Are you ready for 1994?

January 04, 1994|By Art Buchwald

I HAVE big plans for 1994.

The first thing I am going to do is destroy all voice mail in the country. I will work to get a law passed stating that anyone who has a voice-mail machine will either be fined or sent to prison without parole for 10 years. I am not talking about personal voice-mail boxes, but those at department stores, airlines, businesses, institutions of higher and lower learning and service companies that people call for help.

I now have a 9-year-old boy in Boston named Christopher Lydon working on a device that will cause a voice-mail box to self-destruct once it comes into contact with a human voice.

I am also starting a campaign to stop people from using the phrase "information highway" as a means of describing a new method of communicating with another electronic system. I am recommending a five-day waiting period for the authorities to conduct a background check on the person who wants to use it. If you have a history of violence or have a police record, you will not be permitted to use the phrase. The reason for this is that, in the wrong hands, "information highway" could cause terrible accidents to drivers.

In the past, because of my liberal leanings, I have been against capital punishment. Recently I've changed my mind. I have no problem recommending the death penalty for workmen who don't show up when they are supposed to and any person making a junk call after 7 o'clock in the evening. Operators making junk calls before 7 should be sentenced to hard labor for seven years.

I am also advocating the death penalty for those who garble their telephone numbers on your answering machine so fast that you can't understand them.

Crime is something that is not going to disappear in 1994. I'm in favor of a law rationing programs such as "Hard Copy," "A Current Affair" and others that claim to replicate "actual crimes." Every violent series will be allowed to show no more than 10 top gun murders a year.

You would also be required to have a special permit to portray rape and other forms of violence.

Continuing with the crime issue, I am calling for the prohibition of hardened criminals appearing on TV talk shows. This includes crooked cops who wear paper bags over their heads when confessing their crimes. I also plan to ask church leaders to distribute pamphlets to police officers in their cars and at station houses explaining that selling drugs, stealing dirty money and beating up innocent citizens is not what they have been hired to do.

In spite of all the reform plans I have outlined, I will not call for the downfall of American companies that make faulty products, politicians who lie about their bank accounts and diaries, Wall Street firms involved in shady insider deals and lawyers who have their fingers crossed while maintaining the innocence of their clients. The reason is that these people provide me with material for 85 percent of my columns.

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