awkwardly

Wednesday

This post-structuralism is troubling

I wish the Senator grilling Sotomayor would dig deeper to the premises of all this crap about subjective versus objective legal pronouncements by judges. Are they assuming structuralism is true, that language is capable of conveying clear meanings, which can be picked out by judges objectively; or post-structuralism is true, that language and meanings are always muddy, and there will always be some wiggle room and subjective gray area which no judge or human will be able to avoid?

Is there any objective meaning? I think when you look at your experience of language, you come to the conclusion that post-structuralism is right.

Of course, this is the kind of crap you hear when you study the liberal arts, so conservatives seem predisposed to believe that laws are clear and meanings are not subject to interpretation.

Except if words and language and laws were that clear, then why would we ever need judges? Everyone would be able to understand the law, and nothing would ever need to be tried in court before a judge. The fact that we have judges seems to be in response to the widely recognized experience that no matter how clearly you try to write some law, there's always room for interpretation or misinterpretation. We do the best we can to fit decent, reasonable, impartial people in positions as arbiters, but they aren't frickin robots. They still have "feelings" (another word that Grassley or some conservative critic spat out in recent days, condemned alongside "empathy). They can be Stoic (read A Guide to the Good Life: The Ancient Art of Stoic Joy
by William Irvine), but they can't be Vulcans (the stereotypical image of Stoics).

Knowing that, we appoint judges anyway. The way conservatives talk, we should be appointing humans who pretend not to be human. Sadly, Sotomayor has been doing her best robot dance to rope them in.

[This is the impression I get after hearing highlights of the confirmation hearings. The more details I hear about it, the more I regret characterizing her that way.]

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