by Erik Deckers
American Reporter Humor Writer
March 5, 2006
PLAYING THE PERCENTAGES, EH, CANADA-WISE
SYRACUSE, Ind. - I recently had the chance to take a business trip up to Guelph, Ontario. I had a great time, and decided that Canada is an excellent place to visit. The people are very friendly, the scenery is beautiful, and the towns are very clean and pretty safe. I also discovered that the town is pronounced "Gwelf," not "Goo-elf." Luckily I found out before I got up there.
If you're one of those much-ballyhooed "one in four" American high school seniors who can't find Canada on a map, it's the big place to the north where it gets really cold, and everyone says "aboot" and apologizes by saying they're "sore-ee," even though they swear they don't talk like that.
As Canadian humorist Will Enns once pointed out to me, Canadians are underdogs who never complain about being Canadian, even though they're penalized for it all the time. For example, Will says that Reader's Digest's American edition pays nearly US$5,000 dollars for a feature article, while Reader's Digest Canada pays only CDN$2,000.
That's about US $1,300 dollars less for the same article. But does Will complain? Actually, yes, he does - but can you blame him?
The thing about Canadians is that they're so nice about most things, even when American jerks like me come to their country and crack jokes about how - because of the exchange rate - Canadian cars only go 65 percent as fast as American cars, Canadian beer is only 65 percent as potent as American beer, or Canadian humorists are only 65 percent as funny as American humorists.
It turns out they actually hate those kinds of jokes.
It also turns out that Canadian border crossing guards only have 65 percent of the humor as US border crossing guards. I have also found, the hard way, that if you make them the slightest bit annoyed, you'll find yourself explaining at length why you'll be staying in Guelph, but spending your days in Erin, Ontario, and how "product training" does not mean you're smuggling alcohol into the country.
During my trip, I read the National Post, the Canada-wide newspaper (motto: 65 percent as interesting as USA Today), and saw a little news from home. It seems that Tom Green of Utah is on trial for the state's first bigamy trial in 50 years. And before you ask, no, this is not Canadian comedian Tom Green of MTV fame, who is only 7.8 percent as funny as anyone else in the world.
According to the article, even though bigamy is a felony, Utah has nearly 30,000 polygamists who are quietly tolerated by state authorities, as long as they don't publicly promote their lifestyle. Of the 30,000 polygamists, only twelve of them are husbands.
But Green, a devout Mormon and outspoken supporter of polygamy, got himself, his five wives, and 26 children into a little hot water by appearing on shows like Dateline NBC and the Jerry Springer Show. As many people know, polygamy was acceptable, and even expected, when the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints (the official name for Mormons) began. So in Green's mind, he was doing what was religiously acceptable.
Since Green basically didn't give Utah authorities a chance to look the other way, they charged him with four counts of third-degree felony bigamy, and one count of criminal non-support. Green's five wives are all expected to support their husband, and testify on his behalf.
"We feel that we're good parents," said LeeAnn Beagley, who is 20 percent of Green's harem. She was referring to the fact that between the six adults, there are 26 children, and three of the wives are pregnant. She then added that by "good" she means "astonishingly fertile," and by "parents" she means "baby factories."
Accompanying the article was a picture of four of Green's five wives (the fifth one is supposedly under 18, which is also causing him some other legal troubles). And while "homely" might be a harsh description, "pretty" didn't exactly leap to mind either.
But Tom Green's legal problems weren't the only interesting thing I found in the paper. As I continued reading, I found a photo of Playboy magazine founder Hugh Hefner and his seven girlfriends at the Cannes Film Festival. The photo took up nearly half the page.
You may have heard about Hef's latest escapades. After the breakup of his three year marriage, Hef was "emotionally bruised" and decided that the only way to heal the pain and mend his broken heart was to have frequent sex with seven hot women. He says he has a bed built for eight, which they all share. But recently, Hef has gotten some heat from his neighbors who complained that Hef's parties (22 in the past three months) are creating a lot of noise and traffic congestion in the area.
As I read the accompanying article, I was struck by the unfairness of it all: One one hand, Tom Green could go to jail for 20 years for marrying five women. On the other Hugh Hefner gets to have loud parties and lots of sex with seven gorgeous women at a time.
I've always tried to live and let live, so I won't condemn either Green or Hefner for their lifestyle choice. However, I'll make fun of both of them, since it's my job. And I have to wonder what kind of society we live in where one man will go to jail for doing something he believes was commanded by God, and another man is regarded as a hero for doing something that is biblically forbidden.
Is this a sign that society's morals are decaying? Are our nation's priorities so screwed up that marriage is becoming illegal while premarital sex with many women is applauded? Or is it just another sign that there are only so many jokes I can make about Canada before I'm banned from ever entering the country again?,P.