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672: No Fair!

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Prologue: Prologue

Announcer

A quick warning-- there are curse words that are unbeeped in today's episode of the show. If you prefer a beeped version, you can find that at our website, thisamericanlife.org.

Ira Glass

David, so, what problem was this supposed to solve?

David Kestenbaum

The teachers were trying to get the kids to stop tattling.

Ira Glass

And why was that so important?

David Kestenbaum

Because it's a pre-K classroom, and it's constant there.

Ira Glass

Right. I should say, by the way, that you are David Kestenbaum. You are one of our producers, our managing editor right now. And this classroom is your kid's classroom, right?

David Kestenbaum

Yeah. Both of them went there.

Ira Glass

I still don't get-- it seems like kids tattling on each other is just a fact of pre-K.

David Kestenbaum

It is, but you've got 20-something kids. I mean, you know, it's hard being one parent with two kids doing it. Imagine you're in a classroom with, like, 20 kids. And if they bring it to you as a teacher, all these little injustices, you've got to get involved in all these cases, you know?

Ira Glass

Right. And it's just a time suck.

David Kestenbaum

Yeah, it's just a time suck. And so one of the teachers had this great idea. She took a tissue box, hung it on the wall, and then took this plastic phone receiver and hung it in it and said something like, that's the tattle-phone. Tell it to the phone. And I thought it was just brilliant.

And I just want to say, this is a place that loves kids. I would go to pick up my son Max, and I would have to wait because he would want to hug every single teacher. And I would go to get Auggie, our older kid, and he would be like, I need five minutes, I'm in the middle of something. Like--

Ira Glass

They just want to stay longer.

David Kestenbaum

I mean, I get choked up thinking about this place. And I love the idea of the tattle-phone, just as a vessel for all the little injustices that go on every day. And I wanted to hear what was said into it-- like, these little three year olds, four year olds talking into this plastic phone.

Ira Glass

OK. And I should say, this is the part of the story I know very well what happens next.

David Kestenbaum

We asked if we could put a phone in the classroom that would record the tattles. The daycare was fine with that. I reached out to the parents. I didn't know how they were going to feel about us recording their kids at, like, the worst moment of the day. But every single one of them said yes. Some of them said please, yes, do this. So we got a phone.

It was this chunky red phone, kind of like 1980s style, we had it set up to record. And we needed an outgoing message for it.

Ira Glass

And that is where I stepped in.

Ira Glass

Hey there, you've reached the tattle phone. OK, tell me what happened after the beep. Tell me the whole story.

Ira Glass

I really hope to make some inroads in that four-year-old market. I really hope that helps our ratings. So what we're going to do now, David, is that you're going to explain what you heard on those recordings on the tattle-phone. And when you're done, I'm going to come back, and I'll explain what today's show is about.

David Kestenbaum

OK. So I brought the phone into class, and I set it up. And the kids started to use it immediately and with great enthusiasm.

Kid 1

Eli told me a lie.

Kid 2

Seamus wasn't sharing with me, and I don't like it, and I'm very upset.

Kid 3

Nathan farted in my face, and I said, yuck, Nathan.

David Kestenbaum

Catch that one? Nathan farted in my face, and I said, yuck, Nathan. But the real crime?

Kid 3

And he didn't say excuse me.

David Kestenbaum

I think there was enormous excitement just having a phone in the class. It was larger than they'd probably ever seen in their lives-- bright red with buttons on it. It was an old touch-tone phone. Everyone wanted to use it, even if they didn't have a tattle. Kids sang a song into it. One tried to order a pizza. Someone said, hi mom, please pick me up early.

Kid 4

Hi, Dad. I love you. Bye.

Kid 5

Uh, our baby turned into a ducky, and I don't know how it turn into a ducky. And that's why her turned into a ducky and turned back to a baby.

Kid 6

Uh-- I'm sorry, I need to hang up on you for one second.

David Kestenbaum

Several calls later, conscience heavy, that kid calls back.

Kid 6

I'm sorry I had to hang up on you. I'm just sorry.

David Kestenbaum

The tattle-phone was like a magic portal into one preschool classroom in America, which is kind of incredible. Like most parents I'll ask my kids, what happened in school today, and I get nothing. School is like this black box-- you drop them off, pick them up, and you have no idea what happens in between.

But now I had this phone. It was set up so it sent me the messages as they happened. It was funny listening to them from my desk. The portal into this classroom would open for a second, I get this little report from a kid, hear a little sound of the room, and then it would close-- sometimes for a while. Then the portal would open, I'd hear something, and then silence again. There were never any tattles between 1 and 3 o'clock, because that was nap time. Then they'd start again, these little dramas.

Kid 7

Ramon is not listening to my teacher, Mr. Evans, but he's my favorite teacher. And I know-- and I know he's mad at me, but I don't want him to be. So I'm trying my best to listen.

Kid 8

My friend Simone said "no" at me.

David Kestenbaum

"My friend Simone." It's always their friends who are bugging them.

Kid 9

My friend Jack was in my face when I was waiting to go to an area. And that made me really upset.

Kid 10

(SINGING) Eli hit me. Eli hit me.

Kid 11

Um, when I'm playing family with Simone, [INAUDIBLE] keeping me awake while I'm trying to sleep, pretend sleep.

David Kestenbaum

Can I just say, I'm not sure that one is actionable. You're pretending to sleep and complaining that someone is waking you up? I don't know.

Kid 12

People are not sharing the tattle-phone.

David Kestenbaum

How much of their day is about, like, justice?

Kathleen Jones

Oh! I couldn't put a percentage on it. But I could say the majority of the day. [LAUGHS]

David Kestenbaum

This is Kathleen Jones, the lead teacher in the class.

Kathleen Jones

It is everything-- and rules. They live by rules. They can sit down to play a game, and that whole playtime will be nothing but arguing about the rules. And then there's no playtime left, and they feel good about it.

David Kestenbaum

It's funny. Like, they can't make breakfast for themselves, they can't get dressed, they can barely talk, and they're just full of "that's not fair."

Kathleen Jones

But they're dynamos. Every one of them has something that--

David Kestenbaum

It's awesome.

Kathleen Jones

Yes, exactly. It's awesome. They're wonderful.

David Kestenbaum

There's actual scientific research on this. Kids know when something's unfair, some when they're just 12 months old. My kids weren't even walking then. And I know this is kind of obvious, but so many of the conflicts in this world come down to some version of what's going on in this classroom-- what's fair, how do you divide up something that there's a limited quantity of.

Kathleen Jones

You know magnet tiles? We only have one acrylic one that's yellowish gold. That is it. That is the prize in the class. Whoever gets that is like, I'm the king or the queen and ha-ha. The gold-- that's what they call it, the gold.

David Kestenbaum

I sometimes think that the main usefulness of numbers for my son Max, the whole reason he knows how to count, is score-keeping-- how many of something he has and how many his brother has. It's a weighing of the scales of justice, no matter how tiny.

David Kestenbaum

So did it work for you? Like, did they stop coming to you with their complaints?

Kathleen Jones

Yes, it did. It does work. Yes, that phone holds a lot of power.

David Kestenbaum

It gave the teachers the break they were looking for. I wanted to see if the kids thought it worked, whether the tattle-phone helped them deal with stuff. So the other weekend I interviewed a bunch of them-- which, I have to say, these were some of the weirder interviews I've done in my professional life. Bob Woodward, I know this isn't right, but I had to pay one interviewee a piece of gum. Another kid, Nicky, insisted on performing magic tricks before granting an interview. I did not have high expectations.

Nicky

And then if I do this--

David Kestenbaum

Wait, that worked really well. Wait, that was actually amazing.

Nicky

I know.

David Kestenbaum

That was good.

Nicky

Yeah.

David Kestenbaum

Nicky then refused to talk about the phone at all. But others clearly used it a lot.

Gabriel

You have to tell the tattle-phone the whole story, what happened.

David Kestenbaum

That's Gabriel. This is Deenia.

Deenia

Tell me the whole story. That's all I can remember.

David Kestenbaum

One girl's parents told me that they were on vacation staying at a hotel, which of course had a landline phone. And their daughter, Simone, said, look, a tattle-phone, as if there was some sort of national tattle-phone network, staffed around the clock by government workers entering everything into a database. My friend's kid Sean, who just turned 5 and who I adore, was the only one who could remember a tattle-worthy event from school in any detail. He whispered it to me. He was clearly kind of excited about this. His friend had kicked him.

Sean

(WHISPERING) He kicked me in the penis.

David Kestenbaum

(WHISPERING) He what?

Sean

(WHISPERING) Kicked me in the penis.

David Kestenbaum

(WHISPERING) He kicked you in the penis? Did you tell the tattle-phone?

Sean

(WHISPERING) That time, we didn't have any tattle-phone.

David Kestenbaum

(WHISPERING) Oh, you didn't have the tattle-phone?

Sean

(WHISPERING) No.

David Kestenbaum

(WHISPERING) If you had the tattle-phone, would you have told it? Yeah? OK.

It sounds like it might have been an accident. Sean stood up and acted out the whole thing in slow motion for me.

Sean

Slow motion.

David Kestenbaum

Like it was a scene from an action movie. His friend was trying to kick the ceiling. So he went like, [ACTION NOISES].

David Kestenbaum

They should have a security camera in the classroom.

Sean

But they don't.

David Kestenbaum

They don't? Just the tattle-phone?

Sean

Mm-hmm.

David Kestenbaum

A bunch of kids told me they felt good after talking to the tattle-phone, though the why it made them feel better, it took all my interviewing skills. This is Gabriel.

David Kestenbaum

How did you like having the tattle-phone in the classroom?

Gabriel

Good.

David Kestenbaum

How did it feel after you said something to the tattle-phone?

Gabriel

Good.

David Kestenbaum

How come you felt good?

Gabriel

Uh, because-- well, I felt good because I told on the person.

David Kestenbaum

One girl told me talking to the tattle-phone felt like eating ice cream.

It's nice to think that just getting something off your chest can solve a problem, that if you just release the fact of the injustice into the world you feel better. And sure, I think that can be true. But we had the phone in class for a month, and I did notice toward the end, we got fewer messages. They came in regularly, but not with the same energy.

It's possible the novelty was wearing off. I think there's something else going on as well. Before we put the phone in the class, I had it set up in my house, just to make sure it was working. My kids used it a couple of times. And then our younger son Max was complaining that his brother, Auggie, who's a year older, had pinched him.

Tell it to the tattle-phone, I said. It's not working, he told me. I picked the phone up worried that there was some technical glitch. But it was fine. It's working, Max. No, he said, it's not.

Max

It did not do anything. It doesn't even work to me. It doesn't even do anything.

David Kestenbaum

It listened to your tattle.

Max

No, it doesn't.

David Kestenbaum

What do you mean? It listened.

Max

It didn't. It didn't stop Auggie pinching me.

David Kestenbaum

It didn't stop Auggie pinching me. I know, Max. I know. Sometimes you want more than just to speak. You want actual justice.

Ira Glass

Thank you, David.

David Kestenbaum

You're welcome.

Ira Glass

And that brings us to-- like, what are we, 12 minutes into the program-- it brings us to what we are doing today on our show. Today we have people, some of them young, some of them old, wanting justice, feeling a sense of injustice, on things as big as the constitutional foundation of our entire country and things as small as the question of whether a ball is in or out. And in all those cases, people young and old not trusting the system to deliver justice. From WBEZ Chicago, it's This American Life. Stay with us.

Act One: Hoop Reams

Ira Glass

Act One, Hoop Reams. The journalist Michael Lewis, who wrote Moneyball and The Big Short and lots of other books and who contributes to our program now and then, he was looking around at what's going on in America these days. And he noticed that one way you can describe the current moment that we're all living through is that Americans don't trust the refs-- in all walks of life. They don't trust their impartiality.

I'm talking about police, Supreme Court justices, journalists, the people who regulate the banks and Wall Street and student loans, the people setting medical costs, judges. So many people today feel the system is rigged. I mean, Bernie Sanders and Donald Trump both ran on that. So many people feel that the figures of authority, charged with enforcing rules impartially, keeping everybody on a level playing field, that they're failing at their jobs. It's not fair.

Michael Lewis has not published this reporting that he's been doing on this in a new book. He's decided to make it into a podcast. They launched this week. It's called Against The Rules. And Michael has adapted a version of their very first episode for us to play for you right now. The first episode is about people not trusting the refs in the most literal sense of that. It's about basketball referees. Here's Michael Lewis.

Michael Lewis

For me, this story really begins with my 11-year-old son, Walker. He plays on a basketball team run by a Japanese Buddhist temple. My son isn't a Buddhist, though most of the time he could pass for one. He has no conflict with his teachers or his classmates or his Japanese Buddhist teammates.

I wouldn't say his mind is exactly pure, but usually it's calm. The exception is when he deals with refs. Even in what amounts to a Buddhist basketball game, anytime a ref blows the whistle on him, he throws up his arms in astonishment. Then he jumps up and down with his little fists balled up and his mouth clenched tight, so everyone knows just how much injustice he's suffering. Then he marches off with a scowl. And he doesn't get over it. After a game this season, he gets into the car and starts bitching and moaning all over again.

Michael Lewis

How did it make you feel when the ref made those calls?

Walker

Very mad.

Michael Lewis

Do you feel any better now?

Walker

No.

Michael Lewis

Tell me how it feels.

Walker

It feels like someone keeps poking you in the back of the shoulder and then saying, foul, foul, foul, foul.

Michael Lewis

Have you ever fouled out in your career?

Walker

No.

Michael Lewis

Did you know that you were at risk of fouling out?

Walker

Yes, but I also knew if I did, it would be unfair because I knew that he was calling the stupidest fouls. He'll look back and say, oh, I was being a huge-- asshole.

Basketball Announcer

Klay with the steal. Klay in a footrace. Cousins trying to catch him. He can't! Klay with a very deep three.

Michael Lewis

The thing is, I know why my son does what he does. He thinks he's Klay Thompson, the all-star shooting guard of the Golden State Warriors.

Basketball Announcer

They reset back to Thompson. Three-pointer-- bang.

Michael Lewis

When Klay hits a three, Klay pounds his chest and points to the sky. And so when Walker Lewis hits a three, he too pounds his chest and points to the sky.

Basketball Announcer

And I think we have a technical foul as well. On Klay-- very unusual.

Michael Lewis

When Klay is called for a foul, he scowls and throws up his arms in astonishment, and sometimes even says something to the ref that gets him slapped with a technical foul.

Basketball Announcer

He only had one during the entire regular season.

Michael Lewis

And Klay's the famously most laid back all-star in the entire National Basketball Association.

Ramona Shelburne

Something has happened in the relationship between referees and players over the last, I guess, year or two.

Michael Lewis

That's Ramona Shelburne. She's covered the NBA for the last decade for ESPN.

Ramona Shelburne

It's been, quite frankly, ugly this year.

Michael Lewis

One of the Warriors head-butted a ref. Another chucked his disgusting mouth guard off a ref's chest.

Basketball Announcer

And Curry has been thrown out of the game.

Ramona Shelburne

And some of the stuff I've seen, I mean, when Draymond Green is getting fined for calling Lauren Holtkamp a-- can we cuss on your podcast?

Michael Lewis

I think we already have.

David Kestenbaum

You know, a fucking bitch-- like, when he is saying that to a female referee, man, that's next level. And I haven't seen that before this season. It's the stars now who are really pushing the issue, right? It's Kevin Durant getting thrown out of games. It's Steph Curry getting thrown out.

Basketball Announcer

And the Golden State Warriors have completely unraveled.

Michael Lewis

Last year, bad behavior got various Golden State Warriors tossed out of 10 different basketball games. Kevin Durant, their best player, got thrown out of five-- four more than he'd been thrown out of his entire career up to that point. The men who coach the stars aren't much better. Even Steve Kerr, the Warriors' famously decent, civic-minded coach--

Steve Kerr

I can snap. I can completely lose it.

Michael Lewis

If you back away from the Golden State Warriors, I mean, they're exemplars of the way people should behave. Especially your stars, they're, like, impeccably behaved people. I'm so pleased to have my son emulating your players. The only time they have problems really is with referees.

Steve Kerr

Yeah.

Michael Lewis

I can't imagine you in your life have another relationship like you have with referees.

Steve Kerr

No, you're right. You're right. I would never say the things that I do to referees to a person in normal life. It happens two or three times a year. I've been caught on camera, you know, MF-ing a ref. And, you know, my daughter will send me a text, like Dad, what are you doing? It's all over Twitter. I can read your lips. This is embarrass-- and I'm embarrassed.

So why is that? It's a sense of right or wrong. You know, I feel like there's this personal offense, like something unfair is happening.

Michael Lewis

The players get fined if they talk about the refs, so we won't be talking to them. But it's not just them or their coaches or my son who are treating refs in ways they'd never treat an ordinary person. It's the fans in every arena who spend meaningful amounts of their time looking for the refs' mistakes on the JumboTron. It's the cable sports channels playing and replaying the refs' mistakes so their viewers can tweet and retweet about them. It's this entire infrastructure, seemingly built to focus attention on whatever mistakes the refs make for the sole purpose of generating outrage.

Crowd

(CHANTING) Ref, you suck! Ref, you suck! Ref, you suck! Ref, you suck!

Michael Lewis

If there's one thing that unites Americans just now, it's their belief that the refs suck-- which is weird, because they almost certainly suck less than ever before. Before you hate me for saying that, give me a moment to show why.

So we're walking across a parking lot in Secaucus, New Jersey. And there are chain hotels and motels in someone's idea of a mall. And we're surrounded on all sides by freeways. It's like what people think about when they tell jokes about New Jersey. And we're approaching a four-story, rectangular, otherwise nondescript concrete building.

There's a discreet little sign here that says NBA and shows a logo with a basketball player. Inside, a recent concession to the world we live in-- the Replay Center, a place where basketball referees review the calls made by other basketball referees in real time, to minimize referee error. The Replay Center was built to persuade people that life was fair.

And the door is locked.

Someone eventually unlocks the door and leads me down a hall filled with a lot of old basketball stuff-- jerseys and bobbleheads and basketballs and posters of Michael Jordan. The Replay Center was the ultimate man cave--

Joe Borgia

Ultimate man cave, right?

Michael Lewis

It's also the latest weapon in the battle for fairness.

Michael Lewis

So this place, just on first view, is amazing.

Joe Borgia

It really is.

Michael Lewis

It's wall-to-wall screens, 110 of them. What's on them is whatever is captured by all the cameras in 29 NBA arenas across the country. They may have a screen somewhere with scores on it, but I didn't see it. And they're all muted. What you hear is referees staring at basketball games. What you see is nothing but angles on professional basketball courts.

Joe Borgia

Nobody's ever walked in here and walked out and said, this place sucks.

Michael Lewis

That's Joe Borgia, who's run the center since 2014. Before he volunteered for Secaucus duty, he refereed NBA games. His father was an NBA ref before him. With a break in the late '60s, a Borgia has been reffing professional basketball games since 1946.

Michael Lewis

If you went back to your dad at the beginning of his career and said, this is what it's going to look like, what do you think he'd have said?

Joe Borgia

If I told him we would have replay, he'd turn over in his grave, forget about a replay center.

Michael Lewis

Is that right?

Joe Borgia

Oh, absolutely.

Michael Lewis

You see, the refs used to insist on their authority. And everyone agreed that there was no better way to ensure the fairness of the game than to let the ref play god. The Replay Center is an admission that the ref is not god, that he makes mistakes.

Joe Borgia

I think the mention of replay, none of us liked it when we first heard it. It's a necessary evil. It's necessary. You have to have it today.

Michael Lewis

Everything is taped now. Everyone pays more attention to the referees' mistakes. So the NBA has to as well. Now, when a ref thinks he might have screwed up some call or didn't get a good look at the action--

Joe Borgia

Watch the referee on the bottom of the screen.

Michael Lewis

--he twirls his fingers in the air.

Joe Borgia

There's your signal.

Michael Lewis

That's the signal to the ref in the Replay Center, who goes to work, reviewing the tape, looking for the best angle to figure out what actually happened.

Referee

Sure, Dick. We're going to give you two good angles, all right? That's the first one. The other one's going to give you a better look.

Michael Lewis

The refs here sit dressed in black staring at screens, waiting for a signal from somewhere in America. The end of games is when they get most involved, because that's when fans and coaches and players are most likely to accuse some ref of having made the mistake that changed the outcome. Of course, a mistake at the beginning has just as much effect on a game as a mistake at the end, but the end is what people notice and get outraged about. So the justice at the end of the game must be more exact than it is at the beginning.

These Replay Center refs have video technicians with them, who can freeze a moment on screen, then zoom out or zoom in so that the entire screen contains only a player's fingertips or his toes. Here you just scroll through tiny slivers of the game, not the game itself. The sliver is where injustices might occur.

Joe Borgia

I mean, goodness gracious, if you don't have slow motion in here or freeze frame, it's very difficult.

Michael Lewis

Of course, in slow motion, you can see things that the naked eye misses. Magicians sometimes perform during halftimes of the NBA games. When Joe Borgia slows it down, he can see how they do their tricks. It's kind of the same thing with the players.

Joe Borgia

Exactly. I can go 1/60 of a second at a time. You're gonna pick a lot of little things up.

Michael Lewis

So what these players have gotten good at is creating optical illusions. And then--

Joe Borgia

Of course.

Michael Lewis

The sort of things that a magician does.

Joe Borgia

Well, isn't flopping an optical illusion?

Michael Lewis

Flopping is what they call it when a player pretends to have been knocked over by another player. Tricking the refs into making bad calls is now considered a skill.

Referee

For possible flagrant?

Michael Lewis

There's blood on the screens. Kevin Love's front tooth got knocked in. Love plays for the Cleveland Cavaliers. And the question is, did the guy who popped him in the mouth do it intentionally?

Joe Borgia

We're looking for the unnatural. Did he throw his elbow out?

Michael Lewis

The refs need to decide if the violence was not just excessive but unsportsmanlike, which sounds archaic, because we've sort of lost the concept.

Joe Borgia

Did he lead--

Referee

But the foul was on Kevin Love. I thought he was outside--

Joe Borgia

Yeah, but he was moved.

Referee

He was moved.

Joe Borgia

He was late. Come on, you gotta be quick on these.

Referee

I'm still stuck on the blood coming out of his mouth.

Joe Borgia

Yeah, I know. It's ugly.

Michael Lewis

The players all stand around scratching themselves while the refs put on headsets and talk to the Replay Center.

Michael Lewis

So the blood doesn't sway the decision?

Joe Borgia

Listen, there's a lot of contact. A lot of it's accidental. That was accidental.

Michael Lewis

The only thing stopping the Replay Center from checking every decision is that it slows the game down. Here in Secaucus, they're still trying to figure out how they might talk to the refs as they run up and down the court. Because if they could do that, they could just fix every call on the fly.

Joe Borgia

The special forces, we found that we actually use a chip over the molar that worked off the vibration of the bone. Believe it or not, we did. We got a handful of G League referees molded, and we tested that.

Michael Lewis

To wear a chip over their molar?

Joe Borgia

But it wasn't good enough, because they didn't know where the voice was coming from.

Michael Lewis

It was just a voice in their heads?

Joe Borgia

They didn't know where it was. Was that a coach talking to me?

Michael Lewis

It's insane. The time and money now being spent to ensure the fairness of what, after all, is just a basketball game-- a bajillion miles of fiber optic cable connect this room directly to the NBA arenas around the country, all for two calls a game.

Joe Borgia

At two calls a game-- $15 million to build this room to get two calls during the game. But you gotta do it. You gotta do it.

Michael Lewis

Can I just pause here a moment, just to consider what the NBA has done in the past few years to improve the calls? For example, they've brought in serious managers to hire and train the refs.

Joe Borgia calls his boss the general, because she actually was a general and an Air Force pilot. Her name is Michelle Johnson, and before she supervised NBA refs, she ran the Air Force Academy. It sounds like overkill to use a general to make sure basketball games are well reffed. But the NBA thought it needed overkill.

Michael Lewis

So adjust your mic a little bit.

Or at least Adam Silver, the NBA commissioner did.

Adam Silver

If people don't believe that the league office is unbiased and that the officials are unbiased, you're going to have a problem regardless of the accuracy of the calls.

Michael Lewis

People watching at home are scrutinizing every call on their phones and their TVs. They had just enough information to be suspicious of the league.

Adam Silver

There's 18 cameras covering every game, that there's 18,000 people watching games with sophisticated smartphones that have high definition audio and video. We started to get into trouble.

Michael Lewis

Silver took over in 2014 and also hired Joe Borgia to run the Replay Center. Since then, he's taken a ridiculous amount of grief, just for trying to improve the justice on a basketball court.

So here's what else Silver's done. He's broadened the pool of people from which refs are selected. They used to be mostly white men, mostly from the same background. At one point, four NBA refs came from the same high school. He's hired more black refs and female refs.

He's insisted that referees be physically fit so they can get into position to see all the plays. While everyone else in America is getting fatter, the refs are getting buff. They're also now getting new feedback on all their bad calls. Silver decided to publish the mistakes made by every ref in the last two minutes of every game so everyone could see them. He gives the teams and the refs a private document listing every refereeing mistake.

All this new data on refs means that we and they know all sorts of strange things about their minds. For instance, we now know that their calls have tended to favor whichever team is losing. Their calls also favor the home team. Some large part of home court advantage is just the refs.

The analytics department of the Houston Rockets has even done a study that shows that the home team that gets the best calls is the Utah Jazz. Why Utah? Who knows? But you can be sure that someone will figure that out. There's now basically a small army of geeks analyzing all this new data.

Justin Wolfers

Look, I don't really like writing papers about sports. I'd prefer to write about the economy.

Michael Lewis

That's Justin Wolfers, a behavioral economist at the University of Michigan, and the co-author of a paper about NBA refs.

Justin Wolfers

But the thing is, this is a domain where the NBA referees have tremendous incentives not to make the wrong call. Every error they make is tracked. Those errors determine whether they get more games. Those games determine how much they get paid. This is arguably the most analyzed workforce in the country.

Michael Lewis

Basketball referees are now picked apart in ways that not long ago would have seemed preposterous-- not just for the fairness of their calls but for their unconscious behavior. Wolfers took data from over a decade of NBA basketball games, more than 250,000 of them. Then he set out to look for evidence of the refs' racial bias.

Justin Wolfers

The question here isn't whether people are anti-black or anti-white but whether there's an in-group bias. So if a predominately black team is playing and the refereeing crew is predominantly white, are there more fouls called against them than on nights when the same team is playing with a predominantly black refereeing crew? And it turns out, the answer is yes.

Michael Lewis

Wolfers wrote his paper back in 2007, before this new age of referee transparency.

Justin Wolfers

Well, it was a bit of a lesson for me. You can probably tell by my accent, Michael, I'm an Australian. You know, I thought it was an interesting piece of social science. It turned out The New York Times put it on the front page.

Michael Lewis

And the NBA wasn't happy. The commissioner at the time attacked the study and embarrassed the league by trying and failing to refute its findings.

Man

This morning we'll hear from the NBA commissioner, David Stern.

David Stern

Our referees are the most reviewed, most ranked, and most rated. And that's why we take exception to what The Times did here.

Michael Lewis

That's Stern on NPR in 2007. The result of all this coverage, every single referee was made aware of his unconscious bias. When the dust settled, Justin Wolfers was curious to know if his paper had had any effect. He made another study of referees after the controversy he'd created. And guess what.

Justin Wolfers

The most recent study that we did seems to suggest that that form of racial bias has gone away.

Michael Lewis

For a while anyway. He has no idea why. Maybe simply making the refs aware of the problem was enough to correct it. By the way, the NBA disputes this study too. But in the end, this became a case study-- not in ref ineptitude but in ref reform. NBA refs have now achieved what police forces can only dream of, though the refs have no choice. The world's now too good at seeing their mistakes.

Look, there's no way any basketball referee is going to be perfect. But there's also no way these refs are anything but more accurate than they've ever been. I mean, even home court advantage means less than it used to. And yet these refs are treated as if they're trying to rig the games.

Crowd

(CHANTING) Ref, you suck! Ref, you suck! Ref, you suck! Ref, you suck! Ref, you suck!

Michael Lewis

The sound of those 18,000 people screaming at you or booing you, does it sound any different than it sounded when you started?

Monty Mccutchen

Yeah. There's a little more anger involved. And, you know, it used to be, sort of, of the garden variety. You're terrible, you suck, any of those kinds of terms.

Michael Lewis

That's Monty McCutchen, who started reffing in 1993, and so got to see firsthand the effect that the arrival of the internet has had on referees.

Monty Mccutchen

A few years back, twitter exploded in game five of the Miami Heat and Oklahoma City Thunder finals from years ago.

Michael Lewis

One of the players hit a three point shot. McCutchen was giving the signal for three and running to beat the players back to the other end of the court when he realized he had lost his balance.

Monty Mccutchen

Falling for a referee, it doesn't get much more embarrassing than that. It's bad. People are on you pretty good, you know. And I'm trying to hold it up, and Erik was on the sideline. And he sees me fall.

Michael Lewis

Erik is Erik Spoelstra, the Miami Heat coach.

Monty Mccutchen

And he sort of just stood onto the floor and braced me. And our arms sort of interlocked as he braced me, righted me. I yell out, thanks, as I go on by, and I run on down to the baseline. After the game, Twitter exploded that the NBA is rigged. If you don't believe that watch Monty McCutchen give a high five to Erik Spoelstra after this three.

And the reality of that was just so far and away wrong up against this real human moment of just a reactionary thing that a good person does for another good person. You see someone falling, you help them not fall.

Michael Lewis

He says that when he started out reffing, no one would have even noticed. And if they did, it wouldn't have mattered. That's changed.

Monty Mccutchen

Mistakes get made as NBA referees. And they're just mistakes. But they often get interpreted in this wider scheme of thought process that a lot of our cultures is dealing with right now, which is, there must be a fix in. There must be a reason for this.

Michael Lewis

Do you think the world is looking for a fix more now than it was when you started?

Monty Mccutchen

I think that the t-shirt I saw recently has merit-- "I'm not saying it's your fault. I'm saying I'm blaming you."

Michael Lewis

You feel abused.

Monty Mccutchen

Yeah. Now, you know, people do their research. Things are out there on the internet. They know your record with their team. There's all these sites on all these different--

Michael Lewis

Do they know personal things about you?

Monty Mccutchen

Oh, sure. Of course, some death threats are made from time to time in playoff series, and you'll get security all the way to both the hotel and then the hotel the next morning out to the airport. That's a--

Michael Lewis

You have security to the hotel?

Monty Mccutchen

Not every night, but when those threats are a known factor-- it has happened in my career-- security to your car is mandatory every night.

Michael Lewis

And at some point you feel this question rising up in you. In me it rose up while I was talking to Ramona Shelburne, the ESPN reporter.

Michael Lewis

Why would anybody want to be a ref?

Ramona Shelburne

Seriously. I wonder that too, man. I just-- you know, they're not allowed to say anything. They're not allowed to explain themselves. They're not allowed to defend themselves.

Michael Lewis

Look, obviously they get paid. They start at 150 grand a year. And if they're great at their job and work extra games, they can make as much as 500. But there are lots of ways to get paid without spending half your life in hotel rooms and the other half being insulted by arenas filled with crazy people.

Michael Lewis

Do you think the refereeing has gotten worse or better?

Ramona Shelburne

I actually think it's gotten better.

Michael Lewis

Of course it's gotten better. How could it not have? The mystery is why the stars and the coaches and the fans act as if it's gotten worse. Sitting in the NBA replay center in Secaucus, New Jersey, I get a hunch about that. After I see all these people on all these TV screens jumping around and hollering at refs, the ruckus appears to be confined to Cleveland. But in here, it feels like the entire universe is disturbed. There's a reason for this. LeBron James is upset.

Michael Lewis

See? He's arguing. There he goes. LeBron James is going from ref to ref. He seems to know which refs to argue with.

Joe Borgia

Yeah, they're talking about goaltending. So they're talking about it, they're talking about. I think they might change. So James is-- James and the other guy had the best angle.

Michael Lewis

Do you think that LeBron James has any effect doing that?

Joe Borgia

Um--

Michael Lewis

The ref in Cleveland is not twirling his finger. There's no signal to us to do anything in the Replay Center. LeBron's drama, strictly speaking, is pointless. It's strange the way these players argue. They must think that if they make life unpleasant enough for the ref, he'll think twice before the next call.

Michael Lewis

They didn't review it.

Joe Borgia

Well, it's not reviewable.

Michael Lewis

Goaltending is not reviewable?

Joe Borgia

Only in the last two minutes. Come on, Michael. Get a--

Michael Lewis

Sorry.

It's then that it occurs to me, just looking around the room at 110 TV screens, I've had a hard time following the games, never mind the scores. I sometimes don't even know which teams are playing. But every time a player gets up into a referee's face, I've recognized the player. And I actually don't know that many NBA players, but I know all the ones who pitch these hissy fits, because the only players getting up into the faces of the refs are the famous players, or the coaches who protect them.

Ramona Shelburne put her finger on it. The more aggressive behavior towards refs isn't coming from every player. It's coming from the stars.

Ramona Shelburne

It's just different than in the past. Like, you know, when you're a star, I think there's this feeling that you've sort of risen above reproach. You get used to a certain level of treatment. You get used to people who treat you that way. And then you feel like you should be treated that way.

Michael Lewis

Yeah. So a referee-- a referee to that person comes as a shock.

Ramona Shelburne

Oh, yeah. You know, with any star and any celebrity, there comes a level of entitlement. So anybody who goes against that, who doesn't treat you like a star, gets put into that hater category.

Michael Lewis

You want to understand the way the refs are treated? Stop thinking of them as people just doing their best to try to make a game fair, and start thinking of them as haters.

Dacher Keltner

So we just got really interested in a very simple question of, does this sense of being privileged make you disobey the rules of the road or the laws of the land.

Michael Lewis

That's Dacher Keltner. He's a professor of psychology at Cal Berkeley, and someone who wonders about the effect inequality has on people's behavior.

Dacher Keltner

An experience I had at Berkeley where I was riding my bike up this hill. And I got to the four-way stop sign, and I was halfway through this four-way stop sign--

[MOTOR RUNNING]

And this guy in a black Mercedes rolls through the stop sign, is halfway there, is a foot away from me about to take me out, and he's on his cell phone. And I looked at him. I was ready to take him on, like, all right, buddy, this is it. And what was most telling about this whole experience was he looked at me as if I was in the wrong and I should get out of his way, you know, even though I had made it through the stop sign first.

Michael Lewis

So Dacher and a colleague dreamed up this weird experiment. They hid two Berkeley undergraduates in the bushes near four-way stop signs. The undergrads noted the makes of all cars coming through the intersection, assigned them numbers, one to five, according to their market value. A new Mercedes was a five, a Honda was a three, and an old Pacer was a one.

Dacher Keltner

We positioned a Berkeley undergrad by a pedestrian zone, and we make sure they look like they want to cross the street. And they're sort of leaning into their pedestrian zone, where it's required by California law to stop.

Michael Lewis

It's a game of one-on-one at a California crosswalk-- one car versus one pedestrian.

Dacher Keltner

And 0% of the drivers of poor cars zoomed through the pedestrian zone. They all stopped. And 40-some odd percent-- 45% of the drivers of the fives, the rich cars, blazed through the pedestrian zone, and just say, the rules don't apply to me. I'll carry on.

Michael Lewis

This one study led to a bunch of others that showed basically the same pattern of human behavior.

Dacher Keltner

Another experiment, we bring people to the lab. And as they're leaving, there's this big bowl of candy. And it's like-- and it says on it, "for the children of the Institute of Human Development," on the bowl.

And we say, oh, you know, take a candy or two as you're leaving. And we count up how many candies they take after they leave the experiment. Privileged people grab a big handful of candy, compared to poorer people.

Michael Lewis

So let's turn the conversation to something much more important, which is basketball.

Dacher Keltner

Most important of all.

Michael Lewis

In the last five or six years, the NBA has embarked on essentially a dramatic reform of refereeing. At the same time, the friction between the players, and some of the owners, and some of the coaches, and the refs, is going through the roof.

Dacher Keltner

Wow.

Michael Lewis

The source of the outrage is the star players. The people who are getting thrown out of games are Kevin Durant and Steph Curry and James Harden. And the Warriors, the most famous team ever to walk on the court, are the chief culprits-- exhibit A in bad behavior towards refs. So you've got this weird combination.

Dacher Keltner

Yeah. No, that's fascinating. I still remember being a Lakers fan-- you know, the great Magic Johnson teams. And watching Larry Bird do his nine-step lay-up. And I'm like, come on, make the call.

Michael Lewis

For most players of his era, that would have counted as traveling. But Larry Bird was like LeBron, the new Mercedes of his day. He played with certain assumptions about the rules and how they applied to him.

Michael Lewis

The inequality on a basketball court--

Dacher Keltner

Is profound.

Michael Lewis

--is profound. And it's more profound than it was in Larry Bird's era. Yeah Larry Bird was a millionaire. LeBron James might be a billionaire. And these guys are global franchises. So you got, in a funny way, a microcosm. It's an odd microcosm on a basketball court, of what's going on in the larger society.

The NBA has set out to ref the games more objectively, more accurately, more fairly. This has enraged the stars and their fans and coaches. You want to know why? Here's what I think.

The stars used to get more calls in their favor than they do now, just because they were stars. Objective refs have eliminated some of their privilege. The more objectivity there is, the less power they have. And to them, that's outrageous.

I think American life just now has at least one thing in common with basketball-- the authority of its referees is under attack. If people don't trust the refs, one day you wake up in a world that seems not just unfair but actually sort of rigged-- that is, it's incapable of becoming fair because the people who benefit from the unfairness have the power to preserve it. Boom.

Michael Lewis

Do you flip a switch, and 110 screens go dark?

Joe Borgia

All the little small screens you gotta do manually. The big TVs we got the remote for.

Michael Lewis

Most nights, Joe Borgia stays at the Replay Center until almost 2:00 in the morning-- just him and a couple of refs staring at tiny slivers of basketball games, trying to impose justice on powerful people who don't want it.

Joe Borgia

They think I'm nuts. I am nuts. That's another story. All refs are nuts. You gotta be.

Michael Lewis

You do?

Joe Borgia

You have to be partially off. It's a 100% negative business.

Michael Lewis

100% negative business.

Joe Borgia

That's why my son doesn't want to ref. Dad, I don't like people yelling at me.

Michael Lewis

One day a young Borgia naturally becomes a referee. The next, he doesn't. One day most people think the refs are more or less fair-- or at any rate, they don't spend a lot of time blaming them for all their problems. The next day, they wake up to radical inequality.

The people on top, the elites, think they're special. They behave as people do when they think they're special. Young people emulate them, without even thinking about it. They just assume that's how you act if you're a star or want to be.

Michael Lewis

My first question is-- why, when you hit a three point shot, which you often do, why in the past have you painted your chest and pointed to the sky?

Walker

I did it because the people on the NBA-- in the NBA did it.

Michael Lewis

What do you think they're doing? What does it mean?

Walker

I don't know. Just, like, I'm cool.

Michael Lewis

Do you believe in God?

Walker

No. I knew-- I mean, now I knew what it meant. But no, I don't.

Michael Lewis

So what does it mean?

Walker

Basically, it's like, thank you, God.

Michael Lewis

For hitting a three point shot? Do you think God was responsible when Klay Thompson hit a three point shot?

Walker

To be honest, if God was watching over everybody whenever they hit a three point shot, I don't think that He would be able to, like, actually make them make the shot.

Michael Lewis

So do you have anything you'd like to say to the referees of the world before we turn this recording off?

Walker

Don't pick sides, unless it's my side.

Michael Lewis

Thank you.

Ira Glass

Michael Lewis. His new podcast, Against The Rules, covers all kinds of institutions in America where people do not trust the refs anymore. It is made by Pushkin Industries. Find it wherever you get your podcasts.

Coming up, a teenager grapples with the document that's supposed to enforce fairness above all others. I'm talking about the United States Constitution. That's in a minute from Chicago Public Radio when our program continues.

Act Two: The Fairer Sex

Ira Glass

It's This American Life. I'm Ira Glass. Today's program, "No Fair," stories about people young and old all over our country feeling a sense of injustice, feeling wronged, and not getting satisfaction from the people in charge. We have arrived at Act Two of our program. Act Two, The Fairer Sex. And for this act, let's go to Broadway. There's a show right now that starts with this true story.

Heidi Schreck

When I was 15 years old, I would travel the country giving speeches about the Constitution at American Legion halls for prize money. This was a scheme invented by my mom to help me pay for college. I would travel to big cities like Denver and Fresno. I would give a speech, win a whole bunch of money, and then bring it back to put in my little safety deposit box for later.

Ira Glass

This is Heidi Schreck in the show What the Constitution Means to Me. I loved this show. It's totally original in what it's about and in how it tells its story. It's very funny. It's a very patriotic show in this totally uncorny way.

In the show, Heidi Schreck recreates the idealistic speech that she gave at 15 that won her enough money to pay for her whole college education. And then she talks about the Constitution and about her own life. Our show today is about fairness, and Heidi Schreck, to be clear, says that her 15-year-old self definitely saw the Constitution as a powerful instrument enforcing fairness.

Heidi Schreck

I believed it made our country fairer, more equal, more democratic. I believed that wholeheartedly.

Ira Glass

At 15?

Heidi Schreck

At 15.

Ira Glass

Mm-hmm. You said that as a kid you had a crush on the Constitution.

Heidi Schreck

(CHUCKLING) Yes.

Ira Glass

What does that mean?

Heidi Schreck

I was really excited by it. I was a very idealistic, nerdy young person. And researching and reading about the Constitution-- my dad is a history teacher and talked very passionately about the genius of this document and its ability to evolve and to somehow surpass and rectify the flaws of its founders. Like, this idea that there was a document that could be created by flawed people that could be better than the people who made it.

Ira Glass

When you say that I'm reminded of this famous quote from Bill Clinton where he said-- and I think this is such a beautiful quote, too-- where he said, there's nothing that's wrong with America that what's right with America can't fix.

Heidi Schreck

Yes. I mean, Frederick Douglass has the similar quote which is that, like, yes, the Constitution was founded on the great evil compromise of slavery but that it also contained the means by which we could rectify that evil.

Ira Glass

And so your play is partly about that hopeful feeling that you had about the Constitution when you were a kid.

Heidi Schreck

Yes.

Ira Glass

But also how you came to see it once you became an adult, as a deeply flawed document. You talk in the play about how especially the Constitution and American law really did not address things that affect you and members of your family, especially the women in your family, for just a long time.

Heidi Schreck

Yes, yes.

Ira Glass

And when it did finally get around to addressing women, it was late, and it came to it kind of creakily.

Heidi Schreck

Yes, very creakily.

Ira Glass

And there's a large section of the play where you talk about how to get women to be covered by the Constitution, lawyers and the justices had to kind of jury rig women into having rights using, for example, the Ninth Amendment.

Heidi Schreck

Yes.

Ira Glass

Can I ask you to just explain what the Ninth Amendment does?

Heidi Schreck

Sure, sure. So the Ninth Amendment, which was my favorite as a kid, says, the enumeration in the Constitution of certain rights shall not be construed to deny or disparage other rights.

Ira Glass

I just want to say for radio, anyone that's listening, that you're just reciting that from memory.

Heidi Schreck

I'm just reciting from memory. Yes.

Ira Glass

OK.

Heidi Schreck

Well, it's technically "shall not be construed to deny or disparage others retained by the people," meaning that just because a certain right is not explicitly given to you in the Constitution, it doesn't mean you don't have that right. This amendment allows for the fact that the founders could not have imagined the future that we're living in now.

Ira Glass

Well, it's like them admitting it. It's like, we can't think through every possible thing in this one document.

Heidi Schreck

Right. I also like to think that in 300 years they knew that the world would look very different.

Ira Glass

And in the play, though, you say, to actually get this thing to apply to women, Justice William O. Douglas has to come up with a concept which is so strange and so almost poetic, this idea of the penumbra.

Heidi Schreck

Right.

What is a penumbra? Here I am standing in the light, and there you are sitting in the darkness. And this space between us, this space right here of partial illumination, this shadowy space right here, this is a penumbra.

William O. Douglas loved this penumbra metaphor and said that you could therefore take this idea that somewhere in the shadows of the Constitution, in this kind of in between shadowy space, are our rights we have not yet named. You could use the Ninth Amendment to essentially, like, shine a little light into the dark corners and say, OK, over there.

Ira Glass

And then as you say in the show, the Ninth Amendment combines with the 14th Amendment in a kind of Wonder Twins, power activation moment--

Heidi Schreck

Yes.

Ira Glass

--to decide Roe versus Wade.

Heidi Schreck

Yes.

Ira Glass

But the Ninth Amendment is also the way that birth control gets legalized in the '60s. And let's hear-- we're going to hear an excerpt now from the play.

Heidi Schreck

OK.

Ira Glass

And this is where you talk about how that came about. And it begins with you explaining how you and a friend got birth control.

Heidi Schreck

Yes.

Ira Glass

The same year you were doing these contests, when you were 15 you went to Planned Parenthood.

Heidi Schreck

Neither of us were having sex yet, but just we wanted to be on birth control just in case. You know, just in case we were in a hot tub and sperms might happen to attack us.

[LAUGHTER]

OK, I mean, you can laugh, but be careful. Or, you know, in case of a real attack. What I didn't realize at the time is that birth control had only been legal for all women in this country for about 15 years. I mean, I was 15. So I thought it had been legal since the dawn of time. But no, no.

In 1965, this incredible woman, Estelle Griswold, got herself arrested for dispensing IUDs to poor women at her Connecticut Planned Parenthood. She faced a year in prison, took her case all the way to the Supreme Court, and this, this is actually when William O. Douglas first pulled out his big penumbra metaphor. This is when he said for the first time that one thing the Constitution surely guarantees is the right to privacy, and that this allows a woman to put in an IUD as long as she is married and as long as her husband says that it is OK.

[LAUGHTER]

This is a very scary moment for William O. Douglas because nobody understands the Ninth Amendment-- nobody, except for me at 15. Justice Scalia said he didn't even remember studying it in law school. But they had to dig up this amendment that nobody understands, because there was just no other way to deal with the female body.

Because they all wanted to make birth control legal. They did. They wanted it because-- well, because I found out that William O. Douglas, who was my hero when I was 15, Justice William O. Douglas was 67, and he was having an affair with a 22-year-old college student.

[GASPING]

So I'm thinking-- right? They want to find a way to get the birth control flowing. Actually, Arabella, can you play a snippet of the Supreme Court recording? This is the actual argument. So remember, it's 1965. There will not be a woman on this court until Sandra Day O'Connor arrives in 1981. Here are nine men deciding the fate of birth control.

Supreme Court Justice

All of these devices that are covered, that each of them has the potential dual function of acting in a contraceptive capacity and as a prevention of disease?

Supreme Court Justice

It's probably only true with respect to some. But some get by under the term "feminine hygiene."

Supreme Court Justice

And all this-- [CLEARING THROAT]-- uh-- [CLEARING THROAT]-- uh-- I just don't know about. But-- [CLEARING THROAT]-- uh-- [CLEARING THROAT]-- they are-- they are all sold in Connecticut drugstores on one theory or another.

Supreme Court Justice

Is there anything on the record to-- [CLEARING THROAT]-- to indicate-- [CLEARING THROAT]-- the standard of birth rate in Connecticut vis-a-vis the states that don't have such laws?

Heidi Schreck

It's, like, four hours of that.

[LAUGHTER]

Ira Glass

When Heidi Schreck was publicizing her show, she did this interview with Tony Kushner, the playwright and the Pulitzer prize winner, probably best known for Angels in America. And in this interview, they had this interesting exchange. Kushner says to her that he thought that her show was partly about this thing that he has been writing about and thinking about ever since he wrote that movie about Abraham Lincoln a few years ago that Stephen Spielberg directed.

Kushner said that in his view, a central question of democracy is that there needs to be some kind of mystical bond holding everybody together. Lincoln talked about the mystic chords of memory and very consciously tried to pull everybody together into allegiance for the Union. But Kushner said that if you actually interrogate what the thing is that is actually pulling us together, it's really just a stack of paper, right? It's just an act of faith that we have with each other. And he pointed out that how, of course, everybody knows right now this act of faith, this feeling that we are all in this together and we are one people who can work things out together, that is in such short supply.

And the very idea of teenagers giving speeches about that stack of papers, about the Constitution, and its importance and its values, Kushner said-- I'm quoting here-- "It feels like an ethos of a not very distant and yet somehow very distant past, where people believe in fairness, that the superstructure that we've all sworn allegiance to, the Constitution, is going to create opportunities and possibilities." That really hit me when I read it. And I asked Heidi Schreck in our interview if she agreed that the America where she gave those speeches when she was 15 seemed very far away.

Heidi Schreck

Yes.

Ira Glass

How so?

Heidi Schreck

Well, so this was the '80s, between '86 and '89. First of all, I felt-- I mean, I was very liberal in high school. You know, I was feminist, liberal. Like, my speeches reflected those values, and I remember giving a speech about the Second Amendment, which I was arguing for gun control, because there had just been a shooting in California at a McDonald's. And I was arguing for strict gun control laws in front of a room of men who, you know, all owned guns and went hunting. And I won that contest.

And I always felt a sense that these men I was, you know, giving the speeches for supported my right to have a different view than they did, supported my right as an American to express myself, believed it was important in a democracy that we have these conversations together. So that felt different to me. I will also say, this was, like, the very beginning of Rush Limbaugh, you know, and then Fox News.

Ira Glass

And those men who gave you award money after you argued against the--

Heidi Schreck

Yeah, yeah.

Ira Glass

--the Second Amendment, you think that that would be-- it might be harder today.

Heidi Schreck

I think so. Although I will say, I looked on YouTube at other American Legion speeches. And they still seem to be-- like, the winners often seem to be quite liberal. So at least maybe in the space of the American Legion, there's still room for this kind of dialogue.

Ira Glass

I hope.

Heidi Schreck

I hope too.

Ira Glass

Heidi Schreck. If you're visiting New York City, her show What the Constitution Means to Me, is running through July on Broadway. A little Constitutional footnote here-- after we recorded that interview, I learned that the 14th and Ninth Amendments did not really combine Wonder Twins style to decide Roe versus Wade. Technically, the 14th decided Roe, with the Ninth justifying an important precedent that's cited in the case.

[MUSIC - "THIS LAND IS YOUR LAND" BY SHARON JONES AND THE DAP-KINGS]

Credits

Ira Glass

Well, our program was produced today by Lina Misitzis and Ben Calhoun. The people who put our show together includes Aviva DeKornfeld, Jarrett Floyd, Damien Graef, Miki Meek, Stowe Nelson, Zoe Oliver-Grey, Nadia Reiman, Robyn Semien, Louis Sullivan, Christopher Swetala, Matt Tierney, Nancy Updike, Julie Whitaker, and Diane Wu. Our managing editor is David Kestenbaum. Special thanks to David Jacob Weisberg, Nicole Capatasto, Matt Ross, Sarah Sgro, Lawrence Tribe, Sara Holdren and New York Magazine, Krys Jensen and everyone at the South Mountain YMCA where we set up the tattle-phone, Michael Radolinksy and the folks at Fete-phone, who made the phone that we used to record the kids' tattles.

Our website, thisamericanlife.org, where you can listen to our archive of over 600 shows, or download the archive using the This American Life app. This American Life is delivered to public radio stations by PRX, the Public Radio Exchange. Thanks, as always, to our program's co-founder, Mr. Torey Malatia. You know, he said this thing the other day that is a perfect illustration why you should not combine micro-dosing with babysitting.

Kid 5

Uh, our baby turned into a ducky, and I don't know how it turn into a ducky and turn back to a baby.

Ira Glass

I'm Ira Glass. Back next week with more stories of This American Life.