Two recent news stories involving the US Government and excrement:
According to a Washington Post article that bookofjoe highlighted, the US Government ran a test on a wastewater treatment plant in Fairfax County, VA to determine how many people in the area have used cocaine in the recent past. From the Post article:
County workers collected five days’ worth of water samples between
March 13 and March 17 at the pollution control plant in Lorton,
according to a March 20 memo from County Executive Anthony H. Griffin
to the Board of Supervisors.
The plant, which processes about 67 million gallons of sewage a day,
takes in commercial and residential waste from about half the county,
including Fairfax City, Vienna and Fort Belvoir.
The samples, which totaled about 500 milliliters, were shipped to
the Armed Forces Institute of Pathology in Rockville, where they will
be analyzed for traces of benzoylecgonine, the main urinary metabolite
byproduct of cocaine.
Nice work if you can get it, huh? My question is, "Why bother?" What discernible difference will knowing how many people are doing coke make? Does it matter whether 25,000 or 2,500 people are doing coke? How? Why? Why not spend the Armed Forces Institute of Pathology’s time on something useful, like how many toxins or traces of bio-agents are in the water? Maybe they already are, but I don’t like the idea that they might miss something because their trying to figure out how many people are pissing cocaine. Absurd.
The other story that ties our government to excrement, or at least the concept of excrement, is the story about the FCC deciding that the word "shit" and all its derivatives are not merely "indecent" but "profane." That means they can fine any broadcaster that airs the "shit" words for each incidence and they can also fine those who utter the words on-air. (If I’m ever interviewed on TV I’ll probably be broke at the end of 30 seconds). Jeff Jarvis takes great exception to this new FCC "nannyism" as he calls it and thinks that since bullshit is the single best term to describe much of our politicians’ actions that it is infringing on our free political speech to term it "profane." Read Jeff’s "In Defense of Bullshit" here.
To tie all this together I’ll say just this: we need to call ‘bullshit’ on much of what our government is selling us these days. Of course we can’t call "bullshit" so we’ll have to do what my kids do: come up with a suitable substitute. How about "Bush!"?