Swearing Ladies Are Ruining America, and More Dumb Stuff Scalia Says

by Erin Gloria Ryan on October 8, 2013

We all knew that Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia is a testicularly prolific, Judge Judy-level sassy Constitutional originalist who probably turns his chair around backward before he sits in it because he doesn’t follow anyone’s rules* (*Except the Founding Fathers, and he’s a real nerd about it). But in an eye-opening interview with this week’s New York Magazine, he reveals that he’s so much more than the blustery conservative butt-boy you thought he was; turns out, he’s got no idea how to exist in the modern world. He’s an actual antique, like Encino Man, if Encino Man were capable of shaping America into a dystopian Handmaid’s Tale. So here are some things you might not have known that Antonin Scalia knows nothing about. Brace yourself! It’s scary!

Justice Scalia doesn’t know about any media that doesn’t play into Antonin Scalia’s pre-existing worldview.

What’s your media diet? Where do you get your news?
[Scalia and his wife, Maureen] just get The Wall Street Journal and the WashingtonTimes. We used to get the Washington Post, but it just … went too far for me. I couldn’t handle it anymore. […] It was the treatment of almost any conservative issue. It was slanted and often nasty. And, you know, why should I get upset every morning? I don’t think I’m the only one. I think they lost subscriptions partly because they became so shrilly, shrilly liberal.

(obligatory “Don’t call me shrilly” joke)

Justice Scalia is positive the devil is “a real person,” but he isn’t sure exactly how he’s deviling nowadays.

>Can we talk about your drafting process—
[Leans in, stage-whispers.] I even believe in the Devil.

You do?
Of course! Yeah, he’s a real person. Hey, c’mon, that’s standard Catholic doctrine! Every Catholic believes that.


Have you seen evidence of the Devil lately?
You know, it is curious. In the Gospels, the Devil is doing all sorts of things. He’s making pigs run off cliffs, he’s possessing people and whatnot. And that doesn’t happen very much anymore.

Well, you’re saying the Devil is ­persuading people to not believe in God. Couldn’t there be other reasons to not believe?
Well, there certainly can be other reasons. But it certainly favors the Devil’s desires. I mean, c’mon, that’s the explanation for why there’s not demonic possession all over the place. That always puzzled me. What happened to the Devil, you know? He used to be all over the place. He used to be all over the New Testament.

[Leans in, stage whispers] Actually, in the Bible, it was Jesus, not Satan, who made the swine run into the ocean. It’s Mark Chapter 5 versus 11-13. Whoopsie-daisy.

Justice Scalia does not know what irony is.

Isn’t it terribly frightening to believe in the Devil?
You’re looking at me as though I’m weird. My God! Are you so out of touch with most of America, most of which believes in the Devil? I mean, Jesus Christ believed in the Devil! It’s in the Gospels! You travel in circles that are so, so removed from mainstream America that you are appalled that anybody would believe in the Devil! Most of mankind has believed in the Devil, for all of history. Many more intelligent people than you or me have believed in the Devil. […]

Can I ask about your engagement with regular pop culture?
I’m pretty bad on regular pop culture.

I know you watched the show 24. Do you also watch Homeland?
I don’t watch Homeland. I don’t even know what Homeland is. I watched one episode of—what is it? Duck Dynasty?

All it takes to consider oneself a part of mainstream American culture is believing in invisible bad guys and ignoring everything else.

Justice Scalia doesn’t think women should swear.

Like what?
One of the things that upsets me about modern society is the coarseness of manners. You can’t go to a movie—or watch a television show for that matter—without hearing the constant use of the F-word—including, you know, *ladies* using it. People that I know don’t talk like that! But if you portray it a lot, the society’s going to become that way. It’s very sad.

What the fuck?

Justice Scalia doesn’t know that the meanings of words sometimes change.

Had you already arrived at originalism as a philosophy?
I don’t know when I came to that view. I’ve always had it, as far as I know. Words have meaning. And their meaning doesn’t change. I mean, the notion that the Constitution should simply, by decree of the Court, mean something that it didn’t mean when the people voted for it—frankly, you should ask the other side the question! How did they ever get there?

Words have meanings that don’t change, therefore the Supreme Court should live every day as historical reenactors trying to pretend that it’s still 1776, language and culture-wise.

Justice Scalia says he’s a “damn good poker player,” but he doesn’t know anything about poker.

Here’s another thing I find unexpected about you: that you play poker. Do not take this the wrong way, but you strike me as the kind of person who would be a horrible poker player.
Shame on you! I’m a damn good poker player.

But aren’t you the kind of guy who always puts all of his cards on the table? I feel like you would be the worst bluffer ever.
You can talk to the people in my poker set.

Do you have a tell?

A tell.
What’s a tell?

What’s a tell? Are you joking?

A “damn good poker player” not knowing what a “tell” is is sort of like a chess grandmaster not knowing what a “rook” is. Conclusion: Scalia’s “poker buddies” are really “Uno buddies” who don’t want to argue with Scalia over what poker is. “Just let him think he’s playing poker,” they say to each other before he arrives at their weekly game. “He doesn’t watch any TV or read anything that isn’t for idiots; he’ll never figure it out.”

Justice Scalia “strongly suspects” that he may know a homo or two.

The one thing I did think, as he said those somewhat welcoming things to gay men and women, is, Huh, this really does show how much our world has changed. I was wondering what kind of personal exposure you might have had to this sea change.
I have friends that I know, or very much suspect, are homosexual. Everybody does.

Have any of them come out to you?
No. No. Not that I know of.


This piece first appeared in jezebel.com

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