[Guest post by Aaron Worthing]
To pre-judge a person is to literally “judge before.” Before what? Before it is appropriate, before you have all the facts. Of course normally we think of prejudice as being based on specific traits. Racial prejudice is to judge a man by his skin color, rather than getting enough facts to judge him as an individual. But it can be based on anything.
Take for instance, Sarah Palin. Liberals have convinced themselves that Palin is a moron. So when Sarah Palin told a crowd of Tea Partiers that it was too soon to “party like its 1773” liberals freaked out. OMG, she is so stupid. Doesn’t she know the American Revolution was in 1776? As well documented by Cuffy Meigs, Markos Moulitsas, Gwen Ifil (who moderated Palin’s debate with Joe Biden) and others mocked her in that fashion.
One guy, Steve Paulo showed enough introspection to wonder “WTF happened in 1773?!” Well, hey, I was a history major, but I couldn’t rattle off every event of any year, 1773 or otherwise. But I can google. As of this moment the first link I get is this. You only have to page down once to discover that in December of that year was the original Boston Tea Party. You know, the event that the Tea Party is self-consciously invoking with its very name? Yeah, that one.
And then there is Christine O’Donnell’s whole exchange with Chris Coons about the first amendment. I was going to write a long break down, but Ann Althouse beat me to the punch. I suggest you read the whole thing but I think this paragraph sums it all up:
The [two] were talking past each other, trying to look good and make the other look bad. It is a disagreement about law between [two] individuals who are not running for judge. It’s not detailed legal analysis. It’s a political debate and this is a political disagreement. An important one, no doubt. But it can’t be resolved by laughing at one person and calling her an idiot, something I find quite repellent.
And a commenter adds an important nuance to that analysis:
I don’t think they were talking past each other so much as O’Donnell was trying to get Coons to speak precisely whereas Coons wanted to speak in more general colloquial terms.
The real problem is the ignorance of the reporters and the people in the audience who couldn’t understand the point O’Donnell was trying to make and so just assumed she was being stupid. The irony being that she was right (and, on this point at least, smarter than them).
I think that is exactly right. And Althouse captures well what I am trying to say, here:
It’s a bit annoying to me, because I cannot stand when people jump to the conclusion that someone they want to believe is stupid is being stupid when they say something that seems wrong. Think first. Is it wrong?
I think in truth she isn’t stupid. What she is, is a chirpy wear-your-faith-on-your sleeve Christian. You know the kind of person who will knock on your door unsolicited and tell you they are there to save you. I find her faintly irritating for that reason, but she isn’t dumb.
Here’s the truth of the matter when it comes to the law. Thomas Jefferson was the originator of the phrase “separation of church and state” in a letter written to Danbury Baptists. It’s not actually in the constitution, and he didn’t write a single word of the first amendment—or indeed, any part of the constitution. And while some cases have said that this is how the Court will interpret the First Amendment, that is less than clear in practice. A wall of separation suggests a distinct segregation that does not exist in our modern case law. For instance, the state is allowed to supply religious schools with textbooks and free busing for its children, and deaf people have been allowed to receive free sign interpreters as they go to divinity school. What the courts have said in fact is that there isn’t separation of church and state so much as neutrality between the secular and the religious and among all religions.
Oh, and if you are a liberal longing for an anti-blasphemy law, please don’t talk to me about separation of church and state; you don’t even believe in separation of mosque and state.
Now I don’t expect Chris Coons or his campaign to be charitable toward his opponent; but I do expect everyone else there to be. So watch this video, and listen not just to the candidates, but to the smug morons in the law school who cannot even conceive of a different point of view. I mean, these people are preparing to be lawyers. Let me tell you, as a lawyer, if you can’t see where the other side is coming from, and anticipate their arguments, you are not going to be very good at your job. In argument, you will be constantly blindsided. And writing contracts is a process of constantly trying to think of how someone else might come along and deliberately twist your words. Being only able to see your own point of view is positively a handicap in this profession.
And the irony of all of this is that O’Donnell got something much, much bigger wrong in the discussion and I am not hearing much discussion of that. She said that if a local school district wanted to teach creationism, it was up to the school district. As a point of fact, that is not true. I don’t think a school district has to teach evolution necessarily, but creationism is religion and teaching that in class is teaching religion. I mean that is not just my opinon: there is supreme court case law directly on point. And yeah, I am sure that is true even if you call it Intelligent Design.
[Posted and authored by Aaron Worthing.]