Annoyances, major and minor

Burt Prelutsky
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Posted: Jul 17, 2006 12:01 AM
Annoyances, major and minor

There are so many things that annoy me, I hardly know where to begin. But, let us begin at the beginning, as it were, with evolution. Lately, there’s been a great deal of intemperate language exchanged by those who, on the one hand, put all their faith in Darwin’s Theory of Evolution and those who, on the other hand, place all their faith in, well, faith. What I find odd is that even those people who pooh-pooh the folks who take the Bible literally can’t explain where those first single-cell creatures came from. Neither can they really explain why, if humans evolved from monkeys and apes, we still have all these monkeys and apes hanging around. On the other hand, those who subscribe to a literal translation of the Bible haven’t explained, at least to my satisfaction, where all those dinosaur bones and all that fossil fuel come from.

My advice to both sides is to cool it, climb down off your high horses, take a deep breath and stop behaving like a bunch of gibbering simians.

Another thing that bugs the heck out of me are movies and TV shows that are under-lit because the director is laboring under the delusion that people will confuse his pretentiousness with genius.

It’s one thing if the scene is a back alley or a coal mine, but that’s not often the case. One of the first times I became aware of the trend was while watching “Sling Blade” a few years back. Each time a scene took place in Billy Bob Thornton’s room, the movie turned into a radio show. But things got even worse when the action shifted to Dwight Yoakum’s house. There was one scene in particular I can still recall in which Yoakum is seated in his living room reading a newspaper by the light of a single 20-watt bulb. Believe me, Superman couldn’t have read that newspaper. Not even the headline on the front page.

But, on a week-to-week basis, the worst offender is TV’s “Law and Order.” I don’t know if they’re trying to save on the electrical bill now that the ratings are dropping off or if they’ve merely cornered the market on artsy-fartsy directors. The other night, there was a scene in which a child was called in to pick the bad guy out of a police lineup. Fat chance! The scene was so dark that even I couldn’t pick him out, and I’d just seen him arrested in the prior scene ten seconds before.

One more thing that annoys me to no end is when people engage in misquoting others in order to promote their own agenda. It seems to me that somewhere along the way, Benjamin Franklin became the left-wingers’ favorite forefather. I lost count of the number of times, in the wake of the Patriot Act, I heard the line, “They who sacrifice liberty for security deserve neither liberty nor security.” What Franklin actually wrote in 1759 was, “They that can give up essential liberty to obtain a little temporary safety deserve neither liberty nor safety.” It’s funny how those qualifying words, “essential” and “a little temporary,” disappeared in the translation from English to liberalese. Most normal people, I wager, wouldn’t regard keeping your library books secret to be an essential liberty or that preventing another 9/11 from taking place to be a matter of a little temporary safety.

One fellow who bears quoting, but don’t count on people like Murtha or Kerry or Dean to do it anytime soon, is John Stuart Mill, the English philosopher and economist, who observed: “War is an ugly thing, but not the ugliest of things; the decayed and degraded state of moral and patriotic feeling which thinks nothing worth a war, is worse.” For good measure, he added: “A man who has nothing which he cares about more than he does about his personal safety is a miserable creature who has no chance at being free, unless made and kept so by the exertions of better men than himself.”

Amen.