As it often does

“Very early in life, even before the infant can speak, its conduct is constantly being subjected to approval or censure. According to circumstances people are pleased with baby and smile at it, or else frown and leave it to cry, and the very inflections in the voices of those that surround it are alone sufficient to constitute an incessant retribution. During the years that follow, the child is watched over continuously, everything he does and says is controlled, gives rise to encouragement or reproof, and the vast majority of adults still look upon punishment, corporal or otherwise, as perfectly legitimate. It is obviously these reactions on the part of the adult, due generally to fatigue or impatience, but often, too, coldly thought out on his part, it is obviously these adult reactions, we repeat, that are the psychological starting point of the idea of expiatory punishment. If the child felt nothing but fear or mistrust, as may happen in extreme cases, this would simply lead to open war.” – Jean Piaget, The Moral Judgment of the Child (trans. Marjorie Gabain)

You call that equitable

“Distributive justice can be reduced to the ideas of equality or equity. From the point of view of epistemology such notions cannot but be regarded as a priori, if by a priori we mean, not of course an innate idea, but a norm, towards which reason cannot help but tend as it is gradually refined and purified. For reciprocity imposes itself on practical reason as logical principles impose themselves morally on theoretical reason. But from the psychological point of view, which is that of what is, not of what should be, an a priori norm has no existence except as a form of equilibrium. It constitutes the ideal equilibrium towards which the phenomena tend, and the whole question is still to know why, the facts being what they are, their form of equilibrium is such and no other. This last problem, which is of a causal order, must not be confused with the first, which can be solved only by abstract reflection. The two will coincide only when mind and reality become coextensive.” – Jean Piaget, The Moral Judgment of the Child (trans. Marjorie Gabain)

Diogenes as a child

“Cheating is a defensive reaction which our educational systems seem to have wantonly called forth in the pupil. Instead of taking into account the child’s deeper psychological tendencies which urge him to work with others—emulation being in no way opposed to cooperation—our schools condemn the pupil to work in isolation and only make use of emulation to set one individual against another. This purely individualistic system of work, excellent no doubt if the aim of education be to give good marks and prepare the young for examinations, is nothing but a handicap to the formation of reasonable beings and good citizens.” – Jean Piaget, The Moral Judgment of the Child (trans. Marjorie Gabain)

What it is

“America is a great, unwieldy Body. Its Progress must be slow. It is like a large Fleet sailing under Convoy. The fleetest Sailors must wait for the dullest and slowest. Like a Coach and six—the swiftest Horses must be slackened and the slowest quickened, that all may keep an even Pace.” – John Adams letter to Abigail Adams, June 17, 1775

A careful choice of words

“1924, July 26: Dr. Lawrence A. Nixon, a black physician, is turned away from the East El Paso Fire Station when he tries to vote. This sets in place a chain of legal challenges that do not end until they reach the United States Supreme Court.

“1927, March 7: The rights of Dr. Lawrence A. Nixon, a black physician, are vindicated at the United States Supreme Court. Unfortunately, Oliver Wendell Holmes, who wrote the decision, concentrated on ‘equal rights’ and not ‘voting rights.’ So voting rights for blacks were flouted in Texas for a few more years.”

— Leon Metz, El Paso Chronicles

The cooler head prevailed

“1882, May 27: El Paso City Marshal Dallas Stoudenmire meets with the city council to discuss his dismissal. The big marshal walks into the conference room twirling his six shooter and saying, ‘I can straddle every goddamned alderman here.’ The meeting was adjourned.

“May 29: Stoudenmire sobers up and resigns.”

– Leon Metz, El Paso Chronicles

The two-party system

“1871, August 7: The Mesilla riot occurs. As the liquor flowed, Democrats and Republicans paraded in opposite directions around the Mesilla, New Mexico, plaza. A collision took place, and that sparked the fighting. When it ended, nine men lay dead and between 40 and 50 were wounded. No charges were brought.” – Leon Metz, El Paso Chronicles

Salt to die for

“1870, December 7: The Salt War explodes as politicians begin killing each other on the streets of El Paso. Attorney Ben Williams is drinking and ranting in Ben Dowell’s saloon when Colonel Albert Jennings Fountain walks in. Fountain is shot twice, his life saved by a pocket watch stopping one of the bullets. Fountain alerts District Judge Gaylord Clarke and State Police Captain Albert French who pursue Williams into his residence. The door is broken down, and the confrontation moved to the street where Williams kills Judge Clarke with a shotgun. Williams was then slain by Captain French who shot him twice.” – Leon Metz, El Paso Chronicles