Friday, June 29, 2007

They're Trying To Kill Us, I Tell You!

The “Red (Chinese) Menace” is back and more dangerous to the stability of the United States than in the 1950s or at any other time in history.

Not too long ago China declared war on us, but they did so quietly. Their weapons of choice were not ICBMs, but everyday consumer products. Their goal: To bring us down over an extended period time, almost unnoticed, with a gradual, underhanded attack.

The proof? They're sending us defective tires that will lead to deadly traffic accidents. Not enough for you? They're also sending us deadly toys, toiletries and dog food. No sir, not even man’s best friend will be spared in this war.

Well, this decadent Western fellow has taken notice, and he’s pissed off! I can no longer sit back and allow the global Chinese conspiracy to sap and impurify (sic) all of our precious consumer goods! Toys? Children’s toys, Mandrake? (Is it any coincidence that mandrake is also a root the Chinese use as an herbal remedy?) And toothpaste? Talk about your fluoridation!

At least a few goverment agencies are finally starting to wake up to this war.

In retaliation for these unwarranted, unilateral acts of aggression, I refuse to watch even one second of the 2008 Beijing Olympic Games. Take that, commie rats!

PS: Earlier this month I reported on Genarlow Wilson, a 21-year-old man who was incarcerated for receiving consensual oral sex from a 15-year-old girl when he was 17. A judge has now denied him bond, after another judge had previously ordered him released. If common wisdom holds true, what may be happening to Mr. Wilson in prison right now is far worse than what he did to get in there in the first place. That, and the court's reversal both, in a word, suck.

PSS: Although laws in Muslim countries banning the unnecessary removal of the clitoris ("female circumcision") are hit-or-miss, Egypt has now banned the practice. Good on them!

Wednesday, June 27, 2007

Schools Of No Thought

"Parents aren't interested in justice; they want QUIET!" - Bill Cosby

An unattributed editorial a few months ago in USA Today stated that American schools are failing when it comes to providing a free speech environment for their students. Cited were various instances of school paper and yearbook content being censored by school administrators.

According to the editorial, the reason for this censorship is that, “When those in power find free speech uncomfortable, they're tempted to squash it.” This hits the nail on the head. But, the factors contributing to this discomfort typically go overlooked.

Schools (pre-college) are an ideal environment for those who like to call the shots. Minors basically have no rights, so school is the one place where the authoritarian and the ideologue can really thrive. It's a great place to impose one's worldview on a captive audience. Once young people are "out in the world," they have to be dealt with as adults and private citizens, not as subjects. A window of a few years is all the control freaks in charge have, and some of them mean to make the most of it.

One of the most extreme and high profile examples of this came when Louisiana instituted a law requiring students to refer to adults as “ma’am” and “sir,” respectively. Does an effort to reinforce adults’ self-esteem (by reassuring them that they're in control) really belong in a law book? That's what this issue was about.

My high school principal made no secret she was a patriotic, consternative, Christian Republicant, and wanted us all to be the same. This was clearly reflected in the kinds of guest speakers she invited to the school, including people who invited us to accept Christ as our personal saviors. This was a public school, mind you. (Had I been more socially aware I would've given the ACLU a call.)

At the same time, she saw that a line about “men raising flags when they can’t get anything else up” was excised from the school’s production of Pippin because she wasn’t “comfortable” with it.

Some schools are surely breathing a sigh of relief now that the Supreme Court has tossed out the “Bong Hits 4 Jesus” suit, where a student who held up a banner with those infamous words and was subsequently suspended for two weeks sued his school. Free expression is a part of free thought, which pre-college educational institutions rarely encourage; truth be told, they actively discourage it. It threatens their control over the kids, as they see it. It’s "disruptive." It’s "inappropriate."

Just recently a Connecticut high school stage production about the war in Iraq was banned by that school over concerns of plagiarism and one-sided storytelling. The show consisted mainly of student actors reading the words of real people who've been directly involved in the war, some of whom are now deceased.

The school's reasoning for the ban is highly dubious; I imagine the real reasons were fear of controversy, fear of offending some, and, I honestly believe this, fear of giving students a taste of freedom that they might want to enjoy even more of in the future. Shaming the kids' own alma mater, an off-Broadway theatre has agreed to stage the production, which has since received positive reviews.

You don’t get a captive audience of young people after high school, unless it’s a private college. You know, the kind that tell young adults what they may wear, how they may wear their hair, and who they may date (if at all). Or, of course, the military. But this is an "academic" discussion.

There is a notion shared by many adults that free speech is for adults only. In the movie Dead Poet’s Society, when an administrator is asked by Robin Williams’ character about youth being free to speak their minds, the former responds, “At these kids’ age? Never.” Apparently, the way to prepare someone for life as a free-thinking adult is to deny them that right as a kid.

I may be the only adult in this country who believes that teenagers should be allowed at least one outlet for unfiltered expression. Not the right to threaten or harass anyone, but if they feel something sucks (homework, standardized testing, graduation requirements, disco, etc.), having the ability to say so without being censored or punished.

I understand the need to exercise some control over student publications, plays, etc. I also know that kids can be real smartasses sometimes. But I recognize the value of allowing them to express themselves. I think being given the chance to vent is both healthy and important (it would've help me; instead, I simply stored up my anger and frustration with the way things were and later turned to blogging... haha!), while some adults see this as encouraging rebellion. Or simply, as in the case of the Connecticut high school or my own high school principal, going against their personal consternative values.

Notice I don't go much into the First Amendment here; I think reason, common sense and common courtesy are what should drive students' free expression. Constitutional protection should just be the reassuring icing on the cake.

Some readers have suggested I should go into politics, and I appreciate that. But I think my best role in society (which would no doubt view me as a gadfly) would be that of "youth advocate." It's what I've always been.

Monday, June 25, 2007

Oh Where, Oh Where Has The Executive Branch Gone?

Under fire for his office’s handling of classified documents, Vice President Dick Cheney has asserted that he’s not part of the executive branch of the US government. No, really.

He said this in response to criticism of his failure to provide annual reports and allow occasional access by National Archives officials to those documents, in compliance with a 1995 executive order (re-signed by Bush in 2003).

Cheney is the guy, by the way, who continually destroys his visitor logs and refuses to divulge exactly who’s on his staff. He’s also the guy who crafted US energy policy with his oil baron friends in a closed-door session shortly after taking office. Notably, no environmental group or alternative fuel advocates were included. Just Cheney’s corporate benefactors, the ones who are now charging record-high gas prices while posting record-high profits.

When some tried to gain access to information from that meeting, Cheney fought the request all the way to the Supreme Court; hunting buddy Antonin Scalia then saw to it that Cheney would never have to reveal details of the meeting. (Scalia refused to recuse himself from the case, saying that there was no conflict of interest in him ruling on a friend's case!?)

But, back to now, and Cheney’s outrageous claim that has stunned constitutional scholars. You don’t have to be a constitutional scholar to understand the makeup of the US government: executive (president and VP), judicial (judges, attorneys, the courts, etc.) and legislative (Congress). I learned it in grade school.

Cheney may soon want to rethink his position on his position within the government: In response to his claim, Democrats are seeking to cut off his paycheck, which comes out of executive funds. So, which is it, Mr. Vice President? Are you or aren’t you part of that branch? I love it.

Not to be outdone, the president had his people quickly assert that he, too, was exempt from rules long accepted as applicable to the executive branch (he’s clearly a part of the executive and has not contested that… yet).

According to a White House spokesperson, “…although (the 2003 executive order) doesn't specifically say so, (it) was not meant to apply to the vice president's office or the president's office.” Well, if it ain’t in the contract, buddy, it just ain’t. That’s quite a detail to have left out of the re-signing of the executive order, wasn’t it? How come no one ever told us of these exemptions before now?

So, if half of the executive branch is not really the executive branch and the other half is, but is not to be bound by its rules, who/where/what exactly is the executive branch?

With these brazen statements, hopefully the power grab of this burgeoning dictatorship is becoming apparent even to the president's and veep’s longtime supporters. Whatever your political affiliations, be afraid of leaders who flout every rule and work under such comprehensive secrecy; they're “up to something,” and are not to be trusted.

Friday, June 22, 2007

They Ought To Call It "Polygyny"

Some Mormons are trying to have polygamy legalized on the grounds of "religious freedom." (NOTE: Vote Romney '08!)

I may have a one-track mind, but Mormon history aside, I think this is and always has been a big booty call. A Western version of the harem. The end of "Not tonight, I have a headache," because that can be followed by, "Yes, tonight, because I have another wife." Though synchronous ovulation could put a damper on that.

Men have always wanted to have a "selection," so maybe I should envy Mormons? Still, stand-up comedians devote entire routines to the headaches caused by a single wife. Who am I to believe?

I'd say legalize polygamy, if all parties agree to it (Mormon history, even recent, includes forced marriages of teenage girls, a la the Middle East), but only if the church agrees to allow women to have multiple husbands, too. Yup, their very own hare-hims. Anything less proves this to be the chauvinistic practice I already think it is, not some directive from above.

Oh, and tax the shit out of them. LOL

PS: I am thinking about starting a new feature here on BogsBlog called The Road Rage Report. The purpose would be for me to vent here rather than get mad on the road, where it's dangerous. In other words, to protect the American people, including myself.

I drive a long way to work and almost on a daily basis have cause to get very angry at other drivers. I'm not a daredevil driver; I drive just over the speed limit (primarily to avoid run-ins with the law) and typically in the center lane. Just the other day I was in the center lane of the highway, going about 75 mph (the speed limit was 70) and this compact car with a young couple got right up on my rear bumper. Then the guy in the passenger seat starts waving his hand around at me as if to say "Go faster!" That asshole isn't going to pay my speeding ticket, is he? I just shook my head "no." They finally passed me on the left (in the "fast lane"), and as they did I noticed their "Choose Life" license plate. They are apparently very choosy about where and when life is important to them, as their aggressive driving could have harmed a number of people. At that point the little devil guy who sits on my shoulder (you know, the one who fights with the angel guy on the other shoulder over moral dilemmas such as how I should behave) says, "Perhaps you (the occupants of that car) should have been aborted." I'm so ashamed!

Wednesday, June 20, 2007

Wednesday Whatever (UPDATED)

So, let's see...

British sweetmeats company Cadbury has pled (pleaded?) guilty to selling salmonella-tainted chocolate to the public. Folks, you’re not supposed to use real turtles in the chocolate!

A disturbing phenomenon called "gingerism" seems to be sweeping some places, especially the UK. It's not a love for that spicy, nausea-relieving root; rather, it's a hatred of redheads that has seen some people killed and others forced to leave their homes to escape harassment. I really don't get it, but until this anti-crimson craze blows over, Da Scarlet Pimp (aka Yours Truly) would like to invite Julianne Moore, birthday girl Nicole Kidman, Isla Fisher, Bryce Dallas Howard, Amy Adams, Elizabeth Kucinich and Ann-Margret (circa 1966) into his protection. We can discuss the protection fee later.

It seems some hospitals are trying to offset the anger of patients over long emergency room waits by offering consolation prizes in the form of gift certificates or simple apology notes. It's a start, but I think emergency room charges should be assessed on a decreasing scale, so the longer you wait, the less you pay. Emergency room waits of 12 hours are not uncommon. So, how about it? More here.

Are men pigs? Condom maker Trojan seems to think so. The company is running a controversial ad on some networks (it's no surprise some have rejected it) featuring an anthromorphic pig trying to pick up a woman at a bar. After the pig procures a condom from a restroom dispenser he suddenly turns into a real man. Subtle, eh? Imagine how a commercial featuring women depicted as dogs would go over. (Add some sheep and we have a Pink Floyd album.) And while we're at it, why not African-American characters represented by black crows? Yeah, I also think it's a bad idea. Apparently not all stereotypes are equal.

And finally, blogger Ann Outhou, er, Althouse has asserted on her site that, to Bill Clinton, “the ‘O’ of an onion ring is a vagina symbol.” I don’t know about that, but what man among us hasn't stacked onion rings around his tumescent appendage to see how many he could fit? Ok, I've never done it either (worried about grease burns). But if I did, I imagine I'd need an entire bag of Ore-Idas at least! Ohh!

Monday, June 18, 2007

They Ought To Call It A “No Sense” Policy

It couldn’t have happened soon enough for me. After some years of enforcing “no (guns/drugs/etc.) tolerance” policies to ridiculously literal extremes, some US schools are starting to experience a backlash. And let me tell you, I hope whomever is swinging the whip is lashing them hard.

Until now, if you were a renaissance faire enthusiast and wanted to be pictured as a sword-wielding knight in your yearbook, or you brought a water gun or your own prescription drugs to school, or you brought plastic army men to graduation, you were facing some hard time, buddy. But a few schools are wisely reexamining these blanket policies.

What I want to know is, why did we never hear from the NRA on these outrageous policies from the start? Remember, they support unfettered access to guns. These young Americans have rights. Many states have no minimum age for gun ownership, even though out of great concern for the kiddies they do keep cigarettes and lottery tickets (which can cause nasty paper cuts) out of their hands until they’re at least 18.

Seriously, I imagine some of these schools would look upon farting in class as being akin to exploding a biological weapon, and punish it accordingly. So, no more franks and beans in the lunchroom menu; that’s just coddling the terrorists. No more ISS (in-school suspension) either. Call the DHS on their foul asses!

Why do I write about this? Because I have zero tolerance for unreasonable zero tolerance rules. It’s this same type of thinking (i.e. not thinking) that puts people in jail for having car keys in their hands when they’re drunk. (What is that, anyway, conspiracy to drive drunk?) (PS: No, I've never been arrested for anything.)

It’s this total lack of reason in making the rules (often formed in an emotional environment after a tragedy), and adherence to them (by design, zero tolerance ties the hand of the person enforcing it) to the exclusion of all common sense that I find unacceptable. All intelligent people should.

It’s also this kind of crap that went a long way toward making me into the iconoclast I am today. It illustrated to me that those in authority (from the local middle school all the way up to the White House) don’t always have a clue about what they’re doing, and hence are not to automatically be trusted or respected. Smart, sensible rules, non-preferential enforcement and reasonable punishments are the only remedy for that, from my point of view.

So schools rethinking these policies is a good idea. I would say the same for our society in general. I mean, does anyone really want more Pete Bogses (sic) running around out there?

Friday, June 15, 2007

Save Sam!!!

Toucan Sam, the Joe Camel of children’s breakfast cereal, may be facing extinction.

In response to the, um, growing obesity problem among America’s youth (and their concerned, litigious parents), cereal maker Kellogg Co. has agreed to increase the nutritional content of its products. Further, it has agreed to limit marketing to children; this will impact some of the cartoon characters typically associated with cereals.

And all because of some stupid fat kids. Look at ‘em, stupid fat kids, with their boy-boobs and their shortness of breath.

Not all cereal-pushing personalities are going away, however. Corporate brands can take decades to establish, and the resulting name recognition is a large part of many companies’ success. So Kellogg, for one, is understandably reticent to throw that all away.

Come to the think of it, while Tony the Tiger is said to be safe from the cull, he probably should go. Do we really want to make large, exotic cats look friendly to children? For any kids in the audience: Tigers don’t walk around on two legs. Or talk. Or wear bandanas around their necks.

Gay cereal spokescartoons do, however, sometimes wear bandanas. As a sidebar to this story, it seems Snap, Crackle and Pop have come out as life partners in a bizarre but not entirely unforeseen love triangle.

Unable to move to Massachusetts for legal nuptials, the three have decided to get married at sea, in international waters, by good friend Cap’n Crunch. The ability to marry passengers is one of the privileges of a sea captain, as we all know.

While for various reasons Tony and Snap, Crackle and Pop may not be the best of role models for growing children, Cap’n Crunch certainly is. He’s put in a life of service at sea doing, well, whatever it is he does.

Actually, I’ve never been quite sure what kind of business he’s in. Commercial freight? Cruise liner? Piracy?

Wait a minute, what was this thread about again? Oh yeah, cereal. Cereal is good. I like cereal.

Wednesday, June 13, 2007

Sex Madness Grips The Land

Genarlow Wilson, 21, was about to have his 10-year prison sentence, of which he's already served two, vacated earlier this week when the deal suddenly fell through. His crime was, as a 17-year-old, receiving consensual mouth whoopee (CMW) from a girl of 15. A two-year age difference does not "aggravated child molestation" make. Nor should it require one of the parties to be registered as a sex offender for life. I know married couples who are 8, 10 or 15 years apart; why is that not a crime?

That Wilson ever saw the inside of a prison for this is truly unjust; that he now may be staying there longer after being told he would be released is pure madness.

President Bush's candidate for Surgeon General, Dr. James Holsinger, is taking a lot of flack for some homophobic writings from his past. In a document he wrote for the United Methodist Church called "Pathophysiology of Male Homosexuality," Holslinger discusses the dangers of "gay" sexual practices, some very extreme (emphasis mine) and some more common. Some sexual practices certainly are more risky than others, but Holsinger seemingly fails to note that many of these acts are not exclusive to gay couples (nor are they practiced by all gay couples). This glaring oversight reveals more about Holsinger's bias against gays than it does about gays themselves. Hey Mr. President, how about a candidate who isn't an ideological freak, for once?

This is a guy who C. Everett Koop's critics would love, but confirming him would be madness.

And former CBS News anchor Dan Rather has criticized current anchor Katie Couric for "dumbing it (the newscast) down and tarting it up." CBS Chief Les Moonves shot back at Rather, charging his comments were "sexist." But anyone who's watched the mainstream media as it went into a frenzy over the Paris Hilton story while giving Iraq, the G8 Summit and immigration secondary status knows Rather is right. Further, Rather was not referring to Couric when he said "tarting," but to her subject matter. In response to Moonves' comments, Rather said that the former "knows about entertainment, but he doesn't know about news." Oh no he ditten! Snap!

Many have been calling the media to the carpet over failing to give important stories appropriate weight. It's nice to now hear that from one of their own. The continuing slide of news into tabloid sleaze, especially when so many significant things are going on in the world, is pure madness.

Make love, not stupidity.

Monday, June 11, 2007

Muck-About Monday

Today is the day the Senate will attempt to hold its long overdue "no confidence" vote against Attorney General Alberto Gonzales. I say attempt because, while most Democrats and even some Republicants have called for Gonzo to resign or be replaced, many of the latter value party unity over anything else... justice... honesty... integrity... and will likely block the vote. Not just vote no, but pull tricks out of their bag to forestall the vote from even taking place. WTF?

Above: Having faced no consequences for
authorizing torture, illegal detentions and illegal wiretaps,
Gonzo brazenly lights up a doobie in front of reporters.

Yes, there are crooked Democrats in Congress. Rep. William Jefferson (D-LA) is one very prominent name associated with corruption. What's missing from this case is Democrats defending him to the last, and alleging political motivation behind the investigation into Jefferson's activities. He's already been kicked off committees and people on both sides of the aisle have called for him to resign.

Whereas, before the 2006 switchover of Congress the Republicant-run ethics panel tried to pre-emptively protect colleagues like Tom DeLay and others from the brewing corruption shit-storm by loosening up the rules and firing the panel's all-too-effective leadership. When they were forced by Democrats to change the rules back, they simply sat on their hands and ran out the clock. DeLay was not reelected, so no point in taking any action then, right?

As for Mr. Jefferson, if he's guilty of anything (thousands of dollars in a refrigerator is kinda suspicious) I hope they convict him and send him to the dee-luxe cell block on the hill.

Meanwhile, according to another liberal blog (but attributed to WaPo), the US military is said to be embracing a Korean model in Iraq. Who exactly is this Korean model? Is she more of a runway model or a magazine cover girl? Was this embrace welcome, or was it inappropriate contact? Perhaps the most important question, however, is what the hell is she doing in Iraq?

Speaking of affection, some pundits are conducting a love affair with
2008 Republicant presidential candidate Mitt Romney in a very public way. According to one, Romney has "shoulders you could land a 737 on." That same columnist previously stated that Romney has "chiseled-out-of-granite features, a full, dark head of hair going a distinguished gray at the temples, and a barrel chest." What he forgot to mention was Romney's big, strong arms that hold you tight and keep you safe from the world, close to his beating heart, which forms a backbeat to the rising and falling of his chest.

Oh, did I just type was I was thinking? Oops. I briefly got lost in Romney's glow. And I suspect that admirer expects the American voting public to do the same; screw substance, we need a real looker in the White House, eh, ladies? We have people on the right creaming over Romney, yet the very same people chide Edwards for being too dapper. WTF?

Hair gel is no substitute, though, for vegetable oil, which is what a train just unveiled by entrepreneur Richard Branson runs on. At least in part. In addition to minimizing harmful emissions that contribute to global warming, the train makes one hell of a good chicken wing.

And finally, the CIA (an agency once headed by kinder, gentler President George H.W. Bush), is hoping to project a kinder, gentler version of itself to the public. How? By trying to influence TV producers, filmmakers and authors to show the CIA in a more positive light. (A word to the CIA: Don't talk to the producers of 24. They'll only make things harder for you.) I hope that "influence" doesn't involve anything untoward like, you know, waterboarding. Whatever they do, this sounds a bit propaganda-ish to me.

Friday, June 08, 2007

Who Are These "Youth In Asia" I Keep Hearing About?

After eight years in prison for assisting in the suicides of terminally ill patients, Jack “Dr. Death” Kevorkian was freed last Friday. Like Monica Lewinsky and OJ Simpson, Kevorkian’s notoriety instantly made him fodder for talk show monologues back in the late 90s. His name is still part of American popular culture and may always be synonymous with suicide.

But where those other names made distinctly bad choices (of differing degrees), Dr. Jack had chosen to fulfill one of the primary roles of a doctor – to end suffering – in a very unconventional and, for some, unacceptable way. He created a “suicide machine” that delivered to terminal patients a drug cocktail that would end their lives. These were people who were not only going to die regardless, but who were going to suffer right up until the end. Also, and this is important, they were still of sound enough mind to make their own decisions.

The courts, however, considered this second-degree murder, and sentenced Kevorkian to prison.

The showing of a Kevorkian patient's suicide video on 60 Minutes was probably the final straw for him. I didn't watch, as I found the idea too disturbing. I think it's fair to say, not to make light of a serious subject, that for myself and many Americans, real suicide remains "not ready for primetime." But while watching is one thing, supporting someone else's right to do it is yet another.

When I think of euthanasia I think: How many times have you or someone you care about said (possibly while watching a dramatic TV show or movie) “If I ever end up as a vegetable with no hope like that, I want the plug pulled?” Well that can be done legally, though, like doctor-assisted suicide, it's a form of euthanasia. In Kevorkian’s case the patients may have still been walking and talking, but they were also suffering greatly.

We humans have in our hearts compassion for suffering, and sometimes we make a tough decision to end that suffering. We do this when we reluctantly put a sick, old canine friend down. I know, that’s an animal, but the idea is much the same: Someone/thing I love is suffering, and I don’t want them to suffer any longer. How many people out there sincerely view pets as members of their family? Lots.

In the case of Kevorkian's patients, who better to make a decision about ending suffering than those directly affected by it?

There are many arguments against patient-elected, doctor-assisted suicide as well as "pulling the plug" on the comatose. The main one seems to be honoring the sanctity of human life – and that’s certainly not something to take lightly. But when death is certain, and only pain left before it, who are any of us to tell someone else “no?” And when people are “alive” simply because some instruments plugged into them keep beeping and blinking for years on end, isn’t that really just the illusion of life?

Except for Oregon (I think), no state allows doctor-assisted suicides. That’s yet another reality that’s out of step with public sentiment. A majority of Americans support stem cell research, and Congress has just
passed yet another bill in support of it, but President Bush is planning to veto it again.

As for Kevorkian, he has promised not to break the law anymore (hey, at his age, he can’t really afford more prison time), but also plans to continue to push for the legalization of doctor-assisted suicide. I wish him luck, and I hope he lives to be 100.

Wednesday, June 06, 2007

America... Fuck Yeah!

Sometimes justice does prevail. And no, I'm not talking about that case, but about another very important verdict that's just been rendered on an issue that's close to my heart.

If your kids soon start hearing more curse words on TV, you may have VP Dick Cheney to thank. Though instead of thanking him you may understandably want to tell him to go fuck himself.

This is because a New York appeals court ruled against the government in a broadcast decency case that pitted American broadcast TV networks against the FCC. Broadcasters went to court over immense fines imposed on them for curse words spoken off the cuff, and on live TV, by the likes of Bono, Cher and Nicole Richie.

For their part, the FCC is cursing mad over the ruling. Said FCC Chairman Kevin Martin: “I completely disagree with the Court's ruling and am disappointed for American families. I find it hard to believe that the New York court would tell American families that ‘shit’ and ‘fuck’ are fine to say on broadcast television during the hours when children are most likely to be in the audience.”

Watch your mouth, there, Kev, ok?

Among the points made by broadcasters was that ultra-violent Saving Private Ryan was allowed to be aired on commercial TV with all swear words intact. (The movie aired before the Janet Jackson/Nipplegate incident with no problem; after that debacle, fine-shy affiliates refused to carry a subsequent showing of the movie by their network.) How can broadcasters know what's acceptable and what's not after that movie was shown? Moreover, how can they anticipate what people will spontaneously say on live TV? (This is what tape delays are for, idiots!)

The previously referenced comment by Bono was, "Fucking brilliant!" After he said it, there was some issue of whether it was obscene because it was used as an adjective rather than as the noun or verb denoting sexual activity. The standard for obscenity, it has been said, is whether the words spoken refer to "sexual or excretory functions or organs." Give me a fucking break. Those things are natural, though they may not be something we want to talk or think about all the time, or in certain company, or in certain contexts.

Some of us expect musicians, actors and other sleazy showbiz types to have loose tongues. But these folks' naughty words were not the only ones taken into consideration in the court's decision. Verbal no-nos by none other than President Bush ("...get Syria to get Hezbollah to stop doing this shit...") and Dick Cheney ("Go fuck yourself!") were also considered. I can't hide my amusement that some top Republicants may have actually made it easier to curse on TV. (Come on, consternative base, attack them now like you hypocritically never did when they originally made those vulgar comments!)

From this verdict, broadcasters obviously made their case that obscene content (which can lead to heavy fines for them) is too poorly defined, too subjective and too inconsistently penalized. For once, reason seems to have won out in court. Obscenity has been previously defined, but that definition creates more questions than answers. Who is the "average person?" What is "patently offensive?" Why are sex and scatology considered obscene, but not those damned exterminator commercials that show insects scurrying around while I'm trying to eat dinner?

Indeed, there need to be at least some restrictions about what content hits the airwaves. But FCC policies are no substitute for good parenting and good judgment. These consist, in part, of using the tools available to you to limit your family's exposure to such content; not the least of these tools is your own noggin.

At one time I was actually thinking of suggesting a plan for TV producers to thwart FCC restrictions, if only to spite the efforts of that flawed body. This included:

Using a lot of strong innuendo and euphemisms: There are no curse words in "I'm gonna spank the monkey tonight."

Using clinical terms: "I bet that woman has a nice vagina. I would like to engage in sexual intercourse with her." (Whereas the obscene equivalent of this has probably never been uttered on broadcast TV, this kind of talk would actually make TV racier. Which was my point, if only to raise a virtual middle finger at the FCC.)

Saying "Goddammit" a lot: It's one of the most offensive terms to some people, yet contains no sexual or excretory references. Hence, not obscene.

I don’t get any kind of juvenile thrill from using or hearing profanity; I do, however, strongly resent unnecessary, undemocratic and hypocritical policies prohibiting it. And if I can't stop or influence the people making those policies, I can at least enjoy, in a manner of speaking, fucking with them a bit.

It seems this time the courts have done that for me. But relax, I don't think we'll be seeing Full Metal Jacket or Clerks II on commercial TV anytime soon. (And I don't have cable. Shit!)

Monday, June 04, 2007

And The "Dipshit Of The Year" Award Goes To…

Andrew Speaker. And you’d think the fact that he’s a lawyer would be enough. But it was visiting half a dozen countries while carrying an untreatable, infectious disease in his system that garnered him this honor.

Now everyone who was in Speaker’s immediate proximity on all those international flights will probably be tested for a drug-resistant form of tuberculosis. And all because Speaker decided to travel to a wedding overseas against doctors’ orders.

Is this guy a dick or what?

Speaker maintains that he didn’t realize this untreatable plague he's carrying was that serious, as his doctors did not expressly forbid him from flying. Somehow this reminds me of when Paris Hilton blamed her handlers for not telling her she wasn’t supposed to violate her DUI-related probation.

I think Speaker’s most consequential offense is giving al-Qaeda (or however you spell that this week) a great idea on how to create terror via aircraft. No hijacking. No explosions. Just infect someone with a communicable disease and have them fly all over the world. They wouldn’t even have to be sneaky about this; if some of these militants will readily blow themselves to smithereens, I don’t see them having a problem with getting sick for their “cause.”

Remember, AIDS (which is communicable in a different way than TB) was allegedly spread around the world by a Canadian flight attendant. Someone is bound to use commercial aviation as a way to spread terror in a way that metal detectors, passports and background checks won’t prevent.

My advice to the DOJ: Forget animal rights groups and environmentalists – charge Speaker as a terrorist.

Above: Quarantined, misunderstood TB patient Andrew Speaker performs "Where Is Love?" from Oliver!

Friday, June 01, 2007

A Blight At The Museum

Possibly the first ever museum devoted to creationism opened early this week in Kentucky, and saw a good share of eager visitors as well as a number of protesters. The latter apparently object to the museum's emphasis on faith over scientific fact. (On that topic, seeing the broad objection to a mandated HPV vaccine for young girls among this museum's demographic, ought not someone open a Genital Wart Museum across the street?)

The Creation Museum, which features a Noah’s Ark replica, tackles the age-old evolutionists’ question, “What about the dinosaurs?” by explaining that Noah made room on the ark for them, too. Can a reprinting of all Bibles, due to the complete omission of those creatures from its pages, be on the horizon? It is fun to picture Noah single-handedly wrangling a couple T. rexes and getting them on that boat.

Apparently Noah must have dumped the terrible lizards overboard sometime during those five months, though, as lions and tigers and bears still exist, but dinosaurs do not. I imagine they were quite a pain to confine and feed at sea. I mean, you saw what happened to that ship's crew at the end of The Lost World, right?

No word on whether the museum has a Garden of Eden replica featuring a naked, anatomically correct Adam and Eve. Though they may have the first couple depicted with that ultra-rare disease that causes green, leafy plants to grow over the genitalia, plantydia. Somehow I imagine only the post-fall, shamed Adam and Eve are represented.

Speaking of which, according to at least one museum exhibit, all animals were vegetarian before Adam and Eve sinned; interesting indeed for me to think that some Christians’ idea of "paradise" includes a vegetarian diet and naked people. Maybe we have more in common than I thought.

I certainly would not make any effort to oppose the opening of such a museum in my neck of the woods (unless public funds were used for it, that is; the $27 million Kentucky museum was privately funded), nor would I flat out refuse to patronize it. But I do have an issue that all employees of the museum must affirm their Christian faith before hiring. Isn't that, like, religious discrimination in the other direction?

Though I suppose all things even out. A Harry Potter theme park is set to open in Florida in 2009, and I am sure it will get its share of pro-creation (see what I did there?), anti-evil protesters, too. Hey, tax-exempt The Holy Land Experience will be just down the street, and I'm sure those folks won't welcome their new occult-oriented neighbors with open arms. Mark my words.

But as some consider Harry Potter an expression of a certain type of faith, albeit a dark one, maybe that theme park should be tax-exempt, too? And while they're at it, why not require a profession of belief in the black arts from all employees? OK all you Central Florida Wiccans, let's get those job applications filled out!

Man, just imagine the protests if the Harry Potter theme park has its own "Gay Days," a la Disney World. I can see the event now, kicked off by a naked Daniel Radcliffe astride his trusty steed, Equus. Satanists and "sodomites," oh my! Oh, this is gonna be fun.