July 1, 2007

Is Dahlia Lithwick "a deeply frivolous person" and either "a liar or a fool"?

John Carney is strangely disturbed -- is he on drugs? -- by Lithwick's mockery of John Roberts' straightforward observation that "Bong Hits 4 Jesus" is a pro-drug message. Lithwick says:
In Morse, Roberts goes to great lengths to insert meaning into the silliness of the words on the student banner. He insists the phrase "Bong Hits 4 Jesus" can be read as "celebrating drug use"; indeed to get there he needed only insert the imaginary words, "bong hits [are a good thing]." When did we enter into the era of constitutional interpretation through inserting pretend words? The sign could have as easily been read to say "bong hits [will kill you]."
I completely disagree with Lithwick's conclusion here, but I think she finds interesting ways to make her arguments. Carney has not found an interesting way to write. I mean, if I were stoned I might be fascinated by the phrase "deeply frivolous," but I don't think Carney meant to divert us into contemplating an oxymoron. He's carelessly hurling insults. What's the point? If you want to take down Lithwick, try to write somewhere close to her level.

ADDED; My question for Carney, Lithwick, and the Chief: Is the next post -- above, with the flower -- a pro-drug message?


Steve said...

And he uses deeply in two straight sentences. But he is right- Lithwick is a bit of a hack.

steve simels said...

John Carney is strangely disturbed -- is he on drugs?

Posted by the person who thinks that Hillary Clinton made veggie porn.

The irony of you calling somebody else delusional is highly ironic.

Luckyoldson said...

the bong hit banner was nothing more than a "toast" to jc.

with that in mind, i'd be a lot more comfortable with the decision if i knew the justices themselves never raised a glass of booze to toast jesus or anything else for that matter.

dave™© said...

I completely disagree with Lithwick's conclusion here...

That's why you're the laughing stock of the internet, lady.

Or actually, Reason #427...

Bissage said...

Good, good, good. Mr. Simels is still here. I was afraid he might have wandered off.

Mr. Simels, don’t forget to check out this Althouse post.

Your expertise in pop music is much needed.

Please, have at it!

P.S. Now understand, I don't have anything meaningful to say on the subject of rap music's popularity because I'm not really all that bright. Heck, I'm still trying to figure out what it means for irony to be ironic. But you are smart. I'm sure you'll shower us with a host of facts, powerful insights, the latest in aesthetic theory and a powerful analysis -- all conveyed with that delightful personal style that's made you so rich and famous.




Here's that link, again, so you don't have to bother to scroll up.

Have fun!

steve simels said...


So you enjoy being a member of a cult?

Good for you! Kudos and huzzahs, pal.

Ann Althouse said...

Simels writes: "The irony of you calling somebody else delusional is highly ironic."

Well, this post is about bad writing, but I don't think someone who'd write "the irony... is... ironic" is going to understand what I'm taling about. Wow, the irony... it's like... so... I mean... ironic... man, you know what I mean, man?

Ann Althouse said...

Oh, lord, the whole gang of idiots is here. I'm sure John Carney appreciates your support. Losers.

steve simels said...

Annie sez:

Well, this post is about bad writing

You're criticizing somebody else's prose style?

That's rich, coming from a woman who couldn't write her way out of a chain letter.

Bissage said...

Mr. Simels, you're a deprogrammer?

I had no idea!

I thought you were a pop music critic -- and a damn fine one, too, according to some commenters.

Well, you could be both, right?

Here's hoping.

And here's that Althouse pop music post, again.

Show us what you can do.

I'm rooting for you!!!

Ann Althouse said...

"couldn't write her way out of a "


Bissage said...

Yeah, really.

And how hard would it have been to give it a topical twist?

You couldn't write your way out of an oily paper bag full of onion rings.

See how easy it is, Mr. Simels. See the picture in your head? And it made you laugh!

You can have that one, free of charge.

Use it when you leave your comment, right here.

I'm looking forward to reading it.

After all, that's one of your areas of expertise. Right?

Heir to the Throne said...

Can I answer D all of the above.
What really soured me to Lithwick is when the Duke Lacrosse rape hoax started to fall apart she wrote this column to prop up the case. She say that the "evidence" can be read to support either side. Now we know that the evidence points to the Lacrosse play being innocent.
When the case fell completely apart she wrote this article saying she presented both sides and that she should get a pass on saying we should ignore the defense's evidence/statements.

Boaz said...

Lithwick is a good writer, but she is so hostile to viewpoints that aren't in line with mainstream liberal legal theory that the substance of her arguments are frivolous.

If one is going to write seriously on the law, one must take on the heart of opposing arguments; it is frivolous to just snark about the evil motives or ignorance of the opposition.

James said...

Lithwick asks:

" When did we enter into the era of constitutional interpretation through inserting pretend words? When Justice Blackmun found that penumbra emanating from the constitution

blake said...

I think I would've gone with "the irony is...deeply ironic."

Or perhaps "the irony is...frivolously ironic."

Ooh, or maybe, "the frivolous irony is deeply ironic".

John Stodder said...

dave™©, you've really caught my attention with this poke:

dave™© said...

I completely disagree with Lithwick's conclusion here...

That's why you're the laughing stock of the internet, lady.

When did the entire Internet had become a massive Dahlia Litwick cult?

What is it about Dahlia Litwick that inspires such near-universal obedience that merely saying you disagree with her can cause all the munchkins in Munchkin-land to start giggling and throwing stones?

Seriously, dave™©, for someone whose favorite thoughtful retort to anyone who disagrees with you is to call them a "brownshirt," you're displaying some fascist tendencies of your own. That's actually not a surprise, but it is a surprise to find out that your supreme leader is a hack writer for Slate. Who knew?

Dave said...

I'm torn. I think Morse was generally a bad decision for many reasons, but I find it delicious to see the PC boot on the other foot. Does anyone deny that said something like "KKK for Affirmative Action" would have been well-received by all the commenters here?

Plus, can *anybody* show me where the term 'bong hits' itself is anything but a drug reference? At the very least it must be incredibly widely believed to be so.

I'd like to see a more wide latitude for ALL speech, not just that approved by the PC crowd.

And Lithwick writes beautifully most of the time, but anyone who can't see more than the occasional slant is being deliberately obtuse. I still read her because I allow for the slant and just enjoy what she writes.

Christy said...

I once eagerly awaited the Lithwick columns at Slate for she is a fine writer. And I found her snark delicious and even-handed. Not so even-handed anymore, or maybe she is just getting around to mocking my personal shibboleths and suddenly I noticed. That was long before I discovered the law blogs which deconstruct the SCOTUS decisions for me. Ann, have you and your pals made Lithwick redundant? Well, probably not. Lithwick does have a unique way with interpreting SCOTUS body language during arguments.

Cedarford said...

"Bong hits" is a clear drug reference. It was long past time that the Court began backing local school boards and administrators in trying to bring discipline to chaotic schools and tell the little punks just how far their free speech rights go when they negatively impact the schools mission.

No drug references. No gang graffitti - even if it is bundled with "political or religious" connotations.

Imagine a couple gang bangers not being disciplined for a spray painted message "Los Cruces South Side 9mm Hombres Tagged Territory for Barack Obama.

Any reference to drug use or violence should be forbidden and parties violating those groundrules disciplined.

Ann Althouse said...

Christy: One thing Dahlia does is go to the oral arguments and describe them in ways that the MSM reporters can't... like saying Breyer looked like Mr. Burns and that sort of thing. I find it very entertaining the way she dramatizes the arguments (which of course are actually not that dramatic). No one else is doing that. But when it comes to reading the opinions, anyone can do it. We all have the opinions and can riff any which way, and at this point, I'd like to read more of a variety of what lawprofs have to say. Well, actually, I want to read the opinion and write about it myself.

Dave: "can *anybody* show me where the term 'bong hits' itself is anything but a drug reference? At the very least it must be incredibly widely believed to be so."

Maybe "Jesus" is the negative part. So if the bong hits are "for Jesus," you might think, then I'm staying away from the bong.

Internet Ronin said...

The phrase seemed so improbable to me as to be nothing but drivel dreamt up to irritate school administrators. At that, it succeeded. Until the author actually comes out and says that was his intention, I'm personally inclined to think it was silliness not advocacy, and thus, despite the fact that I have the utmost respect for John Roberts's intellect and powers of reasoning, I think the author has succeeded beyond his wildest dreams and managed to provoke not just a teacher, but a very learned and serious jurist, who felt compelled to render a tortured and unintentionally ridiculous
ruling. Kudos to the kids. They went far.

Steve said...


Trumpit said...

I come here partly for the photography (& Ann's wit), especially the Madison pics. Living in L.A., I can see and feel the healthy difference.

The only irony I see is the fact that, imo, the only way someone can logically believe in Jesus is to have taken several bong hits of the the really strong stuff. So to suggest someone take a bong hit 4 Jesus is to only point out the hallucinagenic nature of both bong hits and Jesus.

The stuffed shirt conservative majority on the court needs to take a few puffs on something to mellow out.

blake said...

the only way someone can logically believe in Jesus is to have taken several bong hits of the the really strong stuff

This is a use of the word "logically" with which I was not formerly familiar.

Maxine Weiss said...

Who is Dalia Lithwick?

Anyway, I read, in a magazine, that when a woman cuts her hair, it's grounds for an instant annulment in the Catholic Church. The husband married the wife with long hair, and now that she hacked it off, she's not the woman he married. The Church is very sympathetic to the problem of women chopping their hair, and particularly if she has sons--it's very traumatic.

Women don't have the right to cause that kind of disruption.

Fondly, Maxine