Bart & Lisa Simpson Explain the Roots of Government

Today in class, we watched (an edited) part of The Simpsons (Season 9, “Das Bus”). The episode leaves the students of Springfield Elementary stranded on an island with no adults, thus simulating a State of Nature, something we’ve talked about all week. Below you can find the Simpsons Worksheet students completed while we discussed and watched it in segments. Below are scenes from the episode, each of which capture Locke’s ideas of why we need government. Understanding this is critical as we begin to discuss our government (Constitution). Locke’s ideas are seen throughout it. This book is also the Harvard-educated writers of The Simpsons having some fun with William Golding’s The Lord of the Flies.

First, everyone thinks a "State of Nature" means absolute freedom and fun.  They'll have monkey butlers, coconut nintendos and feasts.
At first, everyone thinks a “State of Nature” means absolute freedom. They dream of monkey butlers, fabulous treehouses and feasts…
However, reality sets in and the students realize they must survive...
However, reality sets in and the students realize they must survive…
The weak are taken advantage of...
The weak are taken advantage of…
And "the people" riot against the erroneous actions of a government they did not give consent to...
And “the people” revolt against an erroneous “government” they did not give consent to.
And a "social contract" reminds them of the rules of society.  The students eventually survive by eating a wild boar!
A “social contract” reminds them of society’s rules and actions.

The episode ends with students eating a wild boar to survive, but our lessons of the weak are illustrated beautifully within the rest of the episode:

  1. State of Nature (SON) fails because even if most people are good, one or two bad people (Nelson) change everything.
  2. SON fails because since nobody has rights, and we’re all in danger (lack of food, shelter).
  3. SON fails because the weaker (Millhouse) are abused, with few to stand up for them.
  4. SON fails because the government was not chosen or agreed to by the people – without consent – and the people revolt at it’s failure.

Since a SON cannot exist, people must create governments. And to do that, they must:

  1. Give that government permission to rule them via consent (i.e. Constitution, elections, etc. ).
  2. A social contract must be written to form an agreement between the people and the government. Since people cannot protect all of their rights without one, the government agrees to protect their natural rights (life, liberty, and property), even if it means giving up absolute freedom (driving 100 miles per hour).

This pretty much summarizes our class discussions and activities for the week. Please see “We the People,” pages 13-19 for more information.

GO BANANA!!!

Go Banana!!!!

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