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Altered Realities

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   This year, we're all players in a noted sequel to Rod Serling's, The Twilight Zone, a new version so bizarre that it winds its way onto the big-screen, replete with scenes baffling enough and sufficiently horrifying to make John Cleese step aside from his brilliant airplane performance in the first movie. This version allows us all to play ourselves: fear, terror, horror--real or imagined? In this movie, also made in a series of surreal skits, we need look no further than the GOP to find a masterpiece of scripting, the grand poobah of altered absolutes. We're the players, the on-lookers in disbelief, with an added dash of stupefaction. The GOP can play the role of the monster on the airplane wing. The media can be the unwitting flight attendants who, for whatever reason, can't see the damn monster, or grab the mike fast enough to scream, "There's a damned monster on the wing," and we can all join in with a personal take on John's performance, cracking-up in disbelief--our televisions and newspapers work nicely as airplane windows. Jill Dobson makes a lovely flight attendant.
 
     Yes, this is a surreal and bizarre reality, but no more bizarre than listening to the media calmly discuss critical matters of policy with people like Anne Coulter, Rush Limbaugh, Sean Hannity, Bill O'Reily and now, even Carl Rove. We listen to them growl, snarl and puke bile on us while no one asks the million dollar question, "Are you on drugs? Were you recently released from an institution we should know about?" No really, aside from Bob Cesca, I find few in the media who have backbone enough to really challenge this level of base insanity.
 
     Let's look at Rush for a moment and imagine that he might have made his living as a SCUBA designer and not just a shock jock or GOP spoksperson. Let's really stretch for another moment and imagine (really stretch with me here) that he had a beautiful grasp of the sciences. In a contest of  marine, engineering prowess, SCUBA designers (the best from around the world) were asked to submit a SCUBA device to take its user to the deepest depths for the longest amount of time, with a maximum amount of user efficiency. There's a caveat, however. Based on the standards for this entry and other outlined criteria, each scientist must test the device of an opponent and judge it based on good scientific knowledge, experience and data. The responsibility of such a daunting task would be two-fold; the ethical/emotional burden of the life of another, weighted further by the hope for advancement in the field, success. Each contestant would clearly understand his burdens and take them on with the profound responsibility it carries. That is, of course, unless you're Rush.
 
     With equipment on his back, Rush stands on the deck and announces in a tone of shrill defiance, " I want my opponents to fail!" Call the men in white, call the loony squad, call anyone--just get him out of there!

     It's not unreasonable to suggest that (in our mythical contest) if someone expressed such a desire, the complete, terminal failure of a fellow scientist, he would not only be admitting to a murderous/suicidal mission, but he'd also be admitting to the dubious nature of his mental/emotional footing. Indeed, even a lay person understands the basic need for oxygen, especially for a scuba diver, not withstanding all the other details. It's reasonable to find such a declaration insane. It's even reasonable to call our fellow a looney tune.
 
     Thankfully, this was a metaphorical game, and our metaphorical people were all at sea on a huge vessel that had a convenient heliport. Someone did call 911, and a squad of mental health officials quickly air lifted our dearest Rush to a warm place of padded help.

     There's no doubt, that "wishing" makes neither truth nor reality. But it does make it reasonable to turn down the volume on this flavor of clear insanity, to call-out altered truth and pull the plug on the presses and mikes.
 
     But we're still on John Cleeses' plane. And nothing looks clear to us now. It's late, we're tired and our flight attendants are walking the isles. They've stopped offering us drinks and I've stopped looking out the window, even though other passangers still seem transfixed--  the flight attendants seem only slightly alarmed by this. They've stopped serving drinks! John is  clearly sweating. I'm guessing it must be Anne Coulter on the wing, and he knows who gets removed when we land.

 

I am a human rights advocate, a secularist and published writer.

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