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Politically Correct-Ions
Can't avoid it any longer.


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Jonah Goldberg

Have you ever let something get so overdue the embarrassment of dealing with it outweighs the need to correct the situation? An overdue library book, term paper, or case of Herpes Simplex 10 just gets so out of hand there’s nothing left to do but make a clean break and start over?

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Well, that’s how I feel about my failure to run a corrections column in months. Since I am so unrelentingly critical of so many people, I think it’s important to admit when I get things wrong. That said, I’ve been so deep in airplane glue and harem “girls” — I mean work — that I have let this noble cause lapse for months. Now, I’m so scared to pull the thread on all of the things I got wrong — or that readers think I got wrong — that I’m petrified.

So, here’s what I’m gonna do. I’m not gonna get all hung up on this Judeo-Christian, meat-eating, male, land-owning, concept of thoroughness or complete honesty. Instead, in tribute to the old Bill Murray lounge act skits, I’m gonna offer a “corrections medley.” It won’t be exhaustive, but we’ll touch on some themes, raise some issues, redress some wrongs, affirm some rights, make a little love and get down tonight.

Which brings us to item numero uno. There’s a growing rift among G-File readers. On the one side are those who want deliberate, thoughtful, archly conservative essays, brimming with Chesterton quotes. There’s another side that wants more fart jokes. Okay that’s not quite fair. Both sides like having a good time (Toga! Toga!), but some think the relentless pop-culture and porn jokes (“I’m here to fix the cable, ma’am”) detract from the overall gestalt (a German word meaning, “Hey Frenchie! More wine!”). I don’t want to sound too Clintonian here but I’m trying to make everybody happy. So, if sometimes you can’t hear the hi-falutin’ strains over the porn soundtrack (bowmp bowmp dank ditty dank dank) I apologize. And, if all the pull-my-finger jokes distract you from my exploration of Burke’s letter to the Elders of Bristol, I’m sorry too. All I can say in my defense is that nobody pays me to be good, they just pay me to be me (and the couch, and my belly, and several other personalities).

Sticking with the pop culture for a little while, a long time ago I asked whether it was clear that Mike and Carol Brady’s first marriages ended through death or divorce. It seems that this is relatively unanswerable. In the fairly definitive “Total Television” the author declares outright that both parents were widowed. But in “Growing Up Brady” by Barry Williams, the actor suggests that the creator and executive producer, Sherwood Schwartz, conceived of the show with the parents being divorced, but ABC rejected the idea. Instead, they settled on never making it clear, sort of like Clinton and the meaning of “is.”

Okay let’s go rapid-fire now: When I wrote that Al Gore’s favorite song was “Secret Asian Man,” a lot of people thought it was a typo. No. While it was a reference to the song “Secret Agent Man” it was in fact a deliberate allusion to Gore’s tendency to order Chinese money off the takeout menu.

On a couple of occasions I referred to Elysium and a bunch of you seized on the opportunity to say “ho ho! Intellectual pool boy! You got it wrong again! It’s the ‘Elysian Fields.’” Well, jerkies, you might want to use your dictionaries for something other than a good surface to roll some righteous spleefs. Elysium is the place where the Elysian fields are. In fact, as best I can tell, “Elysian” is an adjective describing Elysium, or paradise. So, “Pedro’s South of the Border is Bill Clinton’s Elysium” works. And so does, “The naked lady playing cards, chicken fried chicken, and polyester sheets seemed to Mr. Clinton to be Elysian finery.”

One of my biggest boo-boos was to suggest that the original constitution mentions race at all. Of course it doesn’t. It refers to free people, Indians not taxed, and the like, but it never mentions race or gender outright. The 3/5ths clause of the Constitution dealing with blacks doesn’t necessarily refer to blacks at all. Though I think many blacks might have differed at the time.

Let’s take a moment to deal with typos and other dreck while I watch the last remnants of my once impressive portfolio evaporate into so much mist on Alan Greenspan’s Coke-bottle glasses.

I rarely misspell things outright, but when I do it’s usually something interesting (what’s that sorta from?). Instead, I use homonyms. These are small, gay creatures with furry feet, loosely related to Hobbits. They make wonderful cookies, are very friendly, and write brilliantly on deregulation and other libertarian issues. Know, know. What aye meant to c’est is that two off-10 aye spell words that sound write butt look wrong. It seems that some people actually kick their cats every time I mess up cite versus site. Obviously, a bunch of you need to pile into a van, pull up to the curb in front of my third-grade teacher’s retirement home and deliver some rough tutoring.

While we are on the subject of spelling, several of you asked if I misspelled pompitous deliberately. I did not. This was one of those extremely rare occasions where the man who copy-edits my column (which is sort of like being Al Sharpton’s personal trainer), the inestimable Mike Potemra — author of Nota Bene — switched it from the correct to the incorrect. You should A) denounce him in every hamlet in the land and B) read his daily column. [We interrupt this column for a message from Mike Potemra, who wishes to refer all the critics to the 1996 movie entitled The Pompatus of Love, spelled precisely that way. In matters of pop culture, if one cannot trust Jon Cryer, well, I ask you….]

Quickly eliding into the area of substance, a vast number of people thought I was wrong for saying the cops who shot Amadou Diallo should be fired, even if they aren’t criminally negligent. I stand by that. Nobody can argue that it wasn’t a screw-up, and I’ll take my lead from the half-dozen or so current and former cops who’ve e-mailed me saying exactly that.

Now flying forward to this week, many of you inquired about whether or not I was a bratty child, based upon my Mom’s contribution to NR Online. First, I refer you to the editor’s note at the bottom of the piece. Second, I refer you to the fact that I have a brother, ‘nuff said.

Also, this week I took another stab at explaining why some people instantaneously dislike Bill Clinton. As I said, it’s not so much that he’s a Fabian Antichrist as that he is more nauseating than the fifties vocal stylist by the same name. That said, a couple of quick clarifications are in order. First, I did not mean to be exhaustive, but, still, I should have mentioned another of his incredibly annoying habits — as many of you were quick to point out. He exaggerates. Now, some of this was covered by the discussion of him being an unrelenting liar. But sometimes it’s really something different, as when he said he was the first president to know anything about agriculture. Second, many of you made the point that while you “despise” him, you don’t hate Clinton. I know what you mean, but I was just trying to simplify things.

Third, can you believe that a pile of people wrote me to say that I was being “mean-spirited”? Their tired argument seems to be that if a conservative feels passionately about something or someone, that very passion makes them wrong. I can’t figure this out, since the Left always emphasizes their passion above mere facts. Maybe it’s because they are so accustomed to “lying for justice” that they just assume the right is doing it too. Why is it that when conservatives mock people, it’s mean-spirited but when libs do it, it’s funny? Wasn’t it Al Franken who wrote “Rush Limbaugh Is A Big Fat Idiot”? Wasn’t it Al Gore who said Clinton opponents are missing a chromosome? I get all of these e-mails from people saying that I’m an evil son-of-a-so-and-so and that I should return to the muck from which I came beause I am so mean-spirited. Are all of these people tone-deaf to the irony?

Just as I feared, this column is growing longer than a short conversation with Hillary Clinton. So, I will wrap up with a few other quick points. First, my piece on The Simpsons, after being shelved for a while, is finally up. Second, you people really should take the weekend to check out the rest of the site. We are so chock-full of stuff, it amazes even me. Third, how come none of you guys are shagging your butts off the couch to get my syndicated column picked up out there in America? Fourth, if there’s something that I really should have addressed in this corrections column, please let me know. Fifth, I was an idiot when I said that 31 is most important prime number birthday that adds up to four, especially since I was Bar Mitzvahed and I still use some of those $200 Texas Instrument calculators, from circa 1982. Sixth, is difficult to say with a mouth full of peanut butter. Seventh, I’m supposed to write more pop culture pieces for the magazine so send me suggestions for topics. Eighth, we’ve given up the hunt for a Harrier, so now I’m looking for a boxer or lab puppy. Ninth, I really can’t exaggerate how much money I’ve lost on the stock market. Tenth, have you ever considered that the concept of “aim” is inherently male because we urinate standing up? Eleventh, this has gotten really stupid, so goodbye.



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