The Lawmakers of the White Tower

The Lawmakers of the White Tower

A short play

by Kevin M. Flanagan

Cast

LAWMAKER ADAMS

LAWMAKER BAKER

CITIZEN

Setting

The White Tower. A large book, THE SACRED BOOK OF LAWS, on a pedestal.

(LIGHTS UP on LAWMAKER ADAMS and LAWMAKER BAKER, in robes. They stand majestically)

LAWMAKER ADAMS: I call this meeting of the Lawmakers of the White Tower to order. We are collected here today to create the perfect laws that will eliminate crime in our society.

LAWMAKER BAKER: Here, here.

LAWMAKER ADAMS: How, sisters and brothers, shall we solve the problem of crime with law?

LAWMAKER BAKER: I have an idea.

LAWMAKER ADAMS: Go on.

LAWMAKER BAKER: I propose a new law: all crimes shall be punishable by bodily dismemberment.

LAWMAKER ADAMS: Elaborate.

LAWMAKER BAKER: A rapist shall be castrated, a thief shall have their hands cut off, and those that commit the crime of vandalism shall be covered in tattoos of the state’s design.

LAWMAKER ADAMS: I cannot in good conscience vote for this law.

LAWMAKER BAKER: Why, are you a lawbreaker?

LAWMAKER ADAMS: No, I simply cannot condone any law that inflicts upon a CITIZEN of this great society corporal punishment. Anyone who proposes such a law is a barbarian.

LAWMAKER BAKER: That’s slander. Under my new law, we’d cut out your tongue.

LAWMAKER ADAMS: I propose a new law: anyone who condones a law that inflicts corporal punishment on lawbreakers should have one of their fingers cut off.

LAWMAKER BAKER: I am for this law.

LAWMAKER ADAMS: Cut off his finger!

LAWMAKER BAKER: Wait, I changed my mind.

LAWMAKER ADAMS: What, why?

LAWMAKER BAKER: This law is barbaric.

LAWMAKER ADAMS: You supported it a second ago.

LAWMAKER BAKER: Yes, but that was before I almost voted for it. I propose a new law; anyone who proposes a law that inflicts corporal punishment on lawbreakers should have their finger cut off.

LAWMAKER ADAMS: I support this law. Cut off his finger.

LAWMAKER BAKER: Wait, I changed my mind.

LAWMAKER ADAMS: Oh?

LAWMAKER BAKER: Yes. I simply cannot condone any law that inflicts upon a CITIZEN of this great society corporal punishment. Also, we didn’t actually vote.

LAWMAKER ADAMS: I propose a new law.

LAWMAKER BAKER: Go on.

LAWMAKER ADAMS: I propose that anyone who proposes or supports a law that inflicts corporal punishment on lawbreakers that fails to pass, should then have a finger cut off. All for the new law?

LAWMAKER BAKER: While philosophically I support this law, I cannot in good conscience vote for it.

LAWMAKER ADAMS: Uh, so…cut off my finger?

LAWMAKER BAKER: No, the law didn’t pass.

LAWMAKER ADAMS: Oh, good. That was close. We cannot allow our society to lapse into barbarism.

LAWMAKER BAKER: It is our sacred duty.

LAWMAKER ADAMS: But we cannot allow our society to lapse into anarchy!

LAWMAKER BAKER: It is our sacred duty. How best to deter crime, then?

LAWMAKER ADAMS: What if we abolish crime?

LAWMAKER BAKER: Elaborate.

LAWMAKER ADAMS: What if we simply say there are no crimes? That would solve the problem of crime.

LAWMAKER BAKER: Here, here!

LAWMAKER ADAMS: I propose a new law: There are no laws!

LAWMAKER BAKER: I vote…wait.

LAWMAKER ADAMS: What is it now?

LAWMAKER BAKER: If I vote for this law, won’t it just abolish itself?

LAWMAKER ADAMS: Do you think so?

LAWMAKER BAKER: I’m not sure. Let’s find out.

LAWMAKER ADAMS: All for the law that abolishes all laws?

LAWMAKER BAKER: Yea!

LAWMAKER ADAMS: All opposed?

(Silence)

LAWMAKER BAKER: Wait, you didn’t vote.

LAWMAKER ADAMS: I didn’t think it would be ethical for me to vote for a law I proposed.

LAWMAKER BAKER: Good point. Then a majority passes the law.

LAWMAKER ADAMS: All law is nullified!

(A writes down the law in the SACRED BOOK OF LAWS. They both look around expectantly)

LAWMAKER BAKER: So, did that law abolish itself?

LAWMAKER ADAMS: I’m not sure.

LAWMAKER BAKER: Consult the SACRED BOOK OF LAWS.

LAWMAKER ADAMS: Huh, it’s still written there.

LAWMAKER BAKER: So, it didn’t nullify itself?

LAWMAKER ADAMS: This law is useless!

LAWMAKER BAKER: We should abolish it.

LAWMAKER ADAMS: All for the abolishment of the new “abolishment of law” law?

LAWMAKER BAKER: Yea!

LAWMAKER ADAMS: All opposed?

(Silence)

LAWMAKER ADAMS: Majority consensus. (Crosses off the law in THE SACRED BOOK OF LAWS)

LAWMAKER BAKER: Law is easy.

LAWMAKER ADAMS: Here, here.

LAWMAKER BAKER: We are no closer to a perfect society, however.

LAWMAKER ADAMS: These things take time. Trial, and error.

LAWMAKER BAKER: Our job is very trying. Should we perhaps consider giving ourselves a raise?

LAWMAKER ADAMS: Good idea.

LAWMAKER BAKER: I propose that the wage of the lawmakers of the White Tower be doubled! All for?

LAWMAKER ADAMS: Yea!

LAWMAKER BAKER: All opposed?

(Silence)

LAWMAKER ADAMS: Oh, good. Write it down.

(LAWMAKER BAKER writes the law in the SACRED BOOK OF LAWS)

LAWMAKER BAKER: That’s better.

LAWMAKER ADAMS: I’m not sure that put us any closer to our goal of eliminating crime and creating a perfect society.

LAWMAKER BAKER: We will make better laws now that we are paid better.

LAWMAKER ADAMS: Oh, I agree.

LAWMAKER BAKER: Certainly.

LAWMAKER ADAMS: Oh, I’ve got something! The new law must be working.

LAWMAKER BAKER: Let’s hear it.

LAWMAKER ADAMS: I propose another new law – All new laws must be proposed by the common people of our great society!

LAWMAKER BAKER: That sounds good. I vote Yea.

LAWMAKER ADAMS: All opposed?

(Silence)

LAWMAKER ADAMS: Then it is law.

(LAWMAKER ADAMS writes the law in the SACRED BOOK OF LAWS)

LAWMAKER BAKER: That’s very clever of you. Less work for us. Now we’ll have more time to consider law as an abstract.

LAWMAKER ADAMS: Thank you. I’m quite pleased with it.

(Both nod, pleased with themselves. They stand around for some time, looking about expectantly.)

LAWMAKER BAKER: They aren’t coming.

LAWMAKER ADAMS: Don’t they know what a just and great law we have conceived?

LAWMAKER BAKER: (look out the window) I don’t think they do.

LAWMAKER ADAMS: Unwashed heathens! What has become of our great society? Do people care nothing for civil responsibility? The people are hedonistic fools!

LAWMAKER BAKER: We have made a terrible mistake.

LAWMAKER ADAMS: I propose the abolishment of…oh, wait. I can’t propose law anymore.

LAWMAKER BAKER: Yes, we’ve painted ourselves into a corner, haven’t we?

LAWMAKER ADAMS: Is anyone coming?

LAWMAKER BAKER: There’s someone out there, should I get them?

LAWMAKER ADAMS: Yes, hurry! We can’t sit around here doing nothing all day, now can we?

LAWMAKER BAKER: Are you proposing-

LAWMAKER ADAMS: No. I can’t propose laws. Though I must say that’s an excellent idea for a law as well.

LAWMAKER BAKER: Oh! He’s coming up.

LAWMAKER ADAMS: Stop gawking. Quick, look wise and powerful.

(CITIZEN enters the room.)

CITIZEN: Uh, hello?

LAWMAKER ADAMS: Greetings CITIZEN of our near perfect society! What a splendid example of civil responsibility you are!

LAWMAKER BAKER: Yes, yes, very grassroots.

CITIZEN: What?

LAWMAKER ADAMS: We were just waiting for you to happen by.

CITIZEN: You were?

LAWMAKER BAKER: Yes.

LAWMAKER ADAMS: Indeed.

CITIZEN: Why?

LAWMAKER ADAMS: Why? Oh, CITIZEN. It is your civil duty.

CITIZEN: I was just looking for a bathroom, actually.

LAWMAKER ADAMS: Sorry, no.

CITIZEN: What?

LAWMAKER BAKER: We don’t have a public bathroom.

CITIZEN: Seriously?

LAWMAKER BAKER: Deadly serious, I’m afraid.

LAWMAKER ADAMS: Furthermore, there’s no time for that. Your great society needs you, CITIZEN!

LAWMAKER BAKER: Oh, right, yes.

CITIZEN: Can it wait? I really have to go.

LAWMAKER ADAMS: This is a matter of the greatest import! We have need of your involvement.

LAWMAKER BAKER: We made a stupid law-

LAWMAKER ADAMS: A great and noble law that dignifies the whole of creation.

LAWMAKER BAKER: That’s what I meant.

CITIZEN: Is that what you do here?

LAWMAKER ADAMS: It was. Until we made that great and noble law.

LAWMAKER BAKER: It’s really quite clever.

LAWMAKER ADAMS: You see, that’s why we need you to propose a law for us to vote on.

CITIZEN: Okay.

(LAWMAKER ADAMS and LAWMAKER BAKER stare expectantly)

CITIZEN: What?

LAWMAKER ADAMS: Go on then.

LAWMAKER BAKER: Yes, propose the new law.

CITIZEN: Oh, okay. I propose that all bathrooms in our great society be made public.

LAWMAKER ADAMS: That’s not what I meant. I vote Nay.

LAWMAKER BAKER: Nay as well.

CITIZEN: I vote yea.

LAWMAKER ADAMS: You can’t vote, you proposed the law. It’d be unethical for you to vote.

LAWMAKER BAKER: And we outnumber you anyway.

CITIZEN: I’m leaving.

LAWMAKER ADAMS: Wait! Don’t go.

LAWMAKER BAKER: We really need your help, CITIZEN.

CITIZEN: I really need to use the bathroom.

LAWMAKER ADAMS: Hedonist!

(LAWMAKER BAKER approaches CITIZEN, takes him aside)

LAWMAKER BAKER: Look, good CITIZEN, if you propose a law that puts law-proposing power back into our hands, I’ll propose a law giving you amnesty to our bathroom.

CITIZEN: Is that the law I was supposed to propose? It doesn’t seem in my best interests.

LAWMAKER BAKER: Do you want to use the bathroom or not?

CITIZEN: Fine, fine.

(They break their huddle)

CITIZEN: I propose a new law eliminating the law that eliminated the power of law proposal by the uh…who are you?

LAWMAKER ADAMS: The Lawmakers of the White Tower.

CITIZEN: The Lawmakers of the White Tower. All for?

A & LAWMAKER BAKER: Yea!

CITIZEN: All opposed?

(Silence)

LAWMAKER ADAMS: Good work, CITIZEN. (LAWMAKER ADAMS scratches out the law)

LAWMAKER BAKER: Well done.

CITIZEN: Your turn.

LAWMAKER BAKER: Oh, yes. I propose a law that temporarily annexes the bathroom of the White Tower as public property.

LAWMAKER ADAMS: What? That’s madness!

LAWMAKER BAKER: All opposed?

LAWMAKER ADAMS: Nay!

LAWMAKER BAKER: All for?

CITIZEN: Yea!

LAWMAKER ADAMS: You don’t get a vote. The law does not pass.

LAWMAKER BAKER: Sorry.

CITIZEN: What? You mean to say-

LAWMAKER ADAMS: You abdicated your power without considering the consequences. That’s what you get for being a hedonistic, uneducated idiot.

LAWMAKER BAKER: I tried my best.

CITIZEN: This is an outrage!

LAWMAKER ADAMS: Probably.

LAWMAKER BAKER: Certainly.

CITIZEN: I propose-

LAWMAKER ADAMS: Uh, what are you doing? You gave up that power.

LAWMAKER BAKER: Don’t you trust us to make laws in your best interest?

CITIZEN: If you won’t let me use the bathroom, then I’ll just go in the streets.

(CITIZEN starts to leave, LAWMAKER ADAMS & LAWMAKER BAKER say their next lines very quickly)

LAWMAKER ADAMS: I propose a new law: Public urination or defecation is punishable by death. All for?

LAWMAKER BAKER: Yea.

LAWMAKER ADAMS: All opposed? The law passes.

CITIZEN: Come on!

LAWMAKER ADAMS: We do what is right for our great society.

LAWMAKER BAKER: Here, Here.

(As LAWMAKER ADAMS & LAWMAKER BAKER deliver their next few lines to one another, CITIZEN undoes his belt and squats)

LAWMAKER BAKER: Didn’t you say you couldn’t condone any law that inflicted bodily harm on CITIZENs earlier?

LAWMAKER ADAMS: Well, that was before I met one.

LAWMAKER BAKER: Good point. This has been a rather busy day for us, hasn’t it?

LAWMAKER ADAMS: Yes, it has. I was thinking about proposing another pay-raise law. How do you think you’d vote?

LAWMAKER BAKER: It would apply to me as well, right?

LAWMAKER ADAMS: Yes, of course, of course- What are you doing?

CITIZEN: Engaging in civil disobedience

LAWMAKER ADAMS: You can’t do that here! It’s against the law!

LAWMAKER BAKER: Are you certain? I don’t recall ever proposing a law that specifically banned defecation in the sacred hall of the White Tower.

LAWMAKER ADAMS: We just passed it.

CITIZEN: (grunts)

LAWMAKER BAKER: No, that banned urination and defecation in public.

LAWMAKER ADAMS: This is a public space!

CITIZEN: You specifically said this wasn’t a public space.

LAWMAKER BAKER: Actually, we just stated that we didn’t have a public restroom.

CITIZEN: That suggests that the space is private.

LAWMAKER ADAMS: It’s implied, yes- Oh! That means you are trespassing!

LAWMAKER BAKER: What’s the penalty for trespassing?

LAWMAKER ADAMS: I’m not sure. Check the SACRED BOOK OF LAWS.

CITIZEN: Well be quick about it, I’m not sure if I can handle the suspense.

LAWMAKER BAKER: (checking book) I’m not sure we’ve proposed a law addressing penalties for trespassing.

LAWMAKER ADAMS: I propose a new law: The penalty for trespassing is public humiliation!

CITIZEN: This whole process has been rather humiliating- I’d argue I’m being punished as I commit the crime.

LAWMAKER ADAMS: You stay out of this! All for the new law?

(Silence)

LAWMAKER ADAMS: Are you serious?

LAWMAKER BAKER: He has a valid point.

LAWMAKER ADAMS: Who’s side are you on?

LAWMAKER BAKER: The people’s, theoretically.

CITIZEN: Thanks, man.

LAWMAKER BAKER: Well, the people as an abstract, at least.

LAWMAKER ADAMS: All opposed?

LAWMAKER BAKER: Nay!

CITIZEN: So, I’m currently being punished for a crime that doesn’t exist?

LAWMAKER ADAMS: What? No!

LAWMAKER BAKER: It does seem that way.

LAWMAKER ADAMS: Look, fine, you can use the bathroom.

CITIZEN: Finally.

(CITIZEN stops squatting and walks backstage)

LAWMAKER ADAMS: This is becoming a circus.

LAWMAKER BAKER: We could empower The CITIZEN to vote on laws but deny him the power to propose laws. Then The CITIZEN might feel like they have a say, without abdicating any real power to him.

LAWMAKER ADAMS: What purpose would that serve?

LAWMAKER BAKER: It seems nice. He might be less likely to defecate on the sacred floors of the White Tower.

LAWMAKER ADAMS: Good idea. I propose we allow The CITIZEN to vote on new law proposals. All for?

LAWMAKER BAKER: Yea!

LAWMAKER ADAMS: All opposed? The law passes. Record it in the SACRED BOOK OF LAWS.

(B scrawls in the SACRED BOOK OF LAWS)

LAWMAKER ADAMS: We have done this great society a powerful service.

(CITIZEN returns)

CITIZEN: Thanks.

LAWMAKER BAKER: Good news, CITIZEN! We have empowered you to vote on laws.

CITIZEN: I propose-

LAWMAKER ADAMS: We did not empower you with the power to propose laws. Don’t get ahead of yourself.

LAWMAKER BAKER: Sorry.

LAWMAKER ADAMS: Where were we? Ah, yes. I propose a new law that doubles the wages of the Lawmakers of the White Tower!

CITIZEN: Wait, does that include me?

LAWMAKER ADAMS: Of course not. All for?

LAWMAKER BAKER: Yea!

LAWMAKER ADAMS: All opposed ?

CITIZEN: Nay!

LAWMAKER ADAMS: What? What are you doing?

CITIZEN: Why would I vote for a wage increase for you two?

LAWMAKER BAKER: He has a valid point.

LAWMAKER ADAMS: Have we not demonstrated we have your best interests in mind?

CITIZEN: No, not really.

LAWMAKER BAKER: Again, a valid point.

LAWMAKER ADAMS: Hedonist!

LAWMAKER BAKER: Let’s not be rash.

LAWMAKER ADAMS: How could we convince you to vote for the proposed law?

CITIZEN: Well, you could cut me in.

LAWMAKER ADAMS: Make you a lawmaker?

LAWMAKER BAKER: Scandalous- but fair.

LAWMAKER ADAMS: Fine. I propose a new law that makes The CITIZEN a lawmaker, with voting and proposal powers. All for?

CITIZEN&LAWMAKER BAKER: Yea!

LAWMAKER ADAMS: All opposed? The law passes. Transcribe it in the SACRED BOOK OF LAWS.

LAWMAKER BAKER: Welcome aboard.

CITIZEN: Thanks. I propose a new law.

LAWMAKER ADAMS: We haven’t passed the pay raise law.

CITIZEN: I know. I propose a new law, that anyone who votes against this law proposal remains a lawmaker, while those that vote for it lose their lawmaker status- additionally, if this law fails to pass everyone who voted on this proposal lose their lawmaker status.

LAWMAKER ADAMS: Wait, what?

LAWMAKER BAKER: That’s confusing.

CITIZEN: All against?

LAWMAKER ADAMS: Wait, I’m not sure I understand.

CITIZEN: All against?

LAWMAKER ADAMS: Uh, Nay!

CITIZEN: All for?

(CITIZEN looks at LAWMAKER BAKER)

LAWMAKER BAKER: Abstain.

CITIZEN: Abstain. The vote fails.

LAWMAKER BAKER: Transcribe it in the SACRED BOOK OF LAWS.

LAWMAKER ADAMS: Wait, wait. The law failed to pass.

LAWMAKER BAKER: Right, so everyone who voted loses their lawmaker status.

LAWMAKER ADAMS: That can’t be right.

CITIZEN: Emergency proposal. Does the previous law pass?

LAWMAKER BAKER: Yea.

CITIZEN: Yea.

LAWMAKER ADAMS: Nay!

LAWMAKER BAKER: The law passes. Transcribe it in the SACRED BOOK OF LAWS.

CITIZEN: This, over here? The thing with all the scribbled out stuff?

LAWMAKER BAKER: That’s the one.

LAWMAKER ADAMS: This is an outrage! If the proposal passed and you voted on it, you lose your position as lawmakers!

LAWMAKER BAKER: We didn’t vote on it.

CITIZEN: We voted on an emergency proposal to pass a previous proposal.

LAWMAKER ADAMS: This is an outrage! I propose-

LAWMAKER BAKER: You no longer have the power to propose laws.

CITIZEN: In fact, I’m pretty sure you are trespassing.

LAWMAKER BAKER: Here, Here.

LAWMAKER ADAMS: Outrage! Hedonists!

CITIZEN: Please show yourself out.

(LAWMAKER ADAMS leaves in a huff)

CITIZEN: I propose a pay-raise for the Lawmakers of the White Tower. All for?

LAWMAKER BAKER: Yea!

CITIZEN: Transcribe it in THE SACRED BOOK OF LAWS.

(LIGHTS OUT)

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