Judge Dread

« April 2005 »

You know what's funny about the judge thing?

And by "the judge thing", I mean the current right-wing jihad against judges. You've got James Dobson comparing them to Klansmen, DeLay telling them they'll pay for their decisions, John Cornyn sympathising with people who shoot judges, and Bill Frist leading the charge to drastically remake Congress and history just to get TEN Dubya nominees on the bench. The right-wing has decided that the entire judicial branch of the government is against them, and they're ramping up their efforts to reshape public opinion accordingly.

And the funny thing about it is, the first and last thought most people have about this is that it's about political gain. Judges didn't agree with their ideological outlook, so they want to get more of their guys on there. That's the way it's worked for a few decades now, and it's understandable to think that the latest salvos are just an extension of the age-old game. But I think it's more than that, and the more I think about it, the more I think that by "funny", I mean "fucking terrifying".

Why are they going after the judiciary? Because on a whole ton of issues, the judiciary is ruling against them. But why is the judiciary ruling against them? You'd think, normally, it'd come down to ideological differences, but in the case of Schiavo, they got turned on by their own. They're getting ruled against because the shit they're asking for is not just wrong, but has gotten to the point of VERY WRONG.

The thing about the judiciary is, of the three branches of government, the judiciary, with all its flaws, is at least designed to be the most rational. The legislative branch is there, ostensibly, to represent the will of the people. But "the people" aren't rational, they're a few hundred million crazy ignorant underinformed idiots. The executive branch is just there to run things, and are made up of people, again, picked by the crazies, and spend their entire time in office trying to manipulate the crazies.

But the judiciary is supposed to do what never gets done anyhere else. Ask for all the facts, look at them, think about them, and decide based upon them. When the courts rule on the Patriot Act, they can't do what Congress did and say it's OK without actually reading it. And this is why they're the enemy of the radical right. Because, while we use a lot of shortcuts for what's going on these days - red states vs. blue states, right vs. left, secular vs. religious, urban vs. rural... the real dichotomy is none of these things. The real dichotomy is rational vs. irrational. Thinking vs. ignorance. SMART VERSUS DUMB.

At the end of the day, while I strongly disagree with them, you can reason with Republicans. You can compromise with conservatives. You can debate with the religious. And you can try to understand the rural way of life. But only if the people you disagree with are themselves rational. And the smart people have been removed from the equation.

And the judiciary is, in our system of government, where smart's supposed to live. When you hear people talking about "activist" judges who "subvert the will of the people", that's because that's their FUCKING JOB. The will of the people was segregation. The will of the people is White Christian Jesus teaching your kids. The will of the people is the six-thousand year old earth. The will of the people is internment camps and keeping women second-class citizens and tying gay people to a fence and beating them to death. The will of the people is frequently a very bad idea, and that's why one third of the government is tasked with looking at the will of the people and, when they step out of line, smacking it the fuck down.

And, apart from the occasional Clarence Thomas vote, overall, in the long haul, it WORKS. There's no denying that a significant portion of the social progress we've made in the past century came at the hands of the judicial branch, subverting the will of the people, telling the people they have to do what the people thought was unthinkable, what the people thought would rip apart society as we know it. And then, after they're forced to do it for a couple of decades, they reach the conclusion the judges reached in the first place, that the whole desegregation thing wasn't such a bad idea after all.

This is why they're going after the judiciary. Impeaching judges who think. Saying it's OK to shoot judges who think. Replacing judges who think with ones who'll do what they're told. Undermining the very foundation of the very idea that we NEED the judiciary to do what it does. Because their plans, their vision for this country, requires as little rationality as possible. As little science as possible. As little thought as possible.

So when Bill Frist heads out to the Family Research Council's big, televised Jesusfest in a week or so, and you hear him tell a crowd of foaming, psychotic, irrational, cheering fundies that the Democrats are stopping ten of Bush's judges from reaching the bench because they hate Jesus and they hate everyone who loves Jesus, try to remember what he's really fighting against. And what you should be fighting for.