Letters to the Boston editor: November 17, 2006
I’m writing about your article “Pardon Us.” Ultimately, it all boils down to one simple question: is it really the media’s job to decide what subjects are worthy of discussion? It is sad that you would even ask. The primary responsibility of the press is to ensure that the electorate is aware of all relevant issues so that they may cast an informed vote. Shying from or avoiding some issues because they are embarrassing negates the very reason for your existence. There is nothing more elemental to the governance of a state than the integrity of its legal system. Yet Massachusetts has a demonstrably corrupt legal system incapable of coping with its own corruption. When the press avoids the obvious, it has utterly failed in its primary mission. I expect this willful oversight will be remedied by the out-of-state press when they cover Mitt Romney’s run for the presidency and his willful failure to address the corruption of the legal system in Massachusetts. It will also be a marvelous opportunity for the guru of civil rights to show the voters his true mettle.
What are you laughin’ at?
I think humor and laughter are among the least understood emotions. We laugh when we identify things, either because they’re harmless or because we’re somehow afraid or threatened by them. It’s a natural human reaction. It relieves stress. Just because we laugh at something, it does not mean we are cruel or dumb or racist or callous or shameless. It usually does not mean we are bad people. More than anything, I find Borat absurd (the type of humor I love). Just like South Park or Python or whomever “offends” people, you laugh at his character and actions and reactions. Borat is an absurd character and, yes, he is exploiting third-world stereotypes for some fun (and a very healthy paycheck). But I don’t think he’s going to start some anti-Khazak movement or shame that country in any way. The humor in Borat is largely the people’s reactions to his outrageous behavior, not necessarily to his comments or “beliefs.” It’s in his naïveté. The scary part is when some people agree with him! I laugh at Borat till I cry, mostly, and without shame.
Making the grade
Oh, wow, so many great shows that didn’t make the list. The Ramones at The Channel, ’90 or ’91 — totally destroyed what was left of my hearing, and I was black and blue from being bounced around the crowd. Lollapalooza 1 — Ice-T blew the roof off when he stunned the crowd when he brought out his thrash band Body Count. Living Colour. Henry Rollins. Nine Inch Nails. And, of course, Jane’s Addiction at the pinnacle of their career. Aerosmith/Run-DMC/Kid Rock at Great Woods. And Stanley Jordan at Nightstage around 1989 — every axe slinger in Boston was there watching with their jaws on the floor, unable to believe what they were seeing and hearing.
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