December 13, 2013 10:01:05 AM
Because I take my responsibility as an American citizen seriously, I recognize that it is essential that I keep abreast of the important news of the day. There is no substitute for an informed citizenry, after all.
That is why, in addition to reading newspapers, I am also careful to watch TV news, not only the network newscasts but the cable news networks, too.
As any conscientious citizen will confirm, there has been some awfully important news reported on TV this week.
For example, if you get drunk and kill people, you can avoid jail time if you can prove that you are suffering from "affluenza," which is not to be confused with influenza, mainly because there is a vaccine for the latter.
Affluenza is a condition that's been around a long time, although not by that name. It the old days, people who suffered from this condition were simply known as spoiled brats.
In Texas, a 16-year-old boy faced 20 years in prison for a drunk-driving accident that claimed the lives of four people. Instead, the judge sentenced him to counseling and 10 years of probation after his attorney argued that the boy suffered from affluenza, a condition caused by growing up stinking rich and never being held accountable for anything by his over-indulgent parents. The kid was simply a product of his environment. You can't send people to prison for that, right? I mean, when was the last time you heard about a poor kid from the projects being sentenced to hard time? As we know, judges are moved to leniency when a person's unfortunate home environment is considered.
Meanwhile, in South Africa, I learned of a major scandal involving the memorial service for Nelson Mandela. The event brought in more than 100 world leaders and scandal was soon to follow.
First, President Barack Obama shook hands with Cuban dictator Raul Castro. Naturally, this caused a seismic shift in the universe and our lives will never be the same, World leaders simply cannot go around shaking hands with the world's few remaining Marxist despots. You can catch Communism that way, especially if you don't wash your hands often.
On the subject of hands, the man who was on the stage providing sign language interpretation for the various speakers, turned out to be just making nonsensical hand motions. So when Obama said that Mandela was one of his role models, the man translated it into sign language that said, "Did you know that Old McDonald was a terrible speller?"
This, of course, was cause for much alarm. NBC News reported that a man making up sign language on a stage a few feet away from the president raised serious issues about security.
If you say so.
Since I am neither prone to the heartbreak of affluenza nor likely to become a president or a sign-language interpreter, I tuned in the Fox News. They report. I decide.
Here is what they were reporting.
Lily-white and stunningly blonde anchor Megyn Kelly, responding to a column written by a black journalist who said as a child she was always confused by the fact that Santa Claus was always portrayed as a white man, acknowledged that truth can be an uncomfortable thing. She noted that, historically-speaking, not only is Santa white, but so was Jesus.
When confronted by evidence that Jim Caviezel is not actually Jesus, but simply portrayed him in a movie -- and that Jesus was, in fact, a Middle Eastern Jew -- Kelly later clarified her statement by saying that she didn't mean to say that Jesus was necessarily white, but that whatever he was, he sure as heck wasn't black because, well, that would be kinda gross. As for Jesus' identification as a Jew, Kelly noted that Jesus was only a Jew until he got saved. She also pointed out that Jesus was only half-Jewish anyway because his real dad was a Christian, as everybody knows.
So, yes, you can learn a lot from watching TV news. I certainly feel much better informed.
Armed with the knowledge of a new plague that is sweeping through wealthy communities that I will never live in, the disturbing truth that sign-language interpreters, much like politicians, cannot always be trusted, and that while we may not always know the race or ethnicity of some great figures in history, we can safely assume they weren't black, I am ready to exercise my right as a responsible American.
I can hardly wait to get to the polls.
Slim Smith is a columnist and feature writer for The Dispatch. His email address is firstname.lastname@example.org.
1. Our View: City's appeal of ruling is a continued assault on open government DISPATCH EDITORIALS
2. Voice of the people: Presley Hutchens LETTERS TO THE EDITOR (VOICE@CDISPATCH.COM)
3. Editorial Cartoon for 2-8-16 NATIONAL COLUMNS
4. Editorial cartoon for 2-9-16 NATIONAL COLUMNS
5. Possumhaw: Consume chocolate while you may LOCAL COLUMNS