Scalia still causes giant controversy
Imagine if Adolf Hitler was alive today. Now, imagine he just died. It would be breaking news. It would be a really big deal. How would you react?
If you were a Nazi, you would probably be bummed. If you were anybody else in the world, you would be all sorts of happy. You’d probably take to social media and express your joy that a murderer was no longer.
This past Saturday, Feb. 13, Antonin Scalia, the Supreme Court justice, died at the age of 79. Scalia was well known for being an opinionated conservative who was unafraid to share his thoughts.
Joan Biskupic, a USA Today reporter, who wrote a biography on Scalia, wrote, “He could be belligerent … He loved to call it as he saw it, completely not politically correct. In fact, he prided himself on not being PC on the bench in court.”
Just hours after Scalia’s death, Twitter was inundated with negative commentary about him, with comments such as, “Don’t even try to enforce the inapplicable don’t-speak-ill-of-the-dead ‘rule’ for the highly polarizing, deeply consequential Antonin Scalia” and “I hope Scalia died from gay sex.”
Scalia was vehemently opposed to homosexuality and gay marriage. He made a lot of enemies over his 20-year career as a Supreme Court justice, this opinion being a big reason as to why.
So, where is the line for when one should or should not speak ill of the dead? I feel like Hitler is on the green light side of that argument. I think leading a genocide and campaigning hatred and violence against an entire religion is a qualifier for being happy a person is dead.
On the opposite side of the spectrum, let’s take someone like Robin Williams. There were certainly plenty of people who didn’t like him as an actor and may have disagreed with what he said in his stand-up comedy, but the overall consensus following his death was mourning.
Typically, the general sentiment after a death is mourning. So, while Scalia’s friends, family and supporters mourned, was it acceptable or tasteless for so many people to spew such hateful words?
Here is what I think: as the population grows and social media usage goes up, it is impossible to escape people’s opinions. As long as there are humans, there will be opinions. As long as there is a stage for those opinions to be shared, they will be. As a matter of fact, the larger the stage, the more opinions you’re going to hear, and you’re not going to like them all.
Personally, I lean toward the side of tasteless in regards to the negative comments made of him. I also don’t feel personally attacked by any decisions he made, and I would think those who felt the need to be hateful felt negatively affected by the decisions he made. I honestly didn’t know too much about him before this week.
Generally, I try not to meddle in political affairs much. I’m no political authority. But, as a human, I see a man who devoted 20 years of his life to a job he was passionate about. He spoke his mind and advocated for others to be able to do the same. He shared his opinions on the stage he was given, and he had a huge band of supporters, just as he had those who hated him.
The issue of filling his position on the Supreme Court has now taken on its own controversy. Republicans feel that his position should stay unfilled for the next year until a new president is elected, which would only benefit them if a Republican were elected. Of course, while President Obama has a constitutional responsibility to fill the position and the Republican-majority Senate has the responsibility to vote on the decision.
Obama has already said he will make the selection, and the process will go forth as it is supposed to.
Although I don’t consider myself an authority on politics, I have been educating myself a lot more recently, and just from a logical standpoint: why on earth would you want an empty seat for that long when there isn’t even a guarantee that the candidate you hope will be elected, will be elected? And, then, there’s that little thing called the Constitution. I mean, hello.
My thoughts go out to the family and friends of Scalia, and I think that regardless of the haters, he’s left a legacy behind as a person who helped to shape America into what it is today.
Whether you like it or not, you can’t take that away from him.