Douglas Gorenstein / The Associated Press

This Aug. 20, 2014 photo released by NBC shows host Jimmy Fallon, left, dumping a bucket of ice water over the head of actress Lindsay Lohan as she participates in the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge on "The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon," in New York. The phenomenal success of the fundraising craze is making charitable organizations rethink how they connect with a younger generation of potential donors, specifically through social media. (AP Photo/NBC, Douglas Gorenstein)

Editorial: ALS ice bucket challenge a summer sideshow with heart

Published: Saturday, Aug. 23, 2014 - 12:00 am
Last Modified: Saturday, Aug. 23, 2014 - 11:55 am

It’s August, when the viral digital memes spread easily in the damp dog days of summer. The news cycle is dominated by end-of-session scrambling in the state Legislature and electronic media is in dire need of a sideshow.

This season celebrities, wannabe celebrities and regular people are dumping buckets of ice water over their heads to raise money for research into ALS, more commonly known as Lou Gehrig’s Disease. As national crazes go, this one has a noble side.

Sadly, one of the originators of the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge, Corey Griffin, died earlier this week at 27 in a drowning off Nantucket Island. He’d surely be pleased that this social media darling has raised $53 million for ALS research so far.

Among those who have accepted the challenge to be soaked – or soak someone else – for a good cause are former Federal Reserve Chairman Alan Greenspan who inundated his wife, NBC correspondent Andrea Mitchell. Former President George W. Bush got a good splash from former first lady Laura Bush, and Sacramento Mayor Kevin Johnson took one for the team.

The challenge went viral because, once the ice bucketee has been frigidly baptized, they dare by name three other victims to do the same. Johnson passed on the challenge to Gov. Jerry Brown, surprising those who thought he’d put Sacramento City Councilman Steve Hansen on the spot for opposing the strong-mayor proposal.

Possibly fearing the icy shock of a non-insulated hairstyle, Brown demurred and instead used first Corgi Sutter Brown as his proxy.

There might be a water shortage in California, but there surely wasn’t a lack of opinion about the governor’s poached pooch. GOP gubernatorial candidate Neel Kashkari tweeted that he wouldn’t do that to his dogs.

Sutter had no comment about whether he was offended by the dousing. Or even injured by the icy blast. Fortunately for him, there’s Assembly Bill 2056, a pet insurance bill that requires full disclosure about what exactly insurance covers. The bill has passed and is awaiting his master’s signature.

Sometimes these memes can be annoying, but it’s a small diversion this summer and ALS research is a worthy cause. And, of course, we have our own list of people we’d like doused.

Read more articles by the Editorial Board

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