NEW YORK (August 18) — A compromise to settle the uproar surrounding plans to locate an Islamic mosque within two blocks of Ground Zero appears to be in the works.
Rather than following quaint concepts like freedom of religion and assembly, a plan has emerged to let the will of the people — or at least those people who feel compelled to speak on the subject — decide where the community center will be built.
The Nielsen Company has compiled data from the hundreds of interviews done with pundits, politicians, bloggers and blowhards. Some have called for the proposed mosque to be moved an additional three to four blocks farther away. Others have said several miles uptown in Manhattan would represent a more sensitive approach. For still others, putting a gathering place for New York Muslims in Mecca would be too close.
“We took all the distances that have been suggested so far and converted them into miles, and then came up with an average,” said Karen Miller, Nielsen vice president for research. “We’ve given planners a map with a circle showing all possible locations at 78.4 miles from Ground Zero that represented the consensus.”
“Since our founding fathers somehow neglected to address local zoning ordinances in their writing of the Constitution, this may well represent the best course,” said New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg.
The circle begins straight north of the city in Poughkeepsie, heads southwest through the Delaware State Forest and into Pennsylvania, passes into central New Jersey between Trenton and Philadelphia, then encompasses large swathes of the Atlantic Ocean before skirting the Hamptons on Long Island and returning to the mainland in Connecticut.
“There are several good options in there,” said New York City zoning chief Albert Newby. “Particularly attractive at first glance is the Sesame Place theme park in Pennsylvania, the abandoned Borscht Belt hotels in the Catskills, and several offshore drilling platforms virtually within walking distance of the Jersey shore. My sentimental favorite would be the first choice, as I think Elmo would make a great assistant imam.”
Constitutional scholars aren’t sure such a plan would be in keeping with what framers felt were fundamental rights that couldn’t be taken from citizens by popular will.
“But, what the hell,” said Professor Ryan Lehman of the Yale Law School. “Most people now recognize the Constitution as a living, breathing document. So why not let opinion polls and referenda, used with the law of averages, decide more of the pressing controversies of the day.”
One issue that could be impacted by this new philosophy is the subject of gay marriage in California. Though voters narrowly opposed the concept in a 2008 vote, a federal court has recently ruled the marriages could go forward, since they fell under the equal protection clause of the Constitution. So what to do when the will of the people and the law of the land conflict? Compromise.
“I’m proposing a plan that would allow gay marriages to take place, but with certain stipulations that might satisfy the opposition,” said California attorney general Jerry Brown. “Gays and lesbians would be considered legally married, but at the ceremony they’d have to say ‘I would’ rather than ‘I do.’ They’d have to apply Saran wrap to their faces before exchanging the post-ceremony kiss. And instead of being called something like ‘Mr. and Mr.’, they’d be known as ‘Homo and Homo.'”
A similar compromise could be applied to the debate over illegal immigration and whether or not the 14th Amendment allowing children born in the U.S. to become citizens should be struck down.
“How about this?” asked Phoenix mayor Phil Gordon. “Local police are required to ask for citizenship papers at traffic stops. If drivers don’t have them, they’re taken into custody, but the men and women are put into the same jail cell. If nature takes its course and they start producing babies, then the children become temporary citizens of the jail. The parents are deported but the kids are kept around to make coffee for the jailers, run errands and do light housekeeping. Basically, they become mascots of the prison, like the stray kitten you might be feeding in the parking lot. When they turn 18, they become full U.S. citizens.”
“That’s the craziest thing I’ve ever heard,” said immigration rights attorney William Cash.
“So crazy that it just might work,” countered Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer.