MARY READY: No humor in government and no common sense


A family member recently learned the high cost of making a joke at the local DMV (not the office in Fort Walton as those folks are courteous, helpful, and possessed of common sense). Well, anyway, after enduring the usual bureaucratic frustration, he said something silly — and very ill-advised — using the word “bomb.”

UH, OH.  

Instead of responding with something like, “Sir, that’s very inappropriate. If you persist in talking like this, I will call authorities,” the clerk immediately called sheriff’s deputies who arrested him, handcuffed him behind his back severely injuring both his shoulders, ripped his insulin pump from his stomach, and threw him in jail for a week. The cost for an  attorney was in the thousands of dollars. The subsequent physical therapy and the shoulder surgery will also be costly.

But the deputies did display some sense of humor when they used his cell phone while he was jailed to call Hooter’s.

Don’t get jocular with the NSA, either. Dan McCall, founder of Liberty Maniacs, is being targeted by the agency’s lawyers, claiming copyright infringement after McCall created a parody version of the agency’s logo.

The National Security Agency, the secretive federal department under fire for spying on U.S. citizens, is yet another government agency with no patience for clowning around and no common sense.

 The NSA’s lawyers came after McCall’s parodies of the agency and sent him cease and desist documents from using the altered logo on his website and on T-shirts which were selling like crazy.

At issue is the NSA’s logo, which was partially altered by McCall. He kept the name of the agency and most of the artwork intact, but changed the bottom portion from “United States of America” to the quite funny, “Peeping while you’re sleeping.”

Underneath the doctored logo is the phrase “The NSA, the only part of government that actually listens.”

Part of the reason I find the jab at the NSA so humorous has to do with a deep-seated resentment for wasted tax money going down the drains of pointless programs, congressional salaries, pork barrel projects, and sending tons of money and weapons to countries that hate us.

Obviously, our government has an abysmal lack of both humor and common sense.

 Worse, political correctness and our dread of offending anyone about anything have rendered our American freedom to poke fun at various bureaucratic entities a thing of the past. As well as dangerous.

Take, for example, the DMV. In Virginia, one can not have a custom plate that is “offensive.” A man had his “Kids First” license plate revoked because he had the top line emblazoned with EATTHE. He got away with it for several years before a cop arrested him for his message of juvenile cannibalism.

Or the Florida cop who stopped a man because his car displayed a bumper sticker announcing “Save our beaches; drown a tourist.” He was forced to remove it on the spot.

Then there is the TSA. Agents removed a British traveler at the Los Angeles airport and sent him back to London because he had tweeted “Free this week, up for a quick gossip before I go and destroy America.” Homeland Security was unimpressed that to a Brit, “destroy” is UK slang for “partying.”

Or how about the DOT?  A little town in Illinois wanted to make their stop signs more effective, especially since residents tended to cruise through them without coming to a full stop. So they posted small, red octagonal signs below them with messages like “in the naaaame of love,” “and smell the roses,”  “means you don’t move,” and “right there, pilgrim.” The citizens and the mayor thought it was all quite funny and worked well in making people actually stop. The Illinois DOT wasn’t amused, citing a violation of the Fed’s Manual on Traffic Control Devices. Threatened with loss of federal funding for services, the town had to remove $1,700 in signs.

The IRS is also humor-challenged. So maybe Frank shouldn’t have written “blood-sucking extortionists” on the memo line of a large tax check we sent them a few years ago.

My favorite IRS story probably isn’t true, but it has certain credibility, given our government’s tendency to take things too seriously. A beleaguered tax payer complained:

“The IRS sent my tax return back! AGAIN!!! 

I guess it was because of my response to the line, ‘List all dependents.’ 

I replied: ‘12 million illegal immigrants; 3 million crack heads; 42 million perfectly employable people on food stamps, 2 million people in over 243 prisons; half of Mexico; and 535 fools in the U.S. House and Senate.’ 

Apparently, this was NOT an acceptable answer.”

Big Brother has no sense of humor, and as my idol Erma Bombeck said, “When humor goes, there goes civilization.”

Mary Ready of Destin is a twice-retired English teacher and long-time area resident. Her columns are published on Saturdays.