- The Washington Times - Friday, March 9, 2001

Sopranos' code

"We find something in mob movies that we are sorely lacking in our culture and our art: a strict moral code. Or in Tony Soprano's case, a strict immoral code, but a code nonetheless… .

"Of course, the distinction of right and wrong adhered to in 'The Sopranos' is not our distinction, but at least it's a distinction, something sorely missing almost everywhere else in elite culture.

"Rats and snitches get theirs… . Tony always says there have to be consequences when people deviate from the code. In the relativistic swamp of American life, that distinction is at best mightily blurred.

"This surely explains part of 'The Sopranos' popularity. Americans have always liked movies and books about men who play by their own rules. Westerns, cop movies, and virtually every mob movie can trace much of their appeal to our fascination with the inflexibility of codes of honor… .

"Sure, there's something a bit disturbing about the fact that Americans particularly chattering-class liberals who live by the New York Times' Arts and Leisure section need to satisfy their craving for moral discipline by watching a television series about murderers.

"But whadya gonna do? It's damn good TV."

Jonah Goldberg, writing on "Goodnight, America," Monday in National Review Online at www.nationalreview.com

Insanity factories

"There's been another big school shooting… . The media is trying to dredge up again the question of 'Why? What drives good students like these youths to shoot up their public school, and wipe out all these nice, healthy youngsters who were doing as they were told?' …

"The reason kids shoot up public schools lies not with the kids, but with the schools… .

"[T]he government has created a system of youth culture it is not proper to call them schools and forces by law all people to be placed in this system at an early age. That system then systematically breaks down the youth's character, and strips away the youth's will, and fits the youth into a plastic mold, which the government believes the youth will adhere to in his older age… .

"These youth concentration camps we call schools drive healthy young people insane… .

"If you want to stop school shooting, stop asking how we can control youth, and start asking how we can control the schools. Until we limit the power of the public-education establishment, and end coercive education completely, our students will continue to shoot up schools."

Bill White, writing on "Why People Shoot Up Public Schools," Monday in Overthrow at www.overthrow.com

Ready for boredom

"So here we have Bill Clinton, still surrounded by controversy, still holding the cameras and public attention. Indeed, with the scandals over his pardons and the loot he took from the White House when he left, Mr. Clinton has, almost daily, challenged President Bush for the national limelight… .

"For weeks before his exit as president, I would hear journalists … commenting about how much we reporters would miss Clinton. 'What are we going to write about?' I heard one newsman say. And more than once I heard reporters say something like this: 'After Clinton, any president is bound to be boring.'

"Well, all I can say is that I'm ready to be bored. I'm ready for a president who doesn't hug the spotlight and goes about his job in a businesslike way. I, for one, don't need to have a rock star at the helm of this country… .

"Clinton has helped the Bush presidency immeasurably by the contrast between himself and Bush that he has presented to the American people.

"The voters … now turn away from Clinton with disgust and in effect say to Bush: 'OK, let's see what you can do.' "

Godfrey Sperling, writing on "Clinton's endless exit," in Wednesday's Christian Science Monitor

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