Tuesday, May 5, 2009

martial law?

Two disparate streams of thought rattle around in my mind this morning. One is a recollection of my sisters. The other is the coming of martial law in the United States.

-- Of my (actually) half-sisters, I recall a time when they were little and the two of them were riding in the back seat of the car as we all went somewhere. Revan, the older, was complaining of a very sore tooth. It hurt so much and she told everyone in the car at some length about how much it hurt. Reid, the younger, was pretty much silent during Revan's complaints ... this, after all, was her older sister, someone she looked up to and loved, someone with more authority than she had. But there came a moment when Reid broke her diffident silence and offered what she hoped was a helpful and curative suggestion:

"Revan," Reid said in the most caring tone of voice, "maybe it wouldn't hurt so much if you kept your mouth shut."

-- Of martial law, I received this link together with a series of despairing comments in email this morning. The link is to a pdf of what is purportedly a Massachusetts Senate bill (allegedly passed 36-0 and sent on to the House for a vote) that would allow the state to enter citizens' homes without their consent and take what action the state thought necessary. On the face of it, the bill is meant to address the fallout from the current swine flu scare, but the language is so sweeping and vague that it lends substance to the fears (expressed elsewhere) that authorities are worried about the potential for civil unrest in the face of the current economic downturn. As far as I can figure out, the bill is not limited to the swine flu: It does not say that once the swine flu has passed, the bill's provisions would be rescinded.

If this business is true (and who knows what's true along the ungoverned Internet?), the implications for the state I live in are pretty spooky. But worse still, in my mind, is the potential for such laws to spread to other states and other authorities who might want to keep the clamoring, suffering, unwashed mob in check.

Winston Churchill once observed that "Democracy is the worst form of government -- except for all the rest."

I prefer democracy.

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