Wednesday, July 06, 2016

Hillary Clinton, Legal Relativism, and the Church

Whoever, being entrusted with or having lawful possession or control of any document, writing, code book, signal book, sketch, photograph, photographic negative, blueprint, plan, map, model, instrument, appliance, note, or information, relating to the national defense, (1) through gross negligence permits the same to be removed from its proper place of custody or delivered to anyone in violation of his trust, or to be lost, stolen, abstracted, or destroyed, or (2) having knowledge that the same has been illegally removed from its proper place of custody or delivered to anyone in violation of its trust, or lost, or stolen, abstracted, or destroyed, and fails to make prompt report of such loss, theft, abstraction, or destruction to his superior officer—
Shall be fined under this title or imprisoned not more than ten years, or both.
Hillary Clinton felony violated that federal law.  In the words of Andrew C. McCarthy:
With lawful access to highly classified information she acted with gross negligence in removing and causing it to be removed from its proper place of custody, and she transmitted it and caused it to be transmitted to others not authorized to have it, in patent violation of her trust.
Here's the applicable statement from FBI director James B. Comey:
Although we did not find clear evidence that Secretary Clinton or her colleagues intended to violate laws governing the handling of classified information, there is evidence that they were extremely careless in their handling of very sensitive, highly classified information.
You will notice that the law says nothing about intent.  This does not mean, of course, that a prosecutor could not have proven intent.  I believe intent would have been easy to prove in this case. Why did Hillary Clinton have a private server?  She needed to be able to cover for illegal activities -- that is very easy to see.  However, the law doesn't require a demonstration of intent.  Yet, Comey says, "we did not find clear evidence that Secretary Clinton...intended to violate laws."

Comey did say there is evidence Secretary Clinton was "extremely careless in [her] handling of very sensitive, highly classified information," the very definition of "gross negligence."  Concerning what Comey was doing, Andrew McCarthy again writes:
It is a common tactic of defense lawyers in criminal trials to set up a straw-man for the jury: a crime the defendant has not committed. The idea is that by knocking down a crime the prosecution does not allege and cannot prove, the defense may confuse the jury into believing the defendant is not guilty of the crime charged.
Comey set up "intent" as a straw man, one not necessary to convict Hillary Clinton of a felony.

Since Comey came down with his explanation of the FBI investigation of Hillary Clinton, as would be expected, most of her supporters are happy.  One, they are a crowd of people who do not care if she violated the law or threatened the security of the United States.  Two, they can take laws and make them mean whatever they want them to mean.  This system of interpretation has been called "loose constructionism," a fruit of progressivism and postmodernism.

Institutionally, the United States has departed from God, and, therefore, absolute truth.   Beyond saying anything is right or wrong anymore, this nation cannot say what anything means.  The naturalist believes only nature, matter in motion, exists without God, so is also left without an explanation for the laws of logic.

My family and I went whitewater rafting today on the Colorado River, and while we floated through the canyon along highway 70, our guide explained how that the river wore this ravine over a period of 15,000 years.   Our family met that comment with silence.  For one, I knew that naturalists say more like 15 million years, so I was laughing to myself about the 15,000 versus 15,000,000.  I asked him where all the sediment went from all of these deep caverns, and he said it went to Lake Powell.  I asked and exclaimed, "All of it went into that one lake?  Wow!"  He wasn't sure on that question. What I'm saying is that people can make up whatever they want when they are naturalists.

Without assuming the existence of the laws of logic, no one has any meaningful way of communicating, reasoning, or proving anything.  Words mean whatever is convenient for whatever preference someone wants to take.  In the Harvard Journal of Law & Public Policy, Richard A. Epstein writes in his "Linguistic Relativism and the Decline of the Rule of Law":
Both the narrow and broad conceptions of the rule of law presuppose that the tools of ordinary language are powerful enough to allow judges and scholars to formulate legal rules that make implementing the rule of law possible. Unfortunately, many scholars despair that the tools of textual analysis are not strong enough to meet the persistent challenges of the linguistic skeptic.
How or why did this change?  Epstein later in the same article gives some examples of how or why the change:
[T]he writers in the progressive tradition (who first ushered in and then defended the Court’s New Deal jurisprudence) [took] the general position that . . . key constitutional words [were] deeply plastic and filled with inherent ambiguity. . . .  [D]oubt paves the way for the rise of the Fourth Branch of Government—the independent administrative agencies like the Federal Trade Commission and the National Labor Relations Board—whose “duties,” Justice Sutherland said, “are neither political nor executive, but predominantly quasi-judicial and quasi-legislative,” without giving any idea as to how these novel terms map onto the constitutional structure. Once this degree of linguistic freedom is given, it becomes difficult, if not impossible, to distill clear meanings from established texts whose meaning had once filtered through a set of shared historical experiences.
Linguistic relativism leads to legal relativism.  Epstein continues:
So why then the legal relativism—that is, some notion that there are no independent grounds for preferring one outcome to another—which surfaces in different ways in different contexts? The simplest explanation is the best. Let a judge assume that there are fixed meanings to controversial terms, and the scope of judicial discretion in interpreting statutes or constitutional texts is necessarily limited. For progressive law professors . . . those linguistic straitjackets would reduce the opportunity to transform constitutional doctrine. 
Now I want to go straight to my major point of this post.  Conservatives decry the perversion of law through linguistic and then legal relativism.  The uncertainty of language and then laws results in the sanction of illegal activity.  The criminals play games with words and the law, like "it depends upon what the meaning of the word 'is' is."  Evangelicals might say they hate the linguistic relativism.  Do they?

God is One.  His Word is One.  The meaning is perspicuous.  It's plain.  We do not have a linguistic excuse with ordinary meaning of the language of scripture.  What has evangelicalism done?

Evangelicalism (and much of fundamentalism) plays Clintonian games with scripture in numbers of different ways.  I could point you to several, but I want to focus on one:  the new and unbiblical approach of essentials and non-essentials.

Intent is not found in the federal law violated by Hillary Clinton.  Conservatives act like they can know that.  It's ordinary language.  It's really easy to understand "gross negligence" equal to Comey's "extremely careless."  Any right thinking of ordinary language in the law know she is a felon.

How much more sad is the violation of God's law than the violation of United States federal law? Evangelicals justify disobedience with their "essentials and non-essentials."  They assume that language cannot be understood.  They make God unclear.  To evangelicals, He is less clear than human law, federal law, therefore, their people are required only in a very short list of essentials. Most of what God has said has been reduced to non-essentials.  The non-essentials are in there, but they don't have to be kept.  For all intents and purposes, even the conservative evangelicals are linguistic relativists.

Judgment must begin in the house of God.  If we can't obey God, His Word, in the church, why would we expect obedience to lesser laws?  The doubt and uncertainty in the church justifies what's happening in our nation.  Our churches are full of spiritual criminals.  Church leaders allow them to get away with it.  They justify it with linguistic relativism that is not characteristic of the clarity of God.


Anonymous said...

I find it interesting that even in 2 Peter 3:16, where it says that there "are some things hard to be understood", we are not then told, "So, don't worry about those things, they don't matter, because they're not as clear." We are told, rather, that people twist those scriptures (like they do the others) "unto their own destruction". We are told that we should beware of false teachings of those scriptures lest we be "lead away with the error of the wicked" and fall from stedfastness. We are told rather to "grow in grace and in the knowledge of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ", which obviously from the context includes getting those hard passages right.

This passage certainly doesn't make a good case for essentials vs. non-essentials, though it starts ("hard to be understood") as though it might be the best case they would have.

Mat Dvorachek

Kent Brandenburg said...

Hi Mat,

It's true.