“When the Law Becomes Oprah-fied”
I want to bring a recent topic back to the front page — it begins in comments about halfway down the page — and this piece at PJM seems more than appropriate. It is, in fact, the way of things in our American age, an age where anyone seemingly can lobby and pass whatever structural change they wish for your life.
Such change can be statutory or it can be mere policy, but as many of us saw in that previous thread it can also include intimidatingly serious implications that defy preceding constitutional form and substance..
This new orientation to judgment and to determinations of right and wrong is one of the most far-reaching phenomena in our culture today, permeating the juridical, political, and academic realms from root to tip, with manifestations, ranging from the risible to the grave, that are almost always pernicious.
The worst of it is not only that people stop believing in themselves and in one another through a massive lowering of expectations. The worst is that they also stop believing in the institutions that underpin our civil society: the school system, the police, the courts, and government. When the rule of law is flouted, when institutional practice is dictated by personal whim, and when truth is replaced by narratives of exculpatory victimization, then the basis of our liberal democracy, with its commitment to individualism and equality, is imperiled. Our very values — the distinction between right and wrong, good and bad — become blurred and imprecise. Although we may all be grateful to have a fine reduced at the discretion of a police officer, the money we save in the moment — in that freeing but demoralizing moment of confession and absolution — will cost us dearly in the end.
I’ve intentionally left out the bulk of the context here, preferring to excerpt just these two paragraphs. They show the effect of law and top-down policy conditioned by temporal, secular, results-based lines of thinking, the same kind of thinking some conservatives incorrectly use to defend what had been essential structures also now being overcome partly by Opraphied, results-based subjectivity.
The SCOTUS is little help in maintaining individual liberties, rights, and properties. If it can be purchased a law can be created that allows some feel-good sense to descend on you that fits your sensibilities but that also includes with it impenetrable tangles of circular reasoning, positive feedback, and intended or unintended consequence. A general legal spaghetti ensues where you are in effect made to produce credentials or evidence that allow you to pass unhindered.
In other words, proving your acceptability, your value, your faithfulness, and your aim conditions how you shall be treated, including well up into the firmament of official power, so blurred are the lines between relative, results-based social ethic and original legal, constitutional structure. You shall prove your innocence within a new, progressive morality.
This is neither structural American principle nor is it classically liberal. It is narrow-minded, politicized, subjective feel-good, where results are often weighed not even by themselves, but by what we can assert them to be — the classical form of the preceding and presumably constitutionally-sound law itself never even arrives on the scene.
So is the human mind, and so particularly is the progressive liberal mind, yet the American mind must not think this way if it is to continue to call itself American.
I leave you with an example.
Here again the context does not parallel the topic I want to highlight, but the thinking is identical. It is also so obviously convoluted — here choice is held out to be structural and sacred, but then all sorts of modifications on it are deemed tolerable just for their presumed effect — as to actually upend a few of the minds behind it. Undeterred, some of these people continue to assert that a mule is a cracker.
What do we have left? Structural rights, liberties, and properties. What we always had and what informed the American structure. That is our fight.