Sunday, February 28, 2010

The California Verbal Morality Statute In Real Life - It's A Brave New World, Demolition Man!

You cannot caricaturize California. You can anticipate their absurdity, but you cannot surpass it. No spoof, no satire, no intended exaggeration can succeed - anything you come up with in your wildest imagination they will beat for ridiculousness in real life. If they haven't done it yet, just give them time - they'll catch up.

In the 1993 movie Demolition Man, Sylvester Stallone portrayed a 20th century cop, John Spartan, thawed out in the 21st century from the cryogenic freeze he was placed in as the penalty he had to pay for he murders with which he was framed by the villain Simon Phoenix (Wesley Snipes) who he captured. Phoenix is thawed out early, and the 21st century police are ill-equipped to deal with him, so they parole and reinstate Spartan to re-capture him. By this point, in California, everything is illegal, from alcohol and cigarrettes to caffiene and chocolate. "Abortion is illegal, but then again, so is pregnancy if you don't have a license." Cursing is against the law, a violation of the Verbal Morality Statute.

Now cursing is illegal in real life. In Pasadena - in fact, in Los Angeles, where Demolition Man was set - they have enacted a No Cussing Week. It's only a week, and there are no fines, so no tickets to use for toilet paper. The law is purely didactic, not punitive.

I am torn. It would be nice if people who curse in public would clean up their act, and such use of language out in the open is quite as offensive and polluting of the social air as playing a radio too loud. Furthermore, a week isn't a long time. Nevertheless, I get nervous when dystopian fantasies become fulfilled prophecies. I resent such encroachments of the Nanny State, and even when they have a good idea, I am inclined to forgo it. The price of such progressive reforms is the momentum it lends to progressivism. Give them an inch, they take a light year. Now that profanity is illegal, give them time, and public prayer, instead of being sacred, will be considered profane - too offensive to be allowed in decent society. Trust me - the Lord's Prayer will be classified as hate speech. We will live to see it.