Honolulu Lite

by Charles Memminger

Wednesday, December 1, 1999

Millennium madness
is nothing new

MAYBE there is something to all this Millennium Madness business. Who'd have thought that at the end of the second Christian millennium gun crimes would be dropping like a water fowl but you'd need a license and a 10-day waiting period to buy tofu?

Signs of increasing insanity are all around us. An animal rights activist was on television before Thanksgiving saying anyone who ate turkey should be charged with murder. And he meant it. Wow. That's the day I'd become a defense attorney and a millionaire. My practice would be defending meat-eaters. ("Your honor, my client is charged with first-degree turkey slaughter with a side of mash potatoes but he's willing to plead no contest to misdemeanor consumption of a Spam musubi.")

More evidence that things are getting wackier as year-end approaches: China is trying to put a more sympathetic face on its brutal regime. Sure, they use prisoners as slave laborers and even sell their body parts on the world market. And yes, they've jailed nearly 40,000 people simply for being members of the Falun Gong religion, which apparently believes you can get closer to God by exercising in slow motion. But they want it to be known they are now being kind to animals, which should make American turkey-huggers happy.

Then again, maybe not. It seems the Chinese have merely stopped the practice of feeding large animals to tigers and lions for public entertainment.

All these animal-rights people have been focusing on the running of the bulls in Spain, bullfights in Mexico, mink production in Russia and whale protection everywhere else on the planet, when something really horrible was going on over in China in the animal-cruelty department.

WHAT was happening is this: Millions of tourists in China were visiting "wildlife parks" where cows, pigs and sheep would be offered live to lions and tigers. Talk about your Kodak moment. Now that word of this "entertainment" has leaked out, the Chinese government is cracking down on such "live feedings" at the parks.

I'm sure the Falun Gong inmates feel much better about the new, sensitive China of the 21st century.

In Israel, police are constantly rounding up religious crazies who have slipped into that country to celebrate the end of the year through jolly mass suicide or other mayhem.

This kind of thing happened during the first Christian millennium, too.

Jerusalem was under Moslem control in the Year 999 but tons of Christians flocked there believing the end of the world was at hand. It was a pretty happening time for swindlers and confidence men. I did a lot of research about that time for a screenplay I wrote (Agents: Serious Inquiries Only).

Trust me here, wackos are wackos, no matter what millennium. Suckers, too. Pilgrims were sold vials of the "tears of St. Mary" and slivers of "wood from the true cross" for protection. One wag of the time pointed out that enough of Mary's tears were sold to fill an ocean. And you'd need a good-sized forest to provide all the wood slivers that were hawked. A "toenail of St. Peter" also apparently was a popular item in the soul-protection racket.

So what's happening today shouldn't be too surprising. Along with all the rest of the the current millennium madness, we've got Bill Gates to worry about.

Charles Memminger, winner of
National Society of Newspaper Columnists
awards in 1994 and 1992, writes "Honolulu Lite"
Monday, Wednesday and Friday.
Write to him at the Honolulu Star-Bulletin,
P.O. Box 3080, Honolulu, 96802
or send E-mail to or

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