Friday, February 23, 2007

The asylum's constitution

George Smitherman and Deb Matthews yuk it up
Article II, Section I, paragraph 6 of the New Jersey Constitution submits that:

No idiot or insane person shall enjoy the right of suffrage.
However, idiots and insane persons shall hold elected office, in this and every other jurisdiction (see right). Jonathan Wilde observes in Catallarchy that the New Jersey State Senate wants voters to amend the language of the paragraph out of concern that it is "insensitive and discriminatory." Idiots and insane persons will no doubt be pleased, but the whole point of the provision in the first place, and rightly so, is to discriminate on the point of suffrage. Its only failure would at first appear to be that it does not clearly define idiocy or insanity, but this is really only a failure by the modern standard of sensitivity that declines to confront anything in, on or by such direct terms. Making a constitution more sensitive will hardly improve on this circumstance. Sensitivity is not the provenance nor purpose of a constitution — the effect of political rhetoric in the service of popular sentimentality will more likely be to ultimately desensitize citizens to political interpretations of their constitutions.

1 Comment:

Anonymous said...

Ever wonder why participation in a democracy is called "suffrage"? Go look at your last pay stub.