This country is based on the premise that people are gonna get the wrong idea now and then. Without this principle, however, there would be no advertising business, no media, and last but not least, no politics. Recent measures taken to try to enforce “child decency” laws seem to suggest that we should allow a few feeble minds who don’t get the idea to set the standard for everyone. As tempting as it may be to allow the arrest of Michael Bolton for trying to make it appear as though he’s actually experiencing deep human emotion when he’s singing, this kind of legal action would have far-ranging and ruinous effects.

Instead of merely not hiring talent under 18 to pose for photos or to appear in porn, producers and editors now may not even suggest or imply that the nymphette is under 18. Even videos that are marketed as “Barely Legal” or “Nineteen and Up’ have been pulled from distribution for fear of reprisals. Does having a 23-year-old appear in a porn video as a “co-ed” encourage pedophiles? I suspect that this assumption is about as valid as saying that a hard-core alcoholic will gladly drink 400 O’Doul’s for a buzz when a fifth of Jack Daniels is handy.

What’s really scary is the idea that something that appears to be what it’s not should be banned. If a high-school puts on Hamlet, then they should get busted by this same “logic.” “Okay, so nobody really got killed onstage,” the moral guardians might say, “but it looks suspiciously like some people got murdered and we don’t want a few stupid people to take this the wrong way.”

What’s the next step? My guess is a ban on silicone implants. Why? They’re not real breasts, but they’re done to fool people into thinking that women in the real world have 23” waists and 42” boobs that never move or change shape. If you don’t believe that this confusion causes trouble, you probably also believe that the women in phone-sex ads are actually laying on satin sheets, heartbroken that you haven’t called.

Ban renting cars nicer than what you drive back home. After all, someone who sees you pull up in a brand-new Continental might get the idea that you are bright and ambitious enough to afford a $350-a-month lease when, in fact, Budget rented out all their Escorts and had to give you an upgrade.

Make it illegal to use big words you don’t understand. Otherwise you are making it possible for a woman in a bar or a potential employer to make a life-changing mistake based on the impression that you seemed intelligent at the time.

Any use of hair dye or tints would obviously be banned. After all, if your hair is actually streaked with gray or a mousy brown, we can’t have people fooled into thinking that you’re a blonde, can we? The impact that this enforcement would have on TV news departments would be catastrophic.

Of course, the most obvious legal step would actually be a bonus. By the same thought process, we should soon be able to arrest (or at least unseat) all of our Congressmen and Senators for making it appear that they are engaged in enacting meaningful legislation.

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