Every year on March 14th, the nerd community gathers ‘round to celebrate the beloved mathematical constant pi. We know that pi is so much more than the ratio of a circle’s circumference to its diameter—it’s critical to understanding the best things in life, which are all circular. Pizza, for example, is an excellent circle. So is pi(e), the food. Even our own mortality can be abstractly considered a circle—a circle of life and death. This is neither good nor bad, it merely is.
But sadly, not everyone is jazzed about Pi Day. In 2009, a group of congressional Republicans—including our very own vice president, Mike Pence—tried to prevent Pi Day from being recognized as a holiday (and not even a federal one). While it’s unclear how Pi Day’s recognition became a congressional issue, House Resolution 224 became quite the hot topic.
Here’s what the resolution stipulated:
(1) Supports the designation of a ‘Pi Day’ and its celebration around the world;
(2) Recognizes the continuing importance of National Science Foundation’s math and science education programs; and
(3) Encourages schools and educators to observe the day with appropriate activities that teach students about Pi and engage them about the study of mathematics.
HR 224 passed in a 391 to 10 vote. Aside from Pence, the nine other Republicans who voted against Pi Day were: Jason Chaffetz (Utah), Jeff Flake (Arizona), Dean Heller (Nevada), Timothy Johnson (Illinois), Jeff Miller (Florida), Randy Neugebauer (Texas), Ron Paul (Texas), Ted Poe (Texas), and Bill Shuster (Pennsylvania). According to TeachPi.org, Mike Pence was in favor of Pi Day, but 15 minutes into open voting, he changed his mind and voted “nay.”
A lingering question remains: Why would Mike Pence want to prevent students and teachers from celebrating pi? It’s like voting against puppies, Christmas, or Bob Saget’s smile. But might I remind you that Mike Pence, a grown man, refers to his own wife as “mother,” even though she is not in fact his mother, but his wife. This is a man who could vote against common sense itself—and has.
Some of the other Pi Day naysayers had their reasons, sort of. In 2009, Rachel Mills, then-spokeswoman for Ron Paul, told the Houston Chronicle that “Without discussing it with him directly, I assume that pursuant to his oath of office, he could not come up with a good reason to vote for [Pi Day].” Utah Congressman Jason Chaffetz said on Twitter that he could not support Pi Day as “just one day,” adding that “it should go on forever.” Heh.
On some level, it’s wholly unsurprising that Mike Pence—who appears to be a creationist—would oppose a completely innocuous day dedicated to math. Let’s face it: He’s a weird dude, and even Bob Saget would frown upon him.