I love that word. Wikipedia says it was originally coined during Prohibition and referred to those who drank in speak-easies. I would have been a scofflaw at that time.
I always think of a scofflaw as a harmless sort of criminal, or a rebellious one. MY kind of criminal. Doing no real harm, but flaunting the laws and conventions that might be understandably flauntable.
There were scofflaws abounding last night. I know there are illegal fireworks every Fourth, I have been a scofflaw myself with fireworks, though the extent of my rebellion was usually sparklers and those smelly black wormy things that leave all sorts of marks on your driveway. Last night, however, I was blown away by the scofflaw-ity. I sat in my driveway enjoying full on fireworks all around me. I mean huge, LOUD, bursting in air fireworks, coming from the streets around me. This has never happened before as far as I know. I am usually a stay at home 4th-er, so I know.
It was wonderful! I sat in my very own driveway, having been a slug all day, not even showered , and was graced by a fabulous show. I was dumb-struck by the audacity of the people shooting them off though. I kept waiting for police sirens and mass round-ups but it never happened. I am aware of the inherent danger in fireworks, especially “just folk” setting them off….loss of fingers, burns, burning down of edifices, etc. But I wasn’t thinking of that.
You know what I thought of? I thought of rebellion and freedom and protest. I kept hearing a chant in my head “What do we want? FIREWORKS! When do we want them? NOW!!” I was absolutely delighted by the outright rebellion that these folks were exhibiting, and it reminded me of a time when I actively pursued rebellion and protest. I was, as I said, sitting in my driveway. not doing it myself…but it brought all of that to mind.
And I thought of Egypt and this second ouster of a government by the people, of Edward Snowden and Julian Assange and their “outlaw” status (scofflaws more appropriately). I thought back to Watergate and Vietnam war protests, and recalled standing on sidewalks with lit candles and signs protesting our illegal war in Iraq. Of Syria. Of the great outpouring of hope in electing a President who was going to be different and who sends drones to kill people and is a disappointment all around. Of Wendy Davis and her heroic filibuster of the Texas senate for basic human rights for women, and all of the men who are making those decisions and getting them pushed through as laws in other states. Of all the LBGT men and women who are getting married, who have had their civil rights handed to them, not even restored because they never had them.
I could think of a million more…these are the times we live in. Scary times. And the main scofflaws are, sadly, the tea-partiers, who are crazy and misguided but at least believe in something. But we also have the occupy movement, we have those who are writing about things that have been hidden for a long time, brave whistle blowers who could easily end up in a no man’s land of prison and legal abuse, as others have before them.
It’s time to embrace my inner scofflaw again. So often I feel that I am through, too old, let the next generation do it. But that is bullshit. I have principles that I try and live by. I am a principled and moral person. And if all I can do is speak, or post on FB or write a silly blog…well than at least I am doing that. I imagine there is much more I can do, and I need to do it. We, none of us, can stay silent as we chip away at the 4th amendment. As we send drones into other countries to kill “enemies” (and collateral people, just like us). As we clear out peaceful Occupy forces with tear gas and hoses. I have no idea where to start. NO idea. Maybe this is it, this saying it out loud.
Things gotta change; scofflaws gotta do it.
Watching fireworks in my driveway brought me to this, what’s gonna bring you?