If dwarfs aren’t tossed, do the terrorists win?

It didn’t take all that long, did it? That is, a return to normalcy after the atrocities of 9/11.

Posturing and finger-pointing in Washington over the Administration’s economic package, military tribunals, anthrax response and Taliban-war strategy seems perversely patriotic. Attorney General John Ashcroft is in the righteous cross hairs of every civil libertarian.

A massive media recount of last year’s presidential recount had a nice, disenfranchising touch. And parody-silliness again knows no bounds. To wit — and with apologies to Gene Kelly — a Tonight Show send-up featuring the umbrella-twirling, “Dancing bin Ladens” crooning “Singing in Bahrain.” (“What a glorious jihad; we’re friends with Hussein.”)

And a fiscal food fight in Tallahassee showed Florida was back to business as usual.

Locally, the Bucs, good enough to be frustrating, are doing their part. Thanks also to ethically challenged judges and Steve LaBrake’s extended family.

Nothing, however, underscores the sanctity of American normalcy the way a bizarre, problematic lawsuit does. We are, after all, America the Litigious: Where the little guy still has his day in court.

Thanks to local radio personality David Flood and his attorney, Michael Steinberg, a lawsuit has been filed in U.S. District Court that challenges a 1989 state law outlawing “dwarf tossing.” Something about it being demeaning as well as dicey for those, who because of their stunted-growth condition, have especially brittle bones.

No matter. Flood, who is a dwarf, wants the right to be tossed. And the right, in short, to see that others are similarly uplifted and heaved when he goes, presumably, into the “dwarf tossing” business.

And if we follow the dubious precedent of repealing the state’s helmet law, perhaps Flood’s case won’t be given the heave-ho in court. In that case, Dave, don’t forget to sign that waiver and here’s hoping your next trip is a tight spiral.

Public vs. pundits
This isn’t anything new, but there appears to be a decided disconnect between the American public and many pundits over the president’s executive order setting up military tribunals to try terrorist suspects and accomplices.

That there is ample precedent, Supreme Court sanction and a national emergency seem inadequate rationales.

What the public — which is forced to live in the real world — gets and pundits don’t is this: The ultimate civil liberty is the right to continue to live. That’s what’s at stake when your country is attacked.

Close encounters of the incarcerated kind

Seems that Pinellas Sheriff Everett Rice has been, until recently, letting prisoners leave extra early as an overly generous tradeoff for working jail jobs.

How’d he do that? Illegally. His slammer’s good-time and gain-time policy had been, it turns out, in violation of state law for two years.

But Sheriff Rice had his reasons: severe overcrowding, since alleviated by expansion.

A better solution? Make overcrowded prison quarters — and maybe no ESPN — part of an inmate’s sentence. This is, after all, about punishment — and disincentives to return to such uncomfortable digs.

Women of power

The current Ladies’ Home Journal ranks this country’s 30 most powerful women.

As a result, this is one of the few times you’ll see Ruth Bader Ginsburg and Britney Spears in the same sentence. For the record, they finished 7th and 9th, respectively.

It speaks volumes about our culture, but there is, at least, a little Justice somewhere.

Controlled choice coming soon

For the Pinellas County School Board, the post-segregation-era countdown continues toward the fall of 2003. That’s when the new “controlled choice” program begins.

Schools are now scrambling to figure out ways to attract sufficiently diverse populations.

Not a choice:

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