Another quick-hits column coming right up…
Drag Queen Story Time
We ran an article on the controversy surrounding Drag Queen Story Time children’s reading events in last Thursday’s issue. Our posting of the story to Facebook on Saturday (252 comments as of Wednesday at 1 p.m.) sparked a raging online debate about the appropriateness of drag queens reading to children stories with messages of diversity and inclusion.
The article appeared to short-circuit initial criticism of the Drag Queen Story Times when representatives of the Athens Public Library, where a DQST is scheduled for June 29, explained that it makes free meeting space available to a host of community groups and events, including the group hosting the Story Time. Allowing use of that space is not intended as an endorsement of anything other than upholding fair-use policies and the First Amendment.
However, some of the Facebook critics argued that it’s not wise or healthy to have men dressed as women, reading LGBT-friendly kids stories, displayed as role models in front of small children, some of them pre-K.
I happen to believe it’s both wise and healthy to read children uplifting stories that reflect the world we live in, rather than one in which anything different is feared and rejected. If people wearing costumes is the part that’s objectionable, I guess we’ll have to do away with show business and Halloween.
As for role models, I think we should all be scared to death that the foremost role model in the world, President Trump, is a semi-literate, pathological liar with no regard for the institutions that provide the foundation for democracy. The damage he’s doing will take years to recover from.
Watching as one entire political party enables and encourages the lying and dysfunction just adds insult to injury.
Compared to that, kids spending an hour listening to a drag queen tell a story from a book that’s already in the children’s section of the library is very tame stuff indeed.
Don’t go near the falls
We attended a family reunion (my side) at Hocking Hills State Park this past weekend, and it worked out well. On Friday, a large group of family, including lots of kids, hiked the main loop at Old Man’s Cave, and the next day, we did the back-and-forth trek at Cedar Falls (it used to be a loop but the return path is no longer passable).
I’ve been visiting Cedar Falls since the early ’70s, and one constant of that hike has always been people picking their way across the narrow stream, stepping on one or two slimy rocks to avoid the water, to access the stone and sand shore area next to the small pool below the falls. They hang around for photos, the closer view of the falls, and to skip a few rocks. It seems harmless enough, but the naturalist who happened to be leading a tour that day, citing safety concerns, ordered everybody back across the creek.
Later when asked about the rule (for which there’s no sign posted, other than a sentence or two in small print on the informational plaque at the falls), the naturalist explained that someone had slipped on a wet stone at that same place recently, requiring a rescue flight to the hospital.
Aside from the fact that once the naturalist is gone, everybody resumes the traditional crossing of the creek, Hocking Hills State Park has far more hazardous areas, even on well-used trails. Parts of the Old Man’s Cave loop trail above the gorge, for example, are just three or four feet away from a sheer and deadly drop-off.
It seems grossly inconsistent but no big deal I guess, which begs the question, why am I even writing about it? OK, we’ll move to the next one…
But first, check out the photo with this column – it shows some random dude stepping underneath Cedar Falls a moment or two before the naturalist showed up and hollered at everybody to get away from the water.
With proposed House Bill 242, the Republican-dominated Ohio Legislature once again is poised to prove yet again how much it disregards and disrespects local communities’ authority to govern themselves, and prefers to get direction from corporate and special interests over the people they’re supposed to represent.
H.B. 242 would preempt municipalities and other Home Rule local governments from adding a fee or tax onto single-use plastic or paper bags, as well as straws, aluminum cans, glass bottles and plastic utensils, The bill also would bar municipalities from banning the use of plastic bags and other plastic products.
In a hearing on the bill last week, opponents – most of them representing local governments in Ohio – testified why elected officials closest to the citizens they represent should be granted deference when it comes to local legislation that has no overriding state or federal interest. The only statewide interest connected to efforts to regulate and discourage plastic bags in local communities is the special interest of manufacturers of plastic bags and the legislators they influence with campaign contributions.
During the opponent testimony on Wednesday, Ohio Municipal League Executive Director Kent Scarrett stated, “When the state Legislature passes bills preempting municipal local control authority, the ‘will’ of a majority of 132 legislators essentially trumps the ‘will’ of the 8.5 million Ohioans that call an Ohio city or village home. Ohio cities and villages are autonomous, unique and have their own history, culture and character, all of which creates differing concerns and challenges.”
Next time you hear the term “drain the swamp” tossed around, consider as a prime example state legislative preemption of local attempts to respond to valid community concerns.
No war with Iran
It’s not too early to start agitating against a U.S. war against Iran. This would be an immense, deadly disaster and potentially pull the world into another world war, one that we might not survive. And it all traces back to one of President Trump’s seemingly arbitrary pet peeves – the Iran nuclear deal. Despite the fact that the treaty was working and had strong support from American allies, Trump pulled our country out of the deal, tightened sanctions against Iran, and here we are now, with prospects of armed conflict increasing every day. Stupid and dangerous, which if nothing else does at least reflect consistency in how this president operates.