You Can't Change It, But It's A Fun Show

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I-Already-Feel-Safer
Department: In the Washington Times I discover that some
ditzbunny in the legislature of Annapolis, Maryland, wants to
outlaw plastic guns. Yes. She’s going to get rid of them rascals.
It’s because it will end crime.

Quoth
the Times “Alderwoman Cynthia A. Carter, Democrat, [now
that’s a surprise] said the law would ban all toy guns except
for clear, brightly colored plastic guns.” Honest. She’s doing
this. “If someone commits a felony with one, they [sic] will not
only be charged with the crime but also with using a toy gun,”
avowed she, semi-literately.

I
thought, Oh, good, Cynthia. You’re encouraging criminals to use
real guns, so that they won’t be hit with the plastic penalty
also. Of course a chief reason for using plastic guns has been
that, if caught, the criminal could say with reason that he wasn’t
threatening life. How very astute, Cynthia.

The
good lady will also fine parents of children caught playing with
plastic guns out of doors. “Anything that can be done to deglamorize
guns is a plus,” said Ellen O. Moyer, mayor of the city that is
home to the Naval Academy.

Cynthia
is a co-mother of the Political Redskins Effect, which is the
aesthetic appreciation of really good catastrophe. I used to follow
the Skins when they were having a good year. When they had a mediocre
year, I slacked off. But when they had disastrous years, when
the running backs went in the wrong direction and the quarterback
threw only interceptions and every other play was a fumble – I
followed them again. It was fun to see how bad they could be.
I longed for more-humiliating mistakes, for impossible errors.
Maybe it was sadistic, or traitorous, or maybe just a joy in parody.

I’ve
come to feel the same way about American society. Slow decline
is draining, but spectacular collapse invigorates. It’s no longer
anything to be upset about. It’s entertainment. The season’s lost
anyway, no hope of the playoffs, so enjoy it. I fire up the computer
every morning in hopes of finding some new and unexpected form
of daft behavior, a new chuckle, some form of social self-parody
that I never dreamed of.

My
political philosophy these days is to favor the funniest candidate
and the most absurd policy, just to watch what will happen. Don’t
delude yourself that this is an easy course. The principle of
Greater Comedy does not make for easy choices.

If
Hillary ran against George, for example, I’d be hard pressed to
choose. On responsible terms, Hillary would easily be my choice.
She would socialize the country, but George is Stalinizing it;
she’s lots brighter, less embarrassing, and doesn’t want to be
Arabia’s mother. She doesn’t want to put a camera in my bathroom.

But
in terms of amusement, George wins. Hillary is just an old-line
big-government Democrat, and boring. She would take the country
in bad directions, but not interestingly bad ones. George and
his buddies are turning the United States into the first state
of total electronic control. It’s a first-rate show. Face it:
Watching the destruction of the world’s greatest free government
is much cooler that watching the snoring growth of federal departments.

Another
recent headline: “Sayreville, New Jersey-AP – You can’t pretend
your finger is a gun – even if you’re in kindergarten.

So
says a federal appeals court in ruling that a New Jersey school
district did not violate a kindergarten boy’s free-speech rights
by suspending him for threatening to shoot his friends during
a game at recess.”

Now
that’s what I like: Forty-weight solemn clownishness, the kind
you could calk a roof with. A kid of maybe six points his finger,
gets suspended, and it becomes an issue of freedom of speech to
be decided by federal court. Only in America do courts concern
themselves with the unfurling of a kindergartner’s finger.

It
is well that Americans do not care what others think about them.
As best I can tell, Mexicans find our behavior puzzling if not
lunatic, and the French think it deliciously amusing. The Canadians
follow the American lead and often are even nuttier. The Russians
probably watch with a sense of looming nostalgia. They’ve been
there, but without the humor.

Anyway,
for those who prefer to enjoy the spectacle instead of opposing
the inevitable, I suggest that the best course is to promote a
coalition of male Republicans and female Democrats. These reliably
display the most amusing traits of their sexes.

The
Republican men, as for example BushCroft and Rumsfeld, bring to
the table a peculiarly male arrogance and sense of godhead. Female
arrogance tends to be social; male, military. Men have a slightly
different approach to insecurity. I suspect that those occupying
the great double-wide on Pennsylvania Avenue worry that maybe
size does matter, and they need to do something quick. They easily
persuade themselves, in the absence of any real system of values,
that their duty is to sweep away the smoldering ashes of the Constitution
to make room for more microphones.

The
female Democrats should manage the social burlesque. Being viscerally
obsessed with security, security, security in a world that seems
to be mysteriously but disturbingly somehow wrong, they will pass
Niceness Legislation. The analysis will be emotional rather than
rational. They won’t know this. When the ill-conceived proves
unworkable, they will insist on tighter controls on little boys,
more bans on second-hand smoke, more intrusiveness in a flailing
attempt to impose Niceness.

What
I figure is, there’s probably an alien Space Base somewhere, maybe
on Jupiter, full of people with hairy green tentacles coming out
of their heads and several eyes. And they’re shooting Degradation
Rays at the Earth. First they did Russia, which was already pretty
degraded and didn’t have far to go. Now they’ve got the US. They’re
beaming the footage back to wherever they live as a reality show.

Nothing
else really explains what is happening. It’s three-ring national
apoptosis, the long leap from the Golden Gate. Whom the gods would
destroy, they first make outrageously funny. We’re there, and
it’s a splendid show.

July
8, 2003

Fred
Reed [send him mail]
is author of Nekkid
in Austin: Drop Your Inner Child Down a Well
.


     

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