Jewish World Review March 1, 2002 / 17 Adar, 5762

Greg Crosby

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Absurdity in our time -- IN school we learned of the stone age, the iron age, and the machine age. You've heard of the age of reason, the information age, and even the age of Aquarius. Well, we are in a brand new age right now. Welcome to our age ... the age of the absurd. If you doubt that, simply consider the following.

In New York City, the Brooklyn borough president wants to remove portraits of America's founding fathers such as George Washington and Thomas Jefferson from the Brooklyn public schools and replace them with portraits of black leaders like Malcolm X. Please understand that this action is being proposed not by some fringe special interest group, but by the borough president of Brooklyn, New York! And why? Well, the reasoning is, that because many of the students at those schools are black, they simply can't relate to white men as their leaders. So, never mind history -- just change the color of the guys from white to black. And following that logic, what if it's determined that there are more girls in the school than boys -- do we put up only portraits of women? Absurd? Yeah, maybe just a touch.

Meanwhile, 3,000 miles across the country, in Marin County, California, the Novato Unified School District is busy advocating the gay lifestyle to it's students. Seems the public school district hired a pro-gay performing arts group to stage a series of skits which illustrate that homosexuality, lesbianism, and cross-dressing are just normal lifestyle choices. In one sketch a character chants, "I'm gay and that's okay!" Some students in the audience were as young as seven! Seven years old! The school board never informed parents beforehand (which by law they are required to do) and because of that, a lawsuit has been filed against the district.

In a related story, the United States Students Association is urging all colleges and universities to provide single-stall "gender neutral" restrooms for transgender students. Transgender is basically a modern term for someone who dresses and lives as the opposite sex but who has not had his or her body surgically altered. We used to call it cross-dressing.

The USSA is a Washington, D.C. based national organization made up of hundreds of college-level student bodies. A spokeswoman for the group explained that transgendered people have a problem with bathrooms that are for men or women only. That's fine -- three different bathrooms -- one for men with that little symbol of a man on the door, one for women with the women's symbol on the door, and one for the transgendered with a big question mark on the door. Absurd doesn't begin to define it.

At a local public elementary school a little girl was suspended for saying grace before she ate her lunch. School officials said she violated separation of church and state and I'm sure they were concerned that her action might set a bad example for other children. Sounds like something out of Nazi Germany, doesn't it?

When it comes to the absurd, schools don't have a lock on it by a long shot. The Los Angeles city council has recently passed a law prohibiting smoking in all public parks. That's right. Light a cigarette, go to jail. Think of the poor soul who's wife won't let him smoke in the house, so he walks over to the park to relax on a bench and have his pipe in the evenings. Not any more, he won't. Not unless he wants to get a ticket. When our government prohibits people from smoking outdoors in the open air, you know things have gone too far.

O. J. Simpson is back in the news -- again. He will host a show -- the Return to Hip-Hop concert at Cincinnati's Music Hall on March 2. It may have taken a few years, but this murdering bum is finally making a complete comeback into mainstream American society. Wherever he goes people ask for his autograph and have pictures taken with him. Never mind that there was enough evidence introduced at his murder trial to convict him forty times over, Simpson has eluded justice and emerged a modern-day folk hero. And that is truly absurd.

Isn't it interesting that in our modern times homosexuality is considered a matter of personal choice which should be tolerated by all, but smokers are demonized and ostracized by society? If a teenage old boy wants to attend school dressed in woman's clothing and make-up, it's fine, but a child who says grace over her food at lunch time is kicked out.

It's an upside-down world. The abnormal has become normal. The unacceptable has become accepted. Crude is in, refinement is out. Noise has become music. Ugly has become beauty. Bums are heroes. This is our time. This is our age. The age of the absurd.

JWR contributor Greg Crosby, former creative head for Walt Disney publications, has written thousands of comics, hundreds of children's books, dozens of essays, and a letter to his congressman. A freelance writer in Southern California, you may contact him by clicking here.

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© 2001 Greg Crosby