Thursday, March 03, 2016

Pass The Fruit Salad

Those of us who watched the last Republican debate learned a few things about the men who would be president. Dr. Carson, when asked how he would choose a nominee for the Supreme Court said he would look at the fruit salad of their lives. He may be brilliant in an operating room, but the rest of the time he appears to exist in a rather lizard-like torpor. That said, at least (unlike most of his fellow candidates) he can act like a grown up in public.

You may have seen the moment where things REALLY went to hell. That was when the person doing the closed captions abandoned all hope and just put, “unintelligible yelling” on the screen. The men who wish to convince us that they are the right candidate to lead our nation (and handle the nuclear launch codes) were engaging in what looked slightly less mannerly than a 3rd grade playground fight.

This is where the party of Reagan has led us. Lo these many years, we’ve been hearing that gummint is bad, and gummint is the problem, and we’ve elected people who ensured that it was so. They invited the ill-behaved louts of the Tea Party into their bosom, and the Tea Partiers showed their appreciation by taking over the party, and kicking out anyone who retained any vestiges of sanity or reasonable behavior. NH followed right along. Since then, we’ve watched as a variety of churls shouted down Congresswomen at town hall meetings. We’ve seen them behave badly in the legislature, and everywhere else they go. Recently the Carroll County Commissioners had to deal with an outburst by a Wakefield resident. Steve Brown has been an ongoing problem at the meetings. He’s a libertea guy and like so many of his ilk, he is the center of the universe. He is all that exists, and he has the right…nae the DUTY to say or do whatever crosses his mind at any given moment. And so, when he was caught on tape simulating masturbation, the members of the Commission decided that perhaps Mr. Brown should be compelled to develop some impulse control, and that the Commission and others present, should not be subjected to his lack of propriety and courtesy. Brown is a member of the Wakefield School Board. Hopefully children don’t attend the meetings. 

This week, Marco Rubio (a candidate for President of the United States) made penis jokes about Donald Trump (a candidate for President of the United States.) Also this week, the NH House Criminal Justice and Pubic Safety Committee had a public hearing on HB 1525: relative to the circumstances that constitute indecent exposure and lewdness.  This bill was written in response to the topless protests held last summer at Hampton Beach. A group of women didn’t think their bodies should be considered obscene, and espoused the view that they should be able to go topless at the beach. This is also the bill that caused a dust-up back in December, when one of the original sponsors, Rep. Josh Moore, tweeted at a female colleague his opinion that a nipple out in view was fair game for grabbing. Rep. Moore has since removed himself from the bill. It’s worth noting that Rep. Moore is a member of the House Education Committee. The bill would make it a misdemeanor for a woman to show her breasts or nipples “with reckless disregard” for whether it would offend someone.

The current sponsors of the bill are Representative Brian Gallagher, a freshman legislator from Sanbornton; Rep. Peter Spanos, a freshman legislator from Winnisquam; and Rep. George Hurt, in his third term, from Gilford. All are Republicans. At the hearing, these men warned the committee that if women can go topless at the beach, they’d soon be topless at the library and at Little League games. (Do these guys ever even go to the library?) They said that NH could lose tourism dollars if women wander around in public with exposed breasts. Good point. No one goes to Europe any more. All those topless beaches keep everyone away. One hopes these tender legislative blossoms avoid Weirs Beach during Bike Week.

It’s almost amusing. Breasts are used to sell nearly every product on the market – but heaven forfend you should see one at the beach! Men spend their whole lives trying to catch a peek at them yet now they’re all boogered up about the idea of seeing an uncovered gland in public. The underlying message here is that women’s bodies are obscene and must be covered. Women are perverts who will flaunt their dirtypillows at the library! Women’s filthy bodies will drive away tourists! Keep those reckless breasts under control! What a wonderful message these men are sending to their own daughters and granddaughters. Perhaps next year all their daughters can wear festive holiday burkas for the family Christmas card.

On the one hand, we have Republican male presidential candidates making rude comments and jokes, and male Republican elected officials simulating masturbation at public meetings. On the other hand we have Republican male legislators who are so offended by women’s bodies that they want to make it a crime to show a breast in public.  Seriously?  It sounds to me, as if you boys need to clean up your own side of the street before you try anything big like governing.

What we ought to do is take a cue from the Italians. Topless sunbathing is a matter of choice in Italy. It is, however, against the law for men to touch their genitals in public. Italian men do not paw at, grope, grab, or tug at their crotches in public. This law was upheld by Italy’s highest court. From The Guardian: The third penal division of the Rome court was having none of it. It said that public genital-patting "has to be regarded as an act contrary to public decency, a concept including that nexus of socio-ethical behavioural rules requiring everyone to abstain from conduct potentially offensive to collectively-held feelings of decorum".

That’s right. Men’s grabbing at their private parts is an act contrary to public decency – not the showing of a nipple.
Next year perhaps a bold legislator will write THIS bill. The women of the nation (and many men) will thank you.

Published as an op-ed in the March 4 edition of the Conway Daily Sun newspaper

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