Thursday, June 09, 2005

Janice Rogers Brown on slaves and slavery

This is a hatchet job if ever there was one. It is supposed to be a biography, I think. It really is an attack piece written from Ted Kennedy’s website. From the headline, New Judge Sees Slavery in Liberalism, through the first three paragraphs, author David Kirkpatrick assures that the reader’s first impressions of Justice Brown are as negative as he can make them. The words slave and slavery appear no less than four times in those three opening paragraphs. Paragraph five lists other statements objected to by her opponents. Finally, in paragraph six we get a little defense from her friends. Then more bashing until, at last, her biography begins in paragraph ten.

Kirkpatrick would have us all conjuring up visions of Uncle Tom and Simon Legree, of slave ships, auctions, whippings and cotton field stoop labor. Let’s take a look at some definitions of slave and slavery.
slav·er·y n. pl. slav·er·ies
1. The state of one bound in servitude as the property of a slaveholder or household.
2. The practice of owning slaves.
3. A mode of production in which slaves constitute the principal work force.
4. The condition of being subject or addicted to a specified influence.
5. A condition of hard work and subjection: wage slavery.

Source: The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition, Copyright 2000 by Houghton Mifflin Company.
Pay special attention to definition number 4. What Ms. Brown refers to as slaves and slavery is the condition of being subject or addicted to a specified influence, in this case big socialist government.

Here are quotations from her most infamous speeches where she mentions slavery. In the first speech she also quoted Ayn Rand and that Russian writer’s mention of slavery.

"A Whiter Shade of Pale": Sense and Nonsense - The Pursuit of Perfection in Law and Politics

Speech of Janice Rogers Brown, Associate Justice, California Supreme Court
The Federalist Society - University of Chicago Law School
April 20, 2000, Thursday, 12:15 p.m.

Ayn Rand similarly attributes the collectivist impulse to what she calls the "tribal view of man." She notes, "[t]he American philosophy of the Rights of Man was never fully grasped by European intellectuals. Europe's predominant idea of emancipation consisted of changing the concept of man as a slave to the absolute state embodied by the king, to the concept of man as the slave of the absolute state as embodied by 'the people' - i.e., switching from slavery to a tribal chieftain into slavery to the tribe."

Writing 50 years ago, F.A. Hayek warned us that a centrally planned economy is "The Road to Serfdom."3 He was right, of course; but the intervening years have shown us that there are many other roads to serfdom. In fact, it now appears that human nature is so constituted that, as in the days of empire all roads led to Rome; in the heyday of liberal democracy, all roads lead to slavery. And we no longer find slavery abhorrent. We embrace it. We demand more. Big government is not just the opiate of the masses. It is the opiate. The drug of choice for multinational corporations and single moms; for regulated industries and rugged Midwestern farmers and militant senior citizens.
And then this one.

Keepers of the Faith; Defenders of the Light
Catholic University of America, Columbus School of Law Commencement Address
May 24, 2003

Delivered by The Honorable Janice R. Brown ,Associate Justice, California Supreme Court
The question for you will be whether the regime of freedom which they founded can survive the relentless enmity of the slave mentality. It will really be whether you want freedom to survive. The answer may be no. There are many reasons to forsake freedom.

Some will do so because they are ambitious and can only make their mark by setting out upon a new path. Abraham Lincoln described this dynamic many years before he became president. He said there will always be people among us (from the family of the Lion or the tribe of the Eagle) who "scorn to tread in the footsteps of any predecessor, who thirst and burn for distinction, and who will obtain it "whether at the expense of emancipating slaves or enslaving free men."

Some may reject freedom because security has always been more comfortable than freedom and infinitely more comforting to the "herd of independent minds."
Please remember that in the first speech she was speaking to mainly lawyers who, while not having memorized the American Heritage Dictionary in its entirety, certainly were aware of how to use it. In the second speech she was speaking to law school graduates who certainly must have had at least a passing familiarity with the purposes and uses of a good dictionary, something that Sen. Kennedy apparently lacks. He did get booted out of Harvard for paying a friend to take an exam for him, if I recall correctly. Perhaps this is why.

Others who may or may not be dictionary-challenged: Pandagon, Mahablog, No More Mister Nice Guy, PoliBlog, Majikthise, Progress Now, Disenchanted Forest, Three Way News, Jay Reding, Roundup News, Great Scat, All America PAC, The Buzz Blog, Ramblings Journal, Media Lies, Sierra Faith, Jack Lewis, The Narrow, Alas, a blog, Kicking Ass, Cardinal Collective, Mark Hemingway, Mossback Culture,


Ol Cranky said...

The original text of my post (which I edited prior to finalizing) did suggest that if she was including a reference to affirmative action in the reference to dependency I agreed with her on that one small point. I removed my comments because taken in context with the rest of her statement, she most certainly did not limit her references to expectation of entitlements and affirmative action didn't seem quite as relevant.

If, indeed, you are correct and this was her actual point she should have used the term socialism since that is the term frequently thrown in the face of liberalism; in other words, she'd appear to be the one who is linguistically challenged much like one who tries to sound intellectual by finding synonyms in a thesaurus for use when there is a more clear/direct/relevant term that should be used. Additionally, when using a less commonly utilized definition of a term, especially one that is emotionally charged (slavery is one of those words, and I am pretty confident she chose that word intentionally), a speaker trying to make a legitimate and specific point generally acknowledges the limited focus of his/her point.

Xpatriated Texan said...

The problem with Janice Rogers Brown is that she is an extremist. Nothing you are saying here, and especially the references to Hayek and Rand, do anything to dispell that. She hates the government and does nothing to hide that fact.

Are you really saying that if a liberal stated that President Bush was a slave to the oil industry you wouldn't really mind because you would understand that what is really being said is that President Bush is simply subject to special influence from the oil industry?

Somehow, I think not.