States of Confusion

06.23.13

Fringe Factor: Masturbating Fetuses and Gay Tutus

From masturbating fetuses to Boston Marathon conspiracy theories, it’s been a busy week for America’s best and brightest.

Texas: Who Says 15 Weeks Is Too Young to Masturbate?

Can fetuses really masturbate? Does it matter? According to Texas lawmaker Michael Burgess, they can and it does. His point, apparently, in making the cringeworthy claim that if you look at a sonogram of a male at 15 weeks in the womb, you might catch him playing with himself, was to argue that if a baby can feel pleasure at that age, who’s to say he can’t feel pain? Burgess, actually an OB-GYN by profession, seems to have based his argument on some little-known observations made in a decades-old research paper that female—not male, as he said—fetuses touched their own genitalia. Burgess’s objective in making this statement, of course, was not to make the Internet giggle at the thought of fetuses masturbating (which happened), but to provide yet another example of how fetuses, even at 15 weeks, are people and therefore it should be illegal to abort them. The congressman’s comments were part of his argument in favor of the controversial House bill, which passed Tuesday, that bans abortions after 20 weeks.

Idaho: Where Gay Men Are Cool, as Long As They Don’t Wear Tutus

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Rick Rycroft/AP

The heads of the Idaho Republican Party would like to get rid of all six of the state’s city ordinances banning sexual-orientation-based discrimination. Why? Because Cornel Rasor is under the impression that gay men have a tendency to wear tutus to work and throw in-office pride parades, and he doesn’t feel he should be legally required to put up with that. Is that so wrong? “I’d hire a gay guy if I thought he was a good worker,” Rasor insisted. “But if he comes to work in a tutu ... he’s not producing what I want in my office.” He went on to clarify, “If a guy has a particular predilection and keeps it to himself, that’s fine. But if he wants to use my business as a platform for his lifestyle, why should I have to subsidize that?”

North Carolina: Now Offering Race-Based Death Sentences

North Carolina is really on a roll lately. Eighty-four people were arrested Monday at the seventh weekly Moral Monday protest lead by the state’s NAACP chapter against North Carolina’s sharply conservative GOP leadership. Also this week Tar Heel State Gov. Pat McCroy decided that the racial-justice law, banning death sentences based on race, was making it virtually impossible for the state to execute anyone, so he killed it. McCroy signed a repeal put forth by North Carolina’s Republican-led legislature on Wednesday, declaring, “Nearly every person on death row, regardless of race, has appealed their death sentence under the Racial Justice Act. The state’s district attorneys are nearly unanimous in their bipartisan conclusion that the Racial Justice Act created a judicial loophole to avoid the death penalty and not a path to justice.” Last week we focused on the state’s bill to knock down the unnecessary burden that is getting a permit for gun purchases.

Illinois: Former Miss America Is a ‘Street Walker,’ and the Democrats Are Her ‘Pimps’

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Toyokazu Kosugi/AP

Illinois county chairman Jim Allen learned the hard way that if you don’t have anything that’s not horribly offensive to say about someone, don’t say anything at all. The Republican from Farmersville resigned Thursday after some particularly nasty things he said about former Miss America and Illinois legislative hopeful Erika Harold were made public. In an email to a supporter of Harold—who’s planning a primary bid for a Republican-held seat—Allen compared the candidate to a “street walker” working for Democratic and moderate Republican “pimps.” He also suggested that after losing 2014 primary, Harold, who is black, would go back to Chicago, which he spelled in a derogatory way, “working for some law firm that needs to meet their quota for minority hires.” Allen threw in the towel at the behest of RNC chairman Reince Priebus, who said, “His behavior is inexcusable and must not be tolerated.”

New Hampshire: What Was the Government’s Role in the Boston Marathon Bombing, Really?

Jim Allen wasn’t the only state politician to step down this week amid controversy. New Hampshire state Rep. Stella Tremblay is of the opinion that the government actually orchestrated the Boston Marathon bombing as a means of creating an excuse to infringe on American civil liberties. Despite apologizing for causing a stir with her conspiracy theory—and even after the suspects had admitted their guilt—Tremblay continued to suggest that not enough questions were being asked about the government’s part in the incident. She even emailed her fellow House members with links to videos and conspiracy-theory blogs, asking, “Have you seen ANY main stream media doing a follow-up on these stories? I have not. I just connect the dots.” Her colleagues were not convinced, however, and reprimanded her. And Thursday, just before the House was about to pass a brand-new budget, Tremblay called it quits.