Archive for June, 2010

The Rule Book #1

Wednesday, June 9th, 2010

The Rule Book:

Let’s dream and imagine the Vikings are matched up against the Patriots in some future Super Bowl in Minneapolis. We all know that a team has four downs to get 10 yards in order to keep possession of the ball and that a field goal is worth 3 points and a touchdown is worth 6 points.

But here’s two plays refs might have to make calls on. What penalty does a “roughing the passer” flag result in? Or, what if a pass receiver catches the ball while resting on top of the defender who is already on the ground with one foot out-of-bounds? Then the receiver gets up by touching the ground only with his hand and runs into the end zone. Does this second play result in a touchdown or is it a completed pass that can’t be advanced or is the pass catcher considered out-of-bounds by extension through the defender’s body who is already on the ground with one foot out-of-bounds and therefore it is an incomplete pass? Some may know the answers about these two plays right off, but I’d feel safer looking it up in the rule book.

So, getting back to the Vikings in a future Super Bowl, what if just before the coin toss, the head official called the coaching staffs, captains and quarterbacks from each team out to the middle of the field and did the following? He pulled out his own “rule book” and ripped out page 11, the other side of which was page 12, then tore out pages 33 and 34? What if he then announced that the rules of this game would be based on what was left in his rule book. Well, that would be absurd! Of course, the game would not just be chaos with one fist-fight argument after another, the game would be destroyed.

It shouldn’t take long for it to become evident to most fans that the game doesn’t exist independent of the rule book, the rule book “IS” the game. Without that rule book, there is no game. Something might happen on the field, but it wouldn’t be a football game.

There is another “rule book” that is immeasurably more important than the football rule book. I’m referring to the U.S. Constitution which I think is the most important document ever written.

Our Constitution was written over 200 years ago and has been amended 27 times. The first 10 amendments are grouped together in a block known as our “Bill of Rights.” Our Constitution is the rule book for our society and without it our beloved America will slip into chaos. Regrettably, I think I see indications that we are slipping in the wrong direction in too many areas already but maybe it’s not too late.

To begin with, it is essential to understand that our Constitution may need to be amended again in the future. But it is also essential to understand that the amendment process does not include just ignoring parts of the Constitution or pretending some passage indicates something contrary to the plain language used nor does it include acquiescing when members of either the Legislative, Executive or Judicial branches of government exceed their authority or shirk their responsibilities as delineated in the Constitution. Furthermore, the methods of amending the Constitution are spelled out precisely right in Article V of the Constitution itself.

We, as citizens, have allowed our country to develop some bad habits by disregarding our Constitution. So, in addition to recommending that all citizens read the Constitution (it’s less than 7500 words long including the 27 amendments) I think it is important to know that every time someone from the U. S. Congress (House or Senate) starts a new term, they participate, as a group, in a “swearing-in” ceremony during which they swear and solemnly pledge that they will support this Constitution. This pledge is mandated in Article VI, paragraph (3) of our Constitution and the current oath goes as follows:

“I do solemnly swear (or affirm) that I will support and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign and domestic; that I will bear true faith and allegiance to the same; that I take this obligation freely, without any mental reservation or purpose of evasion; and that I will well and faithfully discharge the duties of the office on which I am about to enter.”

This oath is not ambiguous and getting sworn in is not a perfunctory recitation done while texting your buddies about meeting for a beer afterwards.

At this time, I wish to remind the next bunch of congressional hopefuls that after the election, the winners will be taking the oath to support and defend our constitution. As well, in upcoming essays, I will be asking all the winners to declare that they will vigorously work to ameliorate a specific pestilence that is wrecking our nation and whose very existence is contradictory to our Constitution and has shamefully resulted in the enslavement of the populace by a handful of people for over a hundred years. Its time this problem gets fixed! Stay tuned.

Ken Kollodge