After Officer Anderson had left, Miss Biggert finished her lecture on the law in America by pulling out a very large poster (of course, I was pretty small so the poster may not have been as large as I remember it) of a blind-folded woman with a large sword in one hand and a scale in the other. Miss Biggert explained that the blind-fold was to represent the people involved in making laws. The blind-fold represents the fact that they cannot tell if the people they are helping with their laws are rich or poor, black or white, big or little. Well, of course, the latter two conditions may still apply, but they have obviously developed a new kind of blind-fold so they can tell how much money the people have for whom they make the laws.
The sword represented, she explained, people like Officer Anderson and his invisible friend, Sparkie, who enforce the law. And the scale represented judges who interpret the law. She went on at great length about how they must very carefully weigh their arguments to make sure they are, what she called just, in the same way that a scales must be carefully adjusted to give accurate weight. I often think that it is too bad that more of our lawyers and judges could not have been in Miss Biggert's class and learned all about this. For example, our current Chief Justice of the State Supreme Court, Christine Durham, is want occasionally to lecture the other judges on the importance of being merciful. Of course, Honorable Justice Durham, at least from the pictures I have seen of her, is a bit on the heavy side and she probably thinks that if she could get a scales that told her she weighed, say 40 lbs less than she actually weighs, that this would be a merciful scales. She then would not feel so bad about taking an extra piece of pie and a double large scoop of ice cream, which, I suspect, she would see as the very essence of mercy; in fact, if she could get a scale so merciful that it took 60 lbs off her weight, she could go ahead and eat the whole pie. However, Miss Biggert, who was very thin (come to think of it, most of my women teachers were very thin--Miss Horseley, Miss Rowe, Miss Biggert, as already mentioned--she was really thin--Mrs. Larsen, Miss Ziebarth, Mrs. Vernon, they were all real thin, in contrast to the men teachers I would have in higher grades; they were also very old, in fact, as a general statement I think it is safe to say that my women teachers voted for Grover Cleveland and my men teachers looked like Grover Cleveland, but I digress) as I was saying, Miss Biggert would say, "Listen girl (I'm sure she was a lot older than Christine Durham), you don't need a merciful scale, you need an accurate scale." Which, I suspect, is true, but I have noticed as I have gone to my children's parent-teacher conferences, that many, if not most, of my children's teachers use the same kind of merciful scales recommended by Christine Durham, because it is pretty clear, that unlike Miss Biggert, they don't feel bad at all about taking an extra piece of pie.
Of course, all that was meant to be allegorical or metaphorical or similable or something like that, but I suspect that Miss Biggert might have pointed out that believing in being a merciful judge might have the same effect as the extra piece of pie, i. e. the crook who robs the bank and comes up with a merciful judge might feel that, since he got off so easy, he might as well rob another bank. The local paper did a story on drunk driving and told about a judge who told the drunk-driver offender facing him for the 18th time, that if he did it one more time, he (the judge) was really going to crack down on him (the drunk driver). This, I am sure Miss Biggert would point out, is rather like the 500 lb man stepping on the scales and reading 150 lb and being told that having 18 pies for dinner wouldn't hurt him but eating 19 would really do him in.
Of course, teachers nowadays never use the poster with the blind-folded lady with the sword and the scales, but I suspect one reason is that there aren't many teachers nowadays who are as thin as Miss Biggert.