So, via TalkingPointsMemo, we got this noise out of America’s soft underbelly (on the

More than a half century ago, Mississippi created a state Sovereignty Commission to block enforcement of federal laws.

Now two key state lawmakers are introducing legislation to attempt to do much the same thing. House Bill 490 would create a committee to help neutralize federal laws and regulations “outside the scope of the powers delegated by the people to the federal government in the United States Constitution.”

Robert McElvaine, professor of history at Millsaps College, said all this bill will accomplish is to put Mississippi up for ridicule. “ ‘The Neutralization of Federal Law’?” he said. “I am astounded to see such a measure introduced in the 21st century. Do the authors of the bill see Mississippi as part of the United States?”

This is, prima facie, farce — seems to me that there were several folks, dozens at least, that resorted to fisticuffs and whatnot to settle this very topic, oh, 150 years ago or so — but farce with blurred lines, and all the world’s its stage. Is this sort of political revenge-fantasy theater conservative America’s safety valve or suicide spiral? From “Roman Drama,” edited by Robert W. Corrigan, Dell Publishing Co. Inc., New York, 1966, pp. 10-11:

We know that fantasy and repression are inextricably linked in a dynamic tension, and the rhythm of farce is — to use a forced image — that of the cat of fantasy chasing its tail of repression. And our pleasure in witnesing farce is that our wildest fantasies can be acted out, without […] our having to suffer the consequences. In technique it is like psychiatric therapy: the doctor urges the patient to tell all of his fantasies within the safe confines of the office, so he will not feel so compelled to act them out in more destructive ways elsewhere.


Eric Bently is certainly correct in his explanation of why bedroom farce appeals to audiences. He writes:

Farce in general offers a special opportunity: shielded by delicious darkness and seated in warm security, we enjoy the privilege of being totally passive while on stage our most treasured, unmentionable wishes are fulfilled before our eyes by the most violently active human beings that ever sprang from the human imagination.

I know I’d feel a lot better about the whole thing if Gene Wilder and Zero Mostel weren’t the ones *actually*, y’know, running things.

That said, mostly I just wanted to write “the cat of fantasy chasing its tail of repression” because ya gotta laugh.

  1. Metavirus says:

    funny how uppity blacks were behind mississippi being forced to pass such laws in both instances. :)

  2. And knowing State Politics like I do, it is most likely the same people introducing the bill. Carried in on their death beds to take a last swing at making the south rise again.

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