Justice Scalia Compares Sodomy to Murder

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Dec. 11 2012 10:49 AM

Justice Scalia Compares Sodomy to Murder

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Scalia admits his argument isn't very persuasive.

Photo by Bill Pugliano/Getty Images

Justice Antonin Scalia, always eager to prove himself in the ongoing competition known as America's Top Relic, whipped out another doozy on Monday while speaking at Princeton University. A gay student named Duncan Hosie got up and asked Scalia about his avid support for bans on "sodomy," i.e. same-sex couples doing it, and Scalia answered with this: 

Amanda Marcotte Amanda Marcotte

Amanda Marcotte is a Brooklyn-based writer and DoubleX contributor. She also writes regularly for the Daily Beast, AlterNet, and USA Today. Follow her on Twitter.

“It’s a form of argument that I thought you would have known, which is called the ‘reduction to the absurd,’” Scalia told Hosie of San Francisco during the question-and-answer period. “If we cannot have moral feelings against homosexuality, can we have it against murder? Can we have it against other things?”

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Scalia said he is not equating sodomy with murder but drawing a parallel between the bans on both. 

Then he deadpanned: “I’m surprised you aren’t persuaded.”

That would be because boldly stating stuff without really bothering to make an argument for it isn't persuasive, something you'd have thought Scalia's law professors would have taught him.

Scalia's version of morality leaves a lot to be desired. We can probably come up with a better system than randomly picking a bunch of acts—same-sex relations, murder, giving coffee drinks funny names—and declaring these things immoral on the grounds that something has to be immoral.  There's got to be a more rigorous way of wading through legal questions than just throwing darts against a wall, and when the darts hit the words "murder" and "sodomy," figuring hey, let's ban both.

For instance, we have this crazy theory in the modern era that people have rights that shouldn't be infringed on without good reason. So, because you rogering your boyfriend in peace in your home doesn't actually hurt anyone, we should leave you alone to go ahead and do that. However, shooting someone in the head for cutting you off in traffic does infringe on others without good reason: In addition to the ensuing traffic jam and the taxpayer money necessary to clean your victim's guts off the road, someone unwillingly dies. I know: Stop your wack-a-doodle socialism, Amanda. It's no match for the Scalia strategy of pulling crimes out of a hat. 

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