Editorial

If you don’t know the three-fifths clause, fuck you!

Summary

Article one, section two of the Constitution of the United States declared that any person who was not free would be counted as three-fifths of a free individual for the purposes of determining congressional representation.

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Numbers. It’s like all of a sudden the entire world was learning arithmetic. How many ‘electors’ did Joe Biden secure and how many did Donald Trump get, people wondered. How many precincts had returned returns and what’s the status in swing states, they checked. Not many worried about the popular vote: in the USA you can be popular but the less popular dude could still capture the White House.

Here in Sri Lanka too we have a fascination with numbers. Well, not everyone, but at least the minuscule few who are interested in constitutions, amendments, parliamentary strength and such (among whom are those who think the entire country is as interested!).

So here are some numbers that came up recently: 19, 20 and 2/3. The first two are amendments and the third the relative strength required to amend the constitution.

How many have heard of the ‘three-fifths clause’ though? Here’s a devilish interjection from a self-proclaimed ‘Yaka’:

‘In Sri Lanka, we elect a President directly. In the US, it is determined by an electoral college. This college system was based on slavery. Article one, section two of the Constitution of the United States declared that any person who was not free would be counted as three-fifths of a free individual for the purposes of determining congressional representation. The “Three-Fifths Clause” thus increased the political power of slaveholding states. So while this was later invalidated, the electoral college system remained… So fuck you to people who think the white West has anything to teach us about equality…. .and fuck you again….’

And they could also think about this note about ‘Thanksgiving’ (in the USA):

‘For what it’s worth, canceling Thanksgiving celebrations to prevent the spread of COVID gives us a great opportunity to talk to our kids about how entering someone else’s home to spread a deadly disease is foundational to the holiday in the first place.’

And if you don’t know that history, fuck you all over again!

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