A plaque remaining from the Big Apple Night Club at West 135th Street and Seventh Avenue in Harlem.

Above, a 1934 plaque from the Big Apple Night Club at West 135th Street and Seventh Avenue in Harlem. Discarded as trash in 2006.

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Entry from October 01, 2011
“The United States is a nation of laws: badly written and randomly enforced”

English philosopher James Harrington (1611-1677), wrote in The Commonwealth of Oceana (1656), “a commonwealth is an empire of laws and not of men.” John Adams (1735-1826), wrote “a government of laws, and not of men” in 1774.

The musician and satirist Frank Zappa (1940-1993) added a twist:

“The United States is a nation of laws: badly written and randomly enforced.”

A 1992 interviewer reminded Zappa that he “once said” this; it’s not known when Zappa first said it.


Wikiquote: Frank Zappa
Frank Vincent Zappa (21 December 1940 – 4 December 1993) was an American musician, composer and satirist.
(...)
Zen Masters : The Wisdom of Frank Zappa (2003)
Quotes of Zappa in W. C. Privy’s Original Bathroom Companion (2003) by Jack Mingo and Erin Barrett, p. 134
. The United States is a nation of laws: badly written and randomly enforced.

Frank Zappa-Drowning in the News Bath (1992)
by Jon Winokur
(...)
JON WINOKUR - You once said, “The United States is a nation of laws, badly written and randomly enforced,” and within the past few years you’ve battled censorship and have been active in national politics. How do you assess the health of American democracy in the late twentieth century?

FRANK ZAPPA - Democracy is one of those things that looks good on paper, but we’ve come to a crossroads in contemporary America where we really ought to decide, Do we *want* it? When you have a preponderance of people in this country who will willingly accept censorship- in fact, *ask* for it, *demand* it in the case of the Gulf War- you’ve got a problem. Asked random questions about the First Amendment and how they would like to have it applied, if you believe in polls at all, the average American wants no part of it. But if you ask, “What if we threw the Constitution away tomorrow?” the answer is “No, that would be bad!” But living under the Constitution is another story altogether. I’ve come to the conclusion that there’s only one party in this country and it’s divided into two parts: Republicans and Republican wannabes. Republicans stand for evil, corruption, manipulation, greed- everything that Americans think is okay after being conditioned to it during the eighties. Republicans stand for all the values that Americans now hold dear. Plus they have more balloons than God, and for a nation raised on cartoons, that tells you something. Anybody with balloons, they’re okay. They don’t tell you what kind of crippled people had to blow those suckers up. The Democrats have no agenda, and when they speak on any topic, they want to sound as Republican as possible while still finding a way to retain the pork. I’ll be blunt with you: I’m considering running for president as a nonpartisan candidate because I am sick to death of this stuff. The “news bath” is not a warming experience; it makes me deranged for four or five hours a day. On a show for Bill Moyers called “The Class of the Twentieth Century” I said that the faces that really belong on Mount Rushmore are J. Edgar Hoover and Joseph McCarthy and Walter Winchell and Hedda Hopper and maybe even Roy Cohn and Michael Milken, because they’ve had the greatest impact on American society. They have shaped the way things are done in this country. One of the problems with the world in which we live is that people have become accustomed to lies upon lies upon lies.

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From: (Stephanie J. Kessler)
Date: Tue, 28 Jul 92 04:28:54 GMT
Local: Mon, Jul 27 1992 11:28 pm
Subject: Might and Magic II

The United States is a nation of laws:  badly written and randomly enforced.  Frank Zappa

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From: (John Finley)
Date: Fri, 18 Sep 1992 13:12:01 GMT
Local: Fri, Sep 18 1992 8:12 am
Subject: Re: RPM and Robben Ford

“The United States is a nation of laws: badly written and randomly enforced.” - Frank Zappa

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From: (FinclStat)
Date: 1996/04/04
Subject: Re: Clearing the mlm air

We are a nation of laws
Poorly written and randomly enforced

Frank Zappa

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From: (DonnaB)
Date: 1996/09/08
Subject: Re: AW: Vicky’s reaction to blood

“The United States is a nation of laws: badly written and randomly enforced.” - Frank Zappa

Posted by Barry Popik
New York CityGovernment/Law/Politics/Military • (0) Comments • Saturday, October 01, 2011 • Permalink