Patrick Sebastien is a television entertainer in France. As part of a sketch parodying far-right politician Jeanine Marie Le Pen, Sebastien, as Le Pen, sang a song called "Casser du Noir." Roughly translated, it means "Beating Up Blacks." You get the idea. Unfortunately, French prosecutors and a French judge didn't. Sebastien and Patrick Le May, head of the network that aired the broadcast, were each fined $6,000. Not for mocking racists, but for "provoking racial hatred."
Speaking of racial hatred, two disc jockies in Denver have been suspended without pay. It seems they claimed to be outraged over basketball player Mahmoud Abdul-Rauf's refusal to stand during the national anthem at games. So they marched into a local mosque and loudly played "The Star-Spangled Banner."
And while we're on the subject of radio, here's a story from Wanganui, New Zealand. A man claiming to have a bomb bu rst into a station and made them play the Muppets song "The Rainbow Connection" for 12 straight hours. It turns out the man, who finally gave himself up to police, didn't have a bomb. But you'd think around hour three someone would have just said, "Screw it. Blow us all up."
Just Say Dope Dept.: So far, under California's three-strikes law, 192 people have received long sentences for marijuana possession, 40 for murder, 25 for rape, and 24 for kidnapping.
In Auburn, California, authorities are investigating death threats sent to the five members of the Placer County Board of Supervisors. They are all apparently related to the board's decision to approve a Wal- Mart store. I guess some people just aren't into bargain shopping.
A government inspector has found that the books for President Clinton's pet AmeriCorps "volunteers" project are in such shoddy shape that it can't even be audited. Despite this, Clinton has threatened another government shutdown if the Republicans in Congress cut the agency's funding.
You may have heard of The Free Market. It's a newsletter put out by the Ludwig von Mises Institute. Well, they dared to print an article critical of the Federal Emergency Management Administration a while ago. This prompted FEMA spokesman Morrie Goodman to call the institute and threaten to c ut off their federal subsidies. Goodman was said to be quite perplexed when told the institute didn't get subsidies. The editor reported the call in the newsletter and got another call from Goodman. This time, Goodman called the editor "a very sick and dangerous human being," "sick," and "very, very sick."
In Charlotte, North Carolina, the local prosecutor has threatened to arrest actors in a production of the Pulitzer Prize-winning play Angels in America. No, it isn't a response to lousy performances. The prosecutor threatened the play because of a brief nude scene. The play, a look at gay life in the 1980s, was performed without incident in Greensboro and Durham, apparently more progressive cities.
The overnight l etter looked important, so Eric Thompson opened it immediately as his wife looked on. "Dear Mr. Eric Thompson," the letter read, "You have been named as the father of an unborn baby....[The mother] is planning to consent to the child's adoption and the law requires the agency make diligent effort to locate and notify the child's father." Mrs. Thompson wasn't happy. Eric Thompson was perplexed; he knew that he hadn't fathered any such child. Fortunately, the adoption agency had an answer when the Thompsons phoned the next day. It seems that as part of their "diligent effort" they'd sent a copy of the letter to every Eric Thompson in the greater Chicago area phone books. Unfortunately, it seems that the Eric Thompson the letter was intended for wasn't listed; he's yet to be found.
In a similar vein comes the story of Luther Pike. The Selective Service recently sent Mr. Pike a notice telling him that he'd allowed his 18th birthday to pass without signing up for the draft. Only problem is it wasn't his 18th birt hday. It was his 118th birthday. Or would have been. Pike died 23 years ago at the age of 95. Selective Service did send the letter to his correct address, however. Only the timing was off.