I used to believe that the Constitution should be interpreted literally. I was appalled by the notion of activist judges doing from the bench that which should properly have been legislated. I was deeply philosophically disturbed at the Supreme Court's apparent endless ability to discover new inalienable rights buried in the text of our nation's legal code. I was firmly in favor of The Letter Of The Law over The Spirit Of The Law.

That changed for me rather suddenly during the 1996 Presidential election. One day I was flaming the hell out of some idiot on whatever political site it was that I frequented at the time. It was a great political flame, the kind that you just know will finally get that guy to just shut the hell up, once and for all. It had Constitutional amendments cut and pasted in, quotations from The Federalist Papers, questions about the recipient's ancestry, passages from obscure court decisions, scare stories about totalitarian regimes--everything that an extremely net-addicted political junkie could get his hands on to support his ultra-libertarian viewpoint.

Well, this time, as I reread the message for coherency before posting it I thought to myself something along the lines of, "Wow, I'm so glad that I live in a time where I can communicate instantly around the world and that I live in a place where I have a guaranteed freedom to say whatever the hell I want."

I happened to be glancing at a passage from the first amendment when it hit me that even though I was thinking about freedom of speech, I wasn't really speaking, I was typing into a computer connected to the Internet; two subjects that receive surprisingly scant attention in the actual text of the First Amendment.

*beep* Warning from philosophical viewpoint subsystem: possible consistency violation

That's ok, it not speech, it's press. Hmmmmm....... no printing press anywhere around here.

*beep* Warning from philosophical viewpoint subsystem: probable consistency violation

Assembly? Petition? Please?

*beep* Error in philosophical viewpoint subsystem: consistency violation detected--reboot belief system, adjust viewpoint, go to sleep and hope this passes(r/a/S) a

Now I don't know what I believe. Probably there is no hard and fast rule for when it should be Letter or when it should be Spirit. I do know that I never posted that flame.

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