Wednesday, June 13, 2012

The Legislative Learning Curve

Well, Combative and Feisty went to Raleigh today, as planned. I met Anne Bowman, Charlotte Chapter of Aim At Melanoma Pres. and Timna of Respect the Rays. As planned. I got to see Al Estep of Black Is The New Pink again. As planned. That's pretty much all that happened, in my book, as planned, because I was quick to learn, to my dismay, that I was in

The Legislative Playpen and I had to play by their rules which I didn't know and didn't like. I did learn a lot though. Mainly I learned I'm not cut out to be a lobbyist. I'm not cut out to run around the Legislative Building. And I'm not cut out to spend my day plotting and planning whose hand I can shake if I can find them and get 10 seconds of their time before trying to find someone else's hand to shake and repeat the process all over again.

Mainly I found out I'm not cut out to hand out material and push something that I don't entirely, 100%, agree with. And I learned I'm really disappointed with the American Academy of Dermatology. Combative and Feisty arrived in Raleigh. Disappointed and Sullied left.

We didn't make the rounds and sit and visit with any legislators and discuss the tanning bed issue and legislation that will come back up in NC next year. I was so prepared for that!

I did some running around with the group of us, and I do mean "running around." But I also spent time staying behind and handing out papers put together by the North Carolina Dermatology Association and the American Academy of Dermatologists who were hosting a free skin cancer screening there in the Legislative Building today. When I gave out a paper, I also invited the recipient  to the screening. It was a two-pronged task. I liked telling people about the screening. It was that sheet that gave me trouble.

I thought the sheets were strictly about the legislation and volunteered for this job. As I stood there I also read these sheets. The more I read them, the more I absorbed two expressed thoughts. And the dirtier I felt for handing those papers out. By handing them out, I gave the obvious impression of agreeing with them. And I didn't and don't.

I want to close tanning salons. Legislation seeks to ban minors. OK, I knew that. I think it's weak, but I knew that. According to the handout, legislators should consider that tanning salons can still sell the "healthy spray tan" alternative to minors and get their dollars that way. (Note: I wish I had kept a copy so I could quote exactly).

I am so disappointed and disgusted that dermatologists, of all people, are promoting the idea of a "healthy" tan. They say in their own material that there's no such thing as a healthy tan, and yet they want to help keep tanning salons in business and help them retain the dollars of minors by promoting "healthy" spray tans. A tan is either healthy or it isn't. Spray tans are chemicals and chemicals that color the skin can't be "healthy"...as a very recent report is pointing out. It also perpetuates the idea that tanned skin is healthy...which it isn't and that tanned skin is preferable over pale.

And I handed out that paper to people and gave the impression that I supported all that as I smiled and told them about the skin cancer screening.  A cancer they can get from tanning. Sun or tanning bed. And I, someone who is stage 3b melanoma, handed out papers promoting tanning. Tanning in a spray is still tanning. And I disgusted myself. I feel really dirty. The more I think about it the dirtier I feel. I wonder if some people actually read those papers. I wonder if some people changed their thinking about spray tans because the AAD endorses them. I wonder if anybody actually threw those papers away without reading them. I hope so. If they take out the references to spray tanning and trying to help tanning salons profit off minors, I'll happily be part of this effort next year. If not, I won't. I didn't sell my soul today. I gave it away. I won't again.

I'm not happy with what I learned today about the system, about how to play in the legislative playpen, about lobbying. I'm not happy with what I learned about me either. I loved being around my melapals and I hope they know that. This has nothing to do with them.

The Lord and I had a long talk all the way home. I'm not happy with myself for continuing to hand those papers out once I really read them. I'm not happy about the false impression I gave and for not saying something to the dermatologists. I was even in the very presence of one when she told a senator that spray tans are healthy. I didn't say a word. Out loud where it would count anyway.

When will we learn we can't have this tanning business both ways? We can't play both sides of the game? We have to take a stand. Either tans are healthy or they aren't. Either pale is beautiful or it isn't. Either we send one message or we send the other.

The legislative learning curve tends to support the idea that we don't have to believe everything we enact into legislation. A part here and a piece there is fine. I learned lobbyists don't necessarily believe in the legislation they push. They are paid to do a job.

But that's not life on the High Road. I also found it really is very easy to shuffle off the High Road and take an exit ramp that leads to a dirt road. I took that exit ramp today and didn't like it one little bit.

That's redeemable. Not undo-able though. I've got a huge lesson to remember.

I'll be grateful tomorrow, I'm sure. Right now I'm still kicking myself.