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Sunday, July 17, 2005

A Modest Proposal

(A tip o' the hat to Shakespeare and Swift... )

Shakespeare is often misquoted (and taken outa context as well) as having written, "First, kill all the lawyers." And that's but one variation among many of the line excerpted from Henry IV, part 2, Act 4 scene 2,
"The first thing we do, let's kill all the lawyers."
Out of context? It's in a scene featuring a kangaroo court whose whole purpose shows the value of those who know the law, as opposed to emty-pates who make rulings based on nonsense. (More on this point later—probably a post all its own.)
Nevertheless, it's ironic that only a few hundred years have passed since that halcyon day when Shakespeare could view lawyers as protectors of rights, liberties... Today, it is the law that makes slaves of us all. A little extreme? Think about it for a bit. Can you honestly say that you have not broken any laws? How do you know? Have you read the sky-high stack of state, federal and local laws, regulations and ordinances? Could you understand them if you did?
When laws proliferate to such a burdensome level and literate people who lack induction into the arcane priesthood of their interpretation cannot decipher them, we are all at the mercy of selective enforcement: any prosecutor anywhere can find something to convict you of if he wants to.
And here's the telling question: in a day and age where Martha Stewart can be sent to prison for denying having done something that was not a crime for her to do by a giovernment whose own witness used to convict her of "lying" (NOT under oath) to federal investogators has been charged with perjury for his testimony in the case; when Sandy Berger, who flat-out lied to federal investogators about having removed and destroyed documents that were pertinent to the 9/11 Commission's investigation gets a "bye" on prison time and merely has his security clearance lifted for a while, does not the selective enforcement aspect of law enforcement bother you a tad?
Just think: no one, NO ONE, can know if they are in compliance with every federal, state and local law, because the laws under which we live have proliferated to the point that no one, NO ONE, knows them all. And only those inducted into the mysteries of their special language and the customs of their cultic application and manipulation can understand (or pretend they understand... for a hefty fee, of course) what the heck these cultic incantations mean.
Enough! Of the many things this country needs to survive as a civilized nation, one of the most important is this: scrapping every damned law passed since the Constitution was written and rewriting the whole thing (body of law) so that a literate person can carry around the laws of the land on his person and read and understand them. A good start would be to "sunset" every law, everywhere, so that law "makers" would of necessity become law "reviewers" and be forced to rewrite each and every law in their baliwick, a bit at a time, until all the current laws were either done away with or rewritten so that everyone who's at least moderately literate can understand them. And tie every word in every law on the books to a common dictionary meaning of the word, tied to and tied down to a specific dictionary, specific edition, so that some damned judge somewhere has a harder time finding wiggle room to subvert the law by means of a phony "interpretation."
THEN we can kill all the lawyers. (But I wouldn't go so far as Swift's "Modest Proposal" for the Irish... )
OK, OK, maybe we don't have to kill them, just send 'em all to votech school to learn a useful trade...