Judge Hoyt: Banana off a Tree?

"One of a few African-Americans appointed to the federal bench by President Reagan,

[Kenneth] Hoyt has a reputation for eccentricity. In a 1997 case involving alleged environmental contamination in a largely minority neighborhood, the Judge asserted that physical differences among races were the product of their environment.

"'Why do you think Chinese people are short?' Hoyt told the lawyers in the case. 'Because there is so much damn wind over there they need to be short. Why are they so tall in Africa? Because they need to be tall. It's environmental. I mean, you don't jump up and get a banana off a tree if you're only four feet. If you're seven feet tall and you're standing in China, then you're going to get blown away when that Siberian wind comes through.'"

[The court of appeals later called Hoyt's remarks "unfortunate, grossly inappropriate, and deserving of close and careful scrutiny."]

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