In November, on election day, voters of Berkeley, California (you thought, perhaps, Dubuque?), population 102,743, may exercise their extreme democratic right to locally ban the commercial service of coffee that is not organic, shade grown or fair-trade certified. Note the "or," requiring compliance with only one of the three.
We haven't a clue as to the relative merits, if any, of said criteria vis-ˆ-vis the environment or exploited workers of the world, the purported protection of which justify the proposed ordinance. As these things tend to go, some wacko will call our attention to the required reading.
The initiative, instigated by a newly-minted lawyer, courtesy of UC Berkeley, would punish violators with a misdemeanor penalty of six months in jail and/or a $100 fine.* Approximately 3,000 good and true Berkeley citizens, who you wouldn't invite to your house for dinner lest they try to ban your peanut butter or grape jelly, signed the qualifying petition.
Since any telephone calls to Berkeley could rouse suspicions at the FBI about collaborating with terrorists, and we must now avoid the John Ashcroft Reading Room at public libraries as well as internet searches for the same reasons, we are unable to further research the issue and therefore must await dispatches from reporters trapped behind politically correct lines.
We have formed an opinion. Unlike many of our friends who generally share our views, but believe that political correctness has run sufficiently amok to be stopped, we believe it has not run amok enough.
Look at it this way. It is entirely possible that enactment of the Berkeley coffee initiative will so infuriate other towns in America -- perhaps some in which the coffee that those of us who can't afford $3.50 a cup is ground, blended and packed -- that they would pass their own initiatives. Maybe something along the lines of "if you have lived in or ever visited Berkeley, or are related to any such person, even by marriage or equivalent adult consensual relationship, you'd best be gone by sundown." Alternatively, "no one educated in Berkeley can work here unless they pass a test that has no questions about global warming, rainforests, gender, marijuana cultivation, Western Imperialism, moral equivalence or the suppression of third-world poetry."
Berkeley would undoubtedly retaliate with crazier and crazier initiatives. Before long, a Berkeley initiative will negatively impact Madison, Wisconsin, and pretty soon we'll have a civil war between the politically correct, to be fought with weapons crafted from Frisbees, hemp and recycled candle wicks.
Fox Television will package the war as reality television, wiping out CNN and some of Ted Turner's fortune. He will become a ward of the United Nations, forced to live in a safecave with Mullah Omar and Yassar Arafat somewhere east of Yakland.
What do you mean, stop this drivel? It could happen, exactly as we predict. Just because it hasn't happened doesn't mean it can't. Go reread your Pascal.
You have a better idea?
*Take that, Mom's Coffee, Incense, Mojo, Black Light, Roach Clip, Lava Lamp and Lava Soap, Aroma Therapy, Diversity Greeting Card, Tofu Bagel Shop and (enzyme-free) Washerteria, Inc. -- you despicable despoiler of the planet!June 27, 2002