What a ride 2016 has been! From the Heights of Hope for a renewed encounter with Democracy at its best, to the roller-coaster of the primaries, watching major candidates stumble and rise again, state-by-state, spattered with mud, dishing the dirt, but still chugging along until only two were left, bloody but unbowed—wow! Now into the final stretch, the plunge into the darkness of dirt and tweets and rants and leaks and lechery. Turn on your favorite news or comedy hour and it’s more of the same. Whether they’re simply reporting on or roasting the next president it’s a descent into the ooze. Holy Mudbath! We’re as covered with slime as they are! What’s a citizen to do?
My mother, bless her soul, had a simple solution to all this. In my youth when America used to be great, my parents, brothers and sister all sat around most evenings together watching TV—shows about families with amusing problems brought about by some childhood escapades that the TV Mom and Dad would eventually sort out. Then came the change: 1968—Rowan and Martin’s Laugh-In. Women in bikinis gyrating to crazy music, their bodies painted paisley, presumably in psychedelic colors that our black and white TV could not discern, double-entendres from the leering cast, one-liners that crossed the line of decency as it was drawn then. My mother was horrified. After a particularly glaring off-color “joke” she uttered the words that became famous in our family: “Shut the Thing Off.”
It was not the only occasion that phrase resounded in our small living room. The late 60s was a time of enormous change, and Mom was not going along with it quietly. She would protect her family from the Crass, the Degenerate. The yahoos could smirk and jibe as much as they wanted on that cathode tube, but the sexual revolution stopped at our front door.
Now the time has come once again to employ this useful phrase. When you can’t turn on the TV or radio or look at the news online without hearing an ever-more tawdry accusation, denial, reprisal or threat then Shut The Thing Off. Get away from it now and just go vote on Election Day. You’ll be a healthier human being if you do.