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The Honolulu Advertiser
Posted on: Thursday, January 30, 2003

Out of the mouths of babes ...

By David Shapiro

I'm heartened for the future of Hawai'i's voter turnout by the way my 6-year-old grandson Corwin took to the wonderful Kids' Voting program that engaged schoolchildren at all levels in the recent election.

Corwin was a big backer of Mazie for governor — mostly, we think, because of his fondness for a mouse by a similar name in a popular series of children's books.

But never one to let the crowd get too far ahead of him, he quickly got behind Linda Lingle — or "Linga Linga" as he called her — after her victory in the real election.

Corwin was impressed to learn that his mother works in the same building as Linga Linga and began formulating a legislative agenda for the new governor, the first item being a law declaring, "No sticking out tongues."

He got his big chance to insert himself into the legislative process when Linga Linga visited his school the day after her State of the State speech to drum up support for charter schools.

I'm told Corwin seated himself front and center for the governor's talk, but lost his nerve when they exchanged hugs afterward and he had her ear to present his own plans for the state.

I was hesitant to expose Corwin's views to public scrutiny until I realized they have legitimate merit compared to some of the dubious measures being offered by actual lawmakers, such as bills to fine parents whose kids play hooky, license legislators to perform marriage ceremonies and regulate the use of personal mobility vehicles. Do these people know the meaning of the word "personal"?

So here for your consideration are the top three items of Corwin's legislative agenda:

• No making funny faces. This is an omnibus version of his initial proposal that extends the ban on obnoxious facial expressions beyond the mere sticking out of tongues.

I asked Corwin if he could be more specific on the funny faces he wishes to outlaw so I could offer readers a description.

He gave me a demonstration that included pulling out his ears while shifting his jaw sideways and making googlie eyes; pulling his mouth wide open with fingers at the two corners, sticking out his tongue and again adding googlie eyes; and pulling his cheeks down so the inside of his eye socket and underside of his eyeballs were grossly exposed.

If Linga Linga had seen this frightful display, she surely would have included Corwin's bill among the more than 150 she sent to the Legislature.

• No passing gas in people's faces. You'd think folks have enough class that this wouldn't be a matter requiring legislative action, but you have to look at it from the point of view of a 3 1/2-foot-tall kid who must negotiate crowds with his head bopping around smack in the firing zone of the average adult.

Wheelchair users also travel with their heads relatively low. While it's never happened to me personally, I've heard others in wheelchairs complain of being fired upon by gaseous neighbors in elevators and other enclosed spaces.

• No saying bad words. Corwin has always been a stickler on this one. I was strapping him into his car seat at Ala Moana Center last year and badly pinched my finger in the buckle.

"Damn," I moaned.

"That's a very bad word," Corwin scolded.

"I'm sorry," I said. "I won't say it again."

"You can't say ----, either," he warned.

I'm not sure if the solution here is legislation or washing out his parents' mouths with soap.

David Shapiro can be reached by e-mail at dave@volcanicash.net.