May 01, 2006

Heinlein Quote of the Month (May 2006)

I'm sure I've featured this quote before, but its meaning will become abundantly clear later this month when I divulge what's been taking so much of my time recently. Sorry to be cryptic, but all will be clear sometime around May 20. And I apologize for the length of this one, but it's hard to cut it down (although only the bolded portion will go on the sidebar).

It takes place after the Loonies win their independence from Earth and start "governing" themselves:

Hadn't realized "Free Luna" was going to have taxes. Hadn't had any before and got along. You paid for what you got. Tanstaafl. How else?

Another time some pompous choom proposed that bad breath and body odors be made an elimination offense. Could almost sympathize, having been stuck on occasion in a capsule with such stinks. But doesn't happen often and tends to be self-correcting; chronic offenders, or unfortunates who can't correct, aren't likely to reproduce, seeing how choosy women are.

One female (most were men, but women made up for it in silliness) had a long list she wanted made permanent laws--about private matters. No more plural marriage of any sort. No divorces. No "fornication"--had to look that one up. No drinks stronger than 4% beer. Church services only on Saturdays and all else to stop that day. (Air and temperature and pressure engineering, lady? Phones and capsules?) A long list of drugs to be prohibited and a shorter list dispensed only by licensed physicians. (What is a "licensed physician"? Healer I go to has a sign reading "practical doctor"--makes book on side, which is why I go to him. Look, lady, aren't any medical schools in Luna!) (Then, I mean.) She even wanted to make gambling illegal. If a Loonie couldn't roll double or nothing, he would go to a shop that would, even if dice were loaded.

Thing that got me was not her list of things she hated, since she was obviously crazy as a Cyborg, but fact that always somebody agreed with her prohibitions. Must be a yearning deep in human heart to stop other people from doing as they please. Rules, laws--always for other fellow. A murky part of us, something we had before we came down out of trees, and failed to shuck when we stood up. Because not one of those people said: "Please pass this so that I won't be able to do something I know I should stop." Nyet, tovarishchee, was always something they hated to see neighbors doing. Stop them "for their own good"--not because speaker claimed to be harmed by it.

- Manny in The Moon is a Harsh Mistress.

Posted by JohnL at May 1, 2006 08:53 PM | TrackBack
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