Apparently it was a slow news day, or, rather, that the Huffington Post notes that NBC News’ Chuck Todd, having lost a bet with ABC’s Jake Tapper, will shave his infamous goatee.
The NBC News White House Correspondent entered into a bet with ABC News White House Correspondent Jake Tapper: if the Dodgers won the NLCS, Tapper would have to grow a goatee; if the Phillies won, Todd would have to shave his.
The alternative would be to donate $1,000 to the other’s favorite charity, with Tapper supporting Dr. Shershah Syed — who he described as “an ob/gyn devoting himself to saving impoverished women in his native Pakistan” — and Todd supporting Samaritan Inns — which he described as providing “housing and recovery services to homeless and addicted men and women.”
Whatever the aesthetic result—I don’t think I’ve ever seen Todd without that facial monstrosity—shaving his goatee won’t do much for his credibility. Although it might help his charm quotient. After all, we want to see the fresh-faced Chuck, not the Chuck who would helping poor women in Pakistan. You know, if he’s cute under that facekill, credibility won’t matter.
A thought arose of late when considering a recent Italian court decision that apparently makes it illegal for a man to scratch or adjust himself in public.
The Italian ruling clubs together all forms of “crotch-scratching”— prompted by discomfort or by superstition — as offensive. Certain actions are considered inappropriate for public viewing. They not only offend the “average man” — a useful alibi for legislators — but also taint the sanctity of the public sphere. The issues raised by the Italian ruling go beyond the obvious question of violating an individual’s right to touch himself. Suddenly, this behaviour becomes as suspect as a range of other ‘uncivil’ activities — spitting, peeing or bathing on the streets — which would be severely condemned in any Western society ….
…. There is nothing inherently dangerous about crotch-scratching. Unlike spitting or peeing publicly, it does not ‘pollute’ in any physical sense. It is rather like a moment of unconscious intimacy with oneself, like biting fingernails or tugging at one’s hair. The West remains unmoved by unabashed public display of sexual affection, but is perturbed by a superstitious habit.
The Italian legislation is the outcome of a history of sensibilities that is unmistakably Western. These sensibilities have been formed as much by increased awareness of civic norms as by a heightened self-consciousness (as in the flatulent woman on the plane). It is unlikely that India will ever have a law that forbids men to touch their privates in public (in which case, every second man would have to be fined by the minute.)