I received my absentee ballot for the November Primary Election in the mail yesterday. The Spokane County Elections Board is very good about encouraging voting, and strongly encourages we voters to use the absentee ballots. Unlike other states in the news, Washington reaches out to every possible registered voter and makes it easy to register. You can do it by merely checking a box as you renew a vehicle or drivers license, for instance. You can register online, and then vote from the privacy of your own home with your ballot on the desk right next to the mouse you use to click through Google responses to your questions of “Who is ________.” Of course, _______ is the name of the person running for office. This is a necessary methodology in my city because unless they’re an incumbent whose name has shown up in the newspaper, no one has ever heard of the candidates. At times we haven’t heard of the incumbents either, especially if they just quietly did their job. No one is ever recognized for quiet dedication.
There are initiatives on this ballot as well, and the one receiving the greatest attention is whether or not the county should enact an ordinance prohibiting topless baristas. Normally I wouldn’t consider this to be an issue, but apparently a Spokane drive through coffee vendor features topless baristas to serve the customers. Personally, I don’t see anything wrong with topless baristas because I’m not a coffee drinker. But I could understand a certain amount of trepidation for people who frequent the establishment and order a coffee regular –because, of course, the coffee regular contains milk and some question might arise as to the organic nature of the creamer.
It was, I thought, an interesting topic to come up as an action item on the ballot. Our city has rarely asked our opinion on matters, and I wondered what was so different about this topic that it rated submission to the public. The answer is that breasts may have, like money, become a form of speech, and as such must be afforded protection under the Constitution. As a city, we must be careful because in the past the lawmakers have instituted regulation only to have it declared unconstitutional by a court after people have been arrested for violating the law and then it turns out it was the law that was illegal and not the proscribed activity. The other factor which seemed to have been crucial in bringing topless baristas to the attention of the public, besides the titillating attraction of over exposed baristas, were local religious leaders who felt the presence of topless baristas would cause their flock to pay less attention to Revelations and more attention to the revelation.
“We don’t need our elementary school students exposed to this sort of thing!” stated one of the candidates for office, obviously confused about who was exposed.
Reading the proposed initiative I had two questions: The first was whether we had a big problem with elementary school students hitting the drive-through for a coffee. The second asking who the proposing candidate was. They were obviously new candidates because no one had ever heard of them before.
And equally to the point, exactly when did we start calling wait staff ”baristas?” The dictionary says the word is Italian and means a woman bartender. If that’s the case, what do you call the male counterpart? A bartender? The answer should really be “a server” and the pretentious term barista discarded. This whole barista thing is sexist and only served to make people feel less embarrassed about their service industry vocation. ”Oh, I’m a barista, but only until a position at the Jet Propulsion Lab opens up.” Men should be afforded the same dignity-saving privilege and so we should be calling them both servers since the words waiter and waitress are apparently no longer politically correct. I wonder if the proposed ordinance against topless baristas would be the significant issue it’s trying to be if it were rephrased to use the less sexist nomenclature of ”topless server.”
If we’re going to inspect this issue and treat it with an even handed political correctness, then we have to think in terms that will disallow an appellate court the opportunity to strike down this attempt to create bogus community values and thereby preserve our democratic freedoms. Oh, and the dignity of topless baristas …er, servers.