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Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Scofflaws Can Be Such Killjoys


Scoff. Laws.

Whatcha gonna do?

Whatcha gonna do when they come for you?

Scofflaws, scofflaws...

If you're a scofflaw in Philadelphia, watch your ass, because court officers may just be knocking on your door, anxious to put their feet all the way up that ass of yours until they're toe-tickling your tonsils.

On Sunday night, court officers hit the bricks and busted 32 minor league shitheads who, together, owe the city approximately $120,000 for prior traffic violations. I watched the news on Monday morning and was slightly amused to see these num-nums being loaded into paddy wagons (yes, we still have those in Philly-- we call them Emergency Patrol Wagons, or "E.P.W.'s" for short) with their hands cuffed behind their backs and denim jackets draped over their heads, as if they were hardened criminals or something.

This presentation undoubtedly gave their criminal image a great boost. Likewise, the image of court officers also got kicked up a notch as these over-rated bailiffs and prisoner transport jockeys got to don heavy ballistic vests and wear their badges on chains around their necks, looking like U.S. Marshals or Ice-T from "Law & Order," bustin' down doors and not takin' no shit.

(Sidebar: When having casual conversations on the set, do you think, like, Richard Belzer calls Ice-T "Ice-T" or do you think he calls him "Tracy," his real name? Maybe he calls him "Barbara.")

Anyway, as I was watching these petty criminals being cuffed and stuffed into the E.P.W., my wife and I got into a brief discussion over the term "scofflaw," which is what these dunderheads essentially are, and it was how they were referred to by the local television newsheroes that Philadelphians incongruously worship.

"Scofflaw," my wife said, "that's such a funny word."

"Mm," was my intellectual contribution, before adding, "it's probably from old English."

"Right," she, the linguist, agreed, "like 'buzzkill' and 'killjoy'. We don't have that many more words in American English today."

The image on the television news program changed to that of a church. The reporter droned on about some story that might have been interesting to a Christian or something.

"Oh, you mean like 'touchboy' or 'fondlechild'?" I offered.

"Exactly," my wife said, "we just don't have words like that."

But, how wonderful would it be if we did? You could refer to your job, or your boss, as a "sucklife," your car as a "guzzlegas," and your blog as "masturbationclean."

The more I thought about the term "scofflaw" the more I started to like it. "I am one who scoffs at laws." I wonder how many of the 32 people arrested know what "scoffing" is. Probably not many of them. Maybe that's an ignorant or racist thing to say, and maybe you want to complain about that. Well, go ahead. I will scoff at your complaints. I will not pass them onto my superiors. In fact, I have no superiors. I scoffed at them, and they ran away from me, crying. Crybabies.


Thinking about scofflaws, and the word scoffing in general, I think we need to move more in the direction of scoffing and less in the direction of snark. I think there is far too much snark in this society and far too little scoffing. So, let's get out there and scoff at some shit.


Oh, and, by the way: while doing research for this post (yes, I do research for these things. Isn't that painful?) I came across a quote that Richard Belzer offered at the 2002 Roast of Chevy Chase: "The only time Chevy Chase has a funny bone in him is when I fuck him up the ass."

Scoff at that, if you can.


  1. At first I was puzzled. Bewildered.

    I didn't know what "scofflaw" was. I was about to google it when you explained yourself.

    I am familiar with the term "scoff", but never heard it with "law" on the end.

    Anytime I hear the word "scoff", I think of that really weird noise people make when their throat is itching and they attempt to scratch it by sounding like a wounded know, when, if you do it just one more time, you think the rattle in your laryx will sooth that annoying ass scratch in there...No? Don't know what I'm talking about? It's okay. It is just one of the those weird things that I am rarely afflicted with...

    Anyhoodle....Hope everything in your world is great! Stay warm up there. It is sunny and 80 everyday in my universe. :-)

  2. Laurie--

    Truly, this comment enriched what was already an awesomeballs day.

    It was slightly traumatic, though, in that it reminded me of all the times in high school I was referred to as an "annoying ass scratch."

    Anyhoodle, everything in my world is great, except for the fact that it's not 80 degrees, and I'm not eating anything fried that is currently being dipped into ranch dressing.


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