? American journalism lived up to every inch of its incredible, self-inflicted reputation when, on the nightly news, major network reporter and part-time economics scholar Michael Jensen brought to us the story about the oil glut. In midsummer, tankers were piled up in harbors all over the world, unable to unload their cargoes because of the surprising fact that the refineries on dry land were filled to the brim. Faced with such abundant supplies, though, do you think the Oil Monopolies would think of lowering their prices in response? Hell no! says Mr. Mike. The old laws of supply and demand are out to lunch when it comes to this new ball game of manipulated oil prices, he finds. Now, he did note that gasoline prices had fallen several pennies per gallon at the pump—but it ain't got nothin' to do with the big fat supplies. No way. That's only because of "price wars," reports the big-time newsboy.
? Incurable cynics will probably take to shaky strolls upon roof-top terraces as a result, yet the Truth will not be altered: an American court has endorsed the concept of individual rights. In a sexual freedom case emanating from the already heavily populated Keystone State, the Pennsylvania Supreme Court struck down a statute forbidding "voluntary acts of oral and anal sex." (It had applied only to couples who had not yet committed matrimony.) Not only did this heavenly courtroom discover that "the police power is not unlimited," the judge obviously fell victim to subversive propaganda (the likes of which appears in the Bill of Rights and Thomas Jefferson's private writings) by declaring: "The Voluntary Deviate Sexual Intercourse Statute has only one possible purpose: to regulate the private conduct of consenting adults.…With respect to regulation of morals, the police power should…not [be exercised] to enforce a majority morality on persons whose conduct does not harm others." This kind of thinking could easily get out of hand. Just think about the unemployment problem that would engulf the Washington, D.C., metropolitan area if this reasoning were applied to consenting businesspersons!
? It will never, rest assured, be applied to consenting consumers. The Food and Drug Administration, for one, will have none of that. They just have too much to protect (and to serve). Example: a new antiviral agent known as isoprinosine—available to save lives in 35 less-progressive nations, including Britain, France, Germany, and Italy—can cure 80 percent of patients stricken with a fatal form of encephalitis which strikes mostly children. But the FDA is withholding approval until the results pour in from a "double-blind" study, an experiment where neither doctors nor patients know which victims are being given the medicine and which are being given sugar-coated placebos. While doctors, for ethical reasons, and patients, for obvious ones, are refusing to participate in such games of Russian roulette, the FDA's Robert Temple, M.D., holds out for Science: "we want high-quality data," he boasts. They certainly do—and they don't care if they've got to kill a few folks to get it, either. To paraphrase a previous massive effort by the federal whizbangs: the government is going to make Americans healthier, if not in this life, then in the next.
? The advanced, humane, and religiously pure state of Iran continues to pass new milestones on the road to the 12th century. Businessmen are regularly flogged for violating the Central Planning Board's price guidelines, a policy that must secretly delight Al Kahn, not to mention the pain-and-discipline fanatic (and Yankee price-control champion) Preacher John Anderson. Now being lined up against the wall are the notorious Iranian music-cassette peddlers. The Bureau of Campaign Against Sin (actual name; statement of veracity on file with this magazine) in Tehran has instructed the "revolutionary public prosecutor's office" to ban the music tapes on the grounds that they are "unIslamic." While 500 greedy capitalists who make their livelihood selling such disgusting cassettes have protested, the Bureau of Campaign Against Sin must enforce God's Law. Don't expect these 500 to be home for dinner. Another great State offense was committed by two men and two women: the charges were "prostitution, adultery, sodomy, and rape." The verdict: guilty. The sentence: All four were buried in rocks up to their shoulders and stoned to death by an Islamic enforcement gang of five—with the presiding judge casting the first stone. But not all law is so harsh in the Persian kingdom. Terrorist kidnappings, for instance, have been completely decriminalized.
? The American Civil Liberties Union has taken on yet another landmark case to further the freedoms that we in America cherish so highly. In a well-publicized case, young Walter Polovchak, 12, refused to go back to the fascist Soviet empire from whence he came with his parents, socialist kowtowers Michael and Anna Polovchak. The boyish freedom-fighter has declared that he will not go back to the occupied territory of the Ukraine and is now in the custody of Illinois state officials (and that's not even as bad as Russia). Michael's parents have gone to court to force him to come "home." And here is where the ACLU has come to the rescue—to represent the parents.
This article originally appeared in print under the headline "Brickbats".