Be aware of awareness weeks
As I See It ...
In case you hadn't noticed, May 7-11, 2001, was designated "National Drinking Water Week." Those who drove by the old pump station off U.S. 31 would have seen it adorned with a large white banner displaying, among other things, a smiling creature with a dewdrop for a head. After AIDS, Cancer and Heart Disease Awareness weeks, did Congress just run out of ideas? Were there leftover weeks lonely for national significance? I suppose we ought to remember those in countries still without clean drinking water, suffering from dysentery and filarial worms (more likely to befall hapless tourists in third world countries clueless enough to drink unfiltered tap water). Since such illnesses arise from lack of sanitation in general, wouldn't it make more sense to designate it, "National Sanitation Awareness Week," or, more to the point, "National Don't-Defecate-in-the-Same-Water-You-Use-for-Cooking-and-Bathing Week"?
In case Congress is still looking for ideas, some friends and I, tired of the same old topics, thought we would do our share and provide a list of equally important issues deserving at least a week's worth of national recognition:
1. National Aware-of-Awareness Week. It is always a good thing to be aware, generally, that one ought to be aware. Suggested ribbon color: aqua-blue.
2. National Bubonic Plague Awareness Week. It wiped out one-third of the European population, and who's ever apologized for that? Suggested ribbon color: eggplant.
3. National Cigarette Lighter / Bucket Death Awareness Week. Did you know more children die from playing with cigarette lighters than from guns? It's true — but how many of us ever hear about it? And buckets contribute to at least eight children's deaths per year. Suggested ribbon color: teal.
4. National Parietals Awareness Week. At least one week ought to be devoted to the many dedicated students of Notre Dame willing to fight for the right to party — at least for that extra hour. Other students take up the cause of international human rights violations, economic or religious freedoms or any number of causes for the oppressed. Notre Dame students, I take it, count themselves among "the oppressed." The poor things. Suggested ribbon color: lemon.
5. National Garrett Hardin Awareness Week. He writes about maintaining population control by restricting our "freedom to breed" (i.e., have children). His writing contains more platitudes than insight. We need an apology. Besides, he's creepy. Suggested ribbon color: brick.
6. National Federalist Society Awareness Week: According to the media, this Society is a cult of black-hooded subversives who plot the overthrow of the government, the takeover of the federal judiciary. The nation must be on its guard. Suggested ribbon color: cornflower.
7. National Common Nucleus of Operative Fact (CNOF) Awareness Week. This rule has served as the gateway to more crowded federal court dockets, to the delight of many otherwise restricted litigants. We'll let the non-lawyers figure this one out for themselves. Suggested ribbon color: taupe.
8. National Conformal Mapping Awareness Week. It has nothing to do with maps. It's math. Never mind. Suggested ribbon color: mustard.
9. National Stellar Sea Lion Awareness Week. What would we do without those overzealous environmentalists to spread misinformation and wreak havoc to fishing communities? After getting a law passed restricting fishermen from mining the sea of Pollock fish (sea lions' main food source), new findings show that the decline in sea lions has more to do with an increase in the number of Orca whales, which love snacking on those tasty stellars. Suggested ribbon color: rainbow.
10. National Mayonnaise Awareness Week. If the fat tax doesn't work, then a week's exposure to the wonders of this cholesterol-enhancing staple is sure to enlighten. Suggested ribbon color: flesh.
We hope the Board seriously considers our proposals. We've anticipated some potential problems; for example, all the weeks for next year may already be taken up with other topics. The Board can resolve this problem by replacing those issues that have had their fair share of national attention with some of ours. For instance, Gun Awareness can be bumped to the year after next and National Cigarette Lighter/Bucket Death Awareness Week can take its place. Perhaps it would spark a debate on safety locks for cigarette lighters. The Second Amendment doesn't speak on the issue, so anti-lighter lobbyists would fare pretty well.
AIDS Awareness, always politicized by the "in crowd," could be replaced with National CNOF Week — let's give the "out crowd" a hearing. Then there is always National Multiculturalism Awareness Week, which could be replaced with Federalist Society Week. After all, if a cult of cloaked revolutionaries is not worth national attention, then I really do not know what is.
Christine Niles is a student at Notre Dame Law School. Her column appears every other Thursday. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
The views expressed in this column are those of the author and not necessarily those of The Observer.
All Viewpoint Stories for Thursday, January 31, 2002