Friday, July 12, 2002

Update on Military Music Quote

Yesterday we had a question about the true author of the famous line, "Military justice is to justice what military music is to music." We thought it was George Clemenceau while Ernie the Attorney thought it was Groucho Marx.

Update: Tonight we heard from MadKane, currently a humor columnist, who wrote:

"I've worked as a musician (oboist) and as a lawyer, so your question got me curious. While not definitive, these two sources attribute the quote to Groucho Marx:"

"Of course the comparison isn't quite fair, since I can think of some good examples of military music -- Chopin's Military Polonaise, for instance. And even Beethoven wrote some military music. But as for good examples of military justice, I'm at a loss. Still, it's an amusing line and sure sounds like Groucho."

Ok, but we still aren't convinced because a google search had at least 70 attributions of the line to Clemenceau. Including, The New York Review of Books, 2/14/2002, Military Tribunals on Trial by Aryeh Neier, who wrote (about President Bush's tribunals order) "As written, the order violates, in different ways, the rights of all four categories; it recalls Clemenceau's famous comment about the Dreyfus case that "military justice is to justice as military music is to music."

Some others: The Introduction to a book called Military Law in Canada and a 1997 International Herald Tribune article by Mary Blume ("Military music bears the same relation to music as military justice does to justice, Georges Clemenceau famously remarked, weary perhaps of the sound of cunningly plangent regimental brass."

On the other hand, we also found a site that attributed the quote to Groucho while attributing this to Clemenceau: "War is much too serious a matter to be entrusted to the military."

Someone must know the answer to this. Please, clue us in.

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