Explaining Muppet Theory: Are You An Ernie Or A Bert? Slate's Dahlia Lithwick believes that all relationships can be defined by the difference between Chaos Muppets and Order Muppets.

Explaining Muppet Theory: Are You An Ernie Or A Bert?

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It's only human nature to look for ways to explain ourselves to ourselves. Dahlia Lithwick, a senior editor and legal correspondent for Slate magazine, has introduced a new one - Muppet Theory: a Unified Theory of Muppet Types.

Dahlia Lithwick joins us. Thanks so much for being with us.

DAHLIA LITHWICK: Thank you so much for having me.

SIMON: And please tell us what Muppet theory is.

LITHWICK: Well, it has been long known in my marriage that the key to a good marriage is quickly identifying which of you is the order Muppet, in the manner of Bert...

ERIC JACOBSON: (As Bert) Oh hi, Ernie.

LITHWICK: ...or Kermit...

STEVE WHITMORE: (As Kermit) Hi, all.

LITHWICK: ...or Beaker.

WHITMORE: (As Beaker) Me, me, me, ma ma ma.

LITHWICK: And which of you is the chaos Muppet. That's the one who looks like Cookie Monster or Ernie. He's generally found in a cloud of cookie crumbs and little, flaming things.

DAVID RUDMAN: (as Cookie Monster) Cookies.

LITHWICK: And then once you know which of you is the chaos Muppet, and which of you is the order Muppet, it all sorts from there. You'll never argue again.

SIMON: Yeah. You've covered U.S. Supreme Court for many years and insist that this Muppet Theory, you know, has helped you see the court in a whole new way.

LITHWICK: It's true. Many years ago, I wrote an article saying that Justice Stephen Breyer was a lot like Grover, and that Justice Antonin Scalia was a lot like Oscar the Grouch; and that once you understood that, the whole - sort of dialectic between them is resolved. It's not about strict construction or textualism or activism. It's just about which Muppet you are.

SIMON: Can we get you to extend your Muppet vision to something like the European debt crisis?

LITHWICK: I can. Once you start thinking in terms of Muppet typology - really, everything is explained readily. For instance, earlier this week when there was an enormous public dustup about David Cameron inadvertently leaving his small child in a pub for some time, everybody else was trying to determine whether if that was right or wrong, and what it all meant. Now, I just thought to myself, chaos Muppet. That explains everything.

You can sort of see Merkel, for instance, in Germany as a classic order Muppet. And so you can really start to see all of Europe as an array of chaos Muppets doing battle with order Muppets, for control of the Muppet world.

Someone asked me today - again, it's important to realize I've covered the court for 13 years, and nobody has ever asked me anything interesting. But someone asked me today about biblical characters, and whether you could sort biblical characters into chaos and order Muppets. So that might be my follow-up piece.

SIMON: Dahlia Lithwick - senior Muppet correspondent for Slate magazine, who also covers the Supreme Court. Thanks so much for being with us.

LITHWICK: Thank you very much for having me.

SIMON: You certainly have made us see the world differently.

LITHWICK: I fear that that is true. I just - mahna mahna.



SIMON: This is NPR News.

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