Beijing Preps for Olympics
Image has not been found. URL: /wp-content/uploads/2008/09/forbidden-city.jpgBeijing, China --The Forbidden City
In an unprecedented loosening of the rules, in preparation for the XXIX Olympiad, Beijing has announced that Scrabble tiles that can be combined to form “T-I-B-E-T,” that had been confiscated last spring by roving patriotic gangs, will be returned to licensed owners of the spelling board game for the duration of the coming Olympic games.
Consumer goods made by forced prison labor will not be formally so identified, but will be sold at steep discounts if buyers keep their mouths shut.
“No Arrests For Sleeping In” signs are being posted at the entrances to apartment blocks all over this ancient capital -– one of myriad ways that the ubiquitous Bureau of Nocturnal Safety and Order intends to show a kinder, gentler fist. Bureau insiders have all but confirmed that mandatory reporting of anti-government dreams will be suspended from the start of the games until the official closing ceremonies two weeks later.
No more – at least temporarily — of those familiar sidewalk police pop quizzes, where answers to question of whether communism or capitalism is best are both wrong. Similarly, it won’t be illegal if you’re found in possession of a Japanese schoolbook on World War II.
The terms “smog,” “infanticide,” “M.S.G.,” and “senile old Central Committee fools” can be spoken aloud within earshot of foreign outsiders without official retribution at the time.
The hosts of the 2008 Olympic Games have seemingly thought of everything. For example, to keep the anticipated heavy traffic moving and avoid tie-ups, Tiananmen Square has already been removed from all city maps, and will be off-limits to anyone without a tank.
Bruce McCall, a humorist, is a regular contributor to The New Yorker and Vanity Fair. He is the author of “All Meat Looks Like South America: The World of Bruce McCall” and “Zany Afternoons.”