CENTER LINE - Bare breasts a benefit for Barrett?

It was meant to be a lesson on how a bill becomes law. It turned into much more than that.
Norwalk Reflector Staff
Jul 25, 2010

It was meant to be a lesson on how a bill becomes law.

It turned into much more than that.

State Rep. Matt Barrett (D-Amherst) was speaking to one of three Norwalk High School senior social studies classes last week when an image of a topless woman unexpectedly appeared on his PowerPoint presentation. The state lawmaker quickly unplugged the system, pulled out the memory stick and apologized to teacher Derek Pigman's students.

I was watching a show on E! the other night and the image of a number of topless women (with a little airbrush work to make it legal as far as the FCC is concerned) popped up on my 40-inch, high-definition television.

In both instances, I figure, there was no harm and no foul. (The show was so lousy even the bare breasts weren't enough to keep me from changing the channel).

This was a hot story for a couple of days. It was picked up by the Associated Press and reprinted all over the world. A quick Internet search proves that. You can find one from The Mercury in Durban, South Africa, and another one from The West Australian, Perth, Australia.

Was too much made out of nothing? By the response from readers posting comments on our Web site atwww.norwalkreflector.com, a lot of people feel that way.

But those are the stories people read. We could have run a Pulitzer Prize-winning story on how a bill becomes a law. Zzzzzzz. Slip in a photo of a topless woman and all of a sudden high school students will stop skipping class.

I'm sure we haven't heard the last of this. Barrett will be up for re-election next November and I'm sure this story will come back to life.

This is Dennis J. Willard's take in the Akron Beacon Journal:

"With Gov. Ted Strickland touting approval ratings surpassing 60 percent, Democrats believe they are primed to win four more seats to take the Ohio House for the first time since 1995," Willard wrote.

"Strickland is expected to help Democrats raise money, and he will undoubtedly campaign on their behalf.

"Before they can fully concentrate on winning more seats, however, Democrats must ensure their incumbents are re-elected, including 19 first-termers like Barrett.

"He was already among the GOP's top five targeted races next year before ever walking into Norwalk High School, and now Barrett appears to be heading the list.

"His district, which includes all of Huron and parts of Lorain and Seneca counties, is considered a Republican seat.

"Last year, following scandals that rocked Gov. Bob Taft's administration, Democratic operatives helped Barrett win by following his Republican opponent, Dan White, around the district with a giant inflatable rat.

"So Barrett and Democrats should not expect any mercy from the GOP."

Nick White, the Norwalk Reflector's political expert, said the whole affair really could help Barrett in the long run.

It's as simple as name recognition, White said.

What it did was get Barrett's name and picture on the front page of every paper his constituents read. People remember names a lot more than they remember specifics.

But that's a story for another day.

Of concern right now is what can be learned from this whole situation.

I think it's pretty simple. Technology is a great thing, but you have to respect it.

The Internet. E-mail. PowerPoint presentations. Computers. MySpace.com. Text messaging.

You might think everything you do is private ... and it might be. But one slip and it becomes everybody's business.

Just ask Matt Barrett.

Comments

JEF (Anonymous)

It is most fortunate that Rep. Barrett is a Democrat and committed such a "faux pas." Had he been a Republican, odds are that the news media would have called for his head.