The law is an ass


The law is an ass - by P.K. Odendaal - July 2106

We all know this adage, but do we know its ramifications?
One of its most basic corollaries is: people who are agents or protectors of the law are also asses - or in the words of Dogberry (from Shakespeare): But, masters, remember that I am an ass; though it be not written down, yet forget not that I am an ass.
Ask me ... I am a perennial prey to the whims and even brutal treatment of border or customs police, my eternal nemesis, much more than I am despised by fashion police, though I am well known for dressing incorrectly, ridiculously incorrectly. Me? ... the epitome of a peace and law abiding member of planet Earth! And all this despite the fact that I am not black, a faction bearing even a bigger burden of proving their innocence today than I have to.
However, this subject is so politically and emotionally loaded, that I have decided to go use satire and parody, a well known antidote to reality, to teach the Yanks a more subtle form of castigation and diplomacy - that of the British - an idea very alien and vulgar to their senses and thoughts and something they abhor, but nonetheless inspiring to us.
The first is a piece from Shakespeare's 'Much ado about Nothing' and the second from a Gilbert Sullivan comic opera, which is so apt and applicable to the actions of the Yanks.
Shakespeare:

Dogberry:
Are you good men and true?

Verges:
Yea, or else it were pity but they should suffer salvation, body and soul.

Dogberry:
Nay, that were a punishment too good for them, it they should have any allegiance in them, being chosen for the prince's watch.

Verges:
Well, give them their charge, neighbour Dogberry.

Dogberry:
First, who think you the most desertless man to be constable?

First watchman:
Hugh Oatcake, sir, or George Seacole; for they can write and read.

Dogberry:
Come hither, neighbour Seacole. God has blessed you with a good name; to be a well-favoured man is the gift of fortune; but to read and write comes by nature.

Second watchman:
Both which, master constable, ...

Dogberry:
You have; I knew it would be your answer. Well, for your favour, sir, why, give God thanks, and make no boast of it; and for your writing and reading, let that appear when there is no need of such vanity. You are thought here to be the most senseless and fit man for the constable of the watch; therefore bear you the lantern. This is your charge: you shall comprehend all vagrom men; you are to bid any man stand, in the prince's name.

Second watchman:
How if a' will not stand?

Dogberry:
Why, then, take no note of him, but let him go; and presently call the rest of the watch together and thank God you are rid of a knave.

Verges:
If he will not stand when he is bidden, he is none of the prince's subjects.

Dogberry:
True, and they are to meddle with none but the price's subjects. You shall also make no noise in the streets; for, for the watch to babble and to talk is most tolerable and not to be endured.

Watchman:
We will rather sleep than talk; we know what belongs to the watch.

Dogberry:
Why, you speak like an ancient and most quiet watchman; for I cannot see how sleeping should offend; only, have a care that your bills be not stolen. Well, you are to call at the ale-houses, and bid those that are drunk get them to bed.

Watchman:
How if they will not go?

Dogberry:
Why, then, let them alone till they are sober; if they make you not then the better answer, you may say they are not the men you took them for.

Watchman:
Well, sir.

Dogberry:
If you meet a thief, you may suspect him, by virtue of your office, to be no true man; and, for such kind of men, the less you meddle or make with them, why the more is for your honesty.

Watchman:
If we know him to be a thief, shall we not lay hands on him?

Dogberry:
Truly, by your office, you may; but I think they that touch pitch will be defiled; the most peaceable way for you, if you do take a thief, is to let him show himself who he is and steal out of your company.

Verges:
You have been always called a merciful man, partner.

Dogberry:
Truly, I would not hang a dog by my will, much more a man who hath any honesty in him.

Verges:
If you hear a child cry in the night, you must call to the nurse and bid her still it.

Watchman:
How if the nurse be asleep and will not hear us?

Dogberry:
Why, then, depart in peace, and let the child wake her by crying; the ewe that will not hear her lamb when it baes will never answer a calf when he bleats.

Verges:
'Tis very true.

Dogberry:
That is the end of your charge; ... you, constable, are to present the prince's own person; if you meet the price in the night, you may stay him.

Verges:
Nay, by'r our lady, that I think a' cannot.

Dogberry:
Five shillings to one on't, with any man that knows the statutes, he may stay him; marry, not without the prince be willing; for, indeed, the watch ought to offend no man; and it is an offence to stay a man against his will.


The next piece is from the comic opera Pirates of Penzance:
When a felon's not engaged in his employment
Or maturing his felonious little plan
His capacity for innocent enjoyment
Is just as great as any honest man
 
Our feelings we with difficulty smother
When constabulary duties to be done
Taking one consideration with another
A policeman's lot is not a happy one
When constabulary duties to be done, to be done
A policeman's lot is not a happy one

 
When the enterprising burglar's not a-burgling
When the cutthroat isn't occupied in crime
He loves to hear the little brook a-gurgling
And listen to the merry village chime
When the coster's finished jumping on his mother
He loves to lie a-basking in the sun

 
Taking one consideration with another
A policeman's lot is not a happy one
When constabulary duties to be done, to be done
A policeman's lot is not a happy one


When the drunkard shows no sign of where the drink went
He nobly bids all alchohol farewell
When the juvenile delinquent to the clink went
He hung his mother's picture in his cell
When the cardshark's finished wiping out his brother
He buys a rattle for his little son


Taking one consideration with another
A policeman's lot is not a happy one
When constabulary duties to be done, to be done
A policeman's lot is not a happy one
 

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