Editor’s note: Michael Ackley’s columns may include satire and parody based on current events, and thus mix fact with fiction. He assumes informed readers will be able to tell which is which. .

Bigot – a person who is utterly intolerant of any differing creed, belief or opinion.

Bigot – a person who is intolerant of any ideas other than his or her own, esp. on religion, politics, or race.

Thus is the language depleted and impoverished of meaning. The definitions of “bigot” above appear if you “look up” the word at dictionary.com, the source most young people will use today.

But if you go to any reputable print dictionary, you will find the definition is not utterly intolerant but blindly intolerant.

This is no small difference, and the accurate definition of “bigot” should be kept in mind when characterizing Americans who oppose the “Ground Zero Mosque” in New York City. The state may not constitutionally prevent the free exercise of religion, and if Imam Feisal Abdul Rauf and his undisclosed financiers have the proper zoning for a mosque in lower Manhattan. Its erection cannot be stopped.

This doesn’t mean it should not be protested. As we have pointed out in the past, Americans don’t care what religion you espouse – including Islam – as long as you leave them alone. But many Americans don’t think Islam left them alone when zealots flew their aircraft into the Twin Towers and the Pentagon and aimed another at the White House, and they don’t think the Shariah-espousing Rauf wants to leave them alone.

New Yorkers’ – Americans’ – opposition to the Ground Zero mosque may run into a constitutional roadblock, but it is not based on “Islamophobia.” A phobia is an irrational fear. Americans’ antipathy is not blind or irrational.

Meanwhile, in California, sometime in the future:

Howard Bashford, returning from his supermarket, is accosted as he approaches his home.

“Hold it!” calls a voice, and Bashford turns to see a neatly dressed woman who is flashing a badge.

“Amy Handleman, bag police,” she says, “Let me see those parcels.”

“Says who?” demands Bashford. “Under what authority?”

“Don’t give me any lip,” says Handleman. “Back in 2010 the Legislature passed Assembly Bill 1998, which took on the threat to the environment, public health, the economy and society posed by the discard of plastic grocery bags. The five-cent tax per bag came first, then the bag police.

“Now, let’s see those parcels.”

“Harumph!” harumphs Bashford. “I happen to carry my groceries only in reusable bags. See?”

“Are those certified bags?” asks the bag cop. “The bill required reusable bag manufacturers to obtain a biennial certification from the Department of Resources Recycling and Recovery.

“This means submitting a certification fee and a certification that its reusable bag meets specified requirements.”

“I’m pretty sure these are all right,” says Bashford, “although there is one plastic bag inside.”

“What?!” says Handleman, her right hand drifting toward a pistol concealed under her jacket.

“Take it easy,” says Bashford, alarmed. “It’s just to keep some stuff from contaminating my baguette.”

Handleman relaxes, saying, “That’s OK, since the law says the single-use bag prohibition doesn’t cover nonhandled bags ‘used to protect a purchased item from damaging or contaminating other purchased items when placed in a recycled paper bag or reusable bag.'”

“Pharmacy bags provided for prescription medication are OK, too,” she continues, nudging Bashford with her elbow and chuckling, “Like Viagra or lice soap, eh?”

“Heh, heh,” laughs Bashford weakly. He asks, “How can a store put stuff in a ‘nonhandled bag’ without handling it?”

“You’re a wise guy, aren’t you?” says Handleman truculently. “We’ll see just how smart you are downtown at the station.”

“I was just kidding!” Bashford protests, but Handleman, her pistol out, hustles him into a waiting bag police van.

We were pleased to receive by post the new terms for our credit card account, mandated under financial “reform” legislation. We are particularly taken by item No. 2 under “Global Wording Changes.” It says: “‘payment due date’ will be replaced with ‘Payment Due Date.'”

We are so gratified to see this typographical improvement.

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