The Dung Flies in Brooklyn

Joshua Quittner and Michelle Slatalla

The Dung Flies in Brooklyn

Joshua Quittner and Michelle Slatalla

The Dung Flies in Brooklyn
An email conversation about the news of the day.
Nov. 2 1999 3:05 PM

Joshua Quittner and Michelle Slatalla

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I would like to change the subject to elephant dung. Big surprise that a federal judge flung some (metaphorically) at Mayor Giuliani and ordered him to stop harassing the Brooklyn Museum's fabulous exhibit of body parts and other really important art. I only wish this strong defense of the museum's First Amendment rights had come a little earlier, before the whole issue got muddied up by the disclosure that museum officials were bankrolling the elephant-dung virgin, et al., by soliciting money from people who stand to profit by its display. At least I think that's what the museum did; the financial shenanigans are getting as hard to follow as Whitewater.

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In any case, the main thing that the whole flap settled for me was this question: Who should I vote for in next year's Senate race? I was waffling, you know, even though I consider myself a good Democrat, because the Clintons, et al., have become such tasteless parodies of politicians that I was doubting whether I could pull the lever for Hill. (I call her Hill, because she clearly wants to be my best friend, what with moving to a New York City suburb to show that she's just like me and all.) I almost could have seen myself voting for Giuliani, sending him to Washington where within a week he would get all the homeless people off the streets, start a nationwide campaign to ticket (or perhaps cane?) jaywalkers in front of the Smithsonian, and assign the Capitol security guards to walk neighborhood beats to build up, uh, empathy for the citizens they encounter.

But then he pulls this: trying to yank a museum's funding because he doesn't like a picture that's going to be hung on the wall. Here is a man who is running for the job of lawmaker who clearly has not read one single law ever written in this country. Con-sti-tu-tion. Sound it out, man. Here is a Senate candidate who relishes the act of taking patently illegal and morally repulsive stands. Would this not embarrass me and the other voters from this great state of New York? I can just see him trying to pass laws requiring men to have crew cuts (or whatever nutty thing he wants to impose on the world next). I would like to think that his nutty museum stunt was past of his Senate campaign, an attempt to appeal to the ... I don't know, the pro-censorship vote? That's probably a huge demographic. But don't they have enough candidates to choose among already?

Joshua Quittner is Time's technology columnist and editor of Time Digital. Michelle Slatalla writes a weekly column about online shopping for the New York Times "Circuits" section. They are the authors of Masters of Deception: The Gang That Ruled Cyberspace (click here to buy it).