Friday, May 28, 2010

In Reply: Read The Bill!!

In reply to the following comment:
oh lay- I can't speak for Marisa, but I've read the bill several times. No need for all the exclamation marks.

That said, I think the calls for everyone to "read the bill" are pretty silly.

Politicians have legislative aids to read bills and distill the information for them; to read every piece of legislation would not only be a waste of time, it just wouldn't be possible.

Furthermore, I've seen some commenters tell other blog readers that they should also "read the bill."

As Pat Young pointed out in another comment, how many supporters/opponents of the health reform package actually read that bill?

That's why we need journalists and legislative policy experts: to read, research, and distill info for the public.
- longislandwins (author) - Public Support for Ariz. Immigration Law Traced to Fear-Based Advertising : Long Island Wins (blog)

Sorry to once again be contrary, but I'm all for "reading the bill," whether one is a politician, a member of the media, or a voter.

It's true that it would be damned near impossible to have every politician read every word of every bill on which s/he is required to vote. Nevertheless, their job description makes them responsible for being aware of every word and meaning they vote for or against, and I believe every voter ought to hold their government representatives responsible for doing their jobs, so they ought to read the most salient points, and have a good staff to go through every word with a fine tooth comb and point out the most important parts for 'em. (I also support having all proposed federal legislation posted online--where our reps, the media, and we voters can read it--for a minimum of three full days (72 hours) before our Senators or House Representatives can vote on final passage.)

While I'm all for having the media go through and "dumb down" legislation for those of us who ain't lawyers and politicians, I'm certainly not opposed to our trying to read them ourselves, as well... With all respect due lawyers and media folks, I'd rather try to read primary sources and fail than simply rely on "experts" to tell me what those primary sources say, through the lens of their own biases and slants.

I'm neither naive or egotistical enough to believe that I don't need anyone's help when it comes to understanding complex proposed legislation and laws, but it strikes me as a bad idea for us to leave ourselves beholden to the mercies of "experts" when it comes to how we govern ourselves.

The last thing that reading proposed legislation is is a waste of time... The legislators that we elect--and more importantly us, because we put those legislators there--are responsible for every law "we" create and repeal, and having as many folks as possible reading 'em before enacting or repealing them is the very least we should require of "ourselves."

As far as SB 1070 in particular, the dang thing is a few pages long, and not especially complicated. Everyone discussing it, for or against, certainly ought to read it before doing so. (I'm damned embarrassed that so many folks on my side of the aisle took more time to talk about it than they took to look it over. Talk about a waste of time...)

That said, the words of 1070--which do forbid profiling and bigotry, and random stops on the street--are never going to be enforced in a vacuum. "Lawful contact" and "reasonable suspicion" are whatever an officer says they are, and I've no doubt that, should 1070 withstand judicial scrutiny, "loitering" and "reasonable suspicion based on arrestee making a 'furtive movement'" -- like "watching the sector car too closely as it drove past," or "intentionally NOT looking at the sector car as it drove past;" "shoving hands in pockets, as though hiding something," or "removing hands from pockets, as though dropping something" --will become high growth "crimes" in AZ.

In short, there's what the new law says on paper, and then there's what it means out in the real world.
Posted 5/28/10, at 3:17 PM (No comment links)

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