This afternoon, Bluestem Prairie watched the Minnesota House take up legislation on fireworks and online fantasy sports games. Never mind the potholes, parents desperately seeking childcare, pokey greater Minnesota broadband, higher education poorhouse loans, racial equity or any other things with which grown-ups concern themselves.
It confirmed our impression that the Republican Party may just be turning into the Games Over Priorities party. It's the new GOP, the pop culture party whose presidential frontrunner is a reality television star. Coincidentally, we'd been working on a post about one of those fashion decisions working it's way through the Minnesota House: adding blaze pink to the wardrobe of Minnesota's firearm deer hunters.
The supporters of the measure fancy that blaze pink will attract the ladies to the sport. Indeed, in the House environmental committee last week, Dan Fabian, R-Roseau, and Denny McNamara, R-Hastings, both commented that they had asked a young girl if they wanted to wear pink over orange.
Never mind the comments that Rep. Alice Hausman, DFL-St. Paul brought to the committee from grown up women and men about the provision.
We'll have more analysis of the fashion debate (and some of the questions raised by House rules by the stylish demonstration of the hat wearers) in a later post, but for now, here's the video of the discussion.
All other concerns aside, the biggest problems with the addition relate to hunter safety.
Bowhunters can wear camo--but as a safety measure, most states require blaze orange as a safety measure:
Blaze orange, often called hunter orange, is required for most hunting endeavors in most U.S. states and Canadian provinces for one reason: Hunter safety.
The color is unnatural and obnoxiously bright to the human eye. Its proliferation, especially during the busy days of fall deer hunting, is credited, in conjunction with hunter safety courses, with reducing the number of times hunters mistakenly shoot other hunters. Orange is opposite blue on the color wheel, making it especially visible against a crisp fall sky.
And does blaze pink fit the bill? Research commissioned by the bipartisan, all-male Wisconsin Sportsmen’s Caucus says it does, but we've obtained a copy of a summary of the research--it's the only thing on files at the Minnesota DNR, which is neutral on the issue--is a unique piece of work. The document does not appear to be peer reviewed or published, but is frequently cited in the press and by legislators as a definitive study.
In a March 27, 2016 article, Should Minnesota hunters be wearing blaze pink?, Pioneer Press outdoors editor Dave Orrick reported:
“Blaze pink” would join blaze orange as legal hunter-safety colors under a proposal at the Minnesota Capitol. . . .
That drew criticism from people with a certain type of color blindness. Some critics have said they can’t see bright pink, but can see blaze orange.
The purpose of the blaze orange requirement is so hunters can see each other to avoid mistakenly firing in the direction of another hunter. It’s required in many states and is credited with reducing the incidence of hunters shooting each other nationwide.
In Minnesota, blaze orange is technically defined, based on experiments that show its ability to excite the human eye. Blaze pink isn’t technically defined in Wisconsin or Minnesota’s proposal, although one Wisconsin study examined a number of articles marketed as blaze pink and found they were generally as bright or brighter than blaze orange.
The Minnesota Department of Natural Resources has remained neutral on pink. Rodmen Smith, who heads the agency’s enforcement division, said there’s no “hard science” showing blaze pink increases hunter safety as effectively as blaze orange.
Wisconsin safety officials have encouraged clothing makers and retailers unsure whether their product would qualify as blaze or fluorescent pink to send fabric samples to them.
As far as the color-blindness, here’s what Jon King, hunter education administrator of the Wisconsin DNR, said in an e-mail: “There has not been a nationally recognized study done on bright or fluorescent pink. Hunter orange has had many studies done to recommend a particular shade of orange. When wearing these new colors you should make sure that your choice is one that every person in your hunting group can see.”
Orrick took up the issue of colorblindness in a 2015 sidebar article, Hunter blaze pink could pose problems for the color blind. The article also raised another concern about the bill:
The proposed Wisconsin legislation is also touchy because it ventures into the realm of gender stereotypes in a male-dominated endeavor of which women and girls are among the fasts growing groups.
Given the GOP's anxieties about gender identity, it's not surprising that Hackbarth and Company are bringing this one forward.
Here's the summary of the Wisconsin study:
We'll have more on this episode as the week progresses.
Photo: Tom Hackbarth in an Under Armour Blaze Pink Hoodie. Perhaps he should always wear this fashionable attire, so ladies can spot him in parking lots.
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