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What Would Shelley Do?

The Black and Blue Laws

by KATHLEEN WALLACE

He said absolutely gorgeous things during his short life, including:

Rise like Lions after slumber
In unvanquishable number,
Shake your chains to earth like dew
Which in sleep had fallen on you-
Ye are many — they are few

An abrupt storm tipped his boat right before his 30th birthday. But his friends had a great beach party after finding his corpse, and they roasted his body in a giant bonfire. They kept some pieces to remember all the good times. Festive times with Percy Bysshe Shelley, that is—his bones, those pieces. A little weird, but you know, poets and all.

Pieces to recall, his words as well as a skull, femurs, this and that. The things we all leave behind. The solid and the soft. Always opposite forces at work on all of us, some to wake, some to bring darkness. While I consider his beautiful words…..

Those making laws, the noxious few, have been very busy. Laws are being introduced that have obvious malicious intent and could bring about quite a bit in the way of physical and emotional harm. In my region of the North American continent, HB 2699 has been introduced to allow and broaden the ability of school officials to hit children hard enough to redden, or bruise. And they figure 10 hits is fine. But with parental permission, of course, in the event of student misbehavior. Such fortunate children who would have parents willing to sign over and encourage this—truly they must care. We need more violence, and what better place to encourage this than in the school? Perhaps we can allow for spiral fractures in the event of truly terrible behavior. Thankfully I don’t even know any teachers who would want this. But I’m old enough to remember standing in line outside after recess in the 70’s in Missouri and being too scared to move in line even though the girl in front of me had her hair blowing in my face. I was that scared of being hit by a teacher (because she did hit). Some would say, great—that’s how it should be, the world runs on fear. So many damaged adults who figure if they made it through the hazing, it should be done forever.

I’m constantly amazed that those who give the most rhetoric towards not trusting the government or agencies such as public schools gladly cede to them in matters such as…..death penalties and hitting children. What a bizarre duality going on in their heads. Do flecks of rust substitute for neurotransmitters when such thought processes rule? To trust them with intangibles such as life and body, but not so much with money? At least be consistent and view them with skepticism in all things.

Another, mangled ass idea….HB 2453 wants to allow religious businesses to be able to deny service to same sex couples. Because, of course—this sort of thing happens all the time. You’re trying to politely service straight customers needing whipping sticks yesterday and then some fancy hoodlums show up doing gay sex right in your store’s entryway. How many times does this need to happen before we can get a law in place?

Actually I think that one was in response to a bakery that didn’t want to have to use two grooms or two brides on a cake because it would wreck inventory, thus their religious beliefs. I’m just sure I heard that from someplace reputable like maybe a tv.  A law isn’t needed, just an equal number of gay wedding cake orders. The answer isn’t hate, it’s equality.

Okay, another from my area, on the wedding theme. I don’t know that it is a true call to the dark side, but it is pretty fucking stupid.  A bill has been introduced here in Kansas to get rid of no-fault divorce, meaning people need to get really mean to get it done. With no concern about increased tensions in an already bad situation, I suppose you can always beat the kids if they get too wigged out by the hostilities. But of course, the answer is to stay married, the purpose of the bill. I disagree and think a divorce should be granted simply by playing “You Don’t Know  Me” from Ben Folds, and if you are a woman you can sing the nifty, breathy Regina Spektor part. Make the best of it, like a beach party with a burnt dead guy. Been married 10 years, then play it 10 times. But some Kansas lawmakers disagree. These are the fellows who want government out of clean water requirements, but want government in your genitals, because they are kind of perverts, and they don’t like clean water. I guess the notion of free-will associations in life without contracts are just plain filthy to them. People might want to leave if unhappy and not properly shackled. Life needs to be about layers of fencing, in every possible way and they glory in it.

But it’s not just the middle of the US coming up with shifty and awful laws. This was a stand-out mentioned last week during some very cold weather. In Pensacola, Florida there is an ordinance which disallows the homeless to use blankets to keep warm; it’s too close to “camping”. So those without homes, stuck outside, aren’t to cover up. During the terrible weather some considered the hostile consequences of such a cruel law. But the mayor said “after reflecting and praying on this issue,”  he was okay with the ordinance as it stood.

You may be dizzy, wondering what all of this has to do with Percy Bysshe Shelley. It has everything to do with Percy Bysshe Shelley. Vigorous stupidity and new schemes are introduced continuously.  I don’t want time to trick us into losing the clarity that is in the 400 different meanings packed into a small phrase such as “Shake your chains to earth like dew, which in sleep had fallen on you”.

The individuals planning these walls, these laws, are secure thinking that the sleep will continue forever. It very well might. Sadly this all could just be an exercise in changing a few of us as individuals, the larger shift being elusive. Only a liar would claim anything greater with  certainty. I’ve hoped enough in the past that I probably became a liar, saying it was completely possible that decency could amplify from act to act. I’ve settled into the mystery of it all. I know some would say that the ones above were voted in as if that clears them of the malice, but it’s a lot more complicated than that. Hell, the nice lady who introduced the spanking bill has a D by her name. It’s part of accepting the worst, never considering that it might just be our role to try and improve things rather than extract from each other. I just know that I’m not with them, those who don’t even consider the possible, or even that it might just be absurd, what we tolerate as cultural defaults. But a very small chain to shake (and a good start) would be the notion that the grizzled fools who come up with these toxic laws have any legitimate claim on us.

Kathleen Wallace writes out of the US Midwest and can be reached at klwallace@riseup.net