Monday, September 19, 2011

Trucks with testicles are illegal; bulls are still legal -- for now

Hot on the heels of last week's major testicular grab story comes this important news: the trial of the truck nuts lady has been postponed until November 2. (Thanks to Jason for the heads-up.)

In case you don't know the story, a 65-year-old woman was fined $445 for outfitting her pickup truck with big red fake testicles hanging from the trailer hitch.

State law says, "A sticker, decal, emblem, or device is indecent when taken as a whole, it describes, in a patently offensive way, as determined by contemporary community standards, sexual acts, excretory functions, or parts of the human body."

The police officer who fined the lady apparently determined that the red, plastic "device" is indecent because it "describes, in a patently offensive way . . . parts of the human body."

Hmm.  I'd go so far as to say they are tasteless and inane, but indecent? Seriously?

Look at it this way: they are big, red and plastic: does that match the anatomy of any human you know?  Isn't it just as likely that the device "describes" bull testicles?  (Not to get too graphic, but the size alone suggests that the model was not human -- sorry guys, it's true.)  And if they were bull testicles, why the fine? Last I heard, no farmer has been fined on account of real, live bulls roaming around the farm with real, live dangling gonads. (Come to think of it, a huge percentage of naked dogs walking around have them, too. Horrors!)

But, does it surprise anyone that a cop in this day and age has a conniption over a pair of plastic testicles? After all, ours is a culture positively obsessed with policing sexuality, even when it takes the form of a pair of sunburned Mr. Potato Heads hanging from the back of a senior citizen woman's truck.

Remember the animated film "Barnyard," where the animators couldn't bear to make the bulls anatomically correct? The bulls literally sported udders.  One writer who took great offense wouldn't go so far as to advocate actually showing cartoon male genitalia. She advocated a middle-ground:  "Think of it as the Ken-doll solution: Just leave the males blank," she said.  After all, a cartoon bull that actually looked like -- well, a bull -- might scar a kid for life, just like the drunken college streaker supposedly scarred a kid for life last week.

Modesty and decency are largely lost virtues. For many, that's a cultural mile marker signifying a society on the road to free-fall. But paradoxically, those virtues might be easier to practice if our culture was a little less uptight, a little less hysterical, a little less constipated, about sexuality. Treating male genitalia and female breasts and pudenda as "forbidden fruit" only gives them a perverse glamor, precisely for being taboo.

Maybe -- just maybe -- our culture, our young people, would be a little more mature about sex if the idea of putting college boys who streak football games or who urinate in alleys on sex offenders' registries, and of fining old ladies who tool around with plastic testicles on their trucks, struck everybody as exactly what they are: absurd overreactions.