UNDERNEWS

Undernews is the online report of the Progressive Review, edited by Sam Smith, who has covered Washington during all or part of one quarter of America's presidencies and edited alternative journals since 1964. The Review has been on the web since 1995. See main page for full contents

February 26, 2009

KENTUCKY PROHIBITS FIRST RESPONDERS FROM DUELING

Lowering the Bar - Originally, this post was about a debate over a Kentucky law that requires the state Office of Homeland Security to give God credit for being a vital member of its staff. Section 39G.010(2)(a) of the Kentucky Statutes requires the office's executive director to "publicize" a legislative finding that "reliance upon Almighty God" is a necessary component of homeland security, by, among other things, putting up a plaque. Nothing at all wrong with depending on God -- especially if the alternative is FEMA -- but I thought mandating a government proclamation about it seemed a little odd.

It was more interesting, though, that under a related law, all emergency responders in Kentucky are required to swear an oath not only that they will uphold the Constitution, but also that they have not been involved in a duel:

Each person who is appointed to serve in an organization for disaster and emergency response shall, before entering upon his or her duties, take an oath . . . as follows:

"And I do further solemnly swear (or affirm) that since the adoption of the present Constitution, I, being a citizen of this state, have not fought a duel with deadly weapons within this state, nor out of it, nor have I sent or accepted a challenge to fight a duel with deadly weapons, nor have I acted as second in carrying a challenge, nor aided or assisted any person thus offended, so help me God."

This law can't be explained as one of those Civil-War-era statutes that has just never been taken off the books, because it was passed in 1998. And looking at the oath more closely, they don't even have to swear that they won't duel -- it just says they haven't dueled in the past. Something to consider, I guess, before you call 911 in Kentucky.

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