Saturday, May 10, 2014

If Congress Wrote the 10 Commandments

If Congress were charged to write the fundamental laws governing society from a blank slate, it might begin something like the following:
First a committee would be formed. Then subcommittees for each of the 10 vital areas would be spawned. Months of hearings and testimony, debate and arguments would go by until finally one day the first subcommittee would put its proposal on the table: Thou Shalt Not Murder. Immediately, the proposition is declared to be too simplistic (for the lawyers) and too complicated for the average citizen to understand and therefore requiring a transition period to be postponed to some dates in the future, at least past the next election year. Then a rival caucus would begin proposing amendments and addendums (addendi?).
For example, since data clearly show that most men convicted of murder were not beneficiaries of any school breakfast program, it is argued that the bill must include an expansion of a national school breakfast program to ensure adequate nutrition for kids who might otherwise grow up to become murderers. When it is pointed out that many kids do not partake of the school breakfast program because their parents have already fed them at home, and that eating a second breakfast at school is contributing to the national obesity crisis, demands are raised for expansion of the anti-obesity crisis task force, as well as additional funding for school counselors and other unionized staff to monitor every child's caloric intake.

It would be inhumane to enforce a simplistic ban on murder when guns are so cheap and plentiful in legal markets and depictions of violence abound on television and in the movies. So the bill begins to fatten up with additional regulations of firearms and a special role for the federal communications commission, to fine entertainment companies whose audiences are determined to be contain disproportionate numbers of persons at risk of becoming murderers. Quotas are established prohibiting the number of convictions for murder to exceed the percentage of the population represented by the defendant's race, ethnic group, sexual preference or other minority status. No such quotas will apply to registered Republicans of any race, ethnicity or sexual preference.
From there all manner of prohibitions, taxes (that are denied to be taxes for political purposes but which are celebrated as taxes for constitutional purposes), penalties, fines, special exemptions, provisions for the president to alter the law by executive decree or selectively enforce its provisions, generate over 1000 pages of legalese. The original phrase "Thou Shalt Not Murder" is replaced by the much improved: "It shall henceforth be unlawful for one human being of legally responsible status to unlawfully terminate the life of another human being of legally viable status, subject to the terms, conditions and provisions herein contained".
Anyone opposed to the law as written is publicly smeared with the label 'Pro-Murder'.
Then the second subcommittee presents its proposed text: Thou Shalt Not Steal.