One of the brainiest of our state legislators proposed recently to make hunting and fishing constitutional rights in Arkansas.
Nothing against bagging and snagging, as Curt Gowdy, the American Sportsman, used to call those noble pursuits — though I’d as soon you just dropped mine off here at the house, cleaned and dressed and, OK, while you’re at it, maybe already cooked, grilled if I get my druthers, with some cole slaw and ’pups and a pint of chowchow. Drink of choice strawberry soda but wouldn’t gripe over tea if sugared while hot.
Nothing against hunting and fishing, but amending the constitution is serious business, as Sen. Bumpers used to warn us all the time, even if it’s just the old ragtag state Constitution, the Reconstruction-era throw-together of buggy whips, bent nails, hatpins, phrenology and fruit-jar lids. Even amending that old thing has to be done carefully and rarely, and there should be no frivolity in affirming new rights or taking away old ones.
And as constitutional-rights frivolity goes, I’d have to say hunting and fishing are definitely borderline.
I’ve been thinking of some less frivolous higher-priority better-bred constitutional rights that we might want to think of adding to our charter.
The first one, of course, is that we ought to have a constitutional right to require tomato growers, if they’re going to grow tomatoes at all, to grow tomatoes that are fit to eat. They used to do that without being constitutionally obliged, but that’s been a while, and they’ll need the nudge.
Free universal tech support that doesn’t keep you on hold longer than 30 minutes ought to be a constitutional right.
A mulligan on the first tee and gimmes inside the leather ought to be constitutional rights.
When there’s a construction crew in your neighborhood playing a radio at a volume that would wake the dead, starting each day at 7 a.m. sharp, you should have a constitutional right to go over there still in your night clothes and threaten to whip their ass.
It ought to be a constitutional right to pelt blowhard graduation speakers with soft overripe fruit.
It should be a constitutional right to sit out of a summer evening watching the chimney swifts against the indigo gloam, listening for the whippoorwills and early owls, and sensing the commencement of the formation of dew.
It should be a constitutional right for consenting adults to ratiocinate in the privacy of their own homes.
I’m not sure there should be a constitutional right to piss and moan, but why not? Maybe each one should have its own constitutional right. Pissing and moaning but not picking and grinning, shucking and jiving, weeping and wailing, or entail and primogeniture.
It ought to be a constitutional right to trundle hoop snakes. And race doodlebugs. And mosey.
Monday morning quarterbacking ought to be a constitutional right.
The constitution should also protect your right to armchair general, grandstand umpire and pressbox coach.
Thomas Jefferson thought there should be a constitutional right to water the tree of liberty from time to time with the blood of tyrants, but I reckon we’ve got too civilized for such as that.
There should be a constitutional right to receive annually from friends, neighbors, relatives, workplace colleagues, or anonymous well-wishers about half a bushel of unshelled purple-hull peas.
It should be a constitutional right to disclaim blood or in-law kinship to known bounders, such as bankrupt ex-congressmen who get their twilight living ooyahing around missionary pots in the Heart of Darkness, or squirrel-headed editors who aspire to folksy but don’t have the knack and also don’t know their ani from so many holes in the ground.
We should have a constitutional right to go barefoot, even on formal occasions, and to board meetings, funerals, and church.
And to throw pine cones at starlings.
I’m just going to pretend I didn’t hear that suggestion of a constitutional right to stump-break your draft stock.
Or a constitutional right to bird prudes.
And c’mon now, constitutional sanction for the circle jerk?
It should, however, be a constitutional right to chortle derisively at any mention of anything to do with Cabot.
It should be a constitutional right, if you were born at Pine Bluff, to aver on your birth certificate and in other legal papers that you were born at Prescott.
If they won’t let you push your old broken-down car off the side of a mountain, you ought to have the constitutional right to put it up on blocks in a corner of your yard and call it art retro.
It should be a constitutional right to text-message pre-game floozie coo-se-coos to the big-time football coach.
It should be a constitutional right to weed-eat up to 10 feet past your property line if you think the brush over there might be harboring winos, poisonous snakes, or private detectives in the employ of your spouse.
No quarrel here if, after these worthies, hunting and fishing are next on the list.