For All Nails #217: When Love Comes to Town
By Johnny Pez
GC 1975-208 "Act for the Defense of Families"
It shall be unlawful within the Confederation of North America to give, sell, barter or otherwise provide any form of oral contraceptive to anyone other than a woman whose marriage is legally recognized by the Confederal government or any subordinate government within the Confederation of North America. Violation of this Act will result in a fine of N.A. £1,000 and imprisonment for one year and one day.
Introduced by Councilman Anthony Conigliaro (L-SC).
A man who didn't know Lennart Skinner as well as Daniel Charles did might be fooled into thinking that the Governor-General was only mildly annoyed. Charles, who had known Skinner for over twenty years, could hear the anger concealed in his boss's voice.
"Danny, I purely do not need to deal right now with a Councilman who thinks he's Cotton Mather. Especially a Councilman from my own party who ought to know better." Unspoken, because there was no need for them to be spoken, were the words, "Why in hell's name didn't you see this coming and nip it in the bud? That's what I pay you for, isn't it?"
"Governor, sir, this came right straight out of the blue," Charles explained. "Tony hasn't said one blessed word about this to anyone, hasn't given us any reason to think he was the least bit exercised about it. Near as I can make out, he just up and decided to make a stand."
Skinner had his chin in his hand, and his eyebrows drawn together, both familiar danger signals. "They say that Ezra Gallivan tamed the People's Coalition, but they're wrong, Danny. Scratch a Coalitionist and you'll find a Neiderhoffer underneath, sure as shooting." Charles forebore to point out that Dick Mason, the most radical Governor-General in the nation's history, had been a Liberal, not a Coalitionist. "And now we've got over a dozen of 'em nestled right in our bosom, just waiting to go off like so many Mercator bombs." Skinner closed his eyes and added, "What are we gonna do about this, Danny?"
Charles heaved a mental sigh of relief. When Skinner used the phrase "what are we gonna do about this" it meant that the arse-chewing part of the program was finished, and they were going to move on to the strategizing. "Well, Governor," he said, "as I see it, we've got two options. One, we can disavow Tony and let people know that he's speaking on his own ambit, and not on behalf of the party or the administration. Or two, we can get behind him, and try our damnedest to steer his Family Defense Act through the Grand Council."
Skinner opened his eyes again and peered at Charles. "Where do you stand on all this, Danny?" This was actually an invitation by Skinner for Charles to place himself within the frame of mind of a typical North American voter. Of course, Skinner himself was perfectly capable of performing the same exercise, and was undoubtedly doing so right now. Hearing Charles' thoughts on the matter gave him a means of cross-checking himself.
"Well, Governor," said Charles, "I think Tony's making a big mistake. There's a lot of people are gonna look at him and say that he just wants to keep women from using this Mexican pill because he's a Roman Catholic. He says he's just trying to keep it out of the hands of young single ladies, but that's just a ploy, because what he really wants to do is ban it outright." The Orange Order types might be criminals and extremists, but there was a broad current of thought in the CNA that was neither criminal nor extreme that viewed Roman Catholicism with deep suspicion. They would oppose anything that a Catholic favored, simply because it was a Catholic who favored it.
"I see what you're saying," said Skinner. "Trouble is, there's also going to be a lot of people who think it would be a good idea to keep young single ladies from using these pills."
"Not very many young men, would be my guess," said Charles.
"And some not so young," Skinner chuckled. "My Uncle Hobart, he'd say, 'Wouldn't want my daughter to have 'em, but I'd sure as hell want my mistress to'."
"So, long story short," said Charles, "the issue is a loser. No matter which side we're on, we get a boatload of folks angry at us."
"That's pretty much how I see it, too," said Skinner. "Damn that son of a bitch Conigliaro for dumping us in the soup this way!"
"He's a man of principle, Governor," Charles pointed out.
"They're the worst kind, Danny."
Forward to FAN #218: Southern Men.
Forward to 4 May 1975: Strange Bedfellows.
Forward to CNA Politics: Now We All Did What We Could Do .
Return to For All Nails.