31 May 2013
Lebanese MPs extend their term, argue that ‘time is relative anyway’
The parliamentary session witnessed heated debates between the majority of MPs who subscribe to Einstein’s general theory of relativity and a minority who tried to scupper the motion by relying on quantum mechanics, but there was no swaying the ardent relativists who succeeded in imposing their interpretation.
“The constitution specifies a term of four years but it does not take into account the relative nature of time.” Future bloc leader MP Fouad Seniora said following the session. “We formed a committee a few years ago to translate the parliamentary term into a function of the speed of light instead of a number of years, but the committee was unable to complete its work because of the frequent electricity cuts, and without electricity there’s no light.”
Seniora, who is known to be an enthusiastic fan of scientific inquiry, made a compelling argument that won the day among Lebanon’s empirically-minded parliamentarians. LF’s George Adwan also came out in support of the motion and attempted to explain the general theory of relativity to the press representatives.
“Look, if I say I will see you at Sassine Square at 7:00, we both know that I will probably come at 7:45 and have to wait 10 more minutes for you to show up. The Lebanese psyche has instinctively absorbed Einstein’s theory and we exhibit this in our everyday behaviour. We are proposing to extend this scientific thinking into our political system.”
The leader of the Progressive Socialist Party MP Walid Jumblatt argued that linear time was a colonial export that represented Eurocentric biases. “As members of global national liberation movements we cannot continue to accept this imposition of rigid Western concepts of ‘time’ on us. What we have done today is a revolutionary act that will cement our democracy.” He followed this by a gesture that stunned the journalists present, taking off his wristwatch and throwing it away.
The extension however wasn’t received well by a group of protesters that converged onto parliament and pelted MPs’ cars with hand-picked tomatoes that they had bought from an organic farmer’s market in Beirut. But speaker Nabih Berri declared that the protesters represented a tiny minority of people who sadly remain antagonistic to science and progress.
“The majority of Lebanese people stand behind us in this decision, after all we are talking about Einstein here. We are known as a nation that loves science and astrophysics in particular, and the decision we took today will be a huge leap forward for our country. A quantum leap!” The journalists joined Berri, a renowned jester, in laughing at this excellent joke.
It was left to Marada Movement leader MP Suleiman Franjieh, a keen scientific mind and an articulate speaker, to explain the finer points of the parliamentary decision. “Look, we are not extending parliament’s term, we are only adjusting the Newtonian four-year term into its precise equivalent on a gravitationally-adjusted externally defined space-time continuum set. It’s kid stuff.”
Caretaker Prime Minister Najib Miqati signed off on the law and it remains for President Michel Suleiman to sign it before it takes effect. Despite his opposition to the law, Suleiman promised that he will sign it next week but he didn’t specify when exactly.