04 May 2022

A Bag of Hammers

I'm not going to link to the "draft opinion" in Dobbs — a draft purporting to overturn Roe for, well, Reasons. I won't trample its historical errors, its linguistic errors, its logical shortcomings, its improper refusal to engage with both the First Amendment religion clauses and Ninth/Tenth Amendment reservations in a noncircular manner, its blatant misunderstanding of what "medical care" means (either today or in 1868 or 1791). I could; others will.

Instead, I will just observe that applying either "established legal reasoning" or, in the broader sense, "pure ideology" (which includes religious orthodoxy), to every problem resembles the hammer viewing every problem as a nail. And anyone who has ever built a sturdy cabinet or bookcase — one that would hold a variety of heavy objects, one that would stand by itself, one that would last — will tell you that nails alone are almost never a sufficient (or even necessary; just go to Ikea's website and read the directions!) means of joining parts together for even so simple a piece of furniture as a bookcase. No grouping of more than a dozen or so individuals is by any stretching of this analogy as simple as a bookcase…

This bag of five hammers contains only the wrong tools for the problem(s) at hand. And the bag, because it contains no scientists or healthcare professionals screwdrivers, or drills, or saws, or glue1 — let alone properly seasoned wood — is not fit for purpose.

Your own guilt is too much for you to bear: bring not therefore upon yourselves the blood of innocent men,—deceived with pretences of King and Covenant; from whose eyes you hid a better knowledge! I am persuaded that divers of you, who lead the People, have laboured to build yourselves in these things; wherein you have censured others, and established yourselves "upon the Word of God." Is it therefore infallibly agreeable to the Word of God, all that you say? I beseech you, in the bowels of Christ, think it possible you may be mistaken.2

But like Urban, they are infallible not on the merits, but because there is no further appeal. Eppur si muove, figli du puttana: You may be final, but you're still wrong because you're looking only to doctrine for your answers — not to facts. Worse, it's a subset doctrine beyond its competence.

  1. The last of which involved beating and rendering dead horses at the time of the Founding. We'll not get into "French polishing" here, whether literal polishing or the polish of French political philosophers well known to — oft praised by — the Founders.
  2. Oliver Cromwell, Letter to the General Assembly of the Kirk of Scotland (03 Aug 1650). The entire letter is worth reading, and pondering, in this context, and particularly the reference to Isaiah 28:5–15; and so, too, is the broader context of the letter. The irony of appointment through illegitmate means and rulers lurking in the background is also just a bit too close for comfort.