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Tuesday, June 28, 2005

We're "Negotiating With Terrorists," Not Negotiating With Terrorists

It was recently learned that the US government has been in talks with the Iraqi insurgency, hoping to somehow curb the violence that has inundated the news since the end of major combat was declared more than a year ago.

Rumsfeld vehemently denied that the talks amounted to negotiating with "terrorists" such as the most-wanted man in Iraq, Jordanian militant Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, Al-Qaeda's leader in Iraq.

Rumsfeld said, "You know, it's a fine line, but let the record show... the line is in fact there. I mean, the liberal media wants you to believe that we're negotiating with terrorists. But we're not 'negotiating with terrorists.' Not when I'm using these handy air quotes."

"It's one of the flaws of the liberal media," added Rumsfeld. "They don't understand the meaning behind quotes, so they take us at our word. Look at what happened on that aircraft carrier."

I became puzzled at this statement. What was Rummy talking about? Was he talking about the MISSION ACCOMPLISHED sign? That was a huge blunder by the Bush administration, preemptively declaring the end of the preemptive war in Iraq.

Or was it?

I studied the tapes and the photos. Sure enough. Rummy was right. Stupid liberal media. First look this famous shot. We've all seen it again and again. The banner says MISSION ACCOMPLISHED, which at first, in retrospect, seems like a very inappropriate thing to declare.

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Now, look at this computer-enhanced shot. This is the banner close up. Closer than any one of us little guys could have gotten with the liberal media filter on our TV's.

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See? MISSION "ACCOMPLISHED." It's ironic. It's not implying that major combat operations in Iraq have ended. Now that the quotes are there, it would be rather silly to assume that.

So, the Secretary of Defense is correct, guys. We're not "negotiating with terrorists." Not when his hands are up in the air gesturing quotes. We would never negotiate with terrorists. But we will "negotiate with terrorists." We'll "meet" with the "enemy" and "discuss" ways in which "we" might "end" this "war."

And that's the difference between those people who love America and those who hate America. Lovers of America use quotes and cherish freedom. Haters of America take officials at their word and take big shits on freedom. They leave no room for officials to be ironic, or sarcastic. What if policy calls for us to display an ironic banner, but we can't because the liberal media is so flawed? Then what?

That's right. People like Hitler win. Is that what you want? You want Hitler to win?

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You want this?

You make me sick.

When I wrote this on Monday night (6/27/05), the phenomenal television program known as The Daily Show had already concluded for that evening. I, unfortunately, did not see the June 27, 2005 episode. I've edited this post and added this disclaimer because, having seen the June 27, 2005 episode in rerun tonight, I noticed a slight similarity in material. Now, obviously, them copying me is out of the question -- they would just have to crap on some loose leaf and they've outdone me. So, I need to make it clear that I did not use The Daily Show to come up with this post. It takes balls for me to assume that I'm even worth the disclaimer, but it's important to me.

Thursday, June 23, 2005

What Does Happen When You Burn An American Flag?

The House Of Representatives recently passed a measure to amend the U.S. constitution to include a ban on flag burning and desecration. But why? Why would anyone care if a flag is burned? Flag burning doesn't harm anyone.

Or does it?

Believing that there may be more here than meets the eye, I began meticulously researching the science of flag burning. I interviewed experts, observed professional flag burners in their natural habitat, and even tamed a number of wild flags.

But what I discovered was truly incredible. There is a reason that people in the Republican-controlled House of Representatives have tried so hard to pass the amendment banning flag burning. It's very technical, so I'll try not to complicate things with heavy, scientific wording.

What Happens When You Burn An American Flag

Burning a flag seems innocent enough, right? I mean, after all, it's just a material thing used to represent ideals, right? You're not really setting fire to freedom, patriotism, freedom, liberty, or freedom, right? WRONG.

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When you burn an American flag, freedom particles and liberty molecules are released into the atmosphere. "But, Andy, don't we want more freedom and liberty in the air?" You'd think that, wouldn't you? Releasing freedom and liberty sounds great in a symbolic kind of way, but the truth of the matter is sobering. We only have so much freedom and liberty to go around. That's right. Like fresh water or fossil fuels, only so much liberty and freedom exists on Earth. If you're burning an American flag, you're wasting a precious, limited resource.

And that's only part of the story. Freedom particles and liberty molecules, once released into the atmosphere, will interact with other types of particles, ones which will cause the creation of unstable, mutated and dangerous compounds. After speaking with a number of scientists, I compiled a list of the most dangerous particles, which when combined with freedom, spell disaster for our country.

Heathen particles - Released during everyday sinning
Sodomite particles - Released during sodomy
Abortion particles - Released during abortions
Gay particles - Released by gay people
Welfare particles - Released by welfare recipients
Tree-hugger particles - Released by hugging trees*

Two seen here...

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If these mutated particles were to stay high up in the atmosphere, then it would be no big deal. The problem is these particles are so heavy with ickiness that they'll eventually make their way back to ground level, poisoning everyone in their path.

So, not only do we have less freedom as a result of burning the American flag, we have more unnatural forms of freedom, nicknamed "freekdom" by scientists, which slowly poison our society.

On a brighter note, freedom particles which fall back to Earth unmutated have a positive effect in the war on terrorism. Terrorists exposed to freedom particles and liberty molecules are almost instantly consumed by the fires of their own burning hatred of freedom.

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It's important to get all the facts before jumping on a bandwagon with the rest of the torch-wielding villagers. Get educated, friend. Burning American flags doesn't just hurt the flag, it will eventually hurt you and everyone you care about. A fine job, United States representatives. A fine, fine job.

Don't burn flags.

* The act of hugging trees. Not trees that hug you.

Sunday, June 19, 2005

The Book Meme

I had no idea what a meme was. So, I looked it up. Hedwig_the_owl passed the book meme to me, and now I will complete it and pass it on to some other bloggers. So here we go.

The Number Of Books I Own
This is a tricky question, because my parents are book fiends, and we have a moderately sized room dedicated to books. I've never until a few years ago really needed to buy any books. But after I started discovering my own literary interests, I built up my own collection. I would guess that I'm up to about 200.

I own a lot of satirical books. George Carlin, Al Franken, David Sedaris. I also own a lot of Science Fiction, but specifically SF written by Philip K. Dick. I own all his short stories and a bunch of his novels. He is terrific. Besides that, I of course own the Lord Of The Rings books, with the Hobbit and the Silmarillion. I love books about language usage and books where old British men lecture on the audacity of younger generations' blatant disregard of "proper" usage rules. There's quite a bit of other stuff too, but I don't want to bore.

The Last Books I Bought

The last books I bought were Me Talk Pretty One Day by David Sedaris and The Partly Cloudy Patriot by Sarah Vowell.

Last Book I Read
The last book I read was The Lion, The Witch, And The Wardrobe by C.S. Lewis, the second book the Chronicles Of Narnia. I'm reading them through before the film comes out. It looks incredible.

Five Books That Mean A Lot
Hmm, this is a difficult list to create. But there are a few books which have completely changed me as a reader and a writer, and so those I guess will suffice.

The Elements Of Style
by William Strunk Jr. and E.B. White

This is the single greatest book on writing that has ever been written. Period. Everyone should own this book, regardless of whether or not you're a writer. It's short. It's sweet. No exuses.

Story by Robert McKee
This book is the greatest book I have ever read regarding storytelling. This book focuses mainly on screenplays (authored by a screenplay writer), but for anyone who wants to learn how to tell a great story, no matter the medium, this is the book to read.

America: The Book by The Daily Show writers
It's difficult to be funny, and it's even more difficult to write funny. But this book is so jam-packed with hilarity that by the end you're laughing because you can't believe you're still laughing. That's how great this book is. When I did the intern blog, and people knew I interned at Comedy Central, they would say things like, "You're funnier than the Daily Show writers." This is absolutely absurd. I wish I were a tenth as funny as these writers. With practice and time, maybe someday, but for now, I only bow to them. Funniest book ever written.

Rush Limbaugh Is A Big, Fat Idiot by Al Franken
Al Franken is one of my main influences when it comes to satirical writing. His style takes deadpan delivery to another level. He also helped me understand just what you could do to tell jokes via writing. The asterisks that inundated my intern blog were an homage to Franken's brilliant use of footnotes. If you read any one of his books, read this one first. It may be his best, but it was also written before everyone with half a brain started writing political books. His books will still always be better. And the reason is because he is funny. And the others rarely are.

The Harry Potter Series by J.K. Rowling
When I first heard about Harry Potter, I thought, "Great, kids are reading, but no thanks, I'm an adult. I only read grown-up books." My sister generally introduced me to the books. I always made fun of her for reading them. Then one day, after watching one of the films, I decided to give one a try. Well, needless to say, I was hooked instantly. I read the first book in one day, at just under 8 hours. I read all of my sister's copies, then shortly thereafter, I went out and purchased the first five books in a boxed set for myself. J.K. Rowling deserves to be as rich as she is. She's written an amazing story, and she's gotten children interested in reading during the process.

Now, for some other bloggers. Obviously, there's no obligation, and I'm not sure who's done one already, but we'll see what happens. In no particular order, how about...

Jasmine of Jazz... In Strange Places
Ginnderella of Raridayrar
Omar of Omar's Blog
Steph of The Last Ditch
One Glorious Conundrum of Obsession With Self Awareness
Mimi of Mimi in New York

Basically, do what I did, then pass it on. I guess.

Wednesday, June 15, 2005

One Of Five Random Thoughts

#1 Store Cashiers

I was in a store the other day. It seems like whenever I'm checking out, no matter who the salesperson may be, I always feel the need to entertain. Why do we feel the need to humor or entertain cashiers? As if we're shining some small bit of light on what we assume to be their horribly dark and pitiful lives.

We stand in line, swaying back and forth, shifting our weight from one leg to the other.* You inconspicuously listen in on the small talk of the guy checking out in front of you. He places his three very busy Hawaiian shirts on the conveyer belt, then flashes a smile at the 18 year old cashier. "Wife and I... takin' a trip to the Caribbean," he says. The cashier humors him with a brief smile. "I wasn't sure about these patterns, but I figure, heh... no one'll ever lose me, right?" The cashier swipes his credit card without pause. His receipt prints. His things are packed into bags and he's soon on his way. He'll go over the entire scenario again while walking to his car. "'No one will ever lose me'? Real smooth! Stupid ass! Should have gone with the weather material!"

Now it's your turn. And even though you saw him go down in flames, you think exactly as he did. "Okay, you're up," you say to yourself, cracking your knuckles and stretching your neck from side to side. "Time to turn on the funny. Let's show this cashier a good time."

And then, like the others before us, we fail.

She doesn't care about your copy of Family Guy on DVD, and why you think it's a hilarious show. She doesn't care why you're getting the boxer briefs instead of just boxers or just briefs. And, for the love of Lucifer, she doesn't care why you're going with the X-Box version and not the Playstation 2 version of the latest Grand Theft Auto.

Why do we do it?

* And still another if you have a third leg.

Saturday, June 11, 2005

Neo-Nazis Are Douche Bags

I went out with my friend and his girlfriend last night. After hitting a few bars, we stopped at a local restaurant to eat. A group of younger guys came in, none of them could have been older than 20. When I got up to go to the bathroom, I discovered — after seeing their t-shirts, their tattoos, and their large protruding brows — they were Neo-Nazis, or "douche bags" as they're known in academic circles. (Love those academic circles.)

I don't really hate many people. Hate is a strong word. But I do hate Neo-Nazis. I would use this sentence to insult them, but anything I write will only be met by my own frustration, as no insult will fully encapsulate the unwavering stupidity and Neanderthal-like behavior of a Neo-Nazi. Well, that sentence was pretty good, but you get the idea.

I've always generally thought of shallow, personal insults as uncalled for, whether it's in regards to the way a person looks or the clothes a person wears. But for the Neo-Nazis, I'm going to make an exception. So, I'm going to take out my frustration on this douche baggy ideology by making personal, irrelevant insults to pictures of Neo-Nazis.

Some people might think that this brings me down to their level, making fun of Neo-Nazis. But people who think that wouldn't be intelligent enough to read the words I am typing right now, so let's move on.


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Friday, June 10, 2005

Campaign Ads

We're not really in the midst of a campaign season, but it seems to begin sooner and sooner every election. Since becoming interested in politics, I've been incredibly fascinated by campaign ads. They've become so underhanded and snippity. Almost bitchy.

I tried to write what I thought was a funny series of campaign ads between two fictional candidates. But I found it legitimately difficult to do, seeing as how the real life ads have become so ridiculous. "So-and-so voted against keeping criminals in jail," or "What's-his-face likes it when people die," or "He voted 20 times to increase taxes... and then he ate a baby." They really do sometimes border on absurdity.

Still, I think I captured the tone of the more modern campaigns, which have been -- in a word -- nasty. But not all candidates start off dirty. Usually it starts with one. And when the mudslinging begins to have an effect, the other candidate resorts to the same nasty tactics.

My fictional series of ads features two candidates. The first, Bob Hirtle, is meant to be the protagonist, an underdog, fighting against incumbency. He's the good guy, in most instances defending. The second, Jake Goodfellow, is meant to be the antagonist, the powerhouse, fighting to keep his political career going. He's the bad guy, in most instances attacking.

You should almost be able to hear the soothing, female voice of the narrator in your head. That's how I imagine it. Though, maybe for you it's a soothing, male voice. Either way, it's damn soothing.


Commercial #1
(Goodfellow attacking Hirtle)
A person's name says a lot about who they are. Jake Goodfellow, for instance, is a good fellow. Just look at his name. It says what he is.

As for Bob Hirtle — his name comes close to spelling "Hitler" — a little too close.

Jake Goodfellow. The name says it all.

Commercial #2
(Hirtle responding to Goodfellow)
Presidential incumbent Jake Goodfellow wants you to believe that Hirtle spells Hitler. Clearly, it doesn't. The T, L, R, and E aren't even in the right place. We need Presidents who can spell important words. Jake Goodfellow has proven that he's not up to the job. Let's "Hirtle" over Jake Goodfellow.

Vote Bob Hirtle for President.

Commercial #3
(Goodfellow responding to Hirtle)
In his latest attack ad, Bob Hirtle/Hitler claims that Jake Goodfellow can't spell. Yet, in very same ad, he misspells "hurdle." It's spelled H-U-R-D-L-E. Jake Goodfellow knows this, because Jake Goodfellow can spell.

Bob Hirtle/Hitler. His own name is spelled wrong.

Commercial #4
(Hirtle responding to Goodfellow)
Goodfellow is at it again.

In his latest attack on Bob Hirtle, Goodfellow proves not only that he is fond of misspelling, but he doesn't even know what metaphorical language is. Bob Hirtle knows what metaphorical language is. He used it when he substituted "Hirtle" for "hurdle." It's a play on words. Then again, a President should know this.

Heh... Jake Goodfellow. He's just too silly to remain President.

Commercial #5
(Goodfellow responding to Hirtle)
Hehe... Bob Hirtle likes to use big, smart-sounding phrases like "metaphorical language". Aren't these phrases you learn in countries like France? Sorry, Bob Hirtle, but Jake Goodfellow has never been to France, nor does he plan on going.

Jake Goodfellow. He's not in love with France.

Monday, June 06, 2005

Whoops! Sorry, Dude! My Urine. My Bad.

This week there were some new reports about prisoner abuse at Guantanamo Bay. No, no, newer than that one. That one, too.

In May, Newsweek printed a story alleging that guards at the Cuban prison had, among other things, flushed a copy of the Quran down the toilet. Later, they retracted the story when their government source backed away from his original statements.

White House press secretary Scott McClellan said the retraction was "a good first step" and that the magazine now has a responsibility to spread the word to the Muslim world that U.S. interrogators "treat the Quran with great care and respect."

Yeah, Newsweek. Stupid. Start spreading the word, idiots. No one flushed any holy book down a toilet. How about some legitimate journalism for a change, Newsweek? Like what was uncovered about a day ago.

The Pentagon confirmed Friday evening that a U.S. soldier had deliberately kicked a prisoner's holy book. The report also said prison guards had thrown water balloons in a cell block, causing an unspecified number of Qurans to get wet...

Here's where Newsweek really takes it in the ass. See how completely off they were?

...a guard's urine had splashed on a detainee and his Quran.

Newsweek! What is up with you, dude? The Qurans didn't get thrown into the urine-filled toilet. The urine was brought to the Qurans. It's called "fact-checking." You may want to look into it.

After hearing about this story, I wondered how a guard's urine could "accidentally" splash onto a detainee and his Quran. On a hunch, I had my contact at Guantanamo Bay send me the blueprints for the prison. What I found was surprising, but it explained everything.

What we have is a simple design flaw...

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See how there are six to eight toilets to a cell? It's hard to say what the building architects were going for when they originally drew up these plans, but I think it's possible that they never intended for their prison to house Qurans, or "urine magnets" as they're known in academic circles. Given this new piece of evidence, it's hard to imagine a Guantanamo Bay detainee or Quran not soaked in urine. Am I right?

Presidential spokesman and skin wearer Scott McClellan says, "It is unfortunate that some have chosen to take out of context a few isolated incidents by a few individuals."

I couldn't agree more. This whole thing has been taken completely out of context. A few detainees were splashed with urine — big deal. In the context of these blueprints, it's not even worth reporting. It's like reporting on a guy who spent his whole life inhaling honey and then one day drowned himself in honey. Trust me, it's a solid analogy. You had to have seen it coming, and reporting it as if it were a shocking event is in fact taking the story out of its honey-drowned/urine-soaked context.

These detainees aren't going to escape urine, friend. So, why don't we spend our time worrying about more important matters? Like the fact that Democrats are not likely going to stop singing sensation and talent juggernaut Michael Bolton from being confirmed as U.N. Ambassador.

What a scoop!

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Thursday, June 02, 2005

My 100 Things List

I've seen a lot of these lists around, including one by my future wife Jasmine.* Essentially, it's a list of 100 random things about yourself. I think it reveals quite a bit about a person, and I think everyone should do one. It's almost like therapy. Except no one's here to blame you. "Here, lie down on this couch," the therapist says. "No, you idiot! That couch!" the therapist says. "Gah! No wonder you're in therapy!" the therapist says.

It's just you. So, you blame you.

So, anyway, here it is. There's some small, mundane things, not to be confused with the large, mundane things. There's a few more important things listed as well. But, I've already toyed with you enough. Enjoy.

100 Things...

1. I'm from medium sized city in southeastern Wisconsin.
2. I'm an English major, though I hated English in high school.
3. I'm 22.
4. I'm about 6 feet tall.
5. I'm pretty shy in real life, though I still crack jokes when I can.
6. I'm completely liberal.
7. I think liberalism is about always evolving.
8. I think conservatism is about going against the natural grain.
9. I love The Daily Show. America the Book may be the funniest book ever written.
10. I played baseball through high school, but the higher you go, the more it becomes a job.
11. I just wanted to play the game.
12. I work out and run when I'm depressed.
13. I'm in pretty good shape right now.
14. I got a mohawk in NY because I had some anonymity.
15. Sense of humor in girls is more important than anything else.
16. I think people who aren't part geek aren't normal.
17. People are way too inconsiderate in theaters.
18. I like playing video games, though I haven't had the urge to play in a while.
19. I'm afraid that I'm growing out of them.
20. Interning in NYC was the scariest thing I've ever done.
21. Interning in NYC was the greatest thing I've ever done.
22. I like to read and write.
23. I'm a recovering Star Wars geek.
24. I'm a drummer.
25. I don't really drink much.
26. I don't smoke.
27. I've done marijuana, but then I graduated high school.
28. I know almost nothing about women, but I don't pretend to know a lot.
29. I love video game music remixes.
30. I like anime, though I think 85% of it is utter crap.
31. I can skateboard, though I've sort of outgrown it.
32. I found out about Santa when I was 10, the Easter bunny the day after.
33. I love The Onion.
34. My family is middle class.
35. My favorite film is Blade Runner.
36. I love Sci-Fi.
37. I love Office Space.
38. I get annoyed by people who chew with their mouth open and
generally lack basic manners.
39. My friends tell me I'm too nice.
40. I am too nice.
41. I think empathy is the key to nice people.
42. I think stubborn pride is the key to assholes.
43. There's nothing I'd rather do in college other what I am doing.
44. I started a satirical newspaper with a friend in college, called The State.
45. I'm going after a writing career because I like writing, not because of any money reasons. If I can make a decent living doing it, I'll be happy.
46. Programs on PBS generally fascinate me.
47. I like girls who are nice, but with a wicked sense of humor.
48. Also, I like hoop earrings on a girl — not sure why, but they just do something for me.
49. Yes... hoop earrings.
50. I hate winter; I'm a warm weather person.
51. I could never meet a girl at a club a start making out with her immediately.
52. But sometimes I wish I could.
53. I've got rhythm and I think I could dance okay.
54. I'm fascinated by 80's pop culture.
55. And I wish I lived in the world of classic 80's high school films.
56. I love to watch shows about science.
57. I built the computer I'm using right now.
58. I like watching baseball on TV, but I hate TV baseball commentators.
59. Radio commentary is much better.
60. I've been downloading Desperate Housewives episodes.
61. Desperate Housewives is not a bad show, I must admit.
62. I watch Smallville, I think, because deep down I wish I was a superhero.
63. I want a female, Jewish, Black president just to shake things up.
64. I believe in Evolution.
65. I don't know if I believe in God.
66. I'm afraid of the reactions I'll get if I say I don't.
67. I'm a Simpsons geek.
68. I also think the show has run its course, and should have been stopped years ago.
69. I'm afraid people who know me will read this list, but whatever.
70. I think The X-Files is the greatest dramatic series in TV history.
71. I start a fresh notebook when I begin a new writing project.
72. I have nearly-fresh notebooks everywhere.
73. I hate being seen as a know-it-all.
74. Sometimes I stay quiet when I do know something, or can prove someone wrong.
75. Reality TV sucks.
76. Even if watch happily at any point, it still sucks.
77. I think religious figures in politics are despicable.
78. Yeah, Pat Robertson. He's a douche bag.
79. I'm always afraid of missing opportunities.
80. When I want to ask a girl out, I'm almost afraid for her, so then I don't.
81. And when I'm really interested in a girl, I'm usually too much of a sissy to do anything about it.
82. I don't believe awkward situations would exist if people just tried.
83. People who say, "I'm Rick James, Bitch!" under non-sarcastic pretenses are stupid.
84. People who say, "I'm Rick James, Bitch!" to make fun of 83's are cool.
85. I don't want to own a lot of stuff.
86. I'm constantly donating things and throwing things out.
87. I could see myself trading my life for someone else's.
88. I think Harry Potter is worth reading. Not just for kids.
89. I think if you make fun of someone who is crippled, you should be immediately crippled.
90. I already mentioned empathy, but I think empathy is the key to any kind of world peace.
91. I think Friends is a hilarious show.
92. I just don't like the sappy parts — I'm not a chick.
93. I know a girl who is drop dead gorgeous.
94. But I like her for her personality (and I can prove it).
95. And it kind of freaks me out.
96. I think the Phantom Menace was the best of the Star Wars prequels and, though Jar Jar is not the best character, it became hip to trash, and everyone jumped on the bandwagon.
97. I didn't used to drink a lot of water, but now I drink it all the time.
98. I met blogger Jasmine in person while in NY. She's very cool. We hit off so well that we're getting married.* She made fun of me for not ever having gone to Whole Foods.
99. I check my spelling while on AOL instant messenger.
100. I think everyone should do a 100 things list.

Even though I think it's funny, I'm still going to add this...
* We're not really getting married (though, never say never). It's sort of a longstanding inside joke between the two of us. Though, two people is pretty inside. Heh, maybe too inside.

Wednesday, June 01, 2005

Legalize Everything

I had a thought recently. What if our reality was just the dream of another reality? What if peanut butter and jelly were somehow the answer to many of the mysteries of the universe? I know, weird. Then, I put those thoughts on hold and had another thought.

What if we legalized everything? Anything that didn't physically harm another person is perfectly legal to do. Sex, drugs, suicide — it's all fair game. Here's why I think this would be good for the world.

We let everyone do whatever the hell they want, as long as it doesn't hurt anyone else. This way, the smart people will try it, get tired of it, learn their lesson, and then pass this lesson on to their children. The stupid people will overdo it and die, and hopefully somehow take their children with them.

What do you think?