On October 31, a dark, undecorated house might be a sign of folks who just aren’t into Halloween. But the house might also belong to someone who isn’t allowed to participate in the holiday. A growing number of states are making Halloween particularly tricky for registered sex offenders. Whether through legislation or heightened surveillance, individuals with the “sex offender” label may be banned from decorating their houses, answering the knocks of trick-or-treaters, or even being at a residence where candy is handed out. Some states, including Missouri, North Carolina, Ohio, Tennessee and Texas, place specific restrictions on all registered sex offenders, while others, like Florida and Georgia, only target offenders on parole or in conditional release programs.
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For some, life just isn’t complete without partaking in a beer-soaked rodeo and food fight modeled after a centuries-old Spanish tradition. And so on August 24, the inaugural Great Bull Run thundered into central Virginia, the first of nine such events that will take place in cities nationwide between now and next summer. The franchise aims to bring a taste of Pamplona, Spain’s famous San Fermin Festival to the United States, on the premise that being chased through a crowd by a herd of livestock is just so thrilling that it ought to be commercialized, made accessible, bottled, and sold to anyone over the age of eighteen who can sign a waiver.
Yes, everything about this *is* weird.
From The Atlantic archives: a detailed account of Nat Turner’s slave rebellion from Thomas Wentworth Higginson.
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Revelations of shady dealings by both gubernatorial candidates have made an already nasty race positively loathsome.
Would she have been likely to beat incumbent Mark Warner? Maybe not. But at least she would have been running against a Democrat.
Virginia’s proposed ultrasound bill requiring a transvaginal procedure prior to an abortion got a lot of women angry this week. Turns out, one of those women happened to be married to a GOP lawmaker and she made him pay for it in the sack.
Del. Dave Albo’s candid confession:
“So I got my theme music going, my red wine, looking to watch the Redskins, and I’m flippin’ through the channels. I have to get through the news stuff and all of a sudden on my big screen TV comes this big thing and it’s a picture of a bill and it has ‘Albo’ on it. And I went, Wow! Holy smokes! It’s my name as big as the wall. And the very next scene was the gentleman from Alexandria’s face as big as my wall going ‘Trans v brrb, Trans v this and trans v that. And they hate women… and I’m like this with my wife and the show’s over and she looks at me and she goes, ‘I gotta go to bed.’”
The fact that Virginia lawmakers evidently didn’t understand what their law would mean to women, and what it would require of doctors, didn’t stop the legislators from pushing forward with the measure anyway. Ignorance of the law may be no legal defense to you and me, but ignorance of the law among those who are passing the law surely is the definition of bad governance. For the politicians now scrambling away from Virginia’s measure, however, pleading ignorance perhaps is easier today than confessing the truth, which is that the pols who supported the measure probably didn’t care in the first place if its mandated procedures offended women. That was the whole point, wasn’t it?
At a minimum, the barely-averted disaster in the commonwealth raises questions about whether the same intellectual disconnect is happening in New Hampshire, where the Republican-dominated legislature is pressing ahead with anti-abortion measures over the objections of medical experts. Or in Iowa, where a GOP lawmaker recently introduced a bill that would ban abortions and generate potential life sentences in prison for doctors who perform what the law calls “feticide.” Or in Nebraska, where legislators are considering a bill that would create a legal defense — justifiable homicide, it’s called — for the murder of a doctor who intends to harm a fetus.
America, sadly, has grown accustomed to “symbolic” legislation which is designed not to advance the public good, or even to become sustainable law, but rather to appease particular interest groups. The campaign promise becomes the pending measure; the donor’s crusade becomes the subject of public hearings. And what is squeezed out of the legislative process as a result of such pandering is the more moderate legislation, the more practical measures, which do stand a chance of passing constitutional muster and which do solve real problems in sensible ways. That’s no way to run a country — or even a state.
When public outrage forced them into a choice this week between appearing stupid about the ultrasound law or appearing venal toward it, Virginia’s Republican lawmakers, and the Commonwealth’s governor, chose to act stupid. It’s a choice that zealous lawmakers all over the country would be forced to make if their own senseless, unlawful legislation ever made it to the Supreme Court. But chances are those bills never will. Instead, America’s pet legislation will continue to whistle to all the political dogs out there while wasting everyone else’s time and money.
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After a committee approved a bill that would give “unborn children” the legal rights of citizens, the bill was defeated Thursday in the Virginia Senate.
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