THE DECLARATION OF INDEPENDENCE
(for Modern Readers)
(Given the recent trend to modernize classic works of literature -- from the Bible, to The Canterbury Tales, to Shakespeare -- it seemed logical to modernize one of the great works of American literature: the Declaration of Independence. Jefferson and Co.'s affirmation of freedom and democracy is a wonderful document, but it simply doesn't speak to the current generation of TV-addicted zombies who wouldn't know a remote power from a remote control. With its archaic language and references to an unfamiliar, non-digital world, the D of I is sorely in need of an update to take it into the 21st Century. Hopefully this new version will be taught in our grade schools and civics classes, and a paper copy of it will replace the aging original now decomposing in the National Archives.)
In Congress July 4, 1776, a long time ago in a galaxy far, far away.
The Unanimous (13-0!) Declaration of The Thirteen United States of America,
When in the course of human events, and especially during sweeps, it becomes necessary for one highly coveted demographic group to dissolve the Political Bands which have connected them with another, that means split up, and to assume among the Powers of the Earth, Microsoft, Disney, and AOL-Time Warner, the separate and equal Station (Prestige) to which the Laws of Nature's (Nurture's) God entitle them, a decent Respect to the Opinions and Poll Results of Mankind requires that they should declare the causes, and other complaints, in writing, and which impel them to the Separation, if not the final Divorce. Bottom line: it's time for a Change.
We hold these Half-truths to be really obvious, that all Men, Women, Kids, and Pets are created equal, that they are endowed, or at least heavily funded, by their Creator and his fine staff, with certain unalienable as well as ancillary Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of all Profits from foreign sales. That to secure these Rights, the government often gets Involved, and they get this Power from the Consent of the Governed, that's You and Me, and that whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these Ends, that is, whacks you on the butt, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, or possibly save it for a mid-season replacement, and to institute new Government, with an all-new cast, laying its Foundation on such Principles, at least in the pilot episode, and organizing its Powers in such Form, the sitcom, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness with the Ratings. Prudence, for one, tells us that Governments long established should not be changed for light and transient Causes, but only if the economy goes in the toilet; and accordingly all Experience and Past Performance hath shown, which is like saying has shown, that Mankind between the ages of 18 and 35 are more disposed to suffer through a season of reruns, while Evils are sufferable, as long as they don't win every match, than to right themselves by abolishing the Forms to which they are accustomed, because there are just too many Forms to begin with. But when a long Train of Abuses and Usurpations, which sounds a lot like Amtrak, evinces an all-new Design to reduce them under absolute Despotism, which is as bad as it sounds, it is their Right, it is their Duty, though no longer mandatory, to throw off, or ditch, such Government, and to provide new Guards for their future Security, since the old ones usually fell asleep. Such has been the patient Sufferance of these Colonies, who've kept it inside, all bottled up; and such is now the Necessity which constrains them to alter their former Systems of Government—meaning, we're through, blokes, it's over, if you hadn't figured it out by now. The History of the present King of Great Britain, a real King way back when, is a History of repeated Injuries and Usurpations, to be kind, all having in direct Object the Establishment of an absolute Tyranny over these States, to which we say, thanks but no thanks. To prove this, let facts be submitted to a candid world, if not Candid Camera.
He, the King of England, George is his name, is Nuts. He has refused his Assent to Laws, our laws, the most wholesome and necessary for the public good, our good. Get it? Got it? Good.
He, the King again, has forbidden his Governors, a bunch of Eccentric Nincompoops, to pass laws of immediate and pressing importance, yeah right, unless suspended in their operation till his Assent, or OK, should be obtained; and when so suspended, he has utterly neglected to attend to them. He's a real pip, this King.
He has refused to pass other Laws for the accommodation of large districts of people, like the Greater Metropolitan Area, unless those people would relinquish the right of Representation in the Legislature, a right inestimable to them and formidable to tyrants only. Can't improve much on that.
He has called together legislative bodies at places unusual, uncomfortable, and distant -- I think we're talking a one-star motel in Peoria -- from the depository of their Public Records, now a two-CD set, for the sole purpose of fatiguing them into compliance with his measures, meaning: he's trying to wear us down with a lot of red tape.
He has dissolved Representative Houses repeatedly, for opposing with manly firmness (hello?) his invasions on the rights of the people.
He has refused for a long time, the stubborn bastard, after such dissolutions, to cause others to be elected, meaning: don't bother voting; whereby the Legislative Powers, incapable of Annihilation, have returned to the People at large for their exercise, which is good for large people, under a doctor's supervision; the State remaining in the meantime exposed to all the dangers of invasion from without, and convulsions within, spelled R-O-L-A-I-D-S.
He has endeavored to prevent the population of these States, by encouraging abstinence one would assume; for that purpose obstructing the Laws for Naturalization of Foreigners, and Foreign-looking People; refusing to pass others to encourage their migration hither, that's over here, and raising the conditions of new Appropriations of Lands, since it all starts with real estate, does it not.
He has obstructed the Administration of Justice, by refusing his Assent to Laws for establishing Judiciary Powers. In fact, He makes Judge Judy look soft.
He has made Judges dependent on his Will alone, for the tenure of their offices, and the amount and payment of their salaries. Meaning, they're on the take.
He has erected a multitude of New Offices, you can see them everywhere, and sent hither swarms of Officers, in a sting operation, to harass our people, and eat out their substance, which is substance abuse, pure and simple.
He has kept among us, in times of peace, Standing Armies without the Consent of our legislatures, and kept them standing for hours.
He has affected to render the military independent of and superior to the Civil Power. So what else is new?
He has combined with others to subject us to a jurisdiction foreign to our constitution, and unacknowledged by our laws; giving his Assent to, or signing off on, their acts of pretended legislation in the land of make-believe.
For quartering, that's putting up, not slicing up, large bodies of armed troops among us:
For protecting them, by a mock Trial, from Punishment for any Murders, or Attempted Murders, or even parking tickets, which they should commit on the Inhabitants, that includes Renters, of these States:
For cutting off our Trade with all parts of the world, without so much as a phone call:
For imposing ridiculously high taxes on us without our Consent:
For depriving us in many cases, of the benefits of a Televised Trial by Jury:
For transporting us beyond Seas, to Europe maybe, to be tried for pretended offenses, as in pretending to be a British officer:
For abolishing the free System of English Laws in a neighboring Province, establishing therein an Arbitrary government, and enlarging its Boundaries so as to render it at once an example and fit instrument for introducing the same absolute rule into these Colonies, and for even thinking such an outlandish thing:
For taking away our Charters, our beloved Charters, abolishing our most valuable Laws, which were worth plenty, and altering fundamentally, from the bottom up, the Forms of our Governments:
For suspending our own Legislatures, maybe not such a bad thing, and declaring themselves invested with Power to legislate for us in all cases whatsoever:
He has abdicated Government here, by declaring us out of his Protection, if you can call it that, and waging War against us.
He has plundered our seas, raised the price of seafood, ravaged our Coasts, burnt our towns, burnt our toast, and destroyed the lives of our people. And for what, We ask?
He is at this time, according to our spy satellites, transporting large armies of foreign mercenaries to compleat the works of death, desolation and tyranny, to name a few, already begun with circumstances of Cruelty & perfidy, who work hand-in-hand, scarcely paralleled in the most barbarous ages, and totally unworthy of the Head of a civilized nation, let alone a neighborhood bully. Shame on you, King.
He has constrained our fellow Citizens taken Captive on the high Seas to bear Arms against their Country, to become the executioners of their friends and Brethren, or to fall themselves by their Hands, not much of a choice.
He has excited domestic insurrections amongst us, the little instigator, and has endeavored to bring on the inhabitants of our frontiers, the merciless Indian Savages, actually gentle and proud Native Americans, whose known rule of warfare, is an undistinguished destruction of all ages, sexes and conditions, although nothing as bad as what we did to them.
In every stage of these Oppressions We have Petitioned for Redress in the most humble terms, our heads bowed, our caps in our hands, our feet shuffling: Our repeated Petitions have been answered only by repeated injury -- a bop on the head, or a bayonet in the tummy. A Prince, or the artist formerly known as, whose character is thus marked by every act which may define a Tyrant, is unfit to be the ruler of a free people. Not that we actually think that this will convince him to resign or anything.
Nor have We been wanting in attention to our British brethren, our homeys away from home. We have warned them from time to time, via snail mail, of attempts by their legislature to extend an unwarrantable jurisdiction over us. We have reminded them of the circumstances of our emigration and settlement here. We have appealed to their native justice and magnanimity, I mean we really buttered them up, and we have conjured them by the ties of our common kindred to disavow, or ixnay on, these usurpations, which would inevitably interrupt our connection and correspondence, a real bummer. They too have been deaf to the voice of justice and of consanguinity, to toss a big one out there. We must, therefore, acquiesce in the necessity, which denounces our Separation, and hold them, as we hold the rest of mankind, Enemies in War, in Peace Friends, especially since Enemies in Peace and War Friends would sound stupid.
We, therefore, the Representatives of the United States of America, at least the rich male white ones, in General Congress, assembled, appealing to the Supreme Judge of the world -- the big guy, Mr. Big, capo di tutti capo -- for the rectitude of our intentions, do, in the name, and by authority of the good People of these Colonies -- we've got loads of signatures -- solemnly publish and declare, That these United Colonies are, and of Right ought to be Free and Independent States (yeah!); that they, speaking in the third person now, are Absolved from all Allegiance to the British Crown, that includes British movies, British cars, British food -- yuck! -- and that all political connection between them and the State of Great Britain, is and ought to be totally dissolved; and that as Free and Independent States, they have full power to levy War, conclude Peace, contract Alliances, establish Commerce, Hold Barn Dances, Kick Up Their Heels, and to do all other Acts and Things which Independent States may of right do, within reason of course. And for the support of this Declaration, with a firm reliance on the Protection of Divine Providence, we mutually pledge to each other our Lives, our Fortunes and our sacred Honor. Cut to the chase: we're going solo.
John Hancock, et al.