Monday, March 27, 2006

The Constitution's Obsolete

By Jim Glover

I was surprised to learn today that the Constitution no longer applies at the local level. Apparently Carbondale, Illinois’s City Manager, Jeff Doherty, now has the power to tell city employees who they may speak with, and on what topics. (He recently ordered them all not to talk with DAILY EGYPTIAN reporters.)

I would have thought this would conflict with a certain Constitutional amendment having to do with the right to free speech. But apparently not.

It may be that Doherty is merely trying to keep up with trends. After all, on the Federal level, the Constitution is clearly no longer of any relevance whatever. U.S. citizens such as Jose Padilla may be imprisoned for three years (and counting) without being told what they are charged with. Congress no longer decides when the nation will go to war, but abdicates that decision to one person. And the President, through an innovative approach to legislative “signing statements,” decides for himself which parts of laws he will bother abiding by.

At the State level, we find that government secrecy is all the rage. SIUC recently had no obligation to account for how it spent a nice chunk of cash searching for a President. This was okay, we were told, because such secrecy has become “common practice” at many state universities.

I remember using the “common practice” argument once with me dear Mum. The issue was inhaling smoke from some kind of rolled-up leaves. She then impressed upon me the flaw in my argument. I mistakenly assumed that most others had learned a similar lesson by seventh grade or so.

But complainers should offer solutions. Here’s mine. Let’s stop wasting time and resources teaching the Constitution in schools and colleges. It is no longer relevant, and even if it was, few citizens seem to have the courage to disobey those who abuse it.

We could retrain Constitutional teachers and scholars to teach more important job skills, like predatory capitalism, concentration camp management, and hostile interrogation. We’re going to need a lot more of that.

Jim Glover
202 N. Parrish Lane
Carbondale, IL 62901
618-549-4385 (home)
618-453-4331 (work)