MICHEL MARTIN, host:
And now it's time for Backtalk, where we lift the curtain on what's happening on the TELL ME MORE blogosphere and get a chance to hear from you, our listeners. Lee Hill, our digital media guy, is here with me, as always. Hey, Lee, what's up?
LEE HILL: Hey, Michel. Well, it was Happy Hour at the White House last night, where President Obama invited professor Henry Louis Gates Jr, and the officer that arrested him, Cambridge Police Sergeant James Crowley, over for a cold beer and a cool chat about race in America.
Now, Crowley arrested Gates at his home and charged him with disorderly conduct recently. Those charges were later dropped, but the arrest provoked a firestorm of opinions. In your commentary on Monday, Michel, here's what you had to say.
MARTIN: But I think he was, in addition to making a political calculation, making a point about something we, as Americans, as a people with a history of racial conflict, could all stand to do: Take a step back, listen to what the other guy has to say and see people as individuals, which was, it seems to me, a fundamental thing that was missing in the interaction between Sergeant Crowley and professor Gates.
HILL: Michel, that prompted this note from blogger Roxy(ph). I'm originally from Vermont, where I knew very few people of color, but I had many friends of all backgrounds and became accustomed to daily discussions about race and gender relations. I found my mother's belief, that the same thing may have very well happened to a white professor, to be very frustrating. As a white, anti-racism advocate, I always look to you for your critical yet positive and realistic observations.
MARTIN: Well, thank you, Roxy. And Lee, the situation with professor Gates prompted many people to speak out on blogs across the Web. This week, we talked about what happens when those comments turn disrespectful, nasty, even racist. One of our listeners, Harlen(ph), had this to say about tactics used by some Web sites, including NPR, to keep comments from crossing the lines.
HARLEN: Comment approval is simply a euphemism for censorship. Approval systems always start out with so-called good intentions that soon erode into preservation of the approval judge's thought. Funny how a thought expressed without use of any of the forbidden words can still be judged offensive and thereby not pass. It all starts out with censoring certain words but ultimately extends into thoughts.
MARTIN: Thank you, Harlen, but if I invite you over to my house, don't think you can cuss, okay?
Lee, later in the week, we talked about a new study examining the country's obesity crisis. According to the journal Health Affairs, no amount of the president's proposed health-care overhaul will be enough to make medicine affordable if Americans don't also reform their eating habits. The study said that obesity-related health-care spending doubled in the last decade.
HILL: And our very own Teshima Walker took to the TELL ME MORE blogosphere, where she was candid about her battle with the bulge and how she's enrolled in a fitness boot camp. And a number of listeners followed Teshima's lead, sharing their own stories and struggles of weight loss.
I'll read a post here from Donna(ph). She wrote: Teshima, I'm fat. I need to lose 100 pounds. A few months ago, I started committing to an exercise routine. I've lost 15 pounds so far. I don't have time is just a cop-out. It takes me 15 minutes to run a mile. That's a long time, but it's a short time for me, considering what I couldn't do in May.
MARTIN: And Lee, I see Donna is now encouraging other bloggers in that comment thread. You go, girl. Lee, caught any good movies lately?
HILL: Not recently. I think the last movie I saw was "The International." So that's pretty stale there, yeah.
MARTIN: Okay, well, there are quite a summer blockbusters this season, but although the new horror movie, "Orphan," blew "Harry Potter" out of the water with a strong showing at the box office, the tale of an orphan girl and her evil ways had some people holding their applause.
(Soundbite of film, "Orphan")
Unidentified Woman #1 (Actor): (As character) Everything is (unintelligible), everything.
Unidentified Man #1 (Actor): (As character) Well, you have her passport, got a birth certificate…
Unidentified Woman #1: (As character) They're papers from halfway around the world.
HILL: Michel, that led us to have a conversation about how some people, especially within adoption communities, say the film crosses the line and portrays adoption as more of a dangerous risk than an act of love. We heard from several online commenters who basically said that we should lighten up. I'm looking at a post here from a blogger who calls herself Ms. Medoria(ph). She writes: If anyone is put off from adoption by a campy horror film, then they should rethink their ability to be decent parents.
Adults should have more sense than to let any Hollywood production affect their choices when it comes to expanding a family. Personally, the popular belief that a non-biological child is somewhat less desirable offends me more than anything applied or depicted in this film. Let's get to the real root of the issue.
MARTIN: Thank you, Medoria, and we have one update, Lee. We talked about the Cash For Clunkers program this week. That's the Obama administration's effort to encourage people to trade in their old gas guzzlers for new, cleaner cars. Well, that program may already be a victim of its own success. So many people are trying to junk their clunkers that the government could be running out of money for new trade-ins. We'll have more next week. And thank you, Lee.
HILL: Thanks, Michel.
MARTIN: And remember, with TELL ME MORE, the conversation never ends. Go to npr.org. Go to programs, click on TELL ME MORE and blog it out.
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