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Anyone know a quaint little place to go canoeing? If you said Standish, Michigan you're way ahead of me. Timothy Boomer, a computer programmer from Detroit, was convicted on Friday, June 11 for swearing. Yes, swearing. Boomer and some friends were canoeing the Rifle River in rural Arenac County when his canoe tipped over. He then let fly what has been described from "at worst an 'f-word' or two" to "using the 'f-word' anywhere between 25 and 70 times." Boomer told jurors when his canoe hit a rock and he fell into the river he didn't know there were children present, so he began shouting in jest. Unfortunately, he also didn't know about Arenac County's 102-year-old anti-swearing law, which prohibits swearing in front of children.

Boomer's attorney argued, as we all would, that the law is unconstitutional and is a blatant violation of his freedom of speech. The prosecutor in the case argued that while that type of language may be acceptable in Los Angeles or New York City, the jury should decide whether they wanted that kind of language in their small town. I thought for sure that argument would be used to Boomer's credit, as only an idiot would fall for it. (By the way, if you've ever wondered how intelligent the residents of Standish, Michigan are, there's your answer.)

So this means cities within America are above the Constitution of the United States and should be allowed to interpret it as they see fit? This is a gross injustice. I lived in a little podunk town in rural Georgia and I'll bet my bank account it's smaller than Standish. Yet there was cussing in my town. The kids had sex, we listened to heavy metal and some of us even failed classes. I think Rodney Woody even farted in public once, but I'm not sure. I wasn't there, I just heard from some kid whose sister's boyfriend's cousin heard it from someone.

NO town in America, no city, no county, no rural enclave, is above this country's laws, and for these hicks to convict Boomer is a crime in itself. The implications from this trial are even scarier than the verdict. Thanks to these yahoos, now every God-fearing, virgin-eared conservative is going to press charges the first time they hear someone say "dang." Every time Mrs. Jones and her kids are in the body shop and Joe Greaseball rakes his knuckles over some lug nuts, he's going to spout some profanity and wham! Lawsuit. And don't think it won't happen. There are people in this country who were waiting for a case just like this to come down. Sit back and watch, it's gonna be fucking fun. (Oh come on, you knew it was coming.)

If you're responsible and you know it, clap your hands! Ahhh, listen to that applause. Thank you, thank you very much. Really though, responsibility seems to be a dying trait these days. Americans have become so hasty in passing the blame that finding a responsible person is just about as hard as finding the "Boardwalk" piece in McDonalds' Monopoly game. (And don't give me that "I had it but lost it" bit. It's been done.) Back in late June a woman in Tampa, Florida took it upon herself to start an organization called "Swim For Life" after her son drowned in April of this year. Mary Bettis began lobbying local governments to require swim lessons for young children. I'm not sure of the specifics of Ms. Bettis' story, and it hasn't been disclosed as to who will fund her new program, but, with all due respect, it's not a problem America needs to confront or pay for.

Children drown not because they can't swim. They drown because parents have lost their sense of responsibility. Even if it wasn't Ms. Bettis' fault directly, even if her son died while in the care of someone else -- that is still irresponsibility. Too many children today are being born and turned over to a day care center six weeks later. What's the point of having a children if you can't be there to protect them? "Why not?" isn't the answer to "Why do you want children?"

So many couples get married and start popping out kids before their marriage license has been filed. They don't think about things like working and having a latchkey child. They don't think about their child when they go house hunting and pick the one with the pool. So let's make America responsible for it. I'm not capable of taking the blame so let me blame my country. OK, while you're at it, how about we fund a federal babysitting program? We can have federally appointed and certified nannies who will go to school and be bonded to change diapers, heat milk (or soymilk, you damned vegans!) and burp your child.

That way we won't have to read stories about moms like Andrea Wells of Pompano Beach, Florida. Wells, a mother of nine, burned her son with an iron, pricked the bottom of his feet with some type of object, put welts on his back and broke his hand. How about Ronald Shanabarger of Franklin, Indiana? Shanabarger wrapped his eight-month-old son's head in plastic wrap and walked away. He returned 20 minutes later, removed the wrap and placed his dead son face down in a crib for his wife to discover. If we start anything, let's start a mandatory training course for parents. When a woman becomes pregnant, she (and her significant other, if applicable) must enroll in a seven month course on how to care for a kid. Everything from feeding to diapers to discipline to Little League to grandchildren. Or we can continue to pass the blame like Randy and Kathy Atchison of Palm Harbor, Florida who recently crusaded to get a mandatory chicken pox vaccination for all children entering preschool and kindergarten in Florida. The Atchinson's son died of chicken pox last year but more tragic than that is the fact that the Atchison's didn't know such a vaccine even existed. PARENTAL TRAINING!!! Let's get back to basics. When we learn to care for our own then we can think about taking on the added responsibility of "America's" children.

Not only do we have to re-learn responsibility, we also must come to the realization that things happen and sometimes there is no reason. Sometimes life deals you lemons and even the lemonade you make tastes like shit. Take the "killer pond" in Celebration, Florida for example. Celebration is surrounded by wetlands and in the wake of its development many retention ponds were created. One such retention pond has now claimed the lives of four people. The bodies of three tourists and their truck were pulled from the pond back in June after they had been missing for nine months. The men were vacationing in Florida from Massachusetts and had seemingly disappeared. In November of last year 18 year-old Sarah Ann Kuser drove into the pond and died as well. Now the Kuser family is suing Celebration for not properly marking the road, never mind the fact that alcohol was involved in Sarah's death and police estimate she was traveling at speeds in excess of 70 mph when she crashed. It's very questionable that the lawsuit has just been filed yet she died some seven months ago. I wonder why this case wasn't filed sooner. Is it because, oh, I don't know, there was no case?!

Well, guess what? There's still no case! The family is suing because they think they have a strong suit with the recent discovery of the three men from Massachusetts. They probably based their decision on one other, small detail: The Celebration Company is a subsidiary of Disney and everyone wants some of that action. This is a horrible thing to do. It is a tragedy that the family lost their daughter, but using her death for their monetary gain is even worse. Although the families of the men from Massachusetts haven't filed suit (at press time) you can almost guarantee it will happen. Similar to the Kuser case, the men were speeding. The Florida Highway Patrol estimates their speed at impact at 60 m.p.h. They were traveling fast enough to launch their truck some 100 feet into the air where it hit and flipped over. Still, with all of these facts, the blame continues to be passed on.

Howard Russell, a former director of Osceola county's Public Works department, said, "When you realize you've got a condition where people are coming ... from where they've been partying, you want to take measures to make conditions more visible." WHY?! Why should anyone take added precautions for assholes who drive drunk?! (I was hit by a drunk driver so I'm a little sensitive to this.) Russell went on to say, "If you're going 35 to 45 mph, there's no problem at all." So let me get this straight: if you're sober and following the posted speed limit you'll be fine, but if you're driving drunk and speeding, you might get hurt or even killed? That sounds about right.

Recently, Osceola County Commissioner Ken Shipley decided to get some of the limelight. He is petitioning to get the roadway closed entirely. He argues that "I'm not a traffic engineer or a road guru, cut common sense says that stretch of road needs to be condemned and redone ..." What about the people that die on our interstates every day? How about the four people who died on I-75 over the 4th of July holiday? Why not shut down the interstates while we're at it? Common sense, Mr. Shipley, says people need to heed the warnings of message boards, flashing signs and the posted speed limits on the damned roadways. The bottom line is that the Celebration road in question meets or exceeds all of the county and state-set standards. There is no place or no one to put the blame on. It helps but when it's not there you can't create it.

Until next time, this is the end of Your World. •

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