The Politics of Pleading

I’m no constitutional scholar, but the fifth ammendment has to be the single funniest ammendment of the Bill of Rights. I mean, seriously. We’re talking some hilarious, pee in your pants, funny.

Of course, it wasn’t written to be funny. I sometimes wonder if the founding fathers had that great of a sense of humor, but still, it’s nuggets like the right not to incriminate yourself that make me think that they knew how to have a good chuckle or two (This is ignoring the second ammendment completely, for which I think they’re looking down upon us now and just laughing their asses off).

The reason why the fifth is so funny is because of the absurdity of its usage. We have these courts in place, and processes and such to root out who is innocent and who is guilty of any given crime, and it’s all very serious and very dour, but when it comes down to the question “Did you commit a crime?” You don’t even have to come up with a clever lie. All you gotsta do is say, “I plead the fifth,” to which we are all supposed to pretend like you never spoke, while at the same time everyone in the room knows you had to have done SOMETHING wrong.

To be fair, and so that I don’t get jumped for pointing this out, it is perfectly feasible to plead the fifth if your testimony just sucks. You could be perfectly innocent, but if you can’t manage to take the stand without saying things like, “I like to drink the fresh blood of the slain,” then, yeah, you could take the fifth there too.

But in general, the fifth ammendment is a lovely little ammendment that says, “I don’t have to admit that I did something wrong even though I did do something wrong, otherwise I would have no reason to use my right to not admitting I did something wrong.”

It gets even funnier in the midst of a political scandal.

Now I think the bit that really seals the deal for me is this quote from the White House:

The White House said Goodling’s decision shows how political the investigation has become

“It is unfortunate that a public servant no longer feels comfortable that they
will be treated fairly in testimony in front of Congress,” White House
spokeswoman Dana Perino said.

Of course we know the White House definition of “fair” is letting the White House get on with doing what it wants without repercussion. But even funnier still is the idea that the White House is blaming this all on politics, because, ironically enough, it’s true. Had there been no politically motivated firings of attorneys, then maybe there wouldn’t be an investigation, and Monica Goodling wouldn’t be forced into saying, “I did something wrong, so I’m going to use my right not to admit I did something wrong.”

That’s not what the White House meant. The White House meant that congress is being mean, and that it wants congress to go away and play on the other side of the sandlot or else the White House is going to go tell its mommy.

Of course it’s political, guys. You started it. Ah well. I guess there’s really nothing much uglier, though still gratifying, than watching bullies get their comeuppance.

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