Lie Back And Enjoy It
July 7, 2003
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.
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. In your credit I'll say that when it comes to thinking, you have one motingator set of hormones.
The good lady will also fine parents of children caught playing with plastic. "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 casual 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. (Personally, I think that kindergarteners ought to be fitted with sensors in case they point fingers when alone. Yes, digit monitors. All sorts of things can be done with fingers. I bet nobody else ever thought of that.)
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. Male insecurity takes a form slightly different n from the female: 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.