Tuesday, March 31, 2009

HB1388 And The Meaning Of Words

Hello Lloyd. Nice to see you drop in. Guess there's nothing much new to plagiarize lately?

Let me back up a moment.

My previous little clip was a critique of a bill recently passed out of the House of Representatives. A bill co-sponsored by Virginia's boy wonder Tom "Terrific" Perriello, HB1388.

A couple of commenters got their panties in a bunch because they have fallen for the talking points and not read the bill for themselves.

Lloyd Snook, an attorney from Charlottesville, even begins his comment with the snide remark, "Didn't read the bill before blogging about it, I guess..."

Yes, James and Lloyd, I did read the bill. Now perhaps you two should go and do likewise. Stop listening to defences of the bill and actually take the time to see what it really says.

Neither Lloyd nor James offer arguments of any substance, just platitudes and talking points.

They both claim that I'm wrong when I say that the bill bans participants from regularly attending church, or teaching in a church youth group, but the bill is quite clear on this point. I would also like to be clear on one point. I am not a lawyer. Don't even claim to be, like Lloyd does.

Here is the actual text from HB1388 (now S277) as passed by the House;
Emphasis added;

`(a) Prohibited Activities- A participant in an approved national service position under this subtitle may not engage in the following activities:

`(1) Attempting to influence legislation. (No letters to your Congressman, or I suppose, letters to the editor of your local paper.)

`(2) Organizing or engaging in protests, petitions, boycotts, or strikes....

And so it goes until it gets to paragraph 7;
`(7) Engaging in religious instruction, conducting worship services, providing instruction as part of a program that includes mandatory religious instruction or worship, constructing or operating facilities devoted to religious instruction or worship, maintaining facilities primarily or inherently devoted to religious instruction or worship, or engaging in any form of religious proselytization.
Both James and Lloyd claim the above applies to the organization receiving funds, not the participant.


Besides the fact that the word participant is plainly used in the above quoted section, the bill itself has a section titled "definitions". In that section there is no official definition for "participant", however the word "participant" is used extensively throughout the bill to describe a citizen volunteer "participating" in this endeavor. Organizations receiving funds are typically referred to in this bill as "Organizations" or "Grant Recipients".

So, I suppose if you're tasked with the rather onerous job of defending this mess you must disregard common English language and its generally accepted use in favor of made up stuff which you've been told to say.

A participant is a participant unless he's an organization, then he's a grant recipient. Give me a break, Lloyd. I may not be a lawyer, but I can read the English language.

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