Random Thought #1
Listening to Senator Jeff Sessions' opening statement at the start of Judge Sotomayor's confirmation hearing yesterday got me riled. I haven't yet figured out which planet the Senator lived on before gracing us with his presence, but it must be one with a society like the one in Lois Lowery's juvenile novel, The Giver. I still haven't decided if his comments are more hypocrital, disingenuous, or idiotic; all three are viable options.
As an attorney himself, how could Senator Sessions not know that everything we read is understood, interpreted, and processed through the lens that informs our lives? Meaning has never been the same for all people in all times in all places. If this were true, humanity would never have progressed! There would have been no flowering of democracy in Greece, no birth of Christianity in the Middle East, no Renaissance, no Age of Reason, no French or American Revolutons. Without a change in understanding and interpretation, Martin Luther would have had no reason to nail his 95 Theses to the door of the church in Wittenburg; "the shot heard round the world" would not have been necessary, and the U.S. could well have remained part of the British Empire until its collapse; the notion that race determines a human being's worthiness of freedom might well have remained the norm in America, and Rosa Parks wouldn't have felt the need to refuse to give up her seat on the bus. As you can imagine, the list could go on ad infinitum.
The ever evolving landscape of human experience is what makes literature, music, and art great. The ability of a piece to have meaning across time, language, religion, and culture is based on the fact that meaning isn't the same for all readers, listeners, or viewers; what an individual gets out of a work is determined by his or her understanding and experience which, in turn, inform his or her interpretation. It is this fact that accounts for the volumes of books written about Shakespeare's plays, Mozart's music, and Raphael's art. Shakespeare's plays, Mozart's concertos, and Raphael's paintings haven't changed, but the knowledge, understanding, and experience of the people at the point in time in which they are read, viewed, or heard has; thus, the interpretations of these artists' work will change as well. It is also this fact that accounts for the various translations of the Bible; words translated from the original Hebrew and Greek are assigned meaning in another language based on the translator's understanding and analysis of context. Luckily for those of us living in 21st century America, interpretation and understanding of the law has evolved as well.
Senator Sessions established himself as an authority on the judicial system thus:
I have been an active litigator in federal courts for the majority of my professional life. I have tried cases in private practice, as a federal prosecutor with the Department of Justice, and as Attorney General of the State of Alabama.
The Constitution and our great heritage of law are things I care deeply about — they are the foundation of our liberty and prosperity.
Good for you, Senator Sessions! I applaud your dedication to the Constitution and its principles. But I do have a question for you. How is it possible that you have achieved such a remarkable CV without also recognizing that your interpretation of the law is, at the very least, influenced by your understanding of connotation and denotation in language coupled with your values, beliefs, and experience?
Random Thought #2
Betty's health is improving at last. She was moved yesterday from the hospital to a rehab center, where she will stay for two weeks while she gets an IV antibiotic for the treatment of a staph infection in her lung. I felt horrible for agreeing to the placement, no matter how temporary, because I promised Bob that I would never put her in a nursing home situation. Unfortunately, there is no alternative available to her until the antibiotics course is finished. There is, however, some good news here. The nursing home / rehab facility is just a couple of blocks away from my house, so visiting her daily will be super easy.
Random Thought #3
I don't know what got The Brain's knickers in a twist yesterday, but It decided that I was so deserving of some good old electro-shock therapy that It delivered a total of 8 seizures throughout the day. Each succeeding seizure was worse than the predecessor so that by the end of the day, I had spent more of it asleep than awake, more of it nauseated than not. Bleh! I could have done without all that excitement. My fingers are crossed that The Brain feels confident enough in its preeminent power once again that It will practice -- are you ready for this one? -- empathetic justice on me today!