Thursday, November 03, 2005

What About the Children?!?

If you're like me, you thought that Gov. Blagojevich's crusade against dirty video games addressed the single most burning issue facing the Land of Lincoln -- the issue that would propel him back into the governor's mansion governor's office in the Thompson Center.

But Republican Steve Rauschenberger has identified an even bigger threat to Illinois: naughty T-shirts.

From your Chicago Sun-Times:
State Sen. Steve Rauschenberger, a candidate for governor, squeezed into the latest Abercrombie & Fitch T-shirt flap Wednesday by threatening to lead a boycott if the retailer doesn't pull a new batch of suggestive shirts.
At a Chicago news conference, the Elgin Republican -- who in recent months has held news conferences on meatier but drier issues -- alternately called the $24.50 shirts "offensive," "degrading," "an abomination" and "crap."

The shirts, part of the ongoing "attitude" T-shirt trend popular with kids, feature lettering and logos with a slew of sexual double entendres. Some are more blunt.

"Who Needs Brains When You Have These?" asks one shirt, its lettering at chest level. Another reads "Freshman 15" and then lists a series of men's names. The shirts get more suggestive from there.

"I don't pretend to be the bellwether of what's cool, but I know there is nothing cool about disrespecting women or disrespecting one's self," said Rauschenberger, 49.

Rauschenberger said he'll introduce a Senate resolution this week calling on Abercrombie & Fitch to stop selling the shirts. If that doesn't work, he said he'll organize family groups to boycott Illinois stores. ***

Two of Rauschenberger's three announced challengers in next spring's GOP primary -- Aurora dairy man Jim Oberweis and state Sen. Bill Brady of Bloomington -- weighed in on the shirt flap. North Side businessman Ron Gidwitz took a pass.

"Every parent and friend in Illinois should remind our youth that modesty in conduct and appearance are a virtue," Oberweis said.

Brady spokesman Dan Egler said making the shirts an issue was fine, but he noted that people on the campaign trail are instead talking about restoring Illinois jobs.

Meanwhile Wednesday, the Oberweis campaign said it has hired J. Matthew Barber, who was in the news this summer when he sued his former employer, Allstate Corp., claiming he was fired because he posted anti-gay essays online. Barber is now Oberweis' DuPage County coordinator.
While it certainly is easy -- and fun -- to mock the gubernatorial candidates' pandering, it really isn't cool to disrespect women. But as long as there are people stupid enough to pay $24.50 for a T-shirt, there will be people stupid enough to buy degrading T-shirts... and corporations willing to sell such T-shirts.

What baffles me is the number of parents who buy their daughters clothing that explicitly carries the message: "I'm a Slut." Unfortunately, I don't think that there is anything that any Illinois governor can do about such shockingly poor parenting.

But, in the spirit of bipartisanship, I propose that the leaders of both parties unite and form a joint commission to combat the looming threat of Grand Theft Auto T-shirts.

Update: Rauschenberger, an Alan Keyes supporter, called these T-shirts "crap" -- by contrast, the lefty blogs call them a "corporate-driven attempt to start a trendy kind of sexism".

And there is no reason they can't both be right.

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