A look at how our society's doing this week

Here's where we are as a society this week:

· In Phoenix, a married couple who claim to be devoutly religious are considering suing the police, because the authorities took too long to return their kidnapped daughter. That's not even the good part. The baby had been taken by the couple's 13-year-old niece, who showed up at the house driving a car! The niece took the kid, drove off, then abandoned the child in the parking lot of a church, but not before taking two gold bracelets off the child's wrists. The niece wanted to sell the bracelets to get money for ... well, we're not really sure what she wanted the money for. Either drugs or driving lessons, perhaps?

Anyway, a Good Samaritan found the child and called the authorities.

Child Protective Services took custody of the child, and the kid was returned to the parents the next day.

Now, the parents, who are Hispanic, are grumbling about how long it took to get their kid back.

They're getting a lawyer and hinting that their ethnicity might have caused the cops to drag their feet.

The story appeared in The Arizona Republic, and the golly-gee-whiz reporter who wrote the thing played up the ethnic and religious angles, but somehow forgot to ask a couple beach ball-sized questions, like:

When the 13-year-old niece drove up in a car, why didn't they take the keys away and smack the kid upside the head, either verbally or physically or both?

Why would they let the niece take the kid?

If the niece snatched the kid, what were the parents doing at the time?

Why didn't the niece just steal the bracelets? And

Your 13-year-old thief of a niece was driving a car!

Be glad you didn't get popped for contributing to the delinquency of a minor, you ungrateful idiots.

· Here's why I hate professional athletes more and more every day. Joe Johnson played an important part on the resurgence of the high-powered Phoenix Suns last season. It was a feel-good story for Phoenix, the entire National Basketball Association, and basketball fans like me who enjoy up-tempo basketball free of the thuggery and sh*t-talking that dominates the pro ranks and a lot of what passes for street ball these days.

The Suns went from being one of the worst teams in the NBA in 2004 to having the best record in the league this past season, and next season was looking extra bright.

But Joe Johnson decided that it wasn't enough to be an integral part of one of the two or three best teams in the entire world. He needed to be THE MAN! So he decided to sell his services to Atlanta, which just happens to be the absolute worst team in the NBA. Johnson said that the Suns "disrespected" him by "only" offering him $50 million for his next contract. He also felt disrespected when a teammate of his exhorted him to play better defense in a game in which he was getting lit up. Here's how it works, Joe: Respect is earned, and, in your case, so is disrespect.

You're leaving Phoenix (even though, under the way the NBA works, you would have made slightly more money had you stayed with the Suns than you will in Atlanta). You're doing so because, with the Suns, you were only the fourth-best player on the team, behind center Amare Stoudemire, Shawn Marion and league MVP Steve Nash. That means you wouldn't score the most points, grab the most rebounds or hook up with the most skanks after the game. All you would do is play a great style of basketball with a team of dedicated, hard-working athletes, and win, win, win, win, win. Life would be so hard. You suck, and I hope your team doesn't win a game next year.

· A man got sentenced to seven years in prison after being convicted of groping a sleeping woman who was seated next to him on an airplane flight. I could swear I sit next to that guy every time I fly. And I don't even go to sleep.

· The Los Angeles Police Department is considering lowering its standards for recruitment in order to boost sagging numbers. It has now decided that previous drug use and/or serious credit problems will no longer automatically disqualify applicants. This is a department that is already being accused of having an entire subset of Bloods gang members working as cops.

Chief William Bratton explained the proposed move by stating: "We may have artificially set too high a standard in certain areas."

That's what most people think when the LAPD comes to mind: standards that are too high.

· A Panama City, Fla., man's wife asked if they could cuddle after they had just had sex. The man proceeded to kill his wife by striking her more than 70 times with a claw hammer.

It isn't often that the punishment fits the crime, but I get the feeling that cuddling after sex won't be an option for the rest of his pathetic life.

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