Column by Paul Hein.
Exclusive to STR
The animals had overthrown their human masters, and taken control of the farm. Nirvana! The pigs--intelligent, natural leaders, proclaimed “All animals are equal.” What a noble concept! How believable--especially by those who wanted to believe it.
Eventually, however, the natural leadership qualities of the pigs led them to proclaim that “All animals are equal, but some are more equal than others.” Guess which animals were “more equal”? Why, the pigs, of course--but only to ensure that right order obtained at the animal farm. After all, someone has to be in charge, right? And who else but the pigs, who excel at leadership. If you doubt it, just ask them.
I don’t know how popular George Orwell’s Animal Farm is today, but if I were a teacher, it would be required reading for my students. It explains modern government better than anything else they could study.
This was brought home to me a while ago when, for some reason now forgotten, I looked up the word “statute” in my old (4th Edition) Black’s Law Dictionary. The definition that burned itself into my memory was, “the written will of the legislature, solemnly expressed . . . .” There’s nothing remarkable about that definition--we knew that laws spring from the fertile minds of the legislators--except its brevity and directness. It minces no words. The “legislature” is simply a group of people who’ve gotten themselves elected. They comprise a fraction of one percent of the population of the area over which they proclaim their dominion. The “written will” of these people is simply what they want, written down according to the most solemn ritual of their own devising. In all likelihood, that “will” was determined over lunch, or in the cloak room, but once ritualized, it became--lo and behold!--a “statute,” and we all became thereby obligated to respect and obey it. The law, after all, is sacrosanct! All bow! Score one for the porkers.
A beautiful example of this process at work can be found in the 18th Amendment, and the Volstead Act that translated the Amendment--which contained about 110 words--into 25 pages of statutory rules and regulations. Just consider these words from Section 3 of Title II of that Act: “No person shall . . . manufacture, sell, barter, transport, import, export, deliver, furnish or possess any intoxicating liquor except as authorized in this Act . . . .” Or Section 6: “No one shall manufacture, sell, purchase, transport, or prescribe any liquor without first obtaining a permit from the commissioner so to do . . . .”
What we have in the Volstead Act is the will of a tiny minority of the people imposed on everyone else; their “will” being simply what they wanted. There were many people in America who, in their naivete, would have liked to prohibit the use of alcohol, but they had no power to impose their will on their fellow Americans. So they appealed to those who could. But where did those people--the legislators--get their power? If the Constitution is to be believed, they got it by delegation from the very people who didn’t have it! So, you see, we’re all equal, but some of us--the ones calling themselves our servants--are more equal than the rest of us. We now need their permission to do what we’ve been doing for centuries without anybody’s permission--or endure the punishment they authorized themselves to dispense. Human beings had been drinking alcohol since pre-Biblical times, but now .00028% of the population decided it would have to stop--unless they allowed otherwise! So it became illegal to drink alcohol, but legal to buy it—or anything-- with gold coins; later it would be legal to drink alcohol, but it was illegal to have a gold coin to buy it. Truly, as a clever fellow observed, the law is a whim backed by a gun.
Worse, this imposition of the will of a few on the rest of us prevented no crimes, delivered no justice. Long before prohibition was considered, the law provided remedies for those who injured others, or damaged their property, whether they were drunk or not. Indeed, there can be no bona-fide crime without a deprivation of rights, or injury, or damage—in other words, a victim. So if a person drank himself under the table but harmed no one, he might have been a fool, but not a criminal. Thanks to prohibition, however, guests at a wedding, toasting the happy couple with a glass of champagne, were, in some peculiar fashion, criminals, although obviously no one had been harmed, and no property damaged.
Today it is a near certainty that most “crimes” are not crimes at all, but merely disobedience to the wishes--the will, solemnly expressed in writing, of course--of the elected ones: the .0028% of us. Animal Farm is real, and we’re living in it. And we’re not the pigs!
Pork chops, anyone?