Penn State: whatever we want

Columnist : Albert Paschall

I’ve known State Representative John Lawless since his first election 11 years ago.  From his western Montgomery County district he isn’t afraid of anything.  As a totally unexpected victor over a golden boy incumbent Lawless has never really been sure if he has power or is trying to get power, but he has the ultimate politician’s intuition when it comes to grabbing a headline.
Lawless ran as a Democrat but turned Republican a few days after he was elected when House speaker Matt Ryan promised him a few extras.  Undoubtedly something Ryan regrets as Lawless has turned a few extras in staff and equipment into the platform he wants, that anybody wants who has to run for re-election every two years wants: something more secure.  That’s probably a seat in the Pennsylvania Senate.
I know this from our relationship.  It is consensual.  We keep the correct distance with a mutual respect and speak of each other in politically correct terms that are hopefully not offensive to any gender, national origin or belief.  Over the years there have been many examples of our politically correct definitions of each other.
At one time or another I may have compared Mr. Lawless with the symbol of the Democratic Party, a donkey, as the word is used in the Old Testament.
In turn, I have heard that Mr. Lawless has suggested on one occasion that my writing is the by-product of the effluent of a male bovine.
To that end it was necessary for me to reply that should Mr. Lawless be confronted with his derriere and an excavation of the earth in front of him, he might not know the difference.
Undoubtedly many readers agree with Mr. Lawless’ suggestion that my rump and brains are two combined parts of my body.
So you see there aren’t many things that unite John Lawless and I.  Its seems that words that describe the least attractive parts of our anatomies have been our mutual venerable ally in our war of opinions.  Besides our engagement in public policy the portions of our bodies that are shared with the classic description of a donkey are in fact mixed up with our brains.  And that is our only true common denominator.
And in this politically correct way in America in ‘01, we have a good idea of what we think of each other.  It’s too bad we never attended Penn State together.  We could’ve have gone to a women’s festival last November, sanctioned by the University, that according to the Associated Press: “had a name that included a vulgarity to the female anatomy.”  A vulgarity so repugnant that if uttered by anyone in the workplace, of either gender, it’s likely to have resulted in an investigation by the Pennsylvania Human Relations Commission.  But in that forum where politically correct didn’t exist, Lawless and I could have called each other whatever we wanted to.
The Pennsylvania Human Relations Commission defines three primary forms of sexual harassment.  One of these is visual harassment and abuse.  The definition includes “X-ray vision” leering, obscene gestures or displays and decorations of sexually explicit pictures, objects, materials or crude cartoons in work areas.  You can get fired and you and your employer can be fined for violating this definition.  But at Penn State the policies of the Pennsylvania Human Rights Commission aren’t considered even with $362 million taxpayer dollars in the till.  Of course it’s not misogyny that’s condoned, at Penn State its merely sexual awareness that’s being tolerated.
With 81,000 students in the Penn State University system learning this brand of tolerance, politically correct language will undoubtedly wane in Pennsylvania.  The students are being taught that sexual faire and abhorrent language are the norm.  Continually exposed to this philosophy when they get in the workplace Penn State grads are likely to be far more tolerant of sexually aggressive expression.
And in that climate someday State Representative John Lawless and I will be free to call each other whatever we want, whenever we want, wherever we want, however we want.  So will you.  The big losers will be women, minorities and any member of any group that has ever been targeted by derogatory or hurtful stereotypes.
But until that day comes, on the matter of sexually explicit public expression at Penn State, as a parent and a taxpayer, I’ll call John Lawless right.