07/09/2013 09:22 am ET Updated Sep 08, 2013

Apparently, Ignorance Really Is Bliss

The AP reported last week that Chief Justice John Roberts lamented how Supreme Court justices ask too many questions during oral arguments. Sometimes they "overdo it," is the way he explained it at a conference of judges and lawyers in West Virginia.

The AP noted that Justice Clarence Thomas has made the same point and has not asked a question in seven years.

Additionally, the Chief Justice of the United States suggested that lawyers should not even answer Justices when bombarded by questions.

Let me repeat that in case your eyes went all kablooey: Chief Justice John Roberts said that he thought lawyers arguing before the Supreme Court shouldn't answer any questions if they were asked too many, too fast -- and Justice Clarence Thomas has taken this a step further, to its logical conclusion by not even asking questions.

If anyone would like to grasp the conservative philosophy in a nutshell -- and I use that word explicitly -- there you have it.

Whether you like conservative philosophy or not, it has long struck me as being based on an unquestioning trust of authority. That's among the reasons conservative hate journalists so much -- because reporters exist to ask questions. It's among the reasons we see GOP elected officials voting lock-step unanimous on so many issues. It's why Ronald Reagan, the godfather of modern conservatism, has said that the 11th Commandment of the Republican Party is "Thou shalt not criticize another Republican." It's also among the reasons that the far-Religious Right is the base of the party. Because so much of religion is based on faith and trust and infallible authority at the top. Thou shalt not question. Though shalt believe.

And so we see it carried to its shameful, illogical conclusion in perhaps the one branch of the United States government as created by the Constitution where argument and questioning is not only essential, but at its very core.

To have a Supreme Court where questions aren't asked, and if too many accidentally sneak through then they shouldn't be answered, is a mockery of democracy. And that this is postulated by the Chief Justice of that very institution is a disgrace.

Just accept what the lawyers tell you and try to figure it out without asking. That's the intellectual curiosity being passed down as a lesson to Americans.

This is known as The Ostrich Factor, for how to live life. Stick your head in the sand, and the rest of the world doesn't exist. Head straight for the ocean floor and exist happily as a bottom feeder, sustaining yourself on the dregs left by others.

Robert Kennedy once famously said, "Some people see things as they are and ask why. I see things as they can be and ask, why not?"

And some people just don't ask.


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