Now that the collective mourning of the Sept. 11 anniversary is behind us, it’s time once again for Americans to focus on other important issues of our day. There’s nothing new about celebrity magazines distracting us from the more pressing issues. But here are a few pertinent questions: If Jennifer Lopez pawned her gift ring from Ben Affleck, how big a dent would it put in the $87 billion and rising bill to occupy and rebuild Iraq? If Britney Spears and Madonna were to stage their MTV Music Awards kiss in front of the entire roster of al-Qaeda, would that force them to cower in submission?
& ull; Homosexual mores still spook a lot of Americans into near-open hostility, even if it’s as vapid a television show as Queer Eye for the Straight Guy. According to The Billings Gazette, our neighbors up north in the Montana Family Coalition just can’t stand it. “To me, that’s not really a show about gay people,” a coalition member told the Gazette. “A really good reality show for gay people would be five gay men dying of AIDS.” Hmm. The only complaint some gay men have about the program is that it stereotypes them as chatty and vain clotheshorses.
& ull; Salt Lakers have long been used to getting their daily doses of anti-alcohol sagas and tragic anecdotes by way of a subscription to the Deseret Morning News. Now, Citizens Against Government Waste (CAGW) in Washington, D.C., warns of a fiscally wasteful element afoot in the campaign to combat underage drinking. Specifically, CAGW charges that the National Academy of Sciences wasted $500,000 in appointing a panel of “experts” who have received funding from or associate with anti-alcohol organizations. No big surprise, perhaps. What really irks is that, in its report, the panel recommends restricting advertising and/or increasing taxes to fight the problem. Such recommendations never have been proven effective. Programs successful at reducing underage drinking, CAGW pointed out, usually make “parental involvement” a critical factor, not advertising controls. For most of us in Utah, whether LDS or not, that comes as no surprise.
& ull; That wild and crazy loose-lipped Italian prime minister is at it again. Not content with comparing a German lawmaker at the European Parliament to a Nazi concentration camp guard, Silvio Berlusconi had the hypocritical gall to tell Italy’s La Voce di Rimini newspaper that, “Mussolini never killed anyone. Mussolini used to send people on vacation in internal exile.” The German fascists were, of course, beasts. But Mussolini, a man who set into motion the deaths of thousands of Italian Jews and waged massacres against the Libyans, Ethiopians and Yugoslav Serbians was nothing more than a travel agent with a hot temper? Right. In an age when America’s leaders place new emphasis on judging political leadership around the world, and in some cases exacting swift punishment when they don’t agree, someone might want to send Berlusconi a chilly note or two. Britain’s tony The Economist magazine already has, calling the Italian prime minister the continent’s “most extreme case of the abuse by a capitalist of the democracy within which he lives and operates.” Italy’s richest citizen, Berlusconi has a stake in six of Italy’s seven television networks, and has blocked numerous attempts to investigate his companies. Berlusconi has threatened a defamation suit against the magazine.