the last word (tm)
16/No. 2 - 435th issue - March 16, 2007
firstname.lastname@example.org - http://members.iglou.com/bandit - Bellevue, Kentucky
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FREE SPEECH STILL NEEDS TO START EXISTING
Mar. 16 - Remember the olden days when free speech sort of almost half-existed? (Cue old-fashioned music like that used in the hot lather maker commersh.)
Now it barely exists at all - at least not for those who disagree with the GOP politburo.
According to the Cincinnati Post of March 3, the Cincinnati Center City Development Corporation has appointed itself as an Allowed Cloud against all who dare to dissent. The CCCDC is a relatively new private agency that has taken control of Fountain Square, which is a public space.
Recently the Intercommunity Justice and Peace Center applied for a permit for an antiwar rally on Fountain Square for March 19. But the organization was promptly informed that it would have to buy a $1,000,000 liability insurance policy before conducting the rally, a policy that itself would cost several thousand simoleons. The price of the insurance was more than the Justice and Peace Center could afford.
This immediately raised several concerns. For one, it means people now have to spend more money than they have to buy their right to free speech. For another, some have raised the specter that the CCCDC might only invoke this rule if they want to silence certain views. Indeed, legal experts have already said that charging a fee for gatherings on a public square violates the constitutional right to freedom of assembly.
Strange. Remember when the racist clods of the Ku Klux Klan used to post its annual exhibit on Fountain Square? We don't remember anyone making them buy insurance. In fact, the city provided the KKK's display with special police protection - at the expense of the taxpayers. Displays by other groups did not receive this red carpet treatment.
The Intercommunity Justice and Peace Center's right to hold an antiwar event was finally recognized when the insurance controversy caused the CCCDC to back down. But elsewhere in the area, people aren't so lucky.
Covington afflicted too!
Surprise, surprise, huh?
We've had run-ins in the Cov over both political and nonpolitical matters, so we know of what we speak. (The famous near-bust at the Bush hatefest at Devou Park was pretty much equally the fault of the city and the county, as it was the city that thought it could deed out a public park to the spittle contingent.)
This month, organized labor supporters appeared in downtown Covington to protest the union-busting activities of a company that owns several fancy hotels. This demonstration - which involved handing out leaflets - wasn't on company grounds but was across the street on public property. The hotel company's response was to call the police on the protesters, even though they were doing nothing illegal.
Now there's an ignorable police call, right? Well, not in BushAmerica! Several police officers promptly arrived to break up the small group of labor backers. The union supporters were threatened with arrest just for exercising their free speech rights.
What's ironic is that Covington cops have their own FOP chapter that performs union activities. Based on this, you'd think the police wouldn't be involved in taking away the First Amendment rights of labor activists. But let's be honest here: The big picture is that local government is basically anti-union, so local government acts reflect this.
If anyone should be in trouble with the long arm of the law, it should be the management of the inns. Management thugs have been following, photographing, and intimidating pro-union employees. This sounds like an open-and-shut case of racketeering.
We know what Big Business generally thinks of the working public. It thinks workers need to shut up and be obedient little drones. That's bad enough, but it's worse that Big Business gets the police to do its dirty work. Corporate America practically owns the government. That's why the U.S. nation (to use rapper Biz Markie's phrase) has been increasingly marred by so many illogical prohibitions, like the ones that keep you from getting medicines that actually work.
That's also a main reason why free speech is now only a fading, grainy memory. Let's bring free speech back!
LOCAL MARDI GRAS CONTINUES TO BE LAUGHED AT
Mar. 16 - This is one of these weird stories that shows just how needlessly prudish some local officials are about...well, everything.
Sometime in the '90s, Covington began having its own Mardi Gras, which brang some brightness and joy back to our depressed region. But in 2000 - following the city's most successful Mardi Gras ever - one city resident took offense at the event, causing the city to cancel it for the next year or two. You read us right. One person complained, so no more Mardi Gras. (This one person does not count the local media talking heads who complain about everything, especially the 2000 Mardi Gras.)
A vague approximation of a Mardi Gras was later established in Covington, but it immediately became a laughingstock. The city ordered most of the festivities confined under a small tent, which was open only to people who buyed the limited number of tickets the city sold.
This year, authorities banned a bar from entering a float in the Mardi Gras parade, all because a woman on the bar's float last year bared her breasts.
Um, that was way back last year when the breasts were displayed. This is this year (we think). Besides that, it's Mardi Gras, for crying out loud! If you're offended at the sight of breasts at Mardi Gras, then Mardi Gras probably ain't the place for you to be. It's just like how if you're offended by an R-rated movie or a "violent" video game, you shouldn't buy it.
(The same bar had gotten in trouble with police for - get this - a thong panty contest. The city actually had undercover cops looking for stuff like this.)
Hilariously, however, this year's Covington Mardi Gras had probably lower attendance than any before it. We never heard anything about how many people actually showed up or if anything out of place happened, which indicates that very few did show up. Barring a miracle, the city better get used to poor attendance at Mardi Gras - unless it goes back to the way things were in 2000.
Yeah, we know. "Morals" this and "morals" that. If city officials were so worried about being moral, they wouldn't have callously bulldozed that homeless encampment. The plight of the homeless, economic justice, and civil rights are real moral issues. A few partygoers displaying body parts to other adults at a nighttime festival isn't exactly what we call one of the grave moral crises of our day.
A POOP SORTER'S BOOK OF RECORDS
We've been doing more spring cleaning lately, and we've come across a hilarious document we forgot about since the days of mullets and "Baby On Board" stickers.
Some background: When I was about 8, I created something called Clone City. It was a fictitious island nation somewhere in the Southern Hemisphere, and I used it as an outlet for my own inner turmoil. I don't know how it got its name, but this fictional country was governed by a mansion-dwelling right-wing dictator named Interstrus Enterstrus. (The spelling of the leader's name varies, but it came from the name of a business I found at random in the phone book.) Why a right-wing dictator? It's because, in most aspects of my life, I was ruled by right-wing dictators. The ruler-wielding nun at school, the sadistic bus monitor who carried a bee in a jar to sting misbehaving children, church, the bully who kicked down my sandcastle at a family member's company picnic, church, the TV executive who canceled Maggie because a kid on the show got a bloody lip, church...all were right-wing dictators.
Clone City wasn't conventionally right-wing. But I was in a world of hurt. So, by golly, Interstrus Enterstrus started out as a real hard-ass. It was like a sim game gone horribly wrong. As I grew from a sinister child into a responsible, justice-loving teenager, the Clone City myth continued until I was 15 or so - only now it was a kinder, gentler Clone City. The President's only job then was to "sort poop." Poop would roll into his office on a conveyor belt, and he would paw through it to assess its poopy goodness.
Interstrus Enterstrus appeared on Clone City's coins and postage stamps and was said to have had a slight physical resemblance to Dr. Demento. He also erected a 700-foot-tall naked statue of himself near the island's downtown.
By the end of the Clone City era, I saw a need to draw up a document that would be as important to Clone City as the Gettysburg Address is to the U.S. and A. So I grabbed several sheets of much-coveted filler paper and went to work. The result reads like an illustrated parody of Guinness Book Of World Records. In fact, some of it was copied almost verbatim from that work and lampooned accordingly.
The final product, dated 1988, boasts that it lists several unusual world records, such as "world's most dangerous hairstyle" and "a statue of Big Boy the height of Mount Everest" (further proving Clone City's penchant for oversized statues). However, it did not include records such as "longest time spent under living room coffee table with phone directory hidden down pants."
The highlight of this work is what purports to be a message from President Enterstrus himself, who we learn is actually a native Londoner. This note from the Poop-Sorter-in-Chief reads in part:
"On 8 January 1980, William Ogglebeep, an attorney from Tampa, invited me to visit him on a newly settled island in the Indian Ocean. It would certainly be a switch from that cold, damp London weather I was accustomed to. I immediately started packing my suitcases, and soon hopped into my Enterstrusmobile for a long journey to the tropical island that Mr. Ogglebeep called Clown Land. I hated the name for the tiny coral reef for 2 reasons: 1) I have a strong disliking of clowns, because, when I was 24, I was strolling down a London sidewalk, and a clown walked up to me and offered me a lollipop, and 2) I showed lack of respect for the 'land' concept and preferred a more urban lifestyle, like a city. Thus the name Clone (not Clown) City. Me and my pals instantly started to build buildings, streets, and bridges. Fortunately, one construction worker accidentally (?) poured hot tar on Mr. Ogglebeep, and he died from shock.
"Well, to make a long story short, Clone City grew into a sprawling metropolitan complex of nearly 4,000,000 people. And guess who was elected President in May of 1981? Well, I defeated my opponent, James Simpleton, by a 10-to-1 margin. I felt sorry for the jerk so I appointed him Vice-President. By 1984, however, the troubles Mr. Simpleton had created for Clone City were incalculable. The population had fallen below 700,000, and foreign troops had invaded the capital. So I fired the ass in October of that year. The 1985 census gave a population of 3,679,721. And I was reelected ..."
This message was followed by an ad for the Clone City Bureau of Transportation, which offered free goodies for tourists, such as the pamphlet How Not To Electrocute Yourself On Public Train Signals and "a container of Wet Ones for those vacation thrills and spills."
Another page informs us that the true height of the record holder for tallest person ever to inhabit Clone City could not be determined because he "bobs up and down while being measured."
One of the illustrations - reproduced at right - is of Toilet Lake, a "natural musical instrument." This was a lake that "makes such a melodious sound when peed in from a helicopter at a height of 60 feet that you would almost think you were at a concert."
If Interstrus Enterstrus was alive today, he would not be the maniacal right-wing despot the world knew and feared before his poop-sorting years. He would be a progressive advocate of peace, democracy, and human rights. The world could learn some valuable lessons from a new, reformed, repentant President Enterstrus.
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