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The Sudden Impact of Dirty Harry

From the Scrapbook

Aug 20, 2012, Vol. 17, No. 45 • By THE SCRAPBOOK
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It turns out this isn’t the most repugnant tax in the code.

On February 19, 2011, Marine Lance Corporal Andrew Carpenter was shot and killed by a sniper in Afghanistan. He was married, and his wife was pregnant with a child he would never meet.

Three years earlier, Carpenter had taken out a student loan to pay for college. Upon his death, his -family was stuck with that loan. Not knowing what to do, the Carpenter family reached out to their congressman, Tennessee’s Scott -DesJarlais, who happily assisted them in working out a deal in which Carpenter’s loan was forgiven. 

Except that the story didn’t end there. The IRS decided that this loan forgiveness constituted taxable income. And they came after Carpenter’s family with their hand out.

Now, Representative DesJarlais is trying to set things right. He introduced the Andrew P. Carpenter Tax Act, which would add a new exemption for gross taxable income for those killed while on active duty. The bill has 21 cosponsors, including 2 Democrats. It will be a good thing—a very good thing—if this bill is passed.

Run, Lolo, Run

In the previous issue, The Scrapbook made note of the harsh treatment Olympic hurdler Lolo Jones received for revealing she was a virgin. Jones herself observed, “I’ve seen celebs get teased less for releasing a sex tape.” Since then, the New York Times published a bizarre screed against the athlete by Jeré Longman. It seems Longman is offended by the fact that Lolo is very attractive and virginal, and she’s not allowed to be both:

So she has played into the persistent, demeaning notion that women are worthy as athletes only if they have sex appeal. And, too often, the news media have played right along with her.

In 2009, Jones posed nude for ESPN the Magazine. This year, she appeared on the cover of Outside magazine seeming to wear a bathing suit made of nothing but strategically placed ribbon. At the same time, she has proclaimed herself to be a 30-year-old virgin and a Christian. And oh, by the way, a big fan of Tim Tebow.

One might declare there’s some modicum of Christian hypocrisy in Jones’s more revealing photo shoots, but The Scrapbook has examined the evidence and can assure you Jones hasn’t stepped far down the slippery slope of titillation. After all, the typical track and field athlete’s uniform is necessarily revealing to begin with. It’s not as if the Times were genuinely concerned that Jones isn’t adhering to some stringent theology of the body. Based on the gratuitous swipe at Tim Tebow, it seems more likely that Longman just doesn’t like public expressions of faith very much.

Aside from attacking her for being attractive, Longman goes after Jones for publicly discussing her troubled childhood and makes an unconvincing case that her on-the-track performances are unworthy. (After taking the lead in a 2008 Olympic race, Jones hit a hurdle near the end and lost.) But the single most offensive thing about the article is how Longman twists Jones’s words to make her look as if she were joking about mass murder:

In recent days, Jones has been criticized for what many have called an insensitive Twitter remark in the wake of the mass shooting in a theater in Aurora, Colo. After the United States lost the gold medal to Italy in the team archery competition, Jones wrote, “When’s da Gun shooting competition?”

Here’s the full Twitter remark that Longman says “many” people called insensitive: “USA Men’s Archery lost the gold medal to Italy, but that’s ok, we are Americans… When’s da gun shooting competition?” Did anyone—other than professional axe-grinder Jeré Longman—really deem that tweet insensitive? But in addition to being sexy and virginal, perhaps we have to add patriotism to the list of Lolo Jones’s crimes.

It would have been nice if Jones could have grabbed some measure of redemption by winning at the Olympics, but, alas, she came in fourth. She gave an interview the morning after the race during which she teared up when asked about the irrational criticism of her. But fourth-place finish aside, Jones remains one of the best athletes in the world. Her tormenters are the real losers.

Open-mindedness for Thee . . .

Actress Kathleen Turner is bringing her new play to D.C., Red Hot Patriot: The Kick-Ass Wit of Molly Ivins. Turner happens to be well-cast for the role (though the fact that the former star of Body Heat is now a doppelgänger for the late liberal Texas columnist might be something to be alarmed about).

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