"The Bill of Rights is mostly bullshit."

Seeing a play yesterday was all the culture I'll be allowed this month. Got a voice mail from Brenda, backing out of that "rare" Frank Moore performance on Saturday night.

She has a good excuse — family visiting — and anyway, I wasn't wild about an evening event that might stretch late when I've gotta work the next day. 

♦ ♦ ♦ 

Had to work today, too, helping some semi-senior citizen move. He looked to be in his late 50s with all-gray hair, but he didn't yet smell like old people smell, and he was in good enough health to do at least half the schlepping.

Nice enough old coot, and he didn't talk much, which was even nicer. 

We carried a lot of boxes to his car, then drove to his new apartment and carried a lot of boxes in, then returned to the old place to load the couch and bed and dresser into the truck, delivered it, and my work day was done.

It was kind of a boring gig. Most gigs are boring. Some are so boring I don't even write about them. 

♦ ♦ ♦ 

Doing anything legal for five bucks an hour will never get me anywhere but where I am. It won't get me to New York. To do that, I'd need a real job.

But I really don't want a real job, doing the same thing five days a week and hating it.

Kinda sucks about New York and Sarah-Katherine. A real job would suck more, though.

♦ ♦ ♦ 

At home, my flatmate Judith and I were talking in the kitchen as we made our respective meals or snacks, and then somehow we were talking about the Bill of Rights. She thinks it's marvelous. I think it's a swell idea, but not much more.

Actually, what I said was, "The Bill of Rights is mostly bullshit."

She didn't like that, and put down her potholder to argue with me. "Without the Bill of Rights," she said, "you'd have no right to criticize the Bill of Rights or badmouth the United States of America. In many countries, you couldn't even write your zine without being sent to prison."

"Well, yeah," I agreed, "I'm glad America's not as repressive as Commie China or North Korea, but 'better than North Korea' is not a motto that makes my heart swell with pride and patriotism."

She got angrier, said I sounded like a snot-faced adolescent, and I shrugged. In many ways I am a snot-faced adolescent, just twice the age, so I'm like two snot-faced adolescents.

We argued for about five minutes, and I didn't do so well making my point in the kitchen, so I'll try again at the typewriter: 

Like the flag, the Bill of Rights is a symbol for lying politicians to huddle around and pretend they give a damn. But what's it mean, really?

Under the Bill of Rights, America had the slaughter of natives, slavery, women as property, internment of Japanese-Americans, and the illegalization of abortion, homosexuality, birth control, alcohol, drugs, and lots of other things I'd call the opposite of freedom.

And jeez, there's no explicitly-stated right to privacy? No right to not be drafted into the military? No right to plant seeds in your back yard? No right to know what your government is doing, when they declare it 'classified'?

You only have freedom to whatever extent the government voluntarily operates within the bounds of those ten amendments. Which isn't all that often. 

They're always looking for loopholes, or forgetting that the Bill of Rights exists.

One by one through history, they've nullified each of our ten freedoms listed in the Bill of Rights, with (as yet) the sole exception of the 3rd Amendment — nobody's quartered soldiers in my apartment lately.

When you're denied your rights, your only hope is to take the government to court. That's gonna cost more than you have, and then the reality is that a bunch of black-robed old farts, millionaires most of them, are well-paid by the government to interpret the Constitution, and they usually rule in the government's favor. Funny how that works. 

What's lacking most, what makes it all a farce, is that there's no penalty when the government violates the Bill of Rights. Nobody loses their job. Nobody goes to jail.

The Bill of Rights is a lovely piece of idealism, I'll say that. In practice, though, it's crapola, so I have no warm fuzzy feeling for the Bill of Rights.

But I do have warm fuzzies for Judith, so I hope we won't be rerunning this argument when she reads my recap of it in the next issue.

From Pathetic Life #20
Thursday, January 25, 1996

This is an entry retyped from an on-paper zine I wrote many years ago, called Pathetic Life. The opinions stated were my opinions then, but might not be my opinions now. Also, I said and did some disgusting things, so parental guidance is advised.

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