Madison County Opinion...

NOVEMBER 17, 2004


Column
By Frank Gillispie
The Madison County Journal
November 17, 2004

Frankly Speaking

French attitude: ‘do as I say, not as I do’
For the government of President Jacques Chirac, the policy is “do as I say, not as I do.” Chirac has been one of the leading critics of the American intervention in Iraq. He complained that the Americans should have waited until they had full approval of the UN and the AU before acting. But last week, Chirac’s forces responded to a provocation in the Ivory Coast by blowing up the tiny nation’s entire air force as it sat on the tarmac.
The Ivory Coast (Cote d’Ivoire) is a heavily agricultural nation divided between two competing ethnic groups. A U.N. Peacekeeping group composed mainly of French forces has been in the country for several years to prevent the rebels in the north separating itself from the rest of the country and establishing itself as an independent nation.
France has admitted firing on a group of demonstrators it labeled a “pack of looters, rapists and uncontrollable or manipulated people” The government reacted by bombing a French outpost killing.
“France has used extreme violence against unarmed demonstrators ... and they should take responsibility for it,” a government spokesman said.
After they destroyed the nation’s tiny air force, the French requested and received a UN resolution placing an arms embargo on Ivory Coast. I guess they wanted to prevent them from buying a new airplane. The UN has threatened economic punishment if the small African nation does not comply.
Now, here is the final absurdity of this story. Ivory Coast is among the world’s largest producers of cocoa and coffee beans. Thanks to the French attacks, the production and delivery of these products has been severely damaged. The world will likely see a dramatic increase in the cost of chocolate and coffee because of their actions
Compare this action by France to the American action in Iraq. In Ivory Coast, the government is trying to protect itself from a smaller rebel group. France intervenes with overwhelming force before going to the UN.
The action in the Ivory Coast is almost totally French. Yet they complain that the Americans should have consulted with the Europeans before taking action in Iraq.
In Iraq, a small ethnic group was using torture and mass murder to dominate two larger groups. America’s effort to correct this injustice was met by French obstruction.
France complains bitterly that American action is driving up the cost of oil. They do not care that their action will force the world’s coffee and cocoa drinkers to pay higher prices for their needs.
France argues that American action in Iraq has created greater resistance among Iraqi citizens. The French attack in the Ivory Coast has caused an outpouring of anti-European protesters who are driving foreigners out of the country.
America has been accused of damaging the economy of Iraq. The French have devastated the fragile economy of the Ivory Coast.
The “do as I say, not as I do” attitude of the French is proof of their envy of American strength. They do not have the nerve to support efforts to remove a heavily armed dictator. But they have no reluctance in attacking a tiny, lightly-armed African nation.
America has been greeted by most Iraqi citizens as a liberator. The people of the Ivory Coast see France as a bully. I will take the American position any day.
Frank Gillispie is founder of The Madison County Journal. His e-mail address is frankgillispie@charter.net. His website can be accessed at http://frankgillispie.tripod.com

Column
By Zach Mitcham
The Madison County Journal
November 17, 2004

In the Meantime

The news of the absurd
A river of news flows by us every day. And overshadowed by the wave of headlines of war, the economy and the environment, are the stories of a 59-year-old soon-to-be mother of twins, or a man in India pronounced dead waking up at his own funeral, or a cat saving a man from a fire.
The absurd is everywhere. For all the monotony we may feel in our routines, there is always something in the news that will make us do a double-take, make us fold the newspaper and show it to a friend: “look at this, this world’s crazy!”
Here are some of the news items you may have missed in recent years, but ones that made me chuckle:
•“Bank robber leaves with nothing due to badly written ransom note” (-Ananova: 2002)
A bank robber left a bank he was attempting to rob with nothing, because the teller couldn’t read the sloppily-written ransom note. After the teller told the man that she could not read the note, the man tried to tell her to give him all the money, but she couldn’t understand his speech either. Frustrated, the man left the bank and 10-minutes later he robbed a South Trust Bank across the street. This time he used a note that was more legible. He made off with a small amount of cash, and is still at large.
— My thought: Picture that moment when the robber went back to his get-away car and asked the driver for a pen, then wrote in big, block letters, “THIS IS A STICKUP!” before asking his accomplice whether “stickup” needs a hyphen.
•“No one shot the sheriff, but someone cut the mayor, a goat” (The New York Times: 2002)
According to the article, the mayor of the town of Lajitas, Texas, is an actual goat. The goat’s name is Clay Henry III and he is the “latest in a short line of beer-drinking goats to be ‘elected’ mayor” of the town, which has no municipal government. The article notes that someone now faces criminal charges for maiming the goat. The assailant castrated the animal, apparently wanting to end the line of Clay Henry mayor goats.
— My thought: What if the town actually had council meetings? Imagine the scene: a goat at the head of the table, a chicken representing District 1, a lamb for District 2. “....As I was saying, Mr. Mayor, (sound of the meeting agenda being eaten in the background) I’d like the council to consider the ramifications of a B-1 development in a largely agricultural area...Do you understand the...(Baaaa! Baaaa!)....But sir...spot zoning is not the way...(Baaa! Baaa!)
More in the way of farm sounds....
•“Contestants prepare for pig screaming imitation competition” (-Ananova: 2001)
Contestants are preparing for the annual pig screaming imitation competition, to be held in France. The contestants must imitate a pig’s scream throughout its life, including birth and right before it’s slaughtered. The contest usually draws around 15 contestants, and the past winners include an 80-year-old man and a 15-year-old teenager. The winner will receive a whole pig, along with its head.
— My thought: Think of the many ways this pig-talk skill would serve you well in the working world. There are, of course, never enough pig shriekers in any cubicle setting.
•“Thieves steal toilet — with man still in it” (Ananova: 2004)
Thieves who stole a public toilet in a Belarus city accidentally kidnapped a man who was sitting on it at the time.
Pravda reports that the thieves stole the portable toilet in the city of Gomel, Belarus, and loaded it on to their tractor trailer.
They played it so cool that passers-by presumed they were taking it away legitimately, but one man knew better.
He sat on the toilet at the time and was startled to suddenly find himself being carried through the city on the back of a tractor.
The 45-year-old man was trapped and could not release himself until the rope the thieves had tied around the cubicle loosened because of the jolting ride.
He finally opened the door to find he was being driven at full speed through the city’s suburbs. He jumped off the tractor and broke his collar-bone, SPB-Vedomosti reported.
The man reported the incident to the police and officers eventually tracked down the missing toilet to the house of a local resident.
— My thought: I’ll beware of toilet burglars the next time I enter a porta-potty.
This is, of course, some silly stuff.
But it’s fun to look at the lighter side of the news from time to time.
Zach Mitcham is editor of The Madison County Journal.

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