[Year In Review] OC Weekly's News Blog, Navel Gazing, Gazes Back at 2009
Trevor Keen

[Year In Review] OC Weekly's News Blog, Navel Gazing, Gazes Back at 2009

Attack of the Blob, er, Blog
OC Weekly’s staff news blog Navel Gazing gazes back at 2009

As everyone knows, daily newspapers are pretty much dead. Local alternative weekly newspapers are in better shape—or at least that’s what they keep telling us—but we, too, are not immune to a public that wants its news NOW! As Walt Whitman once wrote in his groundbreaking—NO, MORE NEWS NOW!! Er . . . um . . . where were we? Oh, yes, it was the Pennsylvania Dutch who discovered—GIVE ME MORE GODDAMN NEWS RIGHT NOW, SCUM!!!

Okay! We get it. You people like your little weekly paper product just fine, but you also demand up-to-the-minute news, opinions and randomness immediately dispatched into your personal computer, laptop, cell phone, PDA and heads via implanted chips (thanks, Obamacare!). For that reason, ocweekly.com has long included a staff news blog, and as we reflect on the brutal year the hipsters nicknamed “2009,” it is time to revisit the content you read first last year on Navel Gazing. Some of it made it into print in one form or another; most of it didn’t—but in any case you got it NOW! NOW!! NOW!!!

OC’s New Pedo-Apologizing Bishop
The Vatican announced Jan. 5 that the Reverend Cirilo Flores of St. Anne’s in SanTana is the auxiliary bishop for the Diocese of Orange, replacing homo-hating pedo-apologist Jaime Soto. By springtime, troubling revelations emerged that nearly 30 years ago, Flores was involved in investigating a nationally notorious child-abuse case involving pupil-binding nuns with the Diocese of San Bernardino. Not only did Flores do nothing about it, but he also agreed with the abuse. Then there was the case of Edward Anthony Rodrigue (not a typo; this is his last name), who in December 1979 was convicted of two misdemeanor counts of child abuse but placed on three years’ probation and ordered to undergo rehabilitation. Of course, none of this worked, and Rodrigue was placed back in ministry in the San Bernardino diocese. A diocesan attorney at the time of Rodrigue’s “rehabilitation”? Flores. (Gustavo Arellano)

Random Reader Comment: As a victim of sexual abuse by a Catholic priest in LA as a child, I am now, over 35 years later, starting to understand how much religion sucks. Most, like the Catholic church, have lost sight of what is right in the eyes of their higher power and are more concerned with their own power. I am convinced that religion hardens the heart and weakens the soul. (Mark Gauer, Jan. 6)

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Mike Carona: Unrepentant Dirty Ex-Sheriff Convicted Felon
After a Santa Ana jury on Jan. 16 found Mike Carona not guilty on five counts but guilty of coaching a potential federal-grand-jury witness how to lie under oath, the ex-Orange County sheriff acted as if he’d won a Super Lotto jackpot or a Hank Asher-paid trip to a Nevada whorehouse. “I absolutely feel vindicated,” he told a reporter. “Beyond vindicated . . . I never gave up the belief that I was innocent.” Jurors insisted in interviews that Carona did accept bribes, lie and cheat, but they felt constrained by complicated jury instructions and the statute of limitations. “He shouldn’t be celebrating anything,” said one juror after the verdicts were announced. “His conduct as the sheriff was deplorable. He really should be ashamed.” The judge later shamed Carona with a 66-month federal prison sentence, although he remains free pending appeal. (R. Scott Moxley)

Random Reader Comment: Am I the only one who can’t scan the name “Mike Carona” without humming the Knack? (Anonymous, Jan. 19)

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Rick Warren’s Traveling Obama Invocation Road Show
A day after getting shouted down while speaking at the annual Martin Luther King Jr. Day service at Ebenezer Baptist Church in Atlanta, Purpose-Driven® Rick seemed either tired or unenthused when giving President Barack Obama’s invocation in D.C. the morning of Jan. 20. He also seemed a bit apologetic—maybe he’d finally grown a soul and was repentant for his anti-gay rhetoric the previous couple of months. AOL’s political blogger counted 10 people in the crowd of millions clapping when Warren was introduced. (GA and Matt Coker)

Random Reader Comment: Looks like G-d’s wrath on Rick Warren for his behavior was REALLY BAD HAT HAIR for his big worldwide appearance. (Publius, Jan. 20)

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Ganging Up on Orange Residents
Orange County District Attorney Tony Rackauckas on Feb. 25 filed another in a string of gang injunctions, this time against the Orange Varrio Cypress (OVC) gang based out of Orange’s historic Cypress Street barrio. Among more than 500 pages of evidence was a gang cop’s critique of the work of historic muralist Emigdio Vasquez, whose Orange murals “reference the OVC gang and the gang lifestyle.” But Vasquez depicted his life growing up in the barrio in the 1940s, while the OVC wasn’t established until the 1970s. The Orange injunctions were met with community demonstrations before the ACLU mounted a legal challenge that shot so many holes in the case prosecutors filed to completely dismiss it. But the DA later repackaged a permanent gang injunction against dozens of people it concluded are active OVC participants, including the 62 individuals named in the dismissed version. The ACLU filed a class-action lawsuit alleging the DA violated due process and the California Constitution, then an injunction to stop the gang injunction. The latter was tossed out by a judge; the suit has yet to be heard. (Daffodil J. Altan)

Random Reader Comment: Injunctions like these are self-fulfilling prophecies. When you make it a crime to be outside your house on the sidewalk in the company of your family members, you have effectively destroyed that person’s life. (Stoop, May 15)

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Now Playing in Court: Rent
The ACLU sued the Newport-Mesa Unified School District March 18 “for permitting and sanctioning an atmosphere that is hostile to female, lesbian, bisexual, gay and transgender students in general and has led to despicable threats of violence against one student in particular” at Corona del Mar High School. It was more fallout from the staging, cancellation and restaging of Jonathan Larson’s hugely popular Broadway musical Rent on campus. A then-unidentified, 17-year-old female student involved in the production was targeted with rape and death threats by male students amid an atmosphere of homophobia on the campus that the district had done little to squelch, charged the ACLU. When the matter was settled as the current school year began, Loyola Marymount freshman Hail Ketchum-Wiggins came forward to reveal she was the student victimized by three Corona del Mar varsity football players in a Facebook video, which also directed homophobic remarks at another student. Despite the girl’s outraged parents having demanded action from the vice principal, principal, campus security, the school district, Newport Beach police and the DA, the football players were never disciplined, although they were honored for their on-field prowess. But after the ACLU got involved, the district agreed to provide district administrators and all Corona del Mar High teachers, staff and students mandatory training on protecting students based on their sex and gender identifications and to survey all students there to determine the level of bias against others that exists on campus so that reforms can be implemented. (MC)

Random Reader Comment: Kudos to you, Hail, for enduring what no person should ever endure—and for your courage. The school should be shamed and ashamed for not coming forward immediately to help to protect you from the cowardly asses who threatened you. (Seriously, Sept. 10)

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Don Henley vs. Chuck DeVore . . . and, gulp, OC Weekly
As an April Fool’s prank, the Chuck DeVore for Senate campaign posted on YouTube an anti-Obama video parody set to the music of Don Henley’s hit “Boys of Summer.” Only 591 people had clicked on the thing before YouTube informed, “This video is no longer available due to a copyright claim by Don Henley.” But DeVore kept the video up on his campaign website, arguing that parody is protected free speech. Navel Gazing also shared the video as part of reporting on all this. After a letter from Henley’s lawyer arrived accusing the Weekly of copyright infringement, the video was removed from Navel Gazing. DeVore refused to do the same on his site, tried to get other local news outlets to cover the spat and created a second video that ripped off Henley’s “All She Wants to Do Is Dance” for the anti-Barbara Boxer ditty “All She Wants to Do Is Tax.” So, the Eagles founder dragged the state assemblyman into federal court, where the case remains. (Spencer Kornhaber)

Random Reader Comment: Back in the 1980s, Mojo Nixon wrote and performed a song titled “Don Henley Must Die,” and Henley only laughed that off. It seems that because the culprit this time is a Republican, the joke’s not so funny. But the Eagles still suck. (Laurence, April 20)

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Fallen Angel’s Driver Also DUI
Shortly after midnight on April 9, Andrew Gallo drove his van through a red light at Lemon Street and Orangethorpe Avenue in Fullerton and smashed into a car passing through the intersection. Gallo escaped the collision unharmed, got out of his van and ran from the scene. Not so lucky was the other car’s driver, Courtney Stewart, a 20-year-old college student from Diamond Bar, and passengers Henry Pearson, Nick Adenhart (the 22-year-old Anaheim Angels pitcher) and Jon Wilhite. Stewart, Pearson and Adenhart all died at the scene; Wilhite suffered what doctors described as an internal decapitation and recuperated at his parents’ home in Murietta. Gallo, an alcoholic who had a prior DUI arrest on his record, was quickly arrested and charged with three counts of murder, as well as fleeing the scene of an accident. After the county coroner refused a request to review autopsy reports from the accident, the Weekly obtained a toxicological report showing Stewart was also driving while intoxicated. (Nick Schou)

Random Reader Comment: Bottom line is this: It ain’t just us wabs who drink and drive: Fuckin’ crackers do it just as much if not more! . . . Yeah, Gallo is the fucked wab in this case, but little Miss All America, well, she ain’t looking so perfect now, right? (Cesar, June 11)

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Teabagging, Santa Ana-Style
Megan Barth, who organized the Tea Party rally at Santa Ana’s Civic Center plaza on April 15, seemed to be fishing for a slogan as she addressed the crowd of hundreds (or, according to Barth, 3,500). “I got involved in this grassroots movement not because I’m a Republican. Not because I’m a Democrat. Not because I’m an Independent,” she said. “I am here . . . because I am an American!” Woo! “We are not the ‘Party of No.’ We are not the party of ‘Yes, We Can.’ We are the party of . . . ‘Yes, We Care!’” All right! “We are not red. We are not blue. We are . . . red, white and blue!” Totally! The gist of the grievances listed on the homemade signs, shouted en masse and discussed in interviews with the teabaggers was America has become—or maybe is about to become—a socialist, despotic country. Most views espoused were just forcefully stated conservative tenets: We need smaller government, fewer taxes, more transparency. Oh, and Obama isn’t an American citizen. (SK)

Random Reader Comment: It’s understandable why the rat-wingers or libtards in this thread would not be into these demonstrations. . . . I mean, they are not burning American flags nor sh!tting on them, nor are they hanging American soldiers in effigy nor calling for them to kill their superior officers. . . . I mean, come on now: Where’s the good, ol’ patriot dissent like that? (Tom, April 17)

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Sheriff’s Office and District Attorney’s Office Catfight
Something rare happened here on April 17: Usually in lockstep, Orange County law enforcement bitterly split ranks. Specifically, the Orange County district attorney’s office sparked a public feud with local sheriff’s deputies, whom prosecutors believe sabotaged their just-ended excessive-force case against Deputy Christopher David Hibbs. The DA accused deputies of developing sudden, severe cases of amnesia on the witness stand, resulting in an 11-1 vote for acquittal. Wayne J. Quint, head of the Association of Orange County Sheriffs Deputies, called the accusations “an insult to all law-enforcement personnel across this state and nation.” Then he demanded Rackauckas immediately issue a public apology for his office’s “slanderous statements regarding ethical and law-abiding law-enforcement officers and that a code of silence exists at the Orange County Sheriff’s Department.” Calling Rackauckas spokeswoman Susan Kang Schroeder an “underachiever,” Quint also demanded she resign because she has “no intelligent understanding of what law-enforcement officers do day-in and day-out.” (RSM)

Random Reader Comment: Susan or the deputies? Hmmmm. I’ve got $5,000 for ringside seats. (Purple Channel, April 18)

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Defending Klanaheim
A May 11 Los Angeles Times story by Tony Barboza telling the world Anaheim is now majority-Latino drew derision from many Latino Anaheimers. “Latinos have not always felt entirely at home in Anaheim, which was founded as a colony of German farmers in 1857 and has a history of racial tension,” wrote Barboza. “In the 1920s, four Ku Klux Klan members were elected to the City Council and briefly took control of the government, earning the city an uncomfortable nickname: ‘Klanaheim.’” Stop right there. Mentioning that the Klan controlled Anaheim, even staged a 10,000-strong rally in the city, is the easy jab people always employ against Anaheim specifically and Orange County in general whenever they want to describe us as fundamentally racist. But the Klan’s time in Anaheim had little to do with suppressing Latinos, who, as “a group, the Klan totally ignored,” wrote Christopher N. Cocoltchos in his essay “The Invisible Empire and the Search for the Orderly Community: The Ku Klux Klan in Anaheim, California,” part of the anthology The Invisible Empire In the West: Toward a New Historical Appraisal of the Ku Klux Klan In the 1920s. To mention Klanaheim as a key moment in Anaheim’s racist history, then, is not only lazy, but also flat-out wrong. (GA)

Random Reader Comment: Gustavo, don’t forget another one of the (obvious) reasons the Klantards never messed with the Mexicans: because the racist idiots knew a REAL showdown between the two parties would have resulted mostly in a lot of ugly, smelly, shredded-sheet-and-blood-filled stains and potholes in the OC pavement, long before the cavalry could have gotten there. (qdpsteve, May 15)

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Steve Rocco Sentenced in College Ketchup Heist
The Partnership scored yet another victory May 26 when Judge Jacki Brown of the Quentin Tarantino Justice Center sentenced former Orange school trustee Steve Rocco to two years of probation for his September 2008 theft of a non-refrigerated, half-empty bottle of ketchup from a Chapman University cafeteria. The spectacular arrest was Rocco’s second run-in with the Partnership—the cabal made up of Albertsons, Kodak Corp. and Smokecraft Sausage that secretly controls Orange County government. The first was in 1980, when he was arrested for shoplifting several rolls of Kodak film and a sausage at a Santa Ana Albertsons supermarket. The harsh sentence—which will prevent Rocco from picking up his favorite periodical, the campus newspaper The Panther—marks the end of Rocco’s epically stupid trial for petty theft. Rocco had issued subpoenas to dozens of alleged witnesses to the event, including this writer, and submitted a rambling, typewritten brief that, among other things, asserted he was recycling the bottle, hypothesized that unrefrigerated ketchup is worthless and stipulated he has never used any condiments whatsoever. (NS)

Random Reader Comment: None. The Partnership got to everyone.

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Mike Duvall In Bed With Lobbyist . . . No, Literally In Bed
In July—two days after Assembly Speaker Karen Bass and Republican leader Sam Blakeslee put Assemblyman Mike Duvall on the Rules Committee that oversees member ethics—the second-term, conservative, Yorba Linda Republican sat in a public hearing and vividly described lewd details about his trysts with a female lobbyist whose clients had business before another committee on which Duvall sits. Speaking to relatively mum Assemblyman Jeff Miller (R-Mission Viejo), seated to his left, Duvall apparently had no idea his dais microphone became live beginning about a minute before the start of a cable-televised committee hearing as he detailed an ongoing extramarital affair. The married father of two mentioned his mistress’ unmentionables (“little eye-patch underwear”), how often they had made love (“a lot!”), how much he enjoys spanking her (“Yeah, I like it”), what he told her about why he spanked her (“Because you’re such a bad girl!”) and other intimate details (“She’s all, ‘I am going up and down the stairs, and you’re dripping out of me!’ So messy!”). The last line quickly became part of colorful Sacramento political lore, and Duvall put up a defiant front the night the story broke. But he resigned from office the next day, after those who’d been his most ardent supporters demanded he do so. The woman he’d boasted to Miller about was apparently a lobbyist for Sempra Energy. Sources later claimed Duvall had also been caught in a compromising position with a former staffer-turned-fund-raiser for Linda Ackerman, the Republican who tried to win the Assembly seat Duvall abandoned. Ackerman, whose former Senate Republican leader husband Dick originally convinced Duvall to run for state office, lost her election bid. (RSM)

Random Reader Comment: Moxley has now taken down a congressman, a state assemblyman, a sheriff, an assistant sheriff and a well-connected Republican child molester. Who am I forgetting? Oh, yeah. There was also the corrupt Newport Beach AIDS doctor. WOW! (Impressed, Sept. 9)

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OC Great Park Audit Shows Additional Signs of Public Corruption
On Aug. 20, the Weekly obtained a copy of an audit report for one area of the Orange County Great Park, the fallback scheme to block construction of an international airport at the former El Toro Marine Corps Air Station. Sure, there’s double billing by contractors, no backup for certain claimed expenses, shoddy recordkeeping, highly questionable spending for entertainment and travel, eye-winking approval of poor subcontractor behavior, and a document system designed to hide government documents. You’d expect no less from Larry Agran, the veteran Irvine politician and Orange County’s most acclaimed and nationally recognized liberal elected official who prides himself on backroom deals with questionable characters (some of whom are convicted felons), gleefully thwarts mandatory public disclosure of his behind-the-scenes actions, and operates with a pettiness and ego that would drop Dick Nixon’s jaw in envy. The countless lapses detailed in the audit are predictable given the ethics of the politician (and onetime Democratic presidential candidate) who appointed himself to run the largest public-works project in Orange County history. (RSM)

Random Reader Comment: What does it take for the DA to start an investigation? Seriously? (LP, Oct. 7)

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Orly Taitz vs. Obama the Usurper
Dr. Orly Taitz, Esq., the Laguna Niguel dentist, lawyer and real-estate agent attempting to sue Barack Obama out of office, appeared Sept. 8 before Judge David O. Carter in Santa Ana’s Ronald Reagan Federal Courthouse. The occasion: a hearing in her lawsuit, Barnett v. Obama. Midway through the hour-and-change hearing, it became clear that in Taitz’s mind, it was going to be a day straight out of a Dean Koontz-Dan Brown mash-up novel. It didn’t quite turn out that way. The more Taitz tried (unsuccessfully) to open the somber courtroom up to theatrics, the more Carter indicated he would have none of it. As the matter dragged on, Taitz created a procedural quagmire with her tactics, separated from some of her clients (including at least one who alleged she tried to get him to lie to the court) and tried to get Magistrate Judge Arthur Nakazato removed for bias. Carter eventually dismissed the case for lack of merit. (SK)

Random Reader Comment: Birthers are off the crazy train, and because of the nature of their insanity, there’s probably no way they’re ever going to admit they’re wrong or acknowledge any contradictory information, ever, under any circumstances. To them, Obama is illegitimate, and they will clutch to any notion that supports that. (Anon, Oct. 1)

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George Jaramillo: Mr. Big Mouth
He once dreamed of becoming California’s first Latino governor. He finagled an improbable transition from Garden Grove police sergeant to the powerful No. 2 post at the Orange County Sheriff’s Department. He even managed to create a fan club within the George W. Bush White House. But on Sept. 15, ex-Assistant Sheriff George Jaramillo discovered there are consequences to unbridled ambition: a 27-month federal-prison sentence and the forfeiture of at least $233,000. “I am here to say that I am profoundly sorry for what I have done,” a weepy Jaramillo told U.S. District Judge Andrew J. Guilford before punishment was announced in the bribery case against him. But if Jaramillo, who considers himself an expert strategist, thought his mea culpa would seal a sweetheart deal that would keep him out of prison in exchange for home confinement, he was terribly misguided. Indeed, the hearing wowed those in attendance (including six reporters) by how quickly Jaramillo and his legal team, headed by Brent Romney, seemed to argue themselves out of the relatively good graces of federal prosecutor Brett Sagel. The Jaramillo strategy combined two parts arrogance and one part contrition, a doomed recipe to anyone awake. Guilford, who seemed perplexed that the defense chose to focus attention on attacking federal officials instead of displaying genuine remorse, said, “I need to see contriteness. And there was almost none.” He ordered Jaramillo to report to the U.S. Marshal’s office in Santa Ana or to the federal Bureau of Prisons on Oct. 30. (RSM)

Random Reader Comment: The Republicans in the OC should model themselves after Judge Guilford, who is a true “tough on crime” jurist. Both Carona and Jaramillo found out the hard way about what happens when a Republican who is not beholden to the political process handles problems. (CHS, Sept. 16)

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Hippie-Era Hash Smuggler-Turned-Fugitive Buddhist Monk-Turned Arrestee
Despite hopes that the district attorney’s office would have come to its senses and drop the charges, the bizarre case of The People v. Brenice Lee Smith continued to crawl forward Oct. 16. In a hearing before Judge Thomas M. Goethals, Smith pleaded not guilty to the 40-year-old indictment that brought down the Brotherhood of Eternal Love, a Laguna Beach-based group of hippie hash smugglers who befriended Timothy Leary, sought to turn on the entire world through its Orange Sunshine acid and were eventually tried for criminal conspiracy. After Goethals set Smith’s bail at $1.1 million and the DA’s office indicated the statute of limitations was not a factor in this case, prospects looked dim for the last member of the so-called “Hippie Mafia” to evade the long arm of the law. However, Smith pleaded guilty in November to transporting hashish from Afghanistan to Orange County between 1966 and 1972 in exchange for his freedom, at last closing the book on the longest, most surreal saga in the annals of Orange County criminal justice. (NS)

Random Reader Comment: OC competes with San Diego as the worst jurisdiction in the state for drug charges. (the golden frog, Oct. 2)

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Death Becomes a White Supremacist
It took almost 12 minutes for Superior Court Judge Frank F. Fasel to summarize Billy Joe Johnson’s extensive rap sheet and mention a few mitigating factors before finding Nov. 23 that the Costa Mesa-bred white-supremacist gangster’s 30-year spree of crimes “substantially warrant” the ultimate punishment: death. What could possibility mitigate the killing of five people? Fasel said he considered that Johnson loves his mother, once refused an Aryan Brotherhood prison order to kill his cellmate, focused his violence on other criminals, spent more than half of his life incarcerated, grew up without a father who had abandoned the family, began abusing drugs and alcohol at the age of 10, and that several females vouch that Johnson is a sweetheart. But after denying a motion to modify the jury’s death-sentence recommendation earlier in the month, the judge told the killer—who leaned back in his chair, sporting his customary Mohawk, wrinkled white button-down shirt, khakis, white sneakers and body chains, while sucking on his few remaining teeth—“You shall be put to death.” Bonnie Miller, the mother of one of Johnson’s homicide victims, said afterward, “I’ve got a lot of emotions. This will make the community a safer place for all of us, but it doesn’t change what he’s done.” (RSM)

Random Reader Comment: The execution backlog in California is massive: more than 650 inmates. . . . Very sad. (Sal, Nov. 23)

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Mothers Against Nickelodeon Launches
Orange-based moms Kristine Simon and Janelle Maluenda launched the Mothers Against Nickelodeon (The MAN), which is critical of the cable channel’s marketing to children, on Dec. 3. The MAN website informs that the group will boycott “until Nickelodeon creates a mission statement that includes a public affirmation of parents and family, stops undermining parents, and ceases to claim to ‘empower’ children, when in reality they are turning them into consumers, and until the network agrees to promote excellence in childhood by eliminating the use of farts, boogers, belching, rehab, pinup ads, rotten role models, lingerie and other forms of risque programming to create Us vs. Them rivalry.” Maluenda explains elsewhere on the site that her crusade was born out of her own Chapman University studies of advertising and how manipulative it is. (MC)

Random Reader Comment: I 100 percent agree with those moms. When my buddies and I go out every night to pick up hookers, do intravenous drugs and commit crimes against people whose lifestyles differ from our own, I need to know that the babysitter (i.e., the television) is teaching my children good moral values. Fart, booger and belching jokes are simply unacceptable—and I simply don’t have the time to actually take care of/supervise my children. Everything my children do wrong is obviously someone else’s fault—and the culprit is television! Oh, and blacks, Mexicans and gays (that’s what my church says). (Jack, Dec. 2)


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