October 04, 2010

California uber Alles

When I was hired at UC Berkeley way back when, I, along with everyone else, had to sign a loyalty oath to the State of California, swearing to uphold the California constitution and promising not to attempt to overthrow the California state government. This was a stumbling block for some, and I remember hearing of those who somehow managed to get away with refusing, but most people that I knew simply considered it hilarious and made jokes at the requirement's expense.

My favorite eccentric professor, Alain Renoir, used to do a pretty good riff on it, an "oh what might have been" routine delivered in that theatrical Gallic-English way he had. It was funny every time, not least because it was usually performed to illuminate some passage from Anglo-Saxon poetry. I sure wish I had a recording of it, along with all his other routines.

That said, this response from Jessica Mitford who refused to sign the oath in 1973 when she was a visiting prof at San Jose State, is pretty good, too:

Why, she asked reasonably, should she swear to uphold the Constitution of California, which runs to three hefty volumes? "Do I uphold and defend, for example, Article 4, Section 25 3/4, limiting boxing and wrestling matches to 15 rounds? I don't know. Perhaps it should be 14, or 16?"
Excellent question.

Do they still require this? Anyone know?

Posted by Dr. Frank at October 4, 2010 05:38 PM | TrackBack

i just started as a UC employee last year, I never signed anything about limiting boxing matches to 15 rounds.

Posted by: Dr Ryan at October 4, 2010 05:50 PM

I started as a UC employee a few month ago and yes, they made us sign the loyalty oath.

Posted by: Cody at October 4, 2010 06:11 PM

I do know from looking it up that that section isn't in the State Constitution anymore.

Which is good, since it really never belonged there in the first place.

It also doesn't look like the Constitution of California would run to three volumes, especially hefty ones.

Posted by: Sigivald at October 4, 2010 06:39 PM

You're right Sigi, "three hefty volumes" does seem unlikely.

The funny part, to me, is that she actually referenced the document itself. It never occurred to me to read what I was endorsing, though I guess I'd have assumed that it was pretty much all right.

Posted by: Dr. Frank at October 4, 2010 07:48 PM

You should never assume, that's how things like Nickleback happen.

Posted by: ben at October 4, 2010 08:33 PM

Not sure but I'm psyched to see DK's next week at Irving Plaza.

Posted by: Hakker at October 4, 2010 08:52 PM

Considering that Article 4 covers topics "LEGISLATIVE" it is unlikely that it ever covered sports. So either Mitford was making numbers up, or the entire story is apocryphal.

I also had to sign the oath in 1991 or so, and I remember crossing something out -- I think I objected to being required to "defend" the state constitution.

Posted by: Nicole R. at October 5, 2010 02:00 AM

very nice thanks

Posted by: Jörg at October 5, 2010 03:23 PM
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