Monday night, the state House of Representatives passing a non-binding resolution condemning the University of Tennessee Knoxville's "Sex Week," a week of programming beginning this Sunday intended to "foster a comprehensive and academically-informed conversation about sex, sexuality and relationships."
Here's the text of the resolution:
WHEREAS, the members of this body were most distressed to learn that "Sex Week"
will once again be held on the University of Tennessee at Knoxville campus during March 2-7, 2014; and
WHEREAS, this news has also distressed countless University of Tennessee alumni and Tennessee taxpayers who are extremely upset by the event; and
WHEREAS, last year, approximately $10,000 in state funding was revoked from this atrocious event after legislators expressed outrage over the subject matter; and
WHEREAS, the announced activities of "Sex Week" include an aphrodisiac cooking class, drag show, and condom scavenger hunt; and
WHEREAS, this year’s budget for “Sex Week” is $25,000, with most of that amount coming from student activity fees supplemented by a $5,000 “Ready for the World” grant from UT; and
WHEREAS, the funding of "Sex Week" at UT-Knoxville is an outrageous misuse of student fees and grant monies; and
WHEREAS, "Sex Week" fits nowhere within the mission of the University of Tennessee, nor should it ever; now, therefore,
BE IT RESOLVED BY THE HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES OF THE ONE HUNDRED EIGHTH GENERAL ASSEMBLY OF THE STATE OF TENNESSEE, THE SENATE CONCURRING, that this Body hereby condemns the administration of the University of
HJR0661 012072 -1-
Tennessee and expresses its displeasure with the University for permitting “Sex Week” to be held on the UT-Knoxville campus for a second consecutive year.
BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED, that certified copies of this resolution be prepared and transmitted to the Chancellor of the University of Tennessee at Knoxville and the President of the University of Tennessee.
Why it's Really Stupid: Maybe it's the word "condemn," but the whole thing just smacks of "The Scarlet Letter," right? Why would our legislators take time out of their busy, budget-crunching schedules just to publicly shame an entire university of young adults trying to make safe sexual choices?
Lecture topics at Sex Week are far ranging, from hook-up culture and sexual assault to abstinence and long-term intimacy. There's also a poetry slam, a dance party, and a sex-trivia Jeopardy game. Sounds fun, but the General Assembly seems to think that talking about sex so publicly reflects poorly on both the university and the state of Tennessee.
Right. Because it's the college student-hosted sex-ed week that are making us the butt of jokes around the nation.
The main argument against Sex Week seems to be a lot of pearl-clutching, with House Majority Leader Gerald McCormick reportedly expressing concern about his own future as a UT Dad.
"I'm going to send my 17-year-old daughter up there next year," he said. "What kind of people that are up there are doing this stuff?"
Indeed! My heavens, what kind of college students are talking about S-E-X before marriage!? Just the jezebels, I presume.
Well, folks….you may want to be sitting down for this next part. We have some news:
I'll back up.
In today's installment of "Teachable Moments" — Frank Daniels' daily Wikipedia entry on the Tennessean's editorial page — we learn about William Moulton Marston and how he created the comic book heroine Wonder Woman. His inspiration, according to Daniels, was his wife Elizabeth:
In addition to inspiring Wonder Woman, Elizabeth Marston also inspired her husband’s research into systolic blood pressure and its relationship to emotions. While she was getting her master’s degree in psychology from Radcliffe, she observed that her blood pressure seemed to increase when she was mad or excited. Intrigued, and spurred by their discussions, William made the research his doctoral dissertation. It led to the creation of the lie detector, or polygraph test, and inspired Wonder Woman’s magic truth-inducing lasso.
All fine and good — except he buries the most interesting stuff at the bottom:
She was 35 when she had the first of their two children, and in 1940, they welcomed another woman into their home, Olive Byrne. Olive’s physical presence served to inspire some of Wonder Woman’s look, particularly her bullet-shedding bracelets.
They were polyamorous! Is this the "teachable moment" in this story? And Daniels doesn't even get into all of the bondage overtones that filled the Wonder Woman comics of the day. He quotes Marston on why she's a great figure:
Michael Sam, the SEC's co-defensive player of the year from Missouri, came out yesterday in interviews with The New York Times, ESPN and Outsports/SB Nation.
While gay players have come out after their NFL careers, none have been openly gay during their playing days, and Sam's announcement will likely change that, barring injury.
ESPN ran a poll on their site and, with more than 115,000 responding in a highly unscientific survey (but an interesting sample nonetheless), all of America believes the NFL is ready for a gay player.
Well, all except Tennessee and Mississippi, which are apparently on the fence at 50 percent:
On Friday, an office party from a Franklin television shopping channel was celebrating Christmas at the restaurant and ran afoul of Morton's dress code when one of the group put a hat on after dessert. The hat-wearer in question — Robert Chambers, better known as the host of The Coin Vault for the last 25 years — was cold, a side-effect of chemotherapy.
"We're almost done with dinner," Chambers told the Scene. "The chemo I had last gives me a cold sensitivity at the end of the day. It doesn't matter what I've done, there's a certain point. So I'm sitting there at the table, freezing and I put my toboggan on. We're two or three minutes away from walking out and the manager comes up behind me and says, 'Would you please take that off in the dining room.' I said, 'Sure.' "
But other members of Chambers' party were less willing to let the slight go.
Whether you are for or against the death penalty, there's something about the lack of transparency in Tennessee's process that stinks.
Quite simply, if the state is going to be entrusted with the power to end a human life, it should do so in a way that doesn't inspire more questions than answers.
For example, where are the drugs that Tennessee executioners use coming from? In recent years, drugs in six states (including this one) were seized when it was found that they had been illegally imported from other countries.
States have sought to keep their new suppliers secret, reasoning that the companies might be harassed or otherwise influenced to shut off supplies if the public became aware of them.
Tennessee added an exemption in the Tennessee Open Records Act eight months ago in April to exempt from disclosure “an entity” directly involved in an execution.
Previously, the law allowed only for the names of people directly involved — such as those on the execution team — to be kept confidential.
The updated law explains that the entity could be one “involved in the procurement or provision of chemicals, equipment, supplies and other items for use in carrying out a sentence of death…”
The Tennessean reported in October that the Department of Correction had been waiting, in part, to get the confidentiality law in place before establishing its new lethal injection protocol that uses pentobarbital, common in animal euthanasia.
If the new one-drug protocol had been announced before the law change, it’s conceivable that a citizen might have requested information under the state’s open records act to successfully discover the drug supplier.
There is currently litigation over state secrecy laws in Arizona and Missouri working through the federal court system now.
If you are a death penalty supporter, laws like the one Tennessee enacted have the potential to introduce further delays into an already lengthy execution process. If you are a death penalty opponent, the state's statute raises the specter that drugs never intended for human application — or are expressly forbidden from being used in executions by their manufacturer — will be used to end lives, but we will never know because Tennessee is keeping it secret.
And as citizens, any time the state government mandates something be kept secret, we should be skeptical, if not alarmed.
(Full disclosure: I sit on the TCOG board)
If you guys didn't read Jim Ridley's awesome piece on the United States' first serial killers — the Harpe Brothers — go rectify that now.
This is as good a pinning down of the facts of the Harpes as we're likely to get until some historian with time and access to old archives spends a decade or so looking into it. But it's what happens when the elder brother/possible cousin dies and moves into legend that is the weirdest part of a really strange story.
Here's what happened to him when he died:
Once safely confined to the past tense, the severed head of Micajah Harpe was placed in a saddlebag (ruining the corn dinner that later shared the space) and nailed to a tree at the crossroads where the road from Henderson forks off toward Morganfield and Madisonville. "[The] rain-whitened skull grinned down at travelers for years," Jonathan Daniels writes. The body was left as carrion some 35 miles away in Muhlenberg County, two miles west of the Unity Baptist Church, near what is now known as Harpe's Hill.
And Barry Craig, in the Hidden History of Kentucky, tells us what happened to him after that.
There are enough Harp tales to last a hundred Halloweens. But no story is eerier than the one about a purported Webster County witch who supposedly swiped Harp's noggin to make a potion.
Yes, the story goes that the woman's nephew was sick, so she ground down Big Harpe's skull and gave it to the boy. Why this was supposed to cure him is unclear. Big Harpe wasn't a great friend to children, so there's no reason to think his spirit would work in favor of the boy. And Harpe wasn't, at least in what's come down to us, particularly known for being some great doctorer of people in life, which might make him good medicine in death.
But it seems fitting that a man who was a nightmare in life ended up with a nightmarish afterlife.
Well, Judd Matheny (R-Tullahoma) was supposed to talk to them as well. But then he found out — from some groups that called him out — that the SNC is on a list of "neo-confederates" and decided that he would not attend. “I found out they were the wrong kind of freedom group and cancelled when I researched them further,” Matheny said in an email.
Who is the Southern National Congress?
Our favorite blogging state senator, Stacey Campfield, lashed out at Pith's Jeff Woods over the weekend.
Woods posted last week on Pith that a local pizza place had canceled a Campfield-sponsored fundraiser, which the state senator evidently announced before asking if the place would host it. "After years of cruel jackassery in the legislature, tormenting gays and lesbians and children and women — just to mention a few population segments — state Sen. Stacey Campfield is having trouble finding a public place willing to host a fundraiser for his reelection campaign," Woods wrote.
Campfield took the criticism with the dignity you'd expect. Which is to say, he equated those who complained about the event with Nazis, compared Woods to Joseph Goebbels, and likened his failed pizza party to the horrors of Kristallnacht:
Not because it has something to do with me or my event, but because I see the parallels to what the NAZIs did to the stores frequented by Jews in the late 1930's. How the NAZI media leader, Goebbels cheered and called those who smashed windows "Heroes for the cause." Saying they were doing "Gods justice" to the Jews and those black listed businesses that support them. Thinking they were winning the day, changing minds through physical intimidation or by showing their willingness to use physical force and willingness to do destruction of any who dare oppose them.
Campfield's ability to go from zero to Nazi this quickly is breathtaking — this has got be a new Godwin's law record.
Since El Jefe is out hiking for the week and not able to respond, we feel obliged to point out that we have never seen Woods in a brown shirt, it's not "NAZI" it's "Nazi," and you really should go read the senator's hissy fit on his blog. It's special, even by Campfield standards.
Look, I'd really like to make fun of this, but in 1:30, I just memorized the Franklin police department's non-emergency number. I mean, it's no Empire jingle, but it's effective.
Just watch ...
Bonus points if you can name Jeff Carson's big pre-police force hit without looking. Answer is here.
The joint fundraiser at DeSano Pizza Bakery co-hosted by state Sen. Stacey Campfield and Lt. Gov. Ron Ramsey we told you about earlier this week?
DeSano Pizza Bakery doesn't know anything about it.
A manager at the midtown pizzeria, who says he personally deals with everyone who makes a reservation to use the restaurant, says no one from Campfield's office — or Ramsey's office, or anyone anywhere — has been in touch about the fundraiser.
"We're not hosting the event," he says, adding that the restaurant is completely "apolitical."
He also says he fielded several calls this morning about the event — which he hadn't heard anything about — and got online to find media reports about it.
Owner Scott DeSano gave this statement to Pith:
"We had no knowledge nor were we ever contacted about this event. We would never host any political event for either side, ever. All we want to do is try to make great pizza."
I haven't voted yet, but that's because I always vote on Election Day.
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