Monday, March 22, 2004

Starting next Wednesday, left wing talk radio will no longer be a contradiction in terms. The new Air America network will air talk shows hosted by Chuck D and Jeanine Garafolo. Unfortunately, the channel is debuting in New York, Chicago, San Francisco, and L.A. - it would be more helpful to air the show in swing states, wouldn't it? Still, I'll be able to get a daily dose of Al Franken in place of the annoying, uptight Gretchen Helfrich I'm stuck with now. Okay, that's harsh, but her recent show on suicide (no, I won't link to it) was both uninformed and irresponsible. "Heroic act?" Six years of work in suicide prevention cancelled out in an hour. I am still seething.

Speaking of people offing themselves, I am conflicted about the assassination of Sheik Yassin in Gaza yesterday. The rule of law is important to me, and I feel that that principle is more important than justice in any particular case. Without the rule of law, democracy is a farce. Extrajudicial executions are always illegal. Yassin was sentenced to life in prison before and foolishly released in a prisoner swap - he should have been returned to his cell and kept in isolation. The sight of a helicopter gunship firing rockets at a quadraplegic in a wheelchair is deeply offensive, not to say a tad bit cowardly.

On the other hand, I'm glad the bastard is dead. City buses, discos and restaurants are never appropriate targets for military actions, and I don't know what planet you have to be from to believe that randomly murdering civilians will lead to the establishment of a state, or to anything positive at all. I just wish he'd accidentally rolled out into traffic and been hit by a bus . . . It seems like everyone has gone insane in the middle east conflict - much more insane than is typical. The concept behind a "two state solution" is, yes, two states. This means that each side has to give up all claims to the land in the other state. Under a two state solution, there can be no "right" of return. There can be no settlements. The right of return and the settlements each represent a claim by one side to some of the other side's land. For the past few years, both sides have been negotiating in bad faith. Yassin was part of this problem. He said that attacks would cease with an Israeli withdrawal from all lands occupied in 1967, but he fundamentally would not give up the Palestinian claim to 1948 Israel. Many in the Israeli camp have a similar problem, saying they want peace but continuing to steal land. Violence is the symptom, not the cause. There can be no "peace process" until both brothers agree to keep their hands on their own side of the backseat. Call me an imperialist, but sometimes I think we need a President willing to pull the car over to the side of the road.

Thinking about the "Passion" controversy - When I lived in Cincinnati a lot of concerned citizens including my dear departed mother got worked up and protested against a photography exhibit by gay artist Robert Mapplethorpe at the Cultural Arts Center which portrayed gay sex. As a result, it was the CAC's biggest show ever and got them the attention they needed to build an award-winning new gallery. The outcry against "The Passion of the Christ" (which I've heard is actually good art, whatever you think of its theology) is just as misguided. The movie expresses Mel Gibson's beliefs, and the beliefs of a good many other conservative Catholics, fairly accurately. Many of us do not agree with his beliefs. However, it is clearly his right to make whatever damn kind of art he wants to. And judging from its commercial success, a lot of people wanted to go watch it. Those who tried to stop its distribution were just plain wrong. I know many people found it offensive and anti-Semitic. The people I know who have actually seen it disagree. Whatever. The real point is, in a democracy, my right to free speech trumps your desire not to be offended every single time. If I want to make a movie about how wonderful Stalin was, and you are offended because Stalin had you grandmother shot, the f*** you, make your own movie. You gotta have thick skin to live in a free society.

The problem with "popular" culture is that there's not enough of it, it doesn't express a range of views, it tries not to offend or challenge. That's why TV ratings and music sales are down. The most wached shows in America have 20, maybe 25 million viewers. People, there are 300,000,000 Americans. Nobody's watching Friends. Nobody's watching Survivor. One in twelve people, tops. And people talk about this garbage like it's our shared cultural heritage or something. I'm sick of people whinging about the content of the mass media. Most televisions produced today can receive more than one channel. The miracle of modern technology! In addition, virtually all of them come with a special device that can block the signal for as long as you want if you are unhappy with the content of programming.

It's called an "off switch." Most movie theaters which are showing "The Bloody Maiming of the Christ" also offer several other movies from which to choose from for people who don't f*****g like it. In addition, I have several other helpful suggestions for people unhappy with their media choices:

Learn to play chess.

Jog, play raquetball or volleyball or something, ya fatass.

Live theater - it won't kill you.

Learn a musical instrument, write your own songs.

Digital video cameras - not just for home pornographers anymore!

Put fins, hydraulics and those tiny little wheels on you 1989 Civic, cruise up and down the street leering at chicks.

Etc. Anyway, if you don't like it, don't watch it. Nobody else does. Okay, end of sermon.

Facism forces wages down? This should have been obvious a long time ago.

Hey Bob, did Tucker ever get around to eating his shoes?

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