Marianas Variety

SAIPAN, CNMI (Dec. 8) – You know you’re in the Twilight Zone if your action is defined as "Subsection (c) of §15704.2, Division 2 of Chapter 15 of Guam Code Annotated" and your outrageous behavior violates "§18105 of Article 1, Division 2 of Chapter 18 of Guam Code Annotated."

Quick, call your lawyer because you are facing charges called "§15115 to Chapter 15, all of Title 22 of Guam Code Annotated."

In other words, %$#"@*&!*?/]=&^@. What?

Once upon a time, Moses called a press conference to reveal God’s Ten Commandments, a basic guide for the morality of our culture that was essentially summed up in one paragraph. The reporters were happy because it was easy to write that story.

Confucius later made the guidelines even a lot simpler by stating the Golden Rule, the model for all virtually personal behavior written in one simple sentence: Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.

Then came the Rousseaunian social contract. Then came the government, the lawmakers, the lawyers and the police. Then came the splintered rules—millions of them— written in a language borrowed from Mars. We have since become a civilization of laws that strangle us.

So, Sting wrote the Orwellian-influenced national anthem disguised as a love song: "Every breath you take, every move you make, every vow you break, every stake you claim…. I’ll be watching you." Sting was then the lead vocalist of the aptly named band, "The Police."

We have seen no end to laws attempting to guide, cajole, modify or prohibit something.

Two AP stories caught my attention yesterday. A town in Kuala Lumpur announced the enforcement of the ban on navel-showing and body-hugging clothes among non-Muslim women. In New York City, artificial trans fats were banned from restaurants, forcing fast food chains and small diners to replace their lard supply with cholesterol-free cooking oil.

The state doesn’t trust that we know the consequences of our personal decisions. So it takes on responsibility for our actions. Of course, the state knows what’s best for us.

Laws affecting smoking, drinking, dating and mating, wearing safety belts, and eating fast food are the tips of icebergs. While laws purport to protect the rights of one class of individuals, they invariably do so at the expense of another class. Where is the balance?

Some laws are enacted depending on which group cries the loudest, recruits most protestors or are endorsed by the politically correct Nazis.

Guam is not spared from the lawmaking plague. To date, a total of 403 bills have been filed in the 28th Legislature, of which 151 were signed into law, adding to the 3 million existing laws that have been forgotten. So little island, so many laws.

The lame duck Legislature has so little time left, and chances are, many of these bills will roll out without going through any comprehensive discussion. Next thing you know, women on Guam would not be allowed to wear stilettos unless they obtain a license for wearing fashionable shoes that can double as dangerous weapons.

What’s worse than having too many laws is having bad laws that are incomplete, vague, conflicting and deficient. Legislators then leave the task of sorting out problems to bureaucratic fixes. Must be the reason why, at the public hearing on the lifeline rate-setting bill this week, CCU board chairman Simon Sanchez told the senators to, please, leave them alone.

When translating the powerful instruments of laws, we lose our sense of personal responsibility.

One local bill stands out in the It’s-Not-Your-Fault-And-You-Are-Blameless-So-Sue-Them category. I’m referring to the bill that would allow drunk-drivers to sue the Guam Power Authority if they smash into a power pole.

Another bill shines in the The-State-Doesn’t-Trust-Your-Common-Sense-So-We-Have-to-Spell-Out-Everything-For-You category. The bill "adds additional reasons operators of vehicles may not be required to travel in the right-hand lane for traffic or as close as practicable to the road’s right-hand edge or curb, and to remove a prohibition on operation during certain hours."

The bill says one can’t drive in the right-hand lane "when driving in the lane would be unsafe in the opinion of the operator due to narrow lane width (less than 12 feet), lack of a shoulder or for other reasons affecting highway safety."

Well, everybody is entitled to his or her own opinion.

So if you get caught violating §§3310, 3312 and 5114 of Chapter 3 of Title 16 Guam Code Annotated, trust your lawyer to tell the judge "Your Honor, in my client’s opinion, %$#"@*&!*?/]=&^@*&^%$#." What?

Wait. I can’t get that Twilight Zone tune out of my head.

[Mar-Vic Cagurangan is a member of the Marianas Variety news staff]

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