Sunday, 24 February 2013

Jo Fixes the Constitution

Written by

Amending the Amendment.

I should start by saying that this piece is mildly racist against Americans. It’s okay to be mildly racist against Americans, because despite a massive number of them being a bit on the stupid side, they could pretty much explode our island four times over and still have enough ammo left over to blow up each of the leftover pieces four times over and then eat some cheesecake. 

We all hear a lot about the US Constitution, because Americans so often talk about their constitutional rights when they’re trying to excuse typically American behaviour like shooting people or eating a piece of moose between two slices of fried chicken. It’s fair to say that, due to their population, their history (admittedly not dissimilar to that of non-indigenous Australians) of going up to pieces of land they like and claiming them as their own, and their vigorous patriotism, Americans are responsible for a fair whack of the violence on the planet. It would be very nice if that changed. 

Unfortunately, Americans currently seem reluctant to change any of the bits of their Constitution, even though some of the bits they defend most strongly are in themselves amendments; one of which, the one prohibiting the sale of alcohol, was even changed back again at one point. Americans would currently defend, most likely with loaded Walmart firearms, the changing of any single word of their constitution. 

It is the second amendment, ratified in 1791, that most recently causes the most consternation, and it reads thusly:

Right To Bear Arms

A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed.

That’s it. That’s all it says. 

Now, I think we can all agree that the grammar is bollocks. It’s fundamentally unclear to anyone upon a first read whether the intention of the amendment is to refer to people in armies, civilian individuals, or all of the above. In fact, at many points in history, even as recently as 2010, that has been officially debated. Unfortunately in the US Supreme Court, decisions have generally been made in favour of the individual’s right to GUNS GUNS N’ MORE GUNS, YEEEHAH, and gosh, hasn’t that turned out well.

Of course, the original constitutional bit about Indians not being proper people has been changed.

And the bit about women not being proper people.

And the bit about being able to get booze and then not being able to get booze – both changed. 

And that bit that didn’t say slavery wasn’t okay? Changed.

But that weird sentence up there, with its arbitrary capitalisations and funky grammar, is seemingly sacrosanct. And, from anecdotal evidence only, by implication it means that access to guns and ammunition should be about four times easier than getting your driver’s licence, and roughly six thousand times easier than getting decent health care, particularly if you’re a bit mental. Here, mental dude, have a gun instead.

It’s easy to get a gun in the USA. The right to bear arms has been interpreted as the right to do so without undue difficulty or expense. The instalment of rules that make it difficult or expensive to own guns is seen as an infringement of the Bill of Rights. I think that’s so weird that I’ve written a haiku about it:

US firearm ownership
Is a crock of shit.

Seeing as the use of logic, statistics, rational, reasoned debate and a big pile of dead children haven’t helped change anything, the only thing left is to do things sneakily. Gun-totin’ ‘Mericans won’t let you touch one word of the Second Amendment, so the only thing left to do is quietly, secretly just change one or two letters. There’s a wide range of letters that we can change, and I’ve come up with just a few suggestions.

The Right To Bear Arts
Granted, the Right To Bear Arts is also open to interpretation, as some people may think it means that people have the right to carry around paintings, drawings, sculptures and lithographs, whereas others may think it means that people have the right to paint, draw, sculpt and make lithographs depicting bears. I’d be mostly in favour of the latter, but both interpretations are pretty cool. You wouldn’t even necessarily need an art degree, just like not really needing a gun licence in the original wording of the amendment. Although mostly because having an art degree never really helped anyone get anywhere or do anything. I should know.

Casualties: 0

The Right To Bare Arms
This is already an implied right, evinced by the proliferation of muscle shirts and tank tops in the United States. People could make jokes about their arms being their ‘guns’, followed by a sound not dissimilar to “hurrr hurr hurr”, and a display of unfettered flexing. It’s no bear painting, but it’ll do.

Casualties: 0

The Right To A Bear Army
Seriously, what is cooler than a bunch of bears in uniform doing push-ups. They wouldn’t even have to carry guns into battle, because everyone knows that when you’re confronted with a bear, you should play dead. Wars would be ten minutes long – two sides face each other across a battlefield, one of the armies is made up of bears, the other army lies down and plays dead, battle over. 

Admittedly, wars are no longer always fought face-to-face like this, and weapons are generally dispatched from a very long distance away from their target. I ask you, though, if you can think of anything more terrifyingly convincing than a bear suddenly being dropped on a village from a great height. People could even paint or sculpt or make lithographs of it. The irony, too, that one of the excuses used for gun-use in the US is for bear-shooting, would not be lost on many people. It would probably be lost on the bears though.

Casualties: Couple of bears, but totally worth it

Toe, Right, To Bear Arms
Tiny little toe guns, but just on one foot. Very, very cute violence on a small scale.

Casualties: Nothing above the ankle

The Right To Bear Alms
Let’s interpret this one as compulsory donations to charity for all citizens earning above a certain amount. 

Casualties: Poverty

The Right To Bear Arfs
This one applies primarily to dogs.

Casualties: Silence

The Right to Be, Am
We’ve already established that grammar isn’t important where constitutional amendments are concerned, nor where hippie sentiment is concerned, so this one just ensures everyone’s constitutional right to exist. To just be, man.

Casualties: 0, until people just stop existing via natural causes.

The Right To Beat Arms
This right is restricted to the first day of every month, at which time citizens may announce that they are giving “a pinch and a punch for the first of the month”, accompanied by a brisk but restrained pinch and punch to another citizen’s arm. Previously only the realm of monumental pains in the arse and primary school children, all citizens may now exercise this right.

Casualties: 1 arm per person

Alternatively, America, you could just take a risk, piss off some rednecks, and sort your shit out. Although, truthfully, my vote is for the bear army.

Jo Thornely

Jo Thornely writes for The Daily Telegraph and The Punch, but leaves time for her day job in television, which facilitates her love of criticising people and gin. Follow her on Twitter @jothornely