Shock and Law

Perhaps spurred on by the recent tribute to Orwell (or our past treatment:), like many […]

JDK / 7.23.10

Perhaps spurred on by the recent tribute to Orwell (or our past treatment:), like many of you, I have been following the ongoing coverage (or lack thereof) of the Journolist imbroglio with some interest. Although there have been predictable responses from all sides, politics aside, it has a lot to say about how the law operates in everyday life. In one incredibly candid admission by Sarah Spitz, a producer for an NPR affiliate, with regards to Rush Limbaugh, we see this clearly manifested. When asked on the listserv what one would do where they to see Limbaugh having a heart attack, the Daily Caller reports: Spitz wrote that she would “Laugh loudly like a maniac and watch his eyes bug out” as Limbaugh writhed in torment. In boasting that she would gleefully watch a man die in front of her eyes, Spitz seemed to shock even herself. “I never knew I had this much hate in me,” she wrote.
Anyone who has participated in a listserv can sympathize with Ms.Spitz’s candor, and her regret over being caught is doubtless sincere; however, in this moment of unintended self-disclosure, she revealed something deep and profound about the reality of human nature and its relationship to the law and gospel, because there is no line between righteous anger and, in this respect, negligent homicide, because they share the same root.

This is not to say that there are not absolutes or that people should stop working for justice and peace; however, uncritical law-based attempts to formulate “the greater good” will always end up sacrificing people to an ideal, elevating what could be over what is, and result in the candid (and honest) admission that we could laugh as our enemies choked before our very eyes. The law did not come to guide or to instruct, but to stir up our murderous thoughts, expose our patronizing self-deceptions and bring us to the foot of the cross, which stands as a constant reminder that, although Ms. Spitz may have been shocked by her level of animus, there’s one who isn’t.

to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.
Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.”
(Matthew 11:28-30)