31 Comments

That truck-nuts Wikipedia entry is great. My favorite parts:

"In 2011, a 65-year-old South Carolina woman was ticketed by the town's police chief for obscenity displaying truck nuts on her pickup.[6][7][8][9] The case, originating in Bonneau, South Carolina (population approximately 480), was pending jury trial on her $445 traffic ticket. The case was continued three times and no new trial date was set.[10] According to the Above the Law legal analysis blog, the ban was discussed in the ABA Journal and presents constitutional freedom of speech questions.[11]"

And:

"The stated position of the Honolulu Police Department on obscene decor on vehicles, such as 'exaggerated male genitals hung from rear bumpers', as stated in 2013 by their city corporation counsel's office, is that '[it] may be tasteless but it's protected as free speech.'[12]"

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I'll assume by the way it's framed that the hypothetical in Q&A about the publication of a collage of aborted fetuses is for discussion purposes and not the usual rabid right attempt at deflection and false equivalency --- although, it was clearly prompted by the WaPo article on the carnage inflicted by easily obtained AR-15s and similar semi-automatic long guns. There is nothing even vaguely equivalent about extremely rare legal terminations later in pregnancy (1% of abortions occur at or after 21 weeks), overwhelmingly for medical reasons --- and the willful, premeditated murder of many in seconds by a single shooter. Unless, of course, secular law is somehow considered irrelevant. Beyond the issue of consent raised directly by Ted Dreyer here and obliquely in Gene's answer --- which is a legal consideration even for the release of law enforcement crime scene images --- the purpose of the image(s) and the article itself would raise serious questions about journalistic integrity. Simply labeling an abortion "late term" is meaningless and is, in fact, considered to have no medical meaning by the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists. So, such an article would simply be propaganda and the image(s) providing nothing but cheap, cynical shock value --- hardly "courageous journalism," let alone responsible journalism.

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As a public service, and a way to briefly counteract those Hallmark movies that are starting to show up, here's a segment from the classic "Turkeys Away" episode of the TV series "WKRP in Cincinnati" (runs 5:50). Note: No turkeys were harmed in the making of this episode.

https://youtu.be/HiSkjcl9yW4

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I’m slightly ashamed that I never recognized the Tofurkey / “faux turkey” spoonerism until the WaPo how-it’s-made article pointed it out.

(https://wapo.st/3uvLTdA)

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I’m surprised Gene was surprised by the poll. I hope I’m not alone in finding jokes about necrophilia unfunny.

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Once again you have enlightened me, Gene. I had never heard of truck nuts, and couldn't imagine what they were as I began reading this column, until I read about the position of the Honolulu Police Department on obscene decor on vehicles. Now I just ask, "Why are these even a thing?"

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My brother was one of the reporters at Budd Dwyer's "press conference." He still won't talk about it to this day.

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No one else wonders why Gene was researching truck nuts?

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I'm dietarily challenged, and I hate the crowds in the grocery stores, especially for these items that no one should eat in such excess. I did too, could still, and I'm not a prude, but how good is it? Just a little is really great. Honestly, none? Don't really miss.

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I appreciate not seeing such explicit footage as the detail would be more emotionally disturbing than the footage. And if it were there, you would have to see it. Then regret it. I think this would be a normal response. Also, the captured soldier joke with, instead, a tiger that ends up purring is to me an important image in that joke.

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Gene, I think that your recommendation to use the picture of Budd Dwyer with the gun in his mouth just before he pulled the trigger, was the correct call. It is the perfect example of Henri Carteir-Bresson's "decisive moment." Running that picture would have prompted many readers to recall the photo of the VIetnamese national police chief shooting a Viet Cong operative in the head during the Tet Offensive. https://rarehistoricalphotos.com/saigon-execution-1968/

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The decision to publish graphic or disturbing images would, in the best of all possible worlds, where journalistic ethics (what a quaint term) still more or less universally mattered, be relatively easily adjudicated. Is the image essential to telling the story ? Can the complete story be told just as effectively without the image ? I'm afraid, however (with few exceptions...), such considerations now too often fall victim to the cutthroat online competition for eyeballs and decreased attention spans.

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A major difference in the comment about publishing images of fetuses as opposed to murder victims, is the element of consent. They would certainly need the consent of the woman involved to publish photos of aborted fetuses and it is hard to imagine why any woman would give consent for that. It isn’t like publishing crime scene photos since it isn’t a public event.

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Pretty sure I saw that joke about the lawn-guy sleeping with the woman of the house in a WaPo column maybe 20-30 years ago. It was claimed by a Black columnist dressed in crappy clothes for lawn work, speaking to a Black driver passing by and wondering about getting work in the neighborhood. The point of the joke at the time was to make a point about social assumptions concerning Black persons in well-to-do neighborhoods.

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"Your Mother's on the Roof" was a local program decades ago which ran for years in Boston. The title was, of course, from the joke many have heard.

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