Two For The Price Of One

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Memo to a whole bunch of people with no pithy, easily identifiable nomenclature: YOU ARE DUMB.

OK, normally I tend to be laissez-faire when it comes to bitching about news coverage of celebrities. There are people out there who get upset when CNN devotes five hours a day to Anna Nicole Smith and never mentions Darfur, but I'm not really one of them.

It's an inevitable result of news-for-profit. If you're going to get upset, get upset over the fact that providing people with the information they need has become subject to the vagaries of consumer demand, so people end up being told what they want instead. That's been the nature of the beast for a long time, and acting all affronted by it is old hat.

THAT SAID. Shut the fuck up about Bald Britney. If you can't shut the fuck up about Bald Britney, at least take to heart this You Are Dumb Dot Net Guide To Telling Whether Something Is A Fucking Publicity Stunt Or Not. If a celebrity does something that seems shocking but is actually harmless, and there's video of them doing this thing, and within days, artifacts from this event are being auctioned off for charity, IT'S A PUBLICITY STUNT.

Britney shaved her head? Big whoop. I'm not sure why people aren't more familiar with this, but hair? Grows back. The way the media fetishizes bald chicks, you'd think everybody at CNN had their first masturbatory experience watching Star Trek: The Motion Picture. Call me when Britney gets an arm amputated during a drunken night on the town. And even that would be less shocking than it could be - thanks to headset microphones, it wouldn't even be career-ending.

Now let's move from Britney Spears to porn, while typing another sentence that will do awesome things to my Google hits. Can someone explain to me why Julie Amero is facing 40 years in prison?

For those who don't know, Julie Amero is the substitute teacher convicted last month of four counts of risking injury to a child. She didn't dangle them off rooftops. What allegedly happened is that the room had a computer, students went on the computer when she left the room, ended up at a website full of porn pop-ups, and the students all saw the porn pop-ups. Students reported seeing naked people and one couple "engaged in oral sex", which, since it's Internet porn, means a blowjob. These were seventh graders.

Let's ignore the vast number of questions raised by the case and the convictions. Ignore, for example, that this school computer was, in 2006, running WINDOWS 98 and INTERNET EXPLORER 5. Let's pretend that the worst, most bullshitty dreams of the prosecutors were actually true, and Julie Amero decided to spend her substitute teaching day surfing the Internet for pictures of naked people and blowjobs and showing them to seventh graders.

Even if all that were true, and it's not, why is Julie Amero facing forty years in prison? I'm not suggesting that blowjobs should be added to the middle school curriculum, I'm just calling for laws and punishments that, you know, at least bear some vague proportionality to the harm caused by the actions. I mean, Ken Lay wasn't gonna get 40 years, and I bet everyone he ripped off would have preferred it if he'd just shown their kids some Internet porn instead.

Just explain to the kids that no, most of them aren't that big, and no, most of THOSE aren't that big either, and on the off chance that other thing ever happens to them, it's not at all necessary for the woman to look awkwardly toward another corner of the room. Problem solved, injury averted, and nobody's life gets ruined because your school's ancient fucking technology doesn't have a pop-up blocker.