We started nothing

 Politics and other mistakes
By AL DIAMON  |  January 21, 2009

The first thing you have to understand about how the Maine Legislature works is:

It doesn't.

And it isn't supposed to.

If it did and it was, legislators would pass even more boneheaded laws. Fortunately, the drafters of our state's Constitution were aware some 189 years ago of the tendency of alleged representatives of the popular will to demonstrate their commitment to the public welfare by overtaxing, over-regulating, and overcoming the restraints of common sense. To limit the potential damage from their elected leaders' susceptibility to stupidity, redundancy, and meddlesomeness, our founders wisely inserted clauses in our fundamental law that make it difficult for them to do much of anything.

For instance, buried in the language of Article IX, Section 4, Locker 3A, Deposit Box M-109C is this sentence:

"Notwithstanding any other provisions of this Constitution, the Legislature shall never approve nor the Governor sign into law any bill, resolve, or expression of sentiment sponsored by clunkheads like Democratic state Representative Alan Casavant of Biddeford."

For many years, constitutional scholars debated the meaning of this passage, since neither Democrats nor Alan Casavant had been invented yet. The general consensus was that the authors of this great document had been engaging in a practice defined by the legal term "screwing off after having a few too many at Ye Olde Ale House."

Only in the 21st century can we see the wisdom that resided beneath those powdered wigs and lice-riddled scalps. For in 2009, the aforementioned Casavant introduced a measure titled "An Act to Prohibit the Force-feeding of Birds."

Until now, it had never occurred to me to force-feed a bird. But faced with the possible loss of my God-given right to do so, I raced into the yard, grabbed a handful of sunflower seeds and jammed them down the throat of the nearest sparrow.

It felt good to live in a free country.

More so for me than the sparrow, who showed a distinct lack of appreciation for such an unfettered display of liberty.

It was only later that I discovered Casavant's bill is actually intended to prevent the production of foie gras, which is a gunk-like substance sold in expensive restaurants and served at the point in a meal when less refined diners normally open their second beer and a can of mixed nuts. Foie gras results from force-feeding geese, causing their internal organs to get all weird. You can't make it using sparrows and sunflower seeds. Although engaging in forcing the latter into the former still might cause you to run afoul (or is that — heh heh — "a fowl") of the law.

Nowhere in the proposed legislation does it explain why those who object to this practice (many of them, no doubt, geese) could not achieve their objective simply by refusing to purchase foie gras and boycotting establishments that sell it. This method has already proved effective in keeping menus in Maine free of roast tenderloin of dog or braised cat chops in a garlic-cream reduction.

The new Legislature will also have to confront a bill that conflicts with the constitutional provision found in Meat Locker 3, Compartment Y2K, Package X and which reads, "What is it with those people from Biddeford, anyway?" Democratic state Representative Paulette Beaudoin of that city has introduced legislation titled "An Act to Amend the Laws Regarding Public Rest Rooms," which prohibits the force-feeding of birds in bathrooms.

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