Sunday, February 24, 2013

137. Laws

It may not have been the worst experience of my life. After all, I once lived through being sentenced to two weeks of Vacation Bible School in the middle of summer while the rest of my gang fought pirates and played baseball.

When C.W. insisted that I take him to our state capitol to watch our legislature, I knew better. But, he said, “It is your duty to further my education as the North American host to our planet.” And I suppose it is.

So, when he showed up as a bright-eyed 13 year-old, what could I do? I told him that much of the drama occurred in the committee hearings, so we arrived early and picked a committee at random in the Senate end of the building and took a seat in the rear.

“The opponents of a bill will try to stop it from getting out of committee while the proponents will try to get it voted out with a ‘do pass,’” I said.

“Neat,” he said.

“Uh, yeah.”

At that moment, the committee filed in. There were four members of an eight-member committee present. C.W. produced a membership handbook from his backpack and began to study it.

“I see a quorum present,” the committee chairperson said.

Immediately C.W.’s hand shot up. “They don’t have a quorum,” he said to me, loud enough for everyone in the room to hear. He pointed at the list of members of that committee.

“Shhh,” I explained as quietly as I could. “They will proceed unless one of the members calls for a quorum-count.”

“That sucks,” he said, louder. Every eye in the room turned toward us. “They don’t have a quorum,” he explained to them. All eyes returned to the front as the meeting continued.

The first bill was introduced. The bill’s author explained that it would require a woman requesting certain medical procedures to have a probe inserted into her … at this point every eye in the room turned to us again. I turned a crimson red and tried to pretend I was studying some papers I had picked up at the door. C.W. leaned forward eagerly. The eyes continued to stare at us as if I had taken a child into an X-rated movie.

“This is neat,” C.W. said. “But I thought they were supposed to make laws here.”

I tried to make myself as small as possible.

Finally, the meeting continued. The bill’s author having finished, a well-dressed woman representing the ACLU began to speak against the bill, pointing out what seemed to her some constitutional problems. Suddenly, a committee member stood, interrupting her. “Mr. Chairman,” he yelled. “If this ‘person’ is here to waste our time again, I’m going outside for a smoke.” He spun around and left.

“That was uncivilized,” C.W. said. “Who elected him?” Again the heads snapped toward us. At this point the Chair called a brief recess. He whispered to a large man with a noticeable budge under the coat of his suit who then approached us.

“Sir” he said. “We don’t think this discussion is fit for under-aged children.”

“You mean I can’t watch them making laws?” C.W. yelled it this time and everyone stopped to watch.

As I see it, the purpose of legislation is to advance
individual agendas. Interesting. - C.W.
“Not this one son,” the man said. “Come back for the next one. It deals with who can euthanize animals.”

“Gross,” C.W. said as I hurried him from the room.

Outside, I turned to him in exasperation. “Didn’t they warn you in your training back in Falloonia not to watch Americans making laws?”

“No,” he said, his eyes turning into large innocent orbs. “They just made us promise not to watch you making babies.”

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