Thursday, July 3 1997
Of Disney, death
and acceptable obscenity

The Cincinnati Enquirer

Marty, my most enthusiastic critic, is losing his edge.

"Thank you," he growled on my voice mail, "for not writing about Mike Tyson. I'm surprised you didn't write some know-it-all article about boxing. For once, you didn't show off your stupidity." Well, geez, Marty. Praise like this could turn a girl's head. And I'm a little surprised you didn't complain about what I had to say about Disney and the Southern Baptists. Or the electric chair. Everybody else did.

Well, not everybody. Clara Bauer of Sharonville said the Southern Baptists reminded her of a sermon by the Rev. Billy Sunday nearly 80 years ago. "A very dignified man came on stage, paused, then said, 'Ladies, cross your legs. Now the gates of hell are closed.' "My aunt grabbed my hand, and out of there we went. I still remember the mad slap of her feet and her mumbling, 'Where does he think he came from?' "

Minnie's shoes

Carroll A. Staley of Cheviot demanded clarification on Minnie Mouse's footwear. Of her open-toed shoes, I wrote, "We all know what those are called. And why."

Mr. Staley appears to be afflicted with a sense of humor: "Do I confuse open-toed shoes with sandals? I thought sandals are indicative of poverty and humility." You do. And they are, except for Birkenstocks, which indicate you would like to save a whale. Minnie's shoes are commonly called slut shoes. And, as I said, if I've seen that hussy's underpants once, I've seen them a hundred times.

It is just this sort of important exchange of ideas that James E. Hughett of Hamilton is willing to forfeit. "I can feel good knowing how much time I have saved each year by not reading (your) goofy column. I can use that time to spend with my children and grandchildren at clean, Disney-less places."

A kinder, gentler letter from Debra Desgrange of Summerside: "I grew up in a more innocent time where family values were the norm, not the exception. Today, as a parent, I have to be continually alert to the content of seemingly innocent movies and TV programs.

"I can't in all good conscience support any organization that espouses ideals and policies that are morally wrong and pose a threat to those friends and family I love."

Speaking of which, the president of Parents, Families and Friends of Lesbians and Gays, Judy Schmeling of Bevis, writes: "I know the Southern Baptists are concerned about what they consider to be a decline in moral values. Gay and lesbian people and their supporters provide an easy target while they sidestep the tougher issues of today's world. They don't realize how hurtful their anti-gay remarks are to us who love our gay children and gay friends."

Death tips

After I visited the room at the SPCA where dogs are euthanized, and the corresponding room at the Southern Ohio Correctional Facility, site of the next Ohio execution, lots of people complained that I didn't have enough sympathy for the dogs. I also received a helpful array of suggestions about how we might kill humans: Beheading, disembowelment, oxygen deprivation, scalding water, a sulfuric acid cocktail.

"When it is possible for a person to kill another then receive a free college degree, medical treatment and, in general, live a better life in jail than out, I feel there is more to be corrected within the prison system than the way violent prisoners are executed for their crimes," writes Linda Murphy of Western Hills.

Not to mention that sometimes a person who was, say, sent to prison for three years for rape, emerges meaner than ever. And more marketable. No one was vindictive enough to suggest that criminals be beaten in a confined space before thousands of people. No one suggested that we sell tickets. Or allow a pay-per-view audience. Or fix odds on the time of death for wagering purposes. Nobody was so frankly inhumane as to suggest that we bite his ears off.

That would have been too barbaric and obscene. Yet I didn't hear about a single Southern Baptist or civil libertarian who protested the Evander Holyfield-Mike Tyson fight. Not before. Not after. Sorry, Marty. I guess you knew it couldn't last.

Laura Pulfer's column appears in The Enquirer on Sundays, Tuesdays and Thursdays. Call 768-8393 or fax 768-8340. She can be heard Monday mornings on WVXU radio (91.7 FM), and as a regular commentator on National Public Radio's Morning Edition.