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Day 213 (#3): A Case for Brandeis

Anna just called to say she’s being dropped at a big high school where they examine and treat flu victims. She got the name out before they shut off her cell phone. She hasn’t called back.

I’ve heard of the place, but I had to google to find out where and what it is.

POE WOULD HAVE SNEERED AT MY PRIMITIVE PLANS, APPRECIATED MY FERVOR (Frank Zirbel)Not many of New York’s high schools can boast that Edgar Allan Poe is thought to have penned The Raven on the corner. Founded as the High School of Commerce in 1902 and renamed for America’s first Jewish Supreme Court Justice, Louis D. Brandeis High School’s most famous alumnus is Lou Gehrig, the New York Yankees’ Iron Man, whose death was so memorable that they named the disease after him.

Not a good omen for my Iron Angel.

On the other hand, Louis Brandeis (1856-1941) was a magnificent libertarian! He opposed central economic planning, favored individual rights. In 1890 Brandeis began constructing the legal theory for a Constitutional right that we still can't take for granted. In 1928, as a Supreme Court Justice, Brandeis spoke of an American “right of privacy” in a dissent that became law 39 years later, when the Court overturned an earlier ruling he had opposed.

“The greatest dangers to liberty,” he wrote then, “lurk in insidious encroachment by men of zeal, well-meaning but without understanding.”

Why am I googling and posting? I’m waiting to see if the Relenza shows up. Anna needs it instantly.

In 1918 flu patients were warehoused in public buildings, too. They served as rooms with food and water. There was no significant medical equipment, no care beyond that which victims with kin might have found at home. They were places in which to die.

I will not let that happen to Anna.

Here are some choice Brandeis quotes while I chew my fingers and wait to see if the guy I’m waiting for has any honor.

Experience teaches us to be most on our guard to protect liberty when the government's purposes are beneficent.”

Crime is contagious. If the government becomes a lawbreaker, it breeds contempt for law; it invites every man to become a law unto himself; it invites anarchy.”

There’s even one for Hope-Simpson fans: “Publicity is justly commended as a remedy for social and industrial diseases. Sunlight is said to be the best of disinfectants; electric light the most efficient policeman."

How much natural wisdom have we forgotten? In this age of triple antibiotic ointment, how many people suspect that sunlight is a disinfectant? Turns out it’s true,  (as this evangelical Christian Web page about sunlight's wonders explains so eloquently).


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