The Los Angeles Times reported yesterday on a speech given by Justice Janice Rogers Brown, a courageous speech given her current limbo between openly derisive Democrats and squeamish Republicans in the Senate, which I linked here. However, one of the attendees blogged about Brown’s breakfast speech and claims that not only did the Times take Brown out of context on key points, but that their “reporting” only consisted of reprinting and rewriting the original article in the Stamford Advocate.
Benedict Blog tells a more interesting tale of the Red Mass speech by Brown, one that convinced him that not only would Brown make a terrific appellate justice, but in a fair world would be headed for the Supreme Court:
Why does the Times make no mention of the breadth and depth of Justice Brown’s intellect? Profound. Thoughtful. Erudite. Those, or words like them, should have been used to describe Justice Brown’s presentation. After announcing her theme (would Abraham Lincoln still consider the United States the “last best hope of Earth”?), Justice Brown delivered a lecture which touched on the work of Alexis de Tocqueville, Stanley Fish, C.S. Lewis, Lenin, George Weigel, Samuel Taylor Coleridge, Stephen Macedo, Servais Pinckaers and others (one very particular “other” is discussed in greater detail below). She wove post-modernism, atheistic humanism, “freedom for excellence”, creative design, cosmic accident, useful idiots, the Enlightenment, the Restoration, and the purported perfectability of man into her 35 minute commentary. And she was no slouch at turning a phrase: In response to a question from an audience member, she responded, “From the Garden of Eden to the Tower of Babel to [another example which I did not get down – Justice Brown speaks quickly!], any time man puts himself on a par with God the project ends badly.”
This is a woman who possesses both searing intelligence and great humility. She talks about philosophy as fluently as she does about jurisprudence (she dealt handily with a question from the audience about Immanuel Kant), and seems equally well-versed in the realms of intellectual history and moral theology. …
Why does the Times not repeat any of the historical evidence which Justice Brown offered in support of her position? Near the beginning of her remarks, Justice Brown used some logical jiujitsu to score a telling point. Just as adherents of the “cosmic accident” school of creation like to say that it was a unique and utterly specific set of circumstances which gave rise to the Big Bang and thence the formation of the universe, Justice Brown maintains that it was a similarly unique and specific set of circumstances which led to the formation of the United States. And, like it or not, a belief in God was one of the elements without which we would not have the founding documents — or nation, for that matter — we have today.
Benedict also finds the more inflammatory parts of the speech highlighted by the LAT to have been taken out of context. In discussing the notion of these times being perilous for people of faith, Brown specifically referred to Sam Harris, author of The End of Faith, a book which attacks religion and its influence — and one which has received broad support from the media mainstream, as Benedict demonstrates by quoting from the book reviews at major newspapers:
“Dangers and absurdities of organized religion,” “irrationality of all religious faith,” “perfect tyranny,” “radical attack,” “ruthless secularisation,” and, best of all, “pugilistic attempt” and “sustained nuclear assault.” Note the ulra-aggressive language, all of which which would seem to confirm the truth of Justice Brown’s “war” statement. And all unreported by the Times, even though the man whose work inspired those comments was specifically identified by Justice Brown. Why do you suppose that is?
Only the editors of the Times could answer that question, of course. The article does state that it got its original reporting from the Stamford Advocate, but it apparently cherry-picked its coverage based on the story it wants to sell about Janice Rogers Brown. The intellectual dishonesty of the Los Angeles Times continues unabated, apparently.