>> November 17, 2009
The subterfuge fairy hath visited again.
I just read a piece by Alex Knapp at Outside The Beltway that, quoting another article, says:
"The 1,990-page length of the health reform bill is once again bringing forth demands that members of Congress be required to read the legislation before voting on it. While a seemingly reasonable demand, it is, in fact, a waste of time.
The reason becomes obvious the moment one actually reads legislative language.
For these reasons, reading an actual bill is a completely useless exercise for the vast majority of members of Congress and staff...."
Then, speaking of the article he's quoting, we are directed to "Read the whole thing, which is quite illuminating. The bottom line is that the language of a bill is generally technical and may have impacts on various pieces of existing law. If you’re a member of Congress who is not on the appropriate committee or not involved in drafting the legislation, it’s not necessary to read it. The legal language is there to ensure that particular policies get enacted. The important thing is that the members understand the policy, not the technical legal language." ~ emphasis mine
Read the whole thing?! What? Do as I say, not as your congress do?
If I take this idea further, I could extrapolate that we might be too stupid to understand the article to which we are being referred. Therefore, we should just take Alex's word for it that said article tells us what we need to know and sends us to bed with a warm glass of milk, assured once more that our blessed government is doing all it can for our safety and security. Thus, our lawmaker, equally assured, can say "Why would I need to read it? I'll just move on and vote a hearty AYE!" Pass the bill and sign it. No need to understand anything. Pay no attention to the man behind the curtain.
What a load of dung.
Lawmakers should be able to understand what they are voting on. This is not too much to ask. If the language is too tough, let's simplify the language or elect new lawmakers! The halls of Congress have for too long been haunted by language abusing lawyers wedding glorious matrimonies of insidious carnage and passing it off as beneficial legislation. The honeymoon is over.
Thomas Jefferson had a few choice words on the language of lawyers ~ "which from their verbosity, their endless tautologies, their involutions of case within case, and parenthesis within parenthesis, and their multiplied efforts at certainty by saids and aforesaids, by ors and by ands, to make them more plain, do really render them more perplexed and incomprehensible, not only to common readers, but to lawyers themselves."
United States Judge and judicial philosopher Learned Hand wrote: "The language of law must not be foreign to the ears of those who are to obey it."
That being said, here is a link to the actual article. I refer you to this to get you to the comments section, where the real beat-down is happening. Scroll down for some actual acumen.
More info at: Peter Tiersma, The Plain English Movement