1. Archive

Those with the power distracted by the inane

Published Sep. 1, 2005

Okay, we can't seem to get a handle on the medical malpractice thing, are going to do everything we can to avoid building the bullet train to nowhere and are well into the "devious plans" phase of not dealing with class sizes, and we have a smoking ban that nobody seems quite sure how to enforce.

But don't worry. Your state government is hard at work making sure poor kids don't get circumcised and exploring the problem of whether nudist kids should be naked when they go to summer camp.

I was tipped off to the state's efforts to cut short the funding of circumcisions for Medicaid patients by a story in last week's St. Petersburg Times saying the move was a "no brainer." (A phrase that most legislators should avoid whenever possible.)

Actually I don't have a big problem with the, er, cut.

Circumcision was once heralded as medically necessary because uncircumcised men were thought to be at extra risk for cancer of the penis or for causing cervical cancer in their female sexual partners. The bulk of scientific research, however, says that those risks are not significantly related to not having the procedure, which some see as an unnecessary mutilation.

It remains a controversial subject because the procedure is still done for religious reasons by Jews and Muslims and traditionally done in some families for a variety of reasons, sometimes just to avoid having a child "look different," than his peers.

If the state doesn't want to spend money for a religious or cultural tradition I can understand that, but I wonder what cultural statements that will make in middle school boys' locker rooms 10 or 12 years from now when those whose parents couldn't afford the procedure mix with those whose parents could.

I am comforted, however, that the Jebster has reacted to U.S. Rep. Tom Foley's concerns about nude kids attending nude summer camp at a Pasco nudist resort.

The Gov's knee didn't jerk quite as far after a state investigation showed there was no evidence of illegal activity at Lake Como, the place that has Foley's conservative underwear in a bunch, but, after learning it wasn't broken, he decided to fix it, "if inappropriate or illegal behavior is occurring."

According to the governor's general counsel the Department of Children and Families is now reviewing existing records to see if anything is wrong at the camps where nobody has reported any wrongdoing.

Good. As a co-worker remarked, the kids will now be not only naked, but lost.

Okay, that was a low blow, but DCF has some real problems to address.

I am well aware, and if I weren't, 40 or 50 e-mails and telephone calls on the subject would have made it clear, that not everyone agrees with me or the folks at Lake Como or the parents of the kids involved.

But the truth of the matter is that some people don't see nudity as naughty and don't see nudist kids in a nudist camp as being any more at risk than kids involved in a host of other, clothed, activities.

And I honestly believe that our governments, local, state and federal, face problems much more in need of the attention of people with the power and responsibilities wielded by Foley, Bush and others.

Stop terrorism. Give us mass transit. Provide equal access to medical care. Work toward full employment. Find a way to improve our schools rather than testing them to see how unimproved they are. Pay our teachers and firefighters and police officers a living wage. Stop slicing programs that give the disadvantaged an even shot at enfranchisement.

Make Florida a place where you can drive more than 25 miles without seeing a Bob's Barricade; make this a country where you don't have to go to a special zone to exercise your First Amendment rights and where Fourth Amendment rights are more than just a fond, fading memory.

Then, if you have the time and energy left over, and really need an issue before the next election, help yourself to the inane and the meaningless.