Thursday, December 15, 2005

More on Morgan Freeman

In this post I tried to remember the admonishment from Judge Leonard White (Morgan Freeman) at the end of The Bonfire of the Vanities. I remember this because, in spite of the movie being a bomb, this speech transfixed me. After an hour of searching, I found the movie's script here. Now, this is the script, not a transcript, so it may not be 100% accurate as to the exact ass-chewing that Freeman gave to the assembled court, but it's close.
Judge White (Freeman) rises on the bench like an eagle. He pounds the gavel repeatedly.

DEMONSTRATORS: Justice. We want justice!!! We want justice!!!

JUDGE WHITE: Justice! You want justice?! I'll give you justice!

Finally, the courtroom goes quiet. White looks around. Everyone is quiet. And then a single VOICE rings out...VOICE: You racist pig!

JUDGE WHITE: You dare call me a racist! Well, I say to you, you -- a mob who dares to come into these walls -- I say to you, what does it matter ... the color of a man's skin? If witnesses perjure themselves ... and a prosecutor, a sworn officer of the court, enlists the perjurers ... and a district attorney throws a man to the mob and lawyers carve up that man for his money... and men of the cloth, men of God take the prime cuts!

Now you tell me -- IS THAT JUSTICE?!


JUDGE: I don't hear you!

More silence.

He comes down off the bench, facing the mob.

JUDGE: I'll tell you what justice is not. Justice is not the will of the few and it's not the will of the many. Justice is not politics. Justice is the law. And the law is man's feeble attempt to set down the principles of decency. Decency!

And decency is not a deal. Or an angle, or a contract, or a hustle or a campaign or a trick or a bid for sympathy. Decency is not the beast that bays for money, power, dominion, position, votes and blood! Decency is what your mother taught you! Decency is in your bones!

Do I make myself clear?!

Now go home. Go home now. Be decent people. Be decent.

A moment of quiet as White comes down and faces Sherman.

JUDGE: You're free to go, Mr. McCoy.
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