Commentary: The 2009 Orwell Awards

Buffalo, NY – Welcome to the Celebrity Couples Edition of the Orwell Awards. Ordinarily, the golden piglets are given to individuals who best exemplify the principles outlined in George Orwell's two most famous books, Animal Farm and 1984. This year, however, the porcine statuettes come in pairs reminiscent of the old 60s poster Makin' Bacon and are awarded to the most unusual abusive couples of the past year.

Named for Animal Farm's dim-witted work horse whose ceaseless trust of Napoleon led to his death, the Boxer Award goes to singers Chris Brown and Rihanna, a beautiful couple in the news for the ugliest of reasons. The conjoined piglets presented to these still-together lovers are the perfect size to fit on the dashboard of a Lamborghini, though no doubt someone will notice that one of the piggies remains unmoving because it has been beaten senseless by the other, who mistook the origin of the award's being named Boxer.

The Snowball's Chance Award, named for the idealistic pig run off Animal Farm, goes to an unlikely Celebrity Couple, Republican National Chairman Michael Steele and well-fed Darth Vaderesque talk radio host Rush Limbaugh. Yes, Michael, it was all your fault. No, nobody will ever love you the way Mr. GOP does. But don't worry. He'll take you back-until the next time.

The Newspeak Doublethink Award from 1984 is given ungraciously to Pope Benedict and Bishop Richard Williamson. The minute his excommunication for denying the Holocaust was lifted, the bishop continued publicly denying the Holocaust. He bit the hand that fed him while denying others had gone hungry, suffered, and died.

The Thoughtcrime Award goes to Sudanese President Omar Al Bashir and the International Criminal Court. How dare you think me guilty of crimes against humanity? Get out. Take your aid workers with you. Leave all the refugees and displaced persons to me. They'll be just fine.

The Moses the Raven Sugarcandy Mountain Award is presented to his 4,800 investors and financier Bernard Madoff, who makes old Charlie Ponzi seem like a ten-thumbed amateur. Though sorry and facing life in prison, Mr. Madoff has said nothing about where he may have hidden assets that could be paid to his victims. I'm sure his investors would love it if his first cell mate turned out to be torture-prone Jack Bauer of TV's 24.

Winners of this year's Big Brother Award are Nadya Suleman, better known as Octomom, and the doctor who saw no problem performing in vitro fertilization on an unemployed single mother of six. While Octomom sounds like the archenemy of Spider Girl, she is actually the archenemy of common sense. If your maternal instincts aren't satisfied by six children, why are eight more likely to do the trick? Look for the golden piglets to turn up on E Bay any day now. She needs the money.

The Napoleon goes for the first time to Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai of Zimbabwe and again to President Robert Mugabe, who threw himself a $250,000 birthday bash while his country starves to death amid an inflation rate of 231 million percent. Mr. Bauer, when you're finished with Mr. Madoff, Mr. Tsvangirai, may have another assignment for you.

Finally, the Grand Orwellian goes to AIG and the American taxpayer. Having got $170 billion in taxpayers' money to save their failing business, AIG recently announced it was contractually obligated to give $165 million in bonuses to the division that screwed up the company in the first place.

Calling Mr. Bauer, I'm Gary Earl Ross, taxpayer.

Gary Earl Ross is a professor at the UB Educational Opportunity Center. His novel Blackbird Rising will be published in June by Full Court Press.

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