That’s Procrustes portrayed above, in both of his favored acts of mayhem. I checked: I’ve used the term “Procrustean” several times here, but never was kind enough to explain the term’s origins, which is what makes it cool.
Procrustes was the nastiest of the bad guys the mythological Greek hero Theseus encountered on his way to killing the Minotaur in Crete. Procrustes would invite a weary traveler to take refuge for the night, offering him sustenance and a bed—but the bed was a deadly trap. Procrustes guaranteed every guest would fit the bed neatly, but that was because it converted into a rack, stretching anyone who was too short. If a guest was too tall, Procrustes just hacked off enough inches from the feet up to ensure that the bed would fit him, too. Theseus killed the psycho, but the word procrustean eventually entered legal lexicon to describe an argument that illogically squeezed facts or omitted them to make a theory fit the law.
I thought of old Procrustes immediately when I read that Judge Colleen Kollar-Kotelly in the District Court for the District of Columbia suggested after a hearing that the Thirteenth Amendment might have created a right to abortions. Wait, you well might ask, “How could an amendment created specifically to make slavery illegal, passed right after the Civil War, be construed to enshrine abortion as a right?” The short answer is, “It can’t and doesn’t.” The stupid, intellectually dishonest answer, however, is the one that the previously responsible female judge has decided to promote.
When the amendment states, Continue reading