Brevity=Wit Entry #16

March 22nd, 2010 by Wordsman

This week on Brevity=Wit we return to where we began, a realm that has not been touched in this segment since that very first entry (unless you count Brutus’ and Antony’s speeches in Julius Caesar): the world of politics.

The excessive length of the Gettysburg Address has, I feel, already been conclusively demonstrated here.  But we must remember that that was a speech, a situation in which I can conceive of tactics that could allow the speaker to maintain an audience’s attention beyond a reasonable character limit.  Where brevity is far, far more important is in political documents.

I think the framers started things off right . . . eventually (let’s not forget the good old Articles of Confederation).  They decided to begin their all-important Constitution of the United States not with a long-winded essay, not with a lengthy paragraph, but with a single sentence.  And that sentence goes a little something like this:

“We the People of the United States, in Order to form a more perfect Union, establish Justice, insure domestic Tranquility, provide for the c”

Now that is just sad.  A measly one-sentence preamble, and they can’t even keep it short and sweet.  No wonder there are so many arguments about what the Constitution means; people get so bored right off the bat that they never bother to actually read it.  Or maybe that’s why it works.  Political science has never been my strong point.

Either way, this preamble could really use a little help.  First off, they should have done the whole thing in reverse.  By starting off with the reasons, they never get a chance to actually say what they’re doing.  We don’t know what this document is.  A constitution?  James Madison’s list of things he would do if he were King of America?  Roger Sherman’s notes from Civics class?  All we’re left with is the enigmatic statement, “provide for the c.”  “C” could stand for something sensible, like “common defence[sic],” but we’ve all read about those silly old laws that were put on the books two hundred years ago and never taken off.  For all we know they could be providing for the consumption of duck only on alternating Thursdays or the castigation of Freemasons.

Let’s just clear this whole thing up right now:

“This Constitution is for cooperation, due process, peace, protection, prosperity and freedom for the people of the United States of America.”

There may be seven articles (including twenty-one sections) and twenty-seven amendments to the U.S. Constitution, but at least we can keep this one section brief.

Posted in Brevity=Wit | 3 Comments »

3 Responses

  1. A Fan Says:

    This just proves my point that you should think about going to law school.

  2. Shirley Says:

    Could comment#1 just possibly come from your father?

  3. Gramma F Says:

    But what’s the story on that second amendment?

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