This little detail from a letter from Judge John Roll’s wife stuck out:
As a family, we received hundreds of cards and letters expressing condolences and prayers. These expressions of concern included a card from the person from Supercuts who has cut my husband’s hair for the last 19 years. She said he was the nicest man she ever knew.
Every account I’ve read of the man’s life, up until the last moment where he probably saved another man’s life and sacrificed his own, indicates that he was an extraordinarily fine person and a hell of a contrast to the crass, materialistic notion of heroism that’s gaining currency.
As little as I like the crass materialists, I don’t think they’re pushing the notion that what they’re accomplishing is heroic so much as the notion that making boatloads of money is the one unambiguous way of keeping score of who’s worth the most to society. That’s not a notion you or I agree with at all, but thinking that money equals prestige and accomplishment is not the same as thinking money equals heroism. Some masters of the universe might think that a really risky financial move that pays off enormously is taking a “heroic” risk, but that’s not quite the same as equating money and heroism directly, because it’s still the ballsiness of the move that’s being toasted by that term, not the monetary accomplishment itself, though obviously such people also value the monetary reward as marking worth to society. Again, I’m not agreeing with that viewpoint, just explaining it.
@cmorenc: Well, let me put it this way: they also have a twisted theory of human goodness that calls it “good” to be as greedy as possible and hope that their greed generates a trickle-down effect. Roll, in contrast, operated on a more pedestrian theory of the good, where good works, public service and respecting the humanity of others are important.
Oh, we’ll get and have already gotten military cuts, don’t worry.
But I’m willing to bet those cuts will be to support services like the VA, psychological care, or armor for the soldiers, any Veterans related stuff, retirement of non-high ranked soldiers. But very few if any cuts will be made to military contractors with ties to powerful congressmen or to projects initiated by those with similar ties.
Let me point out that when it comes to military cuts, it’s the service men that get left out in the cold. And who cuts them more than any other group? Conservatives. Republicans.
It’s not that we don’t need a military. It’s that we need one less dominated by the huge military industrial complex and more that we do need one dominated by how service men can be of actual service and how we can take care of them afterward for their sacrifice. As with any group, if you want one driven by corporations, you’ll get a use them up system that cares only about what they can use their employees for while they are employed at the cheapest cost and screw anything afterward. If our military were less corporate based now and more personnel based we might actually use them for what is needed, like helping urban areas before, during and after a hurricane. We would not re-up them against there will into an illegal war thus making them unavailable for needs here in there home country.
I agree mistermix. “Extraordinarily fine person” and “nicest man she ever knew” are pretty damn good epitaphs.
A few years after my dad died, I met a woman who, it turned out, used to tend bar at a place he and his friends went. When she asked how he was doing and I replied that he had passed away some years earlier, she covered her face with her hands for a moment, and then said to me “he was the greatest guy!”.
I was never more proud to be his daughter….
@mistermix: “twisted theory of human goodness” I agree with. IMHO it’s important to not twist the correct meaning of terms when referring to people whose actions or values we regard as repugnant, tempting though that is while attempting to paint a just criticism of them. For another example, I recall lots of people describing suicide bombers as “cowardly”, because that’s such a temptingly derogatory term, when they’re anything but that. They’re evil demented psychopaths, but anyone willing to die for some cause is not a coward, even though the cause and method are sick, sadistic, and demented (all bona fide derogatory traits).
Let’s just call people who have a twisted notion that wealth and earning power == worth to society “selfish sociopathic assholes”, which is far more accurately what they’re about than asserting that they’re claiming heroic status for themselves thereby, though doubtless there may be some Galtians here and there who are making that sort of extra claim about themselves.
Speaking of “selfish sociopathic assholes”, I was equally upset by the TPM reader comment from a vet in Gifford’s district who was shopping in Costco on the same day of the shooting and overheard two women discussing how the governor could now appoint a Republican to Gifford’s seat and wasn’t that a good thing.
I prefer “selfish, sociopathic, assholish parasites.” Because that is exactly what they are. They feed on the rest of our society, taking all life from everything and everyone they touch, even in the most peripheral way.
@debbie: Under ordinary circumstances, I would say that story sounds like a fabrication. But the assholery has been running so strong these days, it’s really hard to say any more.
Please tell me the TPM reader had the courage and decency to tell those women to go fuck themselves.
he just sounds like he was a real public servant.
Five years ago, I read one of the most smug, self-satisfied chest-thumping articles EVAR from a GOP blogger called “Tribes,” explaining that his “tribe” (conservatives) were heroic rugged manly heroes who went around protecting society, while the other “tribe” (liberals) was composed of pretty, delicate little sheep who had to be protected for their own good. (The author had done nothing in his life but work at a Hollywood studio and then get a “job” prattling on for PJTV, but naturally, he considered himself one of the hero tribe just the same. Funny how that works).
Every time I see an act of heroism in real life and it seems to be coming from someone he’d label a “sheep” (e.g. this)… I find myself wondering how the author and his Galt-worshipping audience react on the inside, where their small, pathetic selves remain buried under all the macho facade.
Rest in peace, Judge John Roll. Here’s to you, and to a day when society finally knows which heroes deserve its respect.
I Googled to see if there’d been any follow-up. Turns out I’d sourced it incorrectly. (Sorry.) It was from Sullivan and here’s the quote (which answers your question):
I’d probably have been too outraged to speak too.
Crap. Here’s the full quote from Sullivan:
I am standing in the aisle at Costco when I found out my Congresswomen, Gabrielle Giffords, has been shot dead up on the north side.
While I’m scrambling with my phone, two couples in front of me are talking about it and suddenly I hear one of the women say, “Well, that’s to be expected when you’re so liberal.”
And the other woman says, “Ohh, so we get to appoint a Republican?”
I did not trust myself to speak. I’m a Soldier. Please remind me what country I am fighting for? At least seven people are dead. She happens to be the only member of Congress married to an active duty military — he’s a Navy officer serving as an astronaut.
Thanks for the link, Debbie. Unbelievable.
It sounds like he was very grounded person who just happened to be a federal judge. The first thing I saw on Ballon Juice today was the story about Limbaugh. All I can think is what a contrast.
I remember when Limbaugh went into rehab. Some expert on the radio posited how he thought this would change him makedly, felt he would be more open-minded, less judgmental, without saying seemed to think it would make him a better person.
As John Stewart would say “Nailed it”.
that assumes there’s a soul hiding underneath all that hate. there ain’t.
OT: last chance to get in on this Name That Tune!
Judge Roll left this plane with some powerful karma, and his compassionate instinct is a poke in the eye to everything these teatards stand for. Maybe his death will make a difference. The universe works in mysterious ways.
Judge Roll’s death is a loss to the country as well as to his community.
I really wish someone “connected” would pass this anecdote on to Beck or Limbaugh and ask them to comment on the lack of relation of violence to their bile.
That’s half ordinary war propaganda, but the other half is just deliberate liberal-baiting. Because it’s so obviously false (and there are dozens of epithets you could use for suicide bombers while still being accurate), they’re just begging for some people like you and me to make the same point you just made so they can start screaming “OH MY GOD ARE YOU ACTUALLY DEFENDING SUICIDE BOMBERS? WHOSE SIDE ARE YOU ON!” – and the way it’ll be remembered is, indeed, “liberal defends suicide bomber.”
See Bill Maher and “Politically Incorrect” for an instructive example.
@satby: I can certainly identify with that sentiment, it happens to me whenever I go and get my hair cut. I get told by my dad’s barber that he misses him every time he sees me and reminds me of the impact that my father had on his store and his life. I think its these quiet contributions that we make on each other’s life that truly matter and make us a society more than some pundit wafting poetically about political coup counting.
I’m trying to think of something pithy to say, but I can’t. Judge John Roll should be held up as an example of heroism and sacrifice, but his actions go against the overwhelming human instinct to preserve oneself and all of this objectivist bullshit about how selfishness is a virtue.
I’ve made many an attempt to engage in an intellectual debate with objectivists, but it’s just impossible. If you tried to argue the virtue of Judge John Roll to them, the only thing you’d get is mindless dribble about how you just don’t get the argument because you won’t acknowledge that “existence exists” and “A = A.”
I kind of wish Hume would come back from the dead and bitch-slap those assholes.
My grandfather was a long time Judge and an alcoholic. He was a founder of AA in his home town. In the 50’s he started, with the help of the county sheriff, an AA program in the county jail. In those days it was “thirty days for public intoxication”, many of the drunks were repeat offenders with families, most of them had jobs and when in jail things were hard on for their wives and kids. Gramps invented a work release program, so these guys could work and earn their pay and sleep in the jail at night, He made sure the paychecks went to their families. (I used to make the check deliveries with him) At his funeral, his “drunks”, now dry, and their families were so emotional about his passing, I kept hearing things like, “he saved our family”, “I wouldn’t know my children if it wasn’t for him”. Several of them took care of my Gram’s house and yard, did repairs and watched out for her for the rest of her life. He was a great role model and man just like Judge Roll. Good to know there are people like that in the world, isn’t it?
I certainly hope this story gets a lot of play. First of all, because our society needs to reconnect with the idea that heroism is about selfless sacrifice. Judge Roll is a true hero.
On a more political level, the Senate GOP has spent two years blocking an ungodly number of qualified candidates for the federal judiciary. A little publicity about this issue with the public would be smart politics in 2011. It could be presented in a non-partisan way, since the hero Judge Roll was appointed by a Republican.
If only a high profile Democrat had an opportunity to discuss hero judges and the obstruction of judicial nominations to the entire nation…
@piratedan: You’re damned straight. As in the Great Depression, the real heroes were the ones trying to hold their family, friends, and communities together against all odds.
As a scientist fresh out of a postdoc in D.C., my “holy grail” is a job over 100K. Why? I live on a postdoc’s salary well enough, even in Maryland. It’s to try and help my fiance get her Bachelor’s. To pay down my debts. And to help my mother.
I dunno if I’d call that heroism, but I wish a whole lot more people would do it.
a telling detail: He was a loyal customer to a person who held her same job for 19 years. They have talked to one another for two decades. A loss of staggering proportions in everyday lives.
That’s my America.
So the Republicans appoint one good judge, and then their Beck and Palin influenced fringe groupy murders him. I hope the irony does not escape them.
I wonder what these people think about Judge Roll. I wonder if any of those making threats have had a change of heart?
I sure hope so.
mistermix, I came here via Atrios, but son, I am disappoint.
A man died here. Please don’t turn everything into a win/lose, zero sum game. It makes YOU the crass asshole, and today, Atrios as well.
Just acknowledge his act of heroism, maybe say, that’s an act you’d like to know you’re capable of.
Don’t diminish it by turning his act of heroism into your blog game of oneupsmanship. Your game of revenge at Ayn Rand.
Okay, you can go fuck yourself now.
He really does sound like a great guy. In fact I’m glad that, after the political flummery, attention was paid to those who were shot and those who saved them. I liked the memorial as I got to know these people, and it reminded me there’s so many good people everywhere. We don’t see it because now and then a few a$$es do dumb stuff and we focus on them.
The only reason the Galtian overlords can flounce around is a lot of far more decent people do the hard work – and make hard choices.
Jay in Oregon
Anyone else remember the American Family Association press release where Bryan Fischer whined that the Medal of Honor was being “feminized” because it was being awarded to people who saved lives as opposed to taking them?
This. The real Invisible Hand is all the good people doing the hard work so the Galtians can take the credit.
That is a wonderful account of someone who should be a role model for all of us. Thanks for sharing it.
John Galt, Atlas Shrugged.
SweetNostrils, fka Scuffletuffle
@anon: WTF? At least try to make sense, or, better yet, just piss off!
@Jay in Oregon:
When I first read those remarks, I thought that asshole is lucky Col. David Hackworth isn’t around any more. In his book, “Steel My Soldiers’ Hearts”, Hack wrote about the heroics of the Medics, Docs and GIs who risked their lives for their buddies. Brian Fischer is a moron. (moran?)
@debbie: I wish I was surprised. I really wish I was surprised. These people. You think an actual shooting would inspire some sense of compassion and human decency. If this was when we were first hearing about it, I wonder how awful they felt when a 9yo was killed instead, if they’re even capable. Family friends were at the movies and heard something similar. Now, they’re die-hard Republicans (even Glenn Beck viewers!) but they were unbelievably appalled, as all decent people would be.
But Judge Roll really was an incredible man. I met him only briefly but he made such an impression because he was very kind, very generous, very supportive, very encouraging. You’d never know he was a federal judge, let alone the Chief Judge for the District of Arizona. He was very proud of the legal profession and of his community, and was always giving back. He made time to talk to people–really talk to them. That it looks like he saved Ron Barber’s life–well, it really isn’t a surprise. It’s such a huge loss and he will be missed.
I’m also hoping the local community can live up to what Mrs. Roll wrote at the end of her letter (thank you for linking it here; I’m afraid I would have missed it otherwise):
It reminds me of this:
Only, you know, with Rolls instead of Rogers.
And it’s a kind of scary world. How much is that valued? How much do people think “wouldn’t it be amazing to be so friendly, kind, nice, that even the person who cuts your hair thinks you’re wonderful?”
How many people would rather be a Beck, a Coulter, or a Limbaugh, rather than a quiet, beloved Rolls?
You’re too kind. The fat cats aren’t even hoping for the trickle-down effect.
West of the Cascades
Judge Roll seems like the archtype of the sort of judge that the Republicans often used to appoint (under GHW Bush and even under Reagan) – extraordinarily competent, moderately conservative but not ideologically doctrinaire. Good people, not venal people (like 9th Circuit judge Jay Bybee who defended the legality of torturing people) and judges who lead with their ideology instead of the law and/or justice (not always the same thing).
My guess is that if they’re anything like Santorum, they cared a whole lot less for her than they do fetuses. They were more interested in gaining a political advantage than in human decency.
A guy on a sports message board I frequent is an attorney in Phoenix. He says the Judge was very conservative, but also very fair.
@danimal: danimal, one of the reasons Judge Roll was even AT the shopping center that day was to thank Rep Giffords for her efforts pushing for speedier approval of nominees to the Federal judicial court system. The judge was right at the forefront of those trying to make this happen.