FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail

Levity on the Right

Among animals, one  has a sense of humor.

— Marianne Moore, The Pangolin

It is always refreshing when folks who are charged with dealing with really serious subject matter bring a note of levity into the proceedings so people don’t get too depressed.  Of course, sometimes the levity may seem out of place but that is a reflection on the observer and not the speaker.  The observer should not take things so seriously.  Two examples were offered last week, one in the United States Supreme Court and the other in a meeting of the House Judiciary Committee.

For the first three days of the week of March 25, 2012,  the United States Supreme Court considered the constitutionality of legislation enacted in 2010 commonly known as “Obamacare”.   Although the Court has many questions to answer in considering the question, the central issue is whether a law that compels individuals to buy health insurance is constitutional.  In 2010, roughly fifty one million Americans were without health insurance.   In 2011, the number had gone up to approximately fifty two million.   Once Obamacare is fully implemented it is anticipated the number of people without health insurance will drop to 26 million.  If that part of the law is unconstitutional questions will arise as to whether other parts of the law, such as requiring insurance companies to insure those with “pre-existing” conditions,  are also unconstitutional. (Houston Tracy can tell you about that.    He was born March 15, 2010 with a defect in his arteries and needed immediate  corrective surgery.   Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Texas explained to his parents that newborn Houston had a pre-existing condition and was not insured under their policy. After news of Houston’s condition spread around the world and people had time to mock Blue Cross’s crabbed approach,  Blue Cross  added Houston  to his parents’ policy.)  The foregoing shows how terribly serious the discussion in the Supreme Court was and puts in perspective the really funny thing  Justice Tony Scalia said in trying to explain why forcing people to buy health insurance was bad.

Justice Scalia likened requiring people to buy insurance so that more Americans could have health coverage to a requirement that people buy broccoli.  It is unlikely that the Justice was thinking of President George H.W. Bush who famously once said he disliked broccoli.  It was simply a really clever way of getting a few laughs and getting everyone to think that forcing people to buy broccoli was the same as forcing people to buy health care.  It was a really funny comparison and everyone enjoyed the moment of levity it produced. Justice Scalia is reputedly a very funny man and this is just one of those rare moments when we all get to enjoy it.  Justice Scalia was not the only  person to introduce levity into a serious matter.  Representative  Lamar Smith (R-TX) was another.

Just as the Supreme Court hearings were drawing to a close, the House Judiciary Committee, chaired by Rep. Smith, began an oversight hearing to review the administration’s policy with respect to the detention of undocumented immigrants. He named the hearing  “Holiday on ICE” after the popular ice-skating group of that name that tours the world and features really good  ice skaters.   By picking up that name Rep. Smith showed a whimsical streak not always associated with Republican legislators.  The matter the Judiciary Committee was considering had nothing to do with ice-skating but with immigrants who have often been subject to horrific abuse while in the custody of ICE. (U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement.)  Those descriptions of abuse are documented in numerous places including an October 19, 2011 Front Line Report and a 2011 report by the Arizona ACLU.

The hearings coincided with the opening of two new ICE facilities and the issuance of a new detention manual addressing the treatment of detainees.  Lamar Smith, chairman of the Committee  said the manual “reads more like a hospitality guideline for illegal immigrants.”  He also complained that the new facilities were a waste of taxpayer dollars although they were paid for by the company operating them as Rep. Zoe Lofgren (D-CA)pointed out.  She also said she was “deeply disappointed” that her colleagues referred to the Judiciary Committee hearing as a Holiday on Ice.  She said that “immigrants are people who deserve respect by virtue of our common humanity.  They deserve not to be raped.  Not to be tortured, whether through physical or mental abuse or through gross medical neglect.  They deserve not to be shackled when they give birth.”

Rep. Steve King of (R-IA) disagreed saying:  “I can’t think of a more descriptive name for the hearings.  I thought it was right on point. . . . All they need to do to avoid that ‘holiday on ICE’ is put themselves back in the condition they were in before, which is go to their home country.”

The only thing the committee could have done that would have made things more amusing would have been to announce that on a date certain every illegal immigrant in detention would be forced to eat a plate full of broccoli.  That would have been really funny.

Christopher Brauchli can be emailed at brauchli.56@post.harvard.edu.

More articles by:
Weekend Edition
August 17, 2018
Friday - Sunday
Daniel Wolff
The Aretha Dialogue
Nick Pemberton
Donald Trump and the Rise of Patriotism 
Joseph Natoli
First Amendment Rights and the Court of Popular Opinion
Andrew Levine
Midterms 2018: What’s There to Hope For?
Robert Hunziker
Hothouse Earth
Jeffrey St. Clair
Roaming Charges: Running Out of Fools
Ajamu Baraka
Opposing Bipartisan Warmongering is Defending Human Rights of the Poor and Working Class
Paul Street
Corporate Media: the Enemy of the People
David Macaray
Trump and the Sex Tape
CJ Hopkins
Where Have All the Nazis Gone?
Daniel Falcone
The Future of NATO: an Interview With Richard Falk
Cesar Chelala
The Historic Responsibility of the Catholic Church
Ron Jacobs
The Barbarism of US Immigration Policy
Kenneth Surin
In Shanghai
William Camacaro - Frederick B. Mills
The Military Option Against Venezuela in the “Year of the Americas”
Nancy Kurshan
The Whole World Was Watching: Chicago ’68, Revisited
Robert Fantina
Yemeni and Palestinian Children
Alexandra Isfahani-Hammond
Orcas and Other-Than-Human Grief
Shoshana Fine – Thomas Lindemann
Migrants Deaths: European Democracies and the Right to Not Protect?
Paul Edwards
Totally Irrusianal
Thomas Knapp
Murphy’s Law: Big Tech Must Serve as Censorship Subcontractors
Mark Ashwill
More Demons Unleashed After Fulbright University Vietnam Official Drops Rhetorical Bombshells
Ralph Nader
Going Fundamental Eludes Congressional Progressives
Hans-Armin Ohlmann
My Longest Day: How World War II Ended for My Family
Matthew Funke
The Nordic Countries Aren’t Socialist
Daniel Warner
Tiger Woods, Donald Trump and Crime and Punishment
Dave Lindorff
Mainstream Media Hypocrisy on Display
Jeff Cohen
Democrats Gather in Chicago: Elite Party or Party of the People?
Victor Grossman
Stand Up With New Hope in Germany?
Christopher Brauchli
A Family Affair
Jill Richardson
Profiting From Poison
Patrick Bobilin
Moving the Margins
Alison Barros
Dear White American
Celia Bottger
If Ireland Can Reject Fossil Fuels, Your Town Can Too
Ian Scott Horst
Less Voting, More Revolution
Peter Certo
Trump Snubbed McCain, Then the Media Snubbed the Rest of Us
Dan Ritzman
Drilling ANWR: One of Our Last Links to the Wild World is in Danger
Brandon Do
The World and Palestine, Palestine and the World
Chris Wright
An Updated and Improved Marxism
Daryan Rezazad
Iran and the Doomsday Machine
Patrick Bond
Africa’s Pioneering Marxist Political Economist, Samir Amin (1931-2018)
Louis Proyect
Memoir From the Underground
Binoy Kampmark
Meaningless Titles and Liveable Cities: Melbourne Loses to Vienna
Andrew Stewart
Blackkklansman: Spike Lee Delivers a Masterpiece
Elizabeth Lennard
Alan Chadwick in the Budding Grove: Story Summary for a Documentary Film
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail