By Amy Silverman
By Olivia LaVecchia
By Monica Alonzo and Stephen Lemons
By Chris Parker
By Michael Lacey
By Weston Phippen
"There are things I think some people would find objectionable," Heather Gray, Mesa's public information officer, told the Bird. "It's just a question of whether or not individuals should be doing this at work. This type of thing happens everywhere. The city of Mesa isn't unlike any other organization. It's really more a question of us being in the public eye."
According to Gray, hardcore video porn was deemed the most inappropriate, and those trafficking it were punished with 240-hour suspensions. R-rated stuff got 40-hour suspensions, and on down the line. The majority of those sending joke pics and cartoons received written reprimands.
The Bird can understand that Mesa fears sexual-harassment suits if it condones actual pornography and that workers should be working and not sending and receiving personal e-mails all day. But, come on, this pervasive lack of a sense of humor when it comes to e-mailed jokes is getting ridiculous! The Bird doesn't know how many times it's heard of a company or a government coming down on some poor slob for passing around a ribald joke that would be told routinely on the aforementioned TV networks or in the average local Laugh Factory.
The Bird doubts very seriously that members of the Mesa City Council or Mesa's tight-ass city attorney darken the doors of local comedy clubs much, let alone know who Dave Chappelle is.
Anyway, not being allowed to joke around in the workplace borders on Orwellian. Generally, the sort of humor exhibited in the e-mails in question is benign. Laughing at racial, religious, and sexual differences can even be downright salutary, a release valve for society. Otherwise we'd all have to tiptoe through life pretending we're at the church bake sale. That's why Richard Pryor and Lenny Bruce were the greatest comedians of all time. They made us laugh at all the things we weren't supposed to laugh at, like racism, drug use, sex, religion and pornography.
The Bird thinks even reprimands are overkill for e-mail joking around. But there are plenty of PC taste guardians who disagree. When The Bird contacted the Phoenix-Scottsdale National Organization for Women mouthpiece Joan Fitz-Randolph and described some of the funnier e-mails like the one about the fat lady and the little car she was hardly amused.
"This is not funny, and we take offense at it!" squawked Fitz-Randolph. "Especially if it's written down. It's a very serious problem."
Not really, Joan, if you have a sense of humor. No wonder feminism and liberalism have all the cachet of the Russian Communist Partythese days. If it were up to NOW, the purveyor of the fat-girl video would get a one-way ticket to outer Siberia.
Catch a clue, for Chrissakes. Getting all worked up over the Mesa po-po's molehill of e-mails just shows how out of touch with reality such activists, and even some of The Bird's fellow reporters, really are. Maybe they need to remove some of the timber from their Spinners (uh, sphincters) and have funny bones implanted.
Put this one up to the irony file, but did you know that a founder of TNG:Arizona, one of the state's major fetish organizations, has been banned from the group for life, in part because get this he was hitting on people?
Seems that's what happened to Mitch Palmer, who co-founded TNG (which bills itself as "The Next Generation in Kink" on its Web site, www.tng-az.org). The organization sponsors social events and private parties for those aged 18-36 who're interested in bondage and discipline, toe-licking, food fetishes and pretty much anything under the sun of Satan that consenting adults can do to each other legally.
Demonstrations might include the intricacies of fisting, for instance, which makes Palmer's excommunication from the group by TNG's governing board initially seem so weird. After all, isn't the whole purpose of such get-togethers for like-minded folks to hook up and get their freak on?
Odd as it sounds, TNG's 7-member board met the first week of June and blackballed Palmer for life. Palmer, who's well-known around town as one of the principal organizers of the AZ Fetish Ball, which regularly draws more than a thousand participants to its cavalcade of kink, then sent out a press release of sorts to pals and members of the media, wherein he stated that he'd been given the big leather boot. The reason? Because "my personality is more direct and intense than TNG would like."
He continued: "Even as TNG:Arizona is a sexual based group, there is repression/oppression for those wanting to be open and direct to others sexually . . . Going to a man I find attractive and suggesting he is attractive and that I would like to pursue him violates some unwritten rule."
Palmer declined to be interviewed, claiming the e-mail was private, though it had been sent to a member of New Times' staff, as well as to at least one other member of the media. So this bawdy blue jay called up TNG's current president, who goes by the initials JJ. He labeled Palmer's reason for getting thrown out of the organization "a red herring" and suggested there were other reasons involving the group's rules of confidentiality, though he declined to give details of Palmer's case. Seems Palmer has threatened legal action against TNG, so JJ would only speak broadly.