Poor Judgment: Antonin Scalia shoots his mouth off…again.

Okay, when you think Supreme Court what do you imagine? Contemplative reflection and solemn sober discourse when deciding some of the most far reaching cases in America? That is what I thought of, or at least what I want to think occurs in the highest court in the land.

But then I think about Scalia and a cold chill makes it’s way down my spine. It was a sad day indeed when Grandpa Reagan replaced a man like Warren Burger with Antonin Scalia and to add insult to injury, appoint William Rhenquist Chief Justice. Even if you felt that the Warren led Supreme Court was too liberal (and for some I imagine it was) at least the justices comported themselves with the dignity we should be able to expect from someone in their positions. Antonin Scalia is as of late behaving more like a childish ultra christian homophobe than a respected jurist.

After being asked to recuse himself after making the statement “We could eliminate ‘under God’ from the Pledge of Allegiance. That could be democratically done,” he said. But he added that would be “contrary to our whole tradition.”, which kind of indicates a bias on his part (unless what he was saying that removing it democratically would be against our tradition – he could arguably be correct in that assessment). So, good…he is off that case but what of his future influence?

The following plopped out of his maw during an address to the ultra conservative puppy mill known as the Intercollegiate Studies Institute:

The ruling, Scalia said, “held to be a constitutional right what had been a criminal offense at the time of the founding and for nearly 200 years thereafter.”

Scalia adopted a mocking tone to read from the court’s June ruling that struck down state anti-sodomy laws in Texas and elsewhere.

Okay, I get it…he does not like homosexuals. That is his deal. But as a justice of my Supreme Court I would expect a bit more reflection on the rights of approximately 10% of the population than to say “well it was illegal when the founding father’s wrote the Constitution so it should be illegal now”. Well they rode horses in Jefferson’s day as opposed to driving gas guzzling SUV’s and they churned their own butter rather than run to the corner store for a tub of Shed-Spread. Is he suggesting that we turn back the hands of time because progress is NOT what the founding father’s had in mind? I seriously doubt it. If he is then he should give up his day job and let a sane person help shape the law.

I know that I go off on a lot of these type of stories (when I actually contribute something:)) and it probably looks like my venom is directed at religion or conservatives and while I do not argue that those two groups seem to have taken up permanent residence up my nose I am mainly angered at the constant persecution of a group of people who happen to differ from us only in their sexual proclivities. If it isn’t happening to you why the hell do you care if two consenting adults are enjoying themselves in their own home? Isn’t life hard enough without people making up reasons to persecute others?

If you have that much time on your hands take a continuing education course.

22 thoughts on “Poor Judgment: Antonin Scalia shoots his mouth off…again.

  1. Here here! Well said! Bravo and all that other crap you’re supposed to say when you agree whole-heartedly with the speaker.

  2. I’ve always thought the Gay Rights lobby took entirely the wrong approach to the debate.  They’re constantly trying to prove that (1) they were born that way; and (2) they are unable to change.  The first is very hard to prove, and the second may not even be true.

    I think they’d be much better off arguing it from a natural law perspective.  They should make the argument that sodomy between consenting adults is a private act, and that government should only intrude with laws when there’s a benefit to society as a whole.

    There are three problems with making the “I was born this way and can’t change” argument.  First is that it implicitly colors homosexuality as a “mistake” or “condition”.  Obviously the conservatives love that—they’re trying to portray homosexuals as people with a something wrong.

    The second problem is that it gets into the age-old “nature vs. nurture” debate.  That’s a debate which behavioural psychologists have been struggling with for several hundreds of years, and not much progress has been made.  As a result, there’s bound to be plenty of shoddy evidence on both sides, and muddying the scientific waters can only help the anti-homosexual crowd.

    Third problem is that it practically begs the religious types to try to “fix” homosexuals and make them good hetero’s.  Despite the insistence of pro-gay activists, some homosexuals can be coerced or berated into a heterosexual lifestyle.  If you’ve premised your legal arguments on homosexuality being an unchangeable aspect of someone’s personality, this is obviously disastrous.

    Related to the third problem is this: it forces pro-gay activists into the untenable position of condemning people who want to make personal choices about their own sexuality.  Witness the hypocrisy of someone demanding a the repeal of anti-sodomy laws one moment (“sexuality is a private, personal choice”).. And the next moment, denouncing heterosexual conversion programs (“sexuality is not your choice to make, stay gay”).  Whether or not you agree with organizations like Exodus, the fact remains that they don’t kidnap people off the streets—people come to them.  Gay Rights types should support peoples’ right to make a choice like that.  Instead they’re forced to condemn it.

    In short, I think the Gay Rights movement is often its own worst enemy.  They should premise their arguments on natural law and privacy, instead of trying to argue about whether gay people are born that way, and whether they can change.

  3. By the way, I notice your posting software will convert a quote followed by a right-paren into a winky-face.  I assume that’s because the quote gets turned into the HTML code " and the smilie-substitution happens after that—thus seeing a semicolon followed by a right-paren.  Sort of annoying, you might want to put a bug report in.  Even more annoying: the smilie doesn’t show up on the preview page, so you have no way to catch and correct it.  In fact, while I’m on the topic, how come your comment preview page still looks like the “old” SEB?

    Back to gays.  I’d like to add that the pro-gay lobby really doesn’t do themselves any favor with that “10%” figure.  The number is pretty widely recognized as fiction, with the “actual” number being around 2% to 3%.  The 10% number came from defining as “gay” anyone who had ever had intimate contact with a member of the same sex, intercourse or no.  Even the kind of stuff which adolescents regularly experiment with and decide isn’t for them.

    This is no more accurate than defining any gay person who “passed” as straight during middle school by going on dates as “straight”.

    Why does it matter?  Firstly, because it demonstrates a willingness on the pro-gay side to use shoddy science and bogus statistics when it suits their needs.  A reputation for intellectual dishonesty isn’t very helpful when you’re trying to give your political arguments the “color of science”.

    Secondly, it’s an implicit argument that gays somehow deserve legal protection because there’s a lot of them.  How ridiculous.  Let me offer a morally equivalent argument: 50% of states had slavery in 1855; therefore slavery was a perfectly natural condition, and abolitionists were radical and wrong.

    Bottom line, sodomy laws are either right or wrong, and the number of gay people in the country doesn’t change that.

  4. By the way, I notice your posting software will convert a quote followed by a right-paren into a winky-face. I assume that

  5. The reality of power is that it will never relinquish power, it will continually attempt to gain more control;
    it will repect no limits, and observe no satiety.

    The problem is, the government must have limits on its powers, on its rights, on its mandates, on what it consider.

    It is not their business, or mine.

    Just as the problem with the Patriot act is not the power, but the control of it. Are we to expect the Government will not abuse its power?
    Hasn’t it been systematically doing so in front of the world? or make mistakes? what recourse is there?

    The correct answer to this questio is not
    “we will debate it “
    but rather:
    “George Bush and your corrupt government, go fuck yourselves”

  6. Yes, well, everyone’s their own worst critic, but I happen to think SEB is one of the nicer looking blogs out there.

    Oh, and while I was typing the above opus, Jess commented how much she liked your photo in the upper-left.

    Back to gay politics.  Anyone agree / disagree?  And how can the gay rights movement be persuaded to dump their ineffective arguments in favor of a more libertarian approach to the debate?

  7. Eric, I am going to re-post an opinion I gave back in July because I think it fits better here and I would like to clean it up a bit and add a couple of comments.
    Before, I had said I believe homosexuality is a combination of nature versus nurture, and to what degree either contributes to the base identity varies in every individual. You wouldn’t say a heterosexually motivated person is only that way due to genetics. To argue that a homosexually identified individual deserves fair treatment only because he/she cannot change his/her orientation due to being born that way is, in effect, saying a heterosexually identified person was born with a more correct or superior genetic make- up. If you believe the sole justification for existence is to recreate then this is a logical position to uphold, but life expresses itself in a variety of ways, and sexual gratification is one representation of mankind

  8. I am all for factual corrections so please cite your figures. I might add that if you cite a group that has some kind of anti-gay agenda to push I will not be taking their stats at face value.

    Ok, where to start?  How about reading the Friend of the Court Brief filed jointly by 31 groups in favor of the repealing Texas’ anti-Sodomy law.  Yes, that’s the court case this thread was originally about.  On page 42, these pro-gay groups said: “The most widely accepted study of sexual practices in the United States is the National Health and Social Life Survey (NHSLS). The NHSLS found that 2.8% of the male, and 1.4% of the female, population identify themselves as gay, lesbian, or bisexual. See Laumann, et al, The Social Organization of Sex: Sexual Practices in the United States (1994).

    Or how about the 1993 Planned Parenthood / Alan Guttmacher Institute study?  If you’re not familiar with P.P. or A.G.I., let’s just say that they’re certainly not conservative organizations.  Their findings: 2.3% of males ages 20 to 39 said they had experienced a same-sex relationship in the past decade. Only 1.1% said they were exclusively gay.

    Gee, that has NEVER been the case with the opposition, I again ask you to back up your 2 to 3% figures with actual scientific data.

    You can’t ask me to do something “again” in the same post you asked me the first time, ok?  Back on topic: So what if the right-wingers have used shoddy statistics and pseudo-science in their arguments?  That certainly doesn’t make it “OK” for the gay rights groups to do the same.  Only dogmatic people think it’s all right to tell untruths as long as they’re convenient untruths.

    Which gets back to my original point about “the number”.  Arguing about the number is stupidity on the part of pro-gay groups.  It drags them into an debate they shouldn’t be in.  Anti-sodomy laws are either wrong, or they’re not wrong.  The number of people who engage in sodomy doesn’t change that fact.

    How on earth do you believe that there is any moral equivalency in your argument?  For your argument to even be an apples to apples comparison you should have focused on the slaves rights

    No.  That’s the whole problem, really.  People didn’t argue that slavery was wrong because of the number of slaves.  They just argued that it was wrong.  Slavery wouldn’t have been right if there had been more slaves, or fewer slaves.  The same is true about homosexuality.  It’s either wrong, or it’s not, and that’s not going to change based on whether 1% or 10% or 30% of the population is gay.  So why do pro-gay groups constantly waste their time bickering about how many homosexuals are in the world?

    If I were to use your argument I should say that since you were once an infant you should spend the rest of your days in diapers

    Uh, it’s not my argument, Eric.  In fact if you read my comment, you’ll notice it’s an argument I was criticizing.  You certainly are spoiling for a fight, though.

  9. I am always spoiling for a fight, I think it has to do with being forced to repress my hostility when I was a child.

    First things first: I will agree to the percentages you quoted (yeah, I looked them up) even though I have a hard time believing them to be accurate. I have known a statistically high number of homosexual men and women if those numbers are correct.

    Of course I can ask you to do something again in the same post…I did it. See, it’s right up there. You even quoted it! My sarcastic comment regarding the “opposition” not withstanding my point was that without the percentages to verify you can’t really state unequivocally that the pro-gay groups are using shoddy science and bogus statistics. The statistics are indeed accurate per the Kinsey study, that they were not the most current accepted stats does not make them bogus. I do not think that I was advocating the use of convenient untruths but I will admit that I was not up to date. As for shoddy science I guess I don’t see it, I can’t prove that homosexuals are not born gay and whether a person CAN change is not as important to me as do they want to. Personal choice is HUGE with me.

    I will be honest and say that I used the 10% figure because that was the last statistic I remember ever hearing quoted and I used it because in this country the numbers DO matter. They matter in the polling booths because that is the only place where an average citizen can have a voice in the political marketplace. If this were only about anti-sodomy laws then I could maybe accept that the numbers were irrelevant because plenty of heterosexual people engage in sodomy but like the slaves it will be one struggle after another, after another until they finally get all the rights they deserve. Numbers are power and it takes a lot of force to change the status quo.

    Let’s say that all of the anti-sodomy laws were repealed tomorrow (and left unchallenged), well then the next fight heats up, maybe it is gay marriage, maybe benefit coverage for life partners, I don’t know. What I do know is that those who already have those rights will try to continue to deny them to others and that is why numbers are important. I have never questioned whether the anti-sodomy laws are wrong, I don’t understand how any person could ever have the temerity to tell another person what they can or cannot do with their own body. And then think that they could actually enforce it.

    Little side note: Once when I was dating I pointed out in a chapter of a book I was reading (Aint’ Nobody’s Business If You Do: The Absurdities of Consensual Crimes in a Free Society) that in Michigan you could get 5 years for oral (hetero or homosexual) and 20 years for anal (same). In protest we racked up 35 years that night.

    Anyhow, I agree that determining the rightness or wrongness of a thing is important but I don’t think our government has ever done anything just because it was the right thing to do, I think they almost always have to be dragged kicking and screaming into doing it by the populace. Without the threat that they might get voted out of office (and separated from their graft and power) our worthless politicians would happily ignore their ‘constituents’, that is why numbers matter.

    Personally I don’t care if it is 1.4% or 14%, but then I don’t make the laws.

  10. Well, if they were a different species and it is verifiably true that they cannot reproduce then it would stand to reason that they all died out. But since there are homosexuals then reproduction must not play a part in their gender identity, either they are gay by choice or biology. If reproduction was the only goal of mating then heterosexuality has the edge but does anyone reading this board really believe that the reason people have sex is simply to have more children? If that is the case I expect all single people, those uninterested in having children, those biologically unable to have children, those too old to have children, and anyone having sex recreationally to immediately stop having sex and not partake until you are trying to conceive. There is no point to what you are doing.

    I also agree that apple pie is better but I do not argue that it is because peach is an inferior fruit, apple is just my preference.

    As for Kinsey’s suspected pedophilia, if true then it certainly has to be considered when using his data, but I also found that he was accused of sado-masochism, voyeurism, exhibitionism, filming pornography, masturbating in front of an audience, and ramming the bristled end of a toothbrush into his urethra. I could take all of it at face value but I find it hard to believe that such an unstable individual (as portrayed above) could have managed to keep it together long enough to convice anyone that he had any valid data to present. I know that people hide things about their private lives quite successfully but since he died in 1956 and his detractors have had 47 years to smear him and debunk his results without him being able to defend either, I will not dismiss his numbers out of hand.

  11. When does a right become a privelege?  Alright, I realize this is a sensitive issue, but I feel the need to make a few comments. 

    First, let me say that I am 100% in support of everyone choosing his/her own path, sexually, intellectually, religiously, whatever.  I am an atheist, but at one time was a member of an organized religion.  I am former military, and believe strongly in the rights of everyone I served to uphold.

    It should be patently obvious to everyone with an ounce of understanding and reason that our government should never be in the business of dictating acceptable bedroom behavior, other than rape.  There should be no tolerance for these laws, and it should be the business of citizens everywhere to promote the repeal of such laws wherever they exist.  Of course, I feel the same way about prostitution and drug laws.

    There should be a federal accepted legal contract that provides the same legal rights to same sex couples as to married couples (i.e. insurance, property ownership, death benefits, etc.)  However, these contracts should also apply to hetero couples, for those who wish to avoid the religious entanglements. In addition, the dissolution of these contracts should be just as painful legally for same sex couples as it is for hetero couples divorcing.  You can’t have it both ways.

    Now, as abhorent as it may seem, it is the right also, of any religious institution to refuse membership or marriage priveleges to same sex couples.  Separation of church and state works both ways.  If the Catholics don’t want to marry you, you can’t sue them for discrimination.

    But here’s what frustrates me: while there are obviously some “rights” that have still been denied those who are homosexual, they are also afforded priveleges in the workplace based solely on their sexual orientation, which I find to be an unfair basis for preference.

    Granted, I am opposed to any kind of preferential treatment, just as I am opposed to discrimination.  Jobs should be provide based on skills and merit, not on color, sex, or orientation.  However, if I hire a straight, white man who proves to be a poor fit for the job, I can fire him with no problems.  If I hire a gay man, or a latino man, or a woman, I have to jump through many, many hoops to release one of these individuals under the same circumstances, to avoid litigation or the threat of it.

    Likewise, let’s say a major corporation is filling an internal position of advancement,  They have two candidates: one, a white woman who has been on the job for several years, has numerous awards for service, and an exemplary record in the field.  The other, a white gay male, who has been at the job for a few months, and is still learning.  In this case, the corporation chooses to promote the male, to improve its numbers for equal opportunity, since that factor affects management’s bonuses.  This is not speculation, I have witnessed this happen recently.

    Why should a person be afforded special consideration, and be immune from the standard workplace hazards, simply due to sexual orientation?

    I, as a white hetero male am hired and fired at the will of my employers.  Is it fair for someone who chooses an alternate lifestyle to be given other consideration?  If we do our jobs equally well, there should be equal compensation, consideration, and dispensation.  If one of us must be let go, it should be based on overall value to the company, and not on whether one of us takes a same sex partner.  I am no more responsible for the oppression of gays than I am for the slavery of blacks, or the conquering of the native americans. Yet, it seems as if my generation is paying for the accumulated guilt of these past actions. 

    In short, equality yes, because your sex life should never matter.  I mean, I don’t have a fat hetero white man day parade, and no one really cares about my sexual orientation.  But special consideration?  No, that’s just as wrong, in my book.

  12. I am with you on preferential treatment and special privileges as long as it is agreed that being allowed to marry if you are gay is not a special privilege but, because it is granted to heterosexual couples from birth, is a baseline right (like the right to live free). I also agree that if the church wants to discriminate then that is their business but if that is their position then no federal or state funds should be directed to the church for any faith-based initiatives. Don’t get me started on how wrong I think Bush’s faith-based initiatives are…

    How ticked off do you think I was when the subject of pay came up in the Navy and I found out that another E-4 (I was also an E-4 at the time) was making more than I was simply because he was married and had a child? He was white, heterosexual, and the same pay-grade as me but because he knocked up his wife he got more in his paycheck. That was my first taste of unfair in the ‘workplace’.

    As a member of the same club you are in (fat hetero white men) I am pretty tired of paying for the sins of my great grandfathers – which is more a figure of speech because my great grandparents lived their entire lives in Norway. They may have sailed in longships to rape and pillage helpless Britons but they never owned any slaves, at least not in America.

    And we do have a parade, it is in Chicago on St. Patricks day. smile

  13. Skippy,
    I do agree with you on one level about preferential treatment of minorities in the workplace – I can definitely understand when men, and white straight men in particular complain about the effects of preferential treatment.  Even as a lesbian, I agree with you and I think it can have unfair outcomes – when you examine it on an indivdual case basis.  However, on another level I can sort of understand the justification for such preferential treatment, even while thinking it is wrong.  As far as I can see, it goes back to Rawls’ theory of ethics as justice. (I’m no philosopher or ethics expert, so if I’m wrong please tell me smile).  The principle of justice, or fairness in ethical decision making states that people should be treated equally unless there is justification for treating them differently.  On the surface this appears to be supporting your argument – that if we aren’t observing the difference of sexuality, if everyone one is treated equally be they straight or gay, male or female, black, white or otherwise, then the need for preferential treatment isn’t apparent. 
    Unfortunately, I don’t think this is actually the case in wider society, and this is where Rawls’ethical theory comes in.  There are two basic ideas in Rawls theory of justice.  The first principle is that ‘each person is to have an equal right to the most extensive total system of equal basic liberties compatible with a similar system of liberties for all’ (again, this goes with your argument).  But the second principle states that, ‘social and economic inequalities are to be arranged so that they are both: (a) to the greatest benefit of the least advantaged (difference principle) and (b) attached to offices and positions open to all under conditions of fair and equal opportunity.  The idea of the difference principle (as I understand it) is that a given distribution of goods or services that is to the advantage of the least advantaged person in society consitutes an unequal distribution that is to everyone’s advantage.  In simpler terms – because basic inequities in society remain – heterosexism, racism, etc, seemingly inequitable treatment of individuals who belong to the disadvantaged groups is actually to the greater good of the community as a whole, because it reduces disadvantage.  The obvious problem with this strategy is that it disadvantages those people who aren’t in the disadvantaged group, meaning we end up with the same problem we started with – which you succintly pointed out.
    The principle of fair equality of opportunity over-rides the principle of difference, which is why affirmative action is supposedly no longer a justifiable policy.  The problem remains however, that society is inequitable, and, I hate to say, straight white men get the bigger portion more often than the rest of us.  So what to do?  I’m not going to pretend I have any sort of answer, but I think that recognising that society in general isn’t equal is really important in this discussion.  Although it would be nice if we could just say – ‘I’m better qualified and that’s all that matters’ in promotion etc, yet in reality that isn’t the case.  In reality, people who don’t conform to the norms, or aren’t white and male do get a raw deal a lot of the time.  While I sympathise with your situation, I also believe that if two people are equally qualified and can fulfil the requirements of the job equally well, but one happens to be black, or female or gay, then I’m all for hiring the minority person, in an attempt to redress the current broader societal situation.

    That’s my two cents anyway, and while I’m sure that you guys are ‘sick of paying for the sins of your great grandparents’:-), unfortunately those sins are still sticking with us, and still affecting the way things are now.  Surely it’s more sensible to try to fix it than justlet it go- even if we haven’t yet worked out the best way to fix it? wink

    Oh, and another thing – what’s wrong with pride marches? they don’t hurt anyone, its just lots of people having a good time smile
    Troy.

  14. I am with you on preferential treatment and special privileges as long as it is agreed that being allowed to marry if you are gay is not a special privilege but, because it is granted to heterosexual couples from birth, is a baseline right (like the right to live free). I also agree that if the church wants to discriminate then that is their business but if that is their position then no federal or state funds should be directed to the church for any faith-based initiatives. Don

  15. Skippy,
    Fair enough, I agree that the situation you’re describing seems unfair to the woman, and was most likely an extremely discrimatory action by her employers.

    “I get less sex than 80% of Americans – I’m in a sexual minority, but I get no benefit from it.”

    But you also don’t get discriminated against in society because you’re not getting any (sorry about that by the way smile), whereas gay people do get discriminated against for their sexual orientation.

    I also think the point you make about bisexuality is a really valid one – recent work by a US psychologist G. Herek (can’t remember his first name) shows that bisexual people are discriminated against even more than homosexuals.

    Another thing I was wondering about, I’m from Australia, so I don’t know much about your anti-discrimination laws.  I was wondering if anyone knows whether workplace discrimination of homosexuals is actually against the law in the US?  I was under the impression that is isn’t in a lot of places.

    “white men get blamed for most of what is wrong with society today, regardless of our own personal opinions or merits.  Isn’t that a form of discrimination?” 
    Yep, I think it probably is, even if it isn’t talked about all that much.  I suppose we’re all just sharing the discrimination around, aren’t we wink?  At the same time, while white men are blamed for the world’s problems – does this actually affect the amount of money they earn, or the jobs they get, or whether they’re allowed to adopt children etc?

    Thanks for replying,
    Troy

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