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The Daily Planet's Opinion: September 2019
Monday, 02 September 2019 17:22

Topless rally in downtown Asheville wastes time, clogs up traffic, pushes no worthwhile cause

For the 10th consecutive year, a GoTopless day rally was held in downtown Asheville and it was billed as “a public gathering of men and women who support a woman’s right to be top-free anywhere a man can be shirtless without fear of being arrested,” according to a rally press release.

“This year, GoTopless Day occurs one day before Women’s Equality Day. On Aug. 26, 1920 women earned their right to vote on the basis of gender equality. In 1971, the U.S. Congress passed a resolution designating Aug. 26 as ‘Women’s Equality Day,’” the communique added.

The two-hour rally in Pack Square was held early-afternoon Aug. 25 (a Sunday)  — and drew about 100 people, according to an event spokeswoman. Reportedly, 21 women went topless at the event.

“Laws that govern men and women differently based solely on gender (are) not only wrong, but (are) unconstitutional,” GoTopless’ Asheville area event coordinator LaDonna Allison stated in one of two separate press releases emailed to the Daily Planet.

“We live in a country that says it is all right for me to carry my gun in public, but my breasts are an offense,” Allison asserted.

She also stated that “rallies promoting topless equality are slated to be staged in over 30 locations in the USA and on every continent (except Antarctica).”

To the contrary, the Asheville Citizen Times noted in a pre-rally story, “Only six (U.S. cities), however, are marked on GoTopless’ ‘boob map’” — Asheville; Denver; New York City, Venice, Calif.; Fort Lauderdale, Fla., and Dunedin, Fla.

Further, the ACT added, “That’s down significantly from the 17 cities marked with mammaries on the 2018 boob map.”

Meanwhile, Allison stated in a press release, “As a preacher’s kid, I question why is it that we are the only part of creation that covers the way God made us... We are created in the image of God; and that is beautiful, not shameful.” Allison stressed that both her father and grandfather were preachers.

 “Being ‘top-free’ is about equality. If a man can be without a shirt, I should have the same right,” stated Ms. Allison.

However, according to Asheville statues, it is legal for both women and men to go shirtless in the city. However, as the ACT noted in its pre-rally story, “Once you leave city limits, be careful before you disrobe — different municipalities may have local ordinances that specifically prohibit it, and National Parks and National Forests both have their own codes of conduct.”

Given the contradictions cited above, the GoTopless rally, at least in Asheville, seems to serve no useful purpose, as it has no discernable worthwhile cause to espouse, and instead just wastes resources and clogs up traffic.

GoTopless folks should optimize their time and push a truly meaningful cause.


‘Cheating so my side wins is OK with me’
Monday, 02 September 2019 17:20
Special to the Daily Planet

Competition can bring out the best in us — or the worst.  In business, sports, politics or the county fair, the lure of winning is oh so strong.

The good competitor is focused on his own performance.  If he has advantage over his opponent, it’s from is skill and hard work.

The bad competitor looks for any advantage he can find that will bring him victory. He’s a ready prospect for cheating.

The Republican Party belongs to the second group.  They cheat.  Their planners and politicians cheat in broad daylight and brag about it.  

And Republican voters don’t seem to mind.

Republicans cheat by rigging elections.  In states where Republicans controlled state government after the 2010 census, they drew congressional district maps so that a Democratic vote was worth half of a Republican vote.  In seven such states  ̶  Wisconsin, Indiana, Ohio, Virginia, Michigan, Florida and North Carolina  ̶   Democrats got a total of 16.4 million votes for Congress, and Republicans got 16.7 million.   Each party should have elected about half of the seven states’ 107 representatives, but GOP got 73, Democrats got 34.

A website for Republican strategy boasts:  “[Our system’s] effect on the 2012 election is plain when analyzing the results.  Michiganders cast over 240,000 more votes for Democratic congressional candidates than Republicans, but still elected a 9-5 Republican delegation to Congress.”

In Raleigh, GOP legislators openly researched voting habits of Democratic voting constituencies, like seniors, minorities and young people, and then they passed laws to inconvenience these voters. 

Nationally, they tried to manipulate the census to make congressional districts more favorable to Republicans.  Their scheme was exposed when a key consultant died last year, and his computer proved their intent was to cheat the system.

OK, it’s no mystery that Republican planners and politicians run a garbage factory.  And amazingly, they’re proud of their reeking product. 

But what about their staff, who have to live with the cynicism and dishonesty all day every day?  Some, I’m sure, are excited to learn how the garbage trade works.  Others, I hope, are blessed with olfactory fatigue.

More troubling to me, however, are the millions of good people, who vote, time and again, to send the cheaters back to the General Assembly.  They know about the election rigging and the lies.  In their own lives, they treat people fairly and expect to be treated fairly by others.  And yet their vote says, “Whatever they can do to win is fine with me.”  

On the surface, this seems inconsistent.  And it is.  But not really.  Here’s an example of what I mean.   

In 2015, ESPN conducted a national poll.  The question was:  Do the New England Patriots cheat.?  A majority in all non-New England states, plus Connecticut, said yes, they do.  A majority in the other five New England states said no, they don’t.

That poll teaches a lesson beyond sports, I think.  It says we want our side to win, yes, but more than that, it says that all too often, when the cheater who’s cheating is cheating for us, his cheating isn’t cheating.  The cheater is…well…he’s making sure the right side wins.

Many people who enable Republican chicanery with their votes are committed Christians.  They know that cheating is wrong, but cheating on elections to gain the political power necessary to check the wrong directions that today’s society has taken, well, that’s a package they can accept. 

It’s old-time situational ethics (taking the total context of an action into consideration, not applying absolute rules).  It’s “end justifies the means.”  And it’s unusual thinking for these Christians. In fact, if any one of these Christians, by himself or herself, were given sole responsibility for creating electoral districts and passing laws, I’m sure they would do the job according to strict moral standards.  They would not cheat. 

And I’ll tell you something else for sure.  If Democrats take majorities in the General Assembly in 2020, and they cheat in drawing districts after the census, if they don’t create a nonpartisan redistricting commission, then they lose my vote next time around.  And I’ll write about it.

Lee Ballard, who lives in Mars Hill, has a website at



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