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Jewish World Review April 17, 2001 / 24 Nissan, 5761

John Leo

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Consumer Reports

Now there are even separate graduation ceremonies -- AH, America, a never-ending carnival. In Washington, D.C., police pounced on a 12-year-old girl and led her off in handcuffs for eating a french fry on the Metro. In California, the city of Glendale fought a nine-month legal battle to force a gas station owner to take down his display of American flags. At a play in New York City, a sign in the lobby warned theatergoers to brace themselves for two shocks: The show "contains scenes of explicit violence and cigarette smoking." Murder and torture, maybe, but smoking? Have they no decency? How explicit was the smoking scene going to be? Critic Robert Brustein wrote: "What next? Printed cautions about the non-organic candy at the refreshment counter?"

The french fry felon, Ansche Hedgepeth, was caught in a weeklong crackdown by undercover Metro cops. After cuffing her, the police pulled the laces out of her tennis shoes, possibly to prevent her from hanging herself out of shame and guilt for what she had done. She was frisked, hauled down to a police station for two hours, interrogated, fingerprinted, and booked. Like other food criminals (Jeffrey Dahmer, Hannibal Lecter) she seems to think that her crime wasn't very serious. But Metro police are more savvy. "We really do believe in zero tolerance," said the police chief. Apparently so.

In the flag case, Jordanian immigrant Kelly Khoury had been flying 20 American flags at his gas station. Glendale ordered him to take down 17 of them. Khoury fought back and won. A gracious winner, he voluntarily reduced his display of flags to 13ľone for each original colony. "I don't want to rub it in the face of the city," he explained.

Now that's liberated. At Princeton University, the zany pro-infanticide Australian ethicist, Peter Singer, was in the news again, this time for sympathizing with people who approve of sex between humans and animals. The taboo on bestiality, he wrote in a book review, may have originated as part of the broader rejection of nonreproductive sex. But that rejection has nearly been swept away. Singer, the primary founder of animal liberation, thinks there is no important distinction between humans and animals, so approval of human-animal sex has always been implied in his work. His review includes a detailed discussion of chickens that readers may be eager to skip. Memo to Princeton: When hiring a specialist in ethics, can't you do better than this?

Runner-up in the category of worst prose about animals came in a letter from People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals. The group wrote to the warden of the Indiana penitentiary where Timothy McVeigh awaits execution, asking that the final meals of the Oklahoma City bomber be vegetarian. "Mr. McVeigh should not be allowed to take over one more life," the letter said. "Feeding inmates bean burritos rather than baby back ribs might just help break the cycle of violence. . . . Nonviolence begins in the kitchen." The belief that eating meat causes anger and violence is a standard notion on the cultural left. (On the other hand, Adolf Hitler was a vegetarian.)

Identity politics on the college campuses have reached their logical conclusion: separate graduation ceremonies for each identity group. Homosexuals hold their own graduations at 18 or more colleges. At the University of California-Los Angeles, the Lavender Graduation will be on June 16. Each new grad will wear a rainbow tassel. The commencement speaker hasn't been picked yet, but in the past, Ellen DeGeneres's mother spoke. The Raza graduation for Latinos will be at 7 p.m. June 17, just after the separate graduations for Filipinos, Asian Pacific Islanders, African-Americans, and Iranians. American Indians, who after all were here earlier than other groups, graduate earlier too, on June 15. Possibly to deflect criticism that the university is foolishly collaborating in the balkanization of the student body, administrators officially refer to these events as "celebrations." But they function as graduations, and that's what students call them.

Finally, we have entered the golden age of free zones. Many stadiums have alcohol-free zones, or small areas where obnoxious drunks are not supposed to bother you. A public library in Gaithersburg, Md., has a no-noise zone or quiet room, possibly indicating that the rest of the library is now a noise zone. We have violence-free, aroma-free, junk-food-free, and even ferret-free zones. The city of Nelson, New Zealand, declared itself GE-freeľno genetically engineered foods. The entire Unitarian Universalist Association is a nuclear-free zone, and you simply cannot bring a nuclear bomb into Arcata, Calif., which is a nuclear-weapons-free zone. A campaign is underway to declare Montana a hate-free state and to urge Montanans to consider themselves individual hate-free zones. Like some other campuses, New Mexico State University has a few free-speech zones for demonstrations and leafleting. Some brazen students have been attempting to speak freely outside these designated areas. This is a very good sign, since so many campuses seem to be turning into huge First-Amendment-free zones. Now if they just could be persuaded to become PC-free zones instead.

JWR contributor John Leo's latest book is Incorrect Thoughts : Notes on Our Wayward Culture. Send your comments by clicking here.


04/10/01: "Mainstream" media are advocates when they cover gays
04/03/01: Why don't conservatives care about saving the planet?
03/27/01: Ivy League therapy
03/20/01: Hold that conscience
03/12/01: The no-speech culture
03/05/01: The 'transgendered' boom
02/27/01: Lovely monsters
02/20/01: When perfectly reasonable principles are carried too far
02/13/01: Bill and Hill are pills
02/06/01: Partner hopping
01/30/01: Sensitivity police
01/22/01: Found in the White House dumpster on Jan. 20, 2001
01/16/01: New slogan belies what the Army really is
01/08/01: The black dissent
01/03/01: The year's best quips on life, politics – and golf
12/19/00: Supreme confusion
12/11/00: Racial rhetoric conveniently ignores election facts
12/05/00: Savage fantasy
11/27/00: Victims of the year get the recognition they deserve
11/20/00: It's a chad, chad, chad, chad world
11/13/00: The election rhetoric is running much too high
11/07/00: How yesterday's hero becomes tomorrow's heel
10/30/00: Would Bush's Supreme Court picks make a difference?
10/24/00: Yankees, go home!
10/17/00: Un-American activity?
10/10/00: A tempest in an ink pot
10/03/00: The Al Gore quiz
09/26/00: The sleeper effect
09/19/00: Baby-saving made easy
09/12/00: Line between reporting and editorializing continues to blur
09/05/00: In the key of F
08/29/00: Hollywood connection
08/22/00: Some friendly advice to the GOP
08/15/00: You can't make this up
08/08/00: The niceness strategy
08/01/00: When rules don't count
07/25/00: Anti-male bias increasingly pervades our culture
07/18/00: Banned in Boston
07/12/00: What Jacoby had to deal with!
07/11/00: Will boys be boys?
07/05/00: Partial-sense decision
06/27/00: Attitude toward death penalty gets in the way of facts
06/20/00: Double troubles
06/13/00: Fools paradise
06/06/00: Accidental conspirator
05/30/00: Faking the hate
05/23/00: Was it law or poetry?
05/16/00: Here, there and everywhere, people have gone bonkers
05/09/00: Tufts evangelicals are punished for acting on their beliefs
05/02/00: Elian's opera isn't over until nearly everyone sings
04/25/00: All the news that fits: The media serve up many stories from a standard script
04/19/00: Those darned readers: The gap between reporters and the general public is huge
04/05/00: Census sense and nonsense
03/29/00: Hollywood message films leave no room for other views
03/22/00: The Vatican confesses, but is it enough?
03/14/00: Watch what you say: The left can no longer be counted on to defend free speech
03/07/00: McCain's malleable messages
03/01/00: Bush's appearance at Bob Jones U. will dog him all the way
02/23/00: 'Multi-millionaire' show is new evidence we're insane

Copyright ©2001 Universal Press Syndicate  Click here for more John Leo