editorial (2006-35)

The Robin Hood Complex’s Complexities

Knoxville’s failed experiments in well-intentioned disobedience leave us off balance

Plan B: OK Only for the Mature?

The Robin Hood Complex’s Complexities

In theory, Robin Hood is untouchable. He’s a crusader for justice who robs the rich to feed the poor, and even if his methods are technically less than noble, it’s hard to argue that the ends don’t justify the means. Robin Hood’s not hurting anybody. He’s just leveling the score.

But myths like Robin Hood rarely make the transfer from theory to reality intact. And that’s why this one’s hard.

In recent months, Knoxville has been upended by two scandals, each unsettling in its own right. In one, we discovered that a cross-section of Market Square was allegedly developed and propped up via fraudulent means, namely money laundering from the sale of marijuana. In another, we were told that a proposal by one of Knoxville’s oldest theater troupes might have been underscored by dishonesty, not the kind that stems from lying but from leaving information out.

Yet those individuals implicated in the scandals are some of the most forward-thinking, Knoxville-loving, salt-of-the-earth people we know. We never believed they’d hurt a fly, and they apparently harbored no intentions of using the fruits of their disobedience for personal gain. Scott and Bernadette West weren’t buying up beachfront property and chalets in Vail, they were channeling the allegedly illegally procured funds back into Market Square and their businesses there in an effort to advance its redevelopment. And Carpetbag Theatre Executive Director Linda Parris-Bailey and her husband Emanuel weren’t in a position to profit financially from the sale of their blighted property to the theater troupe; they simply believed they already owned the best venue for their vision, a digital storytelling center, and whatever proceeds resulted would’ve been pumped back into the renovation of the house and the realization of the artistic dream that would reside there.

So, how could such progressive missions and well-meaning instigators fall off the track? Of course, that’s where the two situations part ways. Both are complex, differing wildly in degrees of both alleged deceit and impending punishment, and we here at Metro Pulse aren’t qualified to comment on either party’s innocence or guilt. Nor would any argument against the validity of laws being broken serve much purpose; if you choose to live in this country, you are by default choosing also to abide by its rules. All we can do is tell you the story in the most accurate way we understand it, as we have done here in this week’s Citybeat on Carpetbag Theatre, and point out the fact that not all motivations are equal, and that not all lawbreakers are bad people. Rarely, but sometimes, they’re some of the finest people we know.

You’re always surprised when friends or people you’ve come to trust are accused of serious wrongdoing. In these instances, the shock hasn’t worn off.

Plan B: OK Only for the Mature?

Planned Parenthood, the voice of reason in matters of reproductive rights, calls anything that makes it harder for teenagers to avoid unintended pregnancy “bad medicine and bad public policy,” reminding Americans that the United States has one of the highest rates of teen pregnancy in the Western world.

Still, the move will help prevent abortions in adult women made necessary by unplanned pregnancies, which still total about three million every year. If the advocates of easier access to the morning-after pill are correct in their estimates, the total number of unplanned pregnancies for women of all ages could be about halved if the FDA restrictions were removed.

Limiting that over-the-counter availability of Plan B to women 18 and over has no sound basis in science, according to reports from the FDA’s own scientists, yet the FDA’s position has been that its withholding of non-prescription use by younger women is not politically driven or a judgment “about the propriety of [sexual] activity.” That assertion is disingenuous, to say the least.

The use of the morning-after pill—actually two pills taken 12 hours apart within 72 hours of unprotected sex—blocks the fertilization of an egg or prevents its implantation on the uterine wall. Thus, no pregnancy occurs. Yet, it is the subject of controversy fueled by abortion foes as well as those with moral concerns. Unlike the abortion pill, RU-486, emergency contraception does not induce an abortion. It makes an abortion unnecessary.

So, it would seem to be the ideal solution to worries that unprotected sex in incidental or accidental circumstances—or rape—might produce a pregnancy. There’s no telling how many surgical abortions that across-the-board access to emergency contraception might save. Though abortion remains rightly a matter of choice for women, in consultation with their physicians, it cannot be considered the most palatable option. Contraception is the preferred option, whether it is employed before or after sex.

The young have as much right to post-sex contraception as anyone. We would hope that the FDA would respond to the urgings of its own scientific community and eliminate the age restriction so that the United States joins the 40-odd other countries in the world that have made Plan B the subject of free choice for over-the-counter sales, regardless of age.