Friday, December 12, 2008

The Irony Test

My father recently told me about a single-question political test he sometimes slips into conversation with friends and acquaintances. He tells them a particular fact, and if they fail to detect the irony inherent in that fact, then they have proven themselves so far away from him on the political spectrum that any political discourse with them will undoubtedly lead to nothing but frustration on all sides. I have taken his single fact and started expanding it to include others. I hope to add to it from time to time. As it currently is:

The Thomas Jefferson Memorial Commission was created by an act of Congress in June 1934. The commission oversaw the building of the Thomas Jefferson Memorial. The Commission spent over $3M of federal funds to complete the memorial, which was dedicated on April 13, 1943. Inscribed on a frieze inside the dome of the memorial is a quotation from Thomas Jefferson: "I have sworn upon the altar of God eternal hostility against every form of tyranny over the mind of man."

In 1977, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled in the case of Wooley v. Maynard that New Hampshire could not prosecute motorists who chose to hide part or all of its motto, "Live free or die" [which is printed on state license plates]. That ruling came about because George Maynard, a Jehovah's Witness, cut off "or die" from his plate. He found the phrase offensive because according to his faith, Jehovah's Kingdom offers everlasting life and it would be contrary to that belief to die for an earthly government. He was convicted of breaking a state law against altering license plates.

How many ironies do you detect?

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

It isn't made explicit here that the New Hampshire State motto is (or was, I don't know if they've changed) printed on vehicle license tags.