by J Scott Christianson, Columbia Daily Tribune Columnist
The amount of e-mail “spam” I get on a given day is enough to make me howl “shut ’em down” anytime someone proposes legislation to make spamming illegal. In fact, the death penalty for spammers is probably something I could support at this point. So this year, I got a “spam filter” that has reduced the spam to a manageable amount.
Unfortunately, that doesn’t take care of the people who go through the effort to forward me all the crap from their inboxes. For example, one colleague — whom we will call Z to protect his anonymity — has a habit of sitting down at the end of each day and forwarding several “gems” to me and several dozen other lucky individuals. Nestled in with the off-color jokes, soft-core porn and holiday cards are some of the weirdest pieces of right-wing propaganda I have ever seen.
For example, this came from Z last week, along with a photo of several Marines in prayer: “If you look closely at the picture above, you will note that all the Marines pictured are bowing their heads. That’s because they’re praying. This has the ACLU up in arms. ‘These are federal employees,’ says Lucius Traveler, a spokesman for the ACLU, ‘on federal property and on federal time. For them to pray is clearly an establishment of religion, and we must nip this in the bud immediately.’ “
“When asked about the ACLU’s charges, Col. Jack Fessender, speaking for the commandant of the corps, said, ‘Screw the ACLU.’ “
This would be a real indictment of the ACLU if it were true. But it isn’t. The Marines can’t find any record of a Jack Fessender. And the ACLU has not made any protest about soldiers praying and has never had anyone named Lucius Traveler working for them. Also, the ACLU only takes on legal battles when an individual complains that his or her civil liberties have been violated. For example, when they defended Rush Limbaugh after police wanted to examine his medical records while investigating how he had illegally obtained OxyContin.
Or take this little zinger Z forwarded this past year. It is supposedly from a Dr. Johnson of the University of Mississippi, who volunteered to help hurricane survivors when they arrived in Houston. According his account, there was no problem with supplies, food or shelter. In fact, the convention center was packed with “queen-size beds, clean showers, a hospital, a library and even a theater room.”