Join 3,554 readers in helping fund MetaFilter (Hide)


I believe we must speak our conscience in moments that demand it, even if we are but one voice.
November 28, 2008 1:09 PM   Subscribe

Previously on Metafilter, a lively discussion followed news that Attorney General Mukasey collapsed during his speech last week to the Federalist Society in which he was defending the Bush administration against "the casual assumption among many in media, political, and legal circles that the Administration’s counterterrorism policies have come at the expense of the rule of law." Just before his collapse, however, an unknown heckler yelled "tyrant!" at him. After some speculation, that person has been identified.

The heckler turns out to be Federalist Society member Washington State Supreme Court Justice Richard B. Sanders. Later, he explained in a statement, "The program provided no opportunity for questions or response, and I felt compelled to speak out. I stood up, and said, 'tyrant,' and then left the meeting. No one else said anything. I believe we must speak our conscience in moments that demand it, even if we are but one voice." One commentator is deeply disappointed in his behavior. Another is giving thanks.
posted by Doktor Zed (21 comments total) 2 users marked this as a favorite

 
Sic semper tyrannis, yadda yada yada
posted by The Whelk at 1:16 PM on November 28, 2008


Heh. For those that don't know, the Federalist Society is like a club for rightwing judges Roberts and Alito were both members. The right felt sort of betrayed by judge Kennedy and O'Connor, who ended up with more liberal voting records.

The idea was, rather then just looking at judges who's decisions you'd like. You'd socialize and get to know all the conservative judges and be able to pick the best ones for future scotus appointments (I'm sure there are other reasons too)

So anyway the fact that this guy was a Federalist Society member is interesting.
posted by delmoi at 1:22 PM on November 28, 2008 [1 favorite]


Good for him.
posted by fourcheesemac at 1:22 PM on November 28, 2008


delmoi, he is more than a fedsoc member. He's a fairly notorious right wing jurist.

That's the problem with espousing principles: you might have to stand for them.
posted by fourcheesemac at 1:27 PM on November 28, 2008 [1 favorite]


Sanders isn't as much a "notorious right wing jurist" as much as he is a loose cannon. He's a hard-core libertarian and a social conservative at the same time.

Honestly, that he shouted "Tyrant!" at Mukasey is a little disappointing. I would expect him to demand satisfaction and suggest pistols at dawn.
posted by dw at 2:03 PM on November 28, 2008 [2 favorites]


Truth or Consequences? Why can't we hold torturers accountable and still find out the truth?
posted by homunculus at 2:13 PM on November 28, 2008


Jonathan Turley on The Rachel Maddow Show: We're all complicit in Bush's war crimes if we ignore them
posted by homunculus at 2:15 PM on November 28, 2008


My God, Sanders?

I'll have to write him a fan letter; I voted for him, despite that I think most of his views are outright stupid, because I believed I saw true independence of mind there, and I am so pleased to be vindicated like this!

I thought Mukasey's episode sounded more like a seizure or cataplexy (such as narcoleptics experience) even at the time-- when I tried to google it at the after hearing a few fragments of the news on NPR that night, I used 'seizure' and got nothing-- and this report, showing that it happened in the wake of something that would have been quite startling in the context of the Federalist Society-- make the likelihood of cataplexy much greater, in my opinion.

If this Attorney General is narcoleptic, it gives a whole new world of meaning to that old saw ' the sleep of reason breeds monsters', doesn't it?
posted by jamjam at 2:34 PM on November 28, 2008


Doesn't arriving at "outright stupid" views by means of a truly independent mind defeat the whole point of having one?
posted by fourcheesemac at 3:02 PM on November 28, 2008 [3 favorites]


I myself vote for crazy people because you can always count on them to have an independent mind.
posted by Astro Zombie at 3:08 PM on November 28, 2008 [2 favorites]


Doesn't arriving at "outright stupid" views by means of a truly independent mind defeat the whole point of having one?

Excellent point, but I think not. I take it for granted that most of my own mental furnishings, for example, are hand-me-downs harboring all kinds of collective, socially acceptable stupidities. Independence of mind, as seldom as I actually do manage to muster it, is the only thing offering any hope that the moldering old stuff will ever be hauled off to the dump and replaced by something that doesn't raise a blinding cloud of dust and leave me with a bunch of suspicious-looking welts every time I flop down on it.

I myself vote for crazy people because you can always count on them to have an independent mind.

Crazy people are actually more predictable than anyone else; that's a big part of their problem-- or is that what you're saying in the first place?
posted by jamjam at 4:04 PM on November 28, 2008 [1 favorite]


This is 100% admirable in my book. This guy, with a hell of a lot to lose, took a nonviolent public stand against one of the most powerful lawyers in the country, with absolutely no backup at all, and obviously without having planned the whole thing out in advance. This is a roomful of FedSoc lawyers, right? Do you think he got a lot of pats on the back after that move? It takes real guts to do what he did. And who's going to even argue that it was done for anything other than principled motives?
posted by facetious at 5:15 PM on November 28, 2008


He's a hard-core libertarian and a social conservative at the same time.

Wouldn't that be... a Republican? And anyway, I will begin to believe in the existence of "libertarians" when you show me one who actually believes in the social liberty their ideology claims to espouse, like supporting gay marriage for starters.

But, I'm glad this guy had the balls to stand up to tool of a lame-duck administration that's 60 days from history's trashpile anyway, and give an old man a seizure or something in the process.
posted by drjimmy11 at 6:12 PM on November 28, 2008 [1 favorite]


So anyway the fact that this guy was a Federalist Society member is interesting.

I've been to a lot of Federalist functions from time to time and frankly this pretty much sums up my reaction to the story.

I went to a fun one where they fawned all over Chritopher Hitchens who dutifully oozed bullshit about Orwell being a fellow Neo-Con traveller because of his mutual hatred for the Soviets. Revolting. I will say that the women at their Hitlerjugend parties were much more physically attractive than I was used to at my long-haired hippy liberal meetings. A tip for young swingers looking to score, just be sure to agree with them when they say that they are "Libertarians" and not Republicans and that they are Liberals in the classical sense. Sure baby, whatever you say.
posted by Pollomacho at 6:21 PM on November 28, 2008 [1 favorite]


"Tyrant" is short, to the point, and somewhat accurate. "Liar" might have been more on target. Although both seem apt.

There's no real question the Bush administration's counterterrorism policies have come at the expense of the rule of law. Simply characterizing international terrorism as something it's no longer prudent to treat solely as a criminal matter where terrorists are pursued only after they've committed a crime is a big lie. Such a state of affairs never existed and he only puts it that way to legitimize the Bush doctrine, which is unilateral in its nature anyway, and pretty much blatantly ignores the rule of law.

I'm just surprised any thinking individual - of whatever political stripe - could stand the cognitive dissonance for so goddamned long without shouting "Bullshit!" or some such.
Or in this case "Tyrant"
I mean Stalin routinely executed people if they sniffed too much around him (apparently he had bad b.o.) what's their excuse?

Fear for your life, as far as I'm concerned, ends where you realize people are being tortured. Ok, maybe not everyones up to that. No problem.
But fear for your career?
Damn, is it worth that much to be "the man"? Hell, I'd rather wait tables the rest of my life. At least it's an honest job and you're not an apologist for the thumbscrews.
posted by Smedleyman at 7:36 PM on November 28, 2008 [2 favorites]


I would expect him to demand satisfaction and suggest pistols at dawn.

I was hoping for broadswords in a pit myself.
posted by GeckoDundee at 12:48 AM on November 29, 2008 [1 favorite]


You know who else challenged someone to broadswords in a pit?
posted by Kid Charlemagne at 1:31 AM on November 29, 2008 [1 favorite]


The Medal Of Freedom For Torturers
posted by homunculus at 9:26 AM on November 29, 2008


Wouldn't that be... a Republican?

No. Libertarians love individual rights and hate government intervention. Republicans love individual rights and hate taxes only when it benefits their contributors.
posted by dw at 10:18 AM on November 29, 2008


(Incidentally, the FedSoc's embedded video loads rather slowly, but Justice Sanders's "tyrant" remark is audible at around 17:28 - and Mukasey clearly hears it.)
posted by Doktor Zed at 4:07 PM on November 29, 2008


Excellent point, but I think not. I take it for granted that most of my own mental furnishings, for example, are hand-me-downs harboring all kinds of collective, socially acceptable stupidities.

Alas, they are the only furnishings available. It's not like there is some pure fountain of new ideas waiting to be discovered without proceeding through the muck of human sociality. That's why the line between crazy and brilliant is so fluid. The only original ideas worth having are ones you can implement, which means you need to convince people they are true, which means you need to be able to inhabit mental spaces furnished with old ideas, comfortably, while you do your convincing.

And I am sorry, but it's not a philosophical equivalent of the "ends justifying the means" to conclude that someone who proves to be a fool or an idiot once elected did not *deserve* to be elected in the first place for his/her "original" or "new" ideas. If originality of thought is the sole criterion of interest to the voter, rather than say, experience, or knowledge of boring details, or a commitment to an ideological cause you believe in, we might as well elect schizophrenics to office more often.
posted by fourcheesemac at 5:03 PM on November 29, 2008


« Older 'You loser!" screamed Katie, aiming a vase at her ...  |  Nukes In Space: The Rainbow Bo... Newer »


This thread has been archived and is closed to new comments