I was in Oklahoma this weekend and stayed in a hotel that delivered a copy of Tulsa World to every room each morning. On Sunday, two items in the paper’s Opinion section caught my eye because they were such polar opposites when it comes to the priorities of issues that Americans care about.
The front page story, by Associate Editor Janet Pearson, was about a new report from the state’s Department of Health on a wide range of public health issues — in particular, preventing unintended pregnancies and sexually transmitted diseases. Her piece illustrates how Oklahomans have a long way to go in both categories.
Pearson reported on the data, which shows: only 13.5% of new mothers received any type of counseling or advice to prepare for becoming pregnant; that STDs like chlamydia are rampant across the state, especially among young people; that 12,000 Oklahoma women are the victims of sexual violence every year; and on and on.
She implores the public to get better educated on these matters, to make sure their children are exposed to the vital scientific information they need, and that prevention programs should be better funded. She concludes:
As these data show, Oklahoma is just not a place where the prevention philosophy has caught on in a big way. That’s too bad. The results often are costly, and sometimes even tragic. We could, and should do better.
It would be nice to think that Tulsa World’s readers will heed Pearson’s warnings, understand the importance of her piece, and take it to heart, but it seems they have other things to worry about.
Case in point…on the very next page of Sunday’s Opinion section were several letters to the editor. In the leadoff spot — where you’d expect the most vital issues of the day to be addressed — was a letter from reader Kevin Peters, who was upset that he had taken his daughter to a movie theater and was horrified to see, during the string of trailers and pre-show ads, a commercial for Oreos in which the people on screen were speaking Spanish, with English subtitles. He wrote:
“Excuse me, but this is America. I found it distasteful and ludicrous that I, a 55-year-old American, should have to read an ad for Oreos because I couldn’t understand the language on the screen. If my daughter had not been with me I would have demanded back the American tender I used to purchase our tickets…. I have bought my last Nabisco product. We have servicemen and women dying everyday for this country and Nabisco cares more about its profits than supporting the core values that make life in America worth living. Giving away our country, one cookie at a time, is not one of those values.”
Think about this for a moment. This was such a major issue to Peters that he had to share his anger with the world (or at least the Tulsa World). I’m guessing that Peters didn’t object when that same theatre showed movies with subtitles — and I’m not just referring to foreign films, but American classics like Costner’s “Dances With Wolves,” Spielberg’s “Schindler’s List,” and Eastwood’s “Letters from Iwo Jima.”
Is Peters really that insecure an American that he can’t stand to hear non-English speaking characters in a cookie commercial? Apparently, he is, and I guarantee you that there are many others who agree with him, and think something should be done about it.
Perhaps the Oklahoma legislature should spend some valuable time working on El Cookie Controversy instead of the public health crisis the state is mired in. Give the voters what they want — more misplaced priorities.