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The "Czech Family" in Crisis, and Other News of the Weird


"The Family in the Czech Repubic finds itself in serious danger. On Thursday and Friday of last week the Ministry of Jobs and Social Programs made public the alarming numbers," Czech Radio reports. Apparently "many young people" are not marrying before the birth of their first child and some (gasp) are even choosing to "live without a partner." This is, to me, no cause for alarm. It is well-known here that the average age of parents and married couples is on the high side (26 say the new statistics). This is in fact a wider European problem. However there are rumors of a new baby boom and the population of the country, which some fear is actually shrinking (their age, not the country), will certainly rebound. That's not scary either. One solution is to exempt newly married couples from certain taxes. Still relatively run-of-the-mill. Some politicians think that encouraging immigration will help balance the age of the country.

That's when it starts to get weird. Brushing aside politicians who encourage Czechs to adopt a "more tolerant" attitude toward newcomers, Marián Hošek (a deputy to the Czech Parliament) announced: "Although some immigration is natural, we mainly want Czech children to be born in the country. This is the only way to preserve cultural continuity in our land." Whoa! This is all part of the less-than-tolerant attitude that exists alongside the fabled openness and acceptance of Czech society. There is certainly less than an accepting attitude toward visible minorities here, particularly toward Roma (less pc, "gypsies"). This politician apparently thinks that "culture" can (and should) be governmentally determined and that national ethnicities are a priority of the state. Moreover, he feels he has the right to legislate ethnicity and birthrates. (There is ominous implication of a sort of quota system.) This seems derived from the eighteenth-century search for ever-elusive cultural purity (a rhetorical concept in the first place), and it's disturbing to find it so often in current social thought. It is particularly unsettling coming so close to the 16th anniversary of the Velvet Revolution, one recent and inspiring triumph for human rights and humanistic values. (A more extreme example of this phenomena is noted by Kristen in Moscow.)

In other news, Václav Havel and other former dissidents have supported a move to keep files on former Communists secret unless the subjects give their express release to make such information public.

According to an IKEA survey, Czechs are less likely to have sex in the kitchen. (Could this explain the family situation?) Then there's the crazy obsession with beauty contests, which has spawned a fight over who's the real champion: Czech Miss or Miss Czech Republic? And finally, the Czech Republic has another jewel in its crown (?): the new European champion of "imitating an elks' bugle call" is Czech. They claim that the champion is "practically impossible to distinguish . . . from an elk." (Don't ask me where the elks got the bugles.)

Comments:

Blogger Karla said . . .

Have you taken to reading Blesk, or what? I thought your subscription was to Lidové noviny, which according to the Prague Post has very few stories about things like Czech Miss (no, I am still not expecting to be chosen for this) and elk impersonators. What the heck did I do with that paper anyway, it had a piece on Blesk's new and even trashier competitor and listed which newspapers were most likely to have headlines like... ah, here they are... "I had seven orgasms" and "It's the naked woman's fault." LN had "Havel was better than Klaus." Of course, I can understand why a person would rather find out about the seven orgasms, but still.
Now, back to the IKEA survey on sex in the kitchen, I thought you said Pravo had done a survey contradicting the IKEA survey and that the 30% of Czechs who haven't yet had sex in the kitchen are anxious to try it? I think we need to investigate this further. After all, let's not forget that most Czechs haven't yet bought a new kitchen at IKEA and therefore haven't yet had sex on furniture that will fall apart under their exertions. (I didn't even have to have sex on my IKEA desk for it to fall apart, as John and Travis can testify.) They had better make the experiment on their old Bauhaus-like furniture. Quick! the chocolate sauce! the whipped cream! the... oops, sorry, spent too much of the day reading Bohuslav Brouk. Be glad I couldn't find all those new words in my dictionary.    

12:08 AM, November 17, 2005


Blogger Karla said . . .

Oops, I see Český Rozhlas is behind your remarkable collection of items. You always find their weirdest stuff. What am I doing wrong? (Only searching on Toyen, I guess.)    

12:17 AM, November 17, 2005


Anonymous Jesse said . . .

Yes, all in a day's read on Czech Radio. And I'm not even the one who has a basketful of Cosmopolitan magazines next to my couch.    

11:27 PM, November 17, 2005


Blogger Karla said . . .

Touché!    

9:49 AM, November 18, 2005


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