One Might Almost Say Shrill

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May 29, 2009 12:04 a.m.
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“Some lawyers just don’t like to be questioned by a woman. It was sexist, plain and simple.” — Judge Guido Calabresi, Judge Sotomayor’s colleague on the 2nd Circuit Court of Appeals, on suggestions that her tough questioning from the bench suggests a problem with her ‘temperament.’

This is from an article in the Times with the headline “Sotomayor’s Sharp Tongue Raises Issue of Temperament.” It’s by Jo Becker and Adam Liptak, two of the best, though I’m personally more familiar with Becker’s work since it’s been in areas where I’ve done reporting too.

Read the article. It is, I think, an example where the headline is not quite borne out by the article itself and where — choosing my words carefully — the ‘both-sides’ imperative of conventional newspaper journalism made lead to placing two unequal arguments on equal terms. The piece itself reads like Sotomayor is tough and can be intellectually combative and that her gender leads some to describe those qualities in, shall we say, much less flattering terms. Compare to Scalia. Give it a read. I’d be curious to know what you think.

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