Sunday, May 22, 2005

Saddam Shame

A photograph of deposed Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein in his underwear has been appearing in newspapers around the world since first exposed in the London Sun. Saddam in shorts

Representatives of the U.S. military were barely able to contain their chagrin at the publishing of such unauthorized pictures. The Pentagon issued a statement which read, in brief:

"These photos were taken in clear violation of DoD [Department of Defense] directives and possibly Geneva Convention guidelines for the humane treatment of detained individuals."

The former Iraqi strongman, who was stripped of his dictatorship in July 2004, shortly after the U.S. "shock and awe" attack on Iraq, is shown in one photograph holding what appears to be an item of clothing. Speculation has arisen that Hussein was preparing to iron the item.

When pressed, the Pentagon refused to confirm or deny the availability of on-the-premises dry cleaning for war-time captives.

Muslim leaders expressed naked rage at what they felt was the mistreatment of Hussein.

Rumors that Fruit of the Loom has signed Hussein to a six figure endorsement deal are, as yet, unconfirmed.

Saturday, May 21, 2005

A Transaction to Die For

Have you heard the one about the death-row inmate who wants to delay his execution so he can donate his liver to his dying sister?

Here's the punch-line: Dr. Mark Fox, chairman for the ethics committee for the United Network for Organ Sharing is concerned about the donor's ability to give "informed consent".

Dr. Fox said, "The lives (of prisoners) are constrained in ways that yours and mine are not. Free, informed consent involves the freedom to either accept or to reject treatments that are being proposed."

"The fact that the donation could prolong his own life," the good doctor continued, "could compromise an inmate's decision-making ability.

"Neither (the inmate nor his sister) may feel they have the complete freedom to make the decision that is appropriate for them," Fox said.

It sometimes amazes me how people, especially educated people, can take a simple issue and analyze it to death; twisting it and turning it until it is no longer simple, no longer recognizable.

The inmate is going to die. Offering his liver serves two purposes: it prolongs his life by a few weeks and it saves his sister's life. What does it matter which of those is his primary motive. And how much informed consent must one have to make such an offer.

Are organ donations accepted only if the givers' motives are purely altruistic? This is a deal on which the most pragmatic of observers can agree.


In 1998 a Texas death row inmate's request for a stay of execution in order to donate a kidney was denied. One of the concerns was that the inmate might die during the operation.

Only in Texas.

Wednesday, May 18, 2005

On the Warpath...

I have a problem with the Cleveland Indians. For those of you who are not sports enthusiasts, the Cleveland Indians are a Major League Baseball team which has been in existance for nearly 100 years. And my problem isn't with the team, per se, but with the team's logo, a red-skinned, large-grinned, hook-nosed, solo-feathered cartoon character named Chief WahooChief Wahoo

My displeasure with the logo is not a unique stance. Folks of one stripe or another have been protesting it privately and publicly almost since it's inception.

Spokespeople for the Cleveland Indians organization insist that Chief Wahoo "was not created to offend American Indians, but to honor them". The team reps say the team's nickname and logo were designed to pay homage to an early baseball player, Louis Sockalexis, one of the first American Indians to play professional baseball.

To me that's akin to the old Brooklyn Dodgers renaming themselves the Brooklyn Negroes and choosing as their mascot a grinning, nappy-headed, thick-lipped black face to honor Jackie Robinson. How long do you imagine that would stand? blackface

Lest I be mistaken for a whiny, nit-picking advocate for political correctness, let me assure you I am generally repulsed by the mindless promotions of that media-powered social calamity.

PC aside, however, we are a society that, for the most part, tries to avoid openly denigrating and insulting our neighbors simply because they comprise a cultural or ethnic minority.

It's unfortunate that the political and economic influence of Native-Americans isn't powerful enough to effect the kinds of changes that African-Americans have become accustomed to over the years.

And please, don't get me started on the Washington Redskins.