John Lennon vs. Justice Alito

You-are-not-cool_1260_1012_80Brian E. Gray at The Morning News:

There is a poignant scene in Cameron Crowe’s film Almost Famous in which the rock critic Lester Bangs warns 15-year-old William Miller of the perils of seduction by the musicians Miller is covering for Rolling Stone magazine. Banks (played by Philip Seymour Hoffman) says to Miller (Patrick Fugit portraying a young Cameron Crowe):

“They make you feel cool. And, hey, I’ve met you. You are not cool.”

This profound advice extends well beyond the worlds of rock ‘n roll and music criticism. All writers should take heed of Bangs’s insight that trying to be cool when you simply aren’t risks muddling one’s clarity of observation and analysis and jeopardizes credibility with readers. Journalists, historians, novelists, academics, judges—perhaps especially judges—should take note.

I recalled this scene while reading the two most recent opinions of Justice Samuel Alito, the Supreme Court’s junior member. Justice Alito wrote the opinion of the Court inPleasant Grove City v. Summon, which held that a local government does not violate the first amendment by maintaining a monument to the Ten Commandments in a public park while refusing to install other permanent monuments that express differing religious views.

more here.