Emailed "news story" claims U.S. Supreme Court nominee Sonia Sotomayor delivered a speech in 2004 in which she advocated the "castration of all white males," and that President Obama has defended her comments by saying they were "taken out of context."
Description: Web satire / Email hoax
Circulating since: June 2009
Status: False (see details below)
Email text contributed by Teresa H., July 11, 2009:
Subject: Fw: Fw: Castrate White Males
Seems to me like Sotomayor is but just one more of the left wing RADICALS that Obama is hoping to place in a key position in OUR government!!!!
------ Like hell, taken out of context .... she made it clear as crystal.
Obama Says Sotomayor's "Castrate White Males" Comment Taken Out of Context
WASHINGTON - President Obama said that comments by Supreme Court nominee Sonia Sotomayor in a 2004 speech in which she called for the "castration of all white males until they are no longer dominant," have been "taken out of context" by right wing ideologues.
In the speech delivered to the San Juan chapter of NOW, Sotomayor said, "I want to be perfectly clear about this next comment so that there is no mistaking my words to mean something other than what they plainly say: the time has come to end white male oppression by castrating every white male until they are no longer dominant in Western culture. That means forcible removal of their testicles. I realize the brutality of my comment, and I don't know how to say it more clearly."
White House spokesman Robert Gibbs agreed with President Obama that the statement "has been taken out of context," and added that Sotomayor "certainly did not mean" that white males should be castrated." Judge Sotomayor was simply saying that there should be room at the American table for diverse cultures, that's all. It is astounding that people are reading 'castration' into it."
President Obama told MSNBC: "Look, when Judge Sotomayor appears before the Senate committee, all this nonsense being spewed out by ideologues will be revealed for what it is."
Analysis: False. Supreme Court nominee Judge Sonia Sotomayor did not make the statements attributed to her above. Some of the remarks attributed to President Obama and White House press secretary Robert Gibbs were made by them, though not, of course, in this fictitious context.
In short, the "news story" quoted above is pure satire, originally posted June 2, 2009 on the Carbolic Smoke Ball website, self-described as "Proud publishers of fake news since 2005."
The point of the spoof was to lampoon a controversial remark Sotomayor actually did make in 2001, namely the suggestion that judges' life experiences and ethnic backgrounds play a role in their decision making. "I would hope that a wise Latina woman with the richness of her experiences would more often than not reach a better conclusion than a white male who hasn't lived that life," she said in a speech delivered at the UC Berkeley School of Law.
When confronted in a recent TV interview with the substance of Sotomayor's 2001 remark, which some have criticized as "racist," President Obama responded as follows:
I'm sure she would have restated it. But if you look in the entire sweep of the essay that she wrote, what's clear is that she was simply saying that her life experiences will give her information about the struggles and hardships that people are going through — that will make her a good judge. And you know, she was pointing out, in that same essay, that it was nine white males who passed down Brown versus Board of Education, which is probably responsible for me sitting here. So that's hardly the kind of statement that would indicate that she subscribes to identity politics. ...And I think that when she's appearing before the senate committee, in her confirmation process, I think all this nonsense that is being spewed out will be revealed for what it is.
Links to the full texts of Sotomayor's original 2001 speech, Obama's response to recent criticisms of it, and Carbolic Smoke Ball's June 2009 satire are listed below.
Sources and further reading:
Obama Says Sotomayor's 'Castrate White Males' Comment Taken Out of Context
Carbolic Smoke Ball, 2 June 2009
A Latina Judge's Voice (Text of 2001 Speech)
U.C. Berkeley News, 5 May 2009
Sotomayor's View of Judging Is on the Record
New York Times, 15 May 2009
White House: Sotomayor Says She Chose Words Poorly in 2001 Remarks
Associated Press, 29 May 2009
Last updated 07/13/09