Kathleen Parker

You have to figure John Roberts is a shoo-in for the Supreme Court when detractors resort to criticizing his attitude. When he was 17.

Imagine a 17-year-old with attitude. Can't have any of that nonsense on the U.S. Supreme Court. Additionally, critics have examined his often-humorous commentary written in the margins of reports and opinions during his more grown-up years while working in the Reagan White House and found them to be . insensitive.

Of particular concern is his playful attitude toward the delicate sex. It has even been suggested that Roberts has been a bit of a smart aleck. All together now: full pout and arms akimbo.

In the interest of full disclosure, I should mention that my own name occasionally appears in the same sentence with the words "smart aleck." Thus, I may not be the best judge of these things, but I find Roberts to be delightfully honest, refreshingly funny, and pleasantly impervious to the mind-numbing dictates of our politically correct, be-nice culture of coercive caring.

Not to put too fine a point on it.

What I have a problem with are literal-minded members of the victim class who can't take a joke. Or who can't appreciate nuance except when it shines a favorable light their way.

So here's Roberts at age 17 writing in defense of single-sex schools while attending an all-boys, Catholic prep school. I'm a fan of single-sex education, by the way, as are many feminists as long as the school is all-girls. Feminists seem to understand that girls often perform better in an all-female environment without the pressures of boys, who tend to be more aggressive in class.

Ditto for boys, who often perform better away from the distractions of girls and from teachers' understandable, if nonetheless discriminatory, preference for girl behavior. That's an adult mother of boys speaking, not what you'd expect from a 17-year-old kid writing for his school paper. Here's what Roberts wrote in 1972:

". The presence of the opposite sex in the classroom will be confining rather than catholicizing. . I would prefer to discuss Shakespeare's double entendre and the latus rectum of conic sections without a (b)londe giggling and blushing behind me."

Such blasphemy has caused a tiny tempest among some who see sinister applications in today's Supreme Court. Bruce Reed, writing last week for the online magazine Slate, managed to infer from Roberts' brief flirtation with adolescent journalism that whatever his views on Roe v. Wade today, "he would never have voted for it in the first place."

"Anyone who dismissed all women as giggling blondes in 1972 certainly wouldn't have found a right to privacy in the Constitution in 1973."

Kathleen Parker

Kathleen Parker is a syndicated columnist with the Washington Post Writers Group.
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