One More Reason To Hate MySpace

« May 2007 »

Memo to Deryk Schlessinger: THANK YOU FOR YOUR SERVICE.

Today is Memorial Day, a day fraught with meaning. Memorial Day means many things to me. First, it means that nobody's reading this column today. And second, it means that I'm supposed to act reverential toward members of the armed forces by dint of the amazing sacrifices they make every day to improve my quality of life and overall safety.

That second bit is always a bit tricky for me, because while I certainly do have a great deal of respect for the kind of soldier you see in the commercials - the brave and noble citizens who proudly serve their country - I also know that the commercials are just that. Commercials. And that people go into the military for a whole bunch of different reasons, many not noble in the slightest. And sometimes they do things that aren't noble in the slightest, and frequently they're ASKED to do things that aren't noble in the slightest.

Which is why it was so heartening, this past weekend, to hear the story of one soldier whose actions are directly affecting me in a positive way. Deryk is in the Army, serving in Afghanistan. And thanks to his touching portrait of military life, posted to MySpace, I have an even greater understanding about what it must be like to be raised by Dr. Laura.

Yes, Deryk is Laura Schlessinger's 21-year-old son. He enlisted in the Army in 2004 and was deployed to Kandahar, which for all I know was a drastic improvement in his living conditions. And like many soldiers, he has a MySpace page. Now let's say you've got a 21-year-old guy, been in the Army since he was 18. His mother is a crazy right-wing radio talk show host who says things like "We raised our son to be a warrior.".

If you think Deryk's MySpace page is full of humble but stirring tales of bringing democracy and freedom to the fine people of the Middle East, jump to the footnote at the end of the column. If you think he's completely bugfuck, continue on.

Yes, little Deryk, raised under the firm hand and conservative guiding principles that Dr. Laura brings to a grateful nation every single day, has a website that would get him expelled, arrested, and committed if it were discovered to be, say, the website of a young student from a southern technical college. It contained, according to the Salt Lake Tribune, "cartoon depictions of rape, murder, torture and child molestation; photographs of soldiers with guns in their mouths; a photograph of a bound and blindfolded detainee captioned "My Sweet Little Habib"; accounts of illicit drug use; and a blog entry headlined by a series of obscenities and racial epithets."

Well, isn't that lovely. The sad part is, up to a point, I don't actually even begrudge Deryk his MySpace venting. War is hell, and this war is an extra special kind of hell, and it makes people crazy. But Deryk is completely and utterly the product of a culture that glorifies the noble act of going overseas and shooting people, a culture that completely denies its crazy-making and dehumanizing effects, that thinks everything will be OK if we just play the Sousa march a bit louder and have another parade and make sure no hippies are in the airport when the boys come home, because those hippies might make the soldiers feel bad.

And Dr. Laura? She's turning to the same playbook they all turn to. Respect our privacy. Difficult time. The investigation is going on. It's a plot by the enemy. OK, that last one's a bit special. I mean, Rush Limbaugh had a lot of privacy that needed respecting once he got caught with all that oxy, but I'm pretty sure he never actually blamed terrorists for feeding it to him. But her spokesman suggested the MySpace page might be a fake, and the Army, which does not in any way have a vested interest in discrediting an account of a soldier posting really freaky shit on the Internet, is considering the possibility. ACTUAL QUOTE TIME!

"It may be possible that our enemies are actually behind this. Our enemies are adaptive, technologically sophisticated, and truly understand the importance of the information battlespace. Sadly, they will use that space to promulgate and disseminate untrue propaganda." - Army spokesman Robert Tallman.

Now, since this untrue propaganda featured ACTUAL PICTURES OF DERYK, I have to say, those bastards' plan to discredit Dr. Laura and thereby bring about the downfall of America is a particularly sophisticated and crafty use of the information battlespace. Also, who the fuck says "informational battlespace", and does Ted Stevens think that's what Iraq's aluminum tubes were for? These questions demand answers. I think it's the least we can do for our brave fighting men and women, over there, protecting us from terrorists by drawing filthy cartoons.

*You are wrong. And have been eaten by a grue.