The Meat of the Coconut: Yet Another Aspiring Victim

 Posted on July 25, 2010 in Uncategorized

From the mailbag:

Apparently because she wanted me to comment on it, someone named Leslie Brodie ("religious leader in the community") sent me a copy of a grievance she filed against California Supreme Court Justice Marvin Baxter. In relevant part:

When asked to express an opinion concerning the qualifications of Justice Cantil-Sakauye, Justice Baxter resorted to an extremely rude, unprofessional, and inappropriate description. Specifically, he stated, "I am very impressed with her, the manner in which she gets to the meat of the coconut on issues." Notably, the nation of the Philippines is blessed to be the largest grower and producer of coconuts, and related products, in the world.Simply stated, no racial or ethnic group should be mocked through the use of examples and metaphors concerning popular foods, or other items which the group is associated with. This is particularly true when such comments are made by a Justice of the California Supreme Court.As such, the California Commission on Judicial Performance should reprimand Justice Baxter for resorting to and using stereotypical racial epithets.

(A little background, Ms. Brodie: a coconut is the fruit of the Cocos nucifera. In form, it has a thick fibrous husk, initially green, drying to brown (the exocarp) surrounding a hard dark-brown shell, about 3-5 millimeters thick (the mesocarp); inside that shell is a layer of edible and tasty white meat (the endocarp) surrounding a space containing a quantity of edible liquid. In order to get to the meat of the coconut, therefore, one must: know that the meat is there and worth getting to; cut through the exocarp; and split the mesocarp. These last two phases involve the use of tools, and therefore require some skill, both of which terms I will explain to you later.)

Justice Baxter was praising Justice Tani Gorre Cantil-Sakauye, nominated to be Chief Justice of the California Supreme Court. What Justice Baxter meant by "gets to the meat of the coconut" is no mystery: gets to the crux of the matter.

The phrase pops up twice in a Google search: in a 1981 Hawaiian appellate opinion (damn your mocking epithets, Justice Padgett!) and in a June 22, 2009 blog post about The Meaning of Man's Will on a blog called Interstitial (curse you, dkingr, for your anti-Filipino rants!).

I've felt some frustration at the Texas Commission for Judicial Conduct's unwillingness to pay serious attention to judicial misconduct even when that misconduct reflects on judges' fitness for the bench and hurts human beings. If they have to deal regularly with insubstantial complaints from hypersensitive trolls of political correctness like Brodie, though, it's no surprise that regulators of judicial ethics are just phoning it in instead of working to get to the yolk of the scotch egg.

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