And in local journalism, we turn to the Op-Ed page of the Opelika-Auburn News, where the editorial board has — with their characteristic courage and insight — taken a bold and controversial stand by saying that Auburn’s football team is pretty good this year.
This is from the OA News from a few days ago.
On another issue, AU is requiring all students, staff and faculty bringing a bicycle to campus to register it with AU’s Parking Services, Smith said.
Although people have previously been asked to register, the requirement will be more strictly enforced now, something Smith said is necessary as the campus has become more pedestrian.
We’re seeing many, many more bikes on campus and because of that we’ve got to get a handle on how many we have …
(No, you don’t.)
and registering them is a good way to do that,Smith said.
(No, it isn’t.)
You register your car on campus and the same is true for bicycles.
(This is a completely specious comparison.)
Registration is free.
(Don’t count on that lasting forever.)
Smith said the number of bicycles registered with the university will help ensure that an adequate number of bicycle racks are available on campus.
The reason the University requires you to register cars is specifically to limit and control access: parking space near campus is extremely limited, it’s expensive to build more, and the parking tags regulate who can park in which zones. None of these rationales apply to bicycles on campus, no matter how many there may be. The idea that you just have to know the exact number of bicycles might be brought in at any given time is inane. If you’re
seeing many, many more bikes on campus, then evidently you have some idea of the order of magnitude you’re dealing with, and if you want to tell whether you need to install more bike racks, you can do this pretty easily by looking at the bike racks and seeing whether or not they’re full up all the time, or by watching for bikes chained up to lightpoles when the racks are all full. If you see these problems, you need more bike racks. If you don’t, you don’t. The cynic in me would point out that one reason to enforce this policy is that it’s a way of making up for the declining revenues from on-campus cars, by extracting a little more revenue from the bicycles they are going to seize and impound. But really this, and a lot of other policies controlling bicycling that are justified by the same kind of specious comparisons to motor-cars, seems to be driven, more than anything, by a reflexive belief if there’s ever a lot of any damn thing at all, it’s a Problem that has to be counted out and controlled; that any and every important part of civic life, or campus life, must be registered with, and legible to, the controlling authorities. There is no reason at all to enforce this policy, other than an irrational compulsion to control anything that moves in your field of vision. In practice, the effect of the policy will be to waste students’ time, to cost students money, to punish bicyclists, to impound bikes, and to make campus less accessible to the rest of the community. (A lot of us have bikes. But we’re not eligible to register them.)
- Randy Cohen, If Kant Were a New York Cyclist, in the New York Times, August 4, 2012.
From the Opelika-Auburn News (2008-03-07):
Westboro Baptist Church, a group known for protesting and picketing funerals and memorials of fallen soldiers, is planning to picket at the Sunday afternoon funeral of 18-year-old Auburn freshman Lauren Burk, according to the group’s Web site. Burk was killed Tuesday night. Police are investigating her death as a murder.
Westboro Baptist Church, established in 1955, is an Kansas-based organization lead by Pastor Fred Phelps.
The group is also planning to picket the funeral of Eve Carson, UNC student body president who was killed Wednesday morning.
Both funerals are listed on the WBC site’s online picket schedule for Sunday.
First the Phelpses came to picket the funerals of men murdered by gay-bashers.
Then they came to picket the funerals of AIDS patients.
Then they came to picket the funerals of soldiers killed in combat.
And now, having given up any pretense of having a particular target other than humanity and simple decency, they’re just showing up to any old random funeral, so long as they know that the news media will be in the area.
What they are doing now is no more, and no less, evil than what they did to Matthew Shepard’s family. I would say that the cruelty here is more bizarre, but it’s not, really, when you understand some basic facts about the Phelpses. They have shown repeatedly, by their words and their deeds, that they thrive on being hated and provoking reaction. There is literally nothing at all that is beneath them, as long as it gets their names and their websites in the news yet again. And it will.
I spent yesterday afternoon sorting through the mail that had been held for us while we were out of town. Among several belatedly delivered direct-mail pitches for year-end donations, I found one from Jay Gogue, the lately installed CEO of my dear old Alma Mater. Here’s how it began (emphasis added):
Auburn University Office of the President
December 17, 2007.
Dear Alumni and Friends,
As 2007 draws to a close, so does my first six months as President of this great university. My wife Susie and I are delighted to be back home on the Plains and excited about the opportunities of Auburn University.
It is important tolistento the full spectrum of Auburn constituencies both on and off campus. My very first meeting as President was with Auburn students and my second was with faculty leaders. These meetings have been followed by many others involving alumni, the deans, staff representatives, extension …
Based on past experience with Auburn University senior administration, I am sure that Dr. Gogue has been doing a lot of
listening to University stakeholders. But I must confess that I am a bit surprised to see him writing out the scare quotes himself. Usually administrators leave that syntactic detail to be tacitly understood.
Update: fixed typos and relocated the Extended Entry into the main text.
Here’s some more good news on the Emergency Contraception front: while the FDA process has advanced to the point where EC will probably be available over-the-counter sometime or another soon, Australia is quickly moving one step ahead of the United States: Emergency Contraception is set to become available over-the-counter in Australia tomorrow, January 1.
This isn’t to say that Australia’s EC situation is advanced over that of the United States in every respect. One major difference is that whereas the medical community in America largely supports the FDA’s move towards OTC availability, the medical community in Australia is at best nervous about the move, and in some cases directly opposed. The main issue for them, though, seems not to be the sort of religious Kulturkampf that flares around the American side of the debate. Rather, Australian doctors just seem to be more accustomed than American doctors to controlling the medical lives of their patients, and more jealous at giving up that power. For example, consider this Foucaultian bit of paternalism:
But Australian Medical Association president Bill Glasson said he was concerned that pharmacists were not legally required to record a woman’s visit.
I think that they really need to rediscuss how it is going to operate in the interest of good medical care,Dr Glasson said.
The pharmaceutical society’s national president, Jay Hooper, said many pharmacists would take it upon themselves to record each time a woman wanted the pill.
Not that American doctors don’t also sometimes engage in this tracking and scummy hectoring. At the Auburn University Student Health Center, for example, you could obtain EC—but they’d note when you got it, throw a bunch of red tape in your way, and if I recall correctly, they’d only let you have it once a semester. (The idea in both cases is for doctors to be able to lecture women that they decide are making unhealthy lifestyle choices. I am all for encouraging women to make healthy lifestyle choices, but I can’t imagine that an emergency situation to prevent a pregnancy is the appropriate time to do it, or that forcing women to listen by restricting access to EC until you’re done lecturing them is the appropriate way to go about it.) But the American medical community does not seem particularly squeamish about giving up that control if it means that women are more able to prevent unwanted pregnancies: the American Medical Association and the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists both lobbied for, and strongly supported, the FDA advisory panels’ decision. In Australia, however, the Australian Medical Association seems nervous and is ready to develop their own house guidelines to try to minimize the freedom it will offer women.
I don’t think, incidentally, that the attitude is a matter of misogyny, exactly. But it is directly connected to patriarchy—it’s a matter of the authoritarian sense of entitlement that modern doctors have always felt and acted out vis-a-vis their patients. The condition exists in Australia and America both, but with regard to over-the-counter pills the Australian medical community seems to have divorced itself from it less than their American counterparts. Consider: at the same time as EC becomes available over the counter for the first time in Australia, so will ibuprofen. And this has caused no small degree of consternation for the Australian Medical Association:
Also from Thursday stronger pain relief medication will be available in supermarkets, a move that has angered and confused doctors and pharmacists. Dr Glasson said the pain killer ibuprofen, contained in products including Nurofen, should only be sold under the supervision of pharmacists.It’s a dangerous move and it’s a backward step.
Patients have to look at the medical aspects of these drugs and get good advice that only the friendly pharmacist can give. Paracetamol is much kinder on the stomach.
Ibuprofen, an anti-inflammatory drug, was only available in pharmacies until the Government ratified the new regulations in October.
Products containing ibuprofen have been available in supermarkets in the US since 1984 and in Britain since 1996.
The teeming masses of Ozzies will now be able to buy Advil without a doctor’s learned advice! O tempora! O mores!
But however the doctors and pharmacists may whine, the women of Australia have every reason to celebrate. A happy New Year’s to the reproductive rights community in Australia — good show!