them where, on the list of their concerns for their children, sharing a public bathroom with a transgender person falls, because, as a parent myself, I know it was far beyond the worry they’d drink too many boxes of Juicy Juice and explode.

They still sell connect-the-dots books, by the way. I went on Amazon, plugged in “connect-the-dots’ and 3,943 books came up. Quite a lot, really. Including a surprising number of books for adults, with titles like “Dot-to-Dot Cats: Connect Your Way to Calm.”

That’s the beauty of living in a tangible world and knowing it. You don’t have to draw conclusions based on supposition, bias and fear. You can go and see how things are. You can base your opinions not on guesses, but upon life as it is. I wish someone would tell the Republicans, because they don’t seem to have a clue, and they’re embarrassing themselves.