The University of Oklahoma got budget advice last week from feminist activist Eve Ensler. The playwright famous for “The Vagina Monologues” is concerned about potential budget cuts to the Women’s and Gender Studies program. Oklahoma doesn’t fare well in national rankings of various health and social issues. But we doubt the high female incarceration rates and low use of prenatal care are the result of women not having taken such courses as “Red Dirt Women and Power” or “Witch-Hunt in Early Modern Europe.” If we want to be serious about improving the plight of Oklahoma women, we should devote our resources accordingly. To address the issue of violence against women, a cause that Ensler champions, money could go directly to shelters or law enforcement instead of to academia. Or we could do something about the women and children’s residential substance abuse treatment program waiting list, which has hundreds of names on any given day.
Eve Ensler (The Oklahoman Archives)
A new drug could significantly reduce the chance of contracting a (primarily) sexually transmitted disease, but some argue FDA approval might encourage risky behavior. Are the critics socially conservative parents worried about teenage sexual activity? Nope. They’re doctors. According to The Wall Street Journal, some medical officials are concerned about allowing the HIV treatment drug Truvada to enter the market. Research indicates the drug may reduce the chance of at-risk people contracting the deadly virus. But the Journal notes, “Some doctors argue the clinical data aren’t strong enough and that approval could undermine other HIV prevention efforts like condom use.” Keep that in mind next time someone bashes a parents’ group for voicing similar concerns. If doctors worry medical advances could create unintended incentive for risky behavior among adults, shouldn’t we be especially careful when dealing with immature teenagers?
(AP Photo/Gilead Sciences)
The age-old problem of families buying a cute puppy only to find the full-grown version unmanageable, and then dumping him in the country, is apparently an issue with horses as well. The Wall Street Journal reports that horse “dumpouts” in rural areas have surged due to the tough economy. As a result, “wild” herds are growing unmanageable, leading to calls for reviving horse slaughter plants in several states, including Oklahoma. Animal rights activists are appalled, but those dealing with the animals say there simply aren’t enough people able to take in abandoned horses, which often struggle to survive in a wild herd. While no one likes the idea of killing a horse in a slaughterhouse, that’s a far better fate than slow starvation or the painful death that occurs when a horse is struck by a car — another increasing problem thanks to the dumpout trend.
Photo by Chris Landsberger, The Oklahoman Archives
In the debate over OETA, supporters often cited children’s educational opportunities and the potential loss of “Sesame Street” as a reason to maintain funding. But on the House floor, it turned out senior citizens’ support of OETA and voting power may have been even more persuasive. “The last I checked, they’re the vast majority of the people that vote,” said state Rep. Jason Nelson. “They’re the ones that go to the polls every time.” Rep. David Dank, R-Oklahoma City, reminded his colleagues that senior citizens “constitute 38 percent of all the qualified and active voters in this state,” and predicted that “99 percent of that 38 percent are going to tell you, ‘Yes, keep OETA.’” The bill passed 53-28. The blue-haired Cookie Monster might be Big Bird’s friend on TV, but apparently blue-haired voters were his protectors in the Legislature.
Elizabeth Warren, minority? That’s a question being raised in Warren’s campaign for the U.S. Senate seat in Massachusetts. An Oklahoma native and recent inductee into our state’s hall of fame, Warren’s ancestry was the topic of a recent Boston Herald story about an article that ran in the Harvard University newspaper in 1996. In that article, regarding students’ concern over a lack of diversity among the faculty, Warren was cited as Native American. The Boston Globe reported, meantime, that law school directories from the Association of American Law Schools from 1986-95 listed Warren as a minority law professor. A genealogist subsequently looked into it and found that Warren’s great-great-great grandmother was Cherokee — making Warren 1/32nd American Indian. Unknown is whether any of this has a bearing on her tight race with Republican incumbent Sen. Scott Brown.
Left: Elizabeth Warren faces reporters during a campaign stop Sunday at a diner in Shrewsbury, Mass. (AP Photo)
The National High School Journalism Convention in Seattle became the latest setting for an ideologue to proclaim tolerance while simultaneously spouting intolerant remarks. Keynote speaker Dan Savage, founder of the It Gets Better Project, used his anti-bully platform to blatantly attack Christians. When an already vulgar speech crossed the line, a group of students walked out. Savage heckled and cursed them. His movement, with the message of spreading hope to bullied LGBT teens, has reached over 40 million viewers with its YouTube videos featuring contributors ranging from Hollywood stars to President Barack Obama. The group’s pledge declares, “Everyone deserves to be respected for who they are… I’ll speak up against hate and intolerance whenever I see it, at school and at work.” Sounds like Savage needs to work on practicing what he preaches.
Dan Savage (AP File Photo)
Oklahoma City bombing conspiracy theorists lost one of their champions with the passing this week of Hoppy Heidelberg. Heidelberg, a rancher in Blanchard, served on a federal grand jury that investigated the bombing but was removed for violating confidentiality rules. He later formed a “citizens grand jury” to investigate the bombing, and went on to make speeches around the country about his conspiracy theory. Heidelberg ran for state Senate in 1996 and for governor in 1998 as a Reform Party candidate. During that campaign he was escorted from the stage by two University of Oklahoma police officers after interrupting a debate between Gov. Frank Keating and the challenger, Democrat Laura Boyd. Heidelberg once said the U.S. Constitution “limits the jurisdiction of the federal government to the high seas and the District of Columbia.” As governor, he said, “I might be generous and allow them jurisdiction over military bases and Indian reservations.” Heidelberg died Monday at age 72.
October 14, 1998: Hoppy Heidelberg explains to University of Oklahoma police that he is a candidate for governor and has the the right to be at the debate since it is on public property. They asked him to leave campus or be arrested for trespassing. Photo by Doug Hoke, The Oklahoman
In an editorial, The Wall Street Journal asked this week why an incumbent president would feel it necessary to trot out the sort of campaign ad Barack Obama did about the killing of Osama bin Laden. We have one guess: Obama has nothing else to boast about. The ad suggests that the presumptive Republican nominee, Mitt Romney, wouldn’t have given the go-ahead to get bin Laden if he were given the same intelligence data as Obama. This is no doubt just a warm-up of what to expect in the months ahead. Obama’s campaign will be in full attack mode because his many poor policy choices — health care reform, the stimulus, Keystone XL, Solyndra — are indefensible.
AP File Photo
Stories about the adverse environmental impact of wind energy are made in media heaven. What could be more toothsome than reports tying wind farms to bird deaths, scenery stealing and disturbance of animal habitat? Aren’t these things in the exclusive realm of oil, gas and coal? Apparently not. The latest news, from an academic journal called Nature Climate Change, says the massive windmills contribute to global warming by heating up the earth around the base of the 250-ft. towers. This is particularly true at night. Since many large wind farms are in the drier western states, this should be of concern, right? No worries. Parking lots, roofs and highways have an impact on local area heating. Many activities of daily human living do. Whatever adverse impact wind farms have in the small area around them is not that significant and is certainly offset by the benefits of wind energy. In today’s world, there’s no such thing as a free lunch or a free range.
Photo by David McDaniel, The Oklahoman Archives
Few Oklahoma school districts needed to take snow days this year. The teachers union didn’t take a bogus snow day for a political rally. The Oklahoma Education Association is, however, staging a rally Saturday in the shadows of the state Capitol dome. It’s ostensibly nonpolitical. Unlike earlier teachers union rallies, it’s not specifically designed to boost teacher pay. The focus has shifted to public schools themselves. But teacher pay and education spending can’t really be separated. Material used to generate interest in the rally includes remarks by actor Matt Damon on the value of teachers. Not mentioned is his profanity-laced defense of public education in a July 30 interview last year. That kind of language will get you some time off from school, with or without snow in the forecast.
Above: Teachers rally at the state Capitol, March 15, 2011. (AP Photo/The Oklahoman, Jim Beckel)