Dear Aunt Sophie,
I am the mayor of a large (nobody actually knows how large), enlightened, multi-cultural east coast city. As befits a fine city we have a fine prison system with a fine assortment of chaplains.
One of our chaplains, an imam, apparently has a rather jaundiced view of our country, but I’m confident it will change. He seems like a reasonable fellow.
This chaplain (I’ll call him Abdul) recently said Moslems were being imprisoned in our system without being charged and that they were being tortured. Now I happen to know this isn’t true. We treat our prisoners very well. They have all the comforts of home. But that’s beside the point. He wasn’t talking to the press when he made that statement; he was speaking to some Moslem students in Arizona. Arizona! That’s 2500 miles away! How could anything he said there have an effect on anyone here? He said some anti-Semitic things, too, but he says he was not, I repeat, not speaking in his official capacity. (Of course there’s no way to be sure, but I’ll always give a religious man the benefit of the doubt.)
Naturally there was an outcry, but we must never use the War on Terror as a pretext for stifling free speech. If what a speaker says to students isn’t literally true there are other ways to deal with it, like sending someone with an opposing point of view, someone who will explain that no one is tortured in New York City prisons. Students are always happy to hear another viewpoint. That’s why they go to college.
Firing Abdul would definitely have been a mistake, not to mention a world-class hassle. So we solved the problem brilliantly, if I do say so myself – we suspended him with pay for two weeks for failing to inform the students that he was speaking as a private individual.
It’s over. I don’t want to hear another word about it. A mayor has so many more important things to deal with, like crime. Recently a young woman was murdered after leaving a bar in the middle of the night with the bouncer. A great city must prevent that sort of thing. We’ll nip it in the bud. We’ll put a camera outside every bar in the city. It’ll be like our red-light cameras. Did you know that before I took office my city was the red-light-running capital of the world? It isn’t any more, although now there do seem to be a lot of rear-end collisions. But we’ll do a study on that in the future. Cameras are definitely the way to go.
When I took office people were still smoking in bars and putting their packages on the seat next to them in the subway. These may seem like small things, but they’re important. What some imam says on his own time in Arizona is not important.
Of course Abdul will continue to counsel prisoners.
Oh, for the days when 9/11 was just the number you’d dial when you saw someone dragging a girl out of a bar by the hair or lighting up within six blocks of a school.
Back then we innocently thought mass murderers were bad guys. But now, thanks to some mainstream imams, we’ve learned that one man’s mass murder is another man’s way of confirming his reservation in that great cathouse in the sky.
But let’s not blame the imams. Some ideas occur spontaneously to every young man: Mrs. Jones is wearing slacks and driving a car. She is unaccompanied. I must kill her. These are typical thoughts for any male twenty-something. It’s the reason so many American women have their throats cut on their way to the supermarket.
Unfortunately, 9/11 puts many Americans in mind of Islamic psychopaths, but anyone with the IQ of a nail clipper knows imams never teach that jihad entails anything more consequential than giving up artichokes for Lent, just as they never call for the destruction of the Western World, let alone the World Trade Center.
Since 9/11 we’ve discovered that Moslem flight school students are just like any others (except for their tendency to snooze through the classes on take-off and landing); that Moslems who Uzi up to people at airline ticket counters are really just mad about the long lines, like everyone else; that Middle Eastern pacifists have a great sense of humor, at least when it comes to cartoons, and if you do manage to offend them, which is very difficult, they will respond by forgiving those who trespassed against them.
Obviously, since our prisons house only the gentlest of the gentle (most of whom have done nothing worse than spitting on the sidewalk) we need not imagine what might happen if they were actually hostile felons with a grudge against society, or what they might do it they came into contact with an ideology that preaches redemption through the commission of bigger and better felonies.
Why, of course Abdul should continue to counsel prisoners!
If you want people to enjoy your smoke-free city you have to assure its continued existence. Otherwise those red-light cameras will be clicking away as the emergency vehicles race to the scene of the next catastrophe – assuming they haven’t all gone up in smoke.
Good luck and God bless.
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