Despite the ‘mommy’ soft-porn book, Fifty Shades of Grey, and the two sequels, which according to the Hollywood Reporter have sold over 45 million copies in the US alone, much of America operates under a black or white policy. And I’m not talking skin colour.
You’re either a Republican or a Democrat. You’re either for or against abortion – (see blog Pro-Choice And Pro-Life, May 20th, 2016). You’re either part of the NRA or rabidly anti-gun. And so on. There often seems to be little middle ground. No voice of common sense breaking through the blather.
And just sometimes that lack of reason verges on the absurd.
Take, for example, the preparations for the Republican National Convention which begins today and is being held in Cleveland, the city on the shores of Lake Erie. Ohio, aka The Buckeye State, has open carry laws.
The Secret Service has Federal Law on their side and is able to ban firearms within the actual convention arena – an area of just under two square miles. However, anyone with a license – people of a cynical nature might add ‘to kill’ – may saunter along the perimeter of the fence carrying any kind of firearm, from a pretty pink pistol to an automatic machine gun. The horror of that picture is tempered, somewhat, by the comforting words of the Cleveland Police Chief who assured CNN reporters that even those with open-carry licenses may not “menace people” or “may not brandish” a weapon”. Oh, well that’s okay then.
The Republican National Convention has a line-up of speakers to make your toes curl – many of them have the surname “Trump”. Melania, Ivanka, Tiffany, Donald Jr. and of course the biggest Trump of all, Donald. There are some issues which might provide a few sparks of true debate rather than platitudes about “making America great” – areas wherein the Republican Party do not adhere to the presidential hopeful’s proclamations. Same-sex marriage, LGBT issues, wall building and so on.
Quite a few names from the GOP honour roll are missing – Bush, McCain, Romney. But Kimberly Brown, a buxom young soap opera actress will be speaking – phew, thank goodness for that. And of course Mr Trump’s running mate will be in attendance, Indiana Governor Mike Pence, who I first heard speak last night on 60 Minutes. He appeared not to take umbrage on the show when he was constantly interrupted and spoken over by his wannabe boss, and so appears a patient man. I guess the promise of the role of vice president is worth swallowing ones words for.
But here is where the balls come in.
Mr and Mrs Joe Public have been vehemently warned, in a list containing 72 items, that tennis balls are banned. So too are cestuses, nun chucks and bivy sacks.
I consider myself reasonably informed but I was stymied with those three particular items on the no-go list. For those like me I can report, with the help of the OED and Wikipedia, that a cestus is a gladiatorial glove with nasty spikes and metal bumps – think of Hugh Jackman in Wolverine. The nunchaku, as it is more properly known, is made up of two sticks joined by a short length of rope or chain and was a favourite of Okinawan farmers. The nun chuck though was not historically an overly successful weapon in that it was deemed ineffective against other weapons of its time. However that did not stop an association springing up to promulgate its use – predominantly as a training tool for karate and as a means to improve agility and posture. And then we come to bivy sacks. I did hazard a guess at that one and I was right – a bivouac sack. I suppose the organizers don’t want to give convention attendees anywhere, maybe from sheer boredom, to kip because tents and sleeping bags are also banned.
Fireworks, mace, rockets, gas masks, containers of bodily fluids, and the list goes on, are all banned from the premises. Ornaments too. Now that was odd. I guess bobble heads of The Donald will not be sold. But it’s the tennis balls that really got me. Maybe there are concerns they’ll be used as a defensive weapon by those within the confines of the convention. Republicans, for once, looking outward into the faces of armed men and women patrolling the perimeter.
No shades of grey here. Just a lot of balls!