Thursday, February 18, 2016

On the passing of Antonin Scalia.

Antonin Scalia.
Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia was found dead at a Texas ranch last Saturday, of apparently natural causes. Because this is a blog and not a news aggregator, I won't be posting follow-ups.

Just know that any person who has gone through the vetting process necessary to become a Supreme Court Justice is there for the purpose of justice, whether you agree with their opinions or not.

Our politicians know this, and I believe that their expressions of loss are sincere: [link]


I've found myself inclined to distance myself from some personal connections over the incident, at least for a while. Scalia's body wasn't cold before I was raking through social media posts in which people declared their delight at the news.

That's right. Delight.

Hell, I didn't even express delight when bin Laden, Qaddafi, or Saddam Hussein died. Some deaths are necessary. They're not cause for celebration. And while I know there are people who celebrated those deaths, I think those people were being asshats. I have never expressed delight over the death of any Supreme Court Justice. And if you celebrated this death, then I think you're being an asshat as well.

The most astonishing statement came from a friend of whom I expected more. I won't quote it here, because I don't want to directly identify them and thus cause them strife. But as similar points are expressed by others on social media, I feel the need to respond. Here's the gist of it.
Scalia's very existence was threatening beyond all other threats. His death is a relief equivalent to that of having a police sniper kill a screaming terrorist who is holding a gun to your head. The glee that they have expressed is due to this overwhelming relief from this primal terror, and if you don't approve of that glee, then you're disconnected.
Furthermore, Scalia's death is a lesson in white privilege because it allowed them to understand that Black Americans feel this very same abject terror every moment of their lives, and therefore they must rejoice in the same way when police officers die. Only more so, because hey, they're Black.
To that, I must say... you're right. I can not grok that threat because my brain is incapable of generating that incalculable level of immature, self-serving, soft-racist condescension.


Firstly, we all know of judges that disagree with us politically.  All of us. You don't learn anything about white privilege from that. You just don't. And you don't get a pass for claiming that your problems are bigger everyone else's because [queue violin]. You don't know their problems. And you don't get to claim that this is the same as having a gun to your head, in complete disregard for the feelings of real victims with real guns pointed at real heads.

What you do have is something profoundly important missing from your psyche that prevents you from interacting with the real world where people have both the right and the privilege of disagreeing with each other without being accused of being terrorists.

Let's put this in perspective: we're talking about a judge sitting on a bench in Washington DC along with 8 other judges who may or may not rule on a subject pertaining to a case which may or may not be heard by them after it may have been heard by numerous levels of appellate courts... said subject being strictly limited to the constitutionality of a law. This is what my friend has equated to a gun to the head.

Exaggerating much? You bet. Clueless? Totally.

Here's how an educated adult handles both the life and the death of someone who disagrees politically:

Seriously, read Ginsburg's comments. We are primarily struck by the fact that she understands, as did Scalia, that differences of opinion do not make people enemies. We must value diversity on the Court because diverse opinions must be spoken for, and not through strawmen or lip-service. When an argument is made before the Supreme Court, it is not like any other court. It is the judges who directly ask questions of the lawyers, and they make those questions as difficult as they can; because when setting a precedent that will be followed as forcefully as the law itself, you must be able to defend that position. You do not find out whether an argument is weak by failing to test it.

And whether such questioning results in the Court rejecting a weak argument, or accepting a strong one; and whether the Justice himself is in the majority or the minority; it doesn't change the fact that the decisions of the court as a whole are better for this tough, direct approach. We must value dissent on the court precisely because it strengthens the majority decision. Ruth Bader Ginsburg shared that job with Antonin Scalia, her close friend. She understood this.

Unfortunately, those who are indoctrinated to look at everything through the lens of confrontational politics know nothing of this, and both misunderstand what the judges are doing through questioning, as well as confuse the difference between personal opinion and the written opinion of the Court. They also regularly misinterpret the purpose of a dissenting opinion in writing.

Scalia was a Constitutionalist precisely because he felt that the Court has no greater charge than that of safeguarding the rights of individual Americans to make decisions for themselves. Thus he opposed all attempts to legislate from the bench. And this was completely divorced from any opinion he might have held about whether the thing being legislated was good or bad, as that kind of decision is not the job of a Supreme Court Justice. Rather, if you want to change the law, then you should do so through legislation. And if you want to change the Constitution, you should amend it. And if you think that position is "threatening", then you have no understanding whatsoever of how utterly, hopelessly clueless you are.

That's not so hard now, is it?


Secondly, there is not one iota of "blackness" to be gained from your histrionic display. None.

In an earlier post ('Splainin') I had just addressed the subject of such condescension. And then I got to read the static on social media. Between the time I posted my last post and the time I read of Scalia's death, a video appeared in my feed from Prager University. I thought about, and then rejected the idea of appending it to my post. But with this, I have a different reason for doing so.

Do you know what good, decent Black people want from you? Exactly the same thing as every other good, decent person. Not condescension. Not pity. Not victimhood. And most certainly not to be held up as the reason for applauding the death of an innocent man who did his best to uphold the Constitution and with it the rights of individual Americans of every stripe. Frankly, if such a person can't hold a different political viewpoint than you without being pronounced "evil" in your view, then the problem lies within you, not them.

And here's how an educated adult defines equality:

No comments:

Post a Comment