Lawmaker takes bull by the ... never mind


WASHINGTON -- At the risk of being patently offensive to my dear readers, today's subject is (are?) bull testicles. Frankly, I hadn't given them much thought beyond the basics. You know: Bulls got 'em, steers lost 'em and cows never had 'em. I've heard some folks eat 'em, but I'm not going there.

Thanks to LeRoy Myers, a Republican state delegate from Maryland's Washington County, I've been thinking about them a lot. Well, not the real thing, but, you know, fake ones. Apparently it has become de rigeur to hang 'em from a pickup truck trailer hitch.

I've seen the accessory in parts catalogs and on eBay, but I've never seen them in action. Where I live, next to the District, they aren't that popular. I guess you'd have to go outside the Beltway to someplace like Hagerstown or Bakersfield to see 'em.

Well, the sight of 'em dangling from various trailer hitches has made Myers see red. He's pushing to outlaw their display in Maryland. It would also outlaw decals and bumper stickers depicting human breasts, buttocks and genitals. Fines would run as high as $500. It's not that Myers himself doesn't want to see the giant gonads, but he's doing it for the kids.

My wife, who spends more time outside of the city than I do, has seen them, and she applauds Myers. She contends that whatever First Amendment right some joker has to put a set on his truck doesn't apply when they're on a steroidal four-wheel drive and dangling in her face. Needless to say, their display is a bone of contention in our household.

Myers may not be some wacko, peckerwood lawmaker, but his crusade isn't an isolated one. Politicians from the backwoods to Capitol Hill want to stop people from seeing and hearing things that they don't want people to see and hear. They don't do this for themselves, mind you, it's for the kids.

Money no longer qualifies as the root of all evil. It's the media. In the past year or so, media of various kinds have been blamed for all sorts of societal ills.

Smoking in the movies makes kids fire up a butt. Sex on TV makes kids want to do it. The depiction of violent acts makes kids want to fight. Drinking liquor turns kids into drunks. The image of food makes kids fat.

Excuse me, but as someone who struggles with nearly all of modern society's ills, along with a few I made up myself, I just don't think the movies and TV shows are what triggers bad behavior. Whatever happened to the idea that individuals might actually be responsible for their own actions? It's too easy to blame the media instead of looking for the deeper problems.

The late, great Hunter S. Thompson, an old-bull journalist if ever there was one, once wrote: "Just because you're paranoid doesn't mean they're not out to get you." He was right. They are.

From the FCC to Congress, the groundwork is being laid for new forms of censorship aimed at everything from TV fistfights to Cruella De Vil's cigarette holder. Not to mention a bull's unmentionables.

At the same time, when just about anyone can go on the Internet and see the real Saddam Hussein swing from a real rope, they want to restrict just about anyone's ability to see a fictional Horatio Caine in a fake gunfight on "CSI: Miami."

Like Myers' crusade against the fake bull testicles, policy types seem more interested in manipulating fictional problems than tackling the real ones. If Myers is really concerned about what children see, he should push for bovine jockstraps so kids can't see the real thing. Pity the poor cowboy who tries to put those on.