And I saw a beast arise out of the lagoon of oil.
He had two horns like a devil, but he spoke as a preacher…
Halloween season is here; little devils, pirates and assorted ghouls will come trolling for treats. A few will get tricks; someone I know had fun one year hiding the candy, and holding out a plate of raw Brussels sprouts first. One little girl reportedly cried. Kids still say "Trick or treat," but they're thinking, "Give me candy;" they may not recognize a trick when it's played on them even though they've just verbally threatened or invited one.
Government plays some nasty tricks on the governed. They offer us the chance to vote, and when a voter gets what he asked for, he thinks he's been burnt. He took the bait, swallowed the line, and either decides he bit the wrong line, or blames bait and switch tactics. I will never call anyone a sucker for voting, but someone who swallows that bait and afterwards blames people who didn't vote for the fact that he got what he got: well, if the hook fits, wear it gracefully.
Most people take government far too seriously, and that is what allows government to take itself far too seriously. When humor equates to terrorist activity, that's a clarion call for more humorist strikes, pronto: There's nothing amusing about the prospect of outlaws being the only people armed with a sense of humor, but given the perennial horror stories one hears about in-laws, outlaws shouldn't be terrifying by comparison. What profit is it to a man if he keeps his guns, but surrenders his sense of humor? An America full of humorless people with plenty of firepower sounds like a pretty insecure and dystopian homeland to me. I'm all for having gun rights, and having fun rights, too.
Mainstream America has witnessed the Dr. Jekyll of "Operation Iraqi Freedom" morph into the Mr. Hyde of "Botched Operation Iraq Occupation;" and it's been an educational documentary on the malignant nature of government. Government as Leviathan is apt, but an arcane association for many people, to whom the metaphor is sadly meaningless. Leviathan also lacks the grade B, "film noir" quality that government characters infuse society with. Leviathan is not a recognizable caricature in the contemporary imagination. Mainstream thinking is most accessible through popular culture, and humor is a powerful catalyst for ideas: Humor is infectious, and people like to share what they find amusing.
Government as vampire: Who among us cannot picture government as vampire? "I vant to suck your blood/money/liberty/intelligence/productive capacity!" Government is even snooping in through Windows at night, frightening children and the elderly in their beds, and alienating the next generation by leeching off all of the above. Bureaucrats need not wear black capes or sport fangs; most are so blissfully gorging themselves at the "public" jugular that they are oblivious to the profound sense of revulsion quietly surging through the bloodstreams of decent men. Government is probably the single most preventable underlying cause of high blood pressure and a host of other ills; but medical studies never appear to take government into account as a probable cause of anything, unfortunately, except additional funding. Coercive government inevitably goes batty, hammering nails into its own velvet-lined regulatory casket. Live by the lie, die by the lie. No wonder government is obsessed with preserving the darkness: it would never survive in the light.
Government as Frankenstein monster: "It's alive!" What better metaphor for the monster that is government? A mal-creation gerrymandered from parts of many political bodies, stitched together (like the Emperor's new clothes) with imaginary "common thread," and animated by electoral current: a politically engineered robot, lacking genetic or artificial intelligence, and capable of terrorizing the population until the enraged populace hoists up the torches of liberty. The brute has two plugs on its neck; Republican energy charges the creature on one side, energy is discharged on the other as Democratic policy. Picture the "Energizer Bunny" (or perhaps a Terminator Bunny) on steroids, beating a war drum: "It just keeps going, and going, and going." Right, left, right, left; boom, boom, BOOM.
Government as The Mummy: There has been much ado about the Mommy State. That image is resoundingly unfair to the vast majority of mothers, and strikes me as a grave indication of how successful the state has been at undermining the natural institution of family. Instead, I propose "The Mummy State." This Mummy may come swaddled in stars-and-stripes bandages that prevent it from falling to disunion, but it shuffles along relentlessly, oblivious to anything beyond its own dastardly, distinctly un-motherly ends.
Government as Werewolf: The lycanthropic nature of the state surfaces when the waxing lunacy of government hits high tide. U.S. government is operating under the influence of petrol-powered intoxication, and surrendering to its violent nature. Fortunately the laws of nature control tides, which will inevitably turn, leaving a lot of political flotsam high and dry - the full moon also wanes. Government prohibitions result in moonshine, and people brighten up to its ill effects eventually. Rather than insult people by calling them sheeple because they are not frothing at the state bit, point out that there is a werewolf in charge of the fold. Freedom will be attractive when it's visibly preferable to domesticity. You may not change people, but you can alter a person's perceptions of his environment.
Parting glances at a few other hair-raisers, high-spying terror eyes, and unholy rollers:
Criminal law as the Gorgon: Medusa aptly mirrors the nature of the judicial system. A black-robed monstrosity crowned with serpentine laws, the mere presence of which turns people to stone because they're afraid to do anything in the face of it. Honest reflection should swiftly decapitate the superstitious notion that such a malevolent institution promotes freedom, or dispenses anything remotely resembling justice. Justice suits free and decent men; malice does not.
Homeland Security as Godzilla: The monstrous feet of Godzilla strike terror into the hearts of entire cities; trampling on the rights of automobile drivers below, and people entering or leaving march through Godzilla's Jaws-like airport screening procedures, while those beady reptilian eyes stare into suites atop skyscrapers! There's nowhere to hide from the menacing feet, the gnashing jaws, or the all-seeing eyes of Godzilla. Be grateful for your homeland security, citizen - bend over; this will only take a moment.
The Preacher from the Black Lagoon: And I saw a beast arise out of the lagoon of oil. He had two horns like a devil, but he spoke as a preacher. He extolled the authority of government on its behalf, and made the earth and its inmates worship the government, whose fatal transgressions had been miraculously absolved. Praise the House of Lords and the Oval office! 'Let there be war on earth, and ill will towards men.' And he who believes this grand doctrine will reputedly one day be swept from the earth in the great rapture, glory be: then the earth will be ready for Jesus to return once more. Amen!