I regret to inform you that Texas is at it again. "It" being absurd and melodramatic culture-warmongering, of course. In this latest round, Texas state Rep. Bryan Slaton is trying to ban minors from seeing drag queens, in response to a Dallas bar's "Drag the Kids to Pride" event, which it billed as "a family friendly drag show."
"Drag shows are no place for a child. I would never take my children to a drag show and I know Speaker Dade Phelan and my Republican colleagues wouldn't either," Slaton tweeted on Monday. "I will be filing legislation to address this issue."
A press release attached to Slaton's tweet says he was moved to act "following several news stories and videos over the weekend in which underage Texas children were subjected to inappropriate sexual content by adults."
"The events of the past weekend were horrifying and show a disturbing trend in which perverted adults are obsessed with sexualizing young children," said Slaton.
But it sure seems like Slaton is the one who's gratuitously sexualizing things here.
While it's unclear exactly what "horrifying" events Slaton is responding to, many conservatives—including U.S. Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene (R–Ga.)—were recently outraged over reports of a drag show for kids that was held at a Dallas gay bar last weekend.
It should be illegal to take children into Drag Queen shows and strip clubs.
And there should be no federal funding for any school that intentionally confuses children about gender/sexuality.
Any teacher or school employee caught doing so should be fired and lose all benefits.
— Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene???????? (@RepMTG) June 6, 2022
The event was swarmed with protesters, despite the fact that the performers were clothed and engaging in nonsexual dancing. Some kids in attendance tipped the drag performers with dollar bills, which—despite its association with strip clubs—is not in itself a sexual thing (we hand dollars to street performers, too, don't we?). The most risqué thing about the event was a neon sign on the bar's wall which said "it's not gonna lick itself"—a message that most certainly went over small children's heads and, in any event, is no worse than things older children might see on TV.
That might all be too torrid for a lot parents—which is fine! No one has to bring their kids to a Pride week drag show. But the idea that it should be illegal is also silly, and smacks more of anti-LGBTQ prejudice than anything else. After all, we don't see Slaton asking for kids to be banned from Hooters or other establishments with scantily clad staff and winks and nods to sexuality.
Another outrage this weekend concerned an image shared by the Babylon Bee's Seth Dillon, who described it as "a small child — perhaps 5 or 6 — stuffs money into the underwear of a nearly naked drag queen as parents look on, smiling."
The image was in actuality a woman performing at a burlesque brunch.
Again, some parents may still find this inappropriate. But it has nothing to do with drag queens.
A small child — perhaps 5 or 6 — stuffs money into the underwear of a nearly naked drag queen as parents look on, smiling. pic.twitter.com/oCcuABAGwz
— Seth Dillon (@SethDillon) June 6, 2022
Baked into all of this outrage is the idea that drag performances are always too racy for under-18-year-old eyes. But dressing in drag isn't an overtly sexual act and while drag shows often contain sexual humor and themes, this is far from a requirement. Drag performances and events can certainly be tailored toward children or all-ages audiences (including the drag queen story hours at libraries that so riled folks up a few years back).
Social conservatives may object to their children being exposed to cross-dressing in general, but this doesn't make drag inherently sexual and letting minors see drag performers doesn't necessarily mean exposing them to anything lewd or lascivious. Parents are perfectly free not to take their children to events with drag performers, but parents should also be free to do so, too.
Proud Boys indicted on sedition charges. Four members of the Proud Boys and the group's former chair, Enrique Tarrio, have been charged with seditious conspiracy for their role in the January 6 riots last year. "The men had already been charged in an earlier indictment filed in March with conspiring to obstruct the certification of the 2020 presidential election," notes The New York Times.
The new indictment marked the second time a far-right group has been charged with seditious conspiracy in connection with the Jan. 6 attack. In January, Stewart Rhodes, the leader and founder of the far-right Oath Keepers militia, was arrested and charged along with 10 others with the same crime.
The charge of seditious conspiracy — which can be difficult to prove and carries particular legal weight as well as political overtones — requires prosecutors to show that at least two people agreed to use force to overthrow government authority or delay the execution of a U.S. law. It carries a maximum sentence of 20 years in prison.
It was not immediately clear what evidence led to the new charges, but the indictment underscored the central role played by the Proud Boys in the effort to forestall President Donald J. Trump's defeat and "oppose the lawful transfer of presidential power by force" by storming the Capitol.
The charges come as Congress is preparing for the first public hearing on the events of January 6. "Several major networks and cable news programs are expected to carry the first hearing live in its prime-time slot," notes the Associated Press. "The committee is also expected to live-stream it on C-SPAN and on its YouTube page."
The FDA prepares to crack down on almond milk. In what has to be one of the silliest—yet ongoing—government crusades of the past decade, U.S. regulators are set to end the scourge of nondairy products referring to themselves as milk. (So much eyeroll.) Reports suggest that the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) "is preparing to rule that the word 'milk' on labels must be confined to animal products," reports Reason's Scott Shackford. "If true, this would mean that almond milk would have to go by another name and cannot be marketed in such a way to suggest that it's similar to dairy milk."
"It's all part of the FDA's silly, condescending treatment of consumers that just so happens to benefit powerful, entrenched agriculture interests using the government to attack competitors," notes Shackford.
As nut milks and other vegan and vegetarian alternatives to animal-based products have become more popular over the past decade or so, the purveyors of milk, meat, and other animal-based products have seized on the idea that limiting the labels these products can use will somehow undercut them. As a result, we've seen all sorts of lawsuits, lobbying, and related government action against veggie "meat," nut "milks," vegan "mayo," etc.
Of course, people tend to buy these products precisely because they are not made with animal products. Forcing them to change their labels may be burdensome and costly to their manufacturers—and temporarily confuse consumers in the short term, when their favorite almond milk is suddenly an "almond drink"—but seems unlikely to actually make a dent in the number of people trading meat and dairy for plant-based alternatives.
• The Johnny Depp/Amber Heard defamation case has serious implications for freedom of the press, notes Freddie deBoer. "Heavyhanded defamation lawsuits with multimillion-dollar judgments risk creating a powerful chilling effect that could prevent anyone (again, not just victims) from freely and forcefully telling their version of the truth in a world where we will never all agree on basic facts," he writes.
• Bad news for (bad) plans to create a global minimum tax.
• "Over 45,000 Americans have applied to help resettle Ukrainians in the United States since the Uniting for Ukraine program began," reports Reason's Fiona Harrigan.
• Angeli Gomez, the mother of two students at Robb Elementary in Uvalde, Texas, talks to the press about rushing into the school to save her children while a gunman was inside. "The entire interview is a damning indictment of law enforcement's mishandling of the shooting," writes Reason's Robby Soave, "but one new detail bears particular emphasis: According to Gomez, the police subsequently contacted her and said that the media attention she was generating for criticizing them could lead to obstruction of justice charges."
• Continuing its track record of performative nonsense aimed at social media, Texas is investigating Twitter bots:
Today I'm investigating Twitter for potentially misleading Texans on the number of its "bot" users. I have a duty to protect Texans if Twitter is misrepresenting how many accounts are fake to drive up their revenue.https://t.co/OZbwdV3pnY
— Texas Attorney General (@TXAG) June 6, 2022
• Michael Lowe "spent 17 days in a New Mexico jail because American Airlines wrongfully accused and identified him to police as a shoplifter at the Dallas-Fort Worth Airport," reports the Fort Worth Star-Telegram. Lowe is now suing American Airlines.
• British Prime Minister Boris Johnson has survived a no-confidence vote. "The vote, 211 to 148, fell short of the majority of Tory lawmakers needed to oust Mr. Johnson," notes The New York Times. "But it laid bare how badly his support has eroded since last year, when a scandal erupted over revelations that he and his senior aides threw parties at 10 Downing Street that violated the government's lockdown rules."
• A week after Georgetown University said Ilya Shapiro could resume duties at Georgetown Law following an investigation into his tweet about Supreme Court nominees, Shapiro has resigned. "It has become apparent that my remaining at Georgetown has become untenable," he wrote in a statement.