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Reason Foundation

Reason Alert: Imus

April 11, 2007

Imus and the Secrets to Successful Racism
As the Don Imus story continues,'s Marty Beckerman examines when race-based humor qualifies as harmless entertainment and when it qualifies as actual racism: "American humor's most fertile ground has always been our racial, ethnic and religious dissimilarities, hypocrisies and insecurities...The wider American culture's embrace of stereotype-laced humor serves a similar purpose to our banter: making people feel more comfortable with one another so they can get past their prejudices. This is why [Seinfeld's Michael] Richards, [Ann] Coulter and Imus landed on their faces even though Americans love to laugh at bigotry: these entertainers poured salt into centuries-old wounds with cheap punch lines-simple, worthless slurs; spiteful, desperate pleas for attention-instead of throwing our collective ridiculousness back into our faces. Their sin had nothing to do with edgy jokes; it was that instead of shedding light on everyone, they only shed light on themselves."

Disney Legalizes Same-Sex Marriage
"Gay couples are now free to buy a Fairy Tale Wedding package at Disneyland, Disney World, or Disney's cruise ships, with 'a ceremony setting befitting the dreams of a princess.' The Disney properties have long allowed same-sex couples to tie the knot on the premises, but this is the first time those unions are being given official sanction. The Magic Kingdom has thus proved itself more progressive than the motherland, or as progressive as you can be while throwing around the word 'fairy.'...the world we live in now is increasingly willing to embrace homosexual unions, even if many Americans—and most states—haven't gotten there yet. For an extra fee, couples buying the Fairy Tale Wedding can hire Mickey and Minnie Mouse to attend as guests, sitting in the audience in formal wear. If Mickey is cool with gay marriage, the rest of the country can't be that far behind." - Reason's Jesse Walker on why real social change won't come from government policies.

Pelosi Goes to Syria
Reason magazine's Michael Young, opinion editor of the Daily Star newspaper in Lebanon, wasn't pleased to see House Speaker Nancy Pelosi in Syria, writing, "Pelosi embarked on a fool's errand to Damascus this week, and among the issues she said she would raise with Assad - when she wasn't on the Lady Hester Stanhope tour in the capital of imprisoned dissidents Aref Dalila, Michel Kilo, and Anwar Bunni - is 'the role of Syria in supporting Hamas and Hizbullah.' What the speaker doesn't seem to have realized is that if Syria is made an obligatory passage in American efforts to address the Lebanese crisis, then Hizbullah will only gain. Once Assad is re-anointed gatekeeper in Lebanon, he will have no incentive to concede anything, least of all to dilettantes like Pelosi, on an organization that would be Syria's enforcer in Beirut if it could re-impose its hegemony over its smaller neighbor...Perhaps Pelosi and other foreign officials will understand this simple equation one day, after again failing to persuade Assad to sell Hizbullah out. Unfortunately, foreign bigwigs come to town, their domestic calculations in hand; then they leave, and we're left picking up the pieces."

Giuliani Is Weak on Gun Rights
Reason's Jacob Sullum looks at Rudy Giuliani's moving position on gun rights and concludes, "For Giuliani, it seems, hunting is the only legitimate use of guns for people who are not police officers." Sullum adds, "Giuliani tries to reconcile his support for strict gun control in New York with his newfound commitment to the Second Amendment by saying that different jurisdictions should be able to choose the gun laws that are appropriate for them. As his website puts it, 'Rudy understands that what works in New York doesn't necessarily work in Mississippi or Montana.' But the right to keep and bear arms has no meaning if politicians are free to impose any kind of gun control they think 'works.'"

Ideology Overrules Science on Genetically Enhanced Crops
Ronald Bailey says environmentalists like scientific consensus, but only when it suits them. Bailey writes, "Clearly when it comes to climate change, environmentalists righteously wrap themselves in the cloak of scientific 'consensus.' They excoriate scientists and others who doubt that man-made climate change will necessarily be disastrous, accusing some of being essentially paid liars for the fossil fuel industry. But for many environmentalist groups not all scientific consensuses are equal. Consider the case of genetically enhanced crops...the overwhelming scientific consensus is that current varieties of genetically enhanced crops are safe to eat and don't pose unusual risks to the natural environment. But that isn't stopping Greenpeace from waging a global 'Say no to genetic engineering' campaign or the Friends of the Earth from demanding a 'GM [genetically modified] Freeze.' Perhaps the idea of scientific consensus is not all that it's cracked up to be."

California: The Nanny State
Reason's Adam Summers says California's state "government is turning into the homeowners association from hell. It is time to ask ourselves again what the proper role of government should be." Summers details the expanding reach of government - there are currently state bills pending that would ban incandescent light bulbs, smoking in cars when a minor is present, and trans fats in restaurants and school cafeterias. And so your pets don't feel left out, California legislators want to require dog and cat owners to spay or neuter their animals by four months of age.

Pardon Scooter Libby? Maybe, But Not First
At, National Journal's Jonathan Rauch writes, "The Founders would not have batted an eye at a [Scooter] Libby pardon; the use of clemency as a political tool dates back to George Washington. What would astonish them is the army of people, many at least as deserving as Libby, whom Bush has not pardoned...The Supreme Court cannot reach down and undo a single sentence without potentially overturning a whole branch of law. Thus the Founders ultimately wanted justice to be acceptable and accountable not to a system but to an actual human being, a solitary conscience. That conscience belongs, at the moment, to [President] Bush, who doesn't seem to overtax it. According to Justice Department statistics, Presidents Truman through Ford granted a quarter or more of clemency petitions. The total fell to 12 percent under President Reagan, and then into the mid-single digits under Presidents George H.W. Bush and Clinton. Now, under George W. Bush, it has dropped to less than 2 percent. Bush appears willing to grant only the most uncontroversial of pardons: to a man who stole a car way back in 1948, for example, and to a savings and loan offender who was pardoned on his deathbed after serving seven years. And he has granted only -- count them -- three petitions for commutation, out of more than 5,000 received."

New at and

R.C. Hoiles, American Original
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More Money, No Problem
The death of taxpayer-financed campaigns
David Weigel

Do College Republicans Hate Allah?
Or are sensitivity mavens at San Francisco State a little too zealous?
Cathy Young

The Return of the Equal Rights Amendment
A redundant civil rights fight ramps up
Steve Chapman

Improving Mobility in Texas Through Public-Private Partnerships
Testimony Before the Texas State Senate
Leonard Gilroy

The (Limited) Case for Shadow Tolling
Approach could advance projects difficult to finance through tolls
Robert Poole

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Ronald Bailey on Global Warming
You're invited to join Reason for a brown bag lunch at our monthly colloquium series featuring outstanding speakers and libertarian ideas. This month, Reason Science Correspondent Ronald Bailey discusses whether carbon markets or carbon taxes are a more effective means of addressing global warming. Ron is author of the book Liberation Biology: The Moral and Scientific Case for the Biotech Revolution, and his work appears in The Best Science and Nature Writing 2004. In addition to his regular columns for Reason, Bailey's award-winning articles and reviews have appeared in The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, The Washington Post, Readers Digest, and many other publications. Please join us on Wednesday, April 18 at 12:00 p.m. at Reason's L.A. offices at 3415 S. Sepulveda Blvd. Suite 400. For more details or to RSVP, please contact Mary Toledo at or (310) 391-2245.

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