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Some of my readers are offended…

Some of my readers are offended… June 29, 2012

…about my crack concerning insta-Constitutional scholars.  Some are saying the law should be so simple that any honest citizen can comment on it with expertise.  Others accuse me of being an elitist for thinking that it’s, well, kind of ridiculous that everybody had a vast and settled take on the SCOTUS opinion within a few minutes of its release to the public.

Here’s the thing: US law is complex.  That’s why you have to go to school for several years to study it.  Law is about the right ordering of human society.  It’s therefore as complex as human society.  Complex things are complicated.  As somebody who has, for years, had to deal with the fundamentalist belief that another field of human endeavor focused on the right ordering of society–theology–can and should be “so simple that any plowboy can read the Bible and master it” I have learned long ago that such fundamentalist simplicities are romantic rubbish and, in the hands of reckless firebrands, dangerous romantic rubbish (as the 16th century bears eloquent witness).

In short, like it or not, experts exist for a reason and just because Some Guy With a Keyboard decides  to blather does not mean I have to take him seriously.  So I defer to people who know what they are talking about in matters of law and not to spouting popinjays who read a thing or two.

What amuses me is that I’m willing to bet money that the vast majority of people holding forth on the Roberts opinion have not actually read it, just as the vast majority of Protestant “experts” on Catholic teaching have never read either the Catechism or St. Thomas or anything from the Fathers beyond a few beloved scraps of quotations useful for making pre-ordained arguments.  It’s like the mysterious expertise fans of the Theology of the Body feel they have, despite the fact that I know only two people who have ever read JPII’s lectures on the Theology of the Body.  It’s like that strange emphatic certainty people have that, somewhere along the line, they must have read Darwin’s Origin of Species, despite the fact I’ve never met a soul who has.  Likewise, the impression one gets from the instant flood of opinion yesterday was that people were regurgitating…. other people’s opinions because they have not read the Court’s finding and would not know how to interpret it if they had.  That’s fine.  I haven’t read it either–and wouldn’t know how to interpret it if I had.  But then, I’m not claiming to be a lawyer and not saying that US Constitutional law is something any plowboy can glance at and pronounce upon with authority.

Sorry, but I think a huge amount being spoken about the ruling is a massive exercise in pseudoknowledge.  Non-experts repeating what other non-experts have said.  They’re welcome to spout.  It’s  a free country.  Me: I’ll be on the sidelines, cuz I ain’t a lawyer and my guesses about what it all means, plus five bucks, will get you a Starbucks.

Update:  The Onion said it all much more hilariously some years ago.


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