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Government-inspired passivity and the News. - Elf M. Sternberg
Government-inspired passivity and the News.
So, I was reading fallenpegasus's comments yesterday about being a bystander in your own life. This was in relation to a murder in Sweden where an attractive and popular young woman (and the country's Foreign Minister) was repeatedly stabbed in a crowded department store. There were, to quote the article, "an awful lot of bystanders," and not one moved to deter the assailant either before, during, or after his rampage.

There's a smug assurance in much of the commentary going around that "oh, that could never happen here." Much of the assurance seems based on the actions aboard flight 800, but most of it is just plain old American to-do. There's even an argument that with "conservatives" in office, "personal responsibility" is back.

Bollocks. One need only look at Ashcroft et. al.'s "we'll take it from here" behavior to see that the American people are being actively discouraged from getting involved. The "No Child Left Behind" act, while on the one hand starving the beast, gives most people the impression that not only is their child's education not in their hands, it's not even in their local administration's hands: all responsibility has evolved to Washington. More and more, the Bush administration has given the average American the message, "Don't you worry your pretty little head off about anything." Bush's two distinct impulses, to wreck the system on the one hand, and to control the system at its root on the other, is probably the most destructive executive meme ever floated.

In Kansas, there's a "Romeo and Juliet" law which basically turns the felony "stuatory rape" charge for anyone having sex with a minor (defined as "under 18 years of age") into a misdemeanor charge if the age difference between the participants is less than 2 years. Matthew Limon, an 18 year old, was charged with having sex with a 17 year old. Seem clear, right? Except the 17 year old was male, so Matthew was charged with felony sodomy, and off he went for a 15-year prison sentence. The ACLU has asked the state to revisit the case in light of the recent Supreme Court ruling about sodomy laws. The Attorney General of Kansas has called the ACLU's move "a direct assault on the various criminal laws that protect children from sexual exploitation by adults," and stated that there is nothing in U.S. law that grants gays civil rights protection.

In Bombay, India, a place with a population density in some places approaching 600,000 per square mile, privacy has become such a big deal that some clubs are setting up "micro-love hotels" where for $2.25 an hour you can go neck with your partner. Shiv Sena, the Hindu equivalent of the "Vice and Virtue" parties found in Muslim states, has encouraged police crackdowns and engaged in vigilante actions to break up couples making out in public gardens.

Donald Rumsfeld points out the obvious: despite what the American people believe, there is no credible evidence that states that Sadam Hussein or any of his people had anything to do with the attacks on the World Trade Center towers. Rummy may be an overboard maverick, but he knows when to not lie. Do you suppose that the 60% of Americans who believe otherwise will get the message this time?

The Adam Smith blog has a funny article about Naomi Klien's book "No Logo," which calls for a world free of brands and branding. Apparently, the distinctive font/color combination of the cover has become a symbol all its own, copyrighted by HarperCollins. Since Ms. Klein calls for "an extra tax on those brands that have become ubiquitous," the blog wonders if she now qualifies.

And Dick Cheney, in an interview this weekend, went over the top. The Washington Post tries to be evenhanded in their account of the interview, but the bit where Cheney talks about "mobile weapons labs" is beyond the pale. Nobody outside the U.S. administration believes that those "mobile labs" were capable of manufacturing or researching biological weapons; they were weather monitoring stations with sophisticated, high-altitude balloon deployment hardware.

Current Mood: irritated irritated
Current Music: Harry Nillson, Lime in the Coconut

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