- The Washington Times - Monday, October 9, 2006

Can’t beat Borat

“What would possess the Kazakhs to battle seriously and actively the only popular image of their country? The proliferation of the ‘stans’ since the fall of the Soviet Union has not helped them at all; the country’s not even part of a monolith of geographic uniformity, a small chunk of that big red blob you loved to hate. …

“Sean R. Roberts, Central Asian Affairs Fellow at Georgetown University, admitted as much in a recent interview to the British Daily Mail: ‘The increased knowledge of Kazakhstan, however, is not due to the country’s economic successes or its role as a U.S. ally in the war on terror. Instead, most Americans who have heard of Kazakhstan have heard of it through a satire of a Kazakh journalist named Borat.’ You can’t beat a phenomenon like Borat, especially with official diplomatic notes of protest, neo-Soviet advertisements, and — most shameful of all — lawsuit threats. You only enhance the humor, as the Kazakh government has aptly demonstrated.”

—Igor Khrestin, writing on “Grin and Borat,” Wednesday in National Review Online at www.nationalreview.com

Legal blackmail

“Establishment Clause jurisprudence has become so antagonistic to expressions of our faith that many local governments are not willing to gamble with taxpayer money and therefore surrender to ACLU demands that every vestige of religion be removed from the public square. Often a threatening letter or phone call from the ACLU is all it takes for these governments to give up without a fight.

“A survey of recent legal fee awards in these cases shows why governments are reluctant to defend the right to publicly acknowledge God. In San Diego, Calif., the ACLU received $940,000 for kicking the Boy Scouts out of Balboa Park. In Barrow County, Ga., the county paid the ACLU $150,000 to avoid a trial for its posting the Ten Commandments in the county courthouse. Not to be outdone, in Dover, Pa., the trial court ordered the district’s school board to pay the ACLU and [Americans United for Separation of Church and State] $2 million for attempting to teach intelligent design in the schools.”

—Roy Moore, writing on “No more tax money for the ACLU,” Wednesday in WorldNetDaily at www.worldnetdaily.com

Scandal lessons

“Institutional sex scandals come in only one package these days. The downfall of former Rep. Mark Foley [Florida Republican] has become a gift that keeps on giving, but in its broad outlines it isn’t much different than the sexual abuse accusations that rocked the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Boston in 2002. In both cases a media organization turned up a story that had been kept quiet by authorities. …

“The kid-happy Republicans who are falling over themselves to denounce Foley’s ‘obscene,’ ‘abhorrent’ and ‘sick’ antics … are engaged in the same game as Catholic apologists who scrupulously counted each instance of improper touching a few years ago. Maximizing the questionable sexual behavior minimizes the obvious failures of management that constitute the real scandal.

“This is a tried and true formula: First mischaracterize the nature of the scandal, then defend the mischaracterization.”

—Tim Cavanaugh, writing on “The Last Yankee,” Wednesday in Reason Online at www.reason.com

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