Saturday, September 13, 2008

Madalyn Murray O'Hair v. Michael Newdow:

Michael Newdow, the atheist who got the 9th Circuit to scrap "under God" from the Pledge of Allegiance, has been compared to a modern day Madalyn Murray O'Hair; but I think the comparison is inapt. They do have similarities. Obviously their atheist activism. Plus both are (were) intelligent, capable of well arguing their case.

However, when it comes to their personalities, the two are the difference between night and day. O'Hair was unlikable, clownish and obnoxious and got off on mocking and prodding her enemies with her abrasive personality. See the following clips:

Newdow, on the other hand, has an extremely mild mannered, affable and reasonable sounding personality. Indeed, O'Hair may have been smart, but Newdow (an ER doctor AND a lawyer) is brilliant. When he argued his case before the Supreme Court, Newdow handled himself like a litigatory virtuoso. Lawyers who are that good in front of the Supreme Court make millions in the private sector as appellate advocates. Perhaps, in this sense, Michael Newdow is like Princeton ethics professor Pete Singer: His brilliance in favor of a very extreme position is itself irritating and to many folks somewhat unsettling.

Here is a clip of Newdow in action:

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