Richard Dawkins has labeled belief "delusional." Most of us know that the Devil was a Judeo-Christian invention, a bugaboo to keep the flocks in thrall of dualistic dogma: behave yourself and J*H*V*H or Jesus will reward you with Heaven; fuck up and you will wind up in an eternity of hellish hotness or frigid cold, depending on the imagination of the cleric (and on that alone since no one has gone to the undiscovered country and returned to tell the tale). That a sitting justice on the SCOTUS believes in such nonsense suggests Dawkins not only was right, he pinpointed a genuinely frightening prospect: final arbiters of our nation's laws who are Donald Duck crazy.
I am a new subscriber to New York Magazine. I started my sub when I returned from a brief visit with my son in Brooklyn, but to be perfectly honest about it, the magazine, like all print media these days, must be having hard times: they made me an offer I simply could not refuse. I do not feel I wasted my money, not if the last issue is any indication. It contains a portrait of Joaquin Phoenix doing a new movie with the delightful director, Spike Jonze, and an extended and quite revealing interview with Justice Antonin Scalia. I urge you to read the entire interview online at
In the meantime, let me say that with regard to women's rights and those of same sex couples, Scalia contradicts himself -- you'll see how -- and he is equally befuddled on the subject of interpreting the Constitutional "as written," punctuating his presentist arguments (that the 18th century has any similarity to the 21st) with admissions, repeatedly, that "times change." But the most incredible (jaw-dropping, really) aspect of the interview is how closely he adheres to Catholic dogma. A Sicilian, Scalia actually believes in the infallibility of the Pope, application of Catholic dogma to such things as abortion, and the existence of the Devil. I warn you, this segment of the interview may have you not only seeing red but going out into the streets and screaming that the sky is falling in. Here, in all its astonishing stupidity, is the segment I am talking about:
You believe in heaven and hell?
Oh, of course I do. Don’t you believe in heaven and hell?
Does that mean I’m not going?
[Laughing.] Unfortunately not!
Wait, to heaven or hell?
It doesn’t mean you’re not going to hell, just because you don’t believe in it. That’s Catholic doctrine! Everyone is going one place or the other.
But you don’t have to be a Catholic to get into heaven? Or believe in it?
Of course not!
Oh. So you don’t know where I’m going. Thank God.
I don’t know where you’re going. I don’t even know whether Judas Iscariot is in hell. I mean, that’s what the pope meant when he said, “Who am I to judge?” He may have recanted and had severe penance just before he died. Who knows?
Can we talk about your drafting process—
[Leans in, stage-whispers.] I even believe in the Devil.
Of course! Yeah, he’s a real person. Hey, c’mon, that’s standard Catholic doctrine! Every Catholic believes that.
Every Catholic believes this? There’s a wide variety of Catholics out there …
If you are faithful to Catholic dogma, that is certainly a large part of it.
Have you seen evidence of the Devil lately?
You know, it is curious. In the Gospels, the Devil is doing all sorts of things. He’s making pigs run off cliffs, he’s possessing people and whatnot. And that doesn’t happen very much anymore.
It’s because he’s smart.
So what’s he doing now?
What he’s doing now is getting people not to believe in him or in God. He’s much more successful that way.
That has really painful implications for atheists. Are you sure that’s the Devil’s work?
I didn’t say atheists are the Devil’s work.
Well, you’re saying the Devil is persuading people to not believe in God. Couldn’t there be other reasons to not believe?
Well, there certainly can be other reasons. But it certainly favors the Devil’s desires. I mean, c’mon, that’s the explanation for why there’s not demonic possession all over the place. That always puzzled me. What happened to the Devil, you know? He used to be all over the place. He used to be all over the New Testament.
What happened to him?
He just got wilier.
He got wilier.
Isn’t it terribly frightening to believe in the Devil?
You’re looking at me as though I’m weird. My God! Are you so out of touch with most of America, most of which believes in the Devil? I mean, Jesus Christ believed in the Devil! It’s in the Gospels! You travel in circles that are so, so removed from mainstream America that you are appalled that anybody would believe in the Devil! Most of mankind has believed in the Devil, for all of history. Many more intelligent people than you or me have believed in the Devil.
Scalia - or anyone else who believes in the fairytale which is the bible - belongs on the highest court in our land about as much as I do. The interpretation and adjudication of the laws which define the United States of America should be in no way, shape or form dependent on any kind of irrational belief, yet Scalia waves his belief about like it's nothing problematic. Worse, he wants to treat the Constitution "as written," when, by the very existence of the process of amendment, it was DESIGNED to be MODIFIED!
If I thought there were any chance that it would succeed, I would gladly start an Impeach Justice Scalia movement and get his sorry ass off the court!
Scalia doesn't deserve to be a dog catcher. But in my opinion, you, Loren, would make a great justice.
I'll second that!
Bill Maher had a particularly scathing take on Scalia in last week's New Rules.
One of Bill's better New Rules end commentaries ... and utterly, absolutely ON POINT!
I like this part.
"If you think the world is about to end, that's your right," Maher said. "But you don't get to vote on next year's budget because it doesn't concern you."
Thanks for the Bill Mahr link, matthew greenberg.
Bill Maher has a way with words! Sharp as knives, piercing as loud sirens, on target as a bullet shot by a marksman.
He does Joan! I love Bill Maher!
Just what we need. Another religious nut making laws that interfere with our government.
This is scary! Let's take this man to the Creationist's Museum immediately and give him a ride on Noah's Ark. I'm sure he knows that the dinosaurs were tricks of the devil!
Scalia is the reason why there simply MUST be a Constitutional Convention to rewrite the Constitution to more reflect the validities and findings of science. We must all remember that in spite of the founding fathers insistence on a secular government they were lamentably woefully ignorant of what the future of science could bring into this world. It is painfully obvious that our rights as human beings has been slowly eroded (particularily the past 6 decades). I don't believe that the Constitution was written to be the end-all of all discussion concerning what inalienable rights that a person has or should have. The Bill of Rights needs to have it's legal authority placed squarely back upon the shoulders of the individual.and not vested interests. I am absolutely scared to death when I have to hear this sort of mindless, superstitious drivel being spouted from the mouth of one of just 9 people in this country who get to decide just what I can and can not do or by extension what other people can or can not do to me against my will. As long as Scalia sits on the bench you can be sure he is always going to side with the fundies and the other religionists to ensure that they be allowed to shove their garbage down our throats as forcefully as they can. There must be some way that we could remove these ideologues from the bench. Lifetime appointments scare me; It is all too appearant that Scalia has completely lost HIS FUCKING MIND!!!!!!!!!
A constitutional convention right now would not even qualify as a bad joke, as fractured and divided as our politics currently are. Once and if we can neutralize or minimize the influence of the Religious Reich and flense off those politicians who want to insist on living in the 16th century rather than the 21st, we might have a chance at updating the excellent document which got the US started off, something over two-and-a-quarter centuries ago ... but only then.
And that's going to be some work.