by Clarence Brown
American Reporter Correspondent
December 13, 2000
SEATTLE -- Chairman: Bang! The Committee on the Expulsion of the State of Florida will come to order.
Difficult Member: Excuse me, sir. Did you say "bang!"
Ch: I did. It is still the sound made by a gavel, I believe. Unless we are going to change that, too. "Thwack," perhaps? You want thwack, I can do thwack.
DM: My question, to the extent that I am able to recall my state of mind at the time...
Ch: It is the State of Florida, not that of your mind, that we are to... but please go on. And on.
DM: My question went to why you said bang instead of going bang with a gavel.
Ch: It depends what you mean by "going." A large body of opinion holds that the mere utterance of the noun "bang," or whatever it is...
Ch: Are you entering an expletive or merely proposing that as the form-class of the word "bang"?
DM: The latter.
Ch: The latter killeth, the spirit giveth life. But leaving aside for the tiniest moment the grammatical status of "bang," merely uttering "bang" is held by the large body of opinion to be both saying and going "bang."
DM: You do not have a gavel. Why can you not simply admit it?
Ch: I have a gavel. It is a gavel carved from a piece of driftwood found trying desperately to swim to the freedom of these shores.
DM: Why, then, do you not use the gavel to go, as it were, "bang"?
Ch: It is, as you see, a butterfly gavel - all handle and no head. Contradictory arrows point to either end. I tried it out in the privacy of my chambers.
Ch: Mr. Pat Buchanan turned up and asked by what authority I had summoned him.
DM: I feel obliged to notify the honorable gentleman that immediately following these proceedings I intend to enter a class-action suit questioning the legality of this committee's being chaired by a nut case.
Ch: Who will bring this suit?
DM: Difficult Member et al.
Ch: We agreed to keep both candidates out of this!
DM: The transcript of this exchange should be all the evidence we need. But you mentioned a large body of opinion. Could you be more precise?
Ch: If you are now content with the first word that I said, I call thefirst witness. Please, sir, state your name.
Dr. Soup: Doctor I. Soup.
Ch: What does the "I" stand for?
Dr. Soup: Ink.
DM: Ink!? His first name is Ink?! As in...Ink!!!
Ch: Oh for heaven's sake! First bang, now ink? What is it with you and monosyllables? The man's first name is Ink. So his mother was frightened by an octopus! Who cares?
DM: I accept Ink under protest. As if Soup were not bad enough.
Ch: And you represent, Dr. Soup, the aforementioned large body of opinion?
Dr. Soup: I am the large body of opinion.
DM: Gavel! Gavel!
Clarence Brown is a cartoonist, writer, and Professor Emeritus of Comparative Literature at Princeton University.