The two decals pushed Peggy Morrissette over the edge. Her letter has done the same to me. The subject (huge surprise) is the decline of decency.
As Peggy puts it, she was doing "the crawl on the Suitland Parkway" one morning. She found herself behind a Ford Mustang. On its rear window, the Mustang bore "a two-foot-wide decal of a Ford logo doing something truly unspeakable to a Chevy logo."
It must have been Peggy's lucky month, because just a few days earlier, she saw a decal that was horrendous in another way.
In this one, a figure looking like the cartoon character Calvin is relieving himself on either a Chevy or Ford logo. Yes, you can buy either Calvin-decorates-Chevy or Calvin-befouls- Ford, depending on which car company you wish to disdain.
No government should have the right to ban such decals, or we'd have to invent another. It would screech that the First Amendment isn't worth the paper it's written on.
Still, stories like Peggy's make me sigh.
What do you think Thomas Jefferson would have said about such "free speech"?
Brother Jefferson wanted to avoid the kind of stifling that kings perform on peasants and publications. But if anyone tried to ban Ford-rapes-Chevy logos all these years later, some lawyer would claim that such freedom is in keeping with our traditions.
Actually, it isn't.
Ask any high school history student about the mood of the country in the late 18th century. We were not looking to make some stranger guffaw crudely on Suitland Parkway. We were determined to protect free speech from regal interference.
We didn't dump tea in Boston Harbor so we could get gross on our back windows during rush hour. We knew what real evil was, and we tried to build a system that would withstand it. We have -- in ways that count.
Ford-rapes-Chevy is a way that doesn't count.
If only stores and catalogues and Internet sites wouldn't sell such stuff. Yes, I know that demand dictates supply. Even so, I wouldn't be against a campaign of visiting those who purvey such junk and asking them to cease and desist.
You say it won't make a difference? It works with columnists who hear from the public. It could work with decal-purveyors, too.
You know how lethal sport utility vehicles can be if they ram your tender little Golf or Camry. But until Sherrie Sidman took keyboard in hand at home in Philomont, I hadn't thought about why SUV's cause the damage they do.
Sherrie's theory: inexperience behind the SUV wheel.
"These people have been driving low-slung automobiles for years," Sherrie writes. "Then they get behind the wheel of a large (sometimes top-heavy) SUV, and they think they can drive the same way."
What these SUV first-timers soon discover is that you can't corner in an SUV the same way you once did, because SUVs rock from side to side if you take a corner too fast.
"A woman coming out of a side street in Middleburg last week tried to beat the traffic with her Expedition and almost took out a whole row of parked cars before she could regain control," Sherrie reports.
"The look on her face would have been hilarious if she weren't heading right toward my Jeep after she tried to over-correct."
Sherrie suggests that every SUV dealership offer a "free education course" to first-time drivers. Those cheers you just heard are mine.
SEND A KID TO CAMP
Lots of food I can take or leave. Fried calamari I can take -- and take.
Today, I get to overdose on this culinary wonder at McCormick & Schmick's Seafood Restaurants. For every portion of fried calamari that the restaurant serves today (and it will serve me several), the management will donate the entire cost to our annual Send a Kid to Camp fund-raising campaign.
Same goes for every hazelnut cookie basket filled with coconut sorbet and fresh berries that's ordered at M&S Grill. You may call it calories. I call it a way to get ever closer to our goal of sending nearly 1,000 underprivileged children to camp this summer.
McCormick & Schmick's Seafood Restaurants are located at 17th and K streets NW and Reston Town Center. M&S Grill is located at 13th and F streets NW. This same food-for-camp deal continues every Wednesday through the summer. Nice way to tempt the palate. Nice way to help kids.
Our goal by July 30: $550,000.
In hand as of June 17: $94,326.49.
TO CONTRIBUTE TO THE CAMPAIGN:
Make a check or money order payable to Send a Kid to Camp and mail it to Bob Levey, The Washington Post, Washington, D.C. 20071.
BY VISA OR MASTERCARD:
Call Post-Haste at 202-334-9000 on a touch-tone phone. Then punch in K-I-D-S, or 5437, and follow instructions.