by Michael Sherrillo
The easiest way to turn friends into enemies is to ask them abut their politics. Only the rare individual can listen to your views and calmly explain why they disagree and what their own are. I often imagine myself to be one of those few, but in the reality of the moment, sometimes objectivity can get thrown out the window as the argumentative heat rises.
Take last night. There is a kindly old gent who I have taken to chatting with these past few nights, who is an avid reader and seems to genuinely enjoy going out of his way to do nice things for the people around him. He is white, 62, and a very successful realty/mortgage business owner. If your Republican-dar isn't pinging, then get it checked. I should have assumed he was republican. I usually consider myself a savvy enough individual to be able to guess a persons left/right leaning just by spending a few minutes chatting with them. Maybe it was his niceness which made me relax and forget myself for a moment, but as we joked about the job our wonderful "Gubernator" is doing, I let slip some comment about our new chief justice, something along the lines of the supreme court sending American society back to the 1950's "golden age" of repressed patriarchal domination which was only "Golden" in the minds of WASPey old republicans and southern hicks who had never left the inbred small towns they were born into and haven't had a science class beyond the 6th grade. Okay, maybe I could have been a little more sensitive about it, but like I said, my guard was down.
The building tension filling the pause in the air was palatable, I saw his lips move and before his words could reach my ears my republican-dar was pinging like crazy to the tune of "shit shit shit shit shit shit". I was floored. For five minutes I was laid flat by the ranting monologue about how our democratic senator had refused to support Roberts nomination, despite the fact that she though he was brilliant and that she couldn't think of a better man, because she wanted a woman on the court. Or, as my friend was so eloquently putting it, she wouldn't nominate him because he didn't have a cunt.
While I disagree with her reasons for refusing to vote for him, as the flood of words began to slow, I took the opportunity to try to mention a few that his records were being kept hidden for a reason, and the there are several documents which illustrate that he is completely against women in the workplace and all the civil liberties not endorsed by the Bush party. That gave him his second wind. After a few more minutes, I realized that I wasn't going to have the opportunity to get a word in edgewise until her remembered to breathe or completely passed out, so making up an important something I suddenly remembered I had to do, I politely excused myself.
While I walked away, I was imagining myself at the senate interviewing Roberts. The things I would like to say to him. That "liberal judges" are what have saved American society from racism, from sexism, from prohibition. That precedent weights an institution in it's past, but not all pasts are good, that this country was build on a wonderful ideology which ended up expressing itself with slavery, with denying women the right to vote, with trying to prevent workers from unionizing, with policies which hurt immigrants (and everyone but the American Indians are immigrants from one generation or another), which tried to extend the "life, liberty, and pursuit of happiness" to only rich white conservative Christian males. That is the precedent of American judges. We need more than someone who is mired by the past obligations of tradition to help guide America into a new future. One where people have the freedom to choose the lives that they wish to have, to choose their own happiness, instead of those prescribed by some dogmatic documents of Do's and Don'ts erected in front of a southern courthouse. We need activist judges to see that distant goal and dream, that equality which exists in all people and the ability for each of us as individuals to choose a life and happiness which is decided by us alone. Let gay men marry, let pot smokers toke, let women earn comparable wages! The goals of America should be to right the wrongs of our past and break from tradition to create a better future for us all.
That's what I would say to Mr. Roberts. Your precious precedent can kiss my red-blooded, patriotic, individual, free ass. Let liberty ring.