- The Washington Times - Tuesday, June 27, 2000

Pair of opinions

• "The United States could start by gradually imposing a higher gasoline tax hiking it by one or two cents per month until gasoline costs $2.50 to $3.00 per gallon, comparable to prices in Europe and Japan." Paul R. Ehrlich and Anne H. Ehrlich, "The Population Explosion," 1990, pp. 219-220.

• "The time for action is due, and past due. Ehrlich has written the prescription." Al Gore's endorsement of "The Population Explosion," printed on the dust cover.

Wishful writing

"For immediate release: June 26, 2000: In a landmark victory for First Amendment rights, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled today that the Boy Scouts may prohibit homosexuals from serving as scoutmasters. The Court's 6-3 decision in Boy Scouts of America v. Dale reverses the New Jersey Supreme Court, which held that the Boy Scouts' prohibition violated the state's anti-discrimination laws."

So stated the news release from the Center for Individual Rights (CIR), issued and faxed late Sunday night hours before an expected ruling yesterday by the nation's highest court. There was just one problem.

The Supreme Court didn't vote 6-3 on the Boy Scouts' prohibition. In fact, it didn't vote at all.

As expected, the CIR issued a subsequent news release, faxed 40 minutes after Sunday night's original release.

"PLEASE IGNORE OUR PRECEDING PRESS RELEASE. Although we would like to claim clairvoyance, our preceding press release … was merely the result of a test run gone terribly wrong. Please forgive our mistake."

The CIR is obviously anxious for the court's decision, having filed an amicus brief in the case. It argues that the interpretation of the New Jersey law violated the Scouts' freedoms of expression and association.

The court will decide the case tomorrow. We think.

Freeman Emmy

More than one conservative commentator in Washington complained last year when the local PBS affiliate failed largely to promote "Stolen Years," a film by independent D.C.-based television producer Neal B. Freeman.

It's the story of the terror unleashed by Joseph Stalin and his forced labor camps, the Soviet gulag, told through the words of 11 survivors. There were calls to air the film again after its initial March 1999 showing, but next time with the publicity it deserved.

Now, more than a year later, that might just happen.

"In what must stand as the media upset of the year, our film 'Stolen Years' won the Emmy at the National Academy of Television Arts and Sciences/D.C. dinner," Mr. Freeman says in a letter to the film's early supporters.

"Rounding off the ideological implausibility, we prevailed even over well-made films on Tibetan refugees and the plight of the manatee."

What it means in practical terms, Mr. Freeman notes, is that a few more stations will rebroadcast the film, more libraries will book it, more foreign broadcasters will air it and, in general, more people will be reminded of the terror the Soviets visited upon their own people.

Until Stalin's death in 1953, an estimated 20 million people perished in the Siberian gulags.

Hole in his argument

Is that a box of Krispy Kreme donuts that Rep. Sonny Callahan, Alabama Republican, is clutching on the House floor?

"Glazed monsters," says the congressman.

"I rise today to call on the attorney general to investigate a heinous crime that has been committed against the American people; one which I feel has suppressed the American economy, and one that I believe should be punished with severity," Mr. Callahan begins.

Say what?

"My fellow colleagues, I kid you not when I predict that this [donut] is the next AT&T;, the next Standard Oil, or dare I say the next Microsoft."

OK, Mr. Callahan obviously is trying to make a point about Uncle Sam's drive to dismantle commercial monopolies. Krispy Kreme, in fact, gained much of its prominence and popularity in the congressman's Mobile district.

"I am sure you will all be appalled to learn of the wily manner in which they have crushed their competitors," he says. "For example, they bake their assorted hot pastries on the premises, purposely filling all surrounding areas with a delicious aroma of sweet sugar and frosted icing … [and] put unsuspecting passers-by in a trance by flashing a neon red sign that reads, 'Hot Doughnuts Now,' coaxing them in for a savory treat.

"As you may have guessed, these tricks have obviously worked on me and it appears that these shenanigans have preyed upon many of my other distinguished colleagues as well."

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