Wednesday, February 17, 2016

Justice Served



Well it's always shocking and sometimes titillating when someone turns up dead who used to be alive, like, a few minutes ago, but there it was: Antonin Scalia's big old face right there on the internets with X's over his eyes, figuratively speaking. And I kind of went huh and I'll be and went about my day, wondering about the circumstances (head first in a platter of manicotti?) and possibly humming Ding Dong The Witch Is Dead to myself--these things come unbidden, you can't turn them off--and maybe I was humming out loud, because I was abruptly reminded that one is not to Speak Ill of the Dead.

I don't know where that rule came from. Seems like once they're dead that's the perfect time to speak ill of them, when they can't come after you by, say, accidentally sitting on you because you're little and they haven't been able to see their own dick for decades. But even if you have been speaking ill of someone for years, once he's dead you're supposed to stop.

"I don't wish death on anyone," people will say, primly, even though that's usually followed by a big "but." I'm just being honest here: there are all sorts of people I think could improve the world by not being on it. I'd trade a thousand poachers for a rhinoceros any day of the week and consider myself money ahead. Most of us are not all that crazy about the fact of our mortality and so we get all precious about the Big D. But my goodness: there are seven billion of us swarming this marble and we can't all of us be worth saving. Nor would it be possible. I think Scalia has ceased to exist in any form but carbonaceous debris, but if it turns out he's working on negotiations for the hereafter--they can get pretty baroque when you're a Catholic--I wish him the best of luck, and a good lawyer. He knew some.

He was in the majority in the Citizens United case, touting the constitutional imperative of protecting expensive speech. Free speech, I mean. One imagines him dutifully appending his name ("Fondly, Nino") to his Christmas cards to corporations without complaint, although he probably had people for that. I believe he would have defended the rights of gay fetuses, but one wonders. He wrote colorfully. And "jiggery-pokery" came up in the Obamacare dissent, not the gay marriage dissent. (At least it wasn't "jigaboo-pokery.") He eloquently enshrined traditional (one might say hidebound) viewpoints on the basis of their sheer historical persistence, but one can't help but sense that his animus toward gays was entirely rooted in his conviction that they're icky.

Oddly enough I don't bear any personal ill will toward Antonin Scalia. I think he was pretty smart, and an entertaining wordsmith, which always puts people points ahead in my book, and he was consistent about his principles. It's the principles that need to die, and since a lot of them reside in a particular generation, maybe it's time to start getting that generation's things in order, bequeathing the china, taking a load to Goodwill, and disposing of the photos in the underwear drawer.

So it's not so much that I want to engineer anyone's death. I can't even skoosh a bug, but I'm not beyond suggesting that they've got to go sometime, and now's as good a time as any.

38 comments:

  1. I found it ironic that he died after a day of quail shooting. I suspect fowl play.

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    1. There's a wonderful piece out there that I wish I'd written from the point of view of the quail. "Personally, I was always been fascinated by the longstanding friendship between Scalia and Justice Ginsburg. If a liberal warrior such as herself could find something personally redemptive about him, then maybe there’s more to this man than arch-conservatism and the fact he shot my mother and took her home in a bag.”

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  2. Of course Auden's "Let us honor if we can, the vertical man..." comes to mind. And it's appropriate to use Auden, him being a spokesman for the Left.

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    1. See, now, that didn't come to mind for me. I should probably read more.

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  3. Oh dear, someone's quoting Auden. I can't measure up. However, I won't miss Scalia. And sort of off topic, I never understood the corporations are people too, or however it was worded, point of view. What about the views of the actual people who work for the corporation? They all agree? Seems unlikely.
    I've used "however" twice, but I haven't had enough coffee to edit that. Love the post.

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    1. I didn't have enough coffee this morning to make my coffee. I spilled it, forgot the water, put in the water, and left out the piece that keeps the filter from sinking into the pot.

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    2. I made my heart-strter so damn' weak I could see the bottom so I'll brew a-fresh and read this again.
      At least Scalia's departure leaves more room on the rock.A LOT more room...

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  4. My favorite explanation of the meaning of life and death was Lou Grant's explanation to a tearful Mary Richards. "You're born, you live, and you die. The rest is all filler." At which point she cries harder.

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  5. My first thought realizing he was in Texas quail hunting was "Where's Dick Cheney?"

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  6. "...they haven't been able to see their own dick for decades." I laughed so loud the dog jumped.

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    1. Sometimes we're watching TV with the cat snoozing comfortably on one lap or another and something makes us laugh or yelp and that animal goes STRAIGHT up in the air.

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  7. I must confess your trade (1000 poachers for one rhino) seems more than fair to me. And I generally use the phrase "I know one is not supposed to speak ill of the dead, but ..." and that realization has given me pause for sober reflection. Oh, Murr, stop making me think!

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    1. Yeah, as soon as you catch yourself saying that, you might as well shorten it all up and just go ahead and speak ill.

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  8. He was amazing in his intelligence as lawyers had to look up words when he wrote opinions and he was humorous which was probably a good thing for a sobering Supreme Court. Yes, I totally disagreed with his ideas and ideology, but I kind of thought he was cute...but then I am also Italian American but definitely not Catholic.

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    1. I kinda have a thing for Italian men too.

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  9. I have seen a number of rhinos and I hope they live forever.

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    1. I've only seen them in the zoo. It's not looking good for your wish, though.

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  10. I too was brought up under instructions not to speak ill of the dead. The best I could do in my initial reaction to the news of Scalia's passing was, "I didn't wish for his death, but I'm not going to cry myself to sleep over it, either." However, since then I've read quite a few articles about the man, and two statements in particular have really stuck with me.

    This one: "He didn’t turn into a good person as soon as his pulse stopped. He was permitted to live and die with the dignity he did not allow others. I’m glad he apparently didn’t suffer in death the way he made others suffer in life." (https://medium.com/@SaraJBenincasa/on-the-death-of-a-brilliant-public-servant-fe2a7b6fcd5c#.r6bs77tdk)

    And this: "Death does not wash away the stench of planned cruelty. Scalia holds more moral responsibility for his decisions than the average villain. His weren’t in-the-moment mistakes made under pressure. They were calculated judgments made after hours, days, and weeks of reflection. They were opinions written with the greatest of care." (http://www.dailykos.com/story/2016/2/13/1484955/-Let-s-Not-Twist-It-My-Differences-with-Scalia-Were-More-Than-Political)

    I'm glad he is no longer in a position of power over the lives of others. If that makes me a bad person, so be it.

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    1. Oh, I'm sure it's not THAT that makes us bad people! There's a lot to be said about that observation making a distinction between those who make in-the-moment mistakes and those whose mistakes are calculated. I think about that with regard to white-collar crimes and crimes against the environment by those wishing to capitalize. I'm not a capital-punishment fan, but that's the kind of person who deserves it, if anyone does. Might even have a deterrent effect, which in general I think capital punishment doesn't have.

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  11. he will lie in 'repose' in the great hall. Part of the Catholic tradition. Don't know if it's open casket. Maybe he could be vertical and still hear cases, like Thomas. Anyway, Ginsburg liked him, so it all gets mushed, like thanksgiving

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  12. One of my favorite Murr blogs ever (and I am seriously into poop!). This man was a perverse embodiment of everything that poisons this planet.

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    1. This is as good a time as any to point out that I haven't actually put in a good poop post for a looong time, but I do have one waiting in the wings.

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  13. I don't have a clue who Antonin Scalia was, but if you say we're better off without him in this word, I'll take your word for it.

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    1. Supreme Court of the U.S. Justice Antonin Scalia. The Republicans say Obama shouldn't appoint a new one because he's only got a year left and The People deserve to Have A Say. (Which, of course, they had when they elected Obama a second time.) It's going to get rough out there.

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  14. I don't know where the idea that we should say only good things about the recently deceased came from, but personally I prefer the Cuvier model. Georges Cuvier did such a number on Jean-Baptiste Lamarck when Lamarck died that Lamarck's reputation was trashed basically permanently. Lamarck was a fine scientist for his time (late 18th, early 19th centuries) but to this day "Lamarckism" is a synonym for crackpot theories. I'd prefer to see the same thing happen to Scalia. When someone does as much damage to actual people as Scalia did with his decisions, he doesn't deserve to be eulogized as anything than as the soulless lizard person he was. The fact he could wield a pen with skill doesn't offset the fact he wielded that pen in an attempt to take us back to a time when women and people of color were chattel and being gay was illegal.

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    1. Could we introduce "to Scaliate?" To dismiss entire classes of people with glee and self-satisfaction.

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  15. We were out to dinner with another couple, and their son, the lawyer, texted them about Scalia's demise. I swear that my first words were, "Would it be inappropriate here to sing Ding, Dong, The Witch is Dead?"

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    1. Yeah, there was a lot of that going around. Talk about your hive mind.

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  16. You're at your very best when skewing the politicos. This piece is has me grinning big time and in awe of your wordsmith skills, my friend. Must share.

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    1. And you know what? I do less and less of it all the time because the available skewerable people can't be mocked anymore. No matter what crazy thing I make up about them, they've already said or done it. They've completely taken away my hyperbole license.

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  17. Funny you should mention, "the witch is dead." I found out about Scalia's death when a good friend sent me a text message. Musical notes followed by, "ding, dong, Sca-li-a's dead," followed by more musical notes. Rather shocking how many of us think like that.

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    1. Hey. It's a natural earworm. Completely coincidental how it infected everybody.

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