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You know my friends, there comes a time when people get tired of being trampled by the iron feet of oppression… If we are wrong, the Supreme Court of this nation is wrong. If we are wrong, the Constitution of the United States is wrong. And if we are wrong, God Almighty is wrong. If we are wrong, Jesus of Nazareth was merely a utopian dreamer that never came down to Earth. If we are wrong, justice is a lie, love has no meaning. And we are determined here in Montgomery to work and fight until justice runs down like water, and righteousness like a mighty stream.
–Martin Luther King, Jr., Address to the first Montgomery Improvement Association (MIA) Mass Meeting, at Holt Street Baptist Church, Dec. 5, 1955
Listen to George Frederick Handel’s Coronation Anthem No. 2, composed to the words of Psalms 89:14-15, “Let thy hand be strengthened and thy right hand be exalted./Let justice and judgment be the preparation of thy seat!/Let mercy and truth go before thy face./Let justice, judgment, mercy and truth go before thy face.” Performed here in a 1963 recording by the Choir of King’s College, Cambridge with the English Chamber Orchestra under the direction of Sir David Willcocks. The Psalm and the Anthem mark the sovereign’s paramount duty to dispense justice, however inconvenient or painful this process may be, as the essential task assuring the legitimacy of the state.
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.”