I’m trying to understand the Feddle Gummint. It’s hard going, like driving a ’53 Chevy through mud. Maybe it’s because I grew up in the country, and wasn’t very smart, and mostly studied my lunchbox. I never learned to understand things that didn’t make sense.
Especially the Supreme Court.
Anyone who took civics in high school knows the Gummint is divided into five pieces: the media, the Supreme Court, Congress, the bureaucracy, and the president, pretty much in that order. And the Supreme Court is supposed to say whether the Constitution reckons a law is all right. That way no slick lawyer can slip in laws that make us into Comminist robots. At least, that’s what this teacher lady told us.
I’m not sure it’s working.
Somewhere I saw that there was a Supreme Court decision in 1896 called Plessey vs. Ferguson, about Negroes and white people, that said separate but equal was constitutional. They didn’t say we had to do it. They just said it was fine with the Constitution.
Then in 1954 in Brown vs. the School Board, they said it wasn’t constitutional.
I must be slow. I don’t see how exactly the same Constitution can say exactly different things unless the court is just making them up as it goes along, and telling everyone the Constitution says so. That way we have to do whatever they say or the police get us. Like in Russia.
When the Court makes some decision that shows it hasn’t got the judgment God gave a crabapple, which is usually, lawyers always talk about what the intent was of the Foundering Fathers. I guess that’s reasonable. They wrote the Constitution, so if anybody knows what it means, it must be them. That’s what those nine funny-looking apparitions in Washington are for: to figure out what the intent was.
Thing is, any fool can tell what the Fathers meant by looking at what they did.
Like the Second Amendment, that says, “A well regulated militia, being necessary to the security of a free state, the right of the people to keep and bear arms, shall not be infringed.” They hadn’t really figured out commas back then. Everybody argues like crazy about what “militia” meant, and did the Fathers really mean that everybody ought to be able to have guns, and it sounds all solemn and serious.
Back then, everyone and his Aunt Polly had guns, and all their pigs and chickens, and some tadpoles. The Foundling Fathers knew it. So did the Supreme Court. Nobody ever got upset about it. It never occurred to anyone that it was unconstitutional.
If the Fathers had intended something different, they’d have done something different.
It’s the same with separation of church and state. Everybody knows that the Fathers didn’t want the church to be the gummint, the way it usually was if somebody like Philip II was president. But did they mean that you couldn’t have Christmas in school or sing Christmas carols on a public road? Of course not. In those days everybody put up mangers with Mary and Joseph in them and said prayers just about everywhere, especially if someone was looking, and nobody noticed it was unconstitutional. It only got that way recently.
What I think about the Court is, I’d rather be ruled by inbred possums.
Everybody knows why the Fathers stuffed freedom of speech into the Bill of Rights. It was because most of Europe was misruled by useless kings who whored around with courtesans and probably with the palace animals and were usually drunk and feebleminded and bought stupid jewels that looked like glass doorknobs with money they squeezed out of the peasants. And if anybody didn’t like it and said so, he got burned at the stake.
So the Fathers wanted to protect political speech. That way when the president wanted to make people into robots they could say they didn’t think so, not today. And they would have guns. Guns are a swell form of political expression.
Not now, though. The Court decided the First Amendment was about Expression, and dancing was expression, and nekkid dancing was even more expression, especially if it was on TV where children could watch it. So was all the outhouse language you hear in a low poolhall when everybody’s drunk.
If the Fathers meant we had to watch Dottie Does Everybody, how come nobody noticed it, including them, until after 1950?
Ain’t it something? Tom Jefferson was too dim to know what he meant his own self, and needs nine withered frauds to tell him. I guess that makes sense. Like rust cutter on doughnuts.
But if you work for the Feddle Gummint – well, this isn’t a column about miracles but I mean if you get paid by the gummint – and you make a political statement about affirmative action and shiftlessness, and how you have to do your job and how come they don’t, why, you get fired. That is political speech.
What it looks like is political speech is getting to be illegal but rutting like farm animals on TV at dinnertime is pretty near a constitutional duty. That’s what Ben Franklin wanted, I guess.
Last I heard, the Fourth Amendment said, “The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized.”
The intent’s as plain as warts on a prom queen. But now the Pentagon is going to spy on everybody’s email and bank accounts and credit cards because there might be a terrorist somewhere in the world, and if a ninety-six year old Christian woman in a wheel chair wants to fly on an airplane the feddle police will body search her and now they’re going to open all our suitcases to check out our books and sex toys and whether our clothes are clean. That’s reasonable?
When I was a kid my teacher always said I was special and she hoped I’d go a long way, though I think she’d have been satisfied with the next county. Well, I hope she meant I was special dumb, because if I understand the Supreme Court right, they’re just riverboat card-sharpers in Zorro suits. Just about nothing the Court makes us do ever occurred to the Fathers. Mostly it’s what they were trying to get away from.
Those grifters are making it up. That’s all.