My Bank has a television up on the wall for its customers to watch as they are a waiting in line to talk to a teller. I can’t complain about that; it’s something that is successful in helping us to stay unbored.

What they usually have on as the channel of choice is the Headline News channel. Up until recently, I wouldn’t have complained about this choice either. It was at my bank that I first heard about the Virginia Tech shootings.

So a few weeks ago I was in there to make a deposit and I see a little blurb about how some county in California is making it illegal to wear really low riding pants. Because it offends some people. So what do they show on a repeated loop? Several worst offenders, complete with (as it must be to prove that they are offenders) visible underwear. On screen. At length.

This pushes gratuitous depictions of underclothed people to a new level. Usually, when television broadcasts show partially unclad people for no good reason, they at least have the bad (but significant) reason that teenage (and otherwise adolescent) boys want to see it. While this modus operandi is adding to the depravity of American culture, at least it’s a reason. Here, since the people depicted are just average (and by this I mean fairly unattractive) people, they don’t even have that as an excuse. For the first time in history, a network is showing offensive stuff for absolutely no reason at all. Now that’s gratuity.

As is my wont, I wonder how the conversation went as they decided to do this.

“Hey, guys, did you hear about the new proposed law in Blamsteadfordship county? They want to stop people walking around with visible underwear.”

“Well, so? Just another odd law by another odd county in an odd state. Happens every day.  What?”

“But don’t you remember the memo? ‘Any opportunity to show partially unclad people for what could at least be argued is a semi-legitimate reason should be taken advantage of’.

“Taking advantage of’? Isn’t that ending a sentence with a participle or something? Don’t they have editors?!?”

“Okay, whatever, ‘of taken advantage’ . . . whatever. But here’s my point: They’re making a law about underwear! We can show video! Nationwide!

“Boy, I don’t know. The people who do that are generally pretty unsightly. I’m pretty sure the bosses thought we should do it when the unclad people are something that a typical frat guy would like.”

“Nope, there was nothing in the memo about that. If there’s underwear, we show it. It’s what we do.”

“Again, I’m not sure. Won’t that offend both the prudes and the frat guys? And everyone in between who doesn’t want to look at that kind of stuff?”

“Right! It’s win/win!”

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So then the next (or the next to the next) time I was at the bank, Headline News had a five minute piece where they talk about some guy who was forced by an airline flight attendant to turn his shirt inside out because it was offensive. And they show a close up of the offending shirt, which was actually quite offensive. And they show they guy in the shirt as they interview him. Then a close up again of the shirt.

If only the airline had been forced him to take off his pants as well, the network could have shown an unappealing guy in an offensive shirt and his underwear. Darn! Such a great opportunity lost!

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