The Oxbow Incident, a fiction written by Walter Van Tilburg Clark in 1940, is about the 1885 hanging of three men on the western plains by a mob who suspected the three of cattle rustling. Of the accused, only one had any verbal capacity to contest the assertion of guilt. Of the remaining two, one was a Mexican who spoke no English, and the other was so mentally challenged he was incoherent. Regardless of the first fellow’s protestations, he was not believed. After all, the cattle bore the Kincaid brand, and they had no bill of sale.
Later, when Kincaid shows up, he shows up aghast; aghast because he had indeed sold the cattle to the now three very dead men.
The point that was unmistakable by any who read the tale was that terrible injustice is frequently the product in the presence of a mob mentality that doesn’t care much about evidence. Believing is sufficient.
Unfortunately, as is the case at least as often as it is not, while we grasp a principle in our guts when it’s presented in a manner that doesn’t allow for much equivocation, we ignore it entirely in our daily lives. (As an aside, religion would not be possible were we to demand evidence any of its essentials are backed by palpable evidence.)
But none of that adequately challenges the assumption that evidence does — or certainly ought to — matter. And that is precisely where I failed, and this is where I hope to amend the trespass.
As a consequent justification why electing a Democrat to the presidency is now essential, some time ago I railed against the direction the present Supreme Court had taken. To append ‘conservative’ as a prefix to Supreme does injustice to the term conservative. This court is so radically outside any standard norm of justice that ‘kangaroo’ seems appropriate. Recitation of the following case and the Court’s decision is evidence I should have provided.
Lilly Ledbetter v Goodyear Tire and Rubber Company concerned wage discrimination in violation of Title VII, and the improper, inequitable payment of wages based solely on the fact she was a woman.. Defendant Goodyear did not argue that Ms. Ledbetter had been paid less than her male counterparts doing the same or similar work, or that she was paid less solely because of her gender. Rather, their argument, upheld by the Court, was that the statutory 180-day filing period in which Plaintiff should have filed for redress had expired.
Here’s the kicker, however: It was only by dint of an anonymous letter to the plaintiff, received just prior to her retirement, that she even suspected she had been paid less than her male coworkers in the plant.
None of that mattered to our present Supreme Court. It didn’t matter that she had no effective way of knowing what other employees were being paid, that she was being paid substantially less because she was a woman. It didn’t matter that Goodyear had a strict policy that prohibited employees from discussing “personnel matters.” It didn’t matter that established law sets the date when tolling commences as the later of when the offense occurred or when the aggrieved party became aware of the offense. It didn’t matter that Goodyear knowingly violated a federal statute. It didn’t matter that Goodyear didn’t dispute the assertion it had violated federal law.
What mattered was that Goodyear Tire and Rubber was a corporation, and that Lilly Ledbetter . . . Well, there you have it.
But why should this matter to us? Why should we put this front and center before any of our associates who might be or are leaning GOP? Number 1, because it is just so incredibly wrong, what the Court has become, and what it will remain, if any of either Mitt Romney or John McCain’s iterations on the kinds of justices they would nominate are to be believed, which I believe 100%. Number 2, if you don’t care about Number 1, because this brand of justice just might be the kind you or your kids receive, if it happens you or they are so unfortunate as to need to seek justice. And I use the term ‘justice’ completely tongue-in-cheek.— Ed Tubbs