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Do You Know Who Dred Scott Is?

This video is both funny and sad. I just came across a news article about New Jersey's 3rd congressional district Republican nominee Jon Runyan who blurted out (hopefully unknowingly) a pretty uneducated response about the 1857 Dred Scott Decision, which he understood to be much more recent.

Poor guy. Here's the excerpt:

On Tuesday night Runyan debated his Democratic opponent, Rep. John Adler, when the subject of the Supreme Court came up. Uh oh.

ADLER: "Jon, it's a different branch of government, but can you give me an example from the last 10 or 15 years of a Supreme Court decision in which you strongly disagree?"

RUNYAN: "That I strongly disagree with?" Runyan clarified, pausing before considering his final answer. "Dred Scott," Runyan responded, drawing laughter from the audience.

Adler then noted that the Dred Scott Decision was from 1857, and thus was not "within the past 10 or 15 years." So he posed the question again. Runyan did not respond.

Do you know who Dred Scott Is (hint: was)?

At the same time this former NFL player was making this unfortunate political mistake, a miniature sculpture of Dred and Harriet Scott was being unveiled at Busch Stadium, commemorating one man's determination to be free (see "Dred Scott v. Sanford" for more, including a little history lesson).

Here's lessons #1, folks: Know a little bit of history. It will make you look like less of an idiot in the long run.

Lesson #2: How you communicate your message affects the integrity of the message itself. In other words, the medium matters. What Runyan was trying to communicate was — "I disagree with the decision to over-rule a human being's right to not be enslaved by another person" — was lost because of how it was communicated.