Memento Mori

Hey, everybody wants to go to heaven, but nobody wants to die. Except for the suicidal, I suppose, whom likely don’t believe in heaven or hell and and obviously don’t buy into the biblical passage of  knoweth no man the day or hour of…

…of his or her…you know…the big sleep. The final curtain. The shuffling off of this mortal coil.

And while I’m at it, let’s toss in some John Donne with …any man’s death diminishes me, because I am involved in mankind…and therefore send not to seek for whom the bell tolls…it tolls for thee.

Where is this going? Sounds a bit morbid? Sorry.But the bell will toll for one and all, by natural or self-inflicted or “other” inflicted means. While everyday the obits offer the latest updates on reminders of our mortality, as long as we’re still in the game, we can continue to either feel diminished or indifferent about the recently departed. And most all of those departed we know not a thing. I mean, there’s over 7 billion of us! Who has the time!? For that matter, I’m not that inclined to know too many people, period. Recall that a friend to everyone is a friend to no one. Less is more, okay?

For instance, one of the recently departed, whom I knew only of, was Antonin Scalia, a member of the United States Supreme Court. Depending on one’s political mojo, Mr.Scalia’s demise might make someone feel diminished. Or, possibly, increased. Count me among the latter. Increased in the manner of there being one less extremist who had the means to inflict harm on many a person, if not the country itself.

To me, and I’m thinking, a lot of others, Antonin Scalia was not a very nice man. Oh, he’s gotten plenty of praise in his passing from this and that diplomatic-minded member of the media, politics and the vox populi, but those of us not so beholden to a John Donne sense of bonhomie prefer to call him and his followers out on seemingly asserting that his loss is a terrible thing. Keeping in mind that, while no one can know that day or hour, know that a Supreme Court Justice knows he or she is appointed for as long as they remain above ground and retain adequate levels of consciousness. I mean, some of the previous Justices plowed well into their 80s and Oliver Wendell Holmes, Jr. finally ran out of gas at age 90. He retired at that age and had four years to enjoy not having to be draped in a somber black robe when at work.

And know that the word supreme means just that: nothing exceeds it. The Court renders decisions based–supposedly–on an interpretation of our Constitution. Those decisions then are what the rest of us have to live with, with the presumption that a fair-minded, free thinking person on that Court might want to leave his or her personal bias or predispositions out of any rulings. Not easy to go tabula rasa when assessing a case, but the presumption is the members of the Court should be willing to give it a try, given what  may be at stake in any given ruling.  Appointed for life and wielding enormous power, when a case makes it to the highest court in the land, the general public expects rulings that somehow respects the “all men are created equal” spirit, and other language from that Declaration, as well as the aforementioned Constitution, documents that we are all taught were created to make us all feel protected from extremist agendas, tyranny and oppression.

*   *   *

With that last paragraph in mind, here’s why I shed no tear for Antonin’s passing:

Lawrence vs Texas: Scalia was among the minority dissent in a case that struck down a law making it a criminal offense to indulge in sodomy. So, it’s the  government’s job to legislate morality? Even in the privacy of one’s home? What next, morality squads? Antonin wants to peep through your bedroom window. Perverted, no?

Columbia vs Heller: Scalia wrote the majority opinion that overturned a previous Court decision that framed the 2nd amendment as limiting gun ownership outside the context of it’s well regulated malitia provision. Thanks to this ruling, the militia is now a very loose term, as is “regulated”. We now have a gun-crazed culture that treats this revised view of that amendment as sacrosanct and virtually impossible in any way to apply any control over the number and types of weapons flooding the streets. And when 20 primary grade boys and girls are ripped apart by an assault weapon psycho, (Sandy Hook elementary school) and our congress, bought and paid for by the gun lobby, won’t even strengthen background checks, I’d say Scalia, and his gun-freak homies, died with the blood of those innocents on his hands. (Oh, UPDATE! BREAKING NEWS! Uber driver shoots and kills six seemingly random victims–and picked up a fare after one of his crazed pit-stops. Guns, guns, guns. It’s how we Americans settle arguments. Even with people we never met! Thank goodness for that liberal ruling on the almighty 2nd Amendment).

Weber vs Reproductive Health Services: Scalia was adamently anti-choice regarding a woman’s right to a legal, safe abortion, not to mention the not-so-underlying contempt for women’s reproductive rights in general. Scalia sided with not overturning what the reproductive rights advocates felt, in this Court case, endangered some women’s lives and required mandatory “counseling” on the matter of getting an abortion at all. Again, governmental snooping into private matters. The upholding of this extremist Missouri legislation wasn’t good enough for Antonin , though. He lamented Roe vs Wade was not struck down as well.  I guess the return of back alley abortions would not cause Mr.Scalia any loss of sleep, any more than those dead school children ever likely did.

Scalia wrote the dissenting opinion when the Affordable Care Act was challenged in his Court. Though not the greatest health care legislation, the ACA is better than nothing, nothing being apparently preferred by Antonin, however. Hey, just don’t get sick, right? This opinion, as he was receiving single-payer, government healthcare as a member of the Supremes. So magnanimous! Such an pompous, unctuous asswipe!

Bush vs Gore (2000): Scalia sided with his fellow conservative judges in having Florida stop counting votes and thus had George W. Bush inserted as President, thus nullifying the will of the electorate, who gave Gore half-a-million more votes than Bush and without the judicial tinkering of Florida, he would have had the electoral college victory as well. Antonin, the election-rigging, water boy for W.!  And, may I remind you, dear reader,  that George and most of his cabinet are now, in several foreign countries, considered war criminals who have committed CRIMES AGAINST HUMANITY. Not in ScaliaStan, though.

Antonin, assessing  “all men are created equal”  in his very distorted way, sided with the Court’s fairly recent ruling that gutted the better part of the 1965 Voting Rights Act. Hey, he simply concluded that minorities (obviously, primarily for whom the law was enacted), need not ever again worry about any racism or prejudice from the white, power elite. Sure, blacks and Hispanics, and other non-white beings hardly ever face discrimination in this more enlightened, 21st century.

Then there’s pending decisions that Antonin will never get to vote (the wrong way) on: legislative redistricting (brought by conservative interests to gerrymander districts and boost Republican victories). Challenges to the blatant voter suppression laws (see previous paragraph) from Republican controlled state legislators are working their way up the judicial food chain. Fortunately, Antonin won’t be there to take another bite out of what’s left of a ragged “democracy”.

Also, a case concerning any organized union’s “fair share” provision that asks for those not wanting to be in a union, but who accept a union’s protections, to pay “a fair share,” would have been decided with Scalia part of the conservative wing of the court. If the fair share provision is ruled unconstitutional, unions–already under attack since the Reagan years–would be further diminished. Let’s face it, like the long-since-gone need to protect the sanctity of the vote, and its attendant racial discrimination, it’s inconceivable that company management would ever again do anything to exploit or mistreat an employee. Unions? No need. Right? Antonin evidently was sure of it.

Oh, there’s more to invoke in support of my contempt for Antonin Scalia. But enough. He’s gone. Appointed for life, and he used up his 79 years of it. Your bell has tolled, yee legal scholar and “brilliant mind” (ha!). Me? Diminished? No. But with one less racist, hateful ideologue on the Supreme Court, less is more, again. At least for now.

There. I said it! Call it my own “ruling” on a court of one. With a half hearted apology to the sentiments John Donne. But he never met Antonin Scalia…












About jharrin4

mass communication/speech instructor at College of DuPage and Triton College in suburban Chicago. Army veteran of the Viet Nam era.
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1 Response to Memento Mori

  1. catt23 says:

    This post is such an important counterweight to the praise heaped on this most unjust of justices by the fawning press, including some on the left. Through his biting sarcasm and unfiltered rhetoric, Scalia used his office to bring a patina of credibility to various bigoted and inhumane views. Good riddance, rest in whatever.


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