I find myself remembering a scene in “Gettysburg,” the video adaptation of The Killer Angels, in which a couple of Confederate soldiers, asked by a Union officer why in the world they’re fighting, explain with great dignity that they’re fighting for their “rats.” Hearing a reference to rodents, the officer questions them further until it becomes clear that they meant their “rights.” Of course, the scene could easily have gone on descending into the absurd if the officer had then asked what rights they were referring to, and these two poor men, neither of whom would have been likely to own a slave, would have been hard-pressed to come up with an answer that would make any sense to a modern listener — or to the Union officer, who was sort of the stand-in for the modern listener or reader.
It was an appealing scene partly because the prisoner’s explanation, beyond that bit of misunderstanding over pronunciation, was treated with respect. You felt for these guys, just as you feel for Virgil Caine in “The Night They Drove Old Dixie Down.” We’re talking about simple men caught up horribly in the nation’s central, pivotal conflict. Yet I still wanted to reach into the screen and shake them and demand that they explain WHAT rights. I mean, look around at all the horror and blood being shed. At the very least, I would expect a better explanation than that.
I find myself thinking of this because I just read this press release that just came out from S.C. Senate Republicans:
SENATE SENDS CLEAR SIGNAL TO WASHINGTON: QUIT STEPPING ON OUR RIGHTS
The South Carolina State Senate sent a strong signal to Washington politicians today when it passed a resolution demanding that Congress quit passing legislation intruding on our state’s and our taxpayer’s rights. Led by Senate Republicans, a solid majority voted for the bill, sending it over to the House, and requesting that the Attorney General take action on behalf of South Carolina residents to stop a government take over of America’s health care system.
Senate Majority Leader Harvey Peeler (R-Cherokee) said “we cannot continue to sit idly by as Washington politicians continue growing government, bailing out corporations, and passing absurd spending bills. It’s killing our economy. I’m proud of my fellow Senators for standing up and saying ‘No.’”
Resolution sponsor Lee Bright (R-Spartanburg) echoed Peeler’s comments, claiming a great victory for South Carolina’s working families. “Massive spending is costing us jobs and putting too many families out of work. Liberal politicians are spending everything they can beg, borrow, steal, or print. This resolution is more than symbolic, telling the Attorney General to protect our rights from liberal Washington bureaucrats.”
What on Earth are they talking about? What rats — I mean, rights? I mean, if you’re going to make such a dramatic statement, shouldn’t you spell it out? If I were making a grand gesture in which I invoked something so basic and fundamental as my rights, I would feel compelled to go on from there to explain just what rights I meant, and why they were rights, and how they were being taken from me.
But no such help here. And even more absurdly, this claims to be a “clear signal.” And yet it’s clear as mud.
The only part of the release that takes even a backhanded swipe at trying to explain what it’s about — the part that cites “a government take over of America’s health care system” — doesn’t clear anything up; it merely raises compelling new questions, such as:
- What government takeover of the health care system? Surely, surely you’re not referring to that mealy-mouthed, do-nothing bill headed toward a final vote in the U.S. Congress. Surely not. I mean, even if this bill went light years beyond what pathetic little it does, even if it were the single-payer system that we need, it wouldn’t be “a government take over of America’s health care system.” It would merely be a government take over of the insurance system that pays for the health care. Doctors wouldn’t be working for the government; nor would hospitals be run by the government, not in any scheme I’ve seen put forth. It would simply be a far more intelligent and efficient way of pooling risk and paying for the care that we would go out and get from private providers. But you know, there’s not even any point in talking about that, because the Congress never even threatened to do THAT much. Nor would they even provide a “government option” for you to freely choose. Nor would they let those of us 55 and older buy into Medicare. No, instead they came up with this bunch of nothing that for some inexplicable reason you are having an absolute cow over. And again, I ask, what “government take over of America’s health care system”?
- Let’s suppose that there IS such a “takeover,” which there most assuredly is not under any sense of the words Or one of the other things you cite: “growing government” or “bailing out corporations” or “absurd spending.” Please explain in what way ANY of these would be a violation or infringement or abrogation or diminution or whatever of your or my “rights?” How do you figure? Under what philosophical system? Surely not constitutional. Let’s see: Right to free speech? No. Free press? No. Freedom of worship? No. Right to due process? No. Freedom from self-incrimination? No. Unreasonable search and seizure? No…. What flipping rights? And don’t look at me like that, you’re the one who brought up “rights,” so back it up. Is there a “freedom from absurdity” provision in the Constitution that I missed?
These are the guys who are running our state, and this is how they see fit to spend their time. This is how they spent their first week in Columbia, because apparently there are no actual problems in this state that need addressing. I suppose at this point I could go into a treatise about how, when things are falling apart, tyrants and incompetents try to distract the common people with imagined threats from the outside, but I won’t. I’ve already spent more words on this farce than it deserves.