Nino! Now Playing at the Schubert Theater

In case you missed the whole Justice Scalia series, here’s a recap.

Prologue: I’ve Got a Crush on You

Scalia’s mission, by contrast, is to make everything come out wrong. A Scalia opinion, to borrow a phrase from New Yorker writer Margaret Talbot, is “the jurisprudential equivalent of smashing a guitar on stage.” Scalia may have once declared the rule of law the law of rules—leading some to mistake him for a stereotypical conservative—but rules and laws have a particular frisson for him. Where others look to them for stabilizing checks or reassuring supports, Scalia looks for exhilarating impediments and vertiginous barriers. Where others seek security, Scalia seeks sublimity. Rules and laws make life harder, and harder is everything. “Being tough and traditional is a heavy cross to bear,” he tells one reporter. “Duresse oblige.”

Act One: Diva of Disdain

Scalia’s conservatism, it turns out, is less a little platoon than a Thoreauvian counterculture, a retreat from and rebuke to the mainstream, not unlike the hippie communes and groupuscules he once tried to keep at bay. It is not a conservatism of tradition or inheritance: his parents had only one child, and his mother-in-law often complained about having to drive miles and hours in search of the one true church. “Why don’t you people ever seem to live near churches?” she would ask Scalia and his wife.  It is a conservatism of invention and choice, informed by the very spirit of rebellion he so plainly loathes—or thinks he loathes—in the culture at large.

Act Two: American Nietzsche

Left unresolved, however, the contradiction reveals the twin poles of Scalia’s faith: a belief in rules as arbitrary impositions of power—reflecting nothing (not even the will or standing of their makers) but the flat surface of their locutionary meaning—to which we must nevertheless submit; and a belief in rules, zealously enforced, as the divining rod of our ineradicable inequality. Those who make it past these blank and barren gods are winners; everyone else is a loser.

Act Three: Affirmative Action Baby

Scalia preys on and profits from the very culture of liberalism he claims to abhor: the toleration of opposing views, the generous allowances for other people’s failings, the “benevolent compassion” he derides in his golf course dissent. Should his colleagues ever force him to abide by the same rules of liberal civility, or treat him as he treats them, who knows what might happen? Indeed, as two close observers of the Court have noted—in an article aptly titled “Don’t Poke Scalia!”—whenever advocates before the bench subject him to the gentlest of gibes, he is quickly rattled and thrown off his game. Prone to tantrums, coddled by a different set of rules: now that’s an affirmative action baby.


  1. jonnybutter June 29, 2012 at 6:04 pm | #

    ‘Nino’ has it all! it’s got romance; it’s got struggle; it’s got the romance of struggle (for other people of course). It’s got our hero defiantly standing astride the continental plates history shouting ‘Noooooooooo!’

  2. BillW July 1, 2012 at 12:13 pm | #

    Nino is a piciotto d’onore of Mafiosi. This is the movie that made me realize why those who criticized The Godfather for glamorizing mobsters had a point.

    • jonnybutter July 1, 2012 at 8:22 pm | #

      hilarious, BillW. (That is a GREAT trailer, btw, and now we are definitely going to see the movie.)

  3. jonnybutter July 15, 2012 at 4:19 pm | #

    My wife and I saw ‘Mafioso’ this weekend, and it was outstanding. Thanks for the heads up BillW.

  4. AJAY JAIN March 7, 2013 at 10:42 pm | #

    The Voting Rights Act (VRA) must be upheld by the supreme court: Discrimination is alive today unfortunately; Liberty and justice for all is openly sabotaged and the Supreme Court is inviting trouble of great magnitudnal proportions if it dares to fail its ultimate mandate: to uphold everyone’s constitutional rights.

    We not only need to keep the protections in the current Voting Rights Act (VRA), it should be expanded. The numerous despicable attempts to restrict voting made during the last election cycle are proof of that. Anyone who truly believes the VRA is obsolete needs to recognize, given last year’s voter suppression efforts, the Jim Crowe era is biding its time, lurking in the shadows waiting for an opportunity to rear its head once again.

    If properly educated and aroused to stand up against Supreme Court activism from the bench the entire nation will speak against it because the Voting Rights Act (VRA) is not about political parties; the Voting Rights Act (VRA) is about individual rights protection. Bank on it! it is time to review; the Supreme Court’s Justice Scalia’s attack on VRA as ” racial entitlements” will not stand the test of time. If the Supreme Court does not uphold the Voting Rights ACT it is no longer acting as an unbiased institution and that, its Justices, can be challenged in public. Supreme Court Justices, get up and do your job or we will make it happen! Count on it!

    Now Even if you are dumb enough to believe that all is OK with the world and there are no reasons to have the voting rights act on the books. Then why are the the parties at opposite end’s on this ? Why are the Republicans in America trying to keep people from the poles ? Well I will tell you what I think. I think there may be a dozen or two, man and women (Billionaires) in America that have the means to buy the power it wants to call all shots in this Country. The only way they can obtain this right now is get the people they want in office. To buy them so to say. But they know they can be stopped at the voting polls as proven in the 2012 election. They know the more that get out and vote there chances are reduced substantially.

    Commentator George Will knows this and should be ashamed of his views on VRA. He says VRA is 47 years old. Is that old ? I don’t think so. Look at the constitution, at that II Amendment a lot older right. SS, Medicare, still very new in the big picture. But look at who wants to change them. Not working men and women, no the big bosses. They do not like to match payments that is what this is all about. They did not like it back in the 1930s and they do not like it now. So Americans do not be fooled by the right wing opposition and all of you older people that now have this little benefit fight like h— to keep it just as it is. It just might be all there is between eating and striving !!

    The argument is that VRA is discriminatory against Southern states to require them but not other states to seek pre-clearance for voting laws; I actually agree. The Voting Rights Act should require *all* states to seek pre-clearance. After what we’ve seen the GOP try to pass in states all across the nation prior to the last 2012 election, I see no reason this safeguard against voter suppression should be limited to just Southern states as suggested by VRA of 1965 but now should be expanded to apply to ALL 50 states.

    It is urgent that whoever can go to the Supreme Court and organize peaceful, non-violent civil disobedience protests in front of the Supreme Court ASAP to do so right away!

    • Jonathan March 26, 2013 at 4:36 pm | #

      “The only way they can obtain this right now is get the people they want in office”

      True, and they have plenty of ways to veto those they don’t like at several levels.

      “But they know they can be stopped at the voting polls as proven in the 2012 election”

      False. The Democratic Party is as much “your” party as McDonald’s is “your” McDonald’s. Each aims to entice you with careful choice of words and images to buy whatever they’re serving, and today the major parties are serving neofeudalism, each with their own blend of substantively insignificant spices they support and oppose.

      Also, outside of those cultural wedge issues, there is no left wing in the US. Unarmed left-wingers get arrested for trying to get close to the President while armed right-wingers get to circulate in such areas with impunity. Forget the ad campaigns and study the policy. Look at the austerity, the increasing criminal enforcement of civil matters, the novel exclusive “intellectual property” rights granted to “rightsholders” without a thought to the principle of equity, and generally the blank checks given to their backers. The 99% gets nothing unless the 1% gain more (PPACA, TARP, HAMP, America Invents Act, the up-and-coming CFAA “reform”, the protest-criminalizing Federal Restricted Buildings and Grounds Improvement Act, etc).

      Partisanship and factionalism are nothing more than a suicide pact.

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