… is from Butler Shaffer’s July 1st, 2013, essay “‘The Extremists Are Coming; The Extremists Are Coming!’“:
If, on one occasion, a police officer brutalizes a harmless individual, does that mean that a police-state has arisen? No, but intelligent minds should recognize that such totalitarian consequences are implicit in such an act, and should respond accordingly. I am reminded of that powerful scene at the end of the movie, Judgment at Nuremberg. Judge Haywood (played by Spencer Tracy) has been called to the jail cell of the Nazi judge (played by Burt Lancaster) who has just been given a life sentence for his crimes. The convicted judge tells Judge Haywood: “Those people, those millions of people. . . I never knew it would come to that.” Judge Haywood replies: “it ‘came to that’ the first time you sentenced a man to death you knew to be innocent.”
DBx: Butler Shaffer passed away yesterday. Emeritus Professor of Law at Southwestern Law School in Los Angeles, Butler was an eloquent champion of society ordered by peaceful accommodation rather than by coercion. Some would call him an extremist; I call him deeply principled.
I didn’t know Butler well, but I very much enjoyed the handful of times that I spent in his company. (I first encountered his work through his insight-filled 1975 article “Violence as a Product of Imposed Order.“) He will be missed.