So contended the Honorable Michael Musmanno, the colorful, outspoken, controversial judge, Congressman and author, who died, fittingly, on Columbus Day in 1968. Mussmanno is buried in Arlington Cemetery almost directly across the road from the eternal flame of the grave of John F. Kennedy.
The Michael A. Musmanno collection at Duquesne University contains the personal papers and library of the man.
"Among the many highlights of his career were the campaign to abolish the Coal & Iron Police,(a private police force maintained by the coal companies for the purpose of strike breaking), legislation to end the Sunday Blue Laws, a defense lawyer in the Sacco & Vanzetti trial, a presiding judge at the Nuremburg war crime trials, and appearing as a witness for the prosecution in the case against Adolf Eichman...
"One of the highlights of the collection is the transcripts of Musmanno's personal interviews of the Hitler intimates. Other noteable features are the transcripts of the Einsatzgruppen Nuremberg trial and the Adolf Eichmann war crimes trial. Musmanno was also the author of a number of books including, Ten Days to Die, which recounted Hitler's last days and was later made into a motion picture, and Black Fury a novel about a coal miner struggling with the hardships of the mines and the brutality of the Coal and Iron Police. He was also a zealous defender of Columbus discovering America and supported his claims in the book Columbus Was First."
Musmanno penned blistering and sometimes hysterical dissenting opinions as a jurist. His dissent in the Pennsylvania Supreme Court obscenity case regarding the book, The Tropic of Cancer, is a classic. The majority opinion failed to find the book obscene within the meaning of the First Amendment. Justice Musmanno disagreed:
The decision of the Majority of the Court in this case has dealt a staggering blow to the forces of morality, decency and human dignity in the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania. If, by this decision, a thousand rattlesnakes had been let loose, they could not do as much damage to the well-being of the people of this state as the unleashing of all the scorpions and vermin of immorality swarming out of that volume of degeneracy called the "Tropic of Cancer." Policemen, hunters, constables and foresters could easily and quickly kill a thousand rattlesnakes but the lice, lizards, maggots and gangrenous roaches scurrying out from beneath the covers of the "Tropic of Cancer" will enter into the playground, the study desks, the cloistered confines of children and immature minds to eat away moral resistance and wreak damage and harm which may blight countless lives for years and decades to come.As this post from Moleskin Notebook observes "That's just the introductory paragraph, it only gets better." The opinion continues and concludes:
[Henry Miller's Tropic of Cancer] is not a book. It is a cesspool, an open sewer, a pit of putrefaction, a slimy gathering of all that is rotten in the debris of human depravity. And in the center of all this waste and stench, besmearing himself with its foulest defilement, splashes, leaps, cavorts and wallows a bifurcated specimen that responds to the name of Henry Miller. One wonders how the human species could have produced so lecherous, blasphemous, disgusting and amoral a human being as Henry Miller. One wonders why he is received in polite society. ... From Pittsburgh to Philadelphia, from Dan to Beersheba, and from the ramparts of the Bible to Samuel Eliot Morison's Oxford History of the American People, I dissent.The opinion can be found at Commonweatlh v. Robin, 421 Pa. 70 (Pa. 1966).
Musmanno loved Columbus, but he didn't care for jazz music, as noted in this The Volokh Conspiracy post, quoting another of his dissenting opinions:
In the eyes and ears of many people, including the writer of this opinion, a juke box confined to ‘jazz’ records may be a nuisance. It robs the air of sweet silence, it substitutes for the gentle concord of stillness the wailings of the so-called ‘blues singer,’ the whinings of foggy saxophones, the screeching of untuned fiddles, the blasts of head-splitting horns, and the battering of earshattering drums. It makes a mockery of music, it replaces harmony with cacophony, tonality with discord, and peace with annoyance.Quite a character. Happy Columbus Day.