Ginsburg's Hobby Lobby Dissent, in Emo Musical Form

By Megan Garber
See web-only content:
http://www.theatlantic.com/technology/archive/2014/07/ginsburgs-hobby-lobby-dissent-in-emo-musical-form/373798/

"The Court, I fear, has ventured into a minefield." 

That's Ruth Bader Ginsburg, in the 35-page dissent she wrote against the Supreme Court's decision in Burwell v. Hobby Lobby Stores, Inc. It's a passionate dissent, unusually so even for a dissent, and it is full of arguments that double as snappy sound bites. Bites that almost seem tailor-made for a world of Twitter and Facebook. Bites that resemble, in their pithiness... song lyrics.

Jonathan Mann, whom you may remember from such YouTube experiments as the Song A Day project, saw that resemblance. And he did what any musician with a guitar and an Internet-connected camera would: He set the dissent to music. Or, well, he set a version of the dissent to music. Mann took excerpts of Ginsburg's writings and converted them into a song, one that doubles as a partially ironic, partially earnest protest. (He did something similar in 2009 with the torture memos of the Bush administration.)

Here are some of Mann's lyrics—a collaboration of sorts between a Supreme Court justice, a web-savvy musician, a legal ruling, and righteous indignation. Just some of the standard ingredients, in other words, of remix culture.

Religious organizations exist
To foster the interests
Of persons subscribing to the same religious faith
Not so of for-profit corporations
Workers who sustain the operations
Commonly are not drawn from one religious community 

It bears note that the cost of an IUD
Is nearly equivalent 
To a month's full-time pay
For workers on the minimum wage 

The court I fear
Has ventured into a minefield 
Slut-shaming geezers
And religious extremism 
One thing's clear
This fight isn't over
We gotta stand together
For what we know is right

Any decision to use contraceptives
Is not propelled by government
It's the woman's autonomous choice, informed by her doctor 
Approving some religious claims
While deeming others unworthy
Could be perceived as favoring one religion over another

Would the exemption extend to blood transfusions
Antidepressants and anesthesia 
Pills coated with gelatin and vaccinations?

The court I fear
Has ventured into a minefield 
Slut-shaming geezers
And religious extremism 
One thing's clear
This fight isn't over
We gotta stand together
For what we know is right 

This article available online at:

http://www.theatlantic.com/technology/archive/2014/07/ginsburgs-hobby-lobby-dissent-in-emo-musical-form/373798/