"a fish, a barrel, and a smoking gun"
for 14 October 1997. Updated every WEEKDAY.
I Don't



Some feel divorce has become

all-too quick-'n'-easy an act. A

snap of the fingers, a signature

on a "no-fault" writ, and vows

made "til death do us part"

suddenly don't seem so eternal

anymore. But, as

Prozac-Pez-dispenser Peter

Kramer's latest tome Should You

Leave? would indicate (short

answer: No), an anti-divorce

backlash is on its way.


Consider, for example, the

secretary ordered by a North

Carolina jury to fork over a

cool mil for breaking up the

marriage of her former boss and

her former boss' former wife.

"We hope this will send a

message to the community and

help preserve families," said

the plaintiff's pure-of-heart



A little more south of that

Mason-Dixon line, the Louisiana

state legislature has attempted

to reduce the state's divorce

rate by permitting divorce only

in the narrowest of

circumstances: adultery, abuse,

imprisonment ... in other words,

the type of thing that goes on

in Louisiana marriages all the

time. Dubbed "covenant

marriages," this death knell to

"no-fault" divorces is - for the

moment - a voluntary

arrangement. But what couple

would belie idealistic hopes by

opting for an easier out should

the going get tough? Talk about

a jinx!



Americans, as always, have

completely contradictory

feelings about the

lather-rinse-repeat simplicity

of "no-fault" divorce. According

to a Time/CNN poll, 61 percent

of us feel that it should be

harder to get a divorce, while

59 percent of us don't think the

government should make it harder

to get a divorce. Who then

should be in charge? Chuck



Once again in typically American

fashion - as with low

standardized test scores, the

federal deficit, and Pauly Shore

movies - we're all hepped up on

the results while ignoring the

cause. The problem isn't the

proliferation of divorce - it's

the proliferation of marriage.

The only thing the authorities

dispense easier and with less

hassle than anti-depressants is

marriage licenses, making it all

that more interesting (and

lucrative) that author Kramer

has somehow found himself in the

middle of both debates.



When you stop and consider all

the couples you know - and the

angst and ennui and sturm und

drang involved in said pairings

- our nationwide 50 percent

divorce rate mightn't seem so

high. And those are the couples

trying to stick it out! In fact,

when you stop and consider that

the institution of marriage was

created when the average human

being lived to the ripe old age

of, like, 15, it's astounding

that any couple celebrates their

fiftieth wedding anniversary at



But we're obsessed. Obsessed

with keeping couples together,

wondering why couples aren't

staying together - a nation

cries from its rooftops: "I

really thought Larry King meant

it this time!! Where is the

Love?!" Well, was it there to

begin with? Or was that last

wedding you attended a little

too much of just another

lemming-run off Pike's Peak (it

being the appropriate time and

age to jump off Pike's Peak,

after all)?



Instead of juries finding in

favor of "the wronged woman" at

the expense of the various

adulteresses throughout this

fine nation, it makes far more

sense for society to step in and

take a little preemptive strike.

When it came out in court that

the original North Carolina

couple hadn't slept together in

the seven years prior to the

divorce, the jury would have

been better directed to instead

mandate that the respective

parties both start socking away

cash - for junior's future

psychotherapy. How much damage

did that couple do to their

children - and their children's

future spouses - by creating a

loveless, sexless, cuckolded

marriage as the gold standard

for that particular strain of



In fact, if society really wants

to solve the problem of our

nation's aggregate broken

marriages and/or hearts, we need

to do it right. Let's take a

page from one of the world's

foremost religious leaders - the

Rev. Moon - and initiate a

draft-registration-like program

of arranged marriage. As we

prove time and time again, we

are a people constantly in a

state of emotional and

intellectual hangover,

collectively sitting up in bed,

heads aching, furtively glancing

at the randomly-chosen partner

from the night before and

wondering, "What Was I

Thinking?!" Whether the object

of regret is a style, a decade,

a president, or a spouse,

clearly "the people" can't be

trusted with this decision. So,

let's give the power to the




And as President Clinton

announces his selection of


Barbara "Beyond Codependant"

DeAngelis as our new "Love

Czar," and singles rush to their

mailboxes to play the new

national party game "Who'd You

Get Stuck With?" (a variation of

which is already played),

sociologists the world over can

study the grand experiment. If

DeAngelis wants to get real

tough, she can impose stricter

requirements before a candidate

is allowed to hit that aisle - a

clean record of at least three

years without any serious

emotional accidents, a ban on

drinking and procreating, a

minimum age requirement of 27.

Repeat offenders - Trump,

Taylor, King - get their

licenses revoked for life. Yes,

the Love Czar might be able to

get that divorce rate to



And, at the very least, whenever

you get the government involved,

it gives the rest of us someone

else to blame.

courtesy of James Bong

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