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Balloon Boy: The Right of Every American To Be a TV Star


People have it all wrong about Richard Heene. He’s not the perpetrator of a poorly-executed hoax, but a victim, a victim of America’s callous disregard for those who suffer from the silent plague that is Media Absence Disorder (MAD).

Sadly, the dead white males who imposed the Constitution on America enumerated only negative rights that limit the power of the government over its citizens. But if you squint your eyes and look beyond obstacles like the plain text, lurking in there somewhere behind the penumbras and emanations is the positive right of every American to be a TV star. Those with MAD are not cretins to be shunned but civil rights visionaries at the edge of a new frontier of governmental largess and probably a lot of profitable litigation.


It’s obvious that American society has failed the Heene family. After he and his brood’s triumphant appearances on Wife Swap, Heene was left media-deficient and was forced to feed his addiction with crude YouTube videos. In one, he speculated that Hilary Clinton is a shape-shifting space reptile, which would be totally cool if true. In another, he claimed that he spoke to aliens at a local fast food restaurant, which is actually pretty typical, at least at Southern California fast food joints.

This sad state of affairs was a direct result of the deep, black emptiness in Heene’s life that could never be filled by superficial things like work, religion or family. Like all MAD-men, he craves, needs, must have the validation that only comes from having his mug flashing across America’s television screens. He not only wants his MTV, he has to have it. And we owe it to him.

But, typical of the kind of divided America left behind by the Bush regime, we failed to give it to him. TLC, that paragon of class television, passed on his reality series proposal. What is clear is that Heene’s rights have been grossly violated – this likely constitutes a full-fledged hate crime. So his actions are understandable, even admirable, in light of the oppression visited upon him. Roping his wife and kids into a project that had cops, pilots and others chasing a glorified Mylar “Happy Birthday” balloon across Colorado was not a giant scam but a cry for help.

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America – will you answer the challenge? They certainly would in Europe. Surely America can spend a few billion dollars to ensure that unfortunate victims like Heene can have their 15 minutes and then some. Is it too much to ask America’s wealthiest to pay just a bit more so MAD victims can receive the validation that our Constitution clearly holds they are owed?

Our government must address this terrible crisis! The only real question is the extent of the MAD public option – should the government undertake to directly provide media access in a “single media” system? Or should it allow – at least for a while – private media to continue, but with a “public media exchanges” designed to provide the competition that is utterly unknown to media companies now. However, to bend the cost curve down it can cost no more than $900 billion. Perhaps we can impose a tax on those with a “cadillac” media profile.

And don’t let yourself by distracted by the Right Wing’s lies – this plan will not provide free media coverage to aliens, whether they are illegal, cabinet officials, or hanging out at your local Burger King.

Senator Snowe, I think I hear history calling again.

Or, as an alternative, we could just express our contempt for dumbasses like Richard Heene and stop celebrating the antics of every buffoon without a shame gene.

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