Yesterday alone three news items prompted incoherent spluttering when they came to the attention of your oft humbled scribe. How can people possibly think, believe, and do this stuff? The question is rhetorical. Links to my sources are included below so readers can confirm that these reports are not the work of The Onion, The Borowitz Report, or other purveyors of satire.
Robert Foster is a contender in the Republican primary to nominate the party's candidate for governor of Mississippi. Larrison Campbell is a reporter for Mississippi Today, which bills itself as "a nonprofit news and media company with a forward-facing mission of civic engagement and public dialog through service journalism, live events and digital outreach." Nonprofit? Forward-facing? Mission of civic engagement? To some among our compatriots this is tantamount to card-carrying membership in the far left, liberal, fake news, mainstream media. Ah, but I digress.
Mississippi Today came up with the radical notion to have a reporter shadow each contender seeking the GOP nomination. Foster's opponent agreed to "ride alongs" with a male reporter. Foster however denied Campbell similar access unless she was accompanied by a male chaperone. Yes, a male damn chaperone. In 2019. A spokeperson, who acknowledged that this was a "weird request," explained to Campbell that it was motivated by fear that the honorable Foster could be accused of having an extramarital affair if seen in the company of a woman reporter.
As reported in The Guardian, Foster has since issued multiple tweets on the subject:
"Before our decision to run, my wife and I made a commitment to follow the 'Billy Graham Rule', which is to avoid any situation that may evoke suspicion or compromise of our marriage,' he tweeted on Tuesday. "I am sorry Ms Campbell doesn’t share these views, but my decision was out of respect of my wife."
The following day he added: "As I anticipated, the liberal left lost their minds over the fact I choose not to be alone with another woman. They can’t believe, that even in 2019, someone still values their relationship with their wife and upholds their Christian faith."
The idea that a man cannot be alone, not even in public, with a woman other his wife without evoking suspicion or compromising his marriage is beyond bizarre even if it seems to be not uncommon in certain circles. The vice president, Monsieur Pence, reportedly does not dine alone with women other than his wife for the same reasons. I have to wonder what manner of marriage this is that could be so easily compromised? By the same twisted reasoning, would it not be just as damning to be alone in the company of a man? Think of the homoerotic overtones. I am trying to repress them myself.
It turns out that Foster is the right-most candidate of the Republican field. "He is known for his incendiary social media commentary, including outspoken support of the state flag, which features a Confederate battle emblem" (Campbell).
Last December he tweeted, "Anyone who votes (Democratic) in 18 is either ignorant or evil. There is no excuse for supporting killing babies or open borders. If that offends U, I’ll pray for U but I won’t apologize" (quoted by Campbell).
Foster is now using the contretemps in his social media campaign and fundraising email, portraying himself as the victim of "the liberal left and Hollywood."
Larrison Campbell, Robert Foster, GOP governor candidate, denies woman reporter access because of her gender, Mississippi Today, July 9, 2019
Adam Ganucheau and Larrison Campbell, Rep. Foster uses ads, fundraising call to stoke firestorm over his campaign freezing out female reporter, Mississippi Today, July 10, 2019
Lauren Gambino and Miranda Bryant, Female journalist told she needs male chaperone to cover politician's campaign, The Guardian, July 10, 2019
Meantime, on July 4 in Tempe, Arizona, a Starbucks employee reportedly asked six police officers to leave the establishment because another customer complained that they made him feel unsafe. The Tempe Officers Association said that the officers had just bought their drinks and were standing together before their shift started. The association acknowledged that the barista was polite when he or she made the request. Reports have it that the customer and all the officers were white. Starbucks executives subsequently met with police chief Sylvia Moir and apologized for the incident.
It could probably go without saying that a Twitter storm erupted. Police supporters called for a boycott of Starbucks. "But," AP reported, "critics of the boycott effort said on Twitter that the campaign ignores racist police behavior and police brutality that have made some people feel unsafe around officers."
The call for a boycott of Starbucks is misguided (I say this as no fan of the coffee leviathan). The company's response was the right one. I have some sympathy for the barista, who may have been caught up in a situation where he or she did not know quite what to do.
Blanket demonization of police officers is every bit as wrongheaded, harmful, and plain
wrong as is turning a blind eye to police misconduct. One might think that individuals concerned about "racist police behavior and police brutality" would want to encourage interaction between police officers and the community in coffee shops and other public spaces, the idea being that this could foster better understanding and relationships on both sides.
If I am in a coffee shop or other public space where people minding their own business make me feel uncomfortable, I have the right to leave the establishment, but I have no right to request that others be banished because of my subjective feeling of discomfort.
Associated Press News, Starbucks apologizes to police for incident in Arizona shop, July 6, 2019
Associated Press News, Starbucks execs, police meet after incident in Arizona shop, July 8, 2019
Rapper Tiny Jag created a stir when she pulled out of Detroit's AfroFuture music festival after learning that the price-structure was based on race, with people of color (POC) charged half as much for tickets as "Non POC."
The AfroFuture music festival did not respond to a request for comment by NPR's Here & Now. NPR reported that an explanation was posted on Facebook by an event organizer:
"Events often designed for marginalized Black and Brown communities can be easily co-opted by those with cultural, monetary, and class privileges. Our goal is to ensure that the youth of our communities can participate in the building of a just society; one that promotes EQUITY over EQUALITY."
Tiny Jag was immediately upset when she learned of the two-tier price structure. Her objection was to the message sent by race-based ticket pricing. She is on board with the goal of addressing inequities rooted in our nation's history but feels that this is the wrong way to go about doing it. "I didn't know this was the direction that we were headed," she said on Here & Now.
Not surprisingly her actions generated considerable backlash, including hate messages. "But she stands by her belief that festivalgoers shouldn’t 'have to compromise our integrity or alienate another race in order to improve ... fixed and institutionalized systemic disparities.'" (Here & Now).
I agree with Tiny Jag and applaud her stand.
Christie D'Zurilla, A music fest was charging white people double — but caved after the uproar, LA Times, July , 2019
Robin Young and Samantha Raphelson, A Music Festival Was Charging White People Double For Tickets. So This Rapper Pulled Out, NPR Here & Now, July 10, 2019