Stop it, Buster

Republicans in Congress want to slash millions of dollars from the funding for the Corporation for Public Broadcasting because Buster the rabbit visited some lesbian couple in Vermont last year on his show, Postcards from Buster. And, apparently, because Bill Moyers, who is hardly a radical journalist, used to host a weekly program, Now, on PBS that sometimes questioned the wisdom of the Bush administration. The Republicans say public television programming is too liberal, what with that lesbian-accepting rabbit and that darn Moyers guy fouling up the airwaves. At least that’s what George Neumayr, contributing writer for The American Spectator, argues. He said so this week, right there on PBS’s The News Hour, repeating Buster’s and Moyer’s names over and over again.

The problem with guys like Neumayr is that they want “balance” at any price. Not the truth, mind you, but balance. They want their opinions presented to counterbalance the truth. Like this: The truth is that lynching is a despicable crime that should be met with stiff punishment. The balance in this case would be: Lynching supports the rope industry and the men and women who work in it. If we stop the practice of lynching how many people will we throw out of work? That’s balance.

So I see these headlines: “Former Klansman Convicted” and “Bush Will go to Vietnam,” and I think to myself, better late than never, I guess. Speaking of headlines, why is it that when a white Boy Scout in Utah (is there any other kind?), or a white 18-year-old vacationing in Aruba or a white bride-to-be from Georgia slips off the radar, the national media are all over it. A woman visiting here from Pittsburgh asked me a good question this week: “How come black people never go missing?”

I just can’t put this column together without mentioning the great parking garage debate, can I? Apparently not. My friend Bob Vivian, who takes time out of his busy schedule to criticize our paper each week, told me this week to just “knock it off.” Sorry Bob. Like I said, no can do. There is something wrong with me. The opposition to the massive garage, as big a free-standing building as has ever been built in this town (a whole city block!), just turned in more than 6,000 signatures to the city clerk, hoping to salvage out of that total just under 4,000 legitimate signatures of registered voters who live in the city limits. Then what? We are at a turning point in this town. Does it remain the funky and easy-living college town that attracted many of us here, or does it transform into some upscale glass-and-mortar metropolis that caters to those in town who have money? Who knows? It is not a question of right or wrong. Just direction. Congratulations to whoever comes out on top.

As I write this, it is the first day of summer, the longest day of the year. There is a full moon hanging low but rising in the southern sky. Detroit just beat San Antonio to force a game seven in the NBA playoffs. The Indians recently put together a nine-game winning streak. I’ve got The Band on the stereo, and Richard Manuel is singing “When You Awake” in that achingly beautiful voice. Despite all the disarray and heartbreak showering down upon us, I feel pretty optimistic. As the man sings, “Snow’s gonna come and the frost’s gonna bite, my old car froze up last night. Ain’t no reason to hang my head, I could wake up in the morning dead.”