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Thursday, March 28, 2002

Drop the Celery, Fat Boy

The health Nazis are at it again. Click here to take a test that will determine whether you are obese according to new federal standards.

What's the point of these ridiculously high standards, you ask? Simple -- it's part of an effort to manufacture concern over an obesity "epidemic" that can only be solved by 84 federal programs and higher taxes on corn chips.

Well here's my response to Big Brother. You can have my pork fritter when you pry it from my cold, dead, corpulent hands.

posted by Woodlief | link | (0)

Monday, March 25, 2002

Accent Snobs

Ever hear some variation of the following when listening to the news?

(Reporter with American accent) "This is Harry Smith, reporting from (switch to thick Spanish accent) Venezuela.

Now, we both know Harry ain't Mexican. So what's up with the Ricardo Montalban channeling?

I've heard foreign journalists report on events in the U.S., and I've never heard one say: "Zees is Henri Chavel, raporting from (switch to John Wayne accent) Mobeel, Aluh-bama." So if they don't go out of the way to pronounce our locations like rednecks, why do our reporters fall all over themselves to roll out "R's" and extrude accent egu's? My friend LP insists that this is the result of an accent arms race begun by Jerry Rivers after he remembered that his birth name was Geraldo Rivera. Maybe so.

Either way, I am vindicated in my annoyance, by no less an authority than Fowler's Modern English Usage, which has this to say about the pronunciation of French words (with direct extension to words of other languages):

Display of superior knowledge is as great a vulgarity as display of superior wealth -- greater, indeed, inasmuch as knowledge should tend more definitely than wealth towards discretion and good manners. That is the guiding principle alike in the using and in the pronouncing of [foreign] words in English writing and talk. To pronounce [foreign words] as if you were one of the select few to whom [the foreign language] is second nature when [the listener] is not of those few . . . is inconsiderate and rude.

H.W. Fowler, laying the posthumous literary slap down.

posted by Woodlief | link | (1) comments

First Amendment Fetish

I>The New York Times reports on today's Philadelphia court hearing on whether a federal law requiring public libraries to filter internet content accessed through their computers is constitutional. Here are some of the objections put forward by the coalition against the law, which includes the ACLU and the American Library Association:

1. The law "pre-empts community control over libraries and the judgment of local librarians."
2. The filtering software sometimes lets "objectionable material through" while blocking "constitutionally protected sites."

It's remarkable, isn't it, that the ACLU, an organization that trumpets the "right" of Nazis to march through primarily Jewish communities, should suddenly get the community control gospel. The very existence of the ACLU is predicated on pre-empting community control in order to advance selective post-modern readings of the Bill of Rights. But nobody every accused the ACLU of intellectual honesty. (For a refresher on this, recall the Southern California ACLU's sudden amnesia on double jeopardy when its beneficiaries would have been police officers rather than rape suspects.)

As for the judgment of local librarians, do you really want people who stock Robert Ludlum novels to be the arbiters of quality? I recall a conversation I got involved in that included the director of a public library in a small Michigan town. He was bragging about the controversy he had inspired by stocking the shelves with Madonna's newly released Sex. I tried to engage him in a discussion about the merits of choosing that book over classics that were absent from his shelves, including Marcus Aurelius' Meditations, Gibbon's The Rise and Fall of the Holy Roman Empire, and virtually all of Tom Wolfe's books. He couldn't get off the fact that he had been interviewed on the local news channel.

Regarding the objection that the software blocks "constitutionally protected sites," it's hard to imagine more convoluted reasoning. Somehow the right to speak freely has become the right to have someone else pay for my viewing interests. One can certainly make a case for public financing of internet access (a bad case, mind you), but this would rightly be a matter of public debate, which is precisely what the left doesn't want. By noting ominously that the filtering software can block "constitutionally protected sites," they want to shift the debate out of the public arena, where they are likely to lose, and into the judicial arena. I'm all for free speech; I just don't want to pick up the tab, especially when the leech on my wallet has nursed some ACLU-inspired fantasy that I am morally obligated to pay for his porn.

This entire episode really is about a fetish -- the obsession of the left with interpreting the First Amendment in increasingly wide circles until it overruns every other right, including my right not to have my pocket picked every time some pedophile loses his high-speed cable access. I'm reminded of the old saw: if liberals interpreted the Second Amendment the way they interpret the First, we'd all be required by law to carry machine guns.

posted by Woodlief | link | (0)