Wednesday, July 16, 2008

The 8th Circuit shows us how to get out of anything

This news is stale by now, but the insights flowing from it have just begun.

The other week the 8th Circuit ruled that a South Dakota law requiring doctors to tell women seeking an abortion that abortion "terminates the life of a whole, separate, unique, living human being," didn't require forced ideological speech, because the law also defined "human being" as "an individual living member of the species Homo sapiens, including the unborn human being during the entire embryonic and fetal ages from fertilization to full gestation."

So, once you factored in the definition, the "human being" statement was not ideological, but just a scientific fact (or a tautology): if you abort your fetus, you will be aborting a human fetus. What doctor could argue with that, right?

This reasoning can be applied to all kinds of situations in which the normal meanings of words present can leave you in a sticky spot. So:

-"I always finish my work on time." (True where "on time" is defined to mean "when I get it done.")
-"I shot the sheriff, but I did not shoot the deputy." (Where "the sheriff" means "the sheriff and another guy, perhaps the deputy.")
-"No, I haven't read spoilers to find out who the 7th through 12th Cylons are." (Where "haven't" means "am not admitting to.")

Very handy. Thanks, wise judges.

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