QR #11

Restrictions of the Unrestricted: Every Rule has an Exception

Haroun Kalifa, as he watches the Guppee soldiers debate, critique, and question their orders, comments that any  soldier caught behaving in such a way on earth would be court-martialled. Butt, the hoopoe, is surprised at this and asks, “But but but what is the point of giving persons Freedom of Speech if you then say they must not utilize same?” (Rushdie 119)

Gup, Butt’s home, is a much more peaceable country than any on earth, but this quote demonstrates the fact that it is also a place of simplicity. ‘Freedom of Speech’ is taken to mean just that and the possibility of exceptions is not considered. But is this a bad thing? The United States’ Bill of Rights promises no law restricting religion, speech, the press, the right to assembly, or to petition the government for the redress of grievances, but down on earth the simplest things are complex and every rule has an exception. As Haroun mentions, in the army, mutinous talk is punishable, creating an exception to the law. When looked at it from such an angle, the logic behind such laws seems flawed. The creation of such a blanket statement without any mention of an exception is almost a lie in my view, leading me to believe that a mechanical bird from earth’s second moon has a point about how earth should be run—absurd as that seems.

In making that statement, Rushdie uses Butt to question the ways of earthly governments and to show that sometimes laws and rules we’ve just accepted long ago aren’t quite what they seem. The promise of unrestricted license has a restriction somewhere, complicating a matter that at first seemed straight forward and simple.

Proposition:  In matters of earth’s politics, every rule has an exception, and nothing can ever be taken strictly literally.

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