“It is ordained in the eternal constitution of things, that men of intemperate minds cannot be free. Their passions forge their fetters.” - Edmund BurkeFrom our vantage point here in mid November, I've got to ask, is the last night of the month really the scariest, spookiest part of October? I don't think so. Halloween's Trick or Treating is ghoulish fun for children but it's typically done and gone by midnight, or at least by the end of the next day (your mileage may vary as per the neighbor's decorations). What else is there, you ask? I realize that this might sound silly, at first, but stick around and you just might be surprised into realizing that while children get their gleeful scares from Halloween, the adults, those who are awake, are in for much spookier fare than they are, beginning at the other end of the month, when on the first Monday in October, the Supreme Court comes back into session. The frights raised up on this day are more tangible and linger on well after that day, last on through the month, and they will haunt those who're paying attention throughout most of the coming year as well.
And of course it's not as if these lawful scares are confined to the SCOTUS alone, no, no, no... that's just the glowing head of the horsemen, frightful spin-offs abound from the Federal courts and agencies, and on down to the State and local levels in often unexpected ways, our educational system for instance - all in the name of the 'Rule of Law' they're sprung on us without benefit of candy, delightful spooks or jack-o-lanterns - Tricks a plenty, but very few Treats.
What, not scared yet? Ok, sure, you might scoff, lawful SCOTUS stories are a very different sort of thing than children's ghost stories, and no one after all is ever going to go curl up in the gloom telling SCOTUS stories on All Hallows Eve... but... if they tried to... they just might be surprised at how easily it could be done; and we wouldn't have to dress up the language either, no need for:
"In the land of D.C. where the congress lies, Nine judges robed in black sit upon the highest court - One court to find them, One court to rule them all and in the darkness bind them, in the land of D.C., where the congress lies...", nah, that's not necessary, not when there are better, more realistic ways to build suspense and fear - through real fears of:
"...will the lawful ones permit this...? Will they outlaw that...? Will we still be allowed to do...?'No need for Edgar Allan Poe, Stephen King or R.L. Stine, the NEWS alone will make you want to turn the lights on while listening to its spine tingling tales of those who oppose the Rule of Law, and of those who defend it, and how, like changelings, they are oftentimes one and the same people.
Bwa-Ha-HaHAHAAA!No? Still not feeling it yet, ok...I get it, but...there's a more significant problem with the thought of turning SCOTUS stories into ghost stories, in that with children, if the story gets too scary, they can turn on the lights. But for the adults... turning on the lights isn't so easy or even all that pleasant to do, after all, while a gloomy SCOTUS story is scary, it isn't make believe.
Turning the lights back on will not only not make the scary things go away, it's likely to bring you face to face with a dilemma that has been standing before you all along, unseen or ignored: the twisted twin images of the body of the Rule of Law, and its Doppelganger, the Rule of Rules. Both possess the same appearances, both are written in law books, both are presided over by judges, both will result in a response of govt force should you violate them, but they are as different as night and day - and which one is actually which? Can you tell? Which one's the body of the good Law and which that of the ghoul of the West whose tale we'd sought to escape from?
I wonder how many would resist the urge as the lights come on, to turn them back off again?
You might wonder if I'm being too dramatic. If so, I wonder if you've been paying close enough attention to the reality around you. For instance, if you were to ask your fellow Americans to help you tell which one is which on any number of recent news stories
, such as transgendered shower sharing, some of them will recognize one view as embodying the Rule of Law, while the very same instance is loudly denied by the rest who're saying that it must be the other, and each defending their claim on the basis of 'the Rule of Law!'. Turning on the light reveals what may be the most frightening specter of all: We The People have become two people's separated by a common term.
And for those who might reply, as someone did in a recent comment that: "The constitution and rule of law must be our foundation and touchstone.", well, that's a swell ideal, one I'd dearly love to see embodied in daily life, but even if professors don't find that to be too triggering a topic for young adults to bear, if we don't understand what the Constitution's laws mean or the very real reasons for having written them down in the first place, if we can't see beneath even the shallowest of appearances of ink on paper or judges robes, then the Rule of Law and its Doppelganger cannot help but to become indistinguishable from each other, and with that, the laws and their meaning become meaningless, and that lifeless, ghoulish Doppelganger will become fully embodied as the 'Rule of Law', and Liberty and Justice will be homeless once again.
There's something else about the Rule of Law, and its Doppelganger, neither are confined to courts or any other legal circles, they are embodied in all of us, and all areas of our lives - the law lives in the heart of the people - whether it's the Rule of Law, or its Doppelganger - just look around you. On our college campuses, for instance, such as here in Missouri, in one of the top Journalism colleges in the nation, we've just had journalism students holding a public protest, that another journalism student wanted to record... for journalistic reasons, who is then told by his fellow students and their professors, of Journalism, that he can't do that. When he objects that the 1st Amendment protects his right to do so on state grounds, he's passionately shouted down, and a professor of mass media shoves his partner's camera and then she strides off calling for other journalism students to come provide muscle to 'deal with him' and she does so as if she were calling for the police. One people divided against themselves. Are you beginning to get the picture?
If not, the Student Body VP made the point clearer,.
"When asked about complaints from professors that universities are becoming “places of censor and prohibition,” Smith-Lezama said people are using the First Amendment to create a “hostile and unsafe learning environment.”Journalists are supposed to safeguard the Rule of Law, and here one journalism student was defending the Rule of Law, and the other students AND professors, are attempting to impose the Rule of Rules. What they dislike, they will forcibly impose upon you - not because they want to harm you but because they want to use power to do 'what's best' for the greater good, to you. One student body, two diametrically opposed views of what the Law is and allows.
“I personally am tired of hearing that First Amendment rights protect students when they are creating a hostile and unsafe learning environment for myself and for other students here,” Smith-Lezama said. “I think that it’s important for us to create that distinction and create a space where we can all learn from one another and start to create a place of healing rather than a place where we are experiencing a lot of hate like we have in the past.”"
If you still think I'm exaggerating, maybe you can help explain away the evidence of a more life vs death example of that very thing happening in this recent story, where #BlackLivesMatter (unless they're cops) protesters gathered outside a hospital to cheer for a cop dying, and for the punk who killed him! For some of us that is horrifyingly shocking to realize,
Is that just a 'difference of opinion'? Is one side simply 'mistaken'? Open your eyes to the fact that no matter which side you believe yourself to be on, there's a large part of the populace, who, while not even agreeing on what the law is, or is for, sees you as being on the wrong side of it!
In the very act of our claiming the body of the Laws, We The People are self dividing into We The Peoples - which is which? And which which are we even talking about? The people, or the laws? Which one of us, is us? Forget about recognizing your neighbor, are you even so certain that you can recognize yourself?
What might have seemed to be a silly comparison to make, between ghosts and laws, soon finds us hunting for a missing person, the body and soul of the Law... but before you can say 'Hocus Pocus, Habeus Corpus!", your fellow Americans will swiftly produce a body for you, of the Rule of Law, and its Doppelganger, and satisfied with the shallowest of appearances that very few will try to see beyond, or even see the need to, they would without hesitation use what they suppose the 'Rule of Law' to be, in order to punish you for not agreeing with them on what those laws can and should do.
IOW, ghost stories got nothing on real life. Boo!
So the point of the next several posts - which I should be able to serve up through next week - is to begin brushing away the cobwebs, to shine enough light on the matter to recognize what embodies the Rule of Law, and to figure out how to distinguish it from its deadly Doppelganger, the Rule of Rules, whose resemblance, like Bruce Jenner's claim to be a woman, goes no deeper than the barest of appearances.