Honolulu Lite

by Charles Memminger

Friday, February 26, 1999

Silliness missing
this session

I'M really disappointed in the state Legislature this session. I can generally fill four or five columns a session on the silly bills those lovable knuckleheads come up with each year.

This year, there's just not a lot of silly proposals being batted around and that makes life hard for an investigative humorist.

Where's the magnificent drivel about naming a state fish or the loud arguments over whether to institute a gecko-hunting fee? Why are there no senators fighting for the importation of fresh water eels and the creation of a vast new bureaucracy to protect the endangered Blushing Volcano Mite, a species so sensitive that if they even suspect someone is saying nasty things behind their backs, the bugs throw themselves in great numbers in front of speeding cars?

Could it be that the majority of legislators actually are bearing down, putting their noses in the general vicinity of the grindstone? They are talking about cutting taxes, recounting votes from the general election, increasing penalties for sex offenders and arsonists, banning fireworks after the year 2000 and doing a lot of other things that just make too much sense.

That's not to say that everything is perfect. There's the usual talk of legalizing gambling, cockfighting, marijuana smoking and the growing of hemp. It was not until I threw all those issues into one sentence that I realized how comfortable they look together. It's like they all came over on the same party plane from Las Vegas. Separate them, however, and they are fairly benign. Cockfighting proponents actually are just proposing beefing up the cockfighting chicken breeding industry. Hemp growers just want to provide the world with a wonderful low-cost and environmentally safe product, they aren't trying to nibble away at anti-pot sentiments. Ditto with the medical marijuana proponents. Smoking dope for health reasons is an idea whose time has come. Dig it, we could be the first state in which you can light a joint if you're feeling out of sorts but you can't smoke a cigarette.

BUT those aren't silly ideas. The closest legislators came to silly so far was when they almost possed a bill that could have banned the English language from public schools. But they caught the mistake at the last minute, damn them.

There's a bill that specifically makes it a crime to make sexually stimulating videos of someone without their permission. This has a hint of silliness because what some people call sexually stimulating, other people call sunbathing. But what about a guy who gets off on kneecaps? Will he be charged for videotaping the Honolulu Marathon?

I was all set to tee off on the so-called "Good Samaritan" bill, which would make it a crime not to help someone injured.

Would we be expected to tie-off arteries or rush into burning houses? What if a crowd of people saw an old lady knocked out by a purse snatcher. Would the law result in the entire pack of eyewitnesses, fearing jail, setting on the poor woman like a pack of overly helpful hyenas?

Not to mention the unstated implication of such a law, that we've all become such creeps that we don't know how to help our fellow citizens.

But it turns out that the bill would just require someone, anyone, to dial 911 in an emergency which, while a bit Big Brotherish, just didn't seem that silly after all. Rats.

We can only hope that as the legislative session winds down, some less serious ideas bubble to the surface. After all, what fun is it to call this time of year the "silly season" when no silliness ensues?

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

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