Wednesday, June 25, 2008

George Carlin dies, and the world goes to the place he didn't believe in

So much for freedom of speech. Someone has been accused of making racially insensitive remarks, which has triggered outrage and government action.

And no, I'm not talking about Don Imus.

I'm talking about Shaquille O'Neal.

Apparently at some point when he was dissing Kobe Bryant, he said something else. Damn I'm Cute spares our sensitive souls by saying that Shaq used "the n-word." azstarnet says less...and more:

Shaquille O'Neal is losing his special deputy's badge...because of language he used in a rap performance that mocks former teammate Kobe Bryant....

And who's taking the badge away?

Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio said the Phoenix Suns center's use of a racially derogatory word and other offensive terms left him no choice. Arpaio made Shaq a special deputy in 2006 and promoted him to colonel of his largely ceremonial posse later that year.

"I want his two badges back," Arpaio told The Associated Press Tuesday. "Because if any one of my deputies did something like this, they're fired. I don't condone this type of racial conduct."

Now I'll grant that O'Neal isn't accused of breaking any law, and one could be removed from a ceremonial position for PR purposes. But, at the same time, one would think that a sheriff would be interesting in defending the Constitution, including its First Amendment.

But that's not the only stupid public safety decision of late. Bill Handel of KFI was discussing a Los Angeles Fire Department policy. From the Los Angeles Times:

[There is] a new controversy in the Los Angeles City Fire Department -- one that is rekindling smoldering tensions by making tattooed firefighters the butt of jokes.

At issue is a policy the department announced this spring, requiring firefighters with tattoos to cover their body art whenever they are on duty.

For many that's an easy order to follow; their uniform sleeves reach to their elbow creases.

But for hundreds of firefighters like [Carlos] Caceres, that means wearing long-sleeved shirts, turtlenecks, long pants, even gloves, around the clock. It's not just when the fire bell rings, but inside the fire station when they train, eat, exercise and sleep.

It's a "grooming issue," said Capt. Armando Hogan, spokesman for Chief Douglas Barry. "We need to make sure we're professional-looking. We've got an image to uphold."

The image that you have to uphold is whether your people are able to put out fires or not.

On the Handel show, he quoted from a retired Marine who, in a display of patriotism, had an American flag tattooed on his body. The fireman is vexed that he has to cover up an American flag.

Let's just hope that Shaq doesn't tattoo a word on himself that rhymes with "trigger." David Stern would be howling mad.

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