I really, really dislike the song Imagine by John Lennon. The lyrics dream of a world with no “heaven,” no “countries,” no “religion,” and no “possession.” No thank you–I like building block of society each very much. A world without property would lead to rampant “hunger,” for it is “greed” that motivates the butcher and baker. I’m sure Justice Scalia agrees.
In remarks in New Orleans the Senior Associate Justice called his colleagues Dreamers who wish they lived in a world with a very different Constitution that the one we have, and make it so.
For instance, he gave the audience a text to reflect upon. He said those old enough to remember Robert F. Kennedy’s 1968 campaign for president might remember these words: “Some men see things as they are and say, ‘Why?’ I dream things that never were and say, ‘Why not?'”
Using that as a framework, Scalia characterized many of his court colleagues as dreamers who see things as they never were–and the U.S. Constitution as it really wasn’t.
The Times-Picayune add this commentary:
It is a lofty sentiment on its surface, Scalia said, but the implications are dark, particularly in the context of the original quote, which comes from a play by George Bernard Shaw.
In the play, Scalia said, the line was spoken by a serpent and addressed to a woman named Eve.
According to Bartelby, the original Shaw quote was slightly different than Kennedy’s version, which was actually first used by JFK before RFK, and later by Ted Kennedy.
AUTHOR: George Bernard Shaw (1856–1950)
QUOTATION: You see things; and you say “Why?” But I dream things that never were; and I say “Why not?”
ATTRIBUTION: GEORGE BERNARD SHAW, Back to Methuselah, act I, Selected Plays with Prefaces, vol. 2, p. 7 (1949). The serpent says these words to Eve.
President John F. Kennedy quoted these words in his address to the Irish Parliament, Dublin, June 28, 1963.—Public Papers of the Presidents of the United States: John F. Kennedy, 1963, p. 537.
Senator Robert F. Kennedy used a similar quotation as a theme of his 1968 campaign for the presidential nomination: “Some men see things as they are and say, why; I dream things that never were and say, why not.” Senator Edward M. Kennedy quoted these words of Robert Kennedy’s in his eulogy for his brother in 1968.—The New York Times, June 9, 1968, p. 56.