Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Waiting for 2010 #12: All Spin, No Context

Today is a big day for political news:

The California Supreme Court upheld Proposition 8, but grandfathered pre-November gay marriages as valid. Thus begins an awkward time in California for a segment of its population - the early adopters vs. the late comers, so to speak. Anything can happen after this, whether quickly or over a long period of time, but assuredly, it goes to show how temporarily laws come and go.

Moving from State affairs to the Federal:

President Obama nominated Sonya Sotomayor to the US Supreme Court. Not surprisingly, various squeaky wheels are in opposition of the nomination for the sake of opposition, I guess. It really didn't matter who was nominated, as the Limbaughs of this nation would find some sort of ideological flaw in the nominee. And no matter who was nominated, Mike Huckabee would still call her "Maria" - or some other quasi-racist pseudo-Freudian mega-slip.

While I support a system that allows for dissent, an opposition party (or parties) that rely too much on spin but light on context is entirely useless. When Obama added "empathy" to the qualities of a nominee, the opposition spinmasters played down the possibility that empathy is better than robotic apathy in a fellow human being. If empathy is such a bad supplementary quality, I don't see Dick Cheney using his Halliburton bonuses and dividends for R&D in AI SCOTUS cyborg justices.

Furthermore, here's more context-indifferent spin, when quoting nominee Sotomayor: "All of the legal defense funds out there, they're looking for people with court of appeals experience, because it is, court of appeals is where policy is made." That quote, especially the last clause, is the soundbite du jour for the non-nuanced political right. Some context reveals the rest of the apparent joke: "And I know, and I know this is on tape, and I should never say that, because we don't make law, I know. ... OK. I know. I know. I'm not promoting it, and I'm not advocating it, I'm, you know." But context effectively renders spin moot, and that doesn't help any propagandist - conservative, liberal or otherwise.

In any case, remember that laws, law makers, and law interpretations are temporary. Justices replace older justices. Injustices are eventually resolved and replaced by newer injustices. Of life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness, the last one is conspicuously ambiguous - what exactly constitutes happiness, who gets it, and how?

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