Opinion » Bill Cope

Mr. Cope's Cave: It's A Slightly Better World Today


I was once advised—by a past editor of this publication, in fact—that it is a rule of thumb for newspaper writers not to speak ill of the dead. I assumed he meant the recently dead, because I've seen articles all of my newspaper-reading life that spoke ill of dead people who'd been gone for a respectable interval.

I'm not sure how long the honeymoon on speaking ill of the dead extends, but it must be rather brief. Some dead people don't enjoy any time whatsoever before someone is speaking ill of them. Muammar Gaddafi, for instance. He wasn't gone more than three or four minutes before people were speaking just as ill of him as they were before he joined the dearly departed. Same with Saddam Hussein and Osama bin Laden. Obviously, whoever came up with the rule of thumb didn't intend it to extend to all recently dead people, depending on their level of despicability.

I would never go so far as to make the claim that Antonin Scalia was as despicable as Hussein or bin Laden. Not in the world-class, murdering criminal psychopath sense, anyway. But in terms of damage done to the democratic foundations of this country, it's hard to find an equal. With that in mind, I'm going to cut the expiration date on not speaking ill of Scalia down to a little over four hours. That's how long ago it's been since I learned he'd been found dead—and at a West Texas luxury resort that features gourmet meals and private hunting, no less. I couldn't help but think how appropriate it was that such a corrupt and venal slob of a man would go to glory surrounded by rich foods, underlings waiting on him hand and foot, and wild animals arranged for him to slaughter at will.

I'm also curious to know if Jabba was paying his own way at the "ranch," or if perhaps, once again, the Koch brothers were picking up the tab. It certainly wouldn't be the first time. As far back as 2010, it has been known Scalia and his little sidekick Clarence Thomas attended a Koch event at a posh Palm Springs resort during which the attendees—a collection of the richest conservatives in America—combined their support for the vile Citizen United case, which was conveniently decided a few weeks later in the Supreme Court with the enthusiastic yeas of Scalia and Thomas. How those two were able to retain their seats on the court after such an outrageous example of conflict-of-interest still baffles anyone who reveres justice.

As to his judgment that the Voting Rights Act no longer needs to be vigorously enforced in the states with the longest and most vicious histories of denying voting rights, that came as no surprise, either. Not from a man who wore his racism on the floppy sleeve of his black robes as openly as he held it in his black heart (an exception being his long friendship with Thomas, who sat like a bird on his shoulder, did what he was told and kept his mouth shut.)

The right wing has held Scalia out for years as an allegedly brilliant legal mind. Excuse me, but I didn't see it. There is nothing brilliant about handing the American political process over to those with the deepest pockets and most vested interests. There is nothing brilliant about suggesting black students should attend less rigorous universities, that there is nothing unconstitutional about executing innocent people, or that homosexuality should remain illegal simply because it has always been illegal—all positions Scalia has argued in court proceedings.

Brilliant, my ass. All I've seen in Scalia is a thuggish bully who provided the rationale—as weak as it is—for the oligarchs and corporatists and powerful who never feel they have as much power as they'd prefer. He's been huffing and puffing his credentials as a conservative genius ever since the Idiot President nominated him for the court 30 years ago. But like other supposedly keen conservative intellects—George Will, Ted Cruz and Karl Rove spring to mind—Scalia has proved to be just another example of how stupid people need to elevate someone from their ranks as the paragon of intellectual substance, usually by virtue of a talent for self-aggrandizement, deception and utter disregard for the humanity of those outside their caste.

I won't come out and say I'm happy Scalia is dead. But I have no qualms about saying I am happy he can no longer taint the law of our land with his immoral essence.