Thursday, March 26, 2009

Three who changed the world

The interesting thing about the trio in today's sermon is that at the level of win/lose, they all actually lost!

There are certain epic points in our history that revolve around the "Rule of Law" as a paradigm for sane governance. Possibly the most famous was the Dred Scott Decision wherein the august judges ruled that this man was not a person and could not use the courts to gain his freedom.

Although not at the same level of significance, today's subjects reveal similar total absurdities in the workings of "justice" - or at least justices.

The first was John Thomson, who energized the rather academic "Free Speech Movement" featuring Mario Savio at UCBerkeley in 1965. He wandered onto the campus (he was not a student) carrying a sign that had one "illegal" word on it: "FUCK". By the time the media mavens had finished, the chancellor of the UC system had resigned, the faculty was divided 'twixt satirists and absurdists and the Sixties as we remember them were in full throat. Thomson, and later several students (who read aloud from "Lady Chatterly's Lover") were arrested for something like public indecency.

The next was Dan O'Neill a satirical cartoonist who, with several others came to be known by the name of "Air Pirates", the comic book using Mickey Mouse as pretty much a figure to be ridiculed, while being admired. Disney was not amused and although it never got to the Supreme Court, Dan finally settled and promised to be good. But the precedent was a blow to parody/satire that has been a rallying point for such efforts since. A recent South Park episode has the mouse beating up the Jonas Brothers and blatant "Disney Presents" messages. Apparently their lawyers feel they're on firmer ground than Dan's felt they were.

The last is sort of in the same vein and elicited full-blown nonsense from the Supremes. 18-year-old Joseph Frederick unveiled a banner at a parade (off-campus) reading "Bong Hits 4 Jesus" and the Supreme Court struck down the First Amendment in some really tortured "logic".

Ultimately those who lost (not, so far the last one) actually prevailed and the culture has changed so you can say "fuck" in a movie or live performance (though it still gets bleeped on TV as George Carlin spins in his grave), and poking fun at a mouse won't get you jail time.

It's a good thing I got to be around for some of these vindications, in fact I feel that my standing as a prophet has been enhanced. However, women still don't have the protection of the Equal Rights Amendment, though we have come a long way, baby!


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