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Having just posted on the curious ransacking of the office of Siegelman’s attorney, I just want to make clear that I am in no way suggesting that the forces involved with the Siegelman prosecution had anything to do with this or any of the other curious goings-on in Alabama. After all, we know that Karl Rove was in Hershey, Pennsylvania through the weekend.
But it is worth considering – would people who committed the sorts of crimes that went on in court all the way through the Siegelman prosecution hesitate for even a second about a petty burglary? On this point, Thomas de Quincey put it very well in his little essay Murder Considered as one of the Fine Arts (1827):
If once a man indulges himself in murder, very soon he comes to think little of robbing; and from robbing he comes next to drinking and Sabbath-breaking, and from that to incivility and procrastination.
And the next thing you know, he’ll be putting his commas outside the quotation marks. And with that, all human civilization will collapse.
More from Scott Horton:
Six Questions — October 18, 2014, 8:00 pm
Nathaniel Raymond on CIA interrogation techniques.
I recently spent a semester teaching writing at an elite liberal-arts college. At strategic points around the campus, in shades of yellow and green, banners displayed the following pair of texts. The first was attributed to the college’s founder, which dates it to the 1920s. The second was extracted from the latest version of the institution’s mission statement:
The paramount obligation of a college is to develop in its students the ability to think clearly and independently, and the ability to live confidently, courageously, and hopefully.
Let us take a moment to compare these texts. The first thing to observe about the older one is that it is a sentence. It expresses an idea by placing concepts in relation to one another within the kind of structure that we call a syntax. It is, moreover, highly wrought: a parallel structure underscored by repetition, five adverbs balanced two against three.
Percentage of Britons who cannot name the city that provides the setting for the musical Chicago:
An Australian entrepreneur was selling oysters raised in tanks laced with Viagra.
A naked man believed to be under the influence of LSD rammed his pickup truck into two police cars.
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“Shelby is waiting for something. He himself does not know what it is. When it comes he will either go back into the world from which he came, or sink out of sight in the morass of alcoholism or despair that has engulfed other vagrants.”