Maybe he bumped his head on the way into the studio, or ran into MSNBC's, Toure, who slipped him a refreshingly cool race-bait mint.
Whatever the case, from the mouth of bright and gifted Marc Lamont Hill came words so irresponsible, they border on the obscene.
As part of a CNN panel commenting on the story of rogue cop, Christopher Dorner, the Columbia professor, and frequent O'Reilly Factor foil, offered this assessment, "...It's like Django Unchained -- in real life. It's kind of exciting!"
Django Unchained, of course, refers to the latest Tarantino flick, in which a black man forges a bloody path to avenge injustices experienced as a slave. Yes, slave. Christopher Dorner was a member of the U.S. Navy Reserve, and an officer in the LAPD. But, maybe one man's profession is another's plantation.
In a matter of syllables, Hill power-flushed the credibility of his earlier disclaimer, leaping from it like an odious constraint, "Don't get me wrong -- killing innocent people...was bad -- but..." He seemed in a big hurry to get to the, "...but..."
Maverick philosopher, William Vallicella, cites as a basic function of philosophy, its capacity to correct bad philosophy. The logic fundamental to that role is all but absent in Hill's excitement. The result is untenable and unacceptable.
Dr. Hill obviously regards Dorner a victim of systemic racial injustice. And he may have been. But, one uneasy fact, unaddressed by the panel, is that Dorner's first victims were a couple -- a young black male, and a young Asian-American woman. It appears the woman's sole offense was being the daughter of the Asian-American police captain who represented Dorner in the proceedings that ended his LAPD career.
These young members of racial minorities, slaughtered as they sat in a parked car, are what then -- a necessary expense in the calculus of Dorner's redress? Exciting!
The one "square" on the CNN panel urged her colleagues to remember that, "...We have the law...we have the law...!" Her point was perhaps a bit arcane for the quick-to-correct professor who inveighed, "Not if the law is broken!"
Tonight, in my neck of the woods, A Man For All Seasons happens to be on TV. In one scene, Thomas More, defending the role of law to his daughter's excitable suitor, exhorts him to recognize a point vital to this discussion:
William Roper: So, now you give the Devil the benefit of law!
Sir Thomas More: Yes! What would you do? Cut a great road through the law to get after the Devil?
William Roper: Yes, I'd cut down every law in England to do that!
Sir Thomas More: Oh? And when the last law was down, and the Devil turned 'round on you, where would you hide, Roper, the laws all being flat? This country is planted thick with laws, from coast to coast. Man's laws, not God's! And if you cut them down, and you're just the man to do it, do you really think you could stand upright in the winds that would blow then? Yes, I'd give the Devil benefit of law, for my own safety's sake!
If I thought Marc Lamont Hill would watch, I'd gladly send him the DVD.
Every life that ended violently in the course of Christopher Dorner's calibrated rampage -- his own included -- constitutes not just a crime, but a blasphemy.
If early reports prove true, Dorner burned to ash before a viewing audience of millions that may have included his mother, who allegedly watched from a restaurant in Orange County -- sipping white wine, accompanied by chips and salsa. Exciting!
If any of this can be construed a feature of the so-called, "new normal," may I say: Evil desires each of us equally -- without regard to race, gender, color or creed.
It ain't new, and it will never be normal.