More Proof That Civilization As We Know It Is Going To Hell On A Skateboard.
By Jeff Smith
CONSIDER PAGES TWO and three of last Thursday's Arizona Daily Star :
The headline across the top of 2A tells us, " 'Bottom boobs are bad,' foe says of bill."
Flying in at 11 o'clock high in the news briefs column on the same page is a flash out of Phoenix under the flag, "Axl Rose charged with disorderly conduct."
Jumping over to Page 3A, the banner across the top says, " 'Covenant marriage' bill clears Senate panel on 5-2 vote." This report appears--appropriately or ironically or maybe...probably...both--directly above the agate carrying the public records, which, on Thursday, February 12, in the year of Our Lord 1998 in Tucson, Arizona Territory, includes applications for marriage licenses and divorces, but, mysteriously, no births or deaths. Don't tell me the dummy desk at the Star doesn't have a sharply honed sense of sequitur.
And to complete our thesis, back on Page 2, above the Axl Rose update and to the immediate left of the "Bottom boobs" blurb comes another news brief informing us that Pascua Yaqui Indian students in Tucson Unified School District will be required to wear uniforms to school next year.
What does it all mean? Glad you asked.
I could say simply that it means the behavioral record of humankind has hit a scratch somewhere in the chorus where it sings of Cotton Mather and Elmer Gantry and Jimmy Swaggart, and keeps skipping back to the same sad refrain about how if you don't do like a bunch of pious hypocrites tell you to, you're gonna burn in hell when you die, and freeze your ass in jail in the meantime. I could say that, but they don't pay me to be brief, they pay me to fill this newshole, so let me elaborate:
The "Bottom boobs" story is about a bill before the Arizona legislature which would clarify some very important specifics concerning how women in our state must dress before they can go out in public. Specifically the measure, written by Mesa Republican Sen. Rusty Bowers, requires that women appearing in public in a professional role must cover all portions of their breasts below the mid-line, including the nipple, which, hitherto, has been the only topographical feature of said prominence legally deemed terra incognita.
Basically Bowers is trying to get at the titty dancers, forcing them to buy a license to show off their southern hemispheres, but as pointed out by a senate colleague, the effect of the law would be to allow amateur ladies at respectable public functions to do what professional women inside adults-only businesses may not. A society doyen at a church social might wear a deep v-neck dress that showed a little sternum below 0 degrees latitude, whereas an exotic dancer--or even a lady reading a book to a paying audience of librophiles, while wearing, say, a sleeveless blouse with big armholes--would be subject to arrest unless she had applied for, paid for, and received a license to show more than the upper portion of her hooters.
Now tell me: Do we truly need, want, or can rational, independent beings tolerate, laws that dictate precisely how women must dress, when, where and under what circumstances? Not men, just women.
Not in my book.
But to reinforce just how far we haven't come as a species, refer to the related report from TUSD, about next year's required school uniform for Yaqui Indian school kids. True, a 4-1 school board vote allowed the administration at two reservation schools to initiate the uniform dress code, rather than requiring the policy, but the principals took that permission and made it a mandate to the students, "to help students focus more on education and promote school pride."
How about let's really promote some school pride and make them all get their hair cut in Mohawks?
Getting back to the Moral Police State, I read on Page 3 where the covenant marriage bill has moved a step closer to law. This bit of brilliance would require couples who think they're more in love than others, and holier than thou to boot, and willing to put their money where their mouth is, to come just this side of death before they do part. Legally.
At the moment Arizona is a no-fault divorce state, meaning that a couple fallen out of love can split the sheets by stating for the record that their union is "irretrievably broken." Under the proposed rules of a covenant marriage, only the most hellish manifestations of love's labor lost would be grounds for divorce: abandonment for more than a year, adultery or serious ass-kicking.
Even divorce lawyers have testified in legislative hearings that all a covenant marriage will do is make divorce proceedings uglier and lawyers like themselves richer.
Don't get me wrong: I revere the institution of marriage. But I believe its sanctity resides in the private and personal love and commitment between its two parties, not in any codified fine print written by snug-sphinctered state senators from Mesa.
What's up with Mesa, anyway?
Getting back to the Greater Phoenix area and back to the news briefs on Page 2, here's what can happen when society places too many arbitrary constraints on the comings and goings of normal, decent folks already under a lot of stress from the complications of a modern, mechanized and complicated world.
Take a regular guy like Axl Rose, lead singer for the raunch-rock band Guns 'n' Roses. Left to his own devices, Axl will keep several liquor stores, pharmaceutical producers and body piercers, lawyers and hotel room handymen in work until retirement. This keeps a lot of cash in circulation and contributes to the economic boom that keeps Bill Clinton popular despite himself.
But push him too hard and he snaps, as he did the other day at Sky Harbor Airport when security guards asked to search a carry-on bag that showed an unidentifiable object under X-ray. Rose turned the air florid with four-letter words and wound up in the clink for a few hours. With Axl in the can, nobody's making money off him but his lawyers. Say what you will about spoiled rock stars, bad manners, offensive language in public, and the general good of bomb-free commercial air travel, we still have a First Amendment that ought to guarantee free speech, even if it's gone beyond rosey to blue.
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