Week in review: laurels and darts
Michele Bachmann is a pretty easy target for jokes. The University of Iowa is the latest to take a crack at her. In response to reports of a cougar prowling around Iowa City, the school’s Twitter feed sent out the update, “I didn’t know Bachmann was in town. Bah-dum-dum.” The joke here, of course, is that Bachmann is not a wild feline, but an older woman interested in romantic entanglements with younger men. The school has since taken the tweet down and issued an apology for its joke. We can’t figure out why. It was a harmless joke, and it’s fun to see the humorous side of higher education. Even Bachmann’s people don’t seem to be offended by it. For making a bigger deal out the situation than needed, the University of Iowa receives a dart. It would be one thing if the tweet was vitriolic or defamatory, but that was not the case.
Public schools in Washington, D.C., are taking an interesting step in health education. The district will be the first school district to give students in grades 5, 8 and 10 a standardized test on sex and sexuality, contraceptive methods and drug use. These are important life subjects which school districts unfortunately gloss over often. The best way to keep students safe, with respect to sex and drugs, is to arm them with the knowledge necessary for them to protect themselves. Therefore, giving them an exam is a good way to ensure that they learn this highly valuable information and retain it for years to come. We give the Washington, D.C., public school system a laurel for deciding to institute this test.
You may love or hate the members of MTV’s “Jersey Shore,” but if you are a resident of New Jersey, it does not matter your feelings on the cast: You are paying for them. Thanks to a tax credit that the New Jersey Economic Development Authority gave to the show, taxpayers in N.J. will be paying for $420,000 worth of the reality show’s production costs. That’s the last bill N.J. taxpayers need to be taking care of. There are far more important things our money should be going to — things that are integral to the continued running of our state. We give the New Jersey Economic Development Authority a dart for approving this tax break. MTV is a company that does pretty well for itself — it should be able to pay all of its production costs without the aid of the already cash-strapped N.J. public.
Facebook is making it easier for users to maintain a separation of their private and public lives on the Internet with the addition of a brand new feature, the subscribe button. The subscribe button lets users follow a person without friending them. Since these followers are not friends, they can only see posts from the people they subscribe to if those posts are specifically marked for the public to see. So, the subscribe button allows people to reach wider audiences without having those audiences pry into their social lives. This new feature is a win for public figures and average folk alike, so we give Facebook a laurel for finding a way to let users maintain their privacy while speaking to the public.
It seems silly to us to brand toddlers as “racist,” “sexist” or “homophobic,” but the British government apparently disagrees. More than 30,000 school-aged children have their names listed in a government database that tracks their supposed discriminatory actions. Inclusion on this database is a black mark on these children’s records that could follow them for their lives. Children should be taught not to use slurs, not be put under government surveillance whenever they do use hurtful language. The key is education, not punishment. These are very young children we’re talking about, not fully developed and freethinking adults. We give the British government a dart for going to such radical, ridiculous measures.