November 16, 2005

A popular T-shirt is being banned by schools nationwide. It is a shirt with a snowman on it. WSMV-TV in Nashville, Tenn. reported that the T-shirt, popularized by rapper Young Jeezy, is being seen by teens and schools as promoting cocaine use. And, of course, parents are clueless. Take a look at WSMV’s story: Controversial T-shirts getting kids kicked out of class (scroll down to the entries under “More Headlines” to find the link). Also, see the Associated Press’ coverage of the snowman T-shirt.


A Web site,, which covers the music and urban culture scene, ran a similar story:

The shirt was first produced by Miskeen Originals, a New Jersey fashion firm, [which] made a batch directly for [rapper Young] Jeezy, who, according to the company’s owner, holds the rights to the snowman image.

“I wasn’t sure what the snowman meant until the artist explained to me that it was a drug dealer, the man delivering snow,” Yaniv Zaken, owner of Miskeen Originals, said. “Now everyone is selling the snowman — all unlicensed. It’s become a street-hood hit worldwide.” offers this interview with Jeezy which, I think, will clear things up for you: Jeezy says wearing one of his T-shirts is like having a ghetto pass.

“You gotta understand what it symbolizes,” he explained. “It symbolizes a young hustler. If a cat goes and gets fresh, hits the club or goes to an event and he has a Snowman shirt on, it’s almost like a white tee. You can throw on a white tee and G your way through the party. You might have a Snowman shirt on and it’s all good. Everybody can’t afford the Gucci and everything. It’s the next best thing, the Snowman.

“Snowman is a cool dude,” he continued. “He’s a gangsta too. There’s a Snowman in every ‘hood, several Snowmen in the ‘hood. You gotta be that dude to look up to with the car and the girl. Whatever you do, be the best at it, because that’s what the Snowman is going to do.”

Record C-Section Rate

The Centers for Disease Control and Protection says the cesarean delivery rate rose 6 percent to 29.1 percent of all births in 2004. It is the highest rate ever reported in the United States.

The CDC says:

The rate has increased by [more than] 40 percent since 1996. For 2003–04 the primary cesarean rate rose 8 percent, and the rate of vaginal birth after cesarean delivery (VBAC) dropped 13 percent.  

USA Today found an interesting angle on the data:

Liability concerns have driven a rising number of hospitals to ban vaginal births after cesareans, or VBACs, because of a slight risk of uterine tears.


In 2004, only 9.2 percent of women with a prior C-section delivered vaginally, down 13 percent from 2003. Since 1996, the VBAC rate has fallen 67 percent, from a peak of 28.3 percent.


Yet, in the most definitive study to date, published last December, three-fourths of women who attempted a VBAC were successful. Fewer than 1 percent of them had a uterine tear, and in the vast majority of cases, mother and baby did fine.

Al’s Morning Meeting reader Steve Curtis, assignment editor at KBCI-TV in Boise, Idaho, passed along this resource: International Cesarean Awareness Network Inc. According to the organization’s Web site: 

ICAN’s mission is to improve maternal-child health by preventing unnecessary Cesareans through education, providing support for Cesarean recovery and promoting Vaginal Birth After Cesarean (VBAC).

Where did the FCC Fines Go?

In 2004, the Federal Communications Commission issued a record $7.9 million in indecency-related fines, The Wall Street Journal reports. This year, the FCC has received 189,000 indecency complaints, but has not issued a dime in fines. The Journal points out:

The inaction is puzzling to FCC watchers, who expected enforcement activity to ratchet up under Kevin Martin, the new FCC chairman and an outspoken supporter of increasing indecency fines and holding broadcasters more accountable.

“It’s high time they started doing something,” says L. Brent Bozell, president of the Parents Television Council, a watchdog group that encourages members to use its Web site to send complaints to the FCC. Mr. Bozell says he supports Mr. Martin and believes the FCC will act soon. The group was one of several organizers of complaints about Janet Jackson’s breast-baring appearance at the Super Bowl in 2004. That event was largely responsible for touching off a record 1.4 million indecency complaints the FCC received that year.

This year, FCC officials planned to release a bundle of fines that would address a backlog of more than 50 outstanding complaints and provide broadcasters with clearer indecency guidelines. The guidelines were expected to get tougher: Mr. Martin, for example, has expressed support for assigning fines “per utterance” of a word deemed to be indecent, rather than once per show, no matter how many times it was uttered. And he supports the notion of holding performers as well as broadcasters accountable for violating decency standards and subjecting them both to fines.

The paper said:

Among the incidents that have drawn complaints that are under final review are the actress Nicole Richie’s unbleeped rumination on removing cow excrement from a Prada purse during the 2003 “Billboard Music Awards” on News Corp.’s Fox Television, commission insiders say, and an episode of “NYPD Blue” on Walt Disney Co.’s ABC network, which featured a nude woman’s backside followed by a shot of her chest, artfully obscured by the appearance of a young boy.

Other complaints concerned graphic descriptions on “The Oprah Winfrey Show” of teenage sex acts, which drew thousands of complaints. The FCC is likely to dismiss those complaints, insiders say, because viewers were warned about the nature of the show’s content, and Ms. Winfrey said it was aired to help educate parents. Many of the complaints about the Oprah Winfrey show were from supporters of Howard  Stern, the shock-jock, noting that the show’s language was far more suggestive than some of his shows that have drawn FCC fines. 

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Editor’s Note: Al’s Morning Meeting is a compendium of ideas, edited story excerpts and other materials from a variety of Web sites, as well as original concepts and analysis. When the information comes directly from another source, it will be attributed and a link will be provided whenever possible.

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Al Tompkins is one of America's most requested broadcast journalism and multimedia teachers and coaches. After nearly 30 years working as a reporter, photojournalist, producer,…
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