We are in danger of becoming a nation of the silliest people on earth – dangerous in many ways but increasingly silly. Today, for example, The House will take up a matter of earth-shattering importance – the size of fines to be imposed on broadcasters and entertainers who engage in lewd behavior or, gasp, use the “f” word; this could even include sports figures on the sidelines whose expletives might find an open mike. The bill is heralded as a way of protecting our youth from exposure to inappropriate behavior. This is curious since the president has just sent a budget to Congress that contains spending cuts for food stamps, home heating assistance for the poor, school lunches, vocational training programs, Head Start, and Even Start to name just a few proposed cuts that would impact young people in ways words never could — the sticks and stones that really hurt.
And for those who decry violence in our media and films there seems to be a willful avoidance of the consequences in human terms of military action. No doubt the fear is that acknowledging the horrors of war might weaken the resolve of the American people. Nevertheless, taking the entertainment industry to task and ignoring real-life experience seems ever so disingenuous. Then too, the presidential budget cuts funds for first responders around the country, but Laura Bush has been given the task of combating gang activity in the nation. What a silly and probably meaningless project for a first lady, especially given the realities of the president’s budget.
Add to the mix the fact that the Assault Weapons Ban was allowed to expire with no dissent from the White House. The ban was, in any case, not very effective since gun companies had found ways to “sporterize” weapons that made them assault-ready. Acceptance of these types of guns, when most of the country and law enforcement oppose them, is just another example of government’s silliness and hypocrisy. Surely it must be obvious, to gun companies and others, that the large number of gun purchases is not simply a response to the needs of those who would protect home and family. And what real sportsman needs an assault weapon to shoot a deer? Interpreting the “right to bear arms” as the right to possess an assault weapon is absurd and ignores the “in order to maintain a well-armed militia” part of the second amendment. Perhaps for strict constitutional constructionists, the cry should be “let them have muskets” since that was more likely the weapon of choice in the 18th century.
And perhaps while Congress is busy “protecting” our young people it should spend some time on legislation that would protect all of us from statements made by broadcasters that are untrue. The public should have a right, when licenses are granted, to assume the good faith of those who have been given access to the public airwaves. Broadcasters like Sinclair and many right-wing radio broadcasters have been allowed to say just about anything, sometimes in the guise of news, with little regard for the facts. If anything is injurious to the public welfare, such departures from the truth should be at least as important as media standards with respect to nudity and swear words.
Finally, in the ultimate silly department, from The White House comes the president’s cutesy ‘I know but I’m not telling’ pronouncement regarding Social Security reform. If he knows shouldn’t he be passing that information along? And if he doesn’t know what in the world are we talking about anyway? It might be that the president is playing it cool because of the political uncertainties attached to ‘reforming’ Social Security. His explanations on the road of why private accounts are a good idea are often unintelligible, which may be why he has resorted to the ‘you-go-first-tactic’ aimed at Congress.
Whatever the reasons, we are approaching a pinnacle of the inane superimposed on some of the most serious issues and problems the country has ever faced. When it comes to the non-essential, legislators can all turn to the same page and pass silly bills to support the social construct. With respect to meatier concerns, what isn’t kept secret from the public is often misrepresented which is not only silly but dangerous.
And by the way, in case anyone hasn’t noticed, our young people are pretty well acquainted with the “f” word.

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