A FILM called "Dumb and Dumber" is about to be released, and while I've no idea whether the movie will be any good, the name certainly strikes a chord. Lately, everything in the news seems to fall into one of those categories: Dumb and Dumber. Don't ask me why -- maybe there's a full moon. Maybe somebody put bad flouride in the water. Maybe too many people have been listening to Nancy Sinatra records.
I opened a "Dopes" file last month. It didn't take long to fill up. A sample:
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How about cracking down on the vandals?
Boston city councilors want to force hardware stores and paint-supply shops to keep cans of spray paint under lock and key or behind the counter. Already it is illegal in Boston to sell spray paint to customers under 18. The councilors reason (if "reason" is the verb I want here) that tough paint-control laws will stop graffiti vandalism in Boston. Just as tough gun-control laws have stopped gun violence in Boston?
According to Councilor Thomas Keane, the new ordinance will foil those "suburban kids who come in to 'bomb the city.' " Hello? They sell spray paint in suburbs, too. Someday it may dawn on Councilor Keane and his colleagues that cracking down on vandals might be a more effective anti-vandalism strategy than cracking down on cans of paint. But don't hold your breath waiting.
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Barbra Streisand, a certified Friend of Bill, complains in the November Vanity Fair that her pal in the White House draws too much criticism from the media:
"He is constantly portrayed as floundering. Why? I think they're jealous -- jealous of a president who is very young, very smart, very nice, with a full head of hair."
We're each blessed with different gifts. Some of us can sing. Others speak sense.
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The MBTA demoted one of its Green Line train operators when it discovered that he didn't know how to read or write. Naturally, the guy complained. Naturally, the union came to his defense. And what defense can there be, you wonder, for putting illiterates at the controls of a subway? Here's Jim Duchaney of the Boston Carmen's Union:
"We have people who are partly retarded operating streetcars. What . . . is the difference as long as they do a good job?"
Oh, that's reassuring. The lives of Green Line passengers are in the hands of illiterates and the retarded. What about the blind and paralyzed? Does the Carmen's Union defend their right to operate streetcars, too?
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On Dec. 2, the day of the Legislature's 55 percent payraise ram-through, House Speaker Flaherty allowed as how the salary hike befit "one of the greatest deliberative bodies in the world." That description better suits a litter of gerbils than the Massachusetts General Court, where few matters are debated, and almost none deliberated.
Flaherty's remark was fatuous two weeks ago. Now -- after the Legislature passed a capital-gains tax cut so fast that no honest member of the House or Senate even knew the bill existed, let alone debated it -- it rings downright imbecilic.
If Cambridge is so smart, why has it been sending Flaherty to the State House for the past 28 years?
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To impose strict dress codes on students is to remind them that learning is a serious matter requiring a serious demeanor, as well as obedience, respectfulness, and self-discipline. But the Boston School Department doesn't want to hear about it.
"If a dress code is passed," says School Department mouthpiece Larry Faison, "it would force parents to provide uniforms for their children. That, it is our belief, would be unconstitutional."
What stupefying drivel. If the people running Boston's schools are so ill-educated as to imagine that requiring children to dress properly for class somehow violates the United States Constitution, it's no wonder a majority of the kids who enter the system either drop out or graduate ignorant.
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Dope-of-the-Month award has to go to Manuel Bonifacio of Somerville, who began a hunger strike when his cable company wouldn't supply free, 24-hour, Portuguese-language TV programming. Time-Warner Cable offered Portuguese broadcasts free for a year, and as a pay option thereafter. Not enough: Bonifacio demanded free Portuguese TV as part of the basic package supplied to every subscriber, and said he would starve to death to get it.
Mahatma Gandhi fasted to end the bloodshed in India. Randall Robinson fasted to save Haitian boat people. This clown fasts because he wants his MTV . . . in translation.
Bonifacio finally wimped out and ate. But the stupid seeds he planted have sprouted elsewhere. In Fall River, five more Portuguese speakers have been on a hunger strike for the same cause.
"This is cable TV," said Nick Leuci of Time-Warner. "It is not something someone should be willing to give up his life for."
Hey, an intelligent comment! What a refreshing change.
(Jeff Jacoby is a columnist for The Boston Globe.)