nancylebov (nancylebov) wrote,

Real law vs. pseudo law

In recent comments, sethg_prime said:
The people who care are out of their minds. I wouldn't say they're as crazy as the ones who claim the Constitution distinguishes between "citizens" and "Citizens" and make pseudolegal hay out of it. But it's the same kind of obsession--arguments based on some vision of "The Law" that has little resemblence with how real lawyers and judges interpret real laws.

Now, this is interesting. I've read a few very dubious looking legal arguments-- frex that somehow it makes a crucial difference if there's a gold fringe on the flag in the courtroom, or that the income tax is illegal because (iirc) one of the people who made the majority voting for it didn't technically represent whatever state he was supposed to represent. The former doesn't seem to be the way normal people think (it almost turns the law into a conspiracy theory) and even if every premise in the latter is true, I can't imagine the government overturning the income for that reason.

On the other hand, actual law can look very odd to normal people. For example, was the destruction of the WTC one event or two? Ordinarily, no one would care, but a lot of insurance money was riding on the distinction. (Did it ever get decided, and if so, how?) What's worse, there's no objective way of determining whether it's one event or not. It's not like counting the cookies on a plate.

Are there general principles for distinguishing crank law from the real thing?

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