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I had a brilliant idea!

I was inspired by this cartoon:

scaliatoles

I have a better plan: appoint Scalia to the papacy. It’s win-win all around: you know it’s what Scalia really wants, it gets a fanatical kook out of the judiciary, and it gives the cardinals exactly the kind of regressive ideologue they really want. His only failing is that I don’t think he has a history of sexually abusing children, but that’s only a rough guideline, not a requirement for the job.

Any of my readers good buds with some high ranking Catholic nabob so they can drop a hint in their ear? I don’t think any of the Catholic bigwigs read this blog, so I’d hate to have such a perfect idea fail to be implemented simply because they didn’t hear about it.

Comments

  1. Dick the Damned says

    PZ, what makes you think that the Catholic bigwigs would want to implement good ideas? The history of that Church suggests that they try to conceal good ideas, or have them declared heresies.

  2. Randomfactor says

    Presumably one of his first acts would be to allow either married clergy or divorce.

  3. karpad says

    I guess Scalia is technically right, in that the words “entitlement” and “right” are synonyms, and the voting rights act was passed specifically to protect the rights of a racial minority.

    This actually bothers me quite a bit, the bit of word play where people started acting like “entitlement” is somehow a FALSE right, which need not be honored, despite that appearing nowhere in the definition.

    I can almost understand the confusion, since a person “acting entitled” means that they are behaving as if they have rights they do not. But people actually are entitled to their constitutional rights. “Entitlement programs” are not optional spending, they are required functions of government to protect the civil and human rights of the citizens.

  4. mikeyb says

    One up – Clarence Thomas.

    He wouldn’t talk much – a plus.

    He’d tie up Scalia constantly asking him what he should think and say when
    he does talk.

  5. stevem says

    re 4:
    I somewhat see what you are saying, but the subtlety is that rights are not granted, only respected (or sometimes violated). Only _privileges_ are granted. The subtlety is that “entitlements” are generally “that which is granted”, i.e. a privilege. I see the complexity of our language, in that an “entitlement” is actually a subset (or other set) than what one is “entitled to”. So even though we are are entitled to our rights, rights are NOT an entitlement. THAT is the confusing part of Scalia’s racist comment; that respecting (and protecting) the right of blacks to vote is just an entitlement (as he put it), even though (as we all put it) they are entitled.

    … or maybe he is saying that even though they have the right to vote, _protecting_ that right is the entitlement they no longer require. Not that they don’t need the right, they just don’t need it protected, ’cause who would take it way, anyhow? Almost an example of a un-activist judge, the SCOTUS must not make laws, ever, making laws is the Legislature’s job, and only them. The SCOTUS job is just to decide if somebody broke the law or not.

  6. says

    I don’t think any of the Catholic bigwigs read this blog

    Are you sure? I figured they probably all read this blog while masturbating, but I could be wrong.

  7. says

    What kills me about the “racial entitlement” rhetoric (and particularly the follow-up is worse: that the Senate is not qualified to decide on the matter because of how volatile the reaction to a ‘no’ vote on renewing the voting rights act) is that we have spent the last 3 or so decades listening to right-wing nuts and republicans screaming with their hair on fire over the earlier Supreme Court Justices “legislating from the bench.” Now this?!?!

    The deafening silence from the right, from the rank and file voters, from everyone on the right shows how dishonest the “legislating from the bench, “activist judges are bad” arguments always were. It’s always been about a bunch of vicious, lying racists wigging out over the government trying to aid some “undeserving other.” We could talk about re-engineering the effort to eradicate poverty but the only alternative Scalia, et al and the right wing offer is, well, nothing. It’s impossible to reason with liars and impossible to make any positive change when the people you’re up against consider the best way to deal with poverty is to run poor people through a giant wood-chipper. But most of them are too chicken to admit such outright.

  8. vaiyt says

    From what I gather, the Voting Rights Act is there specifically to defend the rights of blacks from people like Scalia.

  9. vaiyt says

    we have spent the last 3 or so decades listening to right-wing nuts and republicans screaming with their hair on fire over the earlier Supreme Court Justices “legislating from the bench.”

    Please. These nuts will rail about anything done by the “wrong” people, even if it’s exactly the same thing they’ve been doing.

  10. rnilsson says

    Yes! All benefix, it’s just this matter of economix of Scalia.

    I have a better plan: appoint Scalia to the papacy. It’s win-win all around:

    He even gets to wear an even sillier hat: Poopoop-ee-doo.

  11. says

    The right-wing justice’s rant goes to the heart of long-held conservative ambivalence about democracy: that corrupt politicians will be able to buy off the rabble, with “spoils” or patronage or jobs; even outright gifts of cash. Only men of wealth, property and education could be trusted to rise above such rank bribery, which is why many states had property requirements and other limits on voting in the early days of our country; universal suffrage didn’t even reach all white men until 1830.

    Yes, Justice seems to think the voting privileges are a gift that politicians can grant or withhold as they wish.

    One of Shelby County’s central claims is that Section 5 is self-evidently outmoded in an age when we have a black president. But the act wasn’t designed to protect the rights of the occasional extraordinary African-American, like our first black president; a handful of blacks acceptable to the white power structure could vote back in Jim Crow Alabama, too. It was designed to protect the rights of all black voters, and of all voters.

    Yesterday it felt as if Scalia lorded over that hearing on a bench built from figurative coffins, entombing the rights that Americans fought and bled and died for almost 50 years ago. If only his remarks could shock Americans in prime time, the way Selma interrupted “Judgment at Nuremberg” on that Sunday night almost 50 years ago, to inspire a new movement for voting rights.

    Excerpts above are from an essay in Salon written by Joan Walsh.

  12. says

    From the comments section below the Salon article quoted in comment 12:

    It’s ridiculous to see a court challenge in any case. Areas of the country covered under the Act but seeking to become exempt can and do apply successfully for such exemptions. The whole right-wing challenge tastes of sour grapes for those who want to work around the provisions in the law specifically designed to phase it out over time anyway. I don’t want to assume that this is tied to 2012’s attempts at voter suppression, but the right is making it very easy to do so.

  13. says

    I somewhat see what you are saying, but the subtlety is that rights are not granted, only respected (or sometimes violated).

    This is exactly the kind of bullshit that the Right uses to push their poison about ‘entitlements. And it is bullshit; rights are granted to you by the government/society in which you live; they have no other conceivable source. Before you start in about ‘natural’ rights, tell me which rights are ‘natural’, which ones aren’t, and how you can empirically tell the difference. Entitlements are synonymous with rights, in the sense that they are something that a society guarantees to all its members. Anything guaranteed to only some members is a privilege (by definition).

  14. stevem says

    re 14:
    Good points, no argument. But just to answer your question: (maybe I’ve been “brainwashed”) but I took as “Truth” the phrase from the DOI, “that all … are endowed with certain unalienable rights, by their creator…”. That is, that rights are inherent to just existing, and just because we encode certain protections in the Constitution does not mean the Constitution is _granting_ those rights; we’re just listing those that we grant _protection_ of. I know, the distinction is little different, just saying where my thinking in the previous comment comes from. But that’s just me, your points are very sound.

  15. says

    stevem #15

    But just to answer your question: (maybe I’ve been “brainwashed”) but I took as “Truth” the phrase from the DOI, “that all … are endowed with certain unalienable rights, by their creator…”.

    Taken at face value, that part of the DOI appears to indicate that everyone’s got whatever rights their parents choose to give them. They provably created you, after all. This works out ok for me, my parents are pretty cool people, but a lot of folk have the misfortune of being born to right assholes, which is why I’m entirely opposed to the idea that parents ought to have any such degree of control over their children’s rights (which in fact they largely do, legally speaking, and there are a lot of really major problems that this causes). Furthermore, in that case it really isn’t a case of ‘rights’ but of which children are allowed which privileges.
    Taken the way it was intended, as a reference to a deity, leads to even worse problems. For instance, it still doesn’t lead to rights being intrinsic; it specifically says they are granted, albeit by a power that is construed to be above all other laws. Furthermore, since there’s zero evidence that such a being exists, there’s zero evidence that it’s able to grant anything at all; therefore, any grants attributed to it are actually being granted by whatever body does the attributing, in this case the body of people who were in the process of creating what’s now the U.S. government. In other words, the government provably exists, and is provably involved in determining what rights people have and haven’t got, while a Creator god cannot be proven to exist, and indeed all available evidence points to the lack of such a being, and if it exists, it has had no measurable impact on what rights people have or haven’t got.

  16. unclefrogy says

    so you are saying that in reality there are no universal human rights at all only those rights which are “granted by a government” or are recognized by a society or culture as expressed by their accepted authority which could be democratic government.
    would that be the rights to life or liberty?
    What do you have to do to qualify for rights if anything? Would that be something that is setup by the “authority”

    How would that be reconciled with the consent of the governed?
    many questions.

    uncle frogy

  17. says

    unclefrogy

    so you are saying that in reality there are no universal human rights at all

    This is a demonstrably true statement, yes. Name a right that everyone on Earth has got, if such a thing exists.

    only those rights which are “granted by a government” or are recognized by a society or culture as expressed by their accepted authority which could be democratic government.

    This exactly. You haven’t got a right unless the society you live in is willing to take collective action to ensure it, by whatever means. This definitely includes life and liberty; in China, for instance, there is no such right; your privilege determines your level of liberty, and if someone causes your death, they will suffer consequences, if at all, based on their privilege relative to you and vice versa. It sucks, but it’s the reality on the ground.

    What do you have to do to qualify for rights if anything?

    The definition of rights I’m using (to distinguish from privileges) is something guaranteed to every member of a society/citizen of a nation. How that’s defined is up to the society or nation involved; once again, this often results in deeply unpleasant and unfair situations, and anyone with a concern for their fellow humans should work against exclusionary definitions of citizenship, but once again, that’s the reality on the ground.

    How would that be reconciled with the consent of the governed?

    What do you mean by this question?

  18. johnmarley says

    I took as “Truth” the phrase from the DOI…

    There’s your problem right there. The Declaration of Independence has shit to do with US laws. It was written solely to tell George III to fuck off. Yes, it is an important piece of American history, but that’s it. Nothing more.

  19. stevem says

    re “rights”:

    I yield, I yield. All good points so far. E.G. The DOI; yes I know it isn’t part of the Constitution and doesn’t prescribe (or define) the laws we live under here in the USofA. That’s why I put “Truth” in ‘scare quotes’. Just expression of my opinions, no argument here. Simply IM<bHO, that’s all. The concept of “Rights” is a real issue of debate these days with many viewpoints and caveats. Enough from me, back to reading, tala!

  20. Anri says

    Isn’t “win-win all around” redundant?

    Wouldn’t it be either “win-win” or “a win all around”?

  21. unclefrogy says

    sorry I have not been ignoring you just other things other duties make requirements of my time.
    I will admit that not everyone on earth enjoys anywhere near all the benefits of human rights.
    It seems that you are saying more than that though. Is there no basic floor, no minimum level that everyone should participate in? Is it OK for someone to be subjugated or exploited by another ?
    It is some other society some other country so that is what they do there?
    Who “decides” what is a right? If there are no universal rights could we not engage in slavery if some stronger part of the population were able to in force it?
    What you seem to be saying is that you accept the way “it is on the ground”. By extension we should all accept it also.
    Isn’t that in a way what Chairman Mao said that all rights come from the muzzle of a gun or did he say power. That that is how “the game is played”. There is only power if there are no rights in practice, if not show me how that does not lead there. Because if I have the power then I can do anything and you only can complain you have no rights only power. If I have enough power I can take everything you have and it would be morally OK?
    Is that where it ends up?
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Consent_of_the_governed

    uncle frogy

  22. dantelevel9 says

    Scalia is the reincarnation of Chief Justice Taney. And just like that miserable excuse for a jurist, he is wrong about almost everything. Especially the status of the black ‘race’ in the USA. And, yes, I use the term race advisedly and only as a shorthand. You all know what I mean.

  23. DLC says

    In some ways it’s a shame that Justices are appointed for life. But then, would you really want to leave the top end of the judiciary in a position where they could be beholden to campaign contributors?
    I wouldn’t.
    Scalia is facing retirement by the end of the decade. Probably by the end of this President’s term.
    We’ll be well rid of him.
    Seriously, Mr Justice Scalia . it’s time to step down. Retire, write your memoirs, be a professor emeritus at some law school somewhere. Your time has passed.

  24. says

    unclefrogy
    Where else do you suppose that rights come from if not the enforcement of them by some group? Provide empirical evidence. Incidentally, I am familiar with the concept of the consent of the governed. I fail to see its relevance to where rights in fact originate, other than that if the governed get a choice, there are certain rights that they’ll almost always give themselves. Similarly, while there are no such things as absolute rights, if one desires a prosperous, peaceful, and healthy society certain rights should be guaranteed. However, it is entirely possible, if reprehensible, for a society not to give anyone any rights at all, and in that case, practically speaking, they haven’t got any.

  25. Brian says

    I’m very happy to see that Tom Toles hasn’t retired, though. He’s been at this gig for a long time now.

  26. Nerd of Redhead, Dances OM Trolls says

    Argh, HTML fail. I’m sorry.

    Have some nine-day-grog and forgitaboutit….*room reserved at the Pharyngula Saloon and spanking parlor, guarded by the Lilac Berets™*.

  27. says

    IIRC, “Entitlements” are things the government has already voted on and decided to provide, e.g. budgeted for.
    They are not “unjustified frills and privileges” or whatever the right wing means to imply by its sneering tone.

  28. unclefrogy says

    I fail to see its relevance to where rights in fact originate, other than that if the governed get a choice, there are certain rights that they’ll almost always give themselves.

    if you were give those “certain rights” a name what would it be?

    I confess I find the discussions of rights from such an abstract aloof point of view off putting,
    Yes in the long stretch of time the earth and its inhabitants are meaning less and yours and my lives are pointless and our wants and desires are nothing but the desire to survive and reproduce.

    uncle frogy

  29. chrisv says

    It speaks ill of our country that the Scalias of the world can reach such heights and be in position to do such harm. Shame on the System that allows such appointments.

  30. David Marjanović says

    Wwwwell. My grand-aunt and grand-uncle probably have ways to get through to Schönborn. However, Schönborn is quite papabile himself.

    Almost an example of a un-activist judge, the SCOTUS must not make laws, ever, making laws is the Legislature’s job, and only them. The SCOTUS job is just to decide if somebody broke the law or not.

    That would be code law, though, not common law (that English system that no country has ever introduced on its own); it would reduce the SCOTUS to a constitution court like Germany or Austria have.

    so you are saying that in reality there are no universal human rights at all only those rights which are “granted by a government” or are recognized by a society or culture as expressed by their accepted authority which could be democratic government.

    As far as I can see, the point here is that rights aren’t laws of physics, they’re not inbuilt in the universe, you don’t in that sense have rights just by existing. Rights are an ought, not an is; they’re conventions – not all conventions are equally good, but conventions are still conventions and not facts that the universe consists of. That’s all.

  31. leonpeyre says

    His only failing is that I don’t think he has a history of sexually abusing children

    Actually, the Catholic higher-ups don’t need to have a history of molestation–they just have to be willing to help cover it up.

  32. says

    unclefrogy
    David Marjanović’s #35 elegantly encapsulates the point I’m getting at. The reason it’s important is that ‘natural rights’ are essentially a faith claim, and once you’ve allowed faith claims as arguments you’ve got limited means of dealing with them. Basically, once you allow for ‘natural rights’ there has to be some empirical mechanism for determining what they are, or any asshole can claim anything to be their ‘natrual right’. Such things as the ‘natural right’ to buy as many guns as you can store, of any and all types. The ‘Natural right’ to pollute, poison, and destroy the productivity of land for decades to millenia, because you have a the current deed to it, etc. The thing is that treating these things as rights causes massive fucking problems, so we shouldn’t do it. But if it might be a ‘natural right’ we’re reduced to the state of a christian arguing with a muslim: “My holy book says this! Well, mine says this, so there!”