Originalism and Monty python


Jan 23, 2018
Good morning on what may be our last scotus opinion day of the term. Let me begin this post by saying that I am an avowed original meaning (properly interpreted) guy when it comes to jurisprudential approaches to interpretation of statutes and constitutions. But if there’s one thing I love even more, it’s intelligent comedy - probably the most efficient and powerful way to communicate important ideas.

so on to our story. Last week, for my birthday, my son gave me a “Blessed are the Cheesemakesers” hat, an homage of course to the sermon on the mount scene from life of Brian. Naturally, I had to rewatch the scene.

Now think about what you just saw. In about twenty seconds, the pythons launched the two most compelling arguments against originalism. First, the telephone tag problem of those distant from the speaker simply not hearing him right. Second, the problem of how to derive and define broader meaning from original texts, as hilariously illustrated by the “dairy products” line (and it’s pompous delivery).

For an added bonus, recall how the scene ultimately resolves itself in name calling and threats of violence.

god I wish we had more comedians these days who were this smart in their comedy.