Dear Aunt Sophie,
I’m the publisher of the only newspaper in the world that is worth reading. I think you can guess which one. You may be aware, although we do our best to keep it quiet, that our circulation has dropped like a stone in the last couple of years. I don’t know why. We’re better than ever.
For example, we just ran a few stories on the incredible, illegal and totally objectionable snooping that the Bush administration has been carrying on. Can you believe this administration has actually stooped to monitoring mosques for radiation? Don’t they realize that if one of those poor bastards gets radiation seed implants for his prostate he could wind up being held in jail for months without benefit of counsel? It’s positively un-American. I don’t know where they get these ideas about nukes, anyway. Just because some turbaned nutcase in a filthy cave says he wants to blow up New York is no reason to think it could actually happen.
They use the excuse that we’re at war, but let’s face it – this isn’t really a war. It’s an occupation by a country in the final phase of its imperial existence. Sure, a few dropouts are getting killed, but they must have known what they’d be getting into. I don’t feel a bit sorry for them, even though we do run quasi-sympathetic stories about them once in a while. (There are some things about which one can’t be too candid.)
The fact is everyone knew from the moment the last chad was counted that this day was coming. Anyone could see Bush was salivating at the thought of wiping out the Constitution. Imagine having some guy with a radiation monitor parked outside your house all the time. Wouldn’t you feel violated? I know I would.
And then there’s the matter of the phone taps. Anybody could be listening in on your conversation with your wife, your lover, your broker – anybody! It’s disgraceful! Well, I’m not going to sit still while the bark of our civil liberties is stripped off the tree of freedom one piece at a time. (Wow, this writing business is heady – metaphors, similes, it’s so fun! Maybe I’ll hire myself).
You say you believe in the Bill of Rights. Why don’t you speak out?
When I wake up every morning the first thing I do is thank whatever existed before the Big Bang for the fact that the newspaper of record is still crusading to protect my right to buy a different paper.
Where would we be if we all read the same broadsheet? I guess we’d all believe that Uncle Joe didn’t starve the Ukrainians, or that if he did, it was only to prevent an epidemic of heart attacks due to obesity.
We would all believe that there was never a human problem that couldn’t be solved by the lavish application of tax dollars, that since 2001 the American economy has been unable to provide other than McJobs to anyone but Bernie Ebbers and Dennis Kozlowski, that Howard Dean really cares about medicine and that Hillary Clinton was the Messiah until she ran off the rails about the war..
Most important, we would all believe that what Moslem fundamentalists want more than anything is to be left alone to pursue their own idea of happiness, which consists of living peacefully side-by-side with Jews and Christians, whether in Bethlehem, London, Paris or New York. We would all understand that jihad really refers to a personal struggle, somewhat like giving up smoking for Lent, and that many women, at least those who don’t work in a newsroom, lead happier lives with a schmatte on their heads. (Take the hijab - make bad hair days a thing of the past.)
We would also believe that the Fourth Amendment means a cop with a wildly clicking Geiger counter mustn’t do anything until after he sees the flash. Oops.
Even a mooncalf like yourself must have some imagination, so let’s pretend you’re sitting in Nobu gumming an exquisitely fresh piece of raw tuna when all of a sudden the sky lights up. You and your sashimi go instantly from raw to vaporized. Now let’s pretend you can still look around you. My, how did they ever achieve that effect, you ask yourself, reaching for, oh, where’s my wasabi-soy?
Where is everybody?
What about my civil rights?
But of course that could never happen. The worst they could do would be to fly a plane or two into the Senate Chamber, and that might be a good thing. Maybe they’d even hit the Republican side of the aisle.
Surprisingly, I agree with you - the Bill of Rights is the greatest thing since the invention of gunpowder, especially the part about our right to bear arms, which is the only thing that can really guarantee your right to print mindless editorials and dippy opinion pieces. Unfortunately, it doesn’t guarantee your right to reveal top secret programs in time of war. (See “treason”.)
I do hope they’ll send you to prison. If they do, write a couple of children’s books. Maybe you’ll get out early.
Good luck and God bless.
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