No. 96: “Debasement”

No. 96: “Debasement”

No. 96: “Debasement”

Testing your knowledge of what happened this week
Aug. 19 1998 3:30 AM

No. 96: “Debasement”

No. 96: "Debasement"

By Randy Cohen


U.S. intelligence agencies have detected a vast secret underground complex. What is its terrifying purpose?


by noon ET Tuesday to e-mail your answer (

Responses to the Aug. 6 question (No. 95)--"Single Family Kvelling":

Provo, Utah's Daily Herald reports that the City Council has changed the definition of "family" in its housing code by eliminating a single word. What word?


"Baldwin."--Beth Sherman

"Homogeneous. (Too easily misinterpreted.)"--Peter Lerangis

"Grudgingly."--Danny Spiegel

"Inflatable."--Andrew Cohen


"Human. (Should this be the wrong answer I do not admit any wrongdoing or liability, no matter how it comes out in court.)"--Alfa-Betty Olsen

Click for more responses.

Randy's Wrap-Up

After a Williamsburg hiatus where my unarmed, 11-year-old daughter accused a sword-wearing Patrick Henry of hypocrisy ("Well, how can you talk about the natural right to liberty when you own slaves?" Is it any wonder I'm proud?), we bid a deferred farewell to Utah Week. Why do we scorn Mormons? It is in part the pleasing friction of city vs. country, Jew vs. gentile, take-out menus in the desk drawer vs. canned goods in the cellar, rational vs. religious. But it's not merely that they're observant; it's that what they observe demeans the essential American value of equality. It is a curious notion, religious tolerance, demanding that we treat with gentleness ideas that, were they not afforded that privileged designation, we'd kick around the block.


What particularly vexes, of course, is that the Mormons are observant and in power. A theocracy is no more attractive in Salt Lake City than in Kabul. But perhaps most irksome is Utah's revolting exaltation of cheerfulness. From the simpering grins of the Osmonds to the music in the malls, the mandatory smile is a means of suppressing dissent, making it not merely wrong to attempt social change but bad manners even to suggest that any aspect of the society might be imperfect.

And, of course, it's fun to make jokes about polygamy.

Incidentally, I got you all tri-cornered hats. And indentured servants. Keep an eye out for a UPS guy with a really big box with holes punched in the sides.

It Pays to Increase Your Word Power Answer


Consanguinity, as Steve Robinson (click) and others knew.

Provo Daily Herald reporter Ryan Van Benthuysen writes:

The city axed the word 'consanguinity' because it confuses people. 'Usually when we say "consanguinity" we get blank stares because most people don't have any idea what that means,' said Mike Hyde, assistant director of community development.

The former ordinance defined a family as a group of people within five degrees of consanguinity. That meant relatives as far reaching as first cousins, great uncles and aunts, great-great grand parents, great-great grandchildren, children of a cousin, great-great uncles and aunts and their children could live under the same roof and be considered one family.

The modified ordinance reduces the definition of a family to the third degree of relation. Meaning, a family can only consist of the head of the household, the children, grandparents, grandchildren, brothers, sisters, uncles, aunts, nephews, nieces, great grandparents and great grandchildren. The new definition also includes one or two other people in addition to the three degrees permitted.

Home Entertainment Extra

Actual movies not showing in Salt Lake City (or in New York City's Giulianified Times Square):

50 Ways to Lick Your Lover

The Agony of d'Feet

Ali Boobie and the 40-D's

Alice in Analand

All Hands on Dick

Anus and Andy

Ass Ventura, Crack Detective

Beach Blanket Bango

The Best Rears of Our Lives

Bi Love Lucy

Bone Alone

Brassiere to Eternity

Breast Side Story

Bright Lights Big Titties

(Most titles are available on video. All were found by browsing the genre "hardcore" through the letter "B" at the wonderful Internet Movie Database. There are 8,000 more titles in this category. God bless America.)

Disclaimer: All submissions will become the property of Slate and will be published at Slate's discretion. Slate may publish your name on its site in connection with your submission.