The Modern Prometheus: A Halloween Story

Posted on Categories Political Processes & Rhetoric

It’s Halloween.  Time for my annual attempt at political satire (see last year’s effort here).  Apologies to Mary Shelly, Monty Python and Buck Henry.

Setting: A laboratory located in a decrepit castle in Eastern Europe.  Test tubes and electrical transformers fill the room.  Outside, a thunderstorm rages.  The year is 1789.

Dr. Madison: It’s alive!  It’s alive!  They all called me “mad,” but I have done what no man has done before!

Igor: Master, what is this creature?

Dr. Madison: I have transplanted the brain of John Locke into the body of the Magna Carta.  I engrafted bits and pieces of Montesquieu, and gave the body a transfusion of Polybius’ treatise on the Roman Empire.  Then, I immersed the body in a vat of the Iroquois Constitution and applied a charge of electricity.  And it lives!  This is a great day!

Igor (looking out the window): I don’t think everyone agrees with you.

A large mob of men carrying torches bursts into the laboratory.  They are dressed in simple peasant attire except, oddly, all are wearing safety goggles.

Peasant Number 1: There it is boys!  Kill it!  

Dr. Madison: Destroy my creation?  Why?

Peasant Number 1: Your creature is bleeding our poor village dry.  It taxes everything we have, and it will continue to tax our children and our children’s children.

Peasant Number 2: And our children’s children’s children.

Peasant Number 1: What?

Peasant Number 2: And our children’s children’s children.

Peasant Number 1: Don’t belabor the point. And what has it ever given us in return?

Peasant Number 2: Rural electrification.

Peasant Number 1: Oh yeah, yeah it gave us that. Yeah. That’s true.

Peasant Number 3: And the Centers for Disease Control to maintain public health.

Peasant Number 2: Oh yes… controlling infectious diseases. That’s a good thing.

Peasant Number 1: All right, I’ll grant you that rural electrification and the CDC are two positive things that the creature has done…

Peasant Number 2: And the interstate highway system…

Peasant Number 1 (sharply): Well yes obviously the interstate highway… the roads go without saying. But apart from rural electrification, the CDC, and the roads…

Peasant Number 3: The G.I. Bill …

Other Voices in the Crowd: Social Security … NASA Technology… University Research…

Peasant Number 2: And national security.

Peasant Number 1: All right… all right… but apart from rural electrification, the CDC, the interstate highways, the G.I. Bill, Social Security, NASA technology, university research and national security … what has the creature done for us?

Peasant Number 3: The Civil Rights Act and the Voting Rights Act!

Peasant Number 1 (very angry): What!? Oh… (scornfully) civil rights … shut up!  It’s time we got up off our butts and took back our village!

The peasants begin torching the laboratory.  Flames spread as the equipment crashes to the floor. 

Dr. Madison: You can’t destroy my creation! You need him.  What will you replace it with?

Peasant Number1:  What will we replace it with?  You want to know what we will replace it with?

Dr. Madison: Yes, sir.

Peasant Number 1: Just one word. Plastics.

Cue dramatic music.

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