I've told this story before. Many years ago, a judge told me that when young people come to him and explain that they want to go to law school so that they can become lawyers and protect people's constitutional rights (and he suggested that this happened rather a lot), he would respond this way.
Don't go to law school. Go to D.C. and become a cop. Then roust Rehnquist and Scalia for no reason. There's nothing you can do that would be better for the Fourth Amendment.
Actually, he may have said "that would be better for the Constitution." The point would be the same. It's the old mantra.
A liberal is a conservative who's been arrested. A conservative is a liberal who's been mugged.
Make them see the world from the other guy's perspective. Don't dis someone until you've walked a mile in his shoes.*
It's all sound in principle. We're products of our experience. But it's also a bit too easy. So when we hear the news from New Orleans, we can hope it leads to greater compassion, but we'd be fools to bet on it.
Oh, the news. Yeah.
Seems that 24-year-old Derek Thomas, perhaps suicidal, certainly epileptic, was taken to West Jefferson Hospital in New Orleans. For whatever reason, he wouldn't put on a hospital gown. So, because hospitals have rules and rules must be followed by god, the hospital folk charged with seeing to his well-being called security.
You know what happened next. Thomas was punched in the face. Then they pulled out a handful of his hair. Then they tased him. Taser, Inc. might deny any causal relationship, but Thomas then had a massive seizure. (Did I mention that he was epileptic? Did I mention that it said so right on his chart? That it said that on his chart before he was tased?)
Derek Thomas is, of course, black. What happened to him happens, with trivial variation, every day. Mostly we don't hear about it. But then, most people don't have a sister like Kimberly Thomas.
See, when Kimberly heard what happened, she called her uncle: Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas. He was, they say, "shocked." He was, they say, "outraged." He is heading for the Big Easy to investigate.
Clarence Thomas. Avenging Justice.
Except, you know, Thomas doesn't think people should be able to sue. He doesn't think law enforcement types are liable for the harm they cause. He doesn't think they actually cause any harm.
Or maybe now he'll know better. Now that the conservative's nephew got tased. And maybe he'll reconsider.
But like I said, we'd be fools to bet on it.
*Then you've got a headstart - and he's barefoot since you've got his shoes. Sorry. (Hey, I did put it in a footnote.)