Politics

The Virtues of Supreme Silence

Why Supreme Court nominees should avoid their own confirmation hearings

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Millions of Americans tuned in last week to Sonia Sotomayor's testimony before the Senate Judiciary Committee. What did they learn? "Nothing," Harvard Law professor Laurence Tribe told The New York Times. Actually, we did learn something—that we should stop inviting Supreme Court nominees to testify in confirmation hearings.

Sotomayor is reputed to be a lively woman with strong opinions and a sometimes aggressive demeanor on the bench. But appearing in place of the veteran federal judge was an android copy of her, lacking any recognizably human quality except extreme caution. She makes Ben Stein look like Jim Cramer.

Her appearances before the committee proved a couple of things. One is that she can look interested while listening to a pinstriped gasbag declaim at length about some topic that a dozen other pinstriped gasbags have already pronounced upon.

Another is that pointed questions bounce off of her as though she has a personal anti-missile system. Someone could have asked, "Do you think the Constitution gives the Department of Motor Vehicles the power to deep-fry parking violators in vats of lard?" and Sotomayor would have paused thoughtfully and replied, "Senator, I think it would be inappropriate for me to address hypothetical questions on a matter that may come before the court."

Sotomayor declined to answer any inquiry in a way that would reveal anything. Asked about affirmative action, the Second Amendment, foreign law, and abortion rights, she smothered each question in thick blankets of gray verbiage.

Many answers could have been plagiarized from the testimony of John Roberts or Stephen Breyer or Samuel Alito. These days, Supreme Court nominees manage to sound as indistinguishable as Miss America finalists addressing world peace, and not a whole lot smarter.

So why bother with this exasperating ritual? The republic managed fine without it for a century and a half. Justices from John Jay to Oliver Wendell Holmes Jr. were confirmed without having to argue on their own behalf. Not until 1925 did a Supreme Court nominee agree to appear before the Judiciary Committee.

In 1939, though, Felix Frankfurter declined on the grounds that he had classes to teach at Harvard Law School. After relenting, he warned senators that it would be "improper" and in "bad taste" for a nominee "to express his views on any controversial issues affecting the court." If they wanted to assess his thinking, Frankfurter said, "My attitude and outlook on relevant matters have been fully expressed over a period of years and are easily accessible."

He was more cooperative than Sherman Minton, appointed by Harry Truman in 1949. Called to testify, he politely invited the committee to take a long walk off a short pier. In a letter, Minton wrote, "I feel that personal participation by the nominee in the committee proceedings relating to his nomination presents a serious question of propriety, particularly when I might be required to express my views on highly controversial and litigious issues affecting the court."

Smarting from this rebuke, senators took the only reasonable course: They confirmed him.

Eventually, the tradition of reticence gave way and nominees found themselves with no choice but to show up and submit to lengthy interrogation under bright lights. Sometimes the hearings yielded helpful information.

But in 1987, after Robert Bork spent days elaborating controversial positions he had taken as a professor, his nomination went down in flames. So his successors learned to use as many words as possible to say as little as they could. That's how confirmation hearings degenerated into a tedious time suck on the order of watching third-graders try to pry open a locked safe with a Q-tip.

If the Judiciary Committee wants to know about how a prospective justice will behave on the court, it can look at her writings, speeches, and record as a lawyer or judge. It can ask those who know her for insights into her temperament and personality. It can summon legal experts to analyze her publicly stated thoughts. It can read her horoscope. None of these could possibly be less fruitful than the current practice.

Supreme Court nominees can show up on Capitol Hill to squander precious days of our lives saying nothing. Better for all of us if they stay home and do the same.

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  1. spot on commentary … the modern confirmation hearing is little more than a sporting game to appease core constituencies. Nothing of value is gained, and little insight into the jurisprudence of the nominee can be thoughtfully deciphered.

  2. Interesting that there were many candidates in the early 20th Century who were wary about expressing controversial views, but Bork didn’t seem to know better.

  3. Bork was an arrogant prick. He refused to be “prepped” by administration officials prior to the hearings. Instead of kissing a little ass, he decided to take on the committee in an all out debate. Bad move.

  4. Interesting that there were many candidates in the early 20th Century who were wary about expressing controversial views, but Bork didn’t seem to know better.

    So the Bork Lesson is…don’t try to out-gasbag the gasbags?

    Say! Maybe at the next confirmation hearing we could quietly steal up and brick up the building while they’re all inside. Problem solved!

  5. The Swedish Chef was very cognizant of how to “bork bork bork”.

  6. Bork would’ve been no friend to libertarians. Kennedy is much better.

  7. Bork would’ve been no friend to libertarians.

    Bork was a prime example of a Hobbesian, conservative advocate of a strong state.

  8. OTFL, that whole process is such a JOKE. How pathetic.

    RT
    http://www.anonymize.tk

  9. I was watching G4, Attack of The Show, something like that, and there was this segment about how you can get paid 5 cents a pop to spam message boards and stuff. Mini-tasks.

    Anyway, I think that’s what the anonymity people are about.

  10. In one of this books Bork waxes on and on about the glory days of Hollywood censorship…Imagine Pulp Fiction unders such a regime…

    Borks a seriously smart guy with a workable constitutional theory in my opinion, but I don’t think any of us would want to live in the world it would dictate.

  11. I wonder if Bork would agree with me that the anonymity bot is a legit target for censorship?

    And by “censorship” I mean eaten by Satan for eternity.

    Man I can’t stand that bot…

  12. What did they learn? “Nothing.”

    Not true. We learned exactly what some of us feared: that she is a totally unqualified affirmative action case.

    Several times she made mistakes that a college student shouldn’t make, like mistaking “eminent” for “imminent”, “providence” for “province”, and “story of knowledge” for “store of knowledge”.

    Far worse than the brutal mangling of the English language, she made a couple of significant mistakes on aspects of the law itself, and she almost certainly lied to the point of committing perjury on a few occasions.

  13. All of this is evidence that we should have taken a stab at passing a constitutional amendment guaranteeing reproductive freedom back before the pro-life people got so well organized.

    If all the wasted energy that went into the Equal Rights Amendment had gone there instead, we could have accomplished something.

    Because the roots of all of this confirmation hearing nonsense lie in Roe v. Wade.

    More than any other single case or factor, Roe made the composition of the SCOTUS the target of activist groups. And now that the SCOTUS [and the appeals courts, which are seen as AAA ball for the SCOTUS] is the battlefield of activist groups, we have created a situation where the way to get appointed and confirmed as a Supreme Court judge is to lie about your views and conceal your views.

    Bork was not my ideological cup of tea either, but he’s being called an arrogant prick above because he was simply honest, and so much lying and ass-kissing goes on before the Judiciary Committee now that simple honesty looks like arrogant presumption by comparison.

  14. My newspaper printed two cartoons yesterday, one depicting the Republicans on the committee as doofuses the other with an elephant with a gun to his head. How anyone could read the hearings that way is beyond me. The only thing wrong with how the Republicans acted is they let a women lie to their face. The hearing was beneficial in that we found out exactly what kind of justice we’ll be getting: an underqualified lying racist. At least she may tip the court on abortion.

  15. brutal mangling of the English language

    Jeebus, that is scary. I imagine Scalia is ssharpening his long knives in greedy aanticipation.

  16. MNG,

    Borks a seriously smart guy with a workable constitutional theory in my opinion, but I don’t think any of us would want to live in the world it would dictate.

    I’m surprised you would think so highly of his constitutional theory – I would have thought it was anathema to you.

  17. Two nominees + One 2×4 with nails in it = One nominee

  18. Not true. We learned exactly what some of us feared: that she is a totally unqualified affirmative action case.

    She’s barely qualifed, but a classic affirmative action hire – no way would she have gotten the job if she wasn’t Puerto Rican woman.

    I tend to agree with Fluffy @ 9:13. The degradation of the SCOTUS nomination process can be traced back to the supreme achievement of judicial activism in Roe. When you make the Court the legislature of last resort, you politicize it, and confirmations become a festival of political grandstanding.

    A cautionary tale for those seeking gay marriage via activist courts, IMO.

  19. RC Dean,

    She’s barely qualifed,

    What do you know that the ABA doesn’t?
    She was given a unanimous “Well Qualified” rating.

    AA doesn’t mean what you think it means methinks.

  20. ‘In one of this books Bork waxes on and on about the glory days of Hollywood censorship…Imagine Pulp Fiction unders such a regime…’

    There are some points of Bork’s constitutional theory that are problematic (such as his nationalism and his expansive views of Presidential power), but his support for the old Hays Code system would have to be far down the list of criticisms.

    Yeah, remember the horrible, repressive system under which Hollywood groaned during the era of Casablanca, Citizen Kane, Notorious, The Third Man, and other cinematic classics? Oh, it makes me shudder just to think about it!

    However did this country survive when works like *Pulp Fiction,* if they were produced at all, had to be confined to actual pulp magazines? Oh, the humanity!

    Fluffy,

    If pro-aborts had limited themselves to working within the Constitution, they wouldn’t have had as much success as they’ve managed to achieve by violating the Constitution. By all means, let us see them try to put their pro-choice amendment through Congress and three-fourths of the states!

  21. Domo
    I think The Tempting of America was a very well argued and written book. I am concerned about judicial tyranny: those guys (and gals) ain’t elected, and I think democracy is what legitmates authority. We need judges to hold today’s legislatures in line with the laws that they and past legislatures have passed, but other than that their authority is questionable imo. So, in a system of judicial review, how to keep judges from simply using their preferences to prevent democractic policy from being enacted improprely? One way is to hold them to the text or principles in the Amendments and statutes, that way they are just enforcing the will of another majority or super-majority enactment. Bork has a workable theory here: use the original understanding of the Amendment or statute to derive a neutral principle that becomes the major premise in your syllogism, the minor premise being if the activity in question in any case falls under the principle or not, and then the conclusion should follow in a neutral way pretty much devoid of judicial whim and preference.

    I’d like to point out that it was once liberals that argued this way, for example as Bork points out when the Court used substantive due process to strike down New Deal legislation. Liberals should remember that imo…

    Also, Bork and Scalia’s views are somewhat similar in structure, if not result, to Hugo Black’s views, and he was the liberal lion on the court imo…

    I hope that clarifies my thinking on the subject, and sorry to be so long.

  22. What do you know that the ABA doesn’t?

    That being a liberal doesn’t qualify one to sit on the supreme court?

  23. Max
    We’ve had this argument before. It’s nutty. Casablanca and Citizen Kane were good DESPITE the crappy Hays code, certainly not because of it. In fact, the biggest and googiest flaws in many old classics can be attributed to the Hays Code provisions.

    I mean, they had straight up prior restraint in Russia under the Czars and yet they produced Crime and Punishment and War and Peace, so I guess that proves the repression was artistically a good thing, huh?

  24. I think its nutty to argue the woman is not qualified. She has all kinds of experience as a judge, graduated from the right schools, etc.

  25. Max
    Are you going to argue seriously that we would artistically be better off if we had some Hays Code that had prevented the major release of movies like Pulp Fiction, Apocalypse Now, Annie Hall, Aliens, Passion of the Christ, etc?

    People are still free to make the Chronicles of Narnia, or Hays Code type stuff, and they do.

  26. I think its nutty to argue the woman is not qualified.

    I think she is as qualified as Thomas was (who was rated as only “qualified”.) So, how about that? She’s less qualified than Bork – who received some “unqualified” votes. The record seems to suggest she has not nearly the legal mind that Roberts, Stevens or Ginsburg has – irrespective of ideology.

  27. One of Marlon Brando’s greatest accomplishments was making On the Waterfront as watchable as it is. Without cursing or certain violence this tale of mob rule of the longshoresmen is borderline goofy throughout (you got to love the horn that cuts off the implied curse when Charlie and Terry are arguing in the Venetian Blinds car). Brando overcame this by saying little to be as believable as possible…Other past gangster movies are borderline hilarious throughout: “Hey you’s, you’s wiseguys, don’t get any ideas, see, or I’ll have to do something nasty!”

    Compare that to the much superior product of the Sopranos or Goodfellas for example…

  28. She’s barely qualifed, but a classic affirmative action hire – no way would she have gotten the job if she wasn’t Puerto Rican woman.

    RC Dean,

    It might be a generational thing, but this sentiment is correctly understood as racist. If a white male with her qualifications were nominated, you’d never say anything about affirmative action. In fact, if a white male who was less qualified was chosen, you’d still not say it was affirmative action. You are a victim of the mentality that white males are some sort of default, that if a minority is nominated it means there is obviously a white male out there who is more qualified. Sotomayor obviously passes the qualifications bar by any measure, and her ethnicity is simply added value in terms of the court’s diversity. I expect more than mean-spirited racism from opponents of this nomination. Actually, given the makeup of that opposition, I don’t expect anything more substantive.

  29. People are still free to make the Chronicles of Narnia

    but should not be forced to.

    I guess that proves the repression was artistically a good thing, huh?

    Actually, I think that it is. I believe suffering is good for art – not that art should ever be an excuse for causing it. There are enough sources of sufferring around for artists to germinate without resorting to government “subsidy” thereof.

  30. Domo
    I think it was egregious to grade Bork as unqualified, simply egregious. I’ve stated my position on Bork.

    That said, Sotomayer has had, what, about two decades more experience on the federal bench than Thomas had when he was nominated.

    I guess you are using “qualified” in some cosmic sense, meaning that she is as “capable” as Thomas or something (and that is a synonym for qualified). And I imagine that rests on how correct you think her legal opinions are and have been. But that’s a rough standard I think. It’s hard to declare legal opinions right or wrong with something like mathematical certainty. Too easy for ideology to get in the way. From a more neutral position, I think her time on the bench and in the law combined with her grades at a top law school demonstrate that she is certainly “fit and able” to perform as a SCOTUS judge.

    And remember, I think Obama should have picked someone else!

  31. MNG,

    One fruitful result of the Hays Code was that when they wanted to do a sex joke, they had to use subtlety and wit. From the standpoint of modern Hollywood, this is horrifying, because they wouldn’t recognize subtlety and wit if it bit them in the freaking ass. But old-school directors had to know how to do it, and it improved their work.

    ‘In fact, the biggest and googiest flaws in many old classics can be attributed to the Hays Code provisions.’

    The examples I know of don’t support your thesis. Do you seriously believe, for instance, that by editing out the last scene in *Notorious,* when some ladies were expressing envy at the fact that the female protagonist had gotten a divorce, somehow hurt the artistic integrity of the film?

  32. Domo
    You think Czarist repression is a good thing? And a good thing for art?

    I have to disagree with you. Crime and Punishment is good despite Czarist repression, not because of it.

  33. It might be a generational thing, but this sentiment is correctly understood as racist. If a white male with her qualifications were nominated, you’d never say anything about affirmative action.

    The point, Tony, which you seem to have completely missed, is that a white male with her qualifications and history would never be nominated. What’s really amusing is the way you overlook Obama’s very clear statement that he was, in fact, nominating her in large part because of her gender and ethnicity. How is that not an affirmative action hire?

    I think she’s barely qualified because she has been a federal appeals judge for quite some time and isn’t, quite, an embarrassment to her colleagues. I think she’s no better than barely qualified based on her performance at the hearings and the relatively low quality of her opinions.

  34. And your awareness of nuance and complexity seems to have failed you when you compared the Hays regime to the Russian censorship system. The censors of the Hays system were highly sensitive to the artistic requirements of the industry – they worked with the directors even in the scriptwriting state. Joseph Breen (chief censor) did so much unacknowledged work on scripts as to dwarf those pseudononymous blacklisted Stalinists about whom modern Hollywood whines so much. And unlike the Stalinists, Breen was actually talented and made useful changes.

  35. Directors can, and do use subtlety and wit in dealing with sex, all the time. But they are also free to better address things like lust, sex, nudity, etc, all of which are proper spheres for aesthetic exploration. Under the Hays repression this was forbidden.

    You make a common mistake, comparing classics under the Hays Code to the average film made today. Take a gander at TCM for a week and you will see that many a terrible film was made back in the classic days, and visit your local art house theater and you will see that many current classics now exist.

    I love Orson Welles, he was a genuis, I’m his biggest fan. But his works were not better because of the Hays Code. When he had the choice to use nudity or expletives he did (though by then he had little studio support). Do you claim that without the repression of some non-artist vetting his scripts and direction he would have made worse choices? That’s incredible to me.

  36. If a white male with her qualifications were nominated, you’d never say anything about affirmative action.

    Because white males don’t benefit from affirmative action, Tony, that’s kind of the point.

    You are a victim of the mentality that white males are some sort of default, that if a minority is nominated it means there is obviously a white male out there who is more qualified.

    Maybe not, but as long as preference is given based on race, not on merit – how can we know?

    Sotomayor obviously passes the qualifications bar by any measure, and her ethnicity is simply added value in terms of the court’s diversity.

    It’s the highest court in the land – why is simply “getting over the bar” good enough? Why shouldn’t the best be chosen? And what value does her ethnicity add from a legal perspective? Is there some essential legal knowledge that is available only to spanish speakers? Too often the maxim that “diversity is it’s own reward” goes unquestioned. I agree completely that socially, diversity is fun, engaging, and informative. But this is not a tea party – and the justices personal growth is of no consequence to the nation. If this were a basketball team, would you be telling me that we need to have pygmies play for the diversity they bring to the locker room?

  37. Max
    The artists certainly chafed under the Code and felt repressed by it. Perhaps many Csarist censors were artistically inclined as well, that doesn’t mean they should have been telling Tolstoy what to put in his books or not.

    Comparing the artistic talents of Breen and his ilk to someone like Welles is laughable, and also irrelevant (Breen should have been free to make his own Catholic-consciouss and proper films artistically free from oversight by Welles, and vice-versa).

  38. Domo
    Certainly someone does not have to be the best legal mind in the nation to be qualified for the Court, right?

    Was Alito qualified? Do you want to argue he was the best legal mind in the nation when he was confirmed?

    The whole concept “qualified” is distinct from “best” which is why you will hear people making a hiring decision say “well, they are all well qualified, but who would be the best pick?”

    Sotomayer is surely qualified, at least she has more objective qualifications than most recent nominees that were not opposed as being “unqualified.” That’s why so many people see the charge as motivated by something uglier…

  39. ‘You make a common mistake, comparing classics under the Hays Code to the average film made today. Take a gander at TCM for a week and you will see that many a terrible film was made back in the classic days, and visit your local art house theater and you will see that many current classics now exist.’

    Dude, arthouse theaters existed *outside* the framework of Hays Code repression, even back in the Bad Old Days. The relevant standard is comparing the best movies in the mainstream theaters now versus then.

    Many of the modern blockbusters would have passed muster with the Hays Office. Lord of the Rings, for example.

    One point that needs to be made is on the issue of violence. The thing is, the Hays Office didn’t see violence in the either/or terms of modern debate “oh, no, they used guns!” versus “cool, they’re blowing stuff up!” It was not the violence which was the problem to the Hays Office, but the message. Shooting the bad guys in High Noon was OK, because they were, wait for it, bad guys.

    Today, you see a gun or cigarette in a film, and it’s a Great National Debate.

  40. As to today’s best films, put up our best against their best and see who wins.

    ‘Wow, man, Brokeback Mountain sure beats the crap out of The Philadelphia Story!’

  41. People can still make crime movies with all the Hays type repression, in fact they run such movies on Lifetime and the Networks all the time.

    Compare such to the Sopranos, Goodfellas, or the Godfather and ask yourself: repression breeds better art?

    I don’t think so.

  42. Well certainly. I just finished The Asphalt Jungle by one of the best directors of all time imo, John Houston.

    It was plainly inferior to Pulp Fiction as a work of art.

    I’ve given you other examples above.

  43. Sotomayer has had, what, about two decades more experience on the federal bench than Thomas had when he was nominated.

    Fair point, I think Thomas might have needed a bit more seasoning – but I think his capacity is about the same. Your right that it’s hard to judge. I guess my point is that Robert, Scalia, Kenendy are all known as superb legal minds in a way other justices are not – I wonder if Sotomayor brings the avaerage up or down in the regard.

    You think Czarist repression is a good thing? And a good thing for art?

    Quite the contrary. I think some people use their personal suffering to create great art. I don’t think repression is necessary, just that it has in fact created sufferring that some artists have drawn on.

    The censors of the Hays system were highly sensitive to the artistic requirements of the industry

    This makes me want to vomit. fuck censorship. fuck breen and his unacknowledged talent.

  44. MNG,

    Hays Code: The ridicule of religion was forbidden, and ministers of religion were not to be represented as comic characters or villains.

    See where I’m going with this…

  45. If pro-aborts had limited themselves to working within the Constitution, they wouldn’t have had as much success as they’ve managed to achieve by violating the Constitution.

    At the time of Roe, they probably were not that far from enshrining their policy aims into federal law. A Constitutional amendment would have been more difficult, but you have to remember that in many ways Roe made it easier to be pro-life by removing the extreme pressures abortion restrictions had built up. We can’t really go by the level of commitment pro-choice activists have today, because they’ve already gotten their way. And it’s very easy to be pro-life in red states, because you don’t have to deal with the likely results of policy success.

  46. It might be a generational thing, but this sentiment is correctly understood as racist. If a white male with her qualifications were nominated, you’d never say anything about affirmative action.

    If she had been a white male, she would have been torn to shreds in the press, and possibly laughed out of the room, and justifiably so.

    I mean, honestly, “eminent threat”? Are you kidding me?

  47. Certainly someone does not have to be the best legal mind in the nation to be qualified for the Court, right?

    In my opinion the bar is too low, and the pool too large. The current court really could have used a thoughtful, and intellectually consistent liberal mind. Sotomayor sacrifices that opportunity on the alter of identity politics. It’s not racist to point that out. If raising that bar were to mean that Thomas would also be excluded, I’d be ok with that.

  48. What is crucial now is for all Americans of good will to come together to work out a common understanding of the Constitution by which everyone’s legislation will be judged. No more of those ugly and embarrassing brawls between liberals and conservatives to get “their man” onto the Court. There cannot be anything more horrific than allowing the Constitution — the palladium of our national unity — to become anyone’s weapon in the culture wars.

    From HERE

  49. Compare such to the Sopranos, Goodfellas, or the Godfather and ask yourself: repression breeds better art?

    I think suffering breeds better art – not repression. Repression breeds suffering – but that doesn’t mean I conclude repression is good or necessary. This life has plenty of suffering already.

  50. ‘Wow, man, Brokeback Mountain sure beats the crap out of The Philadelphia Story!’

    Well, let’s go by genre:

    Comedy:

    “It Happened One Night” vs. “Annie Hall”

    Gotta go with Woody here.

    Adventure:

    “King Solomon’s Mines” vs. “Star Wars”

    Gotta go with Lucas here.

    Western:

    “The Searchers” vs. “Unforgiven”

    Sorry, gotta go with Clint.

    Gangster:

    Everything vs. “The Godfather”

    Gotta go with Coppola.

    War:

    “The Longest Day” vs. “Saving Private Ryan”

    Spielberg wins.

    Sports:

    “Pride of the Yankees” vs. “Field of Dreams”

    OK, it’s a Kevin Costner vehicle, but the modern film wins.

    I guess they did musicals better back in the day, but that’s really about it.

  51. I read two Sotomayer opinions by accident yesterday, they were Intellectual Property cases.

    Is she a likely heavy-weight trendsetter like Scalia? No. But she’s easily as good as Alito, Souter, Ginsburg… She’s qualified.

    Don’t you think it’s interesting that in all the opposition to Alito “he’s not qualified” was, iirc, not common, but with Sotomayer, who has many more years on the federal bench than Alito, it is common?

  52. Damn you fluffy ;), I had my own list, but it mirrored yours (Unforgiven, Annie Hall, Godfather).

    Imagine the Godfather under the Hays Code.

    Yuck.

  53. “The current court really could have used a thoughtful, and intellectually consistent liberal mind.”

    Agree 100%. It’s odd to me that conservatives are angry here: it’s we liberals that should be pissed.

    My feeling is that we’ve waited for a decade to get a pick, we’ve got 60 votes in the Senate and a Dem in the WH, and we get a judge that is not going to be a great liberal jurist. WTF?

    Liberals are defending her for the same reason they did Bill Clinton: they don’t like what they see as the over-the-top attacks from folks they see as their enemies.

  54. Fluffy,

    Are you saying that Star Wars, Field of Dreams and Private Ryan would have flunked the Hays Code standards? If so, which standards?

    I can see Private Ryan getting some editorial changes to eliminate the f-words – maybe replacing them with bleeps.

    How else would these movies have been affected?

    The standard of comparison involves modern movies which would not have been cleared for release under the Hays Code, or which would have been released with so many editorial changes as to diminish the viewing experience. How would the three movies under discussion have been affected in this way?

  55. Is she a likely heavy-weight trendsetter like Scalia? No. But she’s easily as good as Alito, Souter, Ginsburg… She’s qualified.

    You might be scoring some points against me on the “qualified” front, at the expense of eviscerating the idea that she is the “best”

    Which leads me directly to my main point which is: why not pick the “best” in favor of identity politics? It seems that people like Tony like to grandstand about holier-than-thou diversity, almost as if they are willfully supporting a less qualified candidate and daring people to point it out so they can scream “racist!”

    It’s stupid, childish, and frankly counterproductive to racial equality. It certainly doesn’t result in the best jurisprudence that could be obtained.

  56. Max – I hope you get the irony that your namesake sig’s movies would (at least the ones I’ve seen) have all been restricted by the Hays code.

    Violence was far more limited than you represented. When someone (anyone, good or bad) fired a weapon, the person getting hit could not be in the same scene. There had to be a cut in between. That this makes no sense is irrelevant.

  57. Liberals are defending her for the same reason they did Bill Clinton: they don’t like what they see as the over-the-top attacks from folks they see as their enemies.

    Exactly the mistake that the right DIDN’T make with Harriet Miers. The GOP deep sixed her in a heartbeat. The left gets blinded by identity politics to it’s own detriment. This mistake is self-perpetuating.

  58. ‘it’s very easy to be pro-life in red states, because you don’t have to deal with the likely results of policy success.’

    Maybe so – I would still welcome the chance to test the commitment of pro-lifers by abolishing Roe. Some of them would fall away, just as ‘pro-lifers’ today sometimes fall away.

    But let us look at things from the pro-abort point of view. The pro-abortion creators of the lawyer drama *Boston Legal* had an episode where an Asian girl wanted an abortion because the baby was female. This prompted much soul-searching among the pro-abortion lawyers in the firm. The token conservative (William Shatner), who is usually portrayed as a funhouse-mirror parody of a right-wing weirdo, is for once given a good line: He tells his liberal lawyer friend that liberals cling desperately to preserving *Roe v. Wade* so that they can avoid confronting the reality of abortion – that without *Roe,* pro-aborts would lose their best ready-made excuse for glibly dismissing the issue, and would feel forced to face their subconscious reservations about the morality of abortion.

  59. It’s utlimately impossible to “prove” what was better aesthetically. I simply ask most people what would they prefer, not having films like Pulp Fiction or the Godfather around, having instead films like StageCoach?

    But this should be appreciated on a libertarian thread. Even with the Code gone, a person is totally free to make films in compliance with the old nutty Code. They could certainly even get funding and distribution (like Facing the Giants) for such films.

    But now that the Code is not in place you can make films that violate it too.

    And it’s telling that most people and creators prefer to patronize and create the latter. That’s what choice is all about.

    And oh Max, as to the indie theater scene during the Code, you are aware that obscenity law was at times invoked to make sure those people “behaved” themselves, right? But I’m guessing thats some government oppression you might be down with.

  60. Why shouldn’t the best be chosen?

    Come on, domo. *The* best? At some point it becomes entirely subjective who is better than another. If she were a white male you wouldn’t have a damn thing to say about her qualifications because they are, objectively, unassailable. So you’re bitching that Obama didn’t choose a white male, and chose purposefully. Boo fucking hoo. There is added value to a supreme court that is more diverse as it functions in a diverse society. I don’t think the motivation behind affirmative action is a morally bad thing, so using the mere fact of it as an argument against her nomination is falling on deaf ears.

    Again, Sotomayor is more qualified and arguably more intelligent than many recent nominees. Stop applying the ridiculous test that says that if a nominee isn’t a white male, she must be the single most qualified jurist in the land, otherwise we must resort to the default.

    Put another way, white men have been the beneficiaries of race and gender-based affirmative action for generations. Why start bitching now if you’re not simply a racist? I don’t think you are, so help me understand why this line of reasoning isn’t painfully obtuse.

  61. ‘Max – I hope you get the irony that your namesake sig’s movies would (at least the ones I’ve seen) have all been restricted by the Hays code.’

    Oh, well, you can’t make an omelette without breaking some eggs.

    Seriously, though – the main problem the Hays people would have had with the Mad Max movies was the violence, and we’ve discussed how even the fascist evil Hays Code was willing to allow violence in its proper context – fighting villains, portraying the consequences of crime, etc., so long as it didn’t veer into sadism. So I don’t know how that would have come out.

    The main result of a revived Hays Code might have been to keep *The Passion of the Christ* out of regular theaters – meaning that it would have had to be limited to churches which wanted to show it to their congregations and guests. Yeah, that would have put a major damper on that film!

  62. Max, I didn’t write my comment in answer to your question to Fluffy, but Star Wars showed people firing weapons and getting hit in the same shot, and the violence in Private Ryan would have been way too much for the Hays board. Also, plenty of American good guys buy it in that movie.

    I’ve never seen Field of Dreams, but doesn’t it show a cheater (Shoeless Joe Jackson) being redeemed without admitting guilt and contrition on his part? If so, can’t have that.

  63. You can tell your just engaging in apologia now Max (surprise), why else pick those three films from fluffys list? Why not Godfather, or Annie Hall, or Unforgiven? Ironically I bet most people would say that the latter three are better works of art than the former three you cherry-pick.

    But yes, having the f words replaced from Private Ryan with bleeps or the Hays Code equivalent of “dang-nabbits” would have made the film suffer, as well as cutting out the gory scenes which demonstrated the actual horror of D-Day.

    Also, iirc in Field of Dreams it was shown (horrors!) that the main character SLEPT IN THE SAME BED AS HIS WIFE!

  64. When I watch Boston legal, I don’t see a left wing agenda – I think they split the baby remarkably well. Denny Crane is depicted very favorably in most shows – and the other lawyers are hardly left-wingnutz.

  65. Fluffy, both Shane (1953) and The Man who Shot Liberty Valance (1962) beat Unforgiven. The Outlaw Josey Wales, imo, is just as good as Shane and The Man Who Shot LIberty Valance.

  66. “allow violence in its proper context”

    It’s PROPER context?

    And that should, in an artistic medium, be decided by Catholic theology or interest group foisted bureaucrats like Breen, and not by, say, the directors or the ticket buyer?

    Sheesh.

  67. ‘But now that the Code is not in place you can make films that violate it too.’

    They could make films that violated the Code during the era of the Code. Of course, there might be a problem getting such films into general-run theaters. Getting *Pulp Fiction* into theaters then would have been as difficult as – oh, for example – approving a film for general distribution today where the gangster characters smoke cigarettes while wasting their opponents.

    ‘And oh Max, as to the indie theater scene during the Code, you are aware that obscenity law was at times invoked to make sure those people “behaved” themselves, right? But I’m guessing thats some government oppression you might be down with.’

    Well, Mom and Dad was able to survive police surveillance, despite its Hays Code violations.

  68. domo
    There are several reasons why the best is not chosen; they may be difficult to confirm and cause a loss of political capital; they may not advance political goals of the chooser; they may not want the job; etc. This happens in everday life all the time when filling jobs. The picking of a SCOTUS judge does involve a political process, so while it is less than ideal to have politics involved in the selection, its certainly nothing new.

    I mean, certainly Posner is more qualified in any sense of the word than Alito, but he was not chosen as the nominee. He would have pleased certain constituencies (religious right) not so much; and he would have been hard to confirm because he has, in demonstrating his brilliance, written quite a bit on many subjects, etc.

  69. Max
    Do you, er, go to the movies much? I still see smokers in movies quite frequently.

    More frequently than the opportunities my dad had to see a non-Code approved film, that’s for sure.

    The Code plus obscenity laws plus social conventions kept that from being a possibility for most Americans.

  70. “Fluffy, both Shane (1953) and The Man who Shot Liberty Valance (1962) beat Unforgiven.”

    As a huge fan of all three, let me say I disagree. Shane is marred by being downright corny at many places.

  71. ‘Also, iirc in Field of Dreams it was shown (horrors!) that the main character SLEPT IN THE SAME BED AS HIS WIFE!’

    Some tropes never seem to die – that restriction came from the film censors in Protestant England – the Hays Board enforced it so that American movies could be shown in the United Kingdom. Sheesh.

    ‘Why not Godfather, or Annie Hall, or Unforgiven?’

    Can’t speak for the first two – haven’t seen them. If I did, it probably wouldn’t be in a standard movie theater.

    If I remember correctly, Unforgiven is basically a decent Western with cuss words. The cuss words, of course, are artistically essential to the integrity of the blah blah blah.

  72. Mad Max and Mad Max 2 (The Road Warrior) both featured nudity. 1 featured both male and female rape and baby and mother are killed. 2 had a lingering shot of a rape/murder and an implied homosexual relationship. Hays would have shit himself.

    And the first movie was a massive violation of this Hays Code gem:

    Murder scenes had to be filmed in a way that would discourage imitations in real life, and brutal killings could not be shown in detail. “Revenge in modern times” was not to be justified.

    Only the cartoonish Thunderdome had a chance with Hays, and it made fun of midgets and retards.

  73. In the Sopranos for example everyone smokes all the time.

    And iirc the Wolverine film I saw a few months ago had Logan properly puffing on his cigars.

    Fail buddy.

  74. Come on, domo. *The* best? At some point it becomes entirely subjective who is better than another. If she were a white male you wouldn’t have a damn thing to say about her qualifications because they are, objectively, unassailable. So you’re bitching that Obama didn’t choose a white male, and chose purposefully. Boo fucking hoo.

    Other liberals on this board agree she is not the best, despite being “qualified” I am bitching that we are getting a lightweight based on identity politics – is she even the best choice who is ethnically “acceptable” I doubt it.

    But your snotty boo-hoo’s certainly prove my point from 11:28 – thanks for that.

    There is added value to a supreme court that is more diverse as it functions in a diverse society.

    Stated without the merest attempt to argue it. You see this point as self-evident, which leads me to question whether you have actually thought much about it or are simply repeating something you have been taught.

    Put another way, white men have been the beneficiaries of race and gender-based affirmative action for generations.

    And that was morally wrong, so why is doing the reverse ok? I know several arguments even though I disagree with them, why can’t you advocate for your point of view?

    help me understand why this line of reasoning isn’t painfully obtuse.

    Saying it’s obvious doesn’t do much for me – I can’t discuss it with you if you simply assume your conclusion, and launch into accusations for people who disagree.

  75. You’re right, they would have allowed Star Wars and Saving Private Ryan – after major editorial changes. To the point where they would not really have been the same movies.

    “Passion” would have had a receptive audience, certainly. However, without the chance for general distribution, it would not have had the advertising budget it received, and would have had nowhere near the box office it got through theatrical distribution.

    I think you’re dismissing a huge segment of the population that is semi-interested in religious matters. These are the same people you see at your church every Easter or Christmas, but at no other times. These are also the same people who went to see “The Da Vinci Code”

  76. “the Hays Board enforced”

    Who gives a shit why it was in there, we are discussing what the Hays Code did, and it did it, as you admit.

    The cuss words are essential because hard men in those times cussed. They also frequented whores, which the film depicts in violation of the code. They also killed people meaninglessly, which the film depicts in violation of the code. Etc., The point of the film was to deconstruct the silly, fabricated, simplistic world of Hays Code westerns.

  77. I mean, certainly Posner is more qualified in any sense of the word than Alito, but he was not chosen as the nominee.

    Fair, but then I’m not an Alito fan. I view his choice as a poor one. As much a missed opportunity for the right as Sotomayor will be.

  78. You’d like Godfather MM, Catholics figure prominently (much like the Supreme Court of the US)…

  79. Alito was a reliable, confirmable choice, as Sotomayer probably will be for liberals. I agree with you we’d have a more interesting jurisprudence if excellence were elevated over reliability…

    Gotta split, been interesting.

  80. “DO YOU RENOUNCE SATAN?”

  81. Unforgiven: Nudity, rape, “brutal” killings, and revenge.

    Godfather: Nudity, rape, “brutal” killings, abortion, and revenge. The uncut version also has pedophilia.

    Annie Hall: Drug use, sex

  82. ‘In the Sopranos for example everyone smokes all the time.’

    The Sopranos is a movie?

  83. domo,

    As MNG implied this is not a world in which color-blind meritocracy rules supreme court nominations independently of other considerations. Politics exist, and if Obama wants to stick another finger in the eye of a Republican party that is in desperate back-pedal mode with regard to its attitude toward latino americans, how can you fault him?

    To whatever extent Sotomayor was an affirmative action pick, it is affirmative action done correctly. Pick a superbly qualified nominee who will add diversity to a historically nondiverse body.

    Perhaps the right is so afraid of affirmative action because they haven’t figured out how to do it right. Clarence Thomas, Sarah Palin, Michael Steele–elevated because of surface characteristics alone completely regardless of qualifications.

  84. ‘Godfather: Nudity, rape, “brutal” killings, abortion, and revenge. The uncut version also has pedophilia.

    ‘Annie Hall: Drug use, sex’

    Sounds like these would definitely have hit the arthouse circuit in the Hays days.

    ‘You’d like Godfather MM, Catholics figure prominently (much like the Supreme Court of the US)…’

    I think you’re being unfair to Mafiosi. Unlike Catholics such as Justices Brennan and Kennedy, Mafiosi don’t legitimize the killing of unborn babies and declare such behavior to be a constitutional right.

  85. Are you saying that Star Wars, Field of Dreams and Private Ryan would have flunked the Hays Code standards? If so, which standards?

    Others have addressed these films, but let me include the following:

    Star Wars is built around an atheistic, quasi-Buddhistic religion which is depicted as being TRUE. It’s as if you remade “Gunga Din” but had the Indian side win because their gods are real.

    Ryan, of course, also features American general officers ordering men to die for a PR mission, and features enlisted men openly questioning and criticizing the orders they have received. It also depicts US soldiers murdering Germans trying to surrender, looting the bodies of the dead, firing indiscriminately while civilians are in the area, etc. NO WAY does SPR get released under the Hays Code.

    Field of Dreams is the most harmless of the films listed, but it does include a scene where the religious-based censorship of the works of the Terrence Mann character is specifically denounced. That to me sounds like it would have hit too close to home for the Hays censors to allow it.

  86. As MNG implied this is not a world in which color-blind meritocracy rules supreme court nominations independently of other considerations.

    But maybe we would get better judges if it were.

    add diversity to a historically nondiverse body.

    Stevens and Souter are the only two WASP males on the court. The court is heavy on catholics and jews, light on women compared to the population. If diversity is a legitimate goal (which you still haven’t argued) Sotomayor exacerbates one issue, while helping another. She’s not even an unqualified success as a diversity pick.

    To whatever extent Sotomayor was an affirmative action pick, it is affirmative action done correctly.

    You seem to be more concerned with getting your spin out there than actually making any substantial points.

    The right has had some real sucesses with diverse appoinments – Colin Powell, Condi Rice – as well as the failures you have mentioned. Considering the much smaller pool of ideological adherents that the right has to choose from, I’d say they do pretty well.

  87. MNG, glad to hear that you are a fan of both Shane and The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance. As for Shane being a little corny, are you referring to some of the scenes with Brandon de Wilde’s character, Joey (the little boy)?

    Shane, The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance and The Outlaw Josey Wales all have something for libertarians. In Shane, we see the aggressed homesteaders prevail, by means of a gunfighter’s good will and decency, over a gangster cattle baron and his hired guns-without the state’s involvement. In The Man Who shot Liberty Valance, we see the rugged individualism of Tom Doniphon (John Wayne’s character) clash with the state is the exclusive decider of justice embodied by Jimmy Stewart’s character, Ransom Stoddard. The Outlaw Josey Wales reminds us that there can be no love of union or love of nation state for a truly thinking, rational, libertarian.

  88. Star Wars – The U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops has approved Star Wars III for adults and adolescents, despite Yoda’s blatantly Buddhist-oriented speech.

    Private Ryan – I don’t see how that’s any more offensive than 30 Second Over Tokyo, but that’s just my opinion.

    Field of Dreams – There are lots of Hays-era films which anti-religious folks would consider hitting too close to home, but somehow the Hays people (perhaps not sharing the same generalizations) approved. Inherit the Wind is an example. They allowed a version in 1960, even though OMG fundamentalism hits too close to home, no way those people would ever approve it!

  89. Wait, Mad Max, you haven’t seen “The Godfather”? Wh-wh-wh-what?

  90. Also, and Fluffy alluded to this, post-Hays code war movies are far more realistic.

  91. The Godfather cost $24M adjusted to make. No movie that could only have been run in the feeble “arthouse” circuit of the Hays era would have been made at that cost.

    And you widely over-inflate the arthouse theater circuit itself, because it barely existed before the late 1950s and 60s European film resurgence. The little 2nd run theaters didn’t show non-studio stuff and most smaller theaters not running “art films” to begin with, but rather jiggle films, nature “documentaries,” and grindhouse-level cinema. No one made studio-expensive films for that market.

  92. this pre-Code Hollywood collection or this one. These movies were produced before the Production Code had any real teeth – before the Catholic Church handed down its famous ultimatum – clean up your films or maybe our faithful won’t watch them any more.

    The links I have provided are to movie collections compiled for the specific purpose of giving modern viewers access to the kind of artistic excellence that the Hays Code put and end to. This provides an excellent test of the thesis that the Hays Code suppressed true quality entertainment.

    Compare and contrast the classic movies in these ‘pro-Code’ collections with the dreck which came out under the Code.

    The pre-Code movies include such gems as Other Men’s Women, The Purchase Price, Frisco Jenny, Midnight Mary, Heroes for Sale, Wild Boys of the Road, The Cheat, Merrily We Go to Hell, Hot Saturday, Torch Singer, Murder at the Vanities, and Search for Beauty. Remember, these are not random selections – there were put together for modern viewers for the specific purpose of letting us see the very best of the artistic Golden Age which the Hays Code (in its stringent form) brought to an end.

    After the Hays Code got real teeth, moviegoers could no longer thrill to the excitement of Heroes for Sale and Wild Boys of the Road, but had to content themselves with second-best stuff like Casablanca, It’s a Wonderful Life, the films of John Wayne, and so on and so on. How awful!

  93. My post should have started out with this sentence:

    ‘Check out this pre-Code Hollywood collection or this one.’

  94. ‘most smaller theaters [were] not running “art films” to begin with, but rather jiggle films, nature “documentaries,” and grindhouse-level cinema.’

    Ah, for the good old days, when you had to go to a smaller theater for a jiggle film!

  95. Mad Max, Clint Eastwood movies beat hell out of John Wayne movies by any measure. And “It’s A Wonderful Life”? Blargh.

  96. Art-P.O.G.-

    Painting with a broad brush? I love them both-but some of the Duke’s films beat some of CLint’s and vice-versa. I’m sorry, but The Quiet Man, The Searchers, The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance and True Grit beat Every Which Way But Loose. OTOH, The Outlaw Josey Wales, Unforgiven and Gran Torino beat The Sons of Katie Elder all day long.

  97. “Sotomayor obviously passes the qualifications bar by any measure, and her ethnicity is simply added value in terms of the court’s diversity.”

    Yes that’s true. I hear she’s planing to make red beans and rice for her courtmates every Wednesday.

  98. libertymike,

    I see you didn’t defend Capra’s work.

  99. “Barry Loberfeld”

    LoneWacko Lite?

  100. Nah, I don’t have any problem with Loberfeld. His posts make sense and he doesn’t insult H&R Commenters and then demand they read his blog.

  101. So, MM’s best defence of the Hayes code seems to be that people want to ban smoking in movies today? Or perhaps that he likes old movies better than more recent ones, so the Hayes code must have made them good? Good one.
    I like seeing movies where people say “fuck” a lot. I say “fuck” a lot. I also like to see people smoking. And naked ladies. The facts that a lot of people feel the way I do, and that lots of people like to make movies with the above mentioned elements is the only reason you need to not have something like the Hayes code.

  102. Shut the fuck up, Tony. NLNT*

    *No linky, no talky

  103. Max, it’s even more intellectually dishonest than your usual performance to try to argue that pre-code films were of poor quality, when talking pictures were only six years old when the Code was instituted..

    That would be the equivalent of putting a censorship code on video games in 1991 and then saying, “But games got so much better after the code was put in place!”

    By the way, I just thought I would point out that due to the Code, filmmakers who wanted to put out movies depicting the political situation in Germany in the 1930’s, in particular the fate of persons sent to the earliest concentration camps, were prevented from doing so, and the Production Code office even forbade the Marx Brothers from making fun of Mussolini.

    http://www.filminfocus.com/article/an_unintended_battle_cry__chaplin_s__em_the_great_dictator__em

    Note to the viewing audience: this post is what is known as “crushing the thread”.

  104. I learned that the dumb cunt latina doesn’t believe the 2nd Amendment is a fundamental right.

    Fuck that dumb bitch and fuck every single one of her rights.

  105. Very eloquently stated, JB.

  106. And on a non-sarcastic note, Good post, Fluffy.

  107. “”Fluffy, both Shane (1953) and The Man who Shot Liberty Valance (1962) beat Unforgiven.””

    Once Upon a Time in the West.

    Just saw White Heat. As good as The Godfather.

    High Society and Our Man Godfrey trump Annie Hall in Spades. (Woddy Allen has been making the same movie for forty years. The new one starring Larry David is no different).

    Best baseball film eveh? The Natural (it’s not old, just really good).

  108. “Godfather: Nudity, rape, “brutal” killings, abortion, and revenge. The uncut version also has pedophilia.”

    Pedophillia?

  109. Our Man Godfrey

    Now, for this to be fair all films starring Carole Lombard have to be excluded from the comparisons.

    Make a shot for shot remake with, I don’t know, Paris Hilton or somebody and that movie’s not that great.

    And I was taking it easy on the old films in the comedy category, since I could just have thrown “South Park, Bigger Longer and Uncut” out there to be mean.

  110. High Society and Our Man Godfrey trump Annie Hall in Spades. Not High Society for me, but Our Man Godfrey any day of the week.

    But they were making terrific films prior to the Hays Code, like Trouble in Paradise, I’m No Angel, Scarface: The Shame of a Nation, Public Enemy and Red Dust, none of which could have been released uncut under the Hays Code.

  111. Scarface: The Shame of a Nation

    I loved this movie, maybe even moreso than the remake.

  112. Once Max admitted that he has not taken the time to see the Godfather it was quite clear that arguing movie aesthetics with him is a tremondous waste of time. No lover of movies would admit to such a stupid thing…

    And his dishonest apologetic thrusts, e.g, comparing movies in general today to the well-remembered classics under the code, or comparing the quality of movies when talkies first started to the quality of movies decades later under the code, or his ‘well they could have run them in the art house industry back in the day’ without acknowledging how, yes, feeble and at times persecuted that industry was, have been parried effectively as well by fluffy, SF, and others.

    It’s this kind of lameness that follows apologia.

    Again, a man who has not taken the time to see the Godfather should not be allowed to comment on movie aesthetics. End of discussion…

  113. And for what it is worth, yes Woody Allen has been making the same movie over and over, it’s tiresome, but that first couple of times it was great art. I’ll take Annie Hall over Godfrey or High Society anyday. It was so artistically influential, think of what it contained. I’ll let Ebert state it:

    “Consider Allen’s astonishing range of visual tactics, including split screens in which the characters on either side directly address one another; a bedroom scene where Annie’s spirit gets up during sex to sit, bored, in a chair by the bed; autobiographical flashbacks; subtitles that reveal what characters are really thinking; children who address us as if they were adults (“I’m into leather”); an animated sequence pairing Alvy with Snow White’s wicked witch; and the way Alvy speaks directly out of the screen to the audience.”

  114. Very eloquently stated, JB.

    Yup.

    So when the dumb retards claim ‘how were we to know that people took their 2nd Amendment rights seriously’ that can be submitted as evidence.

  115. You guys are looking at this the wrong way. All the time Senators are spending asking pointless questions and getting non-answers is time that they’re not passing more regulation and taxes.

    I think the long drawn out confirmation hearing is a great tool to keep legislators from legislating, we clearly need far more of them.

  116. ‘the Production Code office even forbade the Marx Brothers from making fun of Mussolini.’

    You seem to have overlooked The Great Dictator – wouldn’t honesty have required that you acknowledge this inconvenient fact and try to fit it into your schema?

    And, MNG, Bork’s original point, which prompted your derision, was in defense of the Code as it applied to restrict immorality in movies. You find it necessary to conflate my argument with that of a different poster, who suggested that repression in and of itself stimulated good art.

    While I *did* point out that the Hays Code encouraged a higher class of sex jokes, my main thrust was in suggesting that great art and the Code *coexisted,* so that it wasn’t as if we had to choose between the two. Also, the liberation from the oppressive Code did not lead to a new era of ‘realism’ and better artistictude – movies were different, often good, but not *better* than under the Code. And many of the modern great movies could have been shown under the Code with minimal changes.

    I also suggested that the movies are still not free from political and social pressure, just that the pressure tends to be from other directions, and of course it’s not as efficient as when the Catholics ran it.

    Since I suppose I have to spell these things out to avoid ‘misunderstanding,’ let me say:

    -A movie can be immoral and aesthetically pleasing at the same time.

    -A movie can be highly moral *and* aesthetically unpleasant.

    -The art houses used to be poor and oppressed, like their oppressed patrons – oh, the humanity! Won’t somebody think of the art houses!

  117. You seem to have overlooked The Great Dictator – wouldn’t honesty have required that you acknowledge this inconvenient fact and try to fit it into your schema?

    No, I didn’t. If you read the story at the link I provided and examine the release dates, you would see that Chaplin’s film was released after the US had made the foreign policy decision to actively support non-fascist powers. But that criticism of Germany and Italy was actively prevented in the early and mid 30’s.

    You may not realize this, but “Eventually the censors decided they didn’t like fascism, either, so they finally let us criticize it,” is not a defense of a censorship system.

    And, “Sure, we prevented anti-Nazi movies from coming out when it might have made a difference in domestic political debate about foreign policy, but after the war in Europe started we let up a little,” is also not a particularly great defense of the Code.

  118. As I said Max, yes there were good movies made when the code was in effect, but as I also said these movies were great despite, not because of the code. In fact, it’s plainly evident where many great code movies were marred by the code.

    As to a “higher class” of sex jokes, one man’s higher class is another man’s cornball, and that’s how I found most Code films in dealing with sex.

    Do you realize that at the beginning of every single Code crime film you can know what will happen: the forces of good will win an unequivocal victory over the forces of bad, no crime committing character will not “pay” unless they perform a full act of contrition. This made them all terribly predictable and unsatisfying.

    You’ve made this argument before that getting rid of the code did not improve realism using as evidence that many unrealistic movie tropes continue to exist. But you act like these tropes did not exist under the Code, in addition to the goofy tropes of the Code itself (the two beds for married couples for example). Dishonest again I might say.

  119. My only point is that if you take the Bible straight, as I’m sure many of Reasons readers do, you will see a lot of the Old Testament stuff as absolutely insane. Even some cursory knowledge of Hebrew and doing some mathematics and logic will tell you that you really won’t get the full deal by just doing regular skill english reading for those books. In other words, there’s more to the books of the Bible than most will ever grasp. I’m not concerned that Mr. Crumb will go to hell or anything crazy like that! It’s just that he, like many types of religionists, seems to take it literally, take it straight…the Bible’s books were not written by straight laced divinity students in 3 piece suits who white wash religious beliefs as if God made them with clothes on…the Bible’s books were written by people with very different mindsets…in order to really get the Books of the Bible, you have to cultivate such a mindset, it’s literally a labyrinth, that’s no joke

  120. My only point is that if you take the Bible straight, as I’m sure many of Reasons readers do, you will see a lot of the Old Testament stuff as absolutely insane. Even some cursory knowledge of Hebrew and doing some mathematics and logic will tell you that you really won’t get the full deal by just doing regular skill english reading for those books. In other words, there’s more to the books of the Bible than most will ever grasp.

  121. My only point is that if you take the Bible straight, as I’m sure many of Reasons readers do, you will see a lot of the Old Testament stuff as absolutely insane.

  122. keep silence is a wisdom choice,but it does not mean you don’t know or can not make it the most time

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