aired June 28, 2015 on Dave’s Gone By. Youtube clip: http://youtu.be/TzqQMAOhz7g
Shalom Dammit! This is Rabbi Sol Solomon with a Rabbinical Reflection for the week of June 28, 2015.
Well, it’s taken awhile, but I know what I wanna do when I grow up. I wanna trade places with Antonin Scalia. Appointed by Ronald Reagan, he’s the longest-running chief justice on the U.S. Supreme Court. Thirty years on the bench voting strictly along conservative lines and interpreting the constitution so narrowly, you couldn’t fit a dragonfly’s wing between “we” and “the” in “we the people.”
This man has held back—or tried to—the progress of American civilization, be it women’s rights for abortion, minorities facing discrimination, immigrants facing deportation, and gays being able to do their thing…gaily. They should just pull Antonin Scalia off his bench and replace him with a television airing Fox News; it’d be the same thing.
Of course, Scalia got his head handed to him twice last week. First, the Supreme Court upheld Obamacare. Surprisingly, they voted the spirit of the law–rather than the letter of the law. “So what if the wording is vague,” said the Court. “The President meant well, and he’s trying to help people.” Six justices agreed, including all the liberals, plus Roberts and Kennedy. Scalia dissented, angrily, as did Alito and the schvartze.
Twenty-four hours later, the court made another historic ruling, this one on gay marriage. They’re for it. Well, five out of nine of them were. Amazing how this Court had more consensus on a twisted insurance law than they did on two people wanting to tie the knot.
John Roberts was the stick-in-the-mud this time. He argued that he had nothing against same-sex chupahs, but making it the law of the land somehow circumvented peoples’ rights to vote yes or no on it. Whatever. The fun part is reading Scalia’s dissent. In challenging the idea that sanctioning gay marriage would expand personal freedom, he argues: “hey, on what planet has any marriage ever expanded freedom? You’re stuck together, day in, day out; you can’t leave unless you separate or divorce, and in the bedroom . . .?” I think comedian Chuck Bartell put it best when he said, “If you enjoy watching the same porno film over and over and over again . . . you’re great marriage material.” So Scalia has a point when he writes, quote, “One would think Freedom of Intimacy is abridged rather than expanded by marriage. Ask the nearest hippie.”
Granted, the last time anyone saw a hippie was 1973, but you get the gist. Unfortunately, it’s the gism that bothers Scalia, and he’ll torture the words of the constitution to make sure that his good religious values aren’t ruffled by anything as upsetting as two dudes feeding each other cake on a dais.
Which is why I belong up there in Washington DC holding forth on legal and moral issues, while Scalia would kill on radio and TV. The man’s got a gift for phrasing, like when he likened Roberts’s opinions to the contents of a fortune cookie. Or back when he was asked whether he found it difficult to vote on complex issues. “The death penalty?” he said. “Give me a break. It’s easy. Abortion? Absolutely easy. Homosexual sodomy? Come on. For 200 years, it was criminal in every state,” unquote.
So this is a dangerous guy, but a funny guy. He doesn’t b.s., and like Bill O’Reilly, he gives really good soundbyte. He expresses himself with crystal clarity—even when his morality becomes a fatality. So he’d be terrific doing these mini-sermons, my amusing, Robert Fulghumian ruminations. Meanwhile, I should be in the Supreme Court, agreeing with Justice Kagin, arguing with Justice Thomas, diapering Justice Ginsberg . . .
See, I can spout crazy, offensive things, and the occasional brilliant, profound thing, and listeners can take it or leave it. I’m an entertainer, a pundit, a gadfly, a horsefly even. And so is Scalia. It’s just that his word is law, literally.
We do have commonalities. Scalia is a devout, Italian-American Catholic; I’m a depraved Jewish-American Jew. But I’m not sitting on the highest court in the land trying to turn the clock back on social progress.
So Anto, bubbie, let’s do celebrity life swap. I’ll take your robe; you take my tallis. I’ll listen to people drone on and on about the most tedious minutiae; you listen to my wife talk about her day. I’ll make laws that advance human rights and personal freedoms; you get on the radio once a week and tell prostate jokes. Whaddya say? I’ve even come up with your catchphrase: “Buongiorno Cazzo!” Heh? Not bad, right? Scal, my pal, this looks like the beginning of a beautiful friendship.
This has been a Rabbinical Reflection from Rabbi Sol Solomon, Temple Sons of Bitches in Great Neck, New York. Court is adjourned.
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