the Gauntlet

Palin's hard week

The media replaces the glass ceiling, from below

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In the span of two and a half weeks, the 2008 U.S. presidential election has earned a major page in the history books. The Democratic Party has elected the first ever black presidential nominee, Barack Obama, and the Republican Party, a few days later in Minneapolis, Minnesota, put forward a woman as their vice-presidential nominee, Sarah Palin. This will be the first time in an American general election where both a black nominee and a woman candidate face off.

Sadly, this has been accompanied by another event that causes the mainstream media great embarrassment and shame: below-the-belt journalism.

Governor Sarah Palin is an ex-housewife, the former mayor of Wasilla and currently the governor of Alaska. The marathon runner hockey mom of five children is an inspiration to women of all stripes trying to break through the glass ceiling. Perhaps it is for this reason that her main address at the Republican convention garnered 37.2 million TV viewers, only 1.2 million less than presidential nominee Barack Obama.

Prior to John McCain selecting Palin as his running mate, the Governor of Alaska was virtually unknown to the American public. The media, whose job it is to inform, pounced on the opportunity to report on the real Sarah Palin. Instead of discussing her record as a government executive, they ran headlines about her teenage daughter's pregnancy. Worse, they spread horrible rumours suggesting that Palin's baby daughter-- who suffers from Down syndrome-- is actually her other daughter's baby, which is categorically untrue.

During employment interviews, which we all experience, it is generally expected that potential employers ask us questions to determine what kind of person we are. Depending on the position we apply for, background check intensities vary. When seeking the second highest office in the United States of America, it is unsurprising that no stone goes unturned. The media and opposing parties regularly dig through every bit of the candidates past to make sure the employer, the American public, is fully informed.

All background checks have parameters and surely, there are lines to be drawn when reporting on political candidates. Before deciding whom to vote for, is it really necessary to know the school grades of the candidate's children, information on the candidate's spouse's dating history prior to their marriage or extremely personal information such as a candidate's daughter's relationship status?

Yes, it is true, Palin's 17-year-old daughter is pregnant and planning to marry the father. But how is that information supposed to help anyone decide whom to vote for? It doesn't. All this irresponsible journalism serves to accomplish is embarrassing a teenage girl who has nothing to do with the electoral process.

The pregnancy is completely exogenous to a vice-president's credentials to serve office, but the story has still dominated news cycles. Palin's daughter did nothing to warrant such despicable treatment from the media. It is her mother who is running for vice-president, not her. Likewise, Palin is running for the position of vice-president, not mother of the United States.

Independent of political parties, the mainstream media has a duty, although not binding, but one of common decency, to respect all public officials private lives. All who seek office sacrifice much of their privacy, but they shouldn't have to surrender all of it. Unless events at home will dramatically affect their performance on the job, it should be exempt from publication. Public officials deserve better.

This irresponsible journalism on Palin's mothering skills is a good refresher for the Canadian media, embarking on the upcoming election: report on the relevant, abstain from the unnecessary, be critical, not disrespectful and most importantly, leave innocent family members in peace.




Everyone is tip-toeing around the issue of Alaska Governor Palinís 17 year old daughter Bristol becoming pregnant by her 18 year old boyfriend. We are being told ìitís a family matter that shouldnít be in the press and that the couple plans to be marriedî.

Well, let me bring this issue to the fore front.

The majority of states in America today have laws / statues where consensual sex with a minor result in a statutory rape conviction, usually by that states Attorney General. A conviction is followed by a minimum of ten years living as a registered sex offender.

Is this not the law in Alaska? If so, how has Alaska avoided making it so?

If it is the law in Alaska then why hasnít the Alaska Attorney General filed charges against Bristolís boyfriend? Perhaps, itís because itís the governorís daughter whoís pregnant?

Iíll ask the same question in regards to Britney Spears little sister, Jamie Lynn Spears. Why was her boyfriend not charged with rape resulting in prison time and the requirement that he register as a sex-offender for the next ten years?

There is a double standard that celebrities and political families get special legal treatment but regular Americans are being stigmatized and persecuted for the rest of their lives for the very same acts.

Americans need to take a close look at the current sex-offender qualifications. Should an 18 year old who has consensual sex with their 17, 16 or 15 year old partner face the stigma of being a registered sex-offender?

In America the majority of people believe if you are a registered sex-offender then you are a child molester, a pedophile and a pervert.

There are thousands of innocent people who are being forced to become a registered sex-offender every year.

Public urination and ìmooningî are both convictions that will also land you on the registry for a minimum of ten years.

When you are a registered sex-offender, you struggle to find and keep housing, employment and your family because of the stress and humiliation that the registry creates within yourself, your neighbors, your co-workers and vigilantes looking for justice for a victim they donít even know.

In some states like Virginia the accusation of being ìtouchedî is sufficient for prosecution with a sentence of life plus 20 years in prison. The state does not require physical evidence, a witness or that the accuser be mentally evaluated and it doesnít matter if the accuser has a history of lying, thatís ìinadmissibleî Virginia even enters the ìaccusationî as evidence in court!

In Virginia, they prosecute every accusation which means a conviction every time and jail time is highly likely unless you plead ìguiltyî.

I am not supporting these current laws, statues or the existence of the sex-offender registry,

I want all Americans to know what laws are in existence today, how unfair and appalling they are and stand up and say ìNo moreî.

Maybe if a few celebrities and political families have to endure the demonization of being a registered sex-offender, these ridiculous laws would be eliminated.

But Jesse, you're either trying to avoid the obvious bias here or you're genuinely blind to the reason her daughter matters.

As a party, the GOP continuously run on issues/morals based platforms, only to be elected and promote business friendly policies (neglecting their base's true desires - but who somehow keep falling for the BS). It's not that they don't want to actually end abortion (I'm sure some really do want it to be gone), but if they did - they'd have nothing to bring the electorate in the poorest counties in the nation over to their side for future elections.

I'll pull a UofM-ism on ya - but how is it that this party which lives to serve big business always have people voting against their class-interests for them? And how do those people continue to vote for them, when clearly the morals/ethics based issues never get resolved?

This party runs out its pretty little faith-based groups to support them because of their archaic views on what a society ought to be - playing on some fundamentalist's dream of proving their the "best praying Christian ever" - who, in turn, hate gays and unprepared mothers-to-be just to feel closer to god - and try to justify their hate by voting for a group which actually wants to make abortions and gay marriage illegal.

Palin's daughter creates a contradiction to this image. Palin's daughter, while not aborting the child or marrying a woman, is forcing an official word from the GOP to their voter base.

It's not that the media is on attack without merit - the party's voters need to know what to do next time little Sally or Sue gets knocked up.

Or - suppose the media is as biased as you say they are - shouldn't this attack still go out? Don't those voters need, for democracy to truly work, to be awakened to how they've been duped... how they've been bought? Isn't it a goal of a democratic society to have total understanding to make a completely rational choice?

Both parties feed crap to their base - that should be exposed. If your only complaint is that the republicans get more harassment, fair enough - but it's just harassment.

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While I agree that the media is definitely doing some unfair reporting with respect to Palin and family, I actually found some comfort in some of the exposure into Palin's home life. For instance, now that the public is aware that Palin has not only a pregnant teenage daughter, but also a newborn with Down's syndrome, the public is sufficiently informed to ask; is Palin in fact fit to be running for Vice-President?

Let's take into consideration that John McCain would probably, and in my opinion, CERTAINLY not have chosen a woman to be his VP if the Democrats had not had a black man as their nominee. Since they are doing something historically unheard of, McCain needed to steal some of the spotlight. With the kind of man he is, I seriously doubt that Palin would have been his VP otherwise. Since when has choosing someone from Alaska to help represent the nation as a whole been seen as a good idea? umm.. Never. Therefore, I have my doubts as to the contribution this woman will actually make if brought into office (and not because she's a woman - I'm actually quite the feminist).

Putting all of that aside, let's consider the fact that if you're about to be a grandmother to a baby born of a teenage mother, AND you have a baby of your own, never mind with Down's, YOU NEED TIME TO BE A MOTHER. Running for VP of the most powerful house in the world, which by the way is thousands of miles from home, is ludicrous for anyone in Palin's position. She has a responsibility as a mother - and as a grandmother - to be there for these kids. Palin is going to be much too occupied trying to run the country to spend adequate time with these children to properly contribute to their proper development and well-being. This shows that her political career has much more priority than her family; and if that's the case, is that the kind of person you want in office? A person who sacrifices family for career achievements? Not me.

But, what do I know, I'm just a dumb Canadian who lives in an igloo.