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  • Writer's pictureD. Randall Faro

Bad Any Way You Slice It

In courtroom trials, lawyers have some say in the selection of jurors. They have a number of premptory challenges which can be used without explanation to exclude a prospective candidate. They can also argue for the exclusion of other candidates if there is good cause . . . for instance, if the accused is African-American and the prospective juror is a former KKK member. Every lawyer strives for a jury that he/she believes will be more likely to lean toward his/her side of the case.

In Sycamore Row by John Grisham a Mississippi trial is tainted by distinct racial overtones. The lawyer representing the Caucasian contestants says as he and his cohorts examine the jury pool: “The more racist the better.”

An extremely unhealthy percentage of Americans today embrace that slogan. Pinning down an exact number would be a challenge for the bean counters, but it’s there in too large of a percent no matter what the total. The media, of course, plays it up . . . but for good reason.

Notwithstanding actual practices too often to the contrary, intrinsic to the American experiment is the equal value of every human being. The Declaration of Independence and the U.S. Constitution affirm the intrinsic worth of every human being regardless of race, ethnicity, or religious (or lack thereof) persuasion. This mindset intends mutual respect between peoples with differing ideologies, philosophies, and theologies.

Patrick Henry was fond of quoting the British writer Evelyn Beatrice Hall: “I disapprove of what you say, but I will defend to the death your right to say it.” That’s a horse of a different color from, “Say only what I want to hear or get the hell out of town.”

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