Okay, kids. Listen up. This is your principal, Mr. Queeg. As part of this year's Fourth of July Celebration here at Agnew Middle School, we've put together a special compulsory program that I like to call: The Living Legacy of the Bill of Rights.
I'm going to give you this schedule once and once only, so write it down with a sharp No. 2 pencil, taking care to maintain a one-inch margin on both sides of your standard-issue, 1957-model Blue Horse notebook paper:
9 a.m.: We will gather in the Agnew Gym, where Miss Crump will lead us in a celebration of the enduring majesty of the Fourth Amendment, which guarantees "the right of the people to be secure in their persons . . . against unreasonable searches and seizures . . . but upon probable cause."
9:30 a.m.: Members of the girls' field hockey team will be granted an early release from the Fourth Amendment celebration so they can begin lining up for their mandatory urine tests in the cafeteria.
By the way, girls, I'm sure I speak for everyone here at Agnew when I say that we'll all be pulling for the Fightin' Patriotettes _ or at least those of you who are still on the squad after your visit to the cafeteria Port-o-Lets _ when you take the field tomorrow against the Scalia Middle School Lady Sophists. And remember: The match is being sponsored by our friends at Baer-Getz Brewery. When you think of beer, think of Baer-Getz.
10 a.m.: Back to the gym, where Miss Crump will lead our celebration of the Eighth Amendment, which prohibits "cruel and unusual punishments."
10:30 a.m.: We'll all board buses for our field trip to Highway 61, where state Sen. Charles (Cool Hand) Crist will lead the Agnew Middle School Junior Chain Gang as it debuts its new precision marching routine to a medley of our favorite John Philip Sousa songs.
11:30: a.m. In honor of our nation's revered tradition of freedom of choice, lunch at the fast-food restaurant of your choosing.
2:30 p.m.: on0 Everybody will reconvene at Agnew Stadium, where the Agnew Fifth Grade People's Pee Wee Militia and Drill Team will give a 21-gun salute to the Second Amendment. Little Joseph ("Crazy Joe") McNutt Jr., will read his NRA prize-winning essay explaining why the Founding Fathers' reference to a "well-regulated militia" was actually intended to protect the rights of wackos who want to hide assault weapons in their pants.
1:30 p.m.: We say hello again to Sen. Crist, who will be accompanied by our extra-special guest, Supreme Court Justice Clarence (Slow Hand) Thomas. They will explain why public officials do NOT need to be subjected to random drug tests. "After all, we don't even play field hockey," the senator told me.
Sen. Crist also will explain why chain gangs are NOT a good idea for his colleagues who were caught breaking campaign finance laws, and Justice Thomas will discuss the proper discipline of judges who are caught downloading cyberporn in their law libraries.
2:30 p.m.: Back to the gym for Part One of our festive two-part First Amendment Extravaganza!
U.S. Rep. Charles (I'm No John F.) Canady will lead our discussion of the opening clause of the First Amendment, which states that "Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion. . . ."
Next, little Becky Fester, the obnoxious fifth-grader who keeps leaving religious limericks in everybody's locker, will oversee an entirely voluntary and student-led worship service during which you youngsters will be politely brow-beaten into coming down to the free-throw-line/pulpit area and witnessing for Jesus or the alternate savior of your choice.
Attendance at this strictly voluntary event is absolutely mandatory.
3:30 p.m.: Part Two of our First Amendment Extravaganza, capping off our Bill of Rights Celebration, features a lecture on freedom of speech by yours truly, Mr. Queeg.
Don't miss it!
If you know what's good for you.
And be warned: Any wiseacre who tries to instigate a repeat of last week's assembly hall heckling will be summarily expelled and shipped directly to the Junior Chain Gang.
And don't try to give me any of that guff about "the right of the people peaceably to assemble."
This is a great country! And that's an order!
There'd better not be.
Now let the celebration begin!
Robert Friedman is deputy editor of editorials for the Times.