English comic Frank Skinner is no stranger to the usage of  “dirty words” and has even defended swearing as a necessary part of comedy and language.  (As well he should – he’s absolutely right. )

Recently, however, he’s taken to removing swearing from his stand up act – not on moral grounds, he insists, but in an attempt to “freshen up” his act.  As a result of his experiment, he suddenly seems to have found a new appreciation for swearing, rather than a revulsion for it.  He told the BBC that he thought “there was now too much swearing on TV”.  OK, that doesn’t sound good, but he goes on to say that “I don’t want people using so much swearing that there’s a blanket ban because there won’t be then any room for the clever swearing – the beautiful, eloquent swearing.”

The old “less is more” adage.  I can agree with him to a point.  But, where do you draw the line, Frank?  Do you keep a staff of TV censors on hand to make sure that certain words aren’t uttered more than a certain quota?  Can you see these poor bastards, prepping the cast?  “OK, it says here you can only say ‘shit’ 4 times in the course of an hour, so you gotta keep track of that… oh, and try to keep the F-bomb to a minimum, too.”

Oh, but we’ll have to wait on that F-bomb.  According to a BBC article, “[a] poll for The Sunday Times found 30% of people believed the F-word should be banned while 55% thought the C-word should not be allowed. But 49% of the viewers said there should be a place for swearing on television.”

So fuck and cunt have no place on TV?  Those 2 little syllables, eh?  They’re enough, apparently, to keep sponsors and viewers away.  But other swear words, like “asshole” and “cocksucker”, apparently, do have a place on TV?

I know I’ve said this before, but isn’t this all rather ridiculous?  Certain syllables are OK while others are not?

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Well, the language police are at it again.  This time, a little boy in New Jersey was denied a birthday cake when the ShopRite supermarket from which his mother ordered his cake refused to put his name on the cake.  The boy’s full legal name just happens to be Adolph Hitler Campbell.

Yeah, that’s a pretty fucked up name for a kid, especially when you consider the names of his siblings:  JoyceLynn Aryan Nation Campbell and Honszlynn Hinler Jeannie Campbell.   You just can’t make this shit up!

Their lame-brained parents aren’t really racist, they say.  They don’t care if their kids hang out with blacks or other races.  They just thought it would be cool to name their kids uniquely.  I mean, who the hell else would dare to name their kid after the world’s most infamous Jew killer?

A spokesperson for ShopRite said that they “reserve the right not to print anything on the cake that we deem to be inappropriate.  We considered this inappropriate.”

The Campbells were able to get their cake at a nearby Wal-Mart, who, in light of all this press, are now questioning their policies about cake decorating.  They may soon instate a similar policy to ShopRite, which, basically, amounts to “if we or someone else might find it offensive, we won’t do it.”

Now, hold on here.  As strange as many might think it is to name your kids in such a way, there is no reason in the world why they shouldn’t be able to, and there is also no reason why they can’t go into a store and have their kid’s name put on a birthday cake.  Once again, this is about language, plain and simple.  Some people are just a little freaked out by certain words and, apparently, names.  (Remember all the neo-cons who just had to repeatedly remind everyone of Obama’s middle name?)  What is it, exactly, that is “inappropriate” about this kid’s name?  I mean, really?  OK, he has the same name as the guy who masterminded the murder of millions of Jews.  I suppose that is unfortunate, depending on your politics, but does that mean that somehow Little Hitler is guilty of some crime by association?  I mean, do all the Mark Chapmans of the world go around plotting assassinations because they happen to share the name of the wacko who killed John Lennon?   Of course not.

But, of course, there is the argument that a private business can refuse service on any grounds to any person for any reason (within the law, of course).  Point taken, fine – but my whole point is about the uptightedness of these business owners, and of people in general.  Let’s stop worrying about words, and worry more about intentions.  This family just wanted a cake with their kid’s name on it.   I don’t know about you, but I am holding out hope that I still live in a free country.  So, instead of having these knee-jerk, emotional reactions, can’t we all just agree to be civilized adults and leave language alone??

Church is the bigger gamble.

December 13, 2008

I’ve been a little busy these last couple of days, so the blog topics have been piling up in my brain.  Let’s get to work, shall we?

Up here in Maine, we’ve got this seedy little place called Hollywood Slots where people go and piss away their hard-earned money taking their chances at the gaming machines.  Customers can do this every day of the week – but not on Sunday mornings, that is, if the bible thumpers up here get their way.

For now, the rules state that the casino can open every day at 8:00 a.m. except for good ol’ Sunday mornings, at which time the wretched, sinful gamblers must wait until noon to start at it.   Maine’ Gambling Control Board gave initial approval this fall to making opening time 8:00 a.m. across the board… but, yep, you guessed it – the Lord’s mighty army has stepped in and plans to storm the gates at the GCB meeting on December 10 to make their point.

What is their point?  Well, one of the pastors, a one Reverend Jerry Mick of the Bangor Baptist Church, told the Bangor Daily News that “Sunday morning should be the Lord’s day… [i]t’s a sacred time.  Most [Christians] in America who attend worship services worship on Sunday morning.”

OK, this is all predictable, right?  Jerry also happens to be the president of an evil organization here called the Maine Family Policy Council, whose mission is to “provide high quality educational content for groups and churches.  We promote good citizenship and family values through worship and praise, high quality multi-media and public speaking.”  So, in that spirit, Jerry also told the BDN that Hollywood Slots was fighting against local pastors, which are, in his estimation, one of the greatest support systems of people struggling with a gambling addiction.

Oh, OK, Jerry.  So you’re just concerned about the welfare of people’s souls, and about the holiness of some arbitrary day on the calendar?  And who gives you the right to tell a private business how to run their affairs?  I don’t see the Hollywood Slots people telling you what time to hold your fuckin’ prayer meetings.

Think about it.   This doesn’t really have anything to do with god, or the baby Jesus, or the welfare of people’s souls, does it?  So, why else would this guy and others like him be making a huge stink?  Ostensibly, yes, they want to appear as though they care about people – and some of them really do.  But this greasy asshole Jerry Mick rolls with some pretty unsavory characters – the same people who wanted to ban the Teletubbies, for chrissake.

This whole thing is about money, plain and simple.  Casinos rake in millions of dollars.  Hollywood Slots wants to have these hours of operation extended so that they can bring in more revenue.  Plain and simple.  Regardless of your feelings about gambling, at least these guys are being honest about their aim.   Personally, I think gambling is a waste of time and money – but I have no moral objection to it.  But if people are lured into the casinos on Sunday mornings to have a little fun, then that means *GASP* they aren’t filling the pews – or the collection plates – in church.

Gambling, yes, pisses away money and time, two things many of us could afford to have more of.  But church?  Where you leave your mind, intellect, reason and critical thought processes at the door, abandoning all to think only of some guy that’s been dead for 2,000+ years already and pay a tenth of your bread to some guy in a robe who, in exchange for your money, tell you what to think and how and when to think it?  Shit, man.  Church is the bigger gamble, don’t you think?

Is it just me… or is there a fact which is just screaming for attention and everyone’s too afraid to say anything?

We’ve got a failing auto industry begging for money.

Why?

Well, largely because people aren’t buying enough new cars.

Why?

Because they’re really fucking expensive!

Well, get a car loan.  Lots of people have done that.

Can’t do that.

Why not?

Well, because, really, all the banks overextended themselves to get Americans, whether they deserved the credit or not, into mortgages that many of them couldn’t afford.

Why would they do that?

Well, ostensibly, to appear as if they want to help Americans “live the American dream of home-ownership”.  In truth, they’re a bunch of greedy bastards.

So, get a second job to pay for a car.

Can’t do that.

Why not?

There aren’t enough jobs to go around right now.  This country is losing jobs.

Why not?

BECAUSE THERE ARE TOO MANY FUCKING PEOPLE AND NOT ENOUGH JOBS!

So, what do we do?  Start killing people?

No, just live simply, drive a beater, try and keep the job you have, and stop having so many fucking children!

Yes, this is a little bit tongue in cheek, but, of course, there is a little truth in every joke.

I say let ’em fall.

December 6, 2008

So, the Big 3 are still pleading their case for a slice of the bailout.  Infamously arriving in D.C. onboard their apparently very necessary private jets, they are begging for cash to save their precious industry which, they are quick to point out, provides so many millions of jobs, etc. etc.  They showed up on the Hill again on Friday, this time in cars – the CEO of Chrysler even shared that he drove from Detroit in a hybrid.  Well isn’t that special.

We’re inching closer towards socialism anyway with the federal government now taking up ownership of banks.  Not that I necessarily have a problem with socialism (if it’s done fairly and correctly, and that’s a big if), but the Wall Street bailout is another matter.

But I say, let the automakers fall flat on their SUV-building asses.

You know why?  Because I was always taught that you have to work your ass off to get to where you want to be, but you also have to have foresight and good sense about things.  I mean, why keep cranking out 12 MPG SUVs when the gas prices were hovering around 4 bucks a gallon?  I mean, what the fuck, Big 3 dudes?  Is it just that you like seeing all those big shiny new monstrosities rolling off the line?  Shouldn’t you have been paying just a little bit more attention to the economy and the needs and trends of consumers before the shit hit the fan these past bunch of weeks?   Or how about getting rid of the jobs bank?   I mean, why should the money I work my ass off for be used to bail out an industry that is paying people 90% of their already above-average wage to not fucking work??  (Apparently, the UAW is suspending the jobs bank, but is not revealing any details or timetable about such.  Hoping we might refocus our collective scrutiny elsewhere, Mr. Gettelfinger?)

Our government didn’t go rushing to the aid of the Delta or Continental or Fruit of the Loom or Texaco or Kmart.  Instead, these businesses filed for bankruptcy, reorganized, and cleaned up their act.  Figured out ways to become more efficient.  And guess what?  After a period of chaos and destruction, new jobs emerged.  Imagine that.  All this housekeeping.  Precisely what the automakers should be doing.

Instead, they’re pleading to the Hill about how they’re running out of cash, how millions of more Americans could be out of work.

Um, OK, maybe you’ll have to make fewer cars, which will probably mean fewer dealerships.  I can see some jobs getting cut but… am I missing something, or do I just not see how all these MILLIONS of people aren’t going to be working?  We are all still gonna need car parts, and mechanics, and all that sort of shit.  Even more so, since people in general are short on dough these days, they’ll be buying used beater cars instead, which will need a lot of nickels and dimes dumped into them.  Lots of trips to the mechanic.  So, maybe we’ll need more mechanics!

Or, maybe this will all inspire another look at public transit for everyone.  For instance, how can we make it happen for people like me in the middle of East Fucking Nowhere in rural Maine?  Sounds like there could be some jobs in that.

Or… what about getting all these out-of-work minds devoted to figuring out how to get us all into electric cars instead?  Oh, wait.  Heh.  Already tried that.   Who am I kidding?