Thursday, March 5, 2009

Private Interpretation...(An Analogy)

A man walks into the local zoo one day, with a huge smile on his face. As he approaches the information desk, it is obvious that this man is excited about being here. He approaches the woman attending the information desk and begins to tell her the reason why he is so excited.

Man: "I am so excited, ma'am, I just cannot contain myself".
Woman: "What are you so excited about, sir?"
Man: "I have just finished reading the Bill of Rights, and I learned the most exciting news!!!"
Woman: "Really?"
Man: "Yes. You see, I am a hunter and my favorite game to hunt are bears. Unfortunately though, I have never been successful at killing any."
Woman: "Okay."
Man: "Then I read in the Bill of Rights, that I have the Right to bear arms"
Woman: "Of course you do. That is a right that has been protected for American citizens for a very long time now"
Man: "Really? Then I wonder why this place is not filled with unsuccessful bear hunters"
Woman: "What do you mean?"
Man: "Well, it is like you said. The right to bear arms is something that every American citizen has. I don't understand why people have not come down to the zoo, and chosen which bear arms they have a right to. Too bad for them. Thanks to the perpescuity of the Bill of Rights, I am now ready to claim my bear arms. Can you point me in the right direction of where they keep the bears?"

There are two points that I am trying to make...

This gentleman had great intentions. He was doing his best at trying to understand a document that has huge ramifications on his life. Unfortunately though, although he has read the words of the document, he did not understand the message that the authors were trying to convey. In this scenario, he did not understand what it meant when the author said that every citizen has a right to bear arms.

It would be beneficial for him to take the time to study not only the Bill of Rights, but also the authors that put the Bill of Rights together, the time in which they lived, and how the Bill of Rights was formed. It would also be beneficial to understand on whose authority did the Bill of Rights come to fruition in the first place.

It would also be beneficial for this man to understand that with the Bill of Rights, it takes an authoritative interpreter in order to judge what the document says and how they go about making their official judgement. Those individuals who practice law would be that authoritative interpreter. Not only do they use the Bill of Rights itself, in order to interpret it, but they also rely on the history of past cases and earlier decisions. One may say that they depend on the tradition of the law as much, if not more, as they depend on the written letter of the law as well.

A friend of mine practices law, and mostly what he does is research historical accounts of past decisions that may impact a case that is currently being held in the courtroom. Can you imagine a legal system where every case is tried brand new, without reflections and contemplation on past decisions?  Without the guidance of the legal system that reflects on the history of the matter?  Instead, every individual would be responsible for interpreting the Constitution and Bill of Rights on their own?  The world would be full of judges - each able to make the authoritative interpretation of what the law says.  That would be crazy, right?

The second point that I want to make is that it is imperative for the woman to point our misguided friend in the right direction. This is not done in order to discipline the poor misguided soul - instead it is done out of charity / love. If she is aware that this man is interpreting the Bill of Rights wrongly, then she should spend the time correcting him. Assuming that she is aware of it, she should spend the time to explain to him the true meaning of what the Bill of Rights is saying. She should also share with our friend that the author of the Bill of Rights was so smart, and knew that there were things that were not addressed and situations that the citizens may find themselves in that could not be authoritatively defined in the document, that they setup a whole structure that one can depend on in order to continually ratify and speak authoritatively on what the document says.  In essence, they carry the same authority that the original authors had in creating the document.  They are the successors of the Founding Fathers.

I just love our legal system.  The Founding Fathers must have been led by God in order to come up with something so brilliant.  Thank you God for leading the Founding Fathers and for creating The America.  May we all find your will for us in Her.

God bless...

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