The law is like a programming language

Programing languages are made up of little functions, one might pop up a box that says: “Do you really want to quit?” and will have little “Yes” or “No” buttons. You really would imagine that this would lead the program to end, but depending on how the function is written, it might not necessarily do that. It might assume that the programmer is going to make the thing end some other way. In fact, it could be made to fire up the printer. That would be really strange, but it could easily be done.

Now imagine that the total body of laws is like a computer language and that the little piece of the program (function) that asks if you want to quit is like a new piece of legislation. It could be used in unexpected, and even nonsensical, ways if judged and lawyers concluded that it could. Imagine if some law accidentally gave a legal advantage to people who periodically blew a bugle when publicly speaking. Thousands of bugles would be sold and used, no questions asked.

So if we can begin to see the law as amoral (neither moral or immoral), then we can best make use of it. This is especially true for laws regarding religion. As the conservative Supreme Court and state governments roll out more laws protecting religious freedom, expect more and more groups making odd claims to being religious. The problem is that if they build their case correctly, like a computer program that acts strange but doesn’t crash, then they “will” legally be religious. Strange days are sure to come.

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