Commentary

Snow: On making laws and sausage

June 1, 2013 

I’ve forgotten who said making laws is much like making sausage. I’ve observed both. Neither is pretty.

Generally, from my experience as a reporter, lawmaking is a bit boring.

Whatever your politics, though, you can’t say that about the current GOP-dominated legislature. It’s been anything but dull.

Its notoriety has been boosted this year by the Moral Monday demonstrations that have attracted national attention and further polarized the state’s citizenry.

Barbara Parramore, longtime friend and educator, recently participated in the protests. She said doing so was not a frivolous gesture by a woman who had nothing better to do.

“Forty years as a teacher and administrator gives me the right as well as duty to advise our lawmakers about their work,” she said.

Her courage of conviction earned her, among the positives, some discomfort and considerable loss of sleep. She was handcuffed, put on a prison bus along with 57 others, and escorted to the city’s detention center by police cars with sirens wailing. Fingerprinted, photographed and booked – along with run-of-the-mill alleged lawbreakers from across the city – the process was time-consuming: She reached home at 3 a.m.

Whatever good the legislature accomplishes may be overshadowed by some of its unorthodox proposals, such as one that would have declared an official state religion.

Creating a state religion isn’t the same as establishing the dogwood as the state flower, the box turtle as the state reptile or the squirrel as the state mammal. Fortunately, wiser heads prevailed in killing the religion bill.

The much-revered president John Adams spake a parable when he said in the long ago:

“In my many years I have come to a conclusion that one useless man is a shame, two is a law firm, and three or more is a congress.”

At times, that can be said of almost any lawmaking body.

Why do they go?

There seems to be no end of responses to the recent column on boring baseball. Ken Thom of Carrboro makes an interesting point.

“My wife and I attend about a dozen Durham Bulls games each season. I’ve noted, and commented to friends of how few people actually watch the game, I’d estimate about 20 percent. The other 80 percent are busy conversing with friends, texting, talking on their phones, eating, and keeping their children from being too disruptive.

“The only time they look up at the game is upon hearing a loud crack of ball hitting bat, and if that isn’t a home run, it’s a disappointment. Fielding positions, base stealing, hitting behind the batter, taking the extra base, double plays, bunts, squeeze plays, cut offs, etc, are all foreign concepts to most.

“But, if the crowd begins doing the Wave, suddenly 80 percent are involved. There may be a business opportunity in building a stadium where people go only to do the Wave.”

And now a crow

I have mentioned my grandmother’s favorite expression when she was beset by problem after problem: “First a wasp and then a bee!”

Well, for serious birdwatchers, it’s “first a squirrel, then a crow.”

For the first time ever, I’m plagued by crows. These are not the kind of crows I grew up with on the farm. These are the size of chickens and afraid of nothing as they raid my feeding stations.

They are smart as well as arrogant. And insulting.

When my wife crumbles her tasty day-old biscuits on the window sill for our birds, the crow sails in, seizes a piece, flies to the nearby bird bath and carefully soaks it twice before gulping it down.

Advice

This bit of Solomonic wisdom came from one of those day-by-day calendars: found in a downstairs file cabinet:

“When you’re buying a used car, do so with the same caution that a naked man, blindfolded, would use climbing a barbed wire fence.”

Snow: 919-836-5636 or asnow@newsobserver.com

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