Peter Funt is a writer and public speaker, and can be reached at www.CandidCamera.com. His column is distributed exclusively by Cagle Cartoons, Inc., newspaper syndicate.
A few hours with the TV and radio the other night — one lowlight being a commercial for a holster guaranteed to prevent getting "pinched" by your concealed gun — underscored what a troubled and divided nation we have become.
Fox News Channel carried a recent debate among GOP presidential candidates, during which Mitt Romney pledged never to support any laws whatsoever that limit gun sales in any way.
Moving on to foreign policy, Romney said of our enemies, "We go anywhere and kill them." Period.
In an incoherent rant, Rick Perry said Turkey should be kicked out of NATO, adding that its respected prime minister, Recep Erdognan, might be an Islamic terrorist.
Newt Gingrich doubled down on his earlier piece of oddball thinking that 13-year-olds should work as janitors in schools. He added that as many as 30 such teen employees could be hired for the cost of a single professional janitor in New York City.
For a moment, Rick Santorum seemed like a flaming liberal when he said that felons, even those who had committed violent crimes, should be given the right to vote after they "have paid their debt to society."
Mitt Romney jumped in to make clear that he would never support such a thing.
Ron Paul, lovable gent that he is at these affairs, said the proper income tax rate for Americans is "zero."
After two hours of this, plus an hour with Sean Hannity in the Spin Room — where the remarks were even more likely to cause dizziness — I turned on the radio.
The host was Alex Jones, whose syndicated talk program is heard on more than 60 stations, with commentary that Rolling Stone magazine said makes Rush Limbaugh and Glenn Beck "sound like tea-sipping NPR hosts on Zoloft."
On this night, Jones and his guest were discussing which countries would be the best places to flee to, if politics and social programs made living in the U.S. intolerable.
After detailed analysis of everything from tax rates to the behavior of dictators, they concluded that Canada and Australia were the best bets.
But the most disturbing element of Jones' program turned out to be the commercials. During a single break, there were four 30-second spots, each thoroughly frightening.
The first was for food rations — the type you could store in your basement and survive on in the event of, well, just about any bad thing that would send you down to the basement for months at a time.
The next commercial was for a type of pill that combats the effects of nuclear fallout. An announcer cited the accident at a nuclear plant in Japan as good reason for Americans to buy one hundred of these pills, but indicated they were also handy should we be thrust into, well, just about any sort of nuclear nightmare.
Then there was the ad for the holster — the one that made carrying a concealed gun more comfortable without any nasty pinching — since, well, we'll all apparently be needing such weapons pretty soon.
Finally, there was a most unusual ad for rope.
The announcer sang the praises of 500 feet of very strong rope, without actually indicating what you might use it for.
I told a conservative friend about the strange rope commercial. He said flatly, "If people become angry enough, there's no telling what's next, even lynchings."
Go figure. I thought the ad meant: If watching the GOP candidates becomes intolerable, and if fleeing to Australia doesn't seem viable, you might find 500 feet of rope handy to, well, hang yourself.
Peter Funt is a writer and public speaker. He is also the long-time host of “Candid Camera.” He can be reached at www.candidcamera.com. Peter’s columns are distributed exclusively by Cagle Cartoons, Inc., newspaper syndicate.