I spent much of last week in San Francisco at a web conference (learning how to deal with our new CA commentors). I kid. I learned a lot about what the future of newspapering might look like. I'll write more on that later this week. Meanwhile, enjoy a little street performance: Jefferson Street, Saturday afternoon, San Francisco...
There's all kinds of action in the South Carolina GOP primary today. It began with ol' Rick "Oops" Perry dropping out of the race. Then, Paul Begala of the Daily Beast did some cipherin' and figured out that Perry and his supporting PACs and SuperPACs spent around $21 million on his candidacy. Begala figured that comes out to around $1,400 a vote for Perry's combined totals in Iowa and New Hampshire. Nice! That level of advertising purchases is the kind of job creation those of us in the media biz can appreciate.
In his withdrawal speech, Perry endorsed Newt Gingrich, who will now presumably pick up all those Palmetto State Perry voters. And Newt is reportedly "surging," according to numerous polls. But, Newt is facing his own potential "Oops" moment. It seems ABC will broadcast an interview tonight with Marianne Gingrich, Newtie's wife Number Two, in which she will say that Newt a) asked her for a divorce over the phone, and b) when she said no, he c) asked her for an open marriage in which she would "share" Newt with Calista, his then-mistress, now-wife. Also, Marianne will reportedly say that Gingrich went out the next day and gave a "family values" speech to a conservative audience. Ooops.
Oh, but there's more going on in GOP-land. Business Insider is reporting today that not only does Mitt Romney probably pay a lower tax rate on his seven-figure income than the average plumber, he also has stashed assets of up to $8 million offshore in the Cayman Islands to lower his taxes even further. Ooooops.
But since Rick Santorum is feeling heat for some insider real estate deals and hasn't gained any traction in South Carolina, and Ron Paul is facing blowback from newly released racist-tinged newsletters and seems to have peaked, and Cain, Midge, Huntsman, and Perry are gone, the GOP race appears to be down to Newt and Mitt. It's an awesome display of how our splendid primary nomination system so often produces political survival of the unfittest. Ironically, since many of these candidates don't believe in it, it's like a present-day refutation of evolution. In this "intelligent design" version of politics, the flightless dodo bird survives. And runs for the nation's highest office.
(In related news, a report released earlier today noted that many of the reelection campaign staff for President Obama were staying home from work, nursing sore palms from excessive high-fiving.)
The Family Action Council of Tennessee is pushing to get this bill passed through the state legislature. The bill will amend the required schools' "anti-bullying" policies to purportedly protect the rights of those whose religious beliefs render them opposed to, say, homosexuality.
What the proposed law says is that anti-bullying policies "may not prohibit their expression of religious, philosophical, or political views as long as such expression does not include a threat of physical harm to a student or of damage to a student's property."
So what "rights" are being defended here? Students already have the right to practice any religion they want to. They are free to attend churches that believe homosexuality is immoral. Schools' anti-bullying policies are in place to protect the vulnerable — small kids, gays, those who are somehow perceived as "different" — from verbal and physical intimidation. Will the new law allow those who attend churches such as the Westboro Baptist Church, of "God Hates Fags" fame, to practice their homophobic and hateful religion in schools? Apparently so. Will the new law allow those who are white supremacists to express their "political beliefs" concerning Jews and African Americans? And how about extremist Muslims? Will they be allowed to practice verbal jihad in school? It's their philosophical view, after all.
Yep, the way I read this, going around saying "God hates fags" will be cool in Tennessee schools as long as, you know, you don't hit anybody.
I'm sure Jesus will be pleased.
And you know who else will be pleased? Nobody. The Tennessee legislature is already a national punchline. If, as GOP legislators constantly claim, jobs are the top priority, this is absolutely the worst kind of publicity the state can get. How many Fortune 500 companies or large international manufacturers are going to want to locate in a state where the public schools are legally required to allow bigotry and homophobia?
It's wrong, and beyond stupid.
Attempting to "win" an argument on the Internet can be a lot like debating someone wearing headphones. Some people hear only the music in their own cranium. That said, and since the question as to "who" reads the Flyer has been raised by a reader, perhaps it might be useful to provide some actual statistics.
The Media Audit is a company that provides demographic data on all media in major markets. Media subscribe to the service so that their advertising departments can use the information to convince potential advertisers of the merits of buying space in their publication. The reports are universally accepted and updated often. They are also quite detailed as to income, ethnicity, home-ownership, etc.
For example, here are some stats comparing the weekday Commercial Appeal to the Flyer. The numbers are the most recent available, from Jan-Feb 2011.
Median Age: 51
Median Income: $49,720
Home Owners: 74 percent
Average Home Value: $173,298
White Readership: 47.7 percent
Black Readership: 43.6 percent
College Degree: 19.9 percent
Median Age: 46
Median Income: $57,929
Home Owners: 61 percent
Average Home Value: $164,028
White Readership: 48.8 percent
Black Readership: 41.3 percent
College Degree: 30.1 percent
Some food for conversation. Or, more likely, a platform for more Internet "discussion" between people wearing headphones.