Friday, August 25, 2006

Nudity in Vermont

There's a lot going on in Vermont, newswise. Over the last week we've had a crazy woman from Braintree pee on a plane, a tragic shooting at an elementary school, and now this headline from Reuters, 'Nude Teens Raise Eyebrows'.

Apparantly, some rascally teens in Brattleboro have started walking around in the buff this summer. And the bset part of it is that public nudity in the town is only illegal if it's done to arouse sexual gratification.

All the nudity has set up a first ammendment rights fight between the town and the naked teens.

When the weather grew hot this year, a couple of dozen teens took to holding hula hoop contests, riding bikes and parading past the shops wearing only their birthday suits.

Nobody, including the police, seemed to take offense until one local, Theresa Toney, went before the town government in August to complain about a group of youngsters naked in a parking lot.

"The parking lot is not a strip club," she said. "What about children seeing this?"

Town officials asked their attorney to draft an ordinance to ban such displays for the Select Board to vote on in September. When the teens heard about it, some staged a nude sit-in.
The whole problem with first ammendment controversies is that a person's right to self expression must be balanced with another's right to not participate in that expression. For example, adults have the right to rent a pornographic movie, but these movies are situated in a location where someone looking for the latest Disney flick isn't going to run across it. It's also the same reason groups like the KKK are protected under law to stage a rally, so long as they do so non-violently. Likewise, certain forms of expression have been outlawed because of the harm to others. You cannot yell 'Fire!' in a crowded theater. Protesters at an abortion clinic cannot physically bar entrance to the clinic.

Given the teens' comments, they don't understand this.

"I don't see why it's such a big deal," said Alec McPherson, a recent high school graduate as he sat at a coffee shop table, browsing a thick volume of artwork from the Metropolitan Museum of Art. "Everyone's naked in this book."

His companion, Jeremiah Compton, a high school junior who plays in a local metal-and-punk band, agreed. "It's just that we're bored and expressing our right," he said.
"We have a nuclear power plant a few miles away and a ridiculous war in the Middle East, countries getting bombed," said Ian Bigelow, a 23-year-old who had gathered with some of his friends outside a bookstore. "So why's it such a big problem if we chose to get nude?"
Personally, I don't have a problem with nudity. I know what the human body looks like. I'm also under the impression that everybody looks silly completely naked. No matter how attractive that person may be, there's going to be dangly bits hanging out, things flopping, a little jiggling, and possibly some hairy bits. I find it amusing. The teens are obviously going for the shock value. That's fine.

What's troubling is that someone who didn't want to see naked people was forced to view them. The argument 'she doesn't have to look' doesn't hold in this case. If the teens are walking around all over town, then the woman has no idea where they will be so she can avoid them. In the pornography example I used, you still have the right to rent the porno, but that does not mean that everyone has to go beyond the little curtain at the video store. How this will pan out in the town ordinance could be amusing. They could have a designated nude district or a special naked day.

I question my liberalism when I begin to think about cases like this. The teens are just having a little rebellious fun, not really harming anybody. Am I the old stodgy who tells them they're wrong? The problem I have is the carelessness with which the first ammendment gets thrown around. When you wield your rights, you must take responsibility to not harm others in the process.

Wednesday, August 23, 2006

It's Finally Happened!

After many long years of waiting patiently, it's finally happened. The Tick animated series is finally being released on DVD. The DVD is entitled The Tick vs Season 1 and will be released on August 29. Yes, I will be getting it.

If you've never seen the show, it is a very funny and witty satire of the superhero genre. The Tick centers around a hero called, what else, The Tick. Clad in his blue tick suit, he's humongus, excedingly strong, and has a teensy little brain. With his only superpower of nigh-invulnerability, is sets out to save The City with his trusty sidekick, Arthur, a former accounant. The City is teeming with heros and villians alike. We meet heroes Die Fledermaus, American Maid, Sewer Urchin, The Human Bullet, and a host of others. There are also some recurring villians like Chairface Chippendale, The Breadmaster, and El Seed along with a host of single episode villians.

I've missed the show since it was cancelled in 1997 and have always hoped for a DVD release. I have all 36 episodes of VHS, taped off of comedy central when they re-aired the show briefly. The quality was never very good, and the tapes are beginning to show their age. It's gotten to the point where I'm a little scared to actually watch the darn things, knowing that they're wearing out and ther's no way to replace them. I was very bummed when the crappy live action version made it to DVD (bought by Sony), but not the much better animated series.

The rights to the animated series were purchased by Disney when they acquired the rights to the Fox Kids shows (I'm also hoping for an Eek the Cat DVD release). Unfortaunately, the DVD release will only contain 12 of the 13 episodes from season 1. It's missing episode 11, 'The Tick vs The Molemen'. There is some kind of problem with the rights to the episode. Disney is hoping to release the episode on future DVDs, possibly as a lost episode special feature. No word yet as to the release of seasons 2 and 3. What would be really spectacular would be to include the episodes that were completed for season 4 and were never aired due to the cancellation of the show. Rumors, rumors everywhere, and no official word. I'll wait and see.

You'll know where to find me the evening of August 29. I'll be sitting on my couch with a big bowl of popcorn watching The Tick on the insanely large television my brother purchased last Christmas. Come join me. It will be fun.

Tuesday, August 22, 2006

A 12 Step Program for Liberals

This joke was sent to me by an ever so witty acquaintance. Since I scored slightly to the left of Ghandi and the Dhali Lama on the political compass, he thought I could use a little help. Yes, I know this is a joke, but I'd like to add my rebuttal nonetheless.

Overcoming Liberalism - A 12 Step Program

Step 1: Admitting that you're a liberal
This is the first step for every liberal on the way to recovery. It is important to understand that you're not "progressive," "moderate," or "enlightened." You're a liberal, and you need to be honest with yourself about that fact.

Fair enough. I'm a liberal. But now you must stop referring to yourself as 'saved', 'compassionate', 'neoconservative', or 'libertarian'.

Step 2: Pledge to support your beliefs with facts
Realize that truth is more important than moral superiority and is the only way to come over to reality. You must research beyond propaganda from the Sierra Club, Hillary Clinton, and CNN (the Communist News Network) to understand things as they really exist in the world. You can no longer argue based on "feelings" or emotion. You will actually need to back up your arguments with real information. This is a difficult step, because it means you can't be lazy any more.

You must do the same to have any kind of legitimate discussion. Likewise, you must research beyond the propaganda of Rush Limbaugh, Ann Coulter, the Washington Times, and Fox News (Faux News). Also, please stop screaming about the liberal media. Most mainstream newspapers and television programs have a more conservative bend.

Step 3: Love America
This may be the most difficult step for those of you who are hippies and peaceniks. Admitting that the country you hate actually stands as a beacon to defend freedom throughout the world can make some of you physically ill. You might want to make a visit to a military cemetery to better understand that these men and women gave their lives so that you could spew hatred. Otherwise, you would currently be living in a police state that would never let you wear that nasty patchouli oil, let alone speak out against your government.

We do love America. That's why we scream so loudly when we see what has become of her. You should also meditate on the great sacrifices our fallen soldiers have given for us.

Step 4: Take a college level economics class
I've always defined a Socialist as someone who's never taken an economics class. Most Socialists I've spoken with would have a hard time balancing their checkbooks, let alone explaining the simple concept of supply-and-demand. It's time to flush your complete ignorance of basic economics down the toilet and understand how the world actually functions. This concept will be very important for the next steps that involve communism, facts about corporations, and the inefficiencies of government.

Likewise some good biology, sociology, and ethics classes might shed some light on many of the problems our nation is faced with.

Step 5: Say "no" to Communism and Socialism
While this concept is obvious to most of the free world, it is an important step in your recovery process. If you have difficulty with this step, spend a week living and working in Cuba.

Spend some time at homeless shelters, youth centers, community health clinics, and other various community outreach projects designed to help people at the bottom of the economic ladder. While communism may not be a great strategy for whole governments, it is a wonderful concept and works great at a community level. Also, try to get over your phobia of the word 'socialism'.

Step 6: Corporations are not evil
If you're reading this article online or in an e-mail, it's thanks to corporations. If you get some kind of paycheck, you can thank corporations. If you work for a non-profit or the government, you still have to thank corporations. The non-profit sector and the government wouldn't have any money to pay you without corporations. It is also important that you understand that making a profit doesn't equate to "greed" or exploitation. Capitalism has created the greatest society in our world's history. Even communist countries need corporations to survive, so enjoy a nice, hot cup of reality.

Likewise, organizations such as labor unions, the Sierra Club, National Organization of Women, Planned Parenthood, Amnesty International, and the ACLU are also not the downfall of America. A lot of good comes from 'liberal organizations'.

Step 7: The government is inefficient
If you are one of those liberals who believe the government should tax us more in order to take care of society, you need to pay special attention to this step. You need to realize that government bureaucracy will waste most of your tax dollars, while the private sector will put your money to much better use. Even most Democrat politicians understand this to some degree, which is why Hillary's socialist health care proposal was voted down by a majority of both Democrats and Republicans. Go to your local post office or call the IRS to ask a tax question if you need a reminder about government inefficiency.

The US remains the only industrialized nation without national healthcare. The Canadian healthcare plan may have its problems, but handles most routine care and procedures quite well. You must stop and think that there is a problem somewhere when it is less expensive to reimport American pharmaceuticals, as opposed to just buying them here to begin with. Since you've taken a college level economics class, you understand that the problem with privatizing healthcare is that it is highly inelasatic. People will pay any amount when their lives are on the line. When someone is suffering from a heart attack, he is not going to haggle over the price of care.

Step 8: The earth is not your "mother," and she's not dying
The time has now come to stop your donations to Greenpeace, the Sierra Club, and every other EnviroNazi organization to which you belong. Face the reality that the earth, society, and our environment are better off today than ever in recorded history and that they are continuing to improve. I realize that many of you tree huggers will have a very difficult time letting go of the Douglas Fir on this one. I would suggest reading The Skeptical Environmentalist by Bjorn Lomborg. Mr. Lomborg is a former member of Greenpeace and is currently a statistics professor at a university in Denmark. He set out to prove the world was in bad shape and ended up surprising himself by proving the exact opposite.

We absolutely cannot give up on protecting the enviroment. Given the problems of smog, water pollution, destruction of large portions of rain forests, destructions of wet lands, and global warming (it's very hard to argue that global warming does not exist) I would say we have a very real enviromental crisis on our hands.

Step 9: Stop smoking the wacky tobaccy
Okay, some of you might need to enter another 12-step program to complete this step. Marijuana is distorting your sense of reality, and you need to stop using it. Besides, you'll save a fortune on snacks.

OK Rush, but only if you stop popping the pain killers. Snark asisde, most liberals are not dancing with Mary Jane, and not with the frequency that you would expect. In fact, the only way to form a well thought, coersive argument is to do so while sober.

Step 10: Eat a hamburger
If God didn't intend for us to eat animals, he wouldn't have made them out of meat. You can put your sprouts and tofu on the hamburger, but get some meat into you. You'll look and feel better than you ever imagined. You can always remind yourself that Adolf Hitler was a vegetarian to get you through this step.

OK, but you should eat your vegetables. They're good for you and it will make your mom happy.

Step 11: Stop re-writing political history
It's now time to admit that Bill Clinton is a lying-cheating-sexist racist rapist jackass, Hillary Clinton is one of the worst role models for women in this country, Al Gore really did lose the 2000 election by every vote tabulation you attempt, Ronald Reagan ended the Cold War and didn't create the homeless problem, John McCain is not a typical Republican, and Jimmy Carter is a nice man but has one of the worst presidential records of anyone in history.

Ronald Reagan is not the saint you have cannonized him to be, and George W. Bush has been a disaster throughout his presidency, from his failure to find a 6 foot tall Arab on dialysis, to his handling of Katrina, to lies about his intent with Iraq, to his anti-science policies, to his groping the German chancellor at an international summit. Here's a hint - Don't vote for someone because you can see yourself sitting down and having a beer with him. I don't want my president to be someone I can have a drink with, I want my president to be someone who is knowledgable, can direct policy, and lead America in a positive direction.

Step 12: Be a missionary
Once you have completed the previous steps to overcoming liberalism, it's time for you to share this awakening with others who are not as fortunate. Go out amongst the liberal sheep and spread the good word of your freedom from the chains of ignorance that once bound you. Congratulations, and welcome to reality.

Same to you.