John Derbyshire Reports Fear and Loathing on Long Island

June 09, 2004

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Reader In Peru Spots A Hollywood Heresy


John Derbyshire
] readers will be
interested, though not surprised, to read of a June 8
debate in the legislature of Suffolk County,

Long Island
.  There is a full report in Long
Island Newsday.
resolution defeated
 By Sumathi Reddy, June 9, 2004]

Our county legislature meets once a
month or so, largely to authorize line-item resolutions
spending federal, state and local revenues.  There are
also, however, a few "Sense Resolutions" on offer
to the legislators, in which they can express a
collective opinion about something or other.

On June 8 one of the items before
the legislature was Sense Resolution S-042:

"Memorializing resolution requesting Federal
government to enforce immigration laws."
resolution was hotly debated before being rejected for
want of a single vote.  Legislator

Elie Mystal,
who represents a

largely populated by African-Americans (but
who himself hails from

) said: "I am an immigrant and this bill is


My own representative, Republican
Legislator Paul Tonna [email
, added:

fact is that in the history of the United States there`s
been a lot of unjust laws, this being one of them.  I
don`t want the

enforcement of this law
because I think these laws
are bad laws. They don`t work."

Told that a certain gentleman
maintained the doctrine that there is no intrinsic
difference between good and evil,

Dr. Johnson

"Why, sir, when he leaves our house, let us count our
  Since Legislator Tonna believes that
laws he does not like should not be enforced, I suggest
that anyone inviting him to a dinner party should count
spoons afterwards very carefully.  Knives and
forks, too, I should think.

Dr. Samuel Johnson was a very wise man,
(for an

foreigner,) but we plain Americans
would like to point out that when American sage

Ralph Waldo Emerson
said "the louder he talked of
his honor, the faster we counted our spoons,"
he was
talking about the same thing:

corrupt politicians

a pickpocket intrude into the society of gentlemen, they
exert what moral force they have, and he finds himself
uncomfortable, and glad to get away. But if an
adventurer go through all the forms, procure himself to
be elected to a post of trust, as of senator, or
president,–though by the same arts as we detest in the
house-thief,–the same gentlemen who agree to
discountenance the private rogue, will be forward to
show civilities and marks of respect to the public one:
and no amount of evidence of his crimes will prevent
them giving him ovations, complimentary dinners, opening
their own houses to him, and priding themselves on his
acquaintance. We were not deceived by the professions of
the private adventurer,–the louder he talked of his
honor, the faster we counted our spoons; but we appeal
to the sanctified preamble of the messages and
proclamations of the public sinner, as the proof of

—Ralph Waldo Emerson,

The Conduct of Life VI