It’s The Law

July 9th, 2015

July 4 number 239 has just passed and the gloriously messy business of democracy and of this republic continues.

Whichever side of whatever recent issue you may be on, I think that we can all agree that the last few weeks have been an extraordinary mix of loss and gain, of tragedy and transformation.

I don’t believe that the country just woke up to a new America today. I believe that we just woke up to today’s America.

And both nightmares and dreams became reality.

As published in The Daily News, July 10, 2015, and in The Memphis News, July 11-17, 2015

We The People


Oh, the outrage!

Across the nation, people have reacted to the laws passed and validated by the courts, their liberty threatened, the Constitution violated, the republic at risk.

For example, the Foundation for Economic Education begins with a quote from Benjamin Franklin, “They that can give up essential liberty to obtain a little temporary safety deserve neither liberty nor safety.” Then they go on to say, “Such laws are an unwarranted intrusion by government into the personal lives of citizens; they deny through prior restraint the right to determine one’s own individual personal health-care standard.”

For another, the One Minute Case makes their case thusly, “Without a principled and uncompromising defense of the individual’s right to own his life, we are reduced to being property of the omnipotent State, being permitted to live only at the mercy of a bureaucrat’s decision that we contribute to the ‘common good.’”

Obviously, the subject is the recent Supreme Court decision on Obamacare.

Actually, no, the subject is seatbelt law – the first quote from 2002, the second from 2007. Mandatory seatbelt laws are in effect in every state except New Hampshire where people remain at liberty to leave parts of themselves scattered all over intersections. The state motto is, after all, live free or die.

Perhaps you’ll do better identifying the subject of these: 

This from the president of a respected institute, “there have been attempts to pass them for well over 10 years. It’s been a snowball effect.”

This from an opposition brochure, “Because it is unwise to risk the good we already have for the evil which may occur.”

This from a California senator, “Keep the home pure and all will be well with the Republic. Let not the sanctity of the home be invaded by every little politician that may be running up and down the highway for office.”

You’ll get it this time – the Supreme Court legalizing same-sex marriage, right?

Well, no. The first is seatbelts again, this time from the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety in 1986. The second and third are from the 1910s opposing women’s suffrage. Tennessee’s ratification of the 19th Amendment gave women the vote in 1920.

Regarding laws, I quote my favorite Republican, Abraham Lincoln:

“Let reverence for the laws be breathed by every American mother to the lisping babe that prattles on her lap. Let it be taught in schools, in seminaries, and in colleges. Let it be written in primers, spelling books, and in almanacs. Let it be preached from the pulpit, proclaimed in legislative halls, and enforced in the courts of justice. And, in short, let it become the political religion of the nation.”

Regarding the once and always wringing of hands and gnashing of teeth when societal change is codified and progress escapes the prison of status quo – personified by Justice Scalia’s archaic tantrums in dissent – I quote my granddaughter’s favorite princess, Elsa:

“Let it go.”

I’m a Memphian, and when there really ought to be a law, eventually, there is.


I'm a Memphian by Dan Conaway

If you don’t read it, I’ll read it to you.

The book is available in print online and all over town and now in audio online at Amazon, Audible and iTunes, read by the author – columns, comments and character references for a city filled with it and often absolutely full of it. Take a look or a listen.



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