Sunday, May 05, 2002

I wonder when the first bureaucracy was created? Was it in China, with all its scribes, or was it under Hammurabi with his code of laws in Babylon, or under the earliest pharoahs in Egypt? I wonder further when the first satire of bureaucracy was written? There must be a writer who pre-dates Gogol and his Dead Souls, the oldest novel that comes to mind on the subject. Because if bureaucracy has been part of human existence for thousands of years, then human beings have suffered from it for just as long.

Take the friend of my beloved little brother. His name is, uh, "George." On his driver's license it states that his sex is "female." He is not, however, female. But getting this changed is apparently a Herculean task.

"I was just reading," my beloved little brother said, "about a lawyer who had the same problem." This lawyer apparently went to the Department of Motor Vehicles, where a clerk there told him that the only way to correct the error was to fill out a form saying that he had changed his sex. Which he refused to do.

"I'm a lawyer and I'll take this to the Supreme Court if I have to," he told the clerk. The clerk said fine, but between the six years it will take for the case to get to the Supreme Court, he will have to put up with a lot of security hassles in the New America Made Safe from Terrorism.

The lawyer broke down and filled out the change-of-sex form.

My little brother was gleeful, because "George" has some, er, personal issues he hasn't quite worked out: "He would go ballistic if he had to fill out a change-of-sex form."

The Swedish word for the day is tjänsteman. It means civil servant.

- by Francis S.

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