There is nothing noble in being superior to your fellow men. True nobility lies in being superior to your former self.
The moral authority of our most cherished institutions comes from their voluntary nature: the value of advice from a priest, a teacher or a loved one depends in large part on the fact that we are free to ignore it. But judges' pieces of 'advice' are court orders, enforceable ultimately by the raw physical power of imprisonment. It is precisely because of the awesomely enforceable nature of our powers that we must be so circumspect in exercising them. It is one thing for a co-worker, family member, doctor, or clergyman to confront someone about a perceived drug problem; it is quite another thing for a judge to compel drug treatment. Drug courts not only fail to recognize this important institutional distinction, but their very purpose is to obliterate it.
He always looked forward to the evening drives through the centre of Shanghai, this electric and lurid city, more exciting than any other in the world. As they reached the Bubbling Well Road he pressed his face to the windshield and gazed at the pavements lined with night-clubs and gambling dens, crowded with bar-girls and gangsters and rich beggars with their bodyguards. Crowds of gamblers pushed their way into the jai alai stadiums, blocking the traffic in the Bubbling Well Road. An armoured police van with two Thompson guns mounted in a steel turret above the driver swung in front of the Packard and cleared the pavement. A party of young Chinese women in sequinned dresses tripped over a child's coffin decked with paper flowers. Arms linked together, they lurched against the radiator grille of the Packard and swayed past Jim's window, slapping the windshield with their small hands and screaming obscenities. Nearby, along the windows of the Sun Sun department store in the Nanking Road, a party of young European jews were fighting in and out of the strolling crowds with a gang of older German boys in the swastika armbands of the Graf Zeppelin Club. Chased by the police sirens, they ran through the entrance of the Cathay Theatre, the world's largest cinema, where a crowd of Chinese shopgirls and typists, beggars and pickpockets spilled in the street to watch people arriving for the evening performance. As they stepped from their limousines the women steered their long skirts through the honour guard of fifty hunchbacks in mediaeval costume. Three months earlier, when his parents had taken Jim to the premiere of The Hunchback of Notre Dame, there had been two hundred hunchbacks, recruited by the management of the theatre from every back alley in Shanghai. As always, the spectacle outside the theatre for exceeded anything shown on its screen.
People nowadays like to be together not in the old-fashioned way of, say, mingling on the piazza of an Italian Renaissance city, but, instead, huddled together in traffic jams, bus queues, on escalators and so on. It's a new kind of togetherness which may seem totally alien, but it's the togetherness of modern technology.
When you look at Michael Jackson, there's nobody who loves him in that family, nobody. If they did, they'd tell him he didn't have to do all that in order to be famous. All he has to do is keep doing his music and be himself. Michael's been a little touched for about 20 years, but somebody needs to pull him aside and tell him they love him.