Today’s lesson will be about one of the most insidious goings-on in American society. No, not drugs, violence or the under-educating of our youth, but the proliferation of foolish talk-show hosts. And no better example of this abhorrent trend can be found than Rosie O’Donnell.
Greenwich, still reeling from a recent court decision which may end up allowing out-of-towners to use its beach, is all abuzz from the news that a bodyguard for O’Donnell, its newest celebrity resident, has applied for a gun permit. O’Donnell has made lots of news for her vehement anti-gun positions and just got back from a featured appearance in the Million Mom March.
How vehement? One might even say wacky. Last May, O’Donnell was to have Bernadette Peters from "Annie Get Your Gun" appear on her show and perform the song "Anything You Can Do." Well, most of the song, anyway – O’Donnell insisted that the line "I can shoot a partridge with a single cartridge" be dropped from the tune. Peters refused and the performance was cancelled.
O’Donnell, a single mother of three adopted children, plans to send her four-year-old son Parker to public kindergarten in Greenwich next year. O’Donnell says that her children need a bodyguard because they have been the target of threats arising from her pro-gun control position. Oh, the tender irony of it.
You see, underneath all that flesh, Rosie is just like you and me. She told the Stamford Advocate she always hoped to be able to send her kids to public school. "I come from a working-class background. That’s always been the plan," she said.
She wants her little darling to have a normal school experience – just like any other tyke with a bodyguard. Heaven help the poor kid who tries to swipe one of Parker’s Poke-Mon cards.
O’Donnell said of the recent flap, "I don’t personally own a gun, but if you are qualified, licensed and registered, I have no problem."
She should have added, "and if you are protecting someone named O’Donnell." Because she also once declared, "I think the only people in this nation who should be allowed to own guns are police officers. I don’t care if you want to hunt, I don’t care if you think it’s your right. I say ‘sorry.’ It is 1999, we have had enough as a nation. You are not allowed to own a gun and if you do own a gun, I think you should go to prison."
Meanwhile, on her television show, she extols the virtues of something far, far more deadly than guns – fat. At the very moment she is on her show talking up the pleasures of Ring Dings and Twinkies, some portly person somewhere is keeling over in a stairwell.
Rosie, a few words about the wonders of Romaine lettuce topped by a little low-fat Wishbone and you could win a Nobel Prize.
O’Donnell’s powers of observation might not be that keen. In talking about her own weight, she told a magazine "The problem for me is that I don’t realize that I’m gaining weight until I’ve gotten to a point where nothing fits. . . . How did I get twenty-five pounds fatter and not even know it?"
Here’s a tip Rosie: If you’re not still boycotting Kmart (because they sell hunting rifles), go into one and spring for $11.95 on a bathroom scale. Get naked and stand on it every day (sorry for the image, folks). Think of it as an early warning system for those extra kilos.
And money may be the root of all evil, but it’s not fattening – so put some where your mouth is. There are lots of children of richer, more famous people going to school in Greenwich without armed bodyguards. Think of all the mothers whose children have gone in harm’s way for a cause – and Greenwich ain’t no Omaha Beach.
What to do about the people who have guns but shouldn’t is a legitimate area of public debate. But like so many of the rights granted us by our marvelous Constitution, including that of free speech, much of what allows us to exercise them relies on the responsibility of the wielder. As with firearms, opinion and actions also depend on thinking carefully before you pull the trigger. There is no special exception for talk-show hosts.
May 22, 2000