The Billings Outpost

Skewed look at some of favorite amendments

A cluster of gun massacres across the United States has everyone but the National Rifle Association and its members calling for new gun control legislation.

President Obama has pledged action but Congress hasn’t pledged squat. All Republican members will vote “no” on any gun legislation. Half the Democrats will do the same. A ban on assault rifles and 50-shot magazines might pass if half of those in the NRA’s pocket came down with the flu.

But it really wouldn’t matter. Pass something sensible and the Roberts Supreme Court will strike it down in less time than it took to elect George W. Bush by a 4 to 1 margin.

• • •

The Revolutionary War had just started when an English distiller decided to cast his lot with the Americans. Englishman Ephraim Winslow Clark, 23rd in line of succession to the Earl of Grantz, surrendered all claim to title and estate to emigrate to New York, where he joined Washington’s army.

Clark’s diluted nobility did nothing to put spuds and beef on his family’s table, but he owned a sharp wit and strong work ethic. Clark fought with the colonials. Soon after discharge he bought a small farm, planted rye and built a distillery. Waiting for the first barrels of whiskey to age, Ephraim and his wife opened a small inn where they rented rooms and served toad in the hole, bangers and mash and other items of Saxon cuisine.

Clark loved wildlife and fed mash from his distillery to bears roaming the farm. The bears grew fat and soon attracted bear hunters.

Clark herded the bruins into his house and posted no hunting signs. When the colonial game warden ordered him to release his new boarders, he gave each bear a rifle and taught them all to shoot.

And from veterans like Ephraim Clark grew America’s respect of the right to keep and arm bears.

• • •

The Third Amendment proclaimed: No soldier shall, in time of peace be quartered in any house, without the consent of the owner, nor in time of war, but in a manner to be prescribed by law.

Quartering soldiers in the homes of troublesome subjects began with English kings back when William the Conqueror’s corpse was still warm.

A baron who became too independent could expect a visit from the king. Of course, the king would bring his court - 500 friends, relatives, in-laws and assorted hangers on. King and court would avail themselves of the upstart’s hospitality until said vassal had killed his last pig.

In colonial America using soldiers to bankrupt feisty subjects still worked. Limey soldiers would hang around the colonial’s house, spit on the floor, tell bawdy stories in hearing range of the women and children and eat the last cracker in the cupboard. They refused to fetch water, chop wood, peel spuds, slop the hogs, pick a chicken, milk a cow or wash a dish.

• • •

The Fifth Amendment was written especially for Communists and Mafioso. At least that’s what we would deduce from watching high profile trials.

The fifth is used mostly by Communists accused of being Reds or Mafioso accused of being mobsters.

A prosecutor will ask a question: “Did you ever hang around with Ice pick Wiley?”

The defendant will say: “On the advice of my attorney, I choose to exercise my Fifth Amendment rights.” (Meaning, “Yes, I did. But you can’t prove it by me.”)

Next, the prosecutor will ask the same question, slightly altered each time, 15 times more.

Reporters in the courtroom will count the evasions and write: “The defendant pleaded the Fifth 16 times.”

I know. I did that. Without hesitation or shame.

• • •

The Eighth Amendment is of little worth to someone hauled before a judge. It reads: “Excessive bail shall not be required … .” If you are Ken Lay, the former chairman of Enron who nicked the suckers on Wall Street for tens of millions, a million-dollar bail might seem fair.

But, if you happen to be a dirt stiff accused of a capital crime, bail will be more than all your cousins can raise by selling their cars and mortgaging their houses.

Copyright 2012 Wild Raspberry Inc.

Top Desktop version