Fruit flies and Sexism?

Does Paris have a fruit fly problem?  Is it sexist to worry about a woman’s use of couture clothing?  How could these questions be connected?

Research on fruit flies is at the foundations of our modern understanding of genetics and congenital disorders.  But what does Sarah Palin think of research on them?  Well, have a look:

from the Huffington Post:

Fruit flies are more than just the occasional vehicles for research relevant to human disabilities. They are literally the foundation of modern genetics, the original model organism that has enabled us to discover so much of what we know about heredity, genome structure, congenital disorders, and (yes) evolution. So for Palin to state that “fruit fly research” has “little or nothing to do with the public good” is not just wrong — it’s mind-boggling.

…  anyone who has stayed awake through even a portion of a high-school-level biology class knows what fruit flies are good for. But leave that aside for a second. … Listen to the tone of her voice as she sneers the words “fruit fly research.” Check out the disdain and incredulity on her face. How would science, basic or applied, fare under President Palin?

What in the world does this have to do with sexism?  Well,  it has been said that concern over the $150,000 spent on Palin’s wardrobe is sexism at work.  But, arguably, we should be concerned over the elements going into the manufacturing of this image, which a too sizable part of our population in the States seems to think reveals a woman ready to be president of the US.  Scorn for science practices, folksy cuteness and couture clothing?

Finally, I’m not sure it’s dumb to forget about fruitflies from high school.  But I think it is appallng to assume one can assess the merits of funded scientific research without more inquiry than has been shown here.

Take Action: Prevent Disenfranchisement

A vastly important action, and lucky for you a simple one too:


This year, there are over 600,000 newly registered Ohio voters, but President Bush has asked Attorney General Mukasey to investigate as many as 200,000 of them. Why? Because Ohio Secretary of State Jennifer Brunner has refused to use an “exact match” standard before adding these voters to the rolls.

What is this “exact match” standard? Basically, it works like this: After you fill out your voter registration card, a local or state employee has to type in your information to add you to the voter rolls; then state authorities check to see that you really exist, usually by verifying your driver’s license number or Social Security number. And as you can imagine, sometimes there are typos or other disparities when the information gets entered and matched – for example, if your last name is “De la Rosa” and it got entered as “Delarosa”, you would fail to meet the exact match standard, and your registration form would be invalid.

Secretary Brunner has refused to use this standard on the grounds that it would erroneously deprive tens or even hundreds of thousands of Ohioans of their right to vote. The Ohio GOP sued her a month ago to try and get the courts to compel her to use the “exact match” standard, but the Supreme Court ruled that they had no standing to make that case.

Now, President Bush is trying to run around the Supreme Court by getting the Department of Justice to intervene. On Friday, October 24th, Bush reportedly asked Attorney General Mukasey to investigate whether as many as 200,000 voters need to reconfirm their registrations before November 4th. This is hugely problematic, for a couple of reasons:

  1. Obviously, for 200,000 voters to reconfirm their registrations before Election Day would be a logistical nightmare for Secretary Brunner, for Ohio’s county Boards of Elections, and for the voters themselves, most of whom would have to vote provisionally.
  2. The only reason the Department of Justice has jurisdiction to intervene here is because of the Voting Rights Act, the entire purpose of which was to expand, not suppress, the right to vote. This action would be completely contrary to the spirit of that law.
  3. New registrants tend to be young people as well as people who move around a lot – a particular problem in the midst of a foreclosure crisis. Imposing an exact match standard would create a second class of citizens when it comes to voting rights – a group of people who are far more likely than most to lose that right altogether.

President Bush is doing his best to further politicize the Department of Justice and suppress the rights of Ohio’s voters, but Attorney General Mukasey doesn’t have to bend to this insidious tactic. With the election only days away, the time to act is short – please sign this petition today to tell Mukasey to say no to President Bush’s request. Ohio’s voters are counting on you.

Go here to sign the petition. (Thanks, Jender-Parents!)