Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Suprynowicz: Cargo Cults

Fascinating metaphor from Vin Suprynowicz:  Cargo Cults.  I hadn't heard of that one, specifically (go to Vin's article for the details), but it seems to apply well enough:

With astonishing patience they wait, nodding and smiling in expectation, for the judge to finish reading their arguments and citations, expecting him at any moment to slap himself upside the head and exclaim “My God! When it’s all laid out in proper order like this, the conclusion is inescapable! Bailiff, release the defendant and issue him a formal apology from the court. Then go shackle those scurrilous IRS agents over there; we’re arresting them on charges of fraud, treason, misapplying their own statutes, and extorting payments under color of law!”

Try to tell them today’s federal judges aren’t going to read all those stacks of documents; that’s the LAST thing they want to do; they’re curiously incurious, well-schooled but actually mildly dull-witted political appointees who understand instinctively that their job is little different from the municipal judge in traffic court, giving you a minute to get it off your chest, then slamming down his gavel and saying “Nice try. Guilty. Pay your fine or go to jail.”

“But they HAVE TO read my exhibits and my pleadings,” these noble Quixotes will insist. “It’s their JOB. And when they do, they’ll see It’s all there, tracing the legal definition of “from any sources” and every other phrase, all the way back to 1913. They’re all ‘legal terms of art,’ like the difference between ‘traveling’ on the highways, for which they can’t make you get a license, and the excisable commercial activity defined as ‘driving.’ Once they’ve read these documents they CAN’T ignore them; they won’t have any CHOICE but to rule our way.”

Sounds familiar, doesn't it?  "This time for sure!"

There's a lot more there.  I've certainly got my disagreements with Suprynowicz on a few things, but he's earned far more than he's lost, and some of his metaphors are just plain inspired.

1 comment:

Joel said...

Thanks for the link, KW. I've paid little attention to Suprynowicz for the past nine years or so, he having lost my respect over the "smoking ruins and molten glass" articles he doesn't like to acknowledge any more. But he's still righter than wrong, and I love the "cargo cult" metaphor. He's been rightly critical over the Schiff-style tax law parsing for years, and it's perfectly logical to extend that skepticism to the Tea Party's faith in the political process.