Wednesday, December 17, 2008

An asshole by any other name

Perhaps you've read the story of a New Jersey man's struggle to acquire a birthday cake for his child earlier this month. Heath Campbell thinks it's time for people to stop living in the past but isn't that what he's doing by naming his son Adolf Hitler Campbell?

Heath points to the election of Barrack Obama as the bellwether for change and feels that all of the ill will associated with NAZI Germany needs to pass. Heath, meanwhile enjoys wearing vintage boots that once belonged to a member of the infamous SS. One of Campbell's other children, by the way, is named JoyceLynn Aryan Nation Campbell but Heath insists that he isn't a racist. He points out that there were children of mixed races at his son's birthday party and claims that even though he was raised to avoid interacting with people of other races, he's comfortable with his children hanging out with black kids.

It's interesting that the reporter who conducted this interview didn't ask how Campbell felt about Jews, seeing as how that was Hitler's particular passion, but I suppose I'd miss a point or two if I was asked to give this whack job his 15 minutes of fame. This just isn't the sort of story you imagine writing when you're in journalism school.

It's obvious that Heath and his wife, Eva Braun, are using their children to draw attention to themselves. In the past Heath and his wife have harassed the local grocer with requests for cakes adorned with similarly offensive expressions such as swastikas. The local store refuses these requests so the Campbells have to turn to Wal-Mart to fulfill the special order. You've got to love Wal-Mart.

Now the Campbells are upset that they are the focus of a lot of ire. They claim that they've been harassed by angry postings on the internet in response to a local article on their plight. At least they claim to be upset. If you ask me, they're getting exactly what they wanted.

I think most people realize that freedom of speech doesn't mean that you are free from facing the consequences. You can't say controversial things and expect people not to react. When NWA wrote the song "Fuck Tha Police" they did so hoping to provoke a strong reaction. Perhaps they didn't count on Congressional committees forming to address their album, but you can bet that NWA knew that they were going to piss a lot of people off. They were counting on it to help them sell records.

Heath Campbell doesn't have any talent. As anti-Semites go he leaves a lot to be desired so he picked names for his kids that would evoke a strong reaction. He and his idiot wife were probably surprised and disappointed that they didn't draw significant media attention when they signed Adolf's birth certificate so over the next several years they tried harder. If this story fizzles and the Campbell's don't get an all expenses paid trip on the talk show circuit they're going to have to escalate the offensive. Maybe they'll ruffle feathers in local pizza shops before finally turning to Wal-Mart to place an order for an extra large pie topped with bits of smoked Jew. Maybe Heath will have to convert his back yard into a concentration camp complete with a working gas chamber and an authentic NAZI crematory.

That's pretty extreme and it might be cost prohibitive, especially for a West Jersey hick like Heath. No, they're more likely to pop out another kid and hope that they can pick a name that will really get people angry. Perhaps Hans Curb-stomper Campbell will do the trick. Maybe a daughter named Heeb Killer Campbell is the tonic that will rain down national attention. One thing is certain: if you want attention bad enough, eventually you will get it.

The only thing about this story that bothers me is the fact that Heath is going to get what he wants. That's only going to encourage him to continue on this course of action and it will give other people ideas upon which to expand their own schemes. Some daytime idiot like Tyra Banks will invite him to her show. She'll chastise him and the crowd will boo him roundly but he'll be on TV and that's all that really matters. I'm all for Heath being given a healthy dose of consternation--people need to be held accountable for their actions--but they shouldn't be rewarded with national media attention. In today's society the line between fame and infamy is blurred. There is no such thing as bad publicity and thanks to this AP article Heath is about to get what he's been after all these years.

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Democrats are Assholes Too

By now you must be aware of the fact that Illinois Governor Rod Blagojevich was arrested by the FBI for trying to "sell" Barack Obama's vacated Senate seat. To anybody familiar with Illinois politics this development comes as no surprise. The surprise is that Obama emerged from the dirt pile that is Illinois politics and managed to project a clean image. Even the most biased pundits in the Fox family can't link Obama to this scandal.

It's important to note that Blagojevich has been at odds with the Democratic party for some time. His own Lt. Governor hates him and the Illinois Democratic caucus has been battling with Blagojevich's corruption for quite some time. The Chicago Tribune has been calling for his impeachment and Blagojevich has been doing everything in his power to intimidate the writers and editors who question him. It's ugly.

After his arrest Blagojevich was released on bond and returned to work, refusing requests from virtually everybody in his party, including Obama, to resign. Blagojevich clearly believes that he is above the law and he intends to stretch this thing out as long as he can.

This is unfortunate for the Democrats because the American people have turned to them after 8 years of Republican corruption. We got tired of watching the antics of people like Tom DeLay and Ted Stevens, against the backdrop of the worst administration since Warren G. Hardings's, and handed the keys to the Democrats.

It's not that we're naive enough to believe that the Democrats are perfect. We know that they're going to screw up because they are, after all, politicians and we accept the fact that 99% of all politicians are self-serving scumbags who would kill us in our sleep if it would further their careers, but I think we all expected the Democrats to pretend they were better. After all the crap this country has dealt with, it's hard to believe that Blagojevich isn't really an actor employed by conservative interests.

But it's not an act. Blagojevich is a Democrat who learned to play the game in the dirtiest political arena we've got. Illinois has always been where the Democrats learn their dirtiest tricks. Unlike most Illinois Democrats, Blagojevich lacked the sense to not get caught which makes it highly probable that he was set up by a much more experienced Democrat with an axe to grind.

Like most Americans I voted exclusively for Democrats this time around. I even voted against a few moderate Republicans who have done well and deserved to be reelected because I felt that the GOP let this country down by not policing itself. I don't think the Democrats are that much better, but I was holding out hope that they would pretend to be and that's what I was voting for. I want my politicians to go back to having enough humility to keep their shady back alley business in the back alley. I know they're cheats and liars. I know they are going to break every promise they make but the overt corruption is disrespectful. Have the decency to put up a front and act like there are rules even if you think they don't apply to you. Barack Obama hasn't even been sworn in and idiots like Blagojevich are already acting like they're above the law.

I think it's time for the Democrats to send the world a message. This is Illinois and Blagojevich is a Chicago guy. They have ways of dealing with these things in Chicago. We're a long way from the days of Al Capone and Frank Nitty, but accidents still happen and people still disappear. He needs to be made an example of and what better place to do it than Illinois.