Sunday, July 02, 2006

When, in the Course of Human Events...

Knotts Berry Farm (the poor-man's Disneyland) in Southern California has a life-size replica of Independence Hall. Absent Disney-like animatronics, visitors gaze through glass into the empty chamber where Jefferson, Adams, Franklin, and the others hammered out the well-worded middle finger to George III of England.

Patrons picture in their minds the painting by Trumbull; periwigged men in pantaloons, standing silently around the divisive document on July 4, 1776, golden light cascading down from heaven. All of that is mostly bullshit of course.

It was a miserably muggy summer, stiflingly so. The cranky, sticky, sweaty, stinking delegates trudged through the piles of rancid horse shit along the streets of Philadelphia. This was the big day, and they were mostly glad to be done.

Inside, where there was no insulation and poor ventilation, the temperature was unbearable. The white wigs itched. Franklin smelled like hookers and booze.

It came time to sign the long length of parchment. This was the copy going to the King. If the plan didn't work, the King would surely hunt down and hang every man whose name was signed below. They looked at each other. Then, John Hancock, President of the Congress, said, "Oh, Hell with it!" He then took the quill, and scrawled his infamously over-sized signature. Fortunately for him, the plan worked.

Surprisingly, this act did NOT occur on July 4. Rather, the signing of the Declaration of Independence took place on August 2, 1776. That signing is not what Independence Day is about.

The final form of the document was only ratified on July 4. However, that really isn't what independence day is about either.

And before you start burning the Union Jack, it's not about beating the Brits.

You see, the guys who thought this whole thing up, the "founding fathers," were a group of over-privileged, hyper-educated erudite cranks. Think of the scene in Good Will Hunting, when Will out-wits the Harvard jerk-offs in the bar to impress Mini Driver. Jefferson and his lot were those guys in the bar.

They had nothing better to do with their time than load up on Hobbes, Locke, and Rousseau. These firebrands of political thought had suggested the outrageous concept that political power was not a divine right. Rather, Freedom was given by God, and governments were propped up by the people to protect those freedoms.

By ratifying the Declaration on that hot July day, the Second Continental Congress said to the world: "We shall engage in the empirical application of the liberal political theorem..."

Or, as Elvis put it, two centuries later: "A little less conversation, a little more action."

OK, look, this is what the document itself says:

"All Men are created equal, [and] they are endowed, by their Creator, with certain unalienable Rights...

That to secure these Rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just Powers from the Consent of the Governed, that whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these Ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or abolish it, and to institute new Government..."

That's it. That's the point. We are all born equal, with equal rights. We create government to protect those rights. That is why government must have limitations. When Government turns on us, and acts to take away those rights, the government must go.

It's a scary concept if you think about it, but that is what America is. That's the great experiment. That is what Independence Day is all about.

In celebration of the great experiment, and in exercise of my God-given freedoms, I will join Ryan and Carl on Tuesday to eat charred animal flesh, wear tacky flag-colored clothing, and blow the living hell out of some good Chinese-made, completely-illegal-in-Oregon, fireworks.

God (or the divine power of your choice) Bless America!

Reading for Comprehension
1. Are you still confused? Here's the Simple Version
2. Do you now begin to understand my dissatisfaction with Dick and George?
3. At the risk of inciting sedition, does the Oregon prohibition on projectile fireworks justify the overthrow of the Oregon Legislature?


  1. Dude.. my meat for the 4th is HUGE!

    A 15 pounder and a 12 pounder.

    Then we gots ribs and stuff.

    We also went shopping for more fireworks yesterday. I think we can on take on Canada AND Idaho.

  2. Anonymous8:27 AM

    Except for the gays, right?

  3. the anonymous who isn't homophobic8:53 AM

    Why would you want to take on Idaho?

  4. I'd rather concentrate on liberating Northern California...

  5. I tried explaining to the kindly woman at the fireworks stand, that the Iran-Contra sized fireworks bundle that she was trying to sell me would SURELY land me a body cavity search and free weekend accomodations with the Santa Monica Police Department.

    As for my meat and the 4th - charred or not, never had any complaints. But, for variety's sake, we're going to throw in some nice chicken and veggies too.

  6. inog's interviewer12:06 PM

    Is your meat usually small?

  7. You don't know the meaning of big meat until you see mine.


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