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New Times / Shredder

The following article was posted on January 3rd, 2013, in the New Times - Volume 27, Issue 23 [ Submit a Story ]
The following articles were printed from New Times [newtimesslo.com] - Volume 27, Issue 23

Layin' down the law

Supposedly, we’ve all just narrowly avoided some kind of economic cliff, Thelma and Louise style. Meanwhile, just about a week ago, Congress received a raise. ’Cause, y’know, if the ship’s sinking and you happen to be its captain, you need enough cash to make damned sure you’ve got a yacht trailing along behind to pick up you and your rich buddies. In light of this disappointing but not terribly shocking turn of events, I’ve decided they’re no longer fit to make our laws. I also realized, over a bottle of tequila and some worms I picked up in my garden after the recent spate of rain, that I’m their obvious successor. So here are my new laws. They’re effective immediately, and punishable by a public dunking in the nearest fountain or toilet for anyone who fails to comply.

First, and most importantly, this column is now mandatory reading. There will be quizzes at the end of each week to ensure you’re paying careful attention, and the paper’s publisher, Bob Rucker, has volunteered to tutor those of you who are a little slow to get the message. I will also be giving out extra credit for anyone caught cheating on their weekly test. That is, after all, how I managed to make it through middle school. You might not enjoy my Arbor Mist-fueled rants, but they’re free and I rarely use words with more than one syllable so intellectually and financially, I’m right on your level. You know it’s true. And if you don’t like it, well, you should have gone for that master’s degree or copied and pasted that 12/12/12 money meme to 10 of your friend’s walls on Facebook.

In fact, reading is now mandatory. I don’t care if you supplement your reading by watching television, playing violent video games, having sex with a stranger, or smoking dope. I’m in no position to judge your lifestyle choices. Unless you’re a member of America’s growing non-literary class who think a book is something you tuck under a wobbly table. The fact that many Americans spend the first 18 years of their life doing required reading for school and then abandon the practice entirely when they receive their diploma baffles me more than the ending of Inception. Seriously? Was it a dream? I mean, it’s not like adulthood brings any choices or responsibilities that require developed critical thinking skills. Let your brain cells die from lack of stimulation. Just please don’t vote, operate heavy machinery (including a car), own a firearm, or become a parent, if that happens to be your choice.

Hopefully, once you’ve put some time into exercising those puny brain cells of yours, we can finally have that gun control discussion we’ve been putting off because a surprising number of you are shockingly susceptible to the arguments of one of the country’s largest lobbyists. I refer, of course, to the NRA, which, sadly, is one of the only organizations I can think of that responds to tragedy by trying to sell more weapons. I eagerly await the day when a madman goes on a stabbing spree with No. 2 pencils and Ticonderoga responds by insisting that every woman, man, and child be armed with No. 2 pencils in order to defend themselves. Maybe we can even have this conversation like rational adults, without resorting to the comic book simplicity of a child’s worldview—“bad guys versus good guys.” No, no, don’t fly off the handle just yet. Spend a month or two following my first law, and then come back for a rational conversation.

Secondly, you’re not allowed to invoke Hitler during a disagreement unless you’re arguing about the specifics of World War II or the National Socialist German Workers Party—and if you happen to be arguing about either of these subjects, I’m sorry, but you’re a nerd. Resign yourself to never getting laid. Don’t worry, I’ve been not getting laid for years. It’s not that bad, just ask the Catholic clergy.

And lastly, can we just agree that anything that hurts kids—whether it’s guns or our own prejudice—is bad? And maybe laws, like the one California enacted banning gay conversion therapy for minors, are important. Really, really important. Like, worms in your tequila important. So why are we now waiting for the ban to take effect? Why are we twiddling our thumbs as the ban makes its way through our notoriously slow legal system, while gay kids and teens are essentially being subjected to psychological torture by their families? We’re looking at a vulnerable population, marginalized kids who are already four times more likely to attempt suicide than their straight counterparts. And we’re allowing an adult with psychiatric training to tell them they’re wrong, sinful, less, other.

I’ve known my share of bullies. The funny thing is, people always seem to picture middle schoolers stealing each other’s lunches. And I’m not going to pretend it doesn’t suck when that happens. But how much worse is an adult with a degree in manipulating people’s minds tormenting a teenager already more prone to suicide than your average kid? So my final law is that we’re all going to protect these kids, whatever the actual law passed by over-paid politicos in congress says on the subject. If that means telling your church leader to get his or her—gasp, women are allowed to do that now?!?—head out of their respective ass, then so be it. If that means telling a kid you dig them just the way they are—straight, gay, pimply, fat, skinny, nerdy, whatever—then that’s even better. And if that means letting your local psychologist, therapist, psychiatrists, etc. know exactly what you think about gay conversion therapy, well, I suggest you re-read some of my earlier columns. A few of my four-letter words would apply well.

Shredder thinks 2013 is going to be a year. Send comments to shredder@newtimesslo.com.