Are You Fred Willard?

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Fred Willard is a tremendously gifted TV and film actor (Everybody Loves Raymond, Modern Family; Best In Show, A Mighty Wind).

His career is now abruptly over because he was arrested by L.A. vice cops at an adult movie theater. Not convicted, not sentenced. Arrested. For “lewd behavior” in a porn theater.

(Why doesn’t Fred watch porn at home? Maybe he likes company. In any case, that’s not really our business, is it?)

In the face of the Republican determination to defund and thereby destroy public television and public radio, PBS announced that it would fire the actor from his job as narrator of its new “Market Warriors” series, a show produced by public TV station WGBH. They can’t afford the bad publicity.

Puh-leese. Will firing Willard make much difference? Congressmembers suspicious of “subversive” public TV won’t distinguish between “their shows feature guys arrested in porn theaters!” and “they once even hired a guy who was arrested in a porn theater!” Memo to PBS: caving in to bullies never works. (Once again, let’s honor Dennis Barrie and Cinncinnati’s Contemporary Arts Center for standing up to the Jesse Helms gang and exhibiting Robert Mapplethorpe’s erotic works in 1990.)

In the past 35 weeks, L.A. police have apparently “inspected” the adult theater 40 times, arresting 23 people.

One can speculate how many of those “inspections” involved cops getting blow jobs. One can wonder how much tax money was spent on these “inspections.” And one can wonder, in a city where 300 people are murdered and several thousand are raped every year, how the city can possibly justify spending millions on “inspecting” porn theaters. How many murders are those inspections and arrests worth preventing—299? 199? one?

If convicted, the State could require Fred Willard to register as a sex offender. Depending on where he lives, he might have to move. No producer or casting director would ever look at his photo ever again.

California has 106,000 registered sex offenders. The country has three-quarters of a million.

While many sex offenders are dangerous anti-social criminals, most people don’t realize that dozens of trivial offenses can also get you registered: age-play in an adult chatroom. Sending a nude photo of yourself to the wrong person. Talking about sex to an unrelated minor (yes, really). Inviting someone to have sex in a public bathroom. Wanking in an adult theater. Going to an adults-only swinger’s club.

What have you done lately to get you fired from your job, dismissed as a Little League coach, or even arrested?


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