Quotes are very much in the news lately. The great pop artist of the '60s, Andy Warhol, was reputed to have said: "In the future, everyone will be famous for 15 minutes."
What is not as well known is that Warhol himself disavowed that quote, claiming that what he really said was: "In the future, every 15 minutes, someone new will become famous."
It is an interesting and provocative point of difference. But either way, the implication is the same: Anyone and everyone, whether bigot or buffoon, whether brilliant or brain-dead, will be free to speak their opinions aloud; and for a few fleeting moments, the rest of the world will be free to enjoy what they have to say.
And so in recent days we have been treated to the verbal droppings of a few of society's more gyroscopically-challenged individuals. We have L.A. Clippers owner Donald Sterling, caught on tape advising a female associate not to associate with blacks or be seen with blacks. We have Nevada rancher Cliven Bundy speculating about whether "negroes might have been better off as slaves." And we have the former governor of Alaska, Mama Grizzly herself, Sarah Pailin, declaring that "waterboarding is how we baptize terrorists."
A sad and sorry footnote is that there are literally millions of people in this country who agree with those sentiments and applaud the folks who voiced them aloud.
But those people bring to mind yet another noteworthy quote, possibly but not officially, attributed to George Bernard Shaw: It is better to keep one's mouth shut and be thought a fool, than to open it and remove all doubt.