- The Washington Times - Tuesday, September 24, 2002

Fascist funny?
"In 1948, a 15-year-old boy in Pennsylvania named John Updike wrote a fan letter to Harold Gray, the creator of 'Little Orphan Annie.' Describing 'Annie' as 'my favorite comic strip,' Updike went on to astutely celebrate its many virtues. 'Your draughtmanship is beyond reproach. The drawing is simple and clear, but extremely effective.'
"But Updike was hardly the only besotted fan compelled to declare his affections for Annie and her creator in writing. Although the strip is usually associated these days with a rather sappy musical, his letter recalls the era when it flourished as a widely-read and hotly controversial comic strip.
"During its heyday under Gray, who drew the strip until his death in 1968, 'Little Orphan Annie' combined the mass appeal of 'The Simpsons' with the conservative politics of Rush Limbaugh. While Republican politicians as varied as Clare Boothe Luce and Jesse Helms publicly praised Orphan Annie for embodying rock-ribbed American values, liberal publications such as the New Republic denounced her attacks on the welfare state and celebration of capitalism as 'fascism in the funnies.'"
Jeet Heer, writing on "Dear Orphan Annie," Sept. 15 in the Boston Globe

Waiting too long?
"True Love Waits. Wait Training. Worth Waiting For. The slogans of teen abstinence programs reveal a basic fact of human nature: teens, sex, and waiting aren't a natural combination.
"Over the last 50 years, the wait has gotten longer. In 1950, the average first-time bride was just over 20; in 1998, she was five years older, and her husband was pushing 27.
"Sex is the sugar coating on the drive to reproduce, and that drive is nearly overwhelming. It's supposed to be; it's the survival engine of the human race. Fighting it means fighting a basic bodily instinct, akin to fighting thirst.
"Yet despite the conflict between liberals and conservatives on nearly every topic available, this is one point on which they firmly agree: Young people absolutely must not have children
"But teen pregnancy, in itself, is not such a bad thing. By the age of 18, a young woman's body is well prepared for childbearing. Young men are equally qualified to do their part.
"Humans are designed to reproduce in their teens, and they're potentially very good at it. That's why they want to so much.
"Teen pregnancy is not the problem. Unwed teen pregnancy is the problem. It's childbearing outside marriage that causes all the trouble. Restore an environment that supports younger marriage, and you won't have to fight biology for a decade or more."
Frederica Mathewes-Green, writing on "Let's Have More Teen Pregnancy," Friday in National Review Online at www.nationalreview.com

Jihad on campus
"[F]ormer Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu was scheduled to speak at Concordia University in Montreal, Canada. When hundreds of anti-Israel protesters staged what turned into a riot, the speech was canceled.
"Never mind that protesters punched and kicked prospective listeners who were lined up to hear the speech or that the protesters shattered windows, upended newspaper boxes, and hurled furniture. Less than a handful were arrested; instead, the university responded with censorship, declaring a temporary moratorium on 'all Middle East-related student activity on campus.'
"Ahmed Abdirahman, a spokesman for one of the groups that organized the protest, was quoted saying, 'As responsible citizens, we have to be here to say physically to Netanyahu that his hatemongering isn't permitted in Montreal.' Apparently to 'say physically' is not the same as 'assault' in his book. It is in mine.
"The idea that physical brutality can be used effectively to interfere with political discourse should terrify any believer in democracy. Canadians who don't have a First Amendment, but do have a long and impressive history of protecting speech mostly recognize what happened for what it is: Violence dressed up as a politically correct protest."
Dahlia Lithwick, writing on "Free Speech 101," Thursday in Slate at www.slate.com

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