Do Justices Feel Shame?
A conclusion to be drawn from “The Assault of the Super PACs,” by John Nichols and Robert W. McChesney [Feb. 6], is that we have lost the right to criticize military dictatorships around the world. They thrive on the power of guns; we thrive on the power of money. I wonder if the Supreme Court justices who gave us Citizens United ever feel a sense of remorse. This ruling may be the cause of an unsuitable person being elected to the presidency. Do these justices even care?
The Met Found Wanting
New York City
In “The Wicked Art of Caricature,” his review [Feb. 6] of the Met’s exhibition of masterpieces of that art, called “Infinite Jest,” Edward Sorel is justifiably upset. He points out that “the entire twentieth century is represented by a pitifully small group,” about a half-dozen artists, and he finds it “maddening” that the incomparable David Levine, though featured in the show’s subtitle, “Caricature and Satire From Leonardo to Levine,” is represented by only a single drawing.
But beyond “maddening,” I felt outraged when I reached the end of the exhibit and realized that I had not seen even one drawing by Sorel himself. The curators excluded him, one of the twentieth century’s all-time greatest satirist/caricaturists—an omission that boggles my mind and defies explanation (although I’d be amused to hear one from the Met). Sorel, gentleman that he is, doesn’t mention this in his review. So I do, here.
Can Congress Feel Our Pain?
I loved James Lardner’s “Let’s Get Congress Working” [Feb. 6]. He does a wonderful job of describing the dysfunctional nature of our most important branch of government, Congress, and of suggesting changes. Everything was on target.
But Congress has no incentive to fix itself or the election system—Lardner’s poll numbers make it clear that the citizenry understand this. Maybe Lardner’s obvious talent could be turned toward helping us understand how activists can use the constitutional amendment to forge a solution—something to give the Occupy movement a focus.
Eyewitnesses: Not 20/20
The misidentification of criminal defendants is every bit as bad as Patricia Williams describes [“Diary of a Mad Law Professor,” Feb. 6], and it was discredited well before Sacco and Vanzetti. In the late nineteenth century, as psychology was being recognized as a scientific discipline, a lecturer staged an incident: a person dashed in from a side door, screamed something and was followed in a few seconds by a group of people. All disappeared through another door.
The audience of students—intelligent, motivated, mostly young and possessed of good eyesight—were asked to describe what happened. Of fifty people, some thirty-five different accounts emerged of the number of participants, their age, sex, hair color, clothing—you name it. This experiment has been repeated many times, with similar results. Given that crimes rarely take place in college classrooms but in dark alleys or dimly lit bars or shops, what chance does a defendant stand if a court disallows expert testimony about perception and recall?