Monday, October 07, 2013
It takes a special kind of character to be a professional naysayer, to be the one who stands to the side and throws verbal bombs into arguments. Justice Antonin Scalia is one of those on the Supreme Court. He comes from a tradition of justices who are out of step with the rest of the court. Associate Justice William O. Douglas was one of those who for 36 years took minority positions and wrote dissents. One wonders from a reputational point of view if they would have better served by going along some of the time rather than saying no. They would argue that opposing views have a right to be heard and should be heard whether one loses or not. It is an odd position to be in -- a stalwart minority reconciled to secondary status but still vigorous in its defense of its views. Public relations doesn't have a category for that kind of person. Practitioners are trained to listen to stakeholders carefully and to appease them if at all possible. There isn't room for a professional to say, "Hell no" time and again. The Supreme Court tolerates them and to some degree celebrates contrarians. There is a lesson there.