- The Washington Times - Friday, April 18, 2003

'South Park' politics

"It's a television show almost too gross for words: The adventures of four potty-mouthed elementary school students in South Park, Colo. …

"Like much of what's on T.V., much of 'South Park' is often devoid of serious meaning. It's heavy on racist, sexist, anti-Christian, and anti-Semitic humor, but so egalitarian in its offensiveness that only a handful of complainers mostly right-leaning cultural scolds bother to complain about it any more. … It skewers just about all of the Left's sacred cows.

"While few shows dare to make fun of homosexuals in any way, 'South Park' features the cheerfully stereotypical and flamboyant Big Gay Al. … But pushing the envelope on offensiveness doesn't really make 'South Park' unique; plenty of other cultural products have done so before.

"[T]he show's persistently libertarian politics make it stand out in a television world that's mostly liberal. …

"In fact, the show's political positions almost always tend to favor libertarian outcomes: it attacks hate-crime laws as hypocritical, shows trial lawyers as parasitic scum, and derides over-active sexual-harassment laws and sensitivity counseling."

 Eli Lehrer, writing on "South Park: Libertarian TV," Wednesday in Front Page at www.frontpagemag.com


Mommy wars

"It is enormously difficult to talk about how we raise our children these days. How children should be raised, and by whom, are key questions to any discussion of the renewal of culture, but just try bringing up the debate about stay-at-home mothers versus 'working mothers' (by which is meant women who work outside the home, leaving the child care to others). Usually it is impossible to get as far as real discourse, because like politics and religion, it matters deeply to us all, and we are, therefore, defensive and cautious. …

"Our culture no longer values the household supported by a sole breadwinner. Everything from buying a house to applying for a college loan for one's son or daughter seems structured around the two-income family. …

"However much women may want to stay at home with their children, they may not be ready to make the sacrifices that it requires. Understandably, they may not be willing to move into a smaller house, in a less-desirable location, or to go without a second car, or to give up vacations, eating out, and going to the movies."

 Sibyl Niemann, writing on "The Necessary Mother," in the May issue of First Things


Image and reality

"The headlines read 'Saddam toppled'; the photos show the statues of Saddam toppled. Thus do the very metaphors illustrate the conflation of image and prototype. …

"For years it has been fashionable to claim that the modern multiplication of images by photography, by the computer, and now on the Web, have drained images of their force. …

"Susan Sontag implied this too in a famous essay on photography. Not surprisingly, especially in the light of the strength of our reactions to images of atrocity, even when multiplied by the million, she has revised her views.

"She too has come to recognize something about images that we all know in our bones: that statues, like pictures and photographs, become compelling because of our inescapable tendency to invest images of people (and sometimes things too) with the lives of those whom they represent.

"Hence our fascination with the events of last week. Such images may be reproduced a thousand times over, and still we will be moved, because we see the being in the image. This fundamental response to sculptures, paintings and photographs could not be better exemplified than by our reactions to the transformation of the once proud and arrogant statue of Saddam Hussein into a forlorn heap of twisted metal and stone."

 David Freedberg, writing on "Eradicating Symbols of a Past Regime," Wednesday in the Wall Street Journal

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