About Rationally Speaking

Rationally Speaking is a blog maintained by Prof. Massimo Pigliucci, a philosopher at the City University of New York. The blog reflects the Enlightenment figure Marquis de Condorcet's idea of what a public intellectual (yes, we know, that's such a bad word) ought to be: someone who devotes himself to "the tracking down of prejudices in the hiding places where priests, the schools, the government, and all long-established institutions had gathered and protected them." You're welcome. Please notice that the contents of this blog can be reprinted under the standard Creative Commons license.

Sunday, September 04, 2005

The Good Lord takes Rehnquist, not a minute too late...

... or is it perhaps perfect timing? If God is a Republican, handing Bush-II the opportunity to replace two Justices of the Supreme Court will accomplish the decade-long dream of conservatives and finally tip the balance on the High Court in favor of all sorts of regressive positions.

For the next few days we'll hear much praise of Rehnquist, including from Democrats (e.g., NY's Senator Charles Schumer is already on record), because human beings just can't stop praising fellow humans after they're dead, almost regardless of how much of a piece of work they were when alive (Hitler is one of the few exceptions). Just remember people weeping at Nixon's funeral!

So let's briefly summarize what the Chief Justice actually accomplished (or tried to) to see how bad he really was for this country:

* He gave Bush the 2000 elections, which Bush almost certainly had actually lost. Notice that this decision -- which overrode Florida's authority to complete the recount -- came from a Justice who supposedly was in favor of state rights, unless it was politically convenient to be against state rights, of course.

* Rehnquist opposed desegregation, since he was a racist.

* Under Nixon, he supported pre-trial detention, electronic surveillance and wire-tapping. Heck, suspected criminals don't deserve rights.

* He voted against abortion rights in the 1973 Roe vs Wade decision (after his death, conservatives might finally be able to overturn that much hated verdict).

* He opposed affirmative action (again, he was a racist, so no surprise there).

* He opposed gay rights (homophobic, too!).

* Rehnquist was instrumental for reinstating and facilitating the death penalty (gotta get rid of all them criminals, especially if poor and negro).

* He favored breaking down the separation of Church and State (see the latest split decision on the Ten Commandments, an increasingly common case of Supreme Court Schizophrenia).

Yes, I have to conclude that God is indeed a Republican, or he would have taken Rehnquist to His side during the Clinton administration.


  1. Hmm, I wonder what Bush Jr. will do now.

    He's looking awfully bad in the MSM and the ratings. So will he risk putting forth a really controversial candidate?


  2. Oh, btw, Massimo, I hope your'e not insinuating that only racists oppose affirmative action.

    I oppose race and gender-based affirmative action. I'd even love to see the US crack down on illegal immigration, and I'm no white supremacist.

    I'm technically Hispanic, too, although I "pass" for white.


  3. Adrienne, no I'm not making that simple equation. I have myself a rather complex relationship with the concept of affirmative action. But in the case of Rehnquist it fits his overall pattern of thought (e.g., it goes with his attitude about gays, the rights of suspected criminals, etc.).

  4. The more appointments Bush gets to make, the closer we come to theocracy. In my view, this country is crumbling faster than did the Gulf Coast from Katrina.

    The Republican Party has become a haven for theists and statists--a truly terrible combination.

  5. "regressive positions."


    The good judge Rehnquist may have been influenced on matters of race by his culture like a lot of people are. Definitely not on this blog, tho. Resistance thinking is the order of the day.

    Resistance to what tho, I'm not sure. ;)

    ..."Another new name is Edward Sisson, an attorney who used to direct avant-garde theater. His chapter sheds some much needed light on the Scopes trial. For example, did you know that the very textbook from which Scopes taught advocated eugenics and promoted racism? Indeed, it divided humanity into five races and ranked them in terms of superiority, concluding with “the highest type of all, the Caucasians, represented by the civilized white inhabitants of Europe and America.” This is the book Darwinists insist Scopes had a right to teach?"


  6. "I'm technically Hispanic, too, although I "pass" for white."

    Why should you ever have to? !!

    I think many of the Hispanic women in NM (where I live) are quite lovely. Especially and even when they are a bit older. I note that white women don't generally have that advantage.

    Whomever suggested to you that it is preferable to be white(er), is kind of an idiot.


  7. Well, thank you for the kind comments re: Hispanic women, Cal, but understand that when I speak of "passing", I'm not referring to my behavior. Rather, I'm referring to the assumptions people make when they first look at me. I have very pale skin. even as I have very dark hair and eyes. I have no Hispanic accent. I hardly speak any Spanish. And my first name is French, not Spanish (thanks to Mom).

    When I had really long hair, though, some people thought at first glance that I might be Native American.

    And Cal, you keep bringing up references to eugenics in your posts. Understand that at one time in this country, eugenics was considered a progressive cause. It was seen as a means of bettering humanity. Many famous intellectuals and politicians (incl Repub prez Teddy Roosevelt) subscribed to the idea that eugenics was a good thing.


  8. I'd wholeheartedly say, be proud of who you are. But then, to be quite honest, that sort of thing (cultural identity) has been an issue for me on occasion, too.

    Both of my natural parent’s families (german /french) certainly have roots in some racism. This was made more than obvious by the fact that they could not even stand each other, much less any race that might have been a slight shade darker. But by God's grace I was fortunate enough to be raised apart from all that by a very multi-cultural Finnish family. I think the only nationality that "we" have not married into or adopted in our family is Asian.

    Mind if I ask, is the name you use here your legit. one? I haven't a clue what the origin of my name is; I just know no one I've ever met has it. :)

  9. I understand that the point of the affirmative action comment was just that it is not surprising for a racist to oppose it. This is obviously true.

    It is also true that affirmative action itself is a racist concept, therefore anyone who supports it is, by definition, a racist.

    It is possible to oppose AA without being a racist but it is not possible to support AA without being a racist.

  10. I beg to differ. I support a limited (both in scope and in time) affirmative action to redress obvious unfair inbalances in our society, and yet I am most certainly NOT a racist.

  11. "obvious unfair inbalances in our society"

    Then it's the equivalent to legislating morality.

    For the folks who actually do take responsibility for their lives, families etc. (regardless of race) rewarding poor conduct in areas of racial tension really does frustrate race relations. It would be like if one day your university began to give out PhDs in your particular field of expertise and without all the work and time that you have invested into your career. All of a sudden everyone is presumably equal in educational status – but in reality, they're not. How do you feel about these persons with their fake degrees?

    Now you understand (I hope) the dynamic in race relations when we give away something to someone just because we think it compensates.

    It doesn’t.

    To encourage that same person on to excellence and high standards for themselves is the only truly worthy compensation.

  12. Anonymous, you're oversimplifying the situation. Affirmative action is not meant to give people with fewer qualifications the same chance that more qualified people get.

    Rather, it's meant to give people with equal qualifications equal opportunity.

    You may realize that if two people of equal qualification are trying to get the same job, the minority candidate is less likely to get job offer.

  13. "I beg to differ. I support a limited (both in scope and in time) affirmative action to redress obvious unfair inbalances in our society, and yet I am most certainly NOT a racist."

    I guess it would be better if I said that your position on AA is a racist position, rather than that you are a racist in general.

    Unless the two of us have completely different definitions of the words "racist" and "affirmative action" I don't see how you could even claim that AA is not a racist concept.

    My understanding is that an affirmative action program would advocate (or even require) human beings to take the race of another human being into account when deciding how to deal with that human being.

    For example, when a number of people apply for a job or admission to a school, each candidate's race is taken into consideration and could effect the outcome of the application one way or the other.

    That is as perfect an example of a racist idea as I can think of!


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