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Introducing the Jeff Spicoli Amendment: Our Unserious Media

Filed under: The Squib Report   Tagged: , , ,

Martin Schneider writes:

This week was dominated by two news stories that our national commentators apparently could not cover without breaking into a gale of snickers: I refer to the problem of maritime raiders interfering with the merchant vessels of various nations ("pirates") and the nationwide grassroots protests over the unfairness of the Obama administration's tax policy and recent financial bailouts ("teabagging").

Now we see how any political organization, be it the White House, Congress, the Republicans, the Democrats, can avoid scrutiny over a touchy subject that it wants to introduce into the public discourse: link it to some amusing word that reduces every commentator to a twelve-year-old. We'll have the Cheech and Chong Estate Tax Legislation and the Pauly Shore Pollution Amplification Program (Pollux, there might be a cartoon in this theme for you).

Meanwhile, the G20 economic summit reminded me of another pet peeve. Our newscasters have given up the pretense that other countries, cultures, and particularly languages exist. How many times did CNN and its competitors refer to a president of France named sar-KOZE-ee? As far as I know there is no such person, his name is sar-ko-ZEE. Did anyone even try to suggest, in the prounciation of his name, that he wasn't raised in Bayonne? I may have missed it. It wasn't so much the butchering of his name that bothered me as the lack of awareness that it was happening.

It reminded me of circa 2006, when hardly a day would pass without some TV commentator pronouncing the name of the prominent Iranian anti-Semite thus: "Ach-men-whatever his name is." Like my quasi-countryman Arnold Schwarzenegger, Ahmedinejad's name (not difficult to master if you spend more than 15 seconds in the attempt) became the butt of the joke. Only this time it wasn't the moviegoer in the street who was proudly claiming the mantle of ignorant provincialism; it was the very people who claim to bring us the world. And that's a damn disgrace.

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