Saturday, June 30, 2007

Explain In Your Own Words

Dan Frazier and his T-shirts have attracted the attention not only of the Arizona State Legislature but also the American Civil Liberties Union. I am a little surprised by this only because I am as yet unaware of any legal proceedings against Frazier stemming from his business and the new law meant to suppress it. It was my understanding that the ACLU was going to enter the fray only from the moment Frazier was actually charged under the freshly-minted statute.

Here is something from one of the best letters I've ever read in the usually execreble Arizona Republic:

"My heart went out the parent of the serviceman killed in Iraq who was enraged that a T-shirt maker would capitalize on the deaths of our sons and daughters in Iraq."

As does my own.

"We respond with horror when events like the Nazis marching in Skokie or the T-shirt guy capitalizing on our dead children come into our lives. We want to silence them.

But what makes us Americans is a principle much bigger and nobler and more important than either of those events. I just wish all of us - and our Legislature, which responded with a knee-jerk reaction - understood that better."
- Richard Marmor,Phoenix

You have probably seen late-night-television hosts in segments where they roam the streets asking random passers-by to point out Armenia on a map, to name their Senator (or any Senator for that matter,) or to comment on a snippet like The First Amendment, which is often then derided as "too liberal" by the unsuspecting citizens caught on video. I've seen shows in which Leno does such things and I've slapped my forehead purple in astonishment and laughter.

The members of the Arizona Legislature are probably just clever enough to recognize Constitutional phrases left intact, but I wonder how many of them would continue to approve of the Bill of Rights if they were presented with a version in modern language; words that carry the meaning of the Amendments but phrased differently from the original.

You can easily imagine how some of the Russells and Karens would be deeply offended by the sentiments expressed in their own governing principles.

"The Senators and Representatives before mentioned, and the Members of the several State Legislatures, and all executive and judicial Officers, both of the United States and of the several States, shall be bound by Oath or Affirmation, to support this Constitution; but no religious Test shall ever be required as a Qualification to any Office or public Trust under the United States."

After dialectization:

"Zee Seneturs und Representeteefes beffure-a menshuned, und zee Members ooff zee seferel Stete-a Legeesletoores, und ell ixecooteefe-a und joodeeciel Ooffffeecers, but ooff zee Uneeted Stetes und ooff zee seferel Stetes, shell be-a buoond by Ooet oor Effffurmeshun, tu sooppurt thees Cunsteetooshun; boot nu releegiuoos Test shell ifer be-a reqooured es a Qooeleefficeshun tu uny Ooffffeece-a oor poobleec Troost under zee Uneeted Stetes. Um gesh dee bork, bork!"

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