Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Quote of the Evening

It's from that most intriguing Supreme Court Justice:
A system that does not hold individuals accountable for their harmful acts treats them as less than full citizens. In such a world, people are reduced to the status of children or, even worse, treated as thoug they are animals without a soul. There may be a hard lesson here: In the face of injustice on the part of society, it is natural and easy to demand recompense or a dispensation from conventional norms. But all to often, doing so involves the individual accepting diminished responsibility for his future. Does the acceptance of diminished responsibility assure that the human spirit will not rise above the tragedies of one's existence? When we demand something from our oppressors -- more lenient standards of conduct, for example -- are we merely going from a state of slavery to a more deceptive, but equally destructive, state of dependency?

Clarence Thomas, "Crime and Punishment -- and Personal Responsibility," The National Times, Sept. 1994, at 31

10 comments:

Bill Abendroth said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
PG said...

The "at 31" refers to a page number, not Thomas's age at the time, which would have been about 36.

Incidentally, the "black man couldn't write that and must have had someone else [probably white] do it" stuff was not cool to say without evidence when it was said about Obama, and it's not cool to say without evidence about Thomas.

Anonymous said...

Ditto PG. I've read dozens (at least) of Thomas opinions, written over several years, in dissent, majority, and concurrence, and have found them consistently clear and well-written (albeit mostly wrong :) ). It's possible he happened to find clerks with all the same writing styles and thought processes who did the writing for him. It's also possible that we need to drop the not-so-vaguely-racist "Clarence Thomas is stupid/Scalia's puppet" meme so treasured on the left.

Just as an FYI, according to both published and unpublished accounts, Thomas has changed Scalia's mind on more issues than vice versa. I find that, without the preconceived notions about them, Scalia's supposed brilliance comes off mostly obfuscatory snark, and Thomas's supposed stupidity is remarkably clear, straightforward prose. I know which I prefer.

PG said...

which would have been about 36.
s/b
which would have been about 56.

Agreed with Anon that Thomas's writing style is superior to Scalia's in terms of cutting to the heart of issues (rather than being cutting toward one's opponents). However, I think Scalia might be better than Thomas at anticipating the arguments that will be made by the other side. Thomas's thought process seems highly internal -- what matters to him is getting the right answer for himself -- whereas Scalia's is more engaged with others.

Bill Abendroth said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
PG said...

Bill,

What does "lying hypocritical fucking son of bitch bastard--not to mention immoral" have to do with whether Thomas was capable of penning the passage that David quoted? You've provided exactly nothing to back up your assertion that it's "baloney" that Thomas could have written it and that it must be the work of a ghostwriter.

This reminded me of similar assertions made about Obama (although at least in Obama's case, the accusers tried to provide some evidence, absurdly weak though it was). I pointed out the parallel in order to emphasize the possible unconscious assumptions you are making about Thomas without any supporting evidence, and to indicate why those assumptions are particularly problematic in the cases of a group (black men) popularly assumed to be inarticulate.

Whenever Colin Powell is on the news, white people give him the same compliments: 'How do you feel about Colin Powell?', 'He speaks so well! He's so well spoken. I mean he really speaks so well!' Like that's a compliment, shit. 'He speaks so well' is not a compliment, okay? 'He speaks so well' is some shit you say about retarded people that can talk. What do you mean he speaks so well? He's a fucking educated man! How the fuck you expect him to sound, you dirty motherfucker? 'He speaks so well.' What are you talking about? What voice were you expecting to come out of his mouth? 'Imma drop me a bomb today', 'I be Pwez o dent!'

Anonymous said...

I should probably stop saying 'ditto PG,' but yah. If you say he's a "lying hypocritical fucking son of bitch bastard--not to mention immoral . . .," I think you're wrong. If you say he's not capable of writing decent prose, well, I stand by what I said.

-Same Anon

Bill Abendroth said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
David Schraub said...

Bill, I'm sorry, but I agree with PG that this is racist stuff. Knock it off, or stay off my comment threads.

viola said...

What is this abendroth person doing in this discussion anyways?! I'm peacefully reading and enjoying all this intelligent discussion and when he sticks his ugly words in, it's like a slap in the face!