By Brian M. Howle
Alas, poor Royal; we knew you well.
Okay, so we didn’t, really. But, that won’t stop the tabloid press in the haughty and proper confines of the United Kingdom from having a freakin’ field day – at the expense of a child.
Yep, the big news broke over the weekend – of the alcohol and drug forays of young Prince Harry, youngest child of Prince Charles and the late Princess Diana. In the five to ten minutes that I mulled over this young boy’s misdeeds, over one billion people around the world became privy to this information. I doubt if many of them gave it much thought.
Which is a real shame, because somewhere – deep within the bowels of rampant sensationalism and titillation that now passes as journalism – there’s a real story, with a real message.
Oh, I have no doubt that reams upon reams of dribble will follow about young Harry’s wild escapades, complete with sordid, smarmy insights into decadence and debauchery of Babylonian proportions. And not just confined to the Brits … all media – worldwide – will feast on this one.
Just for fun, let’s break down the kid’s background and see if we can achieve some insight as to his core problem. Because, after all, no matter what your demons, there’s a core problem that links it all together.
Suffice to say that merely being a Royal is an extreme pressure right out of the gate. From the moment he drew his first breath, he was destined to be submerged in the trappings of an archaic Monarchy lifestyle: Proper nannies, proper schools, proper friends, proper behavior – drilled non-stop from day one.
Hey, piece of cake. Anyone could skate through puberty without any problems under those conditions.
Unless, say, you carried some baggage unique to your place in the grand order of things.
17-year-old Harry is third in line to the throne (he’s already lost his mom; and would have to lose dad and only sibling to gain the throne). His dad had his first drink at age 14. His mom had bouts of anorexia, bulimia and depression. Other relatives have submitted the Queen to the royal embarrassment – some on multiple occasions.
Add to this the fact that no teenager in the civilized world can be held from information. Television, radio, internet, schoolyard grapevine – no matter what the conduit, young Harry is at the mercy of the media when it comes to facing the cold, hard facts concerning his lot in life. Headlines in Britain’s newspapers coyly exclaim, “His Royal HIGHness.” One particularly snooty expert Royal watcher gleefully responded to a reporter, “Well, Harry’s not as popular as his brother, William. He’s not as good looking, nor is he as athletically inclined. He was always the goofy one. He’s always trying to outdo his brother and gain the attention of his father.”
Hey, Nigel, I took Psych 101, too. A toadstool could figure out that much. But thanks for putting it out there on a soundbyte that will loop around the dial until young Harry gets to hear it a few dozen times. Bloody well done, old chap.
So, we have a young boy, who has strayed from the straight and narrow and very proper mantle of British Royalty. He’s the youngest child, and as such is statistically predisposed to problem behavior. His parents have both exhibited addictive behaviors. The kid smoked a few joints, and had a few drinks. His father confronted him with it, and they talked. He’s done his time at the obligatory rehab clinic.
He’s a 17-year-old boy. And for all 17-year-old boys – regardless of social standing and privilege – hormonal tsunamis and trying to be cool can make life a bitch. Leave the kid alone.
Besides … lookie here at what’s next…..
Big Oil End Run – a.k.a. Enron
If there’s someone up there who reads my stuff on a regular basis – and likes it – well, they must have given me this week as a present. But validating my contention – that corporate greed is destroying our way of life MUCH faster than any lost war on drugs or failed attempts at creating an effective national education system – is of little satisfaction to me. Thousands of innocent, hard working, gullible, God fearing people have been ruined – jobs lost, savings lost, futures lost. And I just can’t revel in any of that.
But at least now, we all get to see how serious our national government really is about pursuing truth and justice.
I’m not holding out much hope for that to pass in Texas, though – considering that almost every person in the Houston area is directly tied to Enron. From the service industry; to the hospitality industry; to real estate; to tax-based revenues; to the labyrinth of state officials, prosecutors and judges (The Texas Attorney General quickly recused himself from any Enron-related matters that might come up) – it’s gonna be hard for folks there to find a sacrificial lamb that will satisfy all.
Then again, when citizens allow a big, manipulative, powerful company to have carte blanche when it comes to tax breaks, amortization rates, sweetheart deals and the like – well, sooner or later, that chicken is gonna come home to roost. (Man, I’m sure glad we don’t have any companies like that around here, huh?)
But for the employees of Enron – the heart of the company; the ones who put in long, arduous hours, who plowed their saving and bonuses back into Enron’s then-skyrocketing stock – there is no caveat of conscious.
Forget the lying to the Fed. Forget the lying to Wall Street. Forget the obscene amounts in political contributions – to BOTH parties. Forget the possibility of a mortally wounded infrastructure in Houston.
For these Americans (and after all, we are bombing the crap out of Afghanistan to protect the rights of THESE Americans, right?) were forced to sit on their hands and watch their stock’s value plunge into the abyssal void of bankruptcy and ruin. They were legally (a fancy term which means they had no choice) locked into investments that prevented them from selling their stock and recovering at least some of their money. Ah, but as for those executives in charge…they had no such restrictive stipulations hanging over their financial security. They dumped their vast stock holdings (albeit less than half of their holdings at most, but hey, I could live on half a billion, too) far in advance of the fall. And all the while, Enron’s tactical svengalis were stroking Arthur Andersen into providing co-conspirators, who issued “scorched earth” orders to all but the most rudimentary paperwork involved. Then again, giving the company that audits your books over $52 million a year will make some greedy Americans look the other way.
So now we get to see if the actual destruction of thousands of lives and the lifeblood of a community has any consequence in Corporate America. At least, more importance than, say, some obscenely expensive political vendetta against a hound and his bitch, for trying to destroy our way of life by participating in a failed, poorly conceived development known as Whitewater. Heck, our Senate actually impeached a President over the eventual dregs of personal embarrassment that were rabidly squeezed out of that one.
So, this time – pay attention to which way they look. Sooner or later, people are gonna notice.
In the meantime, I would advise having a diversified portfolio, with holdings in real estate, T-bills, hula hoops (they’re coming back; it’s just a matter or time), General Dynamics, Dow Chemical, Northrop, Marietta-Martin, Boeing, Remington, Winchester, Smith & Wesson, and Glock.
George W. Bush, Jr. has gone on record as wanting to be known as the “Education President.” And yes, I was a bit skeptical when I heard that. But in all honesty, I have to admit that he has come through on that promise. I now know two things that I didn’t know before:
A) It’s medically and physically possible to induce a fainting spell by choking on a pretzel, if it presses up against a particular nerve in the throat, and if you have low blood pressure (a condition prevalent in joggers and runners); and,
B) When the President of the United States of America passed out and fell off the couch – bruising his cheek and lip along the way – the only two witnesses to the event were Barney and Spot.
Barney and Spot are not Secret Service codenames, nor are they aides or staffers, or relatives. Barney and Spot are dogs.
The leader of the free world, unconscious on the floor, comes to and finds Barney and Spot in the same places they were before he fell – they hadn’t budged. President Bush, if I were you, I’d be looking for a dog named Lassie:
Secret Service agent: “What’s that, girl? A capacitor in the CPU for the modem that links the Nuclear Hotline has burned out, and the odor has triggered swelling in the President’s sinuses, which has pressed up against a nerve that caused him to pass out? And we can order another one from Radio Shack? And the maid is stealing the silverware?”
A true master Thespian, Lassie always got the most out of a single line.
But seriously … we now have smart bombs. Why can’t we have smart dogs, too? Or is this yet another example of the “dumbing down” of America, gone to the dogs, so to speak? Or is that just the axiom for freedom and democracy – “Smart Bombs, Dumb Dogs?”
Imagine the following scenario in the not-too-distant future: The elite force of Secret Service agents is deployed in advance of President Bush’s impending departure from Washington, as he makes his way to the waiting Marine helicopter on the White House lawn. Suddenly, a half-dozen men with aviation sunglasses and earpieces with those little coiled cords tucked down in their collars scurry into an encircling formation around the President, loudly whispering into their sleeves as they crouch in anticipation:
“Daycare Leader to all agents, Daycare Leader to all agents … stay alert and be prepared to stabilize the Shrub … is now about to attempt chewing gum while walking … notify EMT’s and Walter Reed …”
That Dubya … what a hoot. Don’t ya just know that in a dark, unstable, moldy cave – somewhere in Afghanistan – there were some Al-Queada guys watching CNN the next day, exalting out loud, “I can’t believe we’re getting our asses kicked by THIS guy!”
Don’t be so aloof, Cave Boy. ‘Cause once you become too self-confident about your situation, Dubya is going to give you boys a laser-guided pretzel enema. And if you’re lucky, you’ll faint, too.
Another Dumb Animal
In light of the recent arrest of another “troubled” person in the Socastee area this weekend, I’d like to advance the call of action against people who choose to inflict their own sick pain and suffering on helpless animals. As disturbing as it is, the truth of the matter is that it is not a felony to maliciously and mercilessly murder an animal in South Carolina. (And yes, I know; for some, hunting is a form of murder. I feel your pain. Now, get over it. This ain’t hunting.)
You can talk all you want about man being the supreme being on earth, and about how God gave us domain over all other animals, and that it’s not the same as the taking of a human life. Go ahead; give it your best shot … knock yourself out.
Common sense – along with every competent psychologist and psychiatrist I’ve ever asked – will tell you that a person who savagely tortures, maims and kills animals is potentially just one act away from graduating up to human prey. That alone is reason enough to finally put some teeth into animal cruelty laws. But it should be done out of respect for the lives of these animals; more succinctly, out of respect for life itself.
Yes, I know where my Quarter Pounder with Cheese comes from. I know my shoes once grazed in a pasture somewhere. I know countless cousins of “Babe” are really tasty as a side for eggs and grits. Such is the luck of the draw; the delineating definition between livestock and pet.
These are acts of necessity, of survival, of sustenance. And the bloodlines are bred solely for that purpose.
But to kill, simply for the enjoyment of killing; to satisfy some perverse, sick, pathetic need to make existence for defenseless animals more horrible than your own – is an act of unmitigated evil. Period.
And now the county or city will have to spend taxpayer money to put this dumb animal on trial – and if justice is served, foot the bill for the use of local incarceration facilities at taxpayers’ expense.
I propose another idea. After the sentencing, gather up a group of folks who all feel as I do. Then give us big, heavy, ball-peen hammers, and five minutes. Hey, all those folks on City and County Councils are always hollerin’ about saving money, aren’t they? Let’s get serious about it, then.
And there’s absolutely nothing wrong with civic participation that’s carried out with enthusiasm and expediency.
Or a big, heavy, ball-peen hammer.
The previous article originally appeared in Alternatives NewsMagazine, January 17, 2002.