No Accountin' For It

Oct. 3 - Sometimes it's hard to resist the urge to pop off.

With so much silly stuff going on in the states right now—the whole CIA "leak" thing, the Rush Limbaugh kerfuffle, and the California Recall, for example—I have a hell of a time biting my tongue (and not just because it's almost always in my cheek).

The thing is, cyberspace already has too many goddam opinions. Every wavelength of the entire political spectrum (I'm assuming wavelengths are the consituent parts of spectrums—spectra?) is represented by everything from gibbering partisan idiots to eloquent partisan philosophers. A lot of it is very engaging stuff. A lot of it isn't even worth the exertion of a mouse-click—but that's just my opinion.

We Americans are fond of saying, "everyone's entitled to his opinion." It's one of those things we say when we violently disagree with someone and have exhausted our capacity for reasoning with them—but don't feel like doing the time for assault. We don't really mean it, of course. What we really mean is, "everyone's entitled to their opinion unless I really, really disagree with it." And then it's Katie, bar the door!

The Rush Limbaugh thing is the perfect illustration. Here's a guy who, in the course of discussing football on a privately-owned channel, expresses an opinion. Good one? Bad one? Right one? Wrong one? It's an opinion, so who the hell knows? He's entitled to his opinion, right? Surely our nation of free-speech zealots will rise to defend his right to say what he thinks.

No. They call for his head on a platter. He resigns. The whole episode takes less than a week to unfold. And the 24-hour news cycle ticks on, omniviorous and insatiable...

I still don't know exactly what Mr. Limbaugh said. They showed a little clip on Euro-CNN yesterday, but they didn't include the audio. I know it had something to do with race, the NFL, and the media—and Donovan McNabb. But my point doesn't require any familiarity with what he said. My point is that he could have stood up and said he hated puppies, or rainbows, or bright copper kettles and warm woolen mittens and brown paper packages tied up in strings... He's entitled to his opinion, right?

I suppose some people might argue that no one is contesting his right to say what he said. Rather, he said something that his employer was concerned would reflect poorly on their organization and was therefore (presumably) asked to resign. No violation of free speech there!

Well, no. I'm not worried about legal protection of free speech. I'm worried about what Tocqueville warned about: the tyranny of the majority.

Sort of.

Because then I come back to my original point. I look at all the millions of ludicrious, enlightening, maddening, brilliant, hilarious, and asinine opinions competing out there in cyberspace, and I think—how close to perfection is this! The ultimate free market for ideas! A medium where any idea is free to stand or fall on its own!

Then I don't feel so bad.

Anyway, it's just my opinion. And like I said—okay, implied—at the outset... I don't want my blog or Almanac to be just one more soapbox in the open air marketplace of ideas.

And that's not just because I don't have any clever ideas. It's because I want this to be somewhere people can come when they're tired of the sound and fury of the marketplace, when they're full to bursting of ideas and need to let some of them seep out—I'll try to avoid elaborating on the digestive metaphor before it gets too nasty—a place they'll come when they just want to kick back and have a good laugh at the world's expense.

Or mine.

The Usual Crap

On October 3, 1990, East and West Germany were officially reunited. The reunification of this once great nation was recognized as a clear sign that the Cold War was coming to an end, and was therefore celebrated not only in Germany, but throughout the world—excepting certain corridors of France, Poland, and the Czech Republic, where the exuberance was strangely muted.

Ray Kroc was born on October 5, 1902. Mr Kroc invented McDonalds, which caused the collapse of the Soviet Union and made us all fat, allowing us to sue them, which will therefore someday make us all rich.

Neve Campbell turns 30 on October 3, which is also the birthday of Stevie Ray Vaughan (1954), Chubby Checker (1941), Gore Vidal (1925), and Thomas Wolfe (1900).

October 4th is the birthday of Alicia Silverstone (1976), Susan Sarandon (1946), Anne Rice (1941), Alvin Toffler (1928), Charlton Heston (1924), Buster Keaton (1895), Damon Runyon (1884), and Rutherford Hayes (1822).

October 5th is the birthday of Kate Winslet (1975), Grant Hill (1972), Mario Lemieux (1965), Bob Geldof (1954), Karen Allen (1951), Vaclav Havel (1936), Ray Kroc (1902), and Chester Arthur (1830).

October 3 was also celebrated as Independence Day in Iraq up until last year. I'm guessing they'll have a new Independence Day eventually, but I'm not sure what date they'll choose. The nice thing is, they get to choose.

October 3 is National Foundation Day in South Korea.

The 4th is Independence Day in both Belgium and Lesotho.

The 5th is Constitution Day in Liechtenstein, Proclamation of the Republic Day in Portugal, and Constitution Day in Vanuatu.

Enjoy the weekend!

2003, The Moron's Almanac™

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