[From Salon's humor column. And if you need a new DUCK, see the end :-]
Whole lotta namin' goin' on
Why Mars rocks should not be named after really weak cartoon characters,
and even pedophiles deserve a little oblivion.
an American robot on Mars! White males come through once again! Cover of
Time! Photos of Mars you can download from the Internet! Fodder for new
This vidbot has made its creators so excited they've started naming Martian
rocks after characters in Hanna-Barbera cartoons.
I'm no scientist, but if I were to name the rocks on Mars and had the power
to make the names stick, I'd be a little more judicious. Yogi? What kind of
name is that for a rock? Little thing's going to grow up with low
self-esteem. Why not Ulysses? Or Hercules? (Well, maybe Disney owns that now.)
I'd settle for Daffy. At least it could be named for a real cartoon
character, and not one of those half-baked, derivative, poorly animated
pieces of bleep produced by Hanna-Barbera. As far as I'm concerned,
Hanna-Barbera represents the animated Antichrist. Do we really want this
evil to escape beyond our atmosphere?
And why aren't we naming the rocks here on Earth? We don't need NASA for
that. We could do that for nothing.
Why do rocks deserve a name anyway?
Does a pebble get a name? An initial? A nickname? Are there subcategories
for boulders? When does a boulder become a mountain? If we name a mountain
Mount Everest, is that like putting a "Sir" in front of Paul McCartney?
Where's the cutoff point? When does dirt start to qualify? Who's in charge
of this process?
At least I assume the stones of Mars are being named according to a strict
scientific process. There must be more to it than a bunch of physicists
free-associating and exorcising the memory of bad cartoons.
Speaking of scientific processes, not to change the subject or anything,
but what about pedophiles?
Now, I'm second to none in my disapproval of known sex offenders. Come to
think of it, is there anybody out there who is in favor of known sex
offenders? (Well, I'm more worried about unknown sex offenders, but there's
not much of a database there.)
Still, despite myself, I'm starting to feel sorry for the guys. Unlike
other ex-convicts who do their time, and (theoretically, anyway) get to
move on with their lives, sex offenders have to be "known." Their names
must appear on a National Registry. Because of "Megan's Law" and a growing
swamp of other laws, authorities must let citizens know when a convicted
sex offender is moving into the neighborhood. Realtors (or somebody) are
required to disclose to potential home buyers if a child molester is living
in the area.
Here in California, we've become even more zealous in our sex offender
knowing. Citizens here can call an 800 number if they see somebody acting
suspiciously around children. We've also instituted a unique policy: a
second conviction for a serious sex offense against a child under 13 means
the rapist must start weekly hormone injections before his parole. It's a
kinder, gentler castration.
Now we have a CD-ROM that names every sex offender in the state, and lets
you know where they live. Unfortunately, a lot of the information on the
CD-ROM is wrong. And apparently, it doesn't differentiate among offenses.
In this digital domain a baby raper is the moral equivalent of a frat boy
who had semi-consensual sex with a drunk high school kid. Roman Polanski
equals Jeffrey Dahmer equals the Kennedy clan. It's democracy in action --
making lists, naming the perverts, ensuring reelection, securing funding.
There was a story in the paper last week about some poor sap in San
Francisco. Somebody had put flyers on lampposts around his apartment,
accusing him of being a convicted sex offender. The San Francisco Chronicle
could find no truth in those anonymous allegations, but did find (and share
with its readers) that the guy had been convicted of dealing LSD many years
ago. I also learned that he was separated from his wife and daughters, and
might be evicted from his apartment for non-payment of rent. Thank you for
clearing him, print media! (With friends like these, who needs friends? At
least they spelled his name right.)
We feel we as citizens have both a right and need to know pretty much
anything. And we have the right to use this information any way we see fit.
The simple pleasure of naming used to be enough. Children, in their
innocence, enjoy naming their dolls and little ponies as much as or more
than playing with them.
Adults, however, are another matter. If they make a list of names,
eventually they'll do something with it. Might be a call to the
authorities, a call to the local talk radio station, maybe a call to some
friends about the scum who just moved in. Picket the pervert's house,
firebomb it, beat the creep up, kill him.
Forget e-mail. The flyer may be the communication tool of tomorrow.
Lynching may be the killer app. of tomorrow's justice system.
Me, I think I'll stick with just naming names. There's Bob the Front Door,
Fred the Floor, little Dougie the Alarm System. If I squint through Patti
Peephole, I can just barely make out Vic the Vigilante and Chuckie the
Child Molester going up in flames across the street. Ooooh! Here comes Paul
I'll be content to name the stones, if you don't ask me to throw them. I'm
no Christian, but I'm totally behind Jesus on that one.
July 24, 1997
Ian Shoales' new CD, "I Gotta Go," is an anthology of commentaries past,
read very fast into a microphone. It is has been released by 2.13.61
Records, and is theoretically available in fine music stores everywhere. It
can also be ordered by calling (800) 989-DUCK. Ask for Steve. Tell him Ian
--- Rohit Khare /// MCI Internet Architecture (BOS) /// email@example.com Voice+Pager: (617) 960-5131 VNet: 370-5131 Fax: (617) 960-1009