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Old 05-14-2007, 09:35 AM
Giant Nontypical
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Join Date: Feb 2003
Location: Land of Oz
Posts: 9,626
Default RE: Penn and Teller burned a flag on HBO

Penn and Teller's show on HBO is always interesting. If you've never seen it, you owe it to yourself to catch any one of the episodes.

Their shows are particularly appealing to me because they address the commonplace flaws in human reasoning in a variety of ways. The name of the show says it all.

This particular episode directly spoke to American freedoms and the idea of "freedom from vs freedom to," a subject which we've all addressed on this board many times and in many ways.

The bent of the episode was that our laws are written with certain ambiguity to preclude the ability of any American or any government official to define certain things to the degree that one view is mandated to the exclusion of all other. It eloquently illustrated that people can be easily led; led to the point of eliminating the freedoms of others for the convenience of soothing their simple-minded views of the way things should be.

The word ambiguity was used to describe our freedoms and to highlight the brilliance of our founding documents including the Bill of Rights and our constitution. They slammed both side of the ideological spectrum (as usual) and they did so with their usual bold, unabridged, and fearless style, peppered with language that everyone knows but refrains from using in "polite" company. The brilliance of the Penn and Teller approach is that they say things that should make them hated by everyone, but instead makes their act extemely popular.

The ambiguity displayed on the show was close to perfect; they honored America for its freedoms, contrasted America with other countries like China, then "burned," a flag after folding it textbook style while donning white gloves, by way of vanishing it, magician style, in a blinding flash via magician's flash paper.

Did they honor or dishonor the flag? Is the excercise of freedom as ambiguous as freedom itself? Think about it and the recent discussions on this board... Is it right to criticize our mission in Iraq if we simply and rightfully deem it necessary? Can one support the troops and criticize the mission and it's execution? Does a "trooper's" or veteran's opinion ever truly carry more weight than that of the "ordinary" citizen with more life experience, knowledge and first-hand experience with similar conflict? Perhaps most importantly, in my opinion, should our "troops" be placed on a pedestal for anything other than their service? Are the truly superior at political analysis, or are they like farmers in America...just another protected group of individuals, not to be challenged for any reason at any time, lest one be "unpatriotic" even when said farmer/trooper is as dumb as bucket of bolts, obviously myopic and intellectually naive?

We need more people (and especially legislative leaders) like Penn and Teller...bold to a fault, calling a spade a spade, fearless to the point of downright carelessness when it comes to offending "popular" opinion and the inability of the average "viewer" with average intelligence to see past the end of his or her ever-so-average, easily led and amused, intellectual nose.
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