Tuesday, July 2, 2013

Antonin Scalia, Bad Person


It was easy to miss but on June 30 the New York Post carried brief editorial remarks by Michael Goodwin that read:
Count me among those cheering the Supreme Court decisions on gay marriage. At least I was cheering until I read the part of Justice Anthony Kennedy’s opinion where he claims the law he struck down was motivated by hate . . .[that] the law inflicts an “injury and indignity” on gay Americans and reflected a “bare congressional desire to harm a politically unpopular group.” By extension of that logic, those who still oppose same-sex marriage are bigots.
Why yes, that’s precisely why Justice Antonin Scalia, in a dissent that is being called “intemperate,” “blistering,” “flaming,” and “dripping with contempt and sarcasm,” wrote:
In the majority’s judgment, any resistance to its holding is beyond the pale of reasoned disagreement. [It is to] “dis-parage,” “injure,” “degrade,” “demean,” and “humiliate” our fellow human beings, our fellow citizens, who are homo-sexual. All that, simply for supporting an Act that did no more than codify an aspect of marriage that had been unquestioned in our society for most of its existence—indeed, had been unquestioned in virtually all societies for virtually all of human history. It is one thing for a society to elect change; it is another for a court of law to impose change by adjudging those who oppose it hostes humani generis, enemies of the human race.
Scalia’s passionate opinions flow from his pen like lava, seemingly indiscriminate, but nevertheless finding every curve and crevice of what lies before them. Often referred to as the “most conservative” of the Supreme Court jurists, Scalia spends part of his Windsor dissent arguing in defense of what used to be considered a most “liberal” notion: that human beings have a right to express their point of view without fear of reprisal; a right to dissent from conventional wisdom; a right, even, to be wrong. It is a sentiment that free-thinkers (of even the recent past) would often express by quoting Evelyn Beatrice Hall’s summary of Voltaire’s thinking: “I disapprove of what you say, but I will defend to the death your right to say it.”

Kennedy’s opinion makes it clear that the days of defending the freedom of others to think and speak outside of the ever-narrowing corridors of what is permissible are numbered; the line of delineation he sketches out is stark, bare, and singular: there will be one (correct) thought or there will be Bad People.

What an illiberal notion!

Read more at http://www.firstthings.com/onthesquare/2013/07/antonin-scalia-bad-person

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