Rape victims aren’t victims – at least in the state of Georgia…

Apparently, in the good ol’ boy state of Georgia in the United States of America, it’s not enough that their female citizens are not to be trusted to make their own medical and health decisions without government intrusion. Now, according to Reproductive Health Reality Checks managing editor Amie Newman, women in Georgia are not to be trusted when it comes to reporting crimes, either.

Republican State Representative Bobby Franklin of Georgia has introduced H.B. 14 which mandates that rape victims, victims of stalking or harassment, under-age victims of obscene telephone contact, or victims of family violence in his state may no longer be classified as “victims”, but instead as “accusers”. The pundits at Politicus USA recently ran Bobby’s head shot (which looks alarmingly creepy, by the way) online above the caption:

“Bobby Franklin: Proudly Protecting the Rights of Rapists in Georgia”

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“Willful blindness” – why we seem to prefer ignorance

The biggest threat our society faces, according to author Margaret Heffernan writing for BNet, is willful blindness: the human propensity to ignore the obvious.

“It isn’t just a business problem, of course. We do it in our private lives when we leave those credit card bills unopened or take on a mortgage we can’t afford or insist that tanning salons really won’t cause us any harm.”

Heffernan is the author of Willful Blindness: Why We Ignore the Obvious at our Peril, which will be published this spring. In her latest book, Heffernan argues that the biggest threats and dangers we face are the ones we don’t see – not because they’re secret or invisible, but because we’re willfully blind. She examines the phenomenon and traces its imprint in our private and working lives, in government, in organizations who ignore warning signs among their teams – and then asks: What makes us prefer ignorance?

What has happened to you, Dr. Oz?

The show biz career of Dr. Mehmet Oz has been on fire ever since he started in 2003 on the Discovery Channel. The first guest on that show was one Oprah Winfrey, who dubbed the charmer, “America’s Doctor”. Dr. Oz now spends his time writing best-selling books on diet and beauty, and hosts a hit TV show. One wonders when he has time to practice cardiology anymore.

Less cardiology would seem to be a tragedy.  His useful book Healing From The Heart made a profound impact on me when I read it after my own heart attack in 2008. But in an unprecedented frenzy to win TV viewers and boost ratings, the skilled cardiologist-turned-entertainer is now in danger of becoming a pathetic caricature of his former well-respected self.  Continue reading

Lessons from Toyota for the Pope

As a recovering catholic myself, I thought Michael Valpy’s column in The Globe and Mail this month should be required reading for the old guy in Rome who is running the world’s most out-of-touch religion. For his illuminating piece on ‘The Troubled Church: Catholics At Crossroads’, Valpy interviewed Gene Grabowski, a leading U.S. expert on consumer product recalls, in a  feature called Sex Abuse: Defences Unacceptable, Solutions Elusive.

This seemingly unlikely linkage – product recall plus catholicism – makes sense. Grabowski is a superstar in the world of public relations (he was named PR Week’s 2007 ‘Crisis Manager of the Year’ for his work on U.S. national recalls of pet food, spinach and 45,000 Chinese toy imports).

And issues management and crisis communication are part of an increasingly important focus in the field of public relations – whether you are in the business of marketing cars or marketing something called faith.  Continue reading

Why Oprah is not your doctor

Live Your Best Life Ever! Wish Away Cancer! Get A Lunchtime Face-Lift! Eradicate Autism!  Turn Back The Clock!  Thin Your Thighs!  Cure Menopause!  Harness Positive Energy!  Erase Wrinkles!  Banish Obesity! 

Yes, dear little nags-in-training, you can apparently learn how to perform all these miracles just by watching Oprah every day on TV.

In June, Newsweek magazine ran a revealing Oprah overview by Weston Kosova and Pat Wingert called “Why Health Advice on Oprah Could Make You Sick”.

Their observations focused on Oprah guests whose quasi-medical theories – proven or not – the influential talk show host has decided to endorse. One such celebrity guest is of course the age-denying Suzanne Somers, weighing in on the debate about hormone replacement for menopausal women. The Newsweek piece said:

“Outside Oprah’s world, there isn’t a raging debate about replacing hormones. Women just don’t need as much once they get past their childbearing years. Unless a woman has significant discomfort from hot flashes—and most women don’t—there is little reason to prescribe them. Most women don’t use them. Hormone therapy can increase a woman’s risk of heart attacks, strokes, blood clots and cancer.

And despite Somers’ claim that her specially made, non-FDA-approved bio-identicals are ‘natural’ and safer, they are actually synthetic, just like conventional hormones and FDA-approved bio-identicals from pharmacies.  There are no conclusive clinical studies showing hers are less risky. That’s why endocrinologists advise that women take the smallest dose that alleviates symptoms, and use them only as long as they’re needed.” Continue reading