Wednesday, October 3, 2007

Judge Yourself Judge, as You Would Others!

Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at Photobucket

Associate Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas has written a somewhat scathing, one sided autobiographical account of his life. From the excerpts I read, it appears the ultra conservative, African-American justice has spent the better part of his lifetime carrying around a boulder sized chip on his shoulder towards anyone and everyone that didn't share the judge's unbridled respect and adoration he has for himself. I was taught that a judge is a fair and independent arbiter of the facts. A judge must always be the one impartial figure in a court of law that administers their verdict solely on the facts, without any preconceived biases from their life experiences. When you're a lawyer, you're an advocate for your client. When you're a judge, or in this case one of the nine most influential dispensers of justice in the world, you owe it to yourself and more importantly to society as a whole to be fair and balanced. Apparently, Clarence Thomas is significantly more influenced by the Fox News version of fair and balanced than to the oath he swore when joining the Supreme Court.

Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at Photobucket

Thomas chronicles his life from early childhood through his confirmation as the second ever black Supreme Court Justice. The one underlying theme of his recollection is ANGER. He talks of his father's abandoning him at the age of two years old, along with the inability of his mother to take on the role of single parent. He was therefore raised by one of these so called "tough love" grandfathers. Grandpa allegedly spent a great deal of his free time physically beating young Clarence. I say allegedly, because with grandpa being dead, he cannot confirm or deny Thomas' memories. Thomas went on to state that gramps would not allow him to participate in sports, but instead forced him into performing acts of hard labor. Then grandpappy kicked Clarence out of the house for dropping out of a seminary. Let's see, no more beatings, no more denial of playing sports and no more forced physical labor? Oh that's just too sad. But alls well, that ends well. Clarence now claims he's happy that his grandfather physically and mentally abused him, and in fact, credits the two fisted torturer with showing him the way and making him the man he is today. Neither one of my grandfathers, or father for that matter, ever beat me, but my mother once threw a fork in my direction. I credit that fork with making me the man I am today. So yeah, I can relate.

Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at Photobucket

Now we hop in the time machine and arrive in 1991. George H.W. Bush nominates Clarence Thomas to replace the first African-American justice member the Supreme Court, Thurgood Marshall. Thomas' confirmation hearing was to become a national spectacle. Anita Hill was a 35 year old attorney that first crossed paths with Thomas in 1981. President Ronald Reagan had appointed Thomas as an attorney with the U.S. Dept. of Education. Ms. Hill was his assistant. Under a Senate subpoena, Hill testified that Thomas made unwanted sexual advances towards her during their joint tenure at their next stop, the EEOC. Hill, however, was unable to produce any corroborating witnesses, whereas Thomas produced many, willing to sing his praises.. Thomas had claimed a blanket denial of the accusations, claiming this was a "high-tech lynching". The Senate would narrowly affirm his nomination 52 - 48. In his just published book, Thomas describes Hill as touchy and apt to overreact and her work at the EEOC as mediocre. He also claimed Hill was an abrasive, vindictive, politically motivated liar exploited by a "smooth-tongued" liberal "mob" (including a biased press) that was hell-bent on his personal destruction to prevent a more conservative court from overturning Roe vs. Wade.

Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at Photobucket

This is a typical reaction of a man who judges others much more harshly than he judges himself. Again, this isn't a very admirable attribute for a person whose very decisions can leave major imprints on peoples' lives. Clarence Thomas was not finished paying tribute to himself by any means. He also compares himself most favorably with Tom Robinson, the black man wrongly accused of rape in Harper Lee's classic novel, "To Kill a Mockingbird." If you're not familiar with the book or subsequent film starring Gregory Peck, the Tom Robinson character was a poor, illiterate black man in the segregated south. He was arrested and wrongly accused of raping a low class white woman. Peck's character, Atticus Finch, defended Robinson magnificently, proving his innocence, but this was a long time ago when black men were regularly convicted of crimes they didn't commit. For Thomas to compare himself to an illiterate sharecropper with no hope, no opportunities and no chance to better himself, seems nothing more than misguided self pity. Clarence Thomas' color was paramount in his elevation to the Supreme Court. Robinson's color was paramount in being made a scapegoat. The Tom Robinson character was shot and killed trying to escape incarceration after he was adjudicated guilty by an all white jury of his peers.

Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at Photobucket Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at Photobucket

Clarence Thomas is one of those people who insists he is not paranoid, even though he firmly believes all his detractors are trying to get him. Thomas seems much more at ease singing his own praises than he does confronting his critics. If you agree with Thomas, he will praise you too. However, if you don't, you should be prepared to be labeled a racist. Let's be very honest here, the Republican Party and the conservative movement they've spawned in the United States is not exactly bursting with African-American men. One of the main charters of the movement is to exclude people who don't look, act and speak exactly like they do. However, when an educated, successful guy likes Clarence Thomas comes along, the urge to first include them, and then exploit them, is overwhelming. It gives these "white bread" hypocrites the opportunity to claim, they just love Clarence Thomas. He's one of the "good ones", they will tell you. So good in fact, he could almost pass for white. Thomas is a bright guy. He seems however, to prefer the company of people who are surprised he never played in the NBA, to people who are surprised such an educated man prefers those kinds of people.

Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at Photobucket

So in my final summation, be as fair to others as you would have them be towards you, your honor. Accept criticism with the same grace in which you dispense it. Don't turn your back on the very principles you ask others to face. Don't choose your friends based on how they feel about you, so much as how you feel about them. I hope the next case you hear in the Supreme Court affords you the opportunity to arbitrate in the same fair even-handed manner you would want for yourself. Unlike so many of your previous decisions, allow your interpretation of the law to be based on equality of that very law, rather than the inequality of politics. Tom Robinson was inevitably deemed guilty because of the preconceived notion that white was right and black was wrong. If you follow that preconceived route, you'll once day realize you were not only Tom's judge, but his jury and executioner as well........


No comments:

Tell a friend: