Ordinarily Out of the Loop

Thursday, June 03, 2004

"It's always best to start at the beginning," said Glenda the good witch of the North

Out of the Loop

I knew I was out of the loop officially a few months ago looking at a magazine ad with a young woman who looked like the cover girl for Mortician’s Monthly or Junkies’ Journal. She was painfully thin, her eyes were sunk in dark circles and her hair looked like it hadn’t been washed or combed in days. Dressed in a strange fringy sweater that wasn’t related to the skirt she had on or anything else she stood in a staged area with a sofa, rug, plant and walls painted acid green and bile green. A one-word company name I didn’t recognize was the only copy in the ad.

I didn’t know if it was an ad for the clothes, shoes, sofa or it might even have even been the icky green paint. I guess it didn’t really matter since none of it appealed to me. My response to the ad was to want to feed the model, wash and comb her hair, find her a decent blouse and get her in rehab, but I knew I was officially out of step with American culture.

That’s not a new place for me, it was just never so pronounced. Besides being one of those square-peg kids in high school I knew it when “Love Boat” stayed on the air for something like 10 years. I knew it when the ERA failed to pass. I know it when the candidates I vote for almost inevitably loose. I knew it when millions of dollars were spent on the O.J. Simpson trial and the depth and breath of news coverage. I knew it when avocados got a web site. I knew it when the reality television shows proliferated. (By the by if ever there was a phrase that defined oxymoron it’s “reality TV”.)

Of the most import recently was the war with Iraq. Iraq’s population of 19 million people had they not been living on enormous quantities of oil would be ignored by American culture and politicians. This year alone more than 13 million Africans will die from starvation and AIDS. One tenth of the money we have spent on the war would produce enough food and medicine to reduce that number 100 fold. But the Africans aren’t living on enormous quantities of oil. There aren’t opportunities for politicians’ cronies to get billion dollar contracts. There isn’t a single villain to label evil, not even a single country to fault, nothing to aim smart bombs at or any military targets at all.

Worst of all, I think, is the “Patriot Act” gives the government the power to search, seize, interrogate, and incarcerate me indefinitely without so much as a phone call, much less, a lawyer. (That would be really taking me out of the loop!) Just like the predicable plots, lame dialog, and bad acting of “Love Boat” no one seems to mind giving up the rights and freedoms that are so basic to American Democracy. In the name of security we allowed our personal freedoms to erode to the point where we are vulnerable not just to outside enemies but our own government. Every freedom under the Bill of Rights is routinely denied U.S. citizens in the name of "Homeland Security". Even that name feels Nazi-ish.

The great beauty of the U.S. Constitution is it's simplicity. The simple form embraces concepts rather than specifics. The Framers of the Constitution were very conscious of the newness of the Republic and knew it would evolve and change well beyond their lifetimes and even visions. While the Framers could never have forseen advances such as the internet the principles and concepts they wrote are simple and broad enough to apply as well today as when lanterns in church steeples were the fastest communication tools.

Let's go back to the beginning, dump the Patriot Act, and apply and enforce The Constitution and Bill of Rights to everyone, president to pot washer as the Framers intended.