Jewish World Review Sept. 24, 1999 /14 Tishrei, 5760
http://www.jewishworldreview.com -- PEOPLE LOVE TO “NAME” the decades. Near the end of each one, historians, writers of popular culture, and television talking heads rack their brains to come up with just the right verb that will encapsulate in a single word the entire ten year period we have just lived through -- trivializing history with what ends up sounding like titles in a Time-Life book series or music collection:
“Be among the first to order The Roaring Twenties and The Fabulous Forties and we’ll also send you, at no additional charge, The Swinging Sixties !”
Since the rest of the world is totally consumed with the Y2K problem, I’ve decided to focus my energies into something that’s REALLY important -- like coming up with an appropriate name for the nineties. I would have suggested The Gay Nineties but that was used in the last century (although in a slightly different context then we would have meant it now).
Maybe The Nihilistic Nineties might work. It’s close. I think, however, I’d prefer something a little more to the point. Something like, The Getting Away With It Nineties.
In this decade O.J. Simpson, William Kennedy Smith, Michael Jackson, Bill Clinton, Hillary Rodham, Webster Hubbel, Susan McDougal, and Johnny Chang, to name just a few biggies -- have all gotten away with stuff that a generation or two earlier they would have certainly been punished for. Don’t forget the Melendez brothers ALMOST got away with murder -- it was really close there for awhile. And now sixteen terrorists who participated in bombings, maiming and murder have been offered clemency by none other than that esteemed moral and ethical giant, President William Jefferson Clinton. I guess he feels their pain.
I’m convinced that much of the reason certain people “get away with it” has to do with the fact that our society has decreed that we should all be completely tolerant and non-judgmental of others -- NO MATTER WHAT.
Murdered your parents? Hey, you probably had a good reason. Molested little boys? Well, you’re just a quirky rock superstar and because we like your music we’ll look the other way. Get sexually serviced on the job by young girls who work for you? Well, what the heck, you TALK the right talk on women’s rights, besides you’re the President so we’ll give you a pass. Proven liar? Well, doesn’t everybody lie? Besides you’re the President so we’ll give you another pass. Possible rapist? Oh, c’mon! That was 18 years ago -- besides, you’re the President -- pass. Traded nuclear classified information to the Communist Chinese in exchange for donations to your political campaign? Yeah, but our economy is good -- so, pass, pass. pass. It’s all okey dokey. See how wonderfully easy it is to be non-judgmental?
In American society of the late twentieth century, tolerance, we are told, is the most admirable quality one can possess. Tolerance for everything, that is, except smoking obesity, and religion-based values. Isn’t that interesting?
There’s no stigma to being a fourteen year old unwed mother -- but if you’re a smoker you must be possessed by the devil and avoided at all costs. The public accepts the raunchiest, foulest, crudest toilet humor in mainstream movies, TV, and advertising aimed at kids, but if you’re overweight you might as well be a leper in today’s society. It’s accepted practice in public schools to teach elementary school children that homosexuality is simply just another sexual option and to hand out condoms to middle school students, but don’t you dare post The Ten Commandments on the wall of the classroom!
Selective tolerance is really what it’s all about. So let’s be tolerant of those poor misunderstood terrorists -- let them out of jail -- they’ve suffered enough. Meanwhile the families of the innocent people that they’ve killed and the police officers that were crippled, blinded, and maimed can’t even get a returned phone call from our compassionate President --- the “Getting Away With It Leader” of the “Getting Away With It
JWR contributor Greg Crosby, former creative head for Walt Disney publications, has written thousands of comics, hundreds of children's books, dozens of essays, and a letter to his congressman. You may contact him by clicking here.
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