People have the wrong idea about the Utah Legislature. It is commonly thought that our legislators are an embarrassing gaggle of nincompoops. Every winter, they gather for a month or so and proceed to pass laws that are recognized around the world as high comedy.
Also tickling the funny bone is the delicious contradiction at the heart of their efforts: to a man (and for all intents and purposes the Legislature is a male body, plumpified by acres of free eats from lobbyists—the few female representatives, even the conservative ones, are entirely irrelevant and subordinate to their masculine superiors), to a man, to repeat, they are true believers in free agency and freedom from regulation, their totalitarian belief in liberty risibly at odds with their sweaty compulsion to pass totalitarian laws.
One of the funniest laws of recent years was the “Zion Curtain” law, which required establishments dispensing alcohol to hide alcoholic containers from the view of their patrons. The regulation-hating legislators wanted to regulate eyeballs from lingering too long on the multicolored bottles of Bacardi Gold, Johnnie Walker Red, Bombay Sapphire, Grey Goose, etc. The legislators, terrified of their own forbidden thirsts, acted on the questionable premise of “out of sight, out of mind,” questionable because of the more deeply rooted principle of human nature: “Absence makes the heart grow fonder.”
This session’s Knee Slapper Award goes to House Bill 114, the brainchild of Rep. Brian Greene, the Republican patriot from Pleasant Grove. This bill gives state law-enforcement offices the power to arrest federal officers who, any day now, are coming, on the orders of the tyrannical Barack Hussein Obama, late of Kenya, to take our guns away. On the surface, Brother Greene’s bill appears to be just another exercise in pinheaded paranoia. Just look at that Obama guy—you can just tell that he lies awake at night plotting to send agents out to Utah to pry our guns from our cold, dead hands.
Actually, HB114, known officially as the Second Amendment Preservation Act (try saying that with a straight face), is already seen by legal scholars as breaking new ground in the field of jurisprudence. Rep. Greene is being compared to such giants in legal philosophy as Aristotle, Oliver Wendell Holmes and Judge Judy.
Philosopher Greene has gradually moved from natural law, thence to legal realism, thence to legal positivism, thence coming to rest briefly in critical legal studies. As a “crit,” Rep. Greene held that laws were made to serve the policies and interests of the prevailing culture, which put him in the mainstream of Utah culture. Just recently, however, Rep. Greene boldly ventured into a sphere beyond human reason, a sphere in which laws are made not to regulate what is, but what might be. As of yet, scholars have not decided what to call Rep. Greene’s new kind of law—right now, it is sometimes referred to as Legal Hypotheticalism, sometimes as You Never Knowism, sometimes as Legal Paranoia, sometimes as What Ifism, but most of the time as Legislative Nincompoopery.
Some Utah representatives might be content to sit back and meditate upon their mediocrity, or snack on the bribes so liberally provided by assorted lobbyists and defenders of liberty. But not Rep. Greene. He is said to be crafting a variety of bills aimed at preventing things that might happen, and certainly will happen if we don’t pass laws to stop them from happening. (Making new laws is addicting, especially among those legislators who don’t like laws that they themselves didn’t pass.)
Still in committee is a law against caterers searching legislators’ roomy trousers for stolen sandwiches or purloined petits fours; a law against anyone not taking legislators absolutely at their word; a law against anyone entertaining even the smallest doubt as to their honesty; and a law against cracking a smile when they proclaim that they are working for the public good.
Fresh off his success with his “They’re Coming to Take Our Guns Away, Ha Ha” bill, Rep. Greene is rumored to be creating a bill that will be known as the Regulation to End All Regulation. According to several sources, the inspiration for Rep. Greene’s bill came when several legislators, after a regular diet of free lunches, found themselves afflicted with severe irregularity. Very quickly, a bill was drafted to prevent any federal regulation requiring regularity on the part of U.S. citizens.
“No one’s going to tell me when to take a dump,” said one defiant nincompoop.
D.P. Sorensen writes a satire column for City Weekly.