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On Feb. 5, 2006, the collective intelligence of Western civilization received a lobotomy.
Mark Kipling Besten — September 3, 1958-February 5, 2006 — son; brother; friend; director/producer of the seminal 8-millimeter horror film “Child of Evil”; founding member of Seneca High School’s Anthony Burgess Literary Society; subversive ringleader of Transylvania University’s countercultural movement of the late 1970s; perhaps the only interviewer to ask Vincent Bugliosi if he had any advice for prospective cult murderers; social critic; analyst and commentator; film and television authority; performance artist; author and copywriter of unfathomable talent; trivia rock star; dazzlingly creative beacon of insight and wit to all who knew him.
Mark was the consummate master of the catchphrase — recognizing, refining, promoting and finally wielding a catchphrase with a ferocity second to none. Mark had the special ability to mock and subvert the “establishment” so skillfully that the very targets he was mocking would embrace his subversion. This was never more apparent than when he was honored at Transylvania University with a journalism award for Columbo, a completely unsanctioned, subversive, self-published parody of the official campus newsletter, Columns. Columbo was so beloved by the student body that they overwhelmingly voted for the inclusion of an issue in the time capsule placed on campus.
To enjoy the privilege of knowing Mark was to be awed and humbled by his talents, but also to find your world more entertaining, more insightful, more compassionate and more fun. The nearly 35 years that I have been proud to claim Mark as a friend rank as one of the greatest treasures of my life.
Thank you, Mark, for teaching me to find and embrace humor and absurdity in any situation, to let my own inanity and silliness romp free of inhibitions, and to laugh often, love always and live joyfully. Airport!
Richard “Deek” Johnston
No Laughing Matter
Walk a mile in my holster? LEO’s Mark Nickolas and Jim Welp join The Courier-Journal’s David Hawpe in woefully misrepresenting the intent of requiring all school property, where possession of a firearm is a felony, to be clearly marked.
It’s true that signs would be required “at all entrances to school buildings, gymnasiums, stadiums and cafeterias,” but the necessity for this legislation lies in the multitude of currently unmarked properties owned by the school system, some of which are vacant lots nowhere near a school.
All this published animosity is enough to warn that a politically ambitious prosecutor who shares this contempt for a right cherished by others would not hesitate to pursue the flimsiest of cases. One would hope that common sense would prevent a jury from convicting someone who had not intended to commit a crime, but, even without a conviction, the expense of being tried is very destructive.
Nickolas is wrong to attribute the likelihood that “a possible stalker has a concealed weapon” to the possession of a CDWL. The anti-firearm crowd is infantile in its willful persistence in equating legal and illegal possession. A license to carry concealed doesn’t facilitate stalking, or any other crime. The act of seeking a license to carry concealed is an indication of intent to comply with the law. Indeed, misdemeanor domestic violence is a specific disqualifier of the legal right to own or carry a firearm.
Step in the Right Direction
I’m writing to thank Rep. Joni Jenkins and her colleagues who raise their voices in support of Kentucky bill HCR 40, a resolution that urges Congress to pass HR 676, the U.S. National Health Insurance Act that provides a system of universal single-payer health care insurance.
HR 676 is a publicly funded, privately delivered plan to address the current immoral system that rations care to those who can afford it. The health-care meltdown is accelerating, threatening families, stifling job growth and squeezing funds for education and housing. The solution is HR 676: Everybody in, nobody out.
The deep-pocketed interests that profit from the current collapsing system demonize the single-payer alternative as a form of “socialized” medicine, which it is not. The current system is bankrupting families, but not industry CEOs and their collaborators.
Ten years ago Taiwan moved from a system similar to our current system to a single-payer model. Coverage was expanded from less than 60 percent to 97 percent of Taiwan’s residents. What’s the deal? Taiwan can figure this out, but we can’t?
Our current system leaves 46 million out, and millions more underinsured. George Washington wrote that “the admiration of justice is the firmest pillar of government.” Rather than shuffle and make excuses, Rep. Jenkins and HCR 40 supporters have taken a giant step forward for justice.
Integrate Black History
If it weren’t for Frederick Douglass, Carter G. Woodson, Martin Luther King Jr. and numerous other African Americans, America still wouldn’t be acknowledging the vital role black people played in the building of our nation. The gains blacks made over the years came about as a result of blacks pricking the conscience of white America.
Our country owes a huge debt of gratitude to African Americans who challenged us to live up to our liberty and justice for all proclamation. On the issue of race, they delivered us from hypocrite-nation status and saved America’s soul.
Since the African-American story is the heart, soul and conscience of our nation’s history, it would be good if all our Supreme Court justices and elected government officials were thoroughly versed in it. It is also important for all schoolchildren to learn about the contributions black people made to the development of civilization and to the birth of a new nation.
I hope black history will soon be justly and comprehensively integrated into the study of American history. Until then, there will always be a need for a black history month emphasis.
Paul L. Whiteley Sr.
I listened with great interest to President Bush’s Kansas State University comments regarding his domestic “anti-terrorist” surveillance program. At one point, he seemed to justify the program by stating that this was not a “blanket program” and alluding to specific individuals who were the targets for the warrantless wiretaps.
To my mind, this explanation begs a question. If the justification for the program is that the NSA had specific individuals in mind for the taps and were not pursuing a blanket eavesdropping policy, then what, exactly, was preventing the pursuit of warrants for them in the first place? Where was the need for a covert operation?
But, the facts do not back the president’s story at any rate. This was not a targeted operation aimed at tracking terrorists, this was a blatant, illegal, unsanctioned fishing expedition by an increasingly paranoid and out-of-control administration.
In this voter’s opinion, it’s past time the president took accountability for the illegal and unethical actions of his administration (of which this wiretapping scandal is just the latest example) and resign. Failing that, I would wholeheartedly support an impeachment by Congress: If an extramarital affair justifies an impeachable abuse of power, then surely illegal domestic spying on the American people must as well.