- The Washington Times - Friday, October 26, 2001

We are finally seeing conclusive evidence that America is getting back to normal, at least politically. The first bit of evidence comes from Paul McCartney's "Concert for New York." Hollywood stars and politicians took turns introducing the bands and singers to an audience that included hundreds of police and firefighters. Sen. Hillary Clinton got a less-than-warm welcome. She obviously can't count on the firehouse and police station vote. Richard Gere used his turn to urge us all to channel America's anger into compassion rather than violence. His remarks bombed, and he was practically hooted off the stage.

A few days before, an Associated Press photographer aboard the USS Enterprise snapped a shot of a big bomb hung on an attack aircraft being readied to strike Afghanistan. As is customary in our Navy and Air Force, the bomb had a message painted on it. This one was tasteless and anti-gay. The bomb's message quickly drew condemnation, and the Navy quickly fired an apology at the complainers.

The apology was signed by the Navy's chief of press relations, Rear Adm. Stephen Pietropaoli, and sent to the Human Rights Campaign, which bills itself as "working for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender equal rights." The admiral's letter apologizes for the politically incorrect bomb, saying among other things that "there is no Defense Department guidance governing spontaneous acts of penmanship by our fighting forces."

Acts of spontaneous penmanship have been committed on bombs ever since fly-guys started dropping them. But the messages aren't painted on the bombs by the hot-shot pilots who drop them. The artwork is done by the troops who wrestle the bombs onto the aircraft and then watch them take off. It's a way for those left behind to vent their frustration at not being able to personally drop them on the enemy.

The Navy promises supervision of future spontaneous acts of penmanship. But aircraft-carrier captains probably lack the sensitivity, and certainly the objectivity, to censor what is painted on bombs. There is a solution: Mr. Gere and his Hollywood pals should all volunteer for bomb censorship duty they could stand day and night watches, scrambling around amongst the bombs, catapults, jet fuel and warplanes coming and going. Give each of them a can of black spray paint and the authority to summarily paint over all offensive bomb messages.

And this is an even bigger job. We cannot forget the need for censorship of Air Force bombs, especially those being loaded on B-52s stationed on the 17 square miles of coral and sand called Diego Garcia. Smack in the middle of the Indian Ocean, it's about 3,000 miles from anywhere. But the Hollywood folks would have a great advantage over those already there: They can probably bring a terrific video library with them.

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