Hypocrisy, Thy Name Is Columbus Dispatch

A recent commentary in the Columbus Dispatch is a nearly textbook illustration of the biblical warning that a double-minded man is unstable in all his ways (James 1:8). In this case the man is a woman, the context of the passage making clear that man is the generic “mankind” rather than the specific gender identifier. The commenter is Ann Fisher and the article is entitled Protest billboards with power of the dollar.

First let us congratulate Ms. Fisher for being right on in some of her analysis. The core of the commentary is about the billboards posted all over Columbus advertising a local radio station with a picture of an abundantly endowed female chest in a sleeveless t-shirt which advises us to listen to their station and “pray for rain”, thus making it a wet t-shirt. Aside from the clear dilemma presented by this advice (asking God to make this woman’s t-shirt wet so that men can act lustfully towards her really doesn’t square with the biblical idea that we should all treat the opposite sex with the respect he or she deserves as the image bearer of the Creator) there is the clear appeal to the prurient interests of travelers which has the potential of creating a serious traffic hazard (if you have seen this billboard then you understand).

Ms. Fisher correctly draws a connection between these billboards and the rather cavalier attitude allegedly exhibited by some Columbus Police officers who are accused of using the billboard as an example for a young woman trying to keep her boyfriend from being arrested. She accuses them of coercing her to expose her chest to them in exchange for letting him go, which she alleges she did, and that they honored her action (after defiling her body and making photographic evidence against themselves with a camera phone). Fisher also calls for a boycott of the station’s sponsors saying that the consumers have the power to make them stop the billboard campaign. More on this later.

But now we come to the rather obvious problems with Ms. Fisher’s addled analysis of the larger picture (so to speak). She says that the billboards and the accused policeman’s activities makes Columbus seem “unsophisticated.” It would be interesting to know how Ms. Fisher defines “sophistication.” She displays a very liberal “sophistication” in contradicting the head of the Lucas county YWCA, Lisa McDuffie who called attention to the plight of local strippers while rejecting the money from strip clubs that the Lucas county Democrats collected from the fundraiser. Fisher writes that “Those women don’t want or need our pity. They were just doing their jobs…” One wonders how “sophisticated” Ms. Fisher’s view would be if it were to be suggested to her that drug dealers and cigarette company executives were “only doing their jobs’ and that it is really those despicable addicts who buy the products that are the real problem. We can presume that the answer would be “not very.” Fisher is also apparently oblivious to the fact that the Lucas county YWCA chief is only too aware of the sad side effects of the sex trade and its connections with human trafficking, a serious problem that the Toledo area is very familiar with. McDuffie was right to refuse the strip club donation profits and she was right to call for Lucas county Democratic leadership to become enlightened as to the reasons why.

It is at this point that Ms. Fisher seems to realize that she is walking a high-wire over a yawning chasm with no net. She sighs aloud that the radio station owners “…correctly wrap themselves in the free-speech portion of the U.S. Constitution…” Correctly? While it is a very “sophisticated” interpretation of the first amendment which says that obscenity (and while the billboards may not meet the technical definition the average viewer will probably consider them to be obscene) is “protected speech.” The framers never intended it to protect pornography, soft, hard or otherwise, vile language or public lewdness. It was designed to foster and protect public debate of political issues. The expansion of “free-speech and expression” protections to lewd behavior and obscenity date back only to the early 1960’s. Why point this out and what makes Ms. Fisher’s call for boycotts of radio stations (media competitors) while creating a convenient artificial shield in the Constitution hypocritical? Because her employer, the Columbus Dispatch, collects money by the virtual wheelbarrow full every year from strip (“gentlemen’s”) clubs, massage parlors, adult toy and book shops, escort services, S/M dungeons, by-the-hour motels, prostitutes, etc. in both column and classified ads. Some preliminary analyses indicate that the Dispatch’s various revenues from the sex trade approach or exceed $1 million yearly. Thus, it’s clear that the donkey is calling the pig “long ears” at the top of its voice. Quite sophisticated, indeed.

Ms. Fisher digs this hole even deeper in attempting to make a hero of Democratic State Party Chairman and State Representative Chris Redfern in the recent Lucas county dust up involving the Lucas county Democratic party golf fund raiser where local strip clubs made party donations and provided strippers as “cart girls.” Again, we see the same pretzel logic with the strippers as demonstrated previously. They are merely plying their trade. It’s the customers who should be the target of our disgust. Everyone involved either denied that the strippers engaged in their trade or expressed outrage that they did so, thus exposing the disingenuousness of the deniers. The Toledo Blade has run a very informative series of stories on this, drudging up a great deal of information and eclipsing other state papers’ dismal coverage of an important story. You can click the links below for details.

Democratic Party treasurer teed off over golf outing’s strippers
Resignation of party boss sought for having strippers at golf fund-raiser
McNamara, Irish spar over strippers
Democrats’ scandal over strippers spills into city committee meeting
Council candidate rejects strip club’s $50 donation
Dems still squabbling over stripper scandal
Party hit by fallout from golf scandal
Lucas County Democratic chief resists calls to resign over stripper
Irish resigns as chairman of Democrats over scandal involving strippers
Lucas County Dems’ new leader slams party rivals

But what makes this part of the story so interesting is the lionization of Redfern for threatening to cut off funding for the Lucas county party leadership who allowed the strippers to attend the event when both he and Toledo area State Senator Teresa Fedor voted against SB 16, the Community Defense Act (CDA), a law which regulates strip clubs. Senator Fedor went so far as to stand in support of a group of professional strippers calling themselves the Dancers For Democracy, giving a speech in their support at their press conference. On the floor of the Senate she stood in opposition to portions of the bill that would prohibit customers having physical contact with dancers, the so-called lap dance prohibition. Probably the most laughable quote, one which exposes the utter hypocrisy of Senator Fedor is in the article Lucas County Democratic chief resists calls to resign over stripper wherein Fedor is quoted as having said “…the reported activity of a woman baring her body to some golfers was the last straw for her” followed by a letter to the Lucas county Democratic Party Chairman in which she wrote “Your egregious decision in staffing the golf outing is disrespectful to all women, to Democrats, to Toledo, and to the state of Ohio…” And what of your decision to vote against a bill that would regulate the behavior you pretend to abhor and to stand with women who allow their bodies to be exploited for profit, Senator Fedor?

Apparently both Redfern and Fedor oppose local governments being able to regulate adult business activities but have vowed to enforce a much stricter standard at Democratic party events. This hypocritical demonstration of political logrolling in the guise of mock outrage (read the last 3 articles on the list and you’ll find that the Lucas county Democratic Party ballet is more about control of the party than the strippers at a party event, about which Redfern and Fedor couldn’t really care less if their Ohio House and Senate votes mean anything) show the intricate dance amongst the cow patties that politicians are willing to perform in order to cover their duplicity. And also to what lengths members of the press are willing to go to make the same politicians look like defenders of the Constitution. Especially when they profit from the trade the politicians are working to protect.

By the way Republicans, you shouldn’t feel too superior based on this incident. There are plenty of GOP legislative peccadilloes connected with the passage of the CDA. Had Republicans including leadership in the Ohio Senate not bowed to the tremendous pressure applied by the strip club owners in the 2006 legislative session, the (CDA) would not have required a petition drive aimed at a referendum to force the legislative replacement of the enforcement “teeth” removed by that body.

Finally, Fisher ends her cognitive dissonance tour de force with the following logically sound appeal which she carefully and self-servingly applies only to the radio station billboards but which could just as conveniently apply to the adult business advertising in the Dispatch; “…If they bother you, forget the city, forget the station managers. Go to the sponsors. They aren’t emotionally attached to smarmy, sexist and degrading crap, but they speak profit margin fluently. That’s the American way.” We couldn’t agree more. Thanks to the editorial staff of the Columbus Dispatch for making it crystal clear what needs to be done to solve a growing problem.