The death of Justice Scalia hit hard for me for two reasons, one I had the opportunity to meet him. I took students to hear him at the Peabody when he was here to speak to the law school. In a room full of Political Elites, me and 4 high school students were able to have a conversation with him. He made time for my students and gave them the opportunity of a lifetime. We knew what we experienced was special, but today we see how precious that moment truly was. Did I agree with all of his decisions? No. However, I respected that he stood by them as defender of the Constitution. I think Americans need to remember that the Constitution is law. It is not written to appease the masses; it is made to protect us all. He admittedly made decisions he didn’t agree with personally. His reasoning was simple; it was the law. He explained that sometimes the law and his personal opinion were in conflict. On the bench, the law won.
“In a 1990, First Amendment case, R.A.V. v. St. Paul, Scalia wrote the Court's opinion striking down a St. Paul, Minnesota, hate speech ordinance in a prosecution for burning a cross. Scalia noted, "Let there be no mistake about our belief that burning a cross in someone's front yard is reprehensible. But St. Paul has sufficient means at its disposal to prevent such behavior without adding the First Amendment to the fire.”
The Irony in this is that he protected those who celebrate his death today, which leads me to my second reason for taking his death so hard, America’s reaction. Scalia was the longest serving Justice on the Supreme Court. He has been a fixture in America, but most importantly he was a husband, a father to 9, a grandfather to 35, and a best friend. He was a person. Maybe, I see him more as a person because he became real to me, but I have always felt sadness when someone passes, even if I never knew them.
Social media immediately became a firestorm of venom that made me wonder what kind of future do we actually have. I starred in horror at the applause for his demise. This was not one or two, there were hundreds and had I kept looking I am sure I would have found thousands of comments that were to grotesque, I lost it. I engaged with one of the “trolls” regrettably I had to apologize to my friends for my anger. I had let them get to me, but I am so sad that people feel like this is ok? Should we ban speech such as this, Justice Scalia has said no. I feel that even though this is fired towards him, his decision would be the same. Free speech is pivotal to the document he loved, that he protected and it is essential to maintain the freedom that we have today.
His death had shown me that our countrymen have lost decency and respect for each other. At one time in this country, even if we did not like someone politically we would mourn for their families, for their role in our history, and for the tragedy of the passing of a fellow human. I saw a side of society that shows me that not only is our freedom in trouble, but our sense of morals and human decency have eroded to a point where we all should be ashamed and most certainly scared.
Some will dismiss it as being “just social media.” Social media is giving some the veil to be who they really are. They can take off the mask and hide behind the screen saying the dark things that they keep hidden from the rest of the world. They are revealing who they really are and they are reveling a society that has lost its way. I pray that America wakes up soon. There is more at stake right now than most even realize.
Please for everyone’s sake wake up and if you do not believe that this garbage is ok, push back. Stand up. No the answer is not a law to ban this behavior, the answer is to not make is socially acceptable anymore. Push back, embrace positive talk and don’t glorify the nasty, negative talk. We need to push the scary folks back in to the shadows. Keep that sick stuff to yourself. I want to know that kindness and humanity still exists.
My thoughts and prayers go out to Scalia and his family, but most importantly to the American Public, who whether they appreciated it or not, just lost a patriot and a defender of the Constitution, the very document that grants them the freedom to be so ugly. #WakeUpAmerica