Anatomically correct, politically incorrect

I’m not too sure the outcome would be much better in my native Houston, Texas. Hope springs eternal. (And I realize the story is a bit dated, but I just now found it.)

The South Florida Sun-Sentinel reported and followed up on the case of a set of nude statues by artist Itzik Asher entitled Journey to the New, which depict a father, a mother, an infant, and an older child. The pieces are on display at a shopping center. The nudity is subtle, the pieces are somewhat abstract. But the anatomically correct statues are making a few parents a bit nervous, given that the shopping center is not too far from an elementary school. Quoting from the article:

“My daughter has been joking about it,” said Jeffrey Cohen, whose 6-year-old daughter attends summer camp there. “She shouldn’t be talking to me about this.”

Some, like Richard Caster, who owns the shopping center where the statues are on display, describe the work as “natural and beautiful.” Others are pressuring Caster and Asher for the prompt addition of fig leaves, or even the relocation of the statues entirely.

This is not the first attempt to censor Asher’s work: there was a prior incident in 1995 which resulted in the temporary installation of cardboard fig leaves.

The school, which is due to start classes shortly, has left the issue up to the parents to resolve with the property owner. Which is exactly what I think they should be doing; there is no reason for the school to get involved in a dispute which does not directly involve them.

As to what should become of the art display? Sooner or later the kids are going to have the “birds and the bees” talk. I remember we had our first “sex ed” talk in fifth grade; the private school I was going to at the time required parent confirmation and I was one of two kids that got to spend those hours in the library. Thankfully having to wait another year before I learned about the penis, vagina, etc. had no lasting ill effects on me. I don’t see how it would have been any worse had I learned sooner rather than later. The great artists of the Renaissance did not censor their work; I would see such censorship today as being a step backward, not forward.

This is justice? For who?

WCPO-TV in Cleveland, Ohio, reports on what can only be described as a sad case for everyone.

Eric Cropp, a pharmacist at the time of the incident, gave an overdose of saline to a two-year-old cancer patient, resulting in her death. His sentence: six months in jail, six months house arrest, and three years probation including 400 hours of community service. (The article does not mention a fine.)

It’s sad for the family, who saw their young daughter almost make it through cancer treatments, only to perish in a truly unbecoming fashion.

And it’s sad for Cropp, who is not only facing a forced career change after losing his license, but now has to deal with what will now be uncomfortable questions about criminal background when applying for other jobs.

Now, some of you out there will go on about how he only got three years probation, so he got off easy, etc. But the true sentence here is not the three years’ probation and the jail time.

Even if not actually convicted (it does not state whether he has gotten some kind of sentence that is not supposed to result in an actual conviction, such as deferred adjudication like we have in Texas), Cropp is getting what is in effect a life sentence. Even after having completed his probation it is likely that despite anything his lawyer told him, he’ll still have a record. If Ohio’s public records system is anything like the one in Texas, the average person unwilling to actually chase down the details will not even know that the record for Cropp is a “not-a-conviction-that-looks-like-one.”

The really sad part? According to a USA Today story from 2008 February, Cropp isn’t even the one that actually made the fatal mistake of substituting a 23.4% saline solution bag for a 0.9% bag. The error was actually made by Katherine Dudash, the pharmacy technician. But Cropp bears the full brunt of responsibility because he missed the error and because Ohio does not regulate pharmacy technicians.

I don’t excuse the mistakes that Cropp did make, or to say it’s okay for anyone to make the kind of mistake that results in loss of life. But neither do I excuse the unfairness towards Eric Cropp and the completely backwards laws that let Katherine Dudash get off scot free.

The only happy ending to this, is apparently Dudash also now holds a non-pharmacy job (she went back to work at CVS after the incident and changed careers some time later). But she’s not going to have to deal with having to check yes to job applications that ask “have you ever pleaded guilty or no contest to a felony?” or similar questions. That’s unfair and thoughtless towards someone who spent years training to become a pharmacist. That’s what makes me sick.