Bruce Hay, a faculty member in the Law School at Harvard, has written an essay on Antonin Scalia, published on Salon. See here. He speaks of being a “naive young fool,” when he first took a job as one of Scalia’s law clerks. He concludes this way:
He [Scalia] died as he lived, gun at hand, dreaming of killing helpless prey from a position of safety and comfort. May his successor on the Court have a loftier vision of law, and of life.
Bruce Hay also calls him “erudite and frighteningly smart,” a note that keeps being sounded as these days drag on. Frighteningly smart. And yet, in the same article, Hay says this:
He refused to join a recent Supreme Court opinion about DNA testing because it presented the details of textbook molecular biology as fact. He could not join because he did not know such things to be true, he said.
Ordinarily, a writer at this point would say, “How can a man be frighteningly smart, and yet not accept the details of DNA testing as presented in a textbook of molecular biology as fact?” Well, of course, he can’t. If Scalia did not accept the consensus of scientific opinion on DNA testing, then he is not “frighteningly smart.” Can’t be. And this is what I find so irritating about this whole national thread that is being pursued. Scalia is called “frighteningly smart.” He is called “brilliant.” But he can’t be those things and also be stupid, which he is because he believed LGBTQ people abuse children and because he believed that we don’t know the truth about DNA testing. I complain here about writers. It is high time writers acknowledge that any one who believes what Scalia said he believed is not “brilliant” or “smart.” He is not smart enough to arrive at an accommodation between matters of religion and matters of science, an accommodation I learned when I was ten years old in an Episcopal church in Columbia, SC. I learned how to do that, so each of those areas could be respected. “God works in mysterious ways” was the way my family of Episcopalians (usually) dealt with this, which can explain how Darwin’s theory of evolution could be studied and learned about while not disturbing the mysteries of religion. (For my family, Darwin’s theory was not theory. It was accepted fact. Of course, my family didn’t dismiss the problem with “God works in mysterious ways,” when the “problem” was my homosexuality.)
Hay closes his essay with his hopes for the future and for future Supreme Court justices. But the inability of writers to call stupidity by its rightful name does not bode well for the future of LGBTQ people. We are going to be in this swamp for years, decades. We are not going to get all our rights anytime soon—protection in our jobs, protection from religious persecution, protection from state persecution—and our fellow citizens are going to continue to believe things that are no more “true” than the handling of snakes in religious services. I wrote about this here and here and here. Even another justice like Ruth Bader Ginsberg can’t prevent this forecast from coming true. We’re in for a hard time, not merely because they are stupid but because they are vicious. We should call these things by their right names.