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Basic rights 

The legislature in its sagacity has decided that our top priority in state constitutional reform should be an amendment guaranteeing the right to hunt and fish.

There was a time back in our image-conscious days when Arkansas people, upon hearing of this proposal, would've worried about coarse wiseacre guffaws from the more cosmopolitan quadrants. About what rubes we are. About how quaint our concerns.

Slow trains and bare feet would be revisited.

But with the Clinton advent we outgrew those old anxieties, and these days feel free to indulge our provinciality with no fear of distant laughter. I have no quarrel with enshrining deer jerky and slab fillets in our basic charter, and only wish we'd do as much for other of our characteristic Natural State activities and traditions.

We should have a constitutional right to hunker, for instance.

We should have constitutional sanction to use road signs for .22 target practice.

There should be a constitutional right, with allowances for nosy neighbors hiding in the nandinas with binoculars, to pee off one's porch on nights when the moon isn't full.

It should be our constitutional right to marry kin, so long as the kin isn't close enough to guarantee idiot offspring. Not that there's anything wrong with being an idiot. Some of our best-known state legislators have been idiots. Some of our best-known newspaper columnists, too.

It should be our constitutional right, with regard to out-of-state canoeists on our officially designated wild and scenic rivers, to serenade them with banjo music upon their arrival and then to ambush and cornhole them en route.

You should have the constitutional right to immunity from prosecution if you shoot a person, auto, horse, cow, RV, haint, or low-flying aircraft after having mistaken the deceased for a deer. You have to think fast out there on a deer stand.  You shouldn't be punished for honest mistakes.

You should have the constitutional right to go around yelling “Yeehah!” for no particular reason whenever you feel like it.

You should have the constitutional right to at least one supper per annum that includes purple-hull peas, sliced home-grown tomatoes, and iron-skillet cornbread.

It should be your constitutional right to go under the bleachers with Seymour Butts.

We should have a constitutional right to keep appliances on the front porch. Even broken-down ones alongside their replacements. Beautification is in the eye of the beholder.

We should have a constitutional right to participate or not in circle jerks.

It used to be a constitutional right, or I've heard it was, that when your vehicle finally played out on you, you could push it off the nearest mountainside if there was a ravine down there where nobody went but tramps and perverts and escaped convicts. Why couldn't we bring that one back?

We should have a constitutional right to keep hogs, as long as it's on private property, even inside the city limits.

There should be constitutional protection against ridicule for saying we're fixing to do something.

There should be a constitutional right to put a rattlesnake in the mailbox of somebody who's being uppity or a prick. This right should be limited, however. You'd have to insert the snake after the day's mail delivery, so as not to endanger the mail carrier.

There should be a constitutional right to scratch. Wherever it itches. Any time.

There should be an unrestricted constitutional right to seine barpits.

There should be a constitutional right to square dance.

There should be a constitutional right to bush-hog.

There should be a constitutional right to shinny, especially up after red haws.

You should have a constitutional right against racial profiling, as long as you're not black, Hispanic or Muslim-looking.

You should have a constitutional right to a dogtrot if that is your architectural preference.

There should be a constitutional right to dither.

There should be a constitutional right to whittle.

There should be a constitutional right to whistle, as long as you're not in a confined space in which your whistling might cause permanent damage to crabby people's dispositions.

There should be a constitutional right to a good whetstone.

There should be a constitutional right to blow your nose in public, and to use the back of your hand to close the deal if you're without tissues or a hankie.

There should be a constitutional right to noodle for catfish.

There should be a constitutional right to take David O. Dodd's birthday as a paid holiday — or to go ahead and work that day but get time-and-a-half.

There should be a constitutional right to drink beer on your porch or in your yard as long as you don't get drunk and loud or throw your empties into your neighbors' driveways or pools or at their children.

You should have the right not to be discriminated against because of your sexual orientation, unless you're gay.

 

 

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