Vol. 2, Issue 19, May 11, 2004
Kinko's Copying Error Erases Eighth Amendment
A power surge in Washington, D.C. caused equipment failure at a copy center which irreparably damaged part of the United States Constitution, according to a press release by the Library of Congress.
"Like many government agencies, we have been trying to make do with tighter budgets," said James Billington, Librarian of Congress. "Part of these cost-saving efforts involved the use of private contractors to handle some of the routine photocopying work. Unfortunately, in this instance the decision to use an outside contractor proved costly."
The Library of Congress, it was revealed, has been clandestinely using Kinko's Copy Center to handle much of its document reproduction and preservation.
"They're open 24 hours a day," lamented Billington, "and their prices were oh so reasonable."
Apparently, earlier this year the Library sent the original U.S. Constitution to Kinko's for cleaning and photocopying. While the document was being copied, a power surge caused the photocopier feed to lock, resulting in damage to the Constitution. The damage caused the eighth amendment to be completely destroyed.
"Have you ever seen the gears inside a copier? They're pretty sharp," said Kinko's spokesperson Gary Klein. "We're lucky we got the original out at all."
The loss is particularly problematic because there are no other records of the eighth amendment, and apparently no one in Washington remembers what it was about.
"Well most people don't look much past the first and second amendments," said Speaker of the House Dennis Hastert. "Personally I think if it was important, the Founding Fathers should have included it in the Constitution proper instead of as something tacked on the end. Besides, whatever the eighth amendment was about is probably no longer relevant - it's two hundred years old. I bet it was something about whisky tax or something."
The Library of Congress initially tried to quietly create a facsimile of the Constitution and restore the missing amendment, but quickly discovered that American textbooks on history and government have not included complete copies of the Constitution since 1962.
"Who reads all that stuff anyway?" said Chris Goodstein, professor of public policy at the University of Virginia. "Lawyers? Politicians? Please. Today's government officials are too important to worry about hacking their way through centuries-old legalese."
President Bush expressed hope that the loss of the eighth amendment would leave an opening for a new one in its place.
"No sense renumbering all the later amendments," he said during a press conference. "We can just stick something in there about America being a Christian nation, or make English the official language or something. I really think that this accidental loss will actually help America change in ways never thought possible."