Sometimes it's good to reflect on the ephemeral nature of things, especially things that used to seem important or interesting but now don't mean crap. In this category, I would put such 2010 passions as Thaddeus Matthews' website, the Willie Herenton/Steve Cohen "debate or don't debate" issue, the "mosque" at Ground Zero, the Memphis sinkhole, vuvuzelas, the fence along the Mexican border, Zack Wamp, Basil Marceaux, Brett Favre's penis, "Pants on the Ground," Johnny Weir, and Lou Dobbs.
To name but a few.
Each of the above subjects at some point last year caught the fancy of the media and the public at large. If you googled any one of them, you would find hundreds of blogs, Tweets, news stories, and opinion columns about them. Each had its turn in the ravenous news cycle, and each eventually was discarded, left to gather dust in the forgotten backrooms of the Internet.
In 2011, we're already building a nice catalog of temporal obsessions that won't mean anything by this time next year: Charlie Sheen, for instance. Now, he's everywhere. By March 2012, I suspect he will either be dead, in rehab, or a religious nut. And none of us will care.
Add to that list all the nutty laws being proposed by GOP legislators in Nashville. They want to make following Muslim Sharia law a felony. There are plans afoot to revive the infamous "don't say gay" bill, which would ban teachers in Tennessee elementary schools from using the word "gay" or broaching the subject of homosexuality. Of course, once those students start exercising their new right to pack heat in class, the teachers will probably think twice about it, anyway. (I think that last part was humor, but you can never be sure with the bunch now running Nashville.)
There's more, of course: Arizona-style legislation requiring cops to enforce immigration laws during routine traffic stops; stringent anti-abortion proposals; union-busting bills designed to punish groups that lean Democratic. Not to mention the bills specifically targeted to stop Memphis' self-determination regarding its school system.
It's all for show, for media attention, a way to garner favor with the neanderthals who voted them into office. If any of it sticks, it'll end up in court, as they're well aware. And if we're lucky, next year at this time, it will all be about as meaningful as that vuvuzela you bought as a joke last summer.
In the 14 years I've been the Flyer editor, I've gotten lots of hate mail. It mostly used to come in envelopes filled with pages of scrawled handwriting. I read them and put them in the wastebasket, chalking it up as a natural by-product of writing for a liberal paper in the conservative South. Lately, the angry folks have switched to email, and it comes in waves ...
(such a sky and such a sun
i never knew and neither did you
and everybody never breathed
quite so many kinds of yes) — e. e. cummings