Friday, September 25, 2015

Excerpt from 'A Sort of Complete History of the United States of America (Abridged)', This Year's All-School Play

JOHN ADAMS. Now, gentlemen, before you go on, I want to say something about the Bill of Rights.
JOHN. You Virginians are all the same. Franklin did this, Jefferson did that. Franklin smote the ground and out sprang George Washington, fully grown AND on his horse. Franklin then electrified him with his lightning rod and the three of them, Franklin, Washington and the horse, conducted the revolution all by themselves. Virginians!
BEN. I’m from Philadelphia!
THOMAS JEFFERSON. (To the audience.) Even in its early days, America had a problem with geography.
JOHN. Anyway, I’ve been doing some thinking about this Bill of Rights thing and I find it problematic.
BEN. What do you mean?
JOHN. I mean, they say we have free speech in this country, right?
BEN. Right.
JOHN. So I can say anything I want?
JOHN. No! Did you know the Supreme Court says I can’t say anything I want?
JAMES. Like what?
THOMAS. Classic example. You can’t yell ‘fire’ in a crowded theater, right?
JOHN. Well, what if there is a fire in a crowded theater?
BEN. Adams, that’s not the point.
THOMAS. What is the point?
JOHN. The point is that the First Amendment guarantees all Americans the full freedom of expression.
ABIGAIL ADAMS. (Abigail Adams enters, carrying a sign which reads ‘Remember the Ladies’.) Not all Americans.
JOHN. My dearest Abigail. Help me. Suppose I wanted to light this flag on fire right now. Could I?
JOHN. Why not?
ABIGAIL. Because it would be a fire in a crowded theater!
JOHN. That’s not the point.
THOMAS. What is the point?
ABIGAIL. The point is that even this is protected speech. (She flips the sign. It reads, ‘Down with the First Amendment.’)
THOMAS. (Pause.) I don’t get it.
JAMES. (To the audience.) Even in its early days, America had a problem with irony.

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