He likes to call himself “America’s Toughest Sheriff,” but he might as well be called “America’s Most Opportunistic Publicity Hound And Misogynist.” Yep, Joe Arpaio, Sheriff of Maricopa County in Arizona, has crawled out from under his rock to bask in the television lights because the Superbowl’s comin’ to town, and he wants to be sure to get some free publicity:
GLENDALE, Ariz. – If it comes to it, the oft-proclaimed “America’s Toughest Sheriff” says he has a pair of pink underwear, a bologna sandwich and a spot in a dirty old prison tent for Tom Brady, Eli Manning or, most certainly, Paris Hilton.
Maricopa County – which includes much of metropolitan Phoenix – is host to the Super Bowl, one of the nation’s most decadent party weekends where, sometimes, celebrities and even athletes find themselves on the wrong side of the law.
Around here the law means Joe Arpaio, the tough talking, tougher-ruling sheriff who would like nothing better than to make an example out of a high-profile criminal and give them the kind of treatment you might expect in what used to be the wild, wild West.
So for the football player who might get into a bar fight or the starlet who might drive drunk, consider yourself warned.
While it’s nice to see that any celebrity or athlete will be treated the same as anyone else, it’s useful to keep in mind what it’s like to be treated the same as anyone else in one of Joe Arpaio’s jails. The cornerstone of his strategy? Pink underwear.
Pink underwear: When he noticed that inmates kept stealing jail-issued underwear, he dyed them all pink in an effort to humiliate male prisoners and cut down on thefts. It worked and he even sells a line of pink underwear to raise money for the sheriff’s office.
That’s right: Arpaio’s strategy is to feminize the male prisoners, thereby humiliating them. Because there’s nothing worse than being a girl. But I loved the unquestioned assumption that the tactics work because feminization is so bad, and not, say, because it’s a lot harder to pass off pink underwear as your own rather than as the jail-issued stuff.
Other tactics include feeding his prisoners only bologna sandwiches, housing them in tent cities out in the Arizona desert, and making them work on chain gangs. I’m really surprised that nobody’s managed to file a successful civil rights claim challenging these practices, which seem to be put in place not for the benefit of public safety, but for the benefit of Joe Arpaio’s reputation.
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