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Who the hell do I think I am?

In a recent dustup with a commenter or two, I found myself being labelled a "layman" on matters Constitutional. But where the commenter meant that as dismissive, I instead embrace it. I am, indeed, a "layman" on nearly all matters, an rejoice in that.

When Kevin invited in the guest posters a couple weeks ago, they all wrote little introductions to themselves. That made me realize I'd never done anything like that -- and I think I know why.

I've often described myself as "a nobody from nowhere with a nothing job and no life." That's not self-deprecation, that's plain honesty. I can back up all four statements. And I have no advanced degrees, no position of distinction, no certificates, no life experiences that I can point to and say "that is why you should listen to me and take my word for things."

What I do have, though, are a few gifts that others lack:

1) I have a talent for words. I can express my ideas through the written (or typed) word with exceptional skill. And that is not purely ego talking; that is the opinion of numerous teachers, professional writers, readers, and other bloggers. I know I'm not the best writer in the world, but I do know I'm damned good when I put my mind to it.

2) I have a stage the likes of which few others have. With Wizbang, Kevin has given me a powerful platform from which I can speak. To paraphrase Sir Isaac Newton, "if I can speak louder, it is because I stand on the shoulders of a giant."

Those facts shape my style when I write my pieces here. I know I have no short-cut to credibility, so I feel I have to work harder to persuade. I've seen many bloggers who simply pontificate, who pronounce things "good" or "bad" and expect the world to immediately bow to their genius. (I could cite a few examples, but the ones that come to mind are on the left, and I'm trying to avoid partisan issues here.) And it annoys me.

So that's when I draw back on some of the best advice I ever received. A writing teacher drilled into my head three simple words: "Show, don't tell."

So, when I tackle an issue like the 2nd Amendment, or the genocide in Darfur, or why I think people like Oliver North, Rush Limbaugh, or Pat Buchanan are jerks, I don't just say so. I show why I think that. I outline my whole thought process, and cite examples and evidence to back up my positions.

It's a lot harder than simply proclaiming things as The Truth. But it's more honest, and in the end I think it is more likely to be more successful.

So when a commenter dismisses my essays as "the work of a layman," I sit back and smile. It's like the stereotype of the drill sergeant. "Don't you dare call me 'sir!' I am not an officer! I WORK for a living!"

No, I'm not a certified expert on anything. I don't have any laurels to rest on. But that just means I have to work a bit harder -- and that means that sometimes, just sometimes, I just might be better prepared to win an argument with someone who is an expert.

And if I'm wrong, I know I can count on plenty of people to tell just how I'm wrong, and how wrong I am.


Comments (58)

Jay Tea: The Avis of Blogge... (Below threshold)
Jay:

Jay Tea: The Avis of Bloggers.

Jay:Here's what I ... (Below threshold)
Mac Lorry:

Jay:

Here's what I learned from your "Now I lay me down to think" piece. It's hard to see the light through the flame. Maybe if I had attributed that proverb to some ancient Chinese philosopher people would go back and discover what I'm talking about. As it is, folks will just think it's the ranting of another nobody from nowhere with a nothing job and no life. Who's to say?

Jay Tea, why don't you get ... (Below threshold)
JmaR:

Jay Tea, why don't you get over it. If you were a bit less self-absorbed your threads might carry a bit more weight. Just saying.

Don't piss Jay Tea off. The... (Below threshold)
j.d.:

Don't piss Jay Tea off. Then he'll leave, and Paul will post more.

Jay Tea is using himself to... (Below threshold)
joe:

Jay Tea is using himself to generalize to "laymen" in general, I believe.

I can think of 10-15 qualit... (Below threshold)
jmaster:

I can think of 10-15 qualities of Jay Tea’s personality (some positive,some negative) that seem to come through in his writing.

But how anyone could pick up a “self absorbed” vibe is beyond me.

There is nobody more powerf... (Below threshold)

There is nobody more powerful than a man imbued with common sense who can express himself clearly.

Shut your pie-hole jmar. Ja... (Below threshold)
Laura:

Shut your pie-hole jmar. Jay's one of the best.

I expect a full troll blast... (Below threshold)

I expect a full troll blast-off any moment now. The prep crew has already done their part.

Jay Tea, why don't you just paint a giant target on yourself and get it over with. You sure do like to set yourself up for the rantgasm of the masses.

Jay, I don't consider "laym... (Below threshold)
Mark:

Jay, I don't consider "layman" to be a put down.

Everyone is a "layman" in most disciplines in life. Just because I possess superior training and experience than you in one particular field, that does not mean you are less of a person or less entitled to your opinions. Similarly, I am probably a "layman" in areas where you might have superior knowledge, training or experience. I cannot even count the broad range of fields in which I consider myself to be a "layman."

However, as a "layman," I listen very closely to those with more training or experience. I might question them or even challenge them to test my understanding of their wisdom, but I would never pretend to know more or be better equipped to handle an issue in their bailiwick. Even when I think I'm gaining sophistication in my understanding of a topic, I always defer to the true experts.

Your analysis of the Second Amendment rubbed me the wrong way, as you well know. It was not your conclusion, but what I considered a clumsy and unsophisticated attempt at something more complex than most people want to admit. I did not feel your analysis compelled the conclusion. I vented my frustration inappropriately, and for that I apologize. But if you read into my inelegant rant something suggesting I am a better person than you, that was not a statement I intended to make.

Jay: calling someone a laym... (Below threshold)

Jay: calling someone a layman is just a polite way of declaring them uneducated and their opinion as unworthy of serious consideration.

Sometimes that isn't completely unwarranted. For example, how many Major League General Managers take their cues from callers into sports radio shows?

But in politics, there are no education requirements. Nobody gets silenced because they haven't an advanced degree from Harvard's school of government. All that should matter is whether, as you put it, they're any good at making a point.

P.S. there's no reason to describe yourself as a nobody.... there's plenty of people who will do that for you.

Almost everyone in the worl... (Below threshold)

Almost everyone in the world is a nobody from nowhere with a nothing-job and no life. There's something noble in that. It happens to be what makes the world go 'round. I too have strong opinions about some things. I'm not a clever with the written word so most of my time is spent "doing" not "saying".

The opinions of "laymen" were the basis of our constitution.

I also make a lot of typos.... (Below threshold)

I also make a lot of typos.

But in politics, there a... (Below threshold)
mantis:

But in politics, there are no education requirements. Nobody gets silenced because they haven't an advanced degree from Harvard's school of government. All that should matter is whether, as you put it, they're any good at making a point.

In politics yes, but in law there are education requirements. After all, we all know what kind of client a person who defends himself legally has.

That being said, I would have to disagree with Mark's main purpose for being here. The blogosphere and the internet in general are populated by thousands upon thousands of people who talk about law and the constitution without the slightest bit of education on them. Jay presented a well thought out position on gun rights and the 2nd amendment from a non-lawyers point of view, and meant it as such. It was far better than most opinions I've seen on the internet on this issue, and since Jay was not trying to present the argument in court or before a legislative body, and I assume has no plans to, than it doesn't matter one lick what his credentials are. He gave a regular person's opinion about a document that we all have had to read (at least in this country; at least I hope we all have), and nothing more. This of course would not be very helpful if I wanted to try a gun rights case in court, but who would go to the internet for sound legal arguments anyway?

So anyway, Mark, if it is your intent to cry foul on all internet commentators who make legal arguments without the education or experience to back them up, but rather are simply giving their commoner's opinion of the document upon which this country is founded, well you have a lot of work ahead of you. Why are you wasting time here? I hear some people on another site are saying the 5th amendment prevents us from going on game shows twice!

Hmmm-just wondering why you... (Below threshold)
jhow66:

Hmmm-just wondering why you consider Rush,North and Pat jerks?

"And that is not purely ego... (Below threshold)
John:

"And that is not purely ego talking..."

I agree. That would be Ivory Soap Pure-ly ego talking. To actually inform your readers that you are an exceptional writer is, well, egotistical. To feel that you must do it demonstrates you are thin-skinned.

Sure, you SAY you sit back and smile when called a layman (not disparagingly), yet you make several posts clearly demonstrating you can't take the heat.

You can admit it: The layman comment pissed you off. That, coupled with your clear predisposition to smear the legal profession, was a recipe for a series of comments in which your loyal readers had to struggle to defend you.

If your such a good writer, STFU about it and just write. We just may keep reading.

As a lay person in most fie... (Below threshold)
Mark:

As a lay person in most fields, I can say this from my own experience: Experts can see what's around the next three corners before I even perceive there's a corner on the path. In many fields, I don't even know what I don't know. In other words, the vastness of my ignorance is beyond my comprehension. I think this applies to all laymen.

With a blog as popular as Wizbang, any writer should expect that their readership includes experts who can see around corners that the laywriter has not foreseen. Some readers will skip over the posts and ignore them. Some will roll their eyes and move on. Some may have eaten the wrong thing for breakfast, and get ornry. Expect some ridicule, whether its deserved or undeserved. This is a risk you take whenever you attempt a task that ordinarily requires specialized training or experience. That risk is magnified when the topic is controversial, such as any constitutional issue while the Supreme Court has vacancies.

Of course, you'll also hear from opinionated pinheads who have no more expertise than you or anybody else.

So, my advice is to wear thick skin, be prepared to take your lumps, and have fun with it. Don't be defensive, don't be apologetic, don't call yourself a "nobody." Just listen closely to everything, accept or regect whatever works for you, and grow from the experience. It should not be taken personally.

If a legal education is nee... (Below threshold)
KenS:

If a legal education is needed to understand the Constitution then why don't the people with legal educations agree about decisions.

But the sharpest legal minds, after going over the same material for decades, don't agree.

The differences do not come from education or lack of same. They do not come from the meaning of words. They come from deciding whether we follow the words as written or as they should have been written to suit our wishes today.

The Constitution does have several gray areas where judges have been guessing for two centuries. It also provided a way to handle these - by amendment - and Congress should draft more for ratification or rejection by the states.

The legal system is not solely to blame for acting when Congress goes decades without proposing amendments.

The next amendment should roughly reverse the present process. i.e. Any 3 states could propose an amendment. If Congress did not reject the proposal within a year the ratification process would begin with a 7 year limit.

FloridaOyster wrote:... (Below threshold)
Sue Dohnim:

FloridaOyster wrote:
The opinions of "laymen" were the basis of our constitution.

Here's one even better, FO. Our "laymen" are the basis for most of the prosperity in the entire world.

Jay Tea, you drivel with th... (Below threshold)
AnonymousDrivel:

Jay Tea, you drivel with the best of them. I should know... it's my forté. Well, it would be if I passed the boards.

I raise my drivelglass in your honor. Cheers!

Mantis, I'm not sure what y... (Below threshold)
Mark:

Mantis, I'm not sure what you think my purpose is for being here. In fact, I'm not sure why I'm here. My involvement did not originate with any conscious purpose, rather it evolved from time on my hands (recent retirement, and my kids are on vacation with their mother), a couple of beers, and a crotchety mood. Then, it snowballed irresponsibly.

Frankly, I agree with everything you posted. Well put.

I guess John was lying his ... (Below threshold)
Sue Dohnim:

I guess John was lying his ass off when he said he was going to Volokh from now on. STFU yourself, you drooling troll. Better yet, give out the URL to your blog so retards like yourself can post "STFU and write, dickwad, you suck, I'm going somewhere else" repeatedly in your comments.

And mantis, damn you for saying things I agree with. That's not supposed to happen! :)

It's all been worth it just... (Below threshold)
-S-:

It's all been worth it just to read the word, "rantgasm."

So, you just never know, Jay Tea, what word treasures you inspire in others. "Rantgasm" is a treasure. Or, it's a box of recycling. Or, it's a used pair of shoes. Or, it's a petulent child's ten a.m. display. Or, it's...

It's just great, whatever it is.

But, Jay Tea, did you ever ... (Below threshold)
-S-:

But, Jay Tea, did you ever resolve that "Best Bloger Without His Own Blog" dilemma?

Just asking...

~;-}


Mark: With a blog as pop... (Below threshold)
Jim:

Mark: With a blog as popular as Wizbang, any writer should expect that their readership includes experts who can see around corners that the laywriter has not foreseen.

Dam, now I am agreeing with Mark. (My analysis of the 5th and 14th got cut short yesterday because all hell broke loose at work, and I never got back to it, but I work for a living and time is money....)


Mark: Some readers will skip over the posts and ignore them. Some will roll their eyes and move on. Some may have eaten the wrong thing for breakfast, and get ornry. Expect some ridicule, whether its deserved or undeserved. This is a risk you take whenever you attempt a task that ordinarily requires specialized training or experience. That risk is magnified when the topic is controversial, such as any constitutional issue while the Supreme Court has vacancies.

Of course, you'll also hear from opinionated pinheads who have no more expertise than you or anybody else.

Especially when you set up the Mac vs PC threads!!

And in my own defense, I have never come out against Macs per se, I just like to burst the bubbles of those that think that a Mac can do everything just as well as a PC. Of course they can't, just as a PC can't do EVERYTHING that a Mac can.

We chose based upon our needs, and that is what I tell people who come to me for help. In this field I've been around the block a few times more than the common man. (24 years myself, plus 75+ in my family at last count). The only cut and dried answer I can give for what computer to buy is when we are helping a relative like "Grandma" to buy one. The correct answer is the PC or Mac that you can support over the phone, whatever that is.

"Best BLOGGER Without His O... (Below threshold)
-S-:

"Best BLOGGER Without His Own Blog"...sorry, was writing with a Russian accent ("Best Bloger") fer a minute earlier. Err, sumthin'.

Ok, Jim. I was starting to... (Below threshold)
Mark:

Ok, Jim. I was starting to like you there for a minute, but that's passed.

ANYBODY WHO THINKS A MAC CANNOT DO EVERYTHING BETTER THAN A PC is just a fucking pinhead. Sorry, it had to be said.

So Jim, until I hear you concede with a resounding "UNCLE!" you're on my shitlist. Not that its worth anything.

Um, I'm no expert but is th... (Below threshold)
AnonymousDrivel:

Um, I'm no expert but is the PC versus Mac even a legitimate debate? Shouldn't that comparison be Win32 versus OSX? I mean give me a PC shell and I'll install an OSX core. Give me a Mac shell and I'll install W2K core. Give me either shell and I'll install Linux. Now which is superior? I get headaches just pondering the permutations. The foolishness of this partisanship is astounding and displays only the ignorance and lack of credentials of its participants.

Again, I'm no expert. Still... ;-)

Anyhoo, Jay Tea, have another round on me. You're not yet as think as some drunk you are.

Ok, Jim. I was starting ... (Below threshold)
Jim:

Ok, Jim. I was starting to like you there for a minute, but that's passed.

ANYBODY WHO THINKS A MAC CANNOT DO EVERYTHING BETTER THAN A PC is just a fucking pinhead. Sorry, it had to be said.

So Jim, until I hear you concede with a resounding "UNCLE!" you're on my shitlist. Not that its worth anything.

Ok Mark. I will put up and then you can appologize (note that in my original post I did state there were things a Mac could do that a PC can't.

I can name things a PC can do, that a Mac can't. How many blood meter programs can be found for the Mac? How many blood meter interface programs are there for the Mac? Would you like to try for ZERO? And for those of us that are diabetic, this can be REAL important.

And please, don't even try for the PC emulators, as a veteren of many many emulators, the one thing I will say is that they don't, especially when dealing with interfaces and communications protocals.

Now how about Dive computer interfaces? The current count for the Mac has recently been raised to ONE! And that one requires a PDA in addition to the dive computer to work.

Now for the big one. How about CASE tools? The Mac comes up with a big goose egg again. (A really good CASE tool will require communications and interfaces with many machines, plus it pushes the envelope for performance on a PC, let alone a Mac running an emulator.)

Since I run software in all three of these categories, then by defintion, I NEED a PC and a Mac can NOT do everything better than a PC.

As a lawyer, you don't neccessarily need any of those three types of software, so you can choose to go with a Mac. The pinheads are the ones who decide that a Mac is for EVERYONE, regardless of need. If you fall into that category, then you can wear the label.

Um, I'm no expert but is... (Below threshold)
Jim:

Um, I'm no expert but is the PC versus Mac even a legitimate debate? Shouldn't that comparison be Win32 versus OSX?

No, but the ability to ask that question does put you ahead of 90% of the layman. Since this is my field, I have found that I have to reduce it to that level to even start to suck in the pinheads....

As for your second question, the native hardware doesn't run the other in each case, that's what emulators are for. The problems with emulators include:

1. They take a BIG performance hit.
2. They do not do communications protocals well.
3. They do not do interfaces to other machines well (see #2).
4. The emulators are ALWAYS 1 release behind the software they are emulating.
5. The software vendors will not support you running on an emulator, they don't have time and won't commit the resources.

For an example of this, how many people use OS/2 to run windows programs anymore? Yet Os/2 was supposed to be a better Windows than Windows.

Well, I do try, -S-, I do t... (Below threshold)

Well, I do try, -S-, I do try. I figured "rantgasm" was an appropriate word, given the subject.

RE: Jim's reply (July 21, 2... (Below threshold)
AnonymousDrivel:

RE: Jim's reply (July 21, 2005 05:33 PM)

Sorry, Jim. I was trying to be facetious considering the main actors of the original debate and the ongoing credentialism validating opinions. All in good fun.

But your elaboration does shed more light on the subject. By the way, would you mind flashing your EE degree when you point your torch? Gotta screen ya' from the riff-raff and know-nothings.

OK, Jim. UNCLE!Yo... (Below threshold)
Mark:

OK, Jim. UNCLE!

You know I was kidding, don't you?

I own both Macs and PCs. I prefer Macs, and I always have. Currently, there is no need for me to own a PC, as the few PC tasks I have can be adequately run in emulation. But, I certainly understand why so many do run PCs.

As for dive computer interfaces, the Mac had several in the late 1980's. And, I'm confident the current one would run adequately through emulation because they're not very CPU or graphics intensive. Alas, that no longer concerns me because a medical condition now prevents me from diving. (Believe me, if I got narc'd on a regular basis, I would not have sounded the way I did in the 2d Amend. thread.)

As for the other apps you mentioned, I haven't a clue.

I've been a Mac owner and fan since 1984, and became almost evangelical when they nearly went extinct in the late 90's. Now I'm just content to walk into PC offices with my powerbook, and access their entire networks without need for tedius configuration. Their jaws drop as I complete my project and print while they're still trying to get their Dells to communicate with the network. Ok, I guess I'm still a little evangelical.

chiming in a bit late, but,... (Below threshold)

chiming in a bit late, but, from everything I ever learned in school and from reading about the Consitution, it was written so that any citizen could understand it, not just lawyers.

I would argue that there ar... (Below threshold)

I would argue that there are more "laymen" affected by The Constitution than there are lawyers, judges, you know...experts. Of course we have opinions about it and compared to the education of most of the men who wrote the thing, it's a very educated opinion.

Funny how it's usually the "experts" that screw the thing up.

RE: Mark's post (July 21, 2... (Below threshold)
AnonymousDrivel:

RE: Mark's post (July 21, 2005 05:51 PM)

I've been a Mac owner and fan since 1984, and became almost evangelical when they nearly went extinct...

Ah, nostalgia. Your mention of '84 reminds me of the classic Apple ad that ran one time (during the SuperBowl?). Perhaps the most memorable ad I've ever seen... and it ran but once. Amazing.

Boy are we off the beaten path. Beer me.

Just remember, not one of t... (Below threshold)
Lew Clark:

Just remember, not one of the drafters nor one of the signers of the Constitution were recognized "constitutional experts", and they still did a pretty good job. It wasn't until much later when "constitutional experts" started cropping up, that things got all messed up. Which is usually the case. The person that came up with the idea is no expert. It takes "experts" to really screw it up.

Well, this thread has taken... (Below threshold)
mantis:

Well, this thread has taken an odd turn, but just to throw my hat in, Macs are often not worth their cost unless you're using it for graphic design and the like. My stance in the Mac vs PC debate is screw them both, if I had to keep just one machine/OS, I'd keep my Linux box (yes, OSX is nice and all, but still too expensive).

(handing my last beer to AD... (Below threshold)
Mark:

(handing my last beer to AD....)

Ok, to get back on the overly-beaten path....

Timmer, if what you mean by "screwed up" is that the Constition has become so bloated in complexity that a huge percentage of what is considered "constitutional law" cannot even be found on the face of the document, you're right. And as much as we might complain about the bloat and misuse caused by the post-New Deal liberal activist courts, much of the "damage" was done before the dawn of the 20th Century.

Mr. Teach, the document itself is fairly straight forward, subject of course to the obvious confusion demonstrated yesterday by most commenters who offered so many widely varying views of just one sentence. But by the 1920's the Constitution had already come to represent only the tip of the iceberg. Of course, it grew exponentially from there. Today, if one looks to the four corners of the Constitution, one will not find the vast majority of provisions that are widely regarded by the legal profession to be "constitutional guarantees." Like it or not, that is today's reality.

So, yes. Lay people can easily read the Consitution, and many will understand it. Yet, they will also find that their neighbor understands it a different way, and that poses problems. However, the biggest problem is that most lay people don't know how or where to find the underbelly of that iceberg where all those "rights" are hidden. That's where some legal training comes in handy.

Most people can spew a list of "constitutional rights" they feel they have. Perhaps half of those listed truly exist in the law today. However, a very very small percentage of those can actually be found spelled out in the constitutional document itself. The rest are found in the decisions of various courts. Although lay people might be capable of tracking those down, legal training and experience makes it much easier, and the result much more predictable.

Lew, don't let the would-be... (Below threshold)
Mark:

Lew, don't let the would-be humble framers fool you. Most were very experienced lawyers and students of government and political philosophy. They knew damn well what they were doing. I don't think they intended for it to be subjected to some of the abuses it has suffered, but much of its expansion was predicted and intended. In my opinion, they did an excellent job.

AnonymousDrivel: Sorry, ... (Below threshold)
Jim:

AnonymousDrivel: Sorry, Jim. I was trying to be facetious considering the main actors of the original debate and the ongoing credentialism validating opinions. All in good fun.

But your elaboration does shed more light on the subject. By the way, would you mind flashing your EE degree when you point your torch? Gotta screen ya' from the riff-raff and know-nothings.

I did mention my BSCS in the thread yesterday. Sorry, I didn't throw it in again today. I try not to throw that into people's facts too often. In trying to make my point, I went with MY area, which I thought was semi obvious, oh well.

Mark: OK, Jim. UNCLE!</i... (Below threshold)
jim:

Mark: OK, Jim. UNCLE!

You know I was kidding, don't you?

I own both Macs and PCs. I prefer Macs, and I always have. Currently, there is no need for me to own a PC, as the few PC tasks I have can be adequately run in emulation. But, I certainly understand why so many do run PCs.

As for dive computer interfaces, the Mac had several in the late 1980's. And, I'm confident the current one would run adequately through emulation because they're not very CPU or graphics intensive. Alas, that no longer concerns me because a medical condition now prevents me from diving. (Believe me, if I got narc'd on a regular basis, I would not have sounded the way I did in the 2d Amend. thread.)

Interfaces, not table programs. And no manufacturer (save 1) supports anything but Windows now. (Heck, even my PDA is supported with third party software). Oh and check this out: WWW.SCUBARADIO.COM

As for the other apps you mentioned, I haven't a clue.

I've been a Mac owner and fan since 1984, and became almost evangelical when they nearly went extinct in the late 90's. Now I'm just content to walk into PC offices with my powerbook, and access their entire networks without need for tedius configuration. Their jaws drop as I complete my project and print while they're still trying to get their Dells to communicate with the network. Ok, I guess I'm still a little evangelical.

Note that I *did* say Macs can do some things better.

And to clarify one point. The line in my post about pinhead was actually part of the quote of your previous message, but I mis-typed the length of where I posted the italics.

Just as being a lawyer has it's special jobs, and you know where you can find case law, I have my talents. One of my best friends was a big Mac user in the late 80's. We discussed it for one day, found strengths and weaknesses in both and agreed to disagree.

As I said in the begining, I like to punture the balloons of those who think one is sufficient for everything.

Back to the constituion thing. Those of us in Ccomputer Science have learned to construct language to absolute rules. We have to so that machines will parse the language. The first time I wrote a parser, I was surprised by one result. The issue I have with the law is that the law does not write to this level of sophistication. This would prevent legislation from the bench.

On a forum that I am having fun with, we are playing at virtual government. This one boob wrote a "bill" to set the minimum wage. Unfortunately, he did set a minimum wage, at the same time as he set a maximum wage, and the mean - his "law" would set every worker in the country to the same wage! After 40 or so messages back and forth, he is starting to get it.

Jim:"The issue I h... (Below threshold)
Mark:

Jim:

"The issue I have with the law is that the law does not write to this level of sophistication."

I agree, and I wish that were different.

"This would prevent legislation from the bench."

I disagree here. The problem is one cannot write for, or even foresee, all unique fact situations that arise. The judge's job is to analyze the law and determine whether it does or does not apply to the newly presented facts. Then he/she makes a ruling which becomes law and is relied upon a precedent until something new comes along. This is the common law system upon which our legal system was based, and it has stood the test of time for many centuries.

When you refer to "legislation from the bench," I think you're refering to instances where the judge is not satisfied with his analysis of whether the law applies, and instead substitutes his opinion of what he feels the law *should* be. Then we have judges torturing the law and forcing it to fit a set of facts where it does not legitimately belong. That's the problem that leads to rights to kill fetuses or applicatioin of 14th Amendment constraints on private businesses just because they serviced a government contract, or other controversial stretches.

Perhaps I'm too "indoctrinated" as Sue accused me, but I cannot imagine a viable and satisfactory system that could dispense with the historic commonlaw model. There are other systems, but I feel ours works as well as any, despite its major faults.

Folks, I hate to disrupt on... (Below threshold)
Jay Tea:

Folks, I hate to disrupt one of several vibrant topics on this thread, but it's not me, but Paul that starts the PC vs. Mac wars. I've studiously avoided them.

And it disturbs me no end that one of my more vocal supporters is Mantis. If your goal was to undermine my self-confidence, Mantis, you succeeded wildly...

J.

Jay:Shut up. Who ... (Below threshold)
Mark:

Jay:

Shut up. Who the hell do you think you are?

And it disturbs me no en... (Below threshold)
mantis:

And it disturbs me no end that one of my more vocal supporters is Mantis. If your goal was to undermine my self-confidence, Mantis, you succeeded wildly...

Well, I hope not too wildly. Anyhow, despite the many things on which we may disagree, I think we both, along with most people who write and frequent blogs, think that the internet is a place where normal people can discuss large issues, in both intelligent and boneheaded ways, with many other people despite a lack of "expert" credentials. And discussion of the foundation of our country, convoluted as it may have become in the legal world, should never be an esoteric pursuit.

Politics or ideology will never keep real Americans from agreeing about our freedom to think and speak as we please, and such agreement needs no expert approval.

Jim:"This would prevent leg... (Below threshold)
Jim:

Jim:"This would prevent legislation from the bench."

Mark:I disagree here. The problem is one cannot write for, or even foresee, all unique fact situations that arise. The judge's job is to analyze the law and determine whether it does or does not apply to the newly presented facts. Then he/she makes a ruling which becomes law and is relied upon a precedent until something new comes along. This is the common law system upon which our legal system was based, and it has stood the test of time for many centuries.

When you refer to "legislation from the bench," I think you're refering to instances where the judge is not satisfied with his analysis of whether the law applies, and instead substitutes his opinion of what he feels the law *should* be. Then we have judges torturing the law and forcing it to fit a set of facts where it does not legitimately belong. That's the problem that leads to rights to kill fetuses or applicatioin of 14th Amendment constraints on private businesses just because they serviced a government contract, or other controversial stretches.

I should have said "reduce legislation from the bench". Nothing would eliminate it.

Mantis,I agree wit... (Below threshold)
Mark:

Mantis,

I agree with you, but if you think I ever suggested "expert approval" was "required," then you need to brush up on your reading skills.

The freedoms you mentioned include MY freedom to verbally cringe in response to something I disagree with, and it also includes MY freedom to disagree with the contingent who feel lay people are as equally equipped as lawyers to interpret the complex body of law we call constitutional law.

I never suggested people are not entitled to their opinions, or their freedom to express them. But I did call bullshit on the whole "do it yourself" "by the people for the people" advocats because those people are fooling themselves.

Similarly, I would be fooling myself if I thought my high school physics classes prepared me to publish editorials on nuclear physics. After all, the laws of physics are my birthright because I am a citizen of the physical world. No, for me to do that would be foolish, and I would undoubtedly annoy nuclear physicists who endured whatever I wrote. Sure, I have the "right" to possess and express my opinions, but doing so would often be unwise.

If you read anything deeper than that into my posts, then that's a pretty damn expansive reading.

Similarly, I would be fo... (Below threshold)
mantis:

Similarly, I would be fooling myself if I thought my high school physics classes prepared me to publish editorials on nuclear physics.

Okay maybe this is the problem then. You for some reason think of editorials as the domain of experts, and also see blogs as editorials, which by your logic would restrict many bloggers to writing exclusively about their cats or tech support. Most people in the blogosphere write and comment about topics they are not experts in, and your comments imply they are unfit to do so, and that is not expansive reading. I contend that the internet is the first large forum for normal people to wrest the discussion from the clutches of experts, and just discuss things amongst themselves. Never before have people been able to reach such an audience without connections, celebrity, "expert" status, or any combination thereof.

And my point is not that you are trying to deny others' freedom in their opinions, nor am I trying to deny you yours. My point is that we're all just talking here. When people come into a conversation simply to say that everyone is too uneducated to discuss the topic, you piss on the whole idea of open dialogue, and transform the discussion into an argument about who is fit to talk about what, which is retarded, especially when talking about the Bill of Rights. This is the internet, not a court of law, nor the contract law class from The Paper Chase; we're all fit to talk about it.

Geeze Louise people - give ... (Below threshold)
Paul:

Geeze Louise people - give it a freaking rest! You wonder why I close comments on most anything having to do with technology??!!??!!

I think I posted that the grass was green one of you (probably Jim) would post some Mac/PC stuff. Get over it.

And Jim that is about the 30th time you said the you have diabetes and your software runs on a PC and not a Mac. Guess what Jim??? Nobody but your mother gives a rats ass.

You consistently proclaim one technology superior to another because of the availability of one piece of highly specialized software. I don't give a damn which side you are on, that argument itself is just stupid.

That's like saying Fords run better because their logo is an oval.

When I was 6 years old, I made more logical arguments about why I should not have to go to bed early. AND by God if I posted about a Big Mac hamburger, you would whine about your software. Nobody cares.

Just give it a rest people.

Also Mark if you're agreein... (Below threshold)
Paul:

Also Mark if you're agreeing with mantis you either need another beer or (more likely) you've had one too many.

Having said the above I did not read his comment (I only stuck my head in because my wive pointed out the Mac/PC knuckleheadedness) but I did notice some people who can actually think rationally agreed with him on this one... go figure.

I guess even a stopped clock is right twice a day. ;-)

P

Having said the above I ... (Below threshold)
mantis:

Having said the above I did not read his comment

Typical. At least that way you won't try to delete it or write an insulting response before closing comments. Oh, wait, this isn't your thread.

Fords DO run better becaus... (Below threshold)
fatman:

Fords DO run better because their logo is oval!

(I'd rather push a Ford than drive a Chevy.)

Ha...among Wizbang's funnie... (Below threshold)
-S-:

Ha...among Wizbang's funniest threads, ever.

Burning issue remains: which is cuter, Jay's cat or Paul's MAC? And why can't any of us ever SEE either/any?

Suzy, I'd have to vote for ... (Below threshold)
Jay Tea:

Suzy, I'd have to vote for my cat. Unlike Paul's Mac, I've posted pictures.

J.

Here's the only qualificati... (Below threshold)

Here's the only qualification you need: In my opinion you're one of the top 3 most enjoyable to read bloggers out there.

I would suggest, Jay, that ... (Below threshold)

I would suggest, Jay, that in this instance your talent for words has failed you. The term "layman" only denotes one who is not a professional in a given field. It has no bearing on that person's expertise.

Jay, something just occured... (Below threshold)
Mark:

Jay, something just occured to me: Why not test your exceptional skill over at Les Nessman's?

http://www.scriberoptics.com/100words/

How does Jay's talent for words stack up against Michele Catalano? Steven Green? Jeff Goldstein? AllahPundit? John Hinderaker?

Jay raised the issue here. Let the readers decide.




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