Sunday, February 14, 2016

Is it OK to "Speak Ill" of the Dead?

It is vengeful and wrong to rejoice in another person's death. I truly believe that. Just because you disagree with someone, that doesn't mean you should dance on their grave. It's unseemly and it's inhumane. Everyone is a person. Almost everyone has people that care about them and grieve their loss.

On the other hand, I don't believe that when you die, you automatically get a pass on everything you've done in life. It can't possibly be that certain people, so virulently unkind in life, are automatically transformed into wonderful human beings once deceased. Particularly when you are a public figure whose actions have impacted so many people.

And so it is, in my view, with Antonin Scalia. He held a lifetime appointment to what is arguably the most important and influential judicial body in the world. And he had a brilliant and creative intellect. But he said--and in some cases enshrined in the legal canon forever, and with lasting consequences--so many abusive, cruel, and abhorrent things, that at a minimum, it's easy for me at least--both as a law dork and someone who thinks all humans should be treated equally--to rejoice in the fact that he will no longer sit on the United States Supreme Court.

The fate of women, prisoners, gay people, minorities, and other oppressed demographics in this country met with no sympathy at Justice Scalia's pen. Under Scalia's "strict construction" of the constitution--and its logical outcome--black people were stupid and didn't belong in good colleges. Women could and should be discriminated against on the basis of gender. Gay people were disgusting abominations of nature whose love for one another should be criminalized like murder. Executing innocent prisoners was perfectly fine.

In short, the hegemonic systems of repression that have kept a small minority of white men--men like Scalia--in positions of power for so long in this country--and not just in power, but in the role of a collective oppressor--should be maintained because that's what the founding fathers wanted.

That is wrong, I think, both legally and morally. 

If social progress in America has any true meaning, the country will mourn Scalia's death as a human being, granting him the grace, compassion, and good will he was so prone to withholding from everyone else in his own life's work.

1 comment:

  1. He died, that sucks. But I don't, and won't, shed tears for a man that basically marginalized my son from enjoying the same happiness that he and his wife arrogantly enjoy. I take that personally—as if my genes are somewhat inferior to his.

    Oh, I forgot to say .... my son is gay. My empathy goes out to his family, but I'll shed not one tear for this misguided man.


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