Wednesday, April 23, 2014

    An Associate Justice of the Supreme Court was sitting by a river when a traveler approached and said:
    “I wish to cross.  Would it be lawful to use this boat?”
    “It would,” was the reply, “it is my boat.”
    The traveler thanked him, and pushing the boat into the water, embarked and rowed away.  But the boat sank and he was drowned.
    “Heartless man!” said an Indignant Spectator, “why did you not tell him that your boat had a hole in it?”
    “The matter of the boat’s condition,” said the great jurist, “was not brought before me.”

from Fantastic Fables, by Ambrose Bierce

2 comments:

peppergomez said...

The point being....the he knew about it but didn't because...he hadnt seen it demonstrated for him? I know there is a critique here but it seems veiled to me.

Agent Polsky said...

Well, it is a critique of the legal system, its complexity. The "legal issue" was so narrow, it avoided the actual issue relevant to the human being... in other words, the legal system is sort of like a computer, the output depends on good input... in this case, the person asked the wrong question... does that explain it? It is a critique of the judicial mindset as well, the notion that legal issues may be irrelevant to the larger picture of life I suppose. Judge often seek to decided cases on the narrowest grounds possible, which is actually a good feature - it avoids sweeping changes in the law that would have unexpected consequences, but on the other hand, it can cause decisions that avoid deciding anything at all really, just a narrow technical legal decision that might hardly have much of an effect in the world outside the law.