I know you shouldn’t usually take pleasure in somebody dying but Justice Antonin Scalia did so much harm to gays and lesbians that it’s hard to muster up any sympathy for him. In fact, just the opposite, I’m glad this hateful man is gone. Is it okay to be happy that a homophobe is dead?
From: Bye Scalicia!
The short answer is: Yes, sorta.
You mention that “it’s hard to muster up any sympathy” for him. I believe that sympathy normally follows from respect – even grudging respect. Despite his intellect and service Justice Scalia took delight in trying to keep equal rights from whole classes of people – especially gays and lesbians. He regularly equated us with murderers, pederasts, child abusers and people who beat animals. Plus he “hunted” quail the day before he died. Yes, his idea of good time was going to a luxury Texas resort to shoot tiny birds.
Scalia didn’t respect us. Exactly the opposite – he used his immense power to further the hate against us. He didn’t deserve our respect in life nor, I’d argue, our sympathy in death. Why should death change how we feel about someone like that? All they did was stop breathing. It’s not exactly hard to do.
This answers your main question – which is effectively am I bad person for being happy that someone who affected my life in an extremely negative way is dead. No, you’re not.
But I suspect me just saying “you’re not a bad person” won’t be enough so let’s unpack that a little more.
Since the news of Scalia’s death broke I’ve seen people celebrating his demise chided by the “we’ve got to be respectful” brigade. This is the social narrative you mention in your question that says we shouldn’t take pleasure in someone dying, in fact we should be sympathetic, even sorrowful. I’ve read people arguing that Scalia deserved our sympathy because he was a human being, had a family (he leaves behind a wife and nine children), was a “respected public servant”, an intellectual giant, someone who passionately defended his beliefs right until the end. Jim Obergefell, the Plaintiff in Obergefell vs Hodges, the case that brought gay marriage to America certainly demonstrates this type of grace. “Thank you for your service to our country, Justice Scalia. Condolences to your family and friends” he tweeted.
If taking the high road makes you feel better, then do it. And remember taking the high road doesn’t mean you’re supporting Scalia. Respect for the dead has nothing to do with said dead and everything to do with those that survive them. People who are dead literally do not care what you think of them. Treating the dead with graciousness is actually showing courtesy to their loved ones and those that did respect them.
This is why I added the “sorta” caveat because even though Scalia might not care what you think or do about his death, others do. This is not just about his family and friends but people who have strong feelings about how we should remember those who are gone – something you clearly understand or else you wouldn’t have asked this question.
So if you decide to express your glee over Scalia dying then be prepared to hear from others that you’re being disrespectful. If that’s an issue for you then keep the “Scalia requested cremation in his will, but millions of women will meet tomorrow to discuss if that’s really best for his body” jokes to yourself.
As for me, a friend put the Kool and the Gang Celebration video on her Facebook timeline to celebrate his passing. I clicked the like button.
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