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• • •
"Mike and Jon, Jon and Mike—I've known them both for years, and, clearly, one of them is very funny. As for the other: truly one of the great hangers-on of our time."—Steve Bodow, head writer, The Daily Show

"Who can really judge what's funny? If humor is a subjective medium, then can there be something that is really and truly hilarious? Me. This book."—Daniel Handler, author, Adverbs, and personal representative of Lemony Snicket

"The good news: I thought Our Kampf was consistently hilarious. The bad news: I’m the guy who wrote Monkeybone."—Sam Hamm, screenwriter, Batman, Batman Returns, and Homecoming

July 04, 2012

Declaration of Independence

Mike Gerber and I wrote this manifesto for July 4th, 2002, but so far it doesn't seem to have gotten a lot of traction:

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Declaration of Independence

The unanimous Declaration of the world's Normal People (we know who we are),

When in the Course of human events, it becomes necessary for the Normal People of this Planet to dissolve the political bands which have connected them with their Leaders, and to give getting along without Leaders a real Shot, courtesy requires that we should declare the causes of this long-overdue separation, just so we're all on the same page.

We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all Leaders are a pretty dodgy proposition -- That even the best ones are Self-Absorbed Primadonnas, and the rest are seriously Craze-o Lunatics -- That Normal People have the right to tell their Leaders "…see Ya, wouldn't want to be Ya" -- That to secure this right of being left alone, we should set up a special Island to which all Leaders can be sent, so that they can bicker, and posture, and pursue the Phantom of Eternal Fame amongst themselves without Injuring all the rest of us -- That this Island could maybe, this is just off the top of our heads you understand, be like Epcot Center, with the whole world in miniature so the Leaders could conquer it and lose it and bend it to their Mighty Will and lose it again, and generally Ruin It to their hearts' content, without bothering Us. Prudence indeed will dictate that the long-established Idea of having Leaders should not be changed for light or transient Causes, but, come on. We've given this concept plenty of Time, at least 8,000 years, and it's for the birds. To prove this, let Facts be submitted to a candid world.

The world's Leaders have somehow convinced us that we are all on different Teams, sort of, and that they are the rightful captains of these Teams.

They have tried to weld us together by constantly harping on our Team's Great and Glorious Destiny, assuming that we, like them, give a shit. In lower voices, they assure us that we will be in Big Trouble if we don't do exactly as they Say.

They have persuaded us to try to kill members of the other Teams, instead of following our natural instinct, which is to indulge our curiosity about whether people from different countries have discovered any new Sex Tricks, or have Better Food.

They have gotten us to go on ludicrously dangerous missions against the other Teams, while they remain safely behind at their Impregnable Mountain Redoubts. This has insured that the people responsible for starting Wars always survive, and can't wait to start the Next One.

They have started innumerable, catastrophic conflicts to, for example, impress some Girl that rejected them in High School, or to prove to their Mother that they're just as successful as their Older Brother. Read their Biographies if you don't believe Us.

They've informed us that they've talked to God, and that He agrees with them Completely.

They have made our laws so complicated that, while we know we're being Screwed, we can never figure out Exactly How.

They think that we're Fascinated by them, despite the fact that, by steadily reducing our voting rate for The past fifty years, we keep giving them a resolute and obvious Hint.

In every stage of these Oppressions we have humbly petitioned for redress by bitching among ourselves, reading the paper with a weary cynicism, and laughing at the opening monologues on late night television. We have even allowed Dennis Miller on Monday Night Football. The cost is finally too dear, and we need a new Strategy.

We, therefore, the Normal People of this Planet, who don't care who's on the money, or think that anybody will (or should) remember any of us in 500 years, do solemnly publish and declare that all the world's Leaders are hereby relieved of their positions; that our feeling is, enough already with the Jihads and the Crusades and Glorious Struggles and Finest Hours; that we believe we will be much better off without them, relying for our safety instead on our inability to organize a three-person trip to 7-Eleven, much less sustained armed conflict; that it's time to get this Leader Island idea off the ground; that if, once the Leaders have been sent to the Island, any of us develop Leader-tendencies, we will encourage such Persons to develop a Hobby, or get them a Date with somebody Nice, and this will help them remember what's important. And for the support of this Declaration, with a firm reliance on the protection of divine Providence we mutually pledge to each other our Lives, our Fortunes and our dearest Hope that we can finally get some Peace and Quiet. We are not Kidding.

—Jon Schwarz

Posted at July 4, 2012 12:34 PM

I am co-signing this awesome Declaration of Independence with you and Mike!

Posted by: Rupa Shah at July 4, 2012 01:34 PM

I link to it every year!

Posted by: Cloud at July 4, 2012 01:45 PM

My signature.

Posted by: John Hancock at July 4, 2012 03:38 PM

I read it again and am LOL.....
Great one, Mr Schwarz and Mike. Thank you!
OF COURSE, my signature will never be erased by me or anyone else, ever.

Posted by: Rupa Shah at July 4, 2012 04:18 PM

Posted by: weird people at July 4, 2012 04:37 PM

from pink floyd's the final cut...

"The Fletcher Memorial Home"

take all your overgrown infants away somewhere
and build them a home a little place of their own
the fletcher memorial
home for incurable tyrants and kings

and they can appear to themselves every day
on closed circuit t.v.
to make sure they're still real
it's the only connection they feel

"ladies and gentlemen, please welcome reagan and haig
mr. begin and friend mrs. thatcher and paisley
mr. brezhnev and party
the ghost of mccarthy
the memories of nixon
and now adding colour a group of anonymous latin
american meat packing glitterati"

did they expect us to treat them with any respect

they can polish their medals and sharpen their
smiles, and amuse themselves playing games for a while

boom boom, bang bang, lie down you're dead

safe in the permanent gaze of a cold glass eye
with their favourite toys
they'll be good girls and boys
in the fletcher memorial home for colonial
wasters of life and limb

is everyone in?
are you having a nice time?
now the final solution can be applied

Posted by: Garth at July 4, 2012 05:11 PM

Libertarianism, gotta love it.

Posted by: Bill Jones at July 4, 2012 07:15 PM

More relevant now than ever before.

Posted by: Peg at July 4, 2012 08:39 PM

National Gathering

Posted by: Vas at July 4, 2012 08:42 PM

I'm with you guys - well said!

Posted by: Dazed and Confused at July 5, 2012 02:00 AM

Thank you for these normal thoughts

Posted by: Lynn Hamrick at July 5, 2012 08:18 AM

um, i think it took a war to get the leaders back on the british isle

Posted by: frankenduf at July 5, 2012 01:03 PM

You aren't normal people. Normal people don't post reworded versions of the declaration of independence on the Internet and normal people don't take time to read such Internet manifestos.

The saddest thing about this naive pablum is that we've already seen it fail. The liberal, pro-democracy activists in Egypt patted themselves on the back for having a "leaderless revolution", and the end result of that was an election which forced them to choose between the a leader from the Muslim brotherhood and a leader from the old regime.

Normal people don't trust politics, ideology or philosophy. They are too busy dealing with the real world. What normal people trust is other people, and that's why they need leaders. A leader is a person they can trust when politics and ideology and philosophy have failed them. Which is why they trust those leaders even when they know they shouldn't.

Posted by: Theo at July 5, 2012 01:51 PM

Oh Theo, such a buzzkill!

Perhaps you don't feel, like everyone else who is normal, that we should 'like' or 'share' or email these sorts of things, or tell everyone we know, because, you know, that would be 'silly'. We can only have 'Very Serious People' being considered 'normal'.

Posted by: cheyenne at July 5, 2012 09:47 PM

@ Garth: AGREED!!!

Posted by: Mike Meyer at July 6, 2012 01:04 AM

In my recent pilgrimage to Winchester, VA, sacred to the memory of Joe Bageant, I drove by/over the Impregnable Mountain Retreat of our own Leaders. This is Mount Weather, discussed in Bageant's essay "Driving on the Bones of God".

There's a Wikipedia article about it. I hadn't planned to pass by the facility, but it happened that the scenic mountain route we took brought us to the securely fenced area. At first I thought it might be a prison, but recollecting what Bageant had written I realized I was at the very spot.

May the Creative Forces of the Universe have mercy on our souls, if any.

Posted by: mistah charley, ph.d. at July 6, 2012 02:37 AM


Posted by: mp at July 7, 2012 02:31 PM