Literal Readings

“…He argued that there is no principled basis for distinguishing child molesters from homosexuals, since both are minorities and, further, that the protection of minorities should be the responsibility of legislatures, not courts. After all, he remarked sarcastically, child abusers are also a ‘deserving minority,’ and added, ‘nobody loves them.’”

What rage-filled fanatic would be demented enough to espouse these crackpot views in public?

The answer is a national disgrace: Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia.

Media Circus

That comes as no surprise to anyone with even a glancing familiarity with current events, though the descriptor current must in this case be stretched considerably to include modes of (for lack of a better word) thinking rooted in the Neanderthal period of semi-human history. Richard A. Posner and Eric J. Segall, the writers of the New York Times op-ed in which these quotes appeared, are clearly not strangers to the primitive functioning of Scalia’s brain, an organ that may offer the most succinct rebuttal to creationism currently available. Admittedly, comparing Scalia with a Neanderthal is grossly unfair — to the Neanderthal, whose brain was actually larger than that of Justice Scalia.

Posner and Segall are intimately familiar with Scalia’s knee-jerk hate on the subject of gay legal rights, which the Reagan appointee faux-cleverly insists on calling the “anti-anti-homosexual culture.” Posner is a judge on the United States Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit, which includes Illinois, Indiana, and Wisconsin; Segall teaches law at Georgia State University.

What makes their op-ed so sweet is their argument that Scalia’s vomit-like involuntary response to any legal issue involving same-sex attraction runs counter to his self-proclaimed fealty to the Constitution. Scalia is what is known as a “strict constructionist,” meaning that if the Founding Parents and their successors didn’t explicitly and clairvoyantly write the future into the Constitution itself, any interpretation of the words contained in the Constitution doesn’t hold. And as the private investigator Arbogast says to Norman Bates in “Psycho,” “If it don’t gel, it ain’t aspic.”

Scalia’s intransigent position — it would be too generous to call it an argument — contains two main ingredients: most Americans don’t like homosexuals, so homosexuals don’t deserve the rights granted to the majority; and laws made by legislators can only be reviewed by legislators and not — as those of the sane persuasion generally understand our democratic system — by the judiciary.

In a single stroke, Posner and Segall demolish Scalia’s claim to strict constructionism by pointing out that Scalia utterly disregards the Supreme Court’s role as the arbiter of laws, a central element of our tripartite system of government. It’s as though he flunked the civics class in which his fellow students learned that the Legislative Branch makes laws, the Executive Branch put laws into effect, and the Judicial Branch rules on whether laws are in fact legal. Scalia, the editorialists point out, dismisses the role of the very branch of the three-limbed tree on which he himself perches at a shockingly high altitude.

“Not content with throwing minorities under the bus, Justice Scalia has declared that Obergefell [the landmark gay marriage decision] marks the end of democracy in the United States, stating in his dissent that ‘a system of government that makes the People subordinate to a committee of nine unelected lawyers does not deserve to be called a democracy,’” is how Posner and Segall put it.

Note that Scalia doesn’t consider us to be among “the People.”

Near the end of their op-ed, Posner and Segall write, “It comes as no surprise that Justice Scalia also said that state and local officials who are not actual parties to Supreme Court cases have no obligation to obey judicial rulings that those officials think lack a warrant in the text or original understanding of the Constitution. He cited Abraham Lincoln’s remark concerning the infamous Dred Scott ruling that decisions by the Supreme Court are formally binding only on the parties to the case. That’s technically true, but few Americans will agree with Justice Scalia that Obergefell, which conferred rights on millions of Americans, is comparable to Dred Scott, which denied rights to millions by ruling that slaves were not citizens and could not sue in federal courts.”

And they end with a zinger that kills Scalia’s bizarre contentions the way a crucifix ends a stinking, blood-sucking vampire’s grotesque parody of life: “And can Justice Scalia want his own decisions to have diminished and perhaps negligible force until separate lawsuits are brought in each state to enforce them? That implies that state and local officials are free to ignore his gun-friendly decision in District of Columbia v. Heller (holding that the Second Amendment protects an individual’s right to own a gun). Perhaps a few state and local officials will take Justice Scalia up on that offer.”

One “Good Book” deserves another: From the online magazine Quartz: “With Islamophobia on the rise, a pair of YouTube hosts from the Netherlands set out to highlight the extent of the prejudice that has many in the Western world blaming Islam for the extremist acts of the Islamic State. Sacha Harland and Alexander Spoor, who run the channel Dit Is Normaal, wrapped a Christian Bible in a fake Quran cover and read several passages aloud to passersby on the street. ‘Ridiculous,’ ‘unbelievable,’ and ‘aggressive’ were some of the words Dutch citizens use to describe the verses that were read to them. The video was posted on Dec. 4.

“‘To me, this sounds like they want to oppress you and force you to believe what they believe,’ one person complained, after hearing biblical passages that ordered the cutting-off of disobedient women’s hands and the killing of homosexual men. Another citizen insisted, ‘The story in the Bible is told very differently.’ From another observer: ‘The Bible is a lot less harsh and a lot more peaceful.’

“They were, of course, flustered to ultimately learn the verses were actually from the Bible — not the Quran at all. ‘It’s all just prejudice. I always try not to be prejudiced myself but apparently I am,’ one man admitted after Harland and Spoor unveiled the real book they were holding in their hands. Others simply laughed and hung their heads, embarrassed.”

Harland and Spoor were wise to conduct their little ruse in the Netherlands. Had they tried it in Florida they might have been legally shot to death under the state’s Stand Your Ground law.

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