aTypical Joe: a gay New Yorker living in the rural South
Wednesday, August 29, 2007
Baggy pants and sports bra ban in Atlanta?
Atlanta officials agreed yesterday to continue to debate whether the city should regulate baggy pants and exposed underwear:
Council members expect to create a 10- to 12-member task force soon to further the debate and decide whether Atlanta should—or can—pass a law to control fashion.
According to Wikipedia, “‘Fashion police’ refers to ... an imaginary police force that makes sure that people dress according to fashion.” Now Atlanta City councilman C.T. Martin no longer wants the fashion police to be just “imaginary.” He has proposed fining men and boys who wear baggy pants that show their underwear and women and girls who show the strap of their thong or wear sports bras in public. One of the comments on the Atlanta Journal-Constitution Web site said it’s “like banning stupidity.” I disagree. Banning stupidity might make more sense. [...]
In all fairness to Councilman Martin, he isn’t just concerned with fashion. He feels that the clothing he’d like to ban is representative of what he thinks are bad aspects of the hip-hop culture, which has its roots in African-American communities. Martin, an African-American, believes that young children see their hip-hop heroes wearing clothing like this, emulate it, and then believe that “half-dressing is the way to go.” He added that baggy pants are becoming “an epidemic” throughout the country. If that’s true, I don’t think the vaccine for that epidemic will be a “baggy pants ban.”
Get the lead out
It’s easy to point fingers over there (After Stumbling, Mattel Cracks Down in China, NYTimes today).
The deeper serious more intractable problem is right here:
Though federal authorities refuse to admit it, it’s increasingly clear that no safe threshold for lead exists, and even the tiniest amount can hurt children’s developing brains. [...]
Initially, the Centers for Disease Control thought kids’ brains could tolerate up to 60 mcg/dl of lead because no seizures occurred at that level. But in 1979, Dr. Herbert Needleman reported in the New England Journal of Medicine that lead levels considered safe by the CDC-though far lower than needed to produce seizures and coma-correlated with lower IQs in children. Later, his group reported that lead-poisoned children were more likely to drop out of school and have reading disabilities.
But lead controls were slow in coming, due to powerful industry resistance. As exhaustively recounted by journalist Jamie Kitman, the lead lobby openly retaliated against those promoting regulation. In the 1970s, Du Pont and Ethyl, the largest manufacturers of lead additive, sued the Environmental Protection Agency to repeal tighter emissions standards. Though lead paint in homes was banned in 1978, pro-lead lobbyists persuaded then-Vice President George Bush in 1982 to recommend removing limitations on leaded gasoline (the effort ultimately failed). In the 1980s, the Reagan administration barred the CDC from collecting data on national pediatric lead levels. To intimidate lead researchers, a bitter harassment campaign was launched against Needleman.
Though faced with more and more data from independent researchers about lead’s dangers, the federal government chose an excruciatingly slow approach to children’s health. The CDC, in a leisurely fashion, dropped lead limits (subscription required) from 60 mcg/dl in the 1960s to 40 mcg/dl in the 1970s, ambled down to 25 mcg/dl in the mid-’80s, and finally got to 10 mcg/dl in 1991. That’s where it remains stuck now.
But the bad news about lead keeps coming. In 2003, Bruce Lanphear and colleagues wrote in the New England Journal of Medicine that kids with lead levels less than 10 mcg/dl lost roughly 7 IQ points. (Though the average IQ is 100, a populationwide average loss of 7 points makes tens of thousands of children fall below 70, the general threshold for mental retardation.) Using independent data, David Bellinger of Harvard and Needleman later confirmed these findings, which were novel but not unexpected: Serious damage happens at levels now considered safe for millions of American kids. The data should have galvanized public-health authorities to pursue zero-tolerance lead policies, which would mean nationwide de-leading of unsafe homes. After all, the New England Journal of Medicine reported in 2001 that medicines can’t recover lost IQ points from lead poisoning. Once gone, they’re gone forever.
I urge you to read the entire piece. Among the aspects I find most striking is the explicit Republican party complicity in perpetuating this long known and widely recognized threat.
The theory offered by the economist, Rick Nevin, is that lead poisoning accounts for much of the variation in violent crime in the United States. It offers a unifying new neurochemical theory for fluctuations in the crime rate, and it is based on studies linking children’s exposure to lead with violent behavior later in their lives.
What makes Nevin’s work persuasive is that he has shown an identical, decades-long association between lead poisoning and crime rates in nine countries.
“It is stunning how strong the association is,” Nevin said in an interview. “Sixty-five to ninety percent or more of the substantial variation in violent crime in all these countries was explained by lead.” [...]
The centerpiece of Nevin’s research is an analysis of crime rates and lead poisoning levels across a century. The United States has had two spikes of lead poisoning: one at the turn of the 20th century, linked to lead in household paint, and one after World War II, when the use of leaded gasoline increased sharply. Both times, the violent crime rate went up and down in concert, with the violent crime peaks coming two decades after the lead poisoning peaks.
The hypocrite closet is bursting open
...we’ve had these Republican Sexual Hypocrite reveals in the last month and a half:
* Sen. Larry Craig (R-ID), cruising for potty sex, somehow “mistakenly” pleads guilty.
* Diaper David Vitter (R-LA) admits he’s a “bad”, “naughty” and “nasty boy” with hookers.
* former White house spiritual advisor and fallen megachurch pastor Tweaker Ted “I’m completely heterosexual” Haggard asking whatever fans he has left for money.
* former NC Republican lawmaker and Christian Action League president, Coy C. Privette—caught at the no-tell motel with a sex worker—also guilty.
* Mark Foley is back in the news, he won’t turn over his former congressional computer to investigators.
* Rep. Bob Allen, another Republican, caught asking to blow an undercover officer and willing to pay $20 for the pleasure; currently coming up with an excuse for the day (scary black men, thunderstorms) for his same-sex appetite.
With the hypocrite closet bursting open, and its occupants falling out on top of one another, there’s not a lot the Moral Values SetTM can do except wring their hands and fret about the state of things, right?
GOP political consultant Scott Reed in today’s NYTimes:
“The real question for Republicans in Washington is how low can you go, because we are approaching a level of ridiculousness,” said Mr. Reed, sounding exasperated in an interview on Tuesday morning. “You can’t make this stuff up. And the impact this is having on the grass-roots around the country is devastating. Republicans think the governing class in Washington are a bunch of buffoons who have total disregard for the principles of the party, the law of the land and the future of the country.”
Larry Craig is not gay
Craig says he’s not gay. I have to agree.
Gay is self-assigned. I am gay because I say so. If I hang out in bathrooms and am photographed in flagrante, that may prove I engaged in a homosexual act, but it does not make me gay.
When I saw Brokeback Mountain I wrote that Being gay is a choice. A homosexual proclivity may not be:
Homosexual and gay are not synonymous; all homosexuals are not gay. Homosexual acts may be circumstantial - a man in prison, a drunken evening - or experimental and do not mean an individual is homosexual by nature. But experimentation can lead to the discovery of a homosexual inclination.
Once that inclination is realized, how it is addressed matters to all of us. Because then there is a choice to be made: to accept homosexuality or to resist and fight it. To embrace it is to become gay. To resist it leads to all kinds of trouble.
In Abraham Lincoln’s day, a more agrarian time when the family was the economic unit, gay was not a choice. Had it been, I’m persuaded beyond all reasonable doubt that Lincoln might have chosen it. And that he’d have been happier if he had.
Urbanization and mobilization - particularly World War II which brought women into the workforce and men together as it took them around the world - brought with it the beginnings of a gay identity. That identity is rooted in the collective experience of those who have gone through the difficult process of making the choice to embrace their homsexuality.
I saw Brokeback Mountain yesterday. Its peculiar achievement is to show straight America the cost to all of us when someone chooses not to be gay. For Ennis’s torment was not his alone; he shared it with Jack and Alma and their daughters and every woman he dated and every random person that fell victim to his wild outbursts of rage against the world. [...]
Ennis didn’t realize he had a choice. In the final shot, alone in his trailer, Ennis looks at a postcard of Brokeback Mountain tacked to a closet door. He closes the door.
What we must see, all of us gay and straight alike, is that it’s in our interest to help open the closet door. We must make the choice to come out of the closet and become gay an easier one; the obvious one. Because that’s the right choice, the good choice, the healthy choice, for our society and for all of us living in it.
Craig is clearly not gay. His homosexual inclination is another matter entirely.
RELATED: Glenn Greenwald catalogs the Right Wing flip:
Last October, [conservatives] depicted [outing blogger Mike] Rogers as an “odious presence” for violating Craig’s privacy based on purely private behavior that was none of anyone’s business. Today, the same [conservatives demand] that Craig resign from the Senate, and invoke
sexactly the rationale which Rogers and other “outers” use[d] to justify these disclosures…