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No Really, That's Not Funny

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Civil rights is making a come back in the news, but only when it seems to affect black people. AT&T is showing a bit of irony, launching multiple lawsuits against companies posing as customers to gather phone numbers and personal information -- while at the same time being sued for violating its customers privacy. Another old person nearly murders an entire crowd in New York with his car, and a television station in the big apple has been raided by federal authorities for rebroadcasting a Hezbollah-sponsored news network. Updates on the mysterious 12 passengers forced off a plane in the Netherlands, and finally, the Emmy's are coming! It's also raining outside. I like rain. Do you like rain? I like rain.

You can begin whichever subject you choose: CBS deciding to divide next seasons cast of Survivor by race into groups that will compete against each other, or recent word that a school bus driver in Louisiana has been reserving the front seats of the bus for white kids, and sending the black kids to the rear.

What CBS is doing is getting attention the only way it knows how. I'm pretty certain that CBS was the network that was going to have a reality show where a number of minority families were going to compete to win a house in a distinctly upper-class white neighborhood. They got their attention then too, all of it bad, and pulled out. Now they are at it again, and I applaud the effort, though not the idea.

Television is always in desperate need of some outside thinking, and people willing not only to stand behind new ideas, but to actually try something they know is going to upset people. The Survivor idea may be racist, and it may not be, but it represents something bold: fighting a taboo, something you just don't see on network television. Perhaps ratings and media attention is not the purest of motivation, but it's a start.

As for the school bus incident, the driver should be fired and denounced unequivocally. Not because the harassed students were black, but because any student at all was favored over another. The threatened lawsuit and subsequent complaint to the relevant federal agencies is a joke meant to inflame the situation in the name attention gathering, not unlike what CBS is doing.
"If the smoke is there, then there's probably fire somewhere else," Panell said in a phone interview from New Orleans. "At this point, it is extremely alarming. We fought that battle 50 years ago, and we won. Why is this happening again?"
Panell is NAACP District Vice President James Panell, and I've got to say that Panell sounds like a moron. The battle was won, institutionalized racism doesn't exist in this country today. What does still exist are racists, especially in the South, and that little revelation is nothing of the sort. Go anywhere down here in a small town and you'll learn real quick what the real deal is.

Fighting with the School district isn't going to accomplish anything, the only appropriate response is to make sure the offending person is fired, and that the district denounces what has happened, and that's it.

Being the kind of person that can't avoid the opportunity to pick a fight, I'd like to point out that I am sick and tired of the NAACP. They may stand for civil rights for African Americans, but they do not stand for civil rights. Ask them their stance on same-sex marriage, which is a civil rights issue if there ever was one, and they'll distance themselves as far from it as humanly possible, even taking offense that anyone would consider it a civil rights issue. Racism will live until human beings learn to teach our children better, and bigotry will as well.

Moving to the two stories coming out of New York, the owner of HDTV Ltd. has been arrested and charged (or at least threatened with being charged with) "conspiring to violate the International Emergency Economic Powers Act." His alleged actual crime: rebroadcasting al-Manar, a Lebanese television station founded by Hezbollah, which has been designated as a terrorist organization.

There's little doubt that the station is anything other than a mouthpiece of antisemitism and terrorism, with al-Manar's news director saying things such as "We're not looking to interview Sharon," Fadlallah said. "We want to get close to him in order to kill him." You're not going to find much sympathy for them here, but what you will find is my aggravation at the blatant violation of HDTV's first amendment rights. News, amongst many other things, is protected speech unless it is obscene, or incites violence or is a death threat. While Fadlallah's statement fits the bill, it's debatable as to whether or not the station's broadcasts do as well.

The thing about the first amendment that people always seem to forget is that its primary reason for being is to protect unpopular speech, not popular speech. You can hate this station all you want, but you can't silence it. If HDTV Ltd.'s owner, Javed Iqbal decides to push this case as far as it will go, the feds are going to have one hell of a First Amendment fight on their hands, and those cases rarely go well for the government. It will be interesting to see if the ACLU gets involved in this.

In another almost-deadly accident that makes me wonder why the hell we allow the elderly to drive, 10 people in a New York market were seriously injured when an 89-year-old man plowed his SUV into them. The vehicle is said to have destroyed eight display stands before ramming into a shed of some sort.

Again, the driver (as they all do) claims his foot slipped off the brake and onto the gas, which is stupidly impossible. If your foot slips off the brake, it's going to go to the floor board, it is not going to magically lift up, move over to the right by about half a foot, and then come down again on the gas pedal. We all know what happened. He's old, he got confused, nearly murdered 10 people, caused a great deal of property damage that he undoubtedly cannot pay for, and has no business whatsoever driving a vehicle. Nobody who is nearly a century old does. When are we going to stop playing politically correct and start taking some responsibility for the safety of the public? I don't care in the least if some 70-year-old is pissed because the state took his or her license away for being too old, as long as it saves lives.

In the way that only the media can, the story of the 12 people who were kicked off a Dutch flight and arrested without cause have been freed -- and promptly swept under the rug. The only information available now is something that the media can't scare the hell out of the general public with, as the 12 people "had a large number of cell phones and other equipment, and refused to follow the crew's instructions." Oh yeah, they were all Indian. I guess it's racism week or something.

And finally the Emmy's are coming up in a couple of days, on the 27th. NBC has announced yet another batch of presenters that it has added to the show, every single freaking one of them are actors. They are going to be paying special tribute to producer Aaron Spelling who is a bit of a luminary in television, even if everyone associates him with 90210 -- that's not all the man has done in his life. Unfortunately, the tribute might as well be standing his dead body up on stage and kicking his corpse in the balls, since there are zero producers acting as presenters. There aren't any writers or directors either, just actors.

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The text of this article is Copyright © 2006,2007 Paul William Tenny. All rights reserved. This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 United States License. Attribution by: full name and original URL. Comments are copyrighted by their authors and are not subject to the Creative Commons license of the article itself.