Richards asked for a fashion-related analogy for the whole Bush surveillance scandal. It would have to have something to do with fashion and capture the way the Bush administration authorized warrantless surveillance of American citizens and then, when criticized for doing so, invoked "national security" to divert attention from the fundamental issue of the constitutionality of such surveillance. Phew.
Richards eventually picked two winners. One was by Walt:
To crack down on illegal knockoffs of designer dresses, a police chief institutes a program of detaining women and examining their garments for genuineness. The courts say this is OK, as long as a warrant is issued based on reasonable suspicion that the people being detained and examined were knowingly purchasing knockoffs. The police chief is caught detaining suspects and examining their garments without warrants. When challenged on this, he argues that this is justified because if a woman's clothing were on fire, the police must have the power to tear it off her without delay.And here's what I turned in:
THE NAKED KINGDOM TO THE NORTHLike Walt, I think I could finesse this a bit, but I'm glad that Emily found it worthy. I also liked The Other Dave's suggestion that something could be done with "The Emperor's New Clothes."
Once upon a time to the North, there lived a King and a Queen. Their arranged marriage had unified lands that had once been at war. In their vows, they agreed to make their decisions jointly and courteously. This arrangement often led them to make smarter decisions than they would have made otherwise.
Together, the King and Queen always managed to defend themselves from threats to the kingdom, but after one violent episode the King and Queen became extremely fearful of danger from within and without the land. Their kingdom was famous for its sumptuous clothing, but they replaced their elegant and supremely tasteful robes with ugly and expensive armor and spent more and more of the kingdom's wealth on weaponry and a huge squadron of spies with invisibility cloaks.
The more the King and Queen spent on weapons and security, the poorer their subjects became. But the more the subjects complained that the King and Queen were squandering the kingdom's wealth, the more the King and Queen resented the subjects and suspected them of treason.
Yet it came to pass that even the Queen began to think that the subjects might have a point. However, the Queen feared the King's temper and tolerated his behavior for the sake of marital and national stability.
Instead of coming to his senses, the King became consumed by suspicions about his complaining subjects. One spring he came up with a secret plan: He ordered his loyal spies to steal all the precious winter clothing of his subjects and thereby put them in their places. By this point the King figured the Queen would only complain about such a decision, so he avoided discussing it with her.
As winter approached and the subjects attempted to celebrate their customary winter wardrobe replacement festival, they discovered what the King and his spies had done. Worried about surviving the cold season without their prized gloves and hats and boots and parkas and woolen underwear, they again complained to the King. The Queen also confronted him and asked him why he hadn't gotten her approval for his actions.
But the King only became more defensive. Sending his fox-collared messengers throughout the kingdom, he issued the announcement that, as King, he had the power to do whatever he pleased. Declaring that his decisions were really for the stability of the kingdom in the long run, he insinuated that the loudest complainers were most likely those who wanted to undermine the security of the state.
Even as the King took this stand, his resentment of his subjects continued to well up in his mind. So did his thoughts of revenge. He imagined ordering the elimination of all of his subjects' treasured clothing and half-smiled to himself as he pictured how silly and vulnerable the complainers would look, shivering in the winter and blistering in the summer without their famous garments.
This vision of a naked kingdom made the mad King think of himself as a little more secure. He wondered what else it would take to live happily ever after.
A funny thing about this is that I've often longed for more illustrators in my life. (Perhaps, looking at my photographs on this blog, you've shared the same longing.) I was just talking about that with Debbie last week. And now it looks like something I've written will, in fact, be illustrated in some form. Perhaps this will lead to even more illustrations.
Illustration by Emily Richards