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DRAWN OFF TOPIC

Singer/author Kinky Friedman on texting while walking Add to ...

Cigar aficionado Kinky Friedman is a singer/satirist/author who once ran for governor of Texas (he placed fourth out of six candidates in 2006). He produces his own line of Man in Black tequila, and his books include The Love Song of J. Edgar Hoover and Heroes of a Texas Childhood.

Do you text?

No. I don’t do any Internet stuff and I don’t want to know. I think it’s rapidly turning our culture into a Barry Manilow society, like a Barry Manilow song which makes you feel good for a short period of time. Totally irrelevant. It creates a total void. Everything is going to be “product” like Justin Bieber or Lady Gaga.

Have you had any encounters with inattentive texters on the sidewalk or stepping into your path on the road?

I’ve been in a very bucolic, rustic society here in the Texas hill country, so I don’t get much of that. But I will on the Bi-Polar Tour, I’m sure. I will call in every half-hour on the half-hour to report in to you.

Just don’t text while you’re walking.

No chance of that.

Yeah, you see it all over the place. We’re going too far in the other direction. [We’re] going to outlaw everything on the planet. Big drinks, treating smokers like lepers. Just let a few of these texters get T-boned by a shuttle bus and they’ll stop texting.

They’ll stop everything.

Probably what we need for things to get back to their natural state. We’re over-legislated. Texting – technology – is really doing us in. God punishes some people. That’ll be the way it’s going to go.

I was thinking more of Darwin. Natural selection out of the gene pool of the dumb and inattentive.

Darwin is right on target. Let’s weed ’em out. Plus, it’s not that important what these people are texting, they just think it is. I have no desire to do it. A lot of people – a lot of young women, strangely – want to teach me how to text. I don’t see much value in it unless you’re going to say, “This is awesome!” or “Holy ****!” But I don’t see that it’s really harming anything except the person who gets T-boned by the shuttle bus.

A place in New Jersey, Fort Lee, has recently outlawed texting while walking. They have a zero-tolerance policy and issue tickets. The purpose is to take distracted pedestrians off the sidewalk and, particularly, off the roadway. Is this reasonable?

No, it’s ridiculous. It’s over-regulation. We have way too many laws already. Thomas Paine was right: To do good is the best religion. The law is an ass. It just is. These laws are ridiculous. The whole generation is texting, there’s no question.

I don’t think you can stop it. I don’t think you should. We need more of them to be T-boned by shuttle buses because there are plenty more where they came from.

Should the government legislate against stupidity?

No, it should not. It’s up to the people. The crowd always picks Barabbas. We say, “Free Barabbas! Kill Jesus!” We’ve been doing it ever since. We, the crowd, will take the stupidest candidate, listen to the stupidest song, make the dumbest choice every time.

In that case, shouldn’t our leaders be our betters, behave like Mom and Dad, tell us what’s good for us: Eat your vegetables, dress warmly, no texting while stepping into the road, etc.?

That’s certainly what they’re trying to do. That’s wrong.

Furthering us to becoming a nanny state?

Good Lord, yes. We’re drowning in political correctness and this is just more of it.

Probably the most significant song I’ve written is They Ain’t Makin’ Jews Like Jesus Anymore. If a young Richard Prior were to walk into my show, we couldn’t make him a star today. We could not make a young George Carlin mainstream today. That is what political correctness has done. It’s all just a part of the nanny state mentality.

All this YouTube, MySpace, iPad is all aimed at our narcissism. They’ve kind of roped us in. Someone is scamming us and trying to control us. I’m not paranoid about it, I’m just sayin’ …

I say find what you like and let it kill ya. With me, it’s tequila. And with somebody else, it’s their stupid little texting game. It’s an occupational hazard of being a constant texter. I’m with Darwin.

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