Monday, June 16, 2008

Three Free Passes

On a regular basis it seems, a celebrity or TV or radio personality says something really, really idiotic that makes a particular group in our society really, really angry and what follows is a round of recrimination, demands for the person to be fired or their products boycotted, or any number of other punishments. Next comes an even longer round of apologies, tears, and acts of contrition from the offending party, who now carries the name “disgraced” with them for however long the media decides, such as disgraced announcer, disgraced comedian, disgraced politician.

If you think about it, dis-graced implies the individual possessed some degree of grace prior to the incident. I for one have never used the words politician and grace in the same sentence.

Even a harmless golf announcer was trapped in a firestorm of negative reaction for a remark she made about Tiger Woods. And tournament golf isn’t exactly known as a hotbed of controversy. During recessionary times especially, the depth of grooves in a golfer’s sand wedge is not something I can get too worked up about.

If we look at this whole issue of media feeding on media, we see that it is a statistical certainty that every few weeks at least, someone will shoot their mouth off and offend a significant segment of the population. Why?

--The number of microphones being thrust into our faces increases exponentially while the supply of intelligent individuals remains constant, or perhaps even declines due to the ineffectiveness of the public school system and the rise of Reality TV.

--Behind the scenes of any media outlet you will find editors and producers in the quest for higher ratings, exhorting their on-air troops to be edgier, more controversial, more “fiery”. So, with the reasonable goal of pleasing their boss, the on air personalities dream up more and more outrageous things to say. They think they’re just doing their job.

--In the case of celebrities and entertainers, they have a pathological need for attention. It’s like a drug addiction that requires more and more frequent fixes. There’s no cure either. Not even finding religion helps many of these poor folks.

I have a solution for this whole problem: Three Free Passes.

This simply means anyone in the public eye is issued a voucher containing free passes that can be used to wipe out the record of three inane things that come out of their mouths and sail across the airwaves (and eventually sailing out in space to offend the tender but probably weirdly shaped ears of aliens on distant planets).

They would carry these passes with them wherever they go. When they catch themselves uttering something idiotic, they pull it out and holler “FREE PASS!” and are immediately absolved from criticism and outrage. They, and more importantly we, get to move on with our lives. No controversy, no unpleasantness, no boycotts. Just a return to the gentle rhythm of our peaceful existence.

Why three? If you say more than three really stupid things on the air, perhaps it is best you find another career, one that doesn't involve microphones or TV cameras.

By the way, I’m deeply sorry I made fun of alien’s ears. FREE PASS!

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