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Let's keep it clean, for the children

March 17, 2005|by TIM ROWLAND

I think it's great the Washington County delegation wants to create a task force to study tax assessments in Washington County. And in turn, I think the Washington County Commissioners ought to appoint a blue ribbon panel to study why the delegation allowed our car registration fees to go through the roof, and tacked a surcharge onto our sewer bills.

In fact, I want everyone investigating everyone. I want an investigation into why one convenience store charges .9 cents more for a gallon of gasoline than another in the same chain. I want an investigation into why my compost isn't rotting fast enough. I want to know why outgoing Williamsport Mayor John Slayman didn't appoint himself to the vacant council seat. I think government needs to do some serious study on the optimal height for city lamp posts and why teenage girls feel compelled to talk on the phone with the same person they are currently Instant Messaging.

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Time the government spends on its investigations, in my view, is great because it is time they are not spending messing up our lives. It's time they're not spending telling us what not to eat, what not to watch, what not to listen to and what not to think.

I can't wait for the state investigation into Gov. Robert Ehrlich's "Prince of Darkness," who stands accused of summarily firing state employees whose philosophies differed from the governor's. It's time they won't spend waiting for us to commit some overt act that they can tax us for.

And by all means, bring on the congressional investigation of steroids use in Major League Baseball. At least that will put off their wrecking of Social Security for another week.

It was fascinating to watch some semi-literate congressman from Virginia try to explain to a sports reporter why these hearings are a good idea. After she grilled him with a half-dozen pointed questions, it was pretty evident that he had no idea what "baseball" was. He seemed to have some vague, animalistic awareness that it was a sport of some kind. But when pressed, he finally had to fall back on the same saw every politician falls back on when logic fails him: "It's important that we send a message to the kids."

Ah yes, the good ole kids. Won't somebody think of the children? Funny, every time I encounter a child, he's wishing mightily that adults would think about him a lot less.

I'm sure kids will be all over these congressional hearings. In my own home, I know that Alexa the Teen and her close friend Nathan positively will not be able to wait. Oh, I know, they like to portray themselves as all "cool" and "happening," but I know for a fact that - and I hope this doesn't diminish them in the eyes of their friends - the second they get home from school they rush into the media room, close the door behind them and switch on C-SPAN.

Yes, send a message to the children. After all, those messages of nasty pop lyrics and television-show ratings worked out so well. Yes, every well-meaning parent probably starts out thinking they will intensively monitor everything that assaults their child's senses. But kids win by attrition. You start out with holy pronouncements that little Chauncy will never be allowed to view anything heavier than PG-13, but that lasts for about a month. Pretty soon your standards have dropped considerably.

"Dad, can I go see a movie?"

"Does anyone get killed and then split in half and have their intestines sucked out by a giant, heroin-using cockroach?"

"Uh - cockroach? No."

"Well then, knock yourself out."

And speaking of cockroaches, Congress really tipped its ignorant hand when it asked a number of ballplayers to testify, but failed to require the presence of one Bonds, Barry. Bonds, for the record, claims he innocently used a substance that turned out to be steroids. Right. Just for fun, try telling your wife you had a fling with someone who just turned out to be another woman.

A steroid investigation without Barry Bonds is like holding a congressional hearing on desert and failing to invite cheesecake.

Congressman Clueless was asked about this 16-ton oversight by the reporter, and you could just see the wires in his tiny little brain cross with a shower of sparks. After an awkward pause, he fetched three different answers and sheepishly laid them at the reporter's feet like soggy tennis balls. The best entry was the contention that the committee didn't want to create a "media circus."

Got it. You want to attract attention to the steroids issue without attracting attention. Perfect.

Silly goose. He could have just told us that having Barry Bonds in the hallowed halls of Congress would send the wrong message to the children.




Tim Rowland is a Herald-Mail columnist.

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