I don’t know much about Malawi. I know they had a fuel shortage recently. So when I heard they were banning gas, I thought, “Well, that’s an elegant solution.”
But Malawi isn’t banning gas, it’s going to criminalize passing gas. Yeah, because of all the things going on in Malawi, I’m sure farting is a primary concern. I’m sure the Malawian ambassador to the U.N. is going to love hearing fart jokes in 50 different languages. (And yes, the French guy is going to be obligated under international law to say: “I fart in your general direction.”)
In any event, let’s all point and laugh at another example of terrible sub-Saharan leadership…
The Daily Mail — which can’t be bothered to name the specific “African country” in its headline — has the story:
The government of Malawi plans to punish persistent offenders ‘who foul the air’ in a bid to ‘mould responsible and disciplined citizens.’
But locals fear that pinning responsibility on the crime will be difficult – and may lead to miscarriages of justice as ‘criminals’ attempt to blame others for their offence.
Are we witnessing an international outbreak of legislation that really stinks? This comes on the heels of China’s proposal to require children to visit their parents.
The anti-farting provision won’t be the only silly law fouling the Malawian code:
The crime will be enforceable in a new ‘Local Court’ system which will also have powers to punish a range of other crimes in the bill set to be debated in the country’s parliament.
These include insulting the modesty of a woman, challenging to fight a duel, and trespassing on a burial place.
It also outlaws pretending to be a fortune teller, according to local press in the country.
You know, these laws seem funny, but they’re actually silent but deadly. It’s not so much that the code shows a complete lack of respect for freedom and personal liberty, it’s that these laws mean that the Malawian government can arrest you for any reason or no reason at all.
So if Malawian President Bingu wa Mutharika and his ruling party doesn’t like what you think, bang, the international press has a story about how a man was “arrested for farting.” It’s always political protesters, religious leaders, and opposition candidates who get arrested for “farting,” “trespassing in a graveyard,” or “challenging somebody to fight.” Laws about farting just mask the scent of totalitarianism.
Which is not to say that wa Mutharika is some kind of evil genius. For all I know, the man really does think he has control over the sphincters of his people. But these kinds of laws aren’t harmlessly funny; they are proactively dangerous. They’re an illustration that the leadership is completely detached from reality. You have situations like this all the time, all over the world, but the international community only really notices when the people start rioting or killing each other. You’ve got to nip these things in the bud (which doubles as my entire argument against Rand Paul). This isn’t an international fart joke, it’s a travesty waiting to happen.
… And it’s a little funny. I mean, the next time Hillary Clinton visits Malawi it’ll be to work out a deal for cheap shipments of Subtle Butt or Gas-X. Customs will be telling Malawians that they can’t bring unreleased farts into America. [I’ve got ten more of these but I’ll stop now.]