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Tuesday, May 14, 2024 | Back issues
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Silence Is Ambiguous

Is silence really golden?

I've been wondering about that lately with all the brouhaha about U. S. Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas's silent streak at hearings.

It's something I can relate to. I spent pretty much my entire law school career doing the same thing - keeping my mouth shut in class and blending into the wall at the back of classrooms.

There is no one - I repeat, absolutely no one - who can remember me being in any of their law school classes.

Do you remember me being there?

Of course you don't. See what I mean?

My reason for avoiding notice was a simple one: I usually wasn't caught up on the reading, had no idea what anyone was talking about, and didn't want to be humiliated by being asked a question.

I could always catch up and do the papers later. There's no reason why a Supreme Court justice can't catch up and write opinions later.

Now remember how obnoxious those guys in law school who were always raising their hands and pontificating in class were. Do you appreciate Justice Thomas a bit more now?

Think of the guys on the Supreme Court you don't like - say Ruth Bader Ginsberg if you're conservative or Antonin Scalia if you're sane. Wouldn't you rather have them shut up?

But I could be wrong here. Perhaps there are other explanations for the Thomas silence streak. The pundits have certainly weighed in over the past week, but it seems to me they've overlooked some obvious theories. For example:

Guinness. It's not every Supreme Court justice that's made it into the Guinness Book of World Records. Justice Thomas may well want to leave a legacy for generations to come by making it into the record book. He may want to be the answer to bar bets.

There are many ways to make history.

Ventriloquism. Perhaps Justice Thomas isn't silent at all. Perhaps all the other justices are animatronic figures created by Disney Imagineers and Thomas is doing all the voices.

Obviously, he wouldn't be able to move his own lips.

An example. He could be setting an example for other branches of government. Wouldn't you like to see all those people in Congress shut up?

It would be a wonderful thing.

He understands everything. If you already know all the answers, you don't need to ask questions.

Oh, Ruth. He just can't take his eyes off that Ginsberg chick.

THERE'S CORRUPTION EVERYWHERE. Lawsuits continue to be educational and somewhat mysterious. This is from a recent one filed in Los Angeles:

"Doe No. 1 is believed to be an unknown individual who has a troubled history and background in the sleep industry."

The sleep industry?

There's a sleep industry? Isn't that an oxymoron?

How can I get a job in the sleep industry? It sounds restful.

Here's the very next sentence from the complaint:

"He has previously been indicted and subjected to criminal prosecution for his illegal schemes in securing and/or conducting business in the sleep industry."

Illegal sleep?

Theft of sheep, perhaps?

Don't look at me - the suit's about some company stealing insomniac clients from another company. I'm guessing the plaintiff was asleep when it happened.

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