28 October 2006

The Eighth Amendment to the United States Constitution 1789-2006

The Amendment didn't like this sort of thingPeople across the globe are holding candlelit vigils today in memory of the Eighth Amendment to the US Constitution, which has died at the age of 217 following an unfortunate incident last night involving Vice President Dick Cheney and a large body of water.

Born in 1789 to the Enlightenment and the Founding Fathers, as a child the Eighth Amendment was a robust and forthright article of the United States Bill of Rights, preventing the infliction of cruel and unusual punishment. Its birth was hailed by freedom-loving peoples across the globe and utterly condemned by torturers, members of the Honourable Guild of Racksmiths and Thumbscrewwrights and dentists.

As it grew the Eighth Amendment stuck to its campaigning path, successfully outlawing drawing and quartering, public dissecting, burning alive and disemboweling, thus helping to maintain the United States' reputation as a bastion of freedom as well as putting a severe crimp on the kind of programmes they can show on the Fox network. Not all was to go well for the Amendment, however. By the 20th century increasing concern was being shown over its behaviour, especially after the discovery of a large collection of really-rather-cruel-and-unusual-seeming equipment for lethal injections, gas chambers and electric chairs was discovered in its back yard. Claims that these were reserved for ceremonial use by state governors seeking the US Presidency were dismissed, especially after it was revealed that the Eighth Amendment was offering 2-for-1 discounts on lethal injections to Texas and was considering a "frequent fryer" scheme for the state of Nebraska.

The Amendment swimming with its friendsDespite such questions, the Eighth Amendment was still respected across the globe until the early part of the 21st century, when it suddenly went missing one night after being seen in the company of a balding, white-haired man known to officials only as "Der Weisse Engel" or the "46th Vice-President of the United States". Reports of what happened thereafter become unclear, although some claim to have witnessed the Amendment being bundled onto a secret rendition flight to an unnamed East European torture chamber idyllic village. White House sources, in contrast, insist it had merely gone to stay with its close Uzbek relative Vlotar "Electrodes Up the Jacksie" Tezticklztampuh. In any event it is understood that it was during this trip that the Amendment chose to go for an early morning swim in company with Vice-President Cheney, a large board and several straps. Never a strong swimmer the Amendment fell into difficulty and drowned, despite Mr Cheney's heroic efforts to save it by holding a cloth over its face and repeatedly demanding "Is it safe?"

Vice President Cheney last nightThe Eighth Amendment to the United States Constitution will be quietly buried in an unmarked grave somewhere you've never heard of. Anyone wishing to attend the funeral is asked to wear a hood and orange jumpsuit and be prepared for a long flight.