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California and the West | MIKE DOWNEY

Some Certain Signs of a Sick Society

February 19, 1999|MIKE DOWNEY

Here's how sick our society has become:

Calvin Klein has had to call off an advertising campaign that features children in underwear.

Why? Because "it's nothing more than pornography," one protester reportedly claimed.

A number of complaints caused Klein to discontinue ads and billboards that show boys and girls romping in their drawers.

The company backed off because of increasing concerns about pedophilia. You won't sell a lot of underwear if people stand outside department stores with picket signs, accusing you of endangering innocent kids and encouraging depraved adults.

"Anything that could get them [pedophiles] excited is detrimental, irresponsible and reckless," said Donald Wildmon, president of the American Family Assn., who was also the one quoted as calling Klein's ads nothing more than porno.

We once had a Coppertone kid whose swimsuit was tugged down by her dog's teeth. It was cute.

We once had bare-butt babies crawling around in TV commercials for diapers, or for talcum powder. They were cute.

Now we can't show kids in underpants, because it's sick.

We've come a long way, baby.

*

Here's how weird our society has become:

A guy protesting our criminal justice system just paid $16,000 so he could start a fire.

Bob Enyart, a radio host from Denver, was the winning bidder for several of O.J. Simpson's valuables in an auction to help satisfy a $33.5-million wrongful death judgment.

Enyart could have donated $16,000 directly to the families to whom O.J. owes money, but he didn't.

Enyart could have donated $16,000 directly to charities that benefit battered women, but he didn't.

Enyart could have stood outside L.A.'s downtown Criminal Courts Building with a picket sign, without spending a dime, but he didn't.

No, he bought things to burn them.

Their history didn't matter to him. Their irreplaceable quality didn't matter.

What mattered to Burning Bob was setting fire to a Hall of Fame plaque and to autographed USC and Buffalo Bills jerseys because, he shrewdly explained, "The criminal justice system is destroying justice before our very eyes."

Got that? To protest something being destroyed before our very eyes, Bob destroyed something before our very eyes.

Now there's a brilliant man.

Denver is so lucky to have a radio host like Burning Bob Enyart. He'll go down in history as the man who burned $16,000 worth of football merchandise to help fix our justice system.

I can see people inside our Criminal Courts Building now, holding emergency meetings.

"We'd better change our criminal justice system!" the mayor is saying to the district attorney.

"How come?"

"How come?! Bob Enyart just burned $16,000 worth of Hall of Fame plaques and Buffalo Bills jerseys!"

Why didn't I think of that?

All these years, I have wondered how I could help see justice done. I sat there with the rest of the world watching O.J. Simpson be found not guilty, asking myself what I could have done.

If only I had come up with the same brainstorm that Burning Bob Enyart did.

I could have scraped together 16 grand. I could have bid for a couple of O.J.'s old jerseys, jocks, socks, anything, then torched them on the courthouse steps.

Gil Garcetti would have gone back to his D.A.'s office, slammed the door and said, "Curses! I must fix our criminal justice system! It is being destroyed, just like O.J.'s jockstrap down there."

I'm not as wise as Burning Bob.

He's a guy who gets things done. And to think we once lived in a society where you couldn't even burn an American flag, much less a used Buffalo football uniform.

Too bad a breeze didn't suddenly come up so that Bob Enyart's fire accidentally spread to our Criminal Courts Building, thereby leading to Bob's own date in one of our fine criminal courts.

*

Here's how nutty our society has become:

A guy just paid $255,500 for a trophy he didn't win, so he could impress his girlfriend.

That's what a Philadelphia man said Thursday after he bought a Heisman Trophy won by Simpson in college. Tom Kriessman did it to "impress my girlfriend."

Once again, I can only regret not thinking of this first.

Beautiful women love men who buy other men's awards. It's how they become trophy girlfriends.

Mike Downey's column appears Sundays, Wednesdays and Fridays. Write to him at Times Mirror Square, Los Angeles 90053. E-mail: mike.downey@latimes.com

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