Scalia: Nothing is Unprecedented

June 5th, 2015

Justice Scalia gave an anti-speech at his granddaughter’s HS graduation, rejecting all the common cliches that plague commencement ceremonies. One of them hit close to home:

As they and others listened, Scalia parsed a litany of stock phrases, melding them with his own advice. He first took issue with the oft-expressed sentiment that “we face unprecedented challenges.”

“Class of 2015, you should not leave Stone Ridge High School thinking that you face challenges that are at all, in any important sense, unprecedented,” he said. “Humanity has been around for at least some 5,000 years or so, and I doubt that the basic challenges as confronted are any worse now, or alas even much different, from what they ever were.”

He’s right. The older I get, the more I realize that nothing is new. For example, when I think I have a new idea, it turns out Richard Epstein wrote about it already. (This has happened at least three times).