“If we cannot have moral feelings against homosexuality, can we have it against murder?”
These are not the words of some fringe radical, some virulent homophobe isolated in American society, but rather those of upcoming Boe Forum speaker and Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia.
It is far from the first time that Scalia has equated homosexuality, an act between consenting adults that harms no one, to murder.
In his dissent in Romer v. Evans, Scalia wrote, “one could consider certain conduct reprehensible—murder, for example, or polygamy, or cruelty to animals—and could exhibit even ‘animus’ toward such conduct. Surely that is the only sort of ‘animus’ at issue here: moral disapproval of homosexual conduct.”
Regardless of his status in American society, Scalia has been the foremost antagonist in a nationwide fight for basic human dignity and civil rights. He is a contemptible and repugnant man who has not only equated homosexuality with murder on several occasions but has openly stated a hatred—what he calls “animus”—that motivates his judicial opinions.
To nonetheless invite such a speaker is to give a platform and legitimacy to such views. It is an implicit endorsement by the university of an irrational hatred and prejudice that has caused untold harm to the community.
This is without noting his odious claims that legal protections and voting rights for blacks were “racial entitlement[s],” nor his absurd notions that affirmative action is no more than “race slavery, race privilege and race hatred.”
This is without noting his assertion that Bush v. Gore was a 7-2 decision, which it was not—nor his use of Henry McCollum as evidence that the death penalty should be used even though McCollum, after thirty years on death row, was exonerated by DNA evidence and exculpatory evidence intentionally hidden by police for years.
This is without his repeated efforts to legalize the death penalty for minors and those with mental illnesses, his attempts to repeal Miranda rights, and his refusal to allow for protections in court for rape victims and victims of child abuse. Rape and child abuse are only concerns for Scalia when homosexuality is involved.
To nonetheless invite Scalia is to ignore such statements, despite them being centerpieces of his dissents in major cases throughout his tenure. Or, worse, it is to profess an indifference to such statements. It is to tell the LGBTQ students at Augustana that their rights are an acceptable sacrifice to improve the university’s image or an expression of outright hostility to such students on campus.
Scalia’s presence does not stem from some desire to provide a “diverse opinion.” Equating homosexuals with murderers is not a “diverse opinion.” It is an opinion hostile to the very notion of diversity, and it is rhetoric that has led to frequent and inexcusable attacks on homosexuals, with more than a thousand such attacks occurring annually.
Nor is it something students should ever need to be exposed to. Hostility is part of the homosexual experience, not only from strangers but from religious leaders, politicians, professors, administrators, fellow students, and family. And it is dehumanising and demoralising.
To invite someone whose rhetoric has exacerbated radical and prejudicial attacks does not promote any kind of diversity. It is not a “memorable treat.” It is an outrage. It is something that makes the university complicit in the attempted destruction of an identity.
Scalia is a hateful bigot with a title. The latter in no way excuses the former, and Augustana should not allow his status to trump basic human dignity.
Matthew Schilling is a junior government and history major from Mitchell, S.D.