Tag archives: Regulations

Hare-Brained Regulators and a Rabbit Response

by Robert Morrison

July 17, 2013

Marty the Magician is the stage name of Marty Hahne. His act is primarily performed for pre-schoolers in Southern Missouri to promote reading and to encourage the tykes to make libraries a favorite home away from home. Marty the Magician has a partner in his act. It’s Casey, the female rabbit.

Marty likes to finish his act with a flourish. His stage presence, according to this story on the front page of The Washington Post, is that of “an exuberant doofus.” And Marty the Magician delights the children by pulling Casey out of his hat.

Well, Marty is not America’s only exuberant doofus; that much is clear. We apparently have entire bureaus of exuberant doofuses. One of these, from the U.S. Department of Agriculture, collared Marty during a performance at a library in Monett, Mo., back in 2005. As the children squealed in delight, the USDA-approved exuberant doofus pulled Marty over. “Where’s your license?” No, Marty, not your driver’s license, the license for your rabbit.

This was in Missouri, the “Show Me” State. And Marty had failed to show this bunny bureaucrat proper certification for his animal. The story details a lot of the occupational hazards Marty the Magician has encountered throughout his career. If the rabbit doesn’t make a mess on stage, that’s no surety that excited children won’t. He had one inebriated fellow on a cruise ship lose his lunch on the rabbit.

One of Marty’s rabbit partners was so mean that it growled. Maybe that’s the one that famously attacked President Jimmy Carter while the hapless peanut planter was whitewater rafting.

President Carter’s security detail managed to protect the commander-in-chief from the attack rabbit, but you can never be too sure. The possibility that some rabbit might escape the magic shows and endanger national security is probably why the USDA has been on bunny patrol for the past decade. The USDA has 14 pages of regulations it enforces, all dealing with rabbits.

Of course, this bunny patrol is not the same USDA unit that is responsible for enforcing rabbits-as-pie regs. If you want to slaughter your rabbit onstage, apparently, you come under an entirely different set of regs. I can see it now: “Kids, don’t try this at home.”

Now, in this age of tornadoes and hurricanes, of DHS Sec. Janet Napolitano, and other man-caused disasters, we cannot afford not to have a magic rabbit disaster plan. What will you do, Marty the Magician, if there’s a twister or earthquake while you and Casey are doing your magic hat routine?

Fortunately, Marty the Magician was able to find a friend in Kim Morgan. She writes disaster plans for a living. And she agreed to help Marty and Casey for no fee. Pro bono?

Or pro bunny?

So now, Marty the Magician and his licensed lapin, Casey, have their own 26-page federally-approved disaster plan. If anything untoward happens—Hazmat spill, flood, tornado, heat wave—during a show at Little Angels Learning Academy in Battlefield, Mo., the American public can rest assured that the USDA has covered every rabbit trail.

We are currently undergoing the rigors of the Sequester. Usually, federal bureaucrats respond to such attempts to limit spending by closing down the Washington Monument. But since that edifice is already closed down, they’ve had to endure the loss of line-dance training and draconian cuts to their Star Wars skits.

Here’s a recommendation for government cutbacks: Don’t just furlough the flop ears at USDA who handle rabbit regs, lop away whole divisions of these hare-brained regulators. When we hear the cries of pain from the Watership Down lobby, we may know we are actually cutting to the bone. Then go ahead and cut further. Don’t even leave a rabbit’s foot. That would be the appropriate rabbit response. 

P.S. President Harry Truman famously described Washington, D.C.“This is the kind of town where, if you need a friend, you should buy a dog.” Well, if you already have all the friends or dogs you need, then buy a rabbit. You’ll get your very own USDA-approved regulator.”

The Fetus and Federal Regulations

by Rob Schwarzwalder

June 21, 2011

The Code of Federal Regulations is an almost sure-fire antidote to insomnia. If boredom were a commodity, the Code would be its biggest resource.

The arcane and involved language of the Code is one reason why so few people read it. Yet within its myriad pages are the rules that govern government itself - how laws are applied, how legislation is to be understood, and even how words used in federal regulations are to be interpreted.

Some of those words are more important than others, and those that deal with the very nature of human personhood are, perhaps, the most important of all.

In the October 1, 2009 edition of the Code, we read that Fetus means the product of conception from implantation until delivery.

There we have it: an unborn child is merely the product of conception, conception itself evidently needing no interpretation (that it takes place through the sexual union of two image-bearers of God is, apparently, irrelevant).

What are we to make of this product? This collection of cells and blood and tissue stored within the veil of human flesh? Heres what David said of this product, this fetus, this creature:

When I consider Your heavens, the work of Your fingers,

The moon and the stars, which You have ordained;

What is man that You take thought of him,

And the son of man that You care for him?

Yet You have made him a little lower than God,

And You crown him with glory and majesty! (Psalm 8:3-5)

From conception onward, this fetus has all the same DNA as every reader of this piece. What are the criteria for its humanness?

Is it less human because of its size? If so, then anyone shorter than someone else is less human, as well.

Is it less human because of its development? If so, then anyone with a physical or mental disability is less human than those more physically or mentally advanced.

Is it less human because it is dependent? If so, then any child is less human than the parents on whose support she depends for food, clothing, shelter, etc.

And so it goes through whatever other comparisons can be summoned: Intelligence, appearance, etc. What changes at time of delivery, per the Federal Registry, is not the personhood of the child but his place of residence. He lives nine months within his mothers womb, and the remainder of his life outside it.

Even the term fetus, used as a medical euphemism by those unwilling to confront the unborn childs humanness, is telling if rendered honestly. Fetus is Latin for offspring or young while still in the womb. Those who persist in its usage for the purpose of dehumanizing that to which they refer cannot avoid the potency of language itself.

Sometimes euphemisms have their place. Saying that someone is all foam, no root beer is a pleasing way of conveying that the individual referenced is full of talk but has no substance or seriousness. Yet language, however we might use it to obscure, can never fully hide that which it described.

To this point, the German theologian Dietrich Bonhoeffer, in his landmark work Ethics, wrote,

Destruction of the embryo in the mother’s womb is a violation of the right to live which God has bestowed upon this nascent life. To raise the question whether we are here concerned already with a human being or not is merely to confuse the issue. The simple fact is that God certainly intended to create a human being and that this nascent human being has been deliberately deprived of his life.

The language of the Code of Federal Regulations is tedious. Its impact on American public life is profound. But its artful obfuscation of that which is most compelling of all what it means to be human is unsuccessful.

A fetus is a baby is a person is a human being. No euphemism can hide that truth and you can take that to the bank.