The independent news organization of Duke University

Smokey, this is not 'Nam

This is bowling. There are rules.

But how many rules do there have to be?

Why can’t I read Catch-22 in Strongsville, Ohio? Why can’t I go to a theater within four hours of eating garlic in Indiana? Why can’t I participate in more than one game show per year in the United States? Why can’t I walk around on Sundays in the state of New York with an ice cream cone in my back pocket?

Because there are rules that say I cannot.

We have a president that tosses around the word “freedom” like nobody’s business. We are told that we live in a society that defends freedom from those who want to destroy it. Either or. Black and white. We are left to figure out for ourselves that nothing is that clear cut. Our freedom is qualified. There are restrictions. And more are proposed every day.

If we should choose to own an elephant, for example, we could not plow cotton fields in North Carolina, nor could we secure it to a parking meter in Florida without paying the parking fee required for an automobile. We couldn’t even walk down Market Street in San Francisco without having our elephant on a leash. That would be illegal.

This is an administration that cares less about the actual freedom of its citizens than it does about the term in the abstract. This is a government that wants to dictate how we should live. This is a ruling class that wants to impose Christian morality and corporate capitalism while undermining the welfare state. This is a form of compassionate conservativism that wants to prevent women from having a choice, poor people from advancing, sick people from health and gay people from being gay.

We can’t even be irritated. We have to be patient.

And now we must be patient as Congress cuts social spending in an attempt to balance a budget thrown awry by the billions spent every day on the war in Iraq. As it undermines the laws passed during the New Deal.

As long as we’re at it, we might as well make a clean sweep through the law books and throw out some other pieces of arcane legislation. We should make it legal to fart in an elevator in Port Arthur, Texas, and permit children in Mesquite to have bad haircuts. People should be allowed to flirt in public in New York and San Antonio, and, if the need should arise, own more than two dildos in Arizona and six in Texas.

We should get rid of the drinking age. The relocation of Duke’s social scene to off-campus residences of upperclassmen is a problem universities across the country are facing as they awkwardly try to enforce inane underage drinking laws. Any hopes to find a replacement for alcohol as a social lubricant are useless. Students would be healthier and at considerably lower risk if they were allowed to drink freely in the comfort of their dorm rooms or on the main quad.

Am I wrong?

The laws that prevent homeless people from performing daily activities fail to prevent homelessness. Another solution needs to be found, and laws against sleeping in cars or on streets, sitting on sidewalks, bathing in parks and urinating in public need to be repealed.

We don’t really need the Patriot Act. The powers of the president and the federal government were wide enough to prevent terrorism before September of 2001. People just need to read what is handed to them.

Some laws limiting sexual freedoms have been repealed in the last few years, but not all. It is illegal to sleep naked in Minnesota. Unmarried couples who live together and “lewdly associate” with one another in West Virginia may face up to a year in prison. If a man and a woman who aren’t married go to a hotel in North Carolina and register themselves as married, then, according to state law, they are legally married.

Laws that no longer apply should be cast aside to make room for the laws of the future. And if progressives don’t get their act together soon, the laws of the future could be as ridiculous as some of the laws of the past.

It’s a league game, Smokey.

Eric Vivier is a Trinity senior. His column appears every other Friday.

 

Discussion

Share and discuss “Smokey, this is not 'Nam” on social media.