Thursday, February 23, 2006

Something for Everyone: Magic Grits and Scalia Bashing

I went this mornng to hear Randy Barnett expound before the UT-Austin Federalist Society on the perhaps-odd subject of whether Antonin Scalia is insufficiently committed to "originalism." Barnett first became known to me as a contributor at the Volokh Conspiracy, then as the losing top litigator on behalf of the plaintiff in Raich v. Ashcroft. That case legitimized federal prosecution of medical marijuana-consuming patients in states where it was otherwise legal - in describing the loss Barnett said that at 6-3 against, his side had "beat the spread."

Anyway, if you're interested in why he thinks Justice Scalia is a big fat sellout, see
his paper on the topic. For purposes of this post, though, I'm pleased to report that when I approached Barnett afterward and mentioned this blog, he was immediately ready with a cultural reference to grits I'd not recalled, a scene from the movie My Cousin Vinny where Joe Pesci uses newfound knowledge of southern cooking to confound a witness who he's personally interrogating on the stand:
Vinny Gambini: How could it take you five minutes to cook your grits when it takes the entire grit-eating world 20 minutes?
Mr. Tipton: Um... I'm a fast cook, I guess.
Vinny Gambini: [across beside the jury] What? I'm sorry I was over there. Did you just say you were a fast cook? Are we to believe that boiling water soaks into a grit faster in your kitchen than any place on the face of the earth?
Mr. Tipton: I don't know.
Vinny Gambini: Perhaps the laws of physics cease to exist on your stove. Were these magic grits? Did you buy them from the same guy who sold Jack his beanstalk beans?
The "entire grit-eating world." :-) You also don't hear folks talk about "a grit" very often. Outstanding. That was worth the cost of admission. Let me know if you're aware of any other good grits-related stories like that.

6 comments:

Terry said...

If I recall correctly, the questioning of the grit-cooking witness boiled down to the fact that the timing of events he described in his testimony could only be accurate if he had been using instant grits - a charge which he adamantly denied. Perjury may be a crime but the use of instant grits was seen as an offense of much greater magnitude.

Anonymous said...

Wow, Scalia-bashing from the RIGHT! That's pretty far out there.

SteveHeath said...

Indeed, the witness in the Vinny trial remarks, "No self-respecting Southener would use Instant Grits", to which everyone in the courtroom including the jury and judge nods their head.


And, no Scott, I'm unable to provide another cultural iconic subreference to Grits that is better than that of My Cousin Vinny.

Gritsforbreakfast said...

"Perjury may be a crime but the use of instant grits was seen as an offense of much greater magnitude."

It's part of the ethos of the South that anything worthwhile takes time and a little patience. Whenever Yankees, Californians or other carpetbagger-types ask me what grits are, I always reply, "Redneck polenta." :)

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