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Friday, October 6, 2000

Won't the Real Hypocrite Please Shut Up?
Lots of Hot Property, None of it Intellectual!

by Clinton Fein

After Lynn Cheney's masterful performance decrying the foul-mouthed misogynistic Eminem before John McCain and the gang on Capitol Hill, one would have automatically expected her and the former Death Row producer Dr. Dre to be squarely opposed ideologically. But the current gyre of moral outrage, politics and spin swirling around entertainment, media, violence and law is so much more complex.

While Eminem's contrived epithets and amateur lyrics have earned the ire of most minorities, Ms. Cheney, who wrote freely and favorably about lesbianism in one of her first books "Sisters," before her daughter Mary became one, never so much as whispered the "L" word, nor the "G" word specifically, skillfully avoiding having to navigate the kinder gentler version of bashing by she and husband Dick. They who wouldn't want their own daughter to serve in the military, although she is competent enough to serve as gay and lesbian corporate relations manager for Coors Brewing Company. Interestingly gay activists have long targeted Coors for being anti-gay. Mary is obviously well suited to this position.

Dr. Dre's less-than-alpha-male hysterical histrionics over file-sharing innovator Napster appear to be ill founded if sales of Eminem's bad girl white-rap are anything to go by. Madonna's latest album Music seems to support to the same observation, which we'll get to later. Looks like all the idiots who downloaded her songs from Napster bought the CD twice, the moment it was released.

We haven't been quite able to determine where the 'intellectual' fits into any of the Dr. Dre produced Eminem properties that are being downloaded, and over which Dr. Dre is siding with a lesbian on the other side of Mary Cheney's mom. Hilary Rosen of the Record Industry Association of America (RIAA) has aligned Dre and heavy-metal band Metallica in their lawsuit against Napster. Hilary's girlfriend -- Executive Director of a predominantly rich, white Washington D.C based gay rights group the Human Rights Campaign -- Elizabeth Birch, spoke prominently at the recent Democratic Convention; supporting ardently the administration that produced "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" or "Gag the Fag". Yep, too many enemies to sleep with, but perhaps we better understand Lynn Cheney's anti-Eminem motives. Or do we?

Just how much of the high anxiety surrounding intellectual property legislation is being governed by politics? And do the Judeo Christian values perpetuated on all sides, (especially the colorful introduction to presidential politics of an Orthodox Jew by a "born again" Baptist who studied religion and law at Vanderbilt University) adequately address the constitutional guarantees envisioned by our forefathers? And ought intellectual property and its attendant complexities in a technological and legal environment be shaped by questionable political pseudo-morality?

Then of course there's the former coke snorting W and his appropriately named running mate Dick. Junior's attack on Gore's typically irresponsible media created 'Internet invention' claim, while somewhat predictable, raises the stakes somewhat. How exactly would W, as president, approach and deal with Internet issues such as First Amendment, privacy and intellectual property?

When a 29-year-old computer programmer launched a parody site of the original Bush site, www.georgewbush.com, using the URL www.gwbush.com a frantic former MSNBC talking head and frighteningly unattractive Bush lackey, Ben Ginsberg, nearly had a "kniepchen" as Hassadah would put it - and attempted to do everything in his power to have it please shut up, (including some hardball tactics like filing a complaint with the Federal Election Commission). When a reporter challenged Bush by asking if the Web site's owner should please shut up, he responded: "There ought to be limits to freedom." Dumb and dumber. Perhaps there ought to be limits on Bush presidencies. Or perhaps, as a political strategy, George W should please shut up.

Gore on the other hand, who really did play a meaningful role in supporting an environment that recognized the promise of the Internet, also needs to take responsibility for such dubious legislative initiatives such as portions of the Communications Decency Act, Children's Online Protection Act and other questionable legal maneuvering by the Clinton/Gore administration such as United States v. ApolloMedia, which forced us for almost a year to please shut up. "We must take all steps necessary to secure effective enforcement [of those laws] -- at home and abroad -- to ensure that others do not steal intellectual property through piracy and other forms of theft," states the lofty Democratic Party platform.

I too believe that responsible citizens should adhere to trademark law and should not "dilute" trademarks by weakening of the power of the mark to identify the owner's goods or services. While I don't feel it applies as far as First Amendment constitutional protections, parody and fair use is concerned -- ensuring the protection of critical and edgy discourse -- the issues raised by enabling technologies such as Napster and the like are legitimate enough to warrant exploration.

We all know that the floundering joke, also known as a campaign for Pat Buchanan, being run by his shrill sister (who looks, sounds and behaves more like his brother), Bay, uses "Go Pat Go!" as an official campaign slogan. However, try going to www.gopatgo.com. While it currently points to some unknown commissioner in Florida, until recently, and for the entire duration of the presidential campaign, anyone entering in that URL was immediately directed to the official Gore campaign site. While the URL www.gopatgo2000.org points to the official Buchanan campaign web site, any reasonable person attempting to find out how to isolate borders and target immigrants and minorities as scapegoats by rationally going to www.gopatgo.com must have been quite surprised to learn about Al Gore's commitment to women's abortion rights. If Lieberman has anything to do with it, women may have to subserviently walk around a man seven times (as Orthodox Jewish women must do when they marry one) in order to fulfill a RU486 prescription.

Let The World Intellectual Property Organization figure out whether or not the same laws that apply to dumb average citizens apply to greedy sycophantic politicians. Not to mention jurisdictional issues governing different politics in different countries. Perhaps George W can use that "Things Go Better With Coke" slogan after all, AND register the domain name! Sorry Coca Cola Company. Politics are different, and you didn't donate enough! Seems Coke doesn't own thingsgobetterwithcoke.com anyway! At least Pepsi does not own it.

And speaking of Pepsi, the company once upon a time told Madonna to please shut up by pulling their sponsorship of her concert tour once they discovered "Like a Prayer" wasn't a gospel song. Madonna recently filed a complaint with The World Intellectual Property Organization that governs disputes over trademarked names and domain names, over the unfair use of madonna.com to sell pornography. All that needs to happen to complete this tangled web is for the proprietors of music.com to sue Madonna for using their trademark as the title for her new hot selling album.

Could it really be that this entire finger-pointing orgy at entertainment, and the mass confusion surrounding violence and media and who's responsible for bashing whom and gagging who is all over intellectual property? And that no one has any intention of shutting up. Even if asked with an uncharacteristically polite Eminem please.

The military, who once used trademark law to try and make us please shut up, still tell gays to please shut up, who in turn tell Dr. Laura and Paramount to please shut up, and whose parent company Warner Communications along with Interscope Records is being told by Congress and Lynn Cheney (blatantly stealing Tipper's pioneering role) to please shut up, who in turn is being told by partner David Gefffen to please shut up, who in turn is being told by Eminem, (whom he appears to own a stake in), to please shut up...you get the picture. Our society and culture, in all its tawdry hypocrisy, is destined to continue cussing, stealing, cheating, blaming, pandering, pontificating and litigating. And of course, finger pointing. Everyone is telling everyone to please shut up.

Unfortunately, no one's taking heed.

 
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