Enter Stage Right hands out its awards...

The Earth is Flat Award

A celebration of the inane, insipid and asinine...

web posted May 15, 2000

They probably meant it. They really did. They are tired of seeing children dying.

And who isn't? During my short lifetime, countless children have died all around the world because someone with a gun didn't care that they would never get a chance to "be cool," as Neil Young once sang. Closer to home, children with guns are killing children with guns...whether it's on the streets or in the schools.

That said, the Million Mom March on May 14 was a testament to blame misplaced. The problem isn't that children are being killed by guns or using guns to kill each other, but that they are even killing or being killed. Blaming the tool is like congratulating a hammer when a house is well built.

What America's real problem is -- and what's far more dangerous than a mere gun -- is that its social fabric has been torn nearly beyond repair. Children today are exposed to death and violence on television and in movies far more than they are in the hallways of their schools or on the streets of even the roughest neighborhoods. They are subject to a barrage of violent imagery -- both sexual and otherwise -- from the time they leave their mother's wombs to the last day of their teen lives.

Is Smith & Wesson, Beretta, Colt or any other gun manufacturer to blame for that? No. The blame lies in our society's move to disenfranchise ourselves from our children. The Internet isn't the first technology to act as surrogate parents to our children. For decades we abandoned our children in front of the television so we could buy the bigger gas propane barbecue so that the neighbor could tell immediately we were a player. The computer and video game console came along and we allowed our children to enjoy games that featured mutilation, decapitation and every other violent manner of death that could spring forth from a programmer's mind. We did that so we could work to afford a second car...so the neighbor could tell we were a player.

And through all those years as we abandoned our children to ever increasing violent imagery brought conveniently to our homes by the popular media, the numbers of children killing children slowly began to rise. Guns have always present -- they may have been the first tool brought to the shores of North America by Europeans -- but our children never had the idea of shooting each other before. Until we gave up our roles as parents that is. Today, many of you serve as accountants, cooks and chauffeurs in your homes...but not mother and fathers.

That same sin is likely to be present in many of the mothers who marched on Mother's Day. Rather than taking the time to be in their children's lives more often -- which admittedly is difficult -- they find it easier to regress to a medieval point of view -- guns are "evil" and therefore more gun control is needed.

There are currently 24 000 pieces of law regarding firearms in the United States. I wonder how many there are on parental responsibility.

No Jesus Christ for CBS?

I'm not referring to their miniseries which aired May 14 and 17, but rather the network's dealings with iBelieve.com, a web site devoted to those who are devoted.

The people at iBelieve.com rather logically believed that a miniseries about Jesus Christ would be the place to purchase advertising for their web site. They approached the network in January, and over the past several months the two sides negotiated. Until the week before the airing of the miniseries that is.

CBS informed iBelieve that it would not air its ads during "Jesus." Citing a disclaimer that neither iBelieve nor its ad agency Hanon & McKendry had ever heard before, the network stated, "CBS will not air a commercial if the product or content relates too closely to the content of the prime-time entertainment program. If this is the case, the program becomes a program-length commercial. It then proselytizes the show or commercializes the programming."

Simply put, the network didn't want Christian advertising during a program about Jesus Christ.

"We don't want to commercialize entertainment value," said Dana McClintock, a spokesman for CBS, adding that the network's first responsibility is to "our diverse audience. There are people who will watch the special because it is entertainment programming and not, perhaps, for religious reasons."

CBS' position, however is an odd one. Although it claims to accept no ads too similar to its programs, the network gladly airs sports advertising during sporting events, advertisements for financial institutions and services during money shows. Isn't that commercializing entertainment value? To McClintock, it's not.

"The consumer has an understanding of the difference between sports-entertainment programming and prime-time programming."

The problem with CBS' position is that iBelieve.com doesn't actually sell anything, at least not in the strictest sense. Visitors to the web site can register for free and anyone who did would receive a free CD of Christian music. iBelieve.com even offered to donate money to a Christian organization that fights racism.

All for not, however, as CBS closed the door to Christian advertising during a show that would probably be of interest to Christians. I guess it's simply because they didn't want to "commercialize entertainment value."

Oh, by the way. You can pick up the soundtrack to the miniseries at its web site. Just visit http://www.cbs.com/network/tvshows/marketplace/jesus.shtml

web posted May 8, 2000

It's a rare day when Enter Stage Right doesn't support a call for a tax cut and today is that day.

As a writer, I'm intimately aware of the fact that you people receive content for next to nothing. Newspapers, magazines and books are relatively cheap, the programming you receive in television doesn't really cost that much and very few publications on the World Wide Web charge for their content. While you may benefit by that, artists generally don't. We are amongst the poorest in society despite the fact that you consume ever more of what we produce. If I didn't have a "real job" I'd be living in grinding poverty.

That said, the last thing I need is government giving me some help. Nelson Riis, a New Democrat MP from British Columbia, thinks otherwise. Riis believes that Canada's struggling artists deserve to earn their first $30 000 of income tax free. Such a move would aid artists and benefit our cultural community as a whole the MP professes.

According to Riis, the average artist earns about $13 000 a year, but if that's true then they aren't paying a lot in taxes already. The move also leads to several other important questions.

"Besides how would you define an artist? What supplies would be tax deductible? Can you have a full-time job and still be an artist? If you thought having a hoard of tax-o-crats develop GST applicability guidelines for the tax status of salads (are croutons a foodstuff or confectionery item?) was ludicrous, wait until these folks try to delineate between allowable expenses for everything from finger painting to naked body art. Yikes!" wrote Walter Robinson of the Canadian Taxpayers Federation.

This proposal is social engineering at its worst and merely adds more complexity to Canada's already burdensome tax code. It creates new distortions and preferences which unfairly elevate one profession over another. While I personally believe that artists and philosophers are amongst the most important members of any society -- you have a belief system because of these people, you didn't create it yourself -- I also believe that they should be treated as any other citizen.

It also brings up the question of independence. As someone who will never take money from the government, I can honestly say that I'll never be beholden to it. The money used to fund Enter Stage Right comes entirely from my pocket and that means that the magazine is only answerable to me and not a bureaucrat who will review my tax status if they don't like what we publish or don't think its artistic enough.

Although it would likely benefit a few of the more prosperous artists, this proposal only complicates things for society as a whole and moves a small step further from the day Canada enjoys a flatter tax system -- which would of course be a prelude to the elimination of Revenue Canada. If Riis really wants to help the average artist, he can press for radically lower taxes which will enable artists and their patrons -- that's you -- to keep more of their own money.

The Vinegar in Freedom Award

There is an old Serbian proverb that says vinegar in freedom tastes better than honey in slavery. This award is meant for events and people Enter Stage Right considers to be positive.

web posted May 22, 2000

At least he had the class to quit.

It's tempting to compare Rudy Giuliani to Bill Clinton. Both men are intensely disliked by large blocks of voters and both apparently have little problem with going outside of their marriage for things they aren't receiving from their wives.

You could defend Giuliani for apparently having affairs with dynamic, intelligent and hardworking women, a stark contrast to the brainless women Clinton apparently has a soft spot for, but adultery is adultery. There is no defence for his behavior.

But as I said before, at least Giuliani had the class to quit the race for the New York Senate. Sure, the official reason was the cancer he is suffering with but everyone knows that he became a liability to the Republican Party and although he remained reasonably popular with potential voters, his star was tarnished. Giuliani understood that and rather than undertake the ordeal of running a campaign and answering questions about his personal life on a daily basis, he took the higher road out and simply called it quits, turning the reigns over to someone else.

Pity someone else hadn't done the same.

web posted May 15, 2000

It's a funny thing, before Mother's Day, the counter protest organized by the Second Amendment Sisters barely rated a mention in the media. The stories told by reporters were largely press releases for the Million Mom March -- organized by friends of the Clintons -- while the SAS march was forced to spread its message via the Internet and word of mouth.

After the march, however, a paragraph or two was devoted to the "vastly outnumbered" organization which drew 3 000 people compared to the 500 000 which joined Million Mom March...or at least that's the number the media reported. We know they aren't biased against the Second Amendment.

Regardless of how many showed up for the SAS march, the fact is that the Sisters achieved their goal. The major media may dismiss them as gun nuts and the majority of gun owners in the nation may have stayed home -- although their tough talk sometimes includes statements like "not over my dead body" it apparently is too much to give up a weekend to show their strength -- the Sisters were out there loud and proud, proclaiming their right under America's Constitution to keep and bare arms. Hillary Clinton and her ilk may not like that right, but with a few more good women like the Second Amendment Sisters, Americans will always enjoy it.

Have someone you want considered for the Earth is Flat Award or the Vinegar in Freedom Award? Email ESR with your candidates!

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