As the year winds down

Burt Prelutsky
Posted: Dec 01, 2006 12:01 AM
As the year winds down

By this time, I think most of us have had it up to here with Mel Gibson and Michael Richards. Still, I think a summing-up is in order. Only time will tell if Gibson’s Malibu arrest will affect his career. I know I won’t be rushing out to see “Apocalypto,” but that has less to do with his anti-Semitic rant than with my wishing to avoid a long movie about a bunch of unwashed savages who eat with their hands, paint themselves blue and don’t speak English. I’m afraid they’d remind me too much of Oakland Raider fans.

Unlike Gibson’s scandal, there is a definite upside in all this for Richards. Even though he is now a 58-year-old has-been, the good news for the man is that after all these years people might finally stop calling him Kramer, and start calling him by his right name. The bad news is they probably won’t bother, and will simply call him Moron or Big Dummy.

This brings us to the O.J. Simpson saga. There seems to be a question as to whether he was paid the princely sum of $3.5 million to lend his name to a book and a TV special devoted to how he would have butchered the mother of his children if only those drug-crazed Martians hadn’t beaten him to it. But from everything he’s said about paying off his taxes and providing an annuity for his kids, that figure can’t be too far off. What I’d like to know is how, in the wake of the judgment levied against him in the civil suit, he, and not the Goldman family, gets to pocket the loot. Is Florida, as some people have suggested, a foreign country?

I must confess I found the response by Fox TV and Harper-Collins to be somewhat amusing. They reacted as if Simpson and Judith Regan had pulled a fast one on them, substituting sheer sleaze for what Rupert Murdoch and his minions had every reason to assume would be tasteful and informative entertainment. Like Captain Renault in “Casablanca,” they were shocked…shocked to discover they had underwritten something so vile that to call it obscene would constitute the epitome of British understatement.

Knowing Murdoch as we do, one can only wonder if this isn’t all an elaborate ruse that’s been carefully hatched in that canny old brain of his. After all, he’s not one to neglect cashing in on a billion dollars worth of publicity. So, unless I’m much mistaken, it’s good-bye to a free screening on Fox, and hello to a pay-per-view special and $29.95 DVDs.

Two other matters that have been preying on my mind as 2006 draws to a close involve prisons and diversity. Why do I keep reading that felons are being released from jail after serving only 10 or 20% of their sentences for lack of cells? Instead of wasting good money on campaigns to, say, curtail smoking or provide medical attention for illegals, why aren’t we building more and larger prisons? The silliest excuse I’ve heard is that people don’t want them built in their neighborhoods. Why not? What better way to keep kids law-abiding than to have this constant reminder of the nightmare that awaits them if they stray off the straight and narrow? Besides, inasmuch as most crime is committed by punks in the neighborhood, their loved ones wouldn’t have so far to travel on visiting day.

My problem with diversity, as some of us have come to know and hate it, is that the very people who are the loudest in lauding it are the same knuckleheads who simultaneously insist we’re all alike -- none of us better or worse, smarter or dumber, than anybody else. So, how is it that they’re always pushing for affirmative action, always trying to disguise quotas with a beard and funny glasses? If it isn’t to prevent colleges and universities from winding up with 60% Asians, 30% Jews and 10% Others, why don’t they stop trying to rig enrollments?