On this day, of all days, it seems apposite to glance at Oscar Wilde's trial. The libel charge that Wilde foolishly brought against the Marqise of Queensbury concerned a typically misspelled note left at Wilde's club, accusing him not (in Scalia's terms) of having a homosexual agenda, but of being a posing Somdomite. Oddly enough, from newspaper accounts, at least, we don't hear of Scalia, Rehnquist of Thomas evoking Queensbury, but surely they should. The man is an emblem of their cause and mentality.
Famously, the trial was as brilliant a performance as the opening night of The Importance of Being Earnest. Alas, it was a fatal mistake on Wilde's part to think that an English court would appreciate a brilliant performance -- you might as well do juggling tricks for a herd of walruses. Everything went bad, and Wilde, as is well known, lost, only to be then condemned for being more than a posing Somdomite and thrust into prison.
Here's one of Wilde's first sallies. It's characteristic. Reading it, you wonder who he thought he was talking to. He's been asked about some letters he'd written the unutterable Alfred Lord Douglas. The letters were stolen, and then a man appeared who wished to blackmail Wilde. This is the stuff
"I said, "I suppose you have come about my beautiful letter to Lord Alfred Douglas. If you had not been so foolish as to send a copy of it to Mr. Beerbohm Tree, I would gladly have paid you a very large sum of money for the letter, as I consider it to be a work of art." He said, "A very curious construction can be put on that letter." I said in reply, "Art is rarely intelligible to the criminal classes." He said, "A man offered me �6o for it." I said to him, "If you take my advice you will go to that man and sell my letter to him for �6o. I myself have never received so large a sum for any prose work of that length; but I am glad to find that there is some one in England who considers a letter of mine worth �6o."' He was somewhat taken aback by my manner, perhaps, and said, "The man is out of town." I replied, "He is sure to come back," and I advised him to get the �6o. He then changed his manner a little, saying that he had not a single penny, and that he had been on many occasions trying to find me. I said that I could not guarantee his cab expenses, but that I would gladly give him half-a-sovereign. He took the money and went away. "
Here's Wilde in cross examination by a Scalia type:
"C--You are of opinion, I believe, that there is no such thing as an immoral book?
C--May I take it that you think "The Priest and the Acolyte" was not immoral?
W--It was worse; it was badly written."
"C--Listen, sir. Here is one of the "Phrases and Philosophies for the Use of the Young" which you contributed: "Wickedness is a myth invented by good people to account for the curious attractiveness of others." You think that true?
W�I rarely think that anything I write is true.
C--Did you say "rarely"?
W--I said "rarely." I might have said "never"�not true in the actual sense of the word.
C--"Religions die when they arc proved to be true." Is that true?
W�Yes; I hold that. It is a suggestion towards a philosophy of the absorption of religions by science, but it is too big a question to go into now.
C--Do you think that was a safe axiom to put forward for the philosophy of the young?
W--Most stimulating. "
Of course, Scalia would have seen the homosexual agenda there in all its poisonous glory. Next thing you know, they'll ban drawing and quartering!
Here is the meat of Scalia's objection, a moan that would do well coming from Baron Charlus:
"Today's opinion is the product of a Court, which is the product of a law-profession culture, that has largely signed on to the so-called homosexual agenda, by which I mean the agenda promoted by some homosexual activists directed at eliminating the moral opprobrium that has traditionally attached to homosexual conduct. I noted in an earlier opinion the fact that the American Association of Law Schools (to which any reputable law school must seek to belong) excludes from membership any school that refuses to ban from its job-interview facilities a law firm (no matter how small) that does not wish to hire as a prospective partner a person who openly engages in homosexual conduct. See Romer, supra, at 653. One of the most revealing statements in today's opinion is the Court's grim warning that the criminalization of homosexual conduct is "an invitation to subject homosexual persons to discrimination both in the public and in the private spheres." Ante, at 14. It is clear from this that the Court has taken sides in the culture war, departing from its role of assuring, as neutral observer, that the democratic rules of engagement are observed. Many Americans do not want persons who openly engage in homosexual conduct as partners in their business, as scoutmasters for their children, as teachers in their children's schools, or as boarders in their home. They view this as protecting themselves and their families from a lifestyle that they believe to be immoral and destructive. The Court views it as "discrimination" which it is the function of our judgments to deter. So imbued is the Court with the law profession's anti-anti-homosexual culture, that it is seemingly unaware that the attitudes of that culture are not obviously "mainstream"; that in most States what the Court calls "discrimination" against those who engage in homosexual acts is perfectly legal; that proposals to ban such "discrimination" under Title VII have repeatedly been rejected by Congress, see Employment Non-Discrimination Act of 1994, S. 2238, 103d Cong., 2d Sess. (1994); Civil Rights Amendments, H. R. 5452, 94th Cong., 1st Sess. (1975); that in some cases such "discrimination" is mandated by federal statute, see 10 U. S. C. �654(b)(1) (mandating discharge from the armed forces of any service member who engages in or intends to engage in homosexual acts); and that in some cases such "discrimination" is a constitutional right, see Boy Scouts of America v. Dale, 530 U. S. 640 (2000)."
Oscar, where-ever you are, I wish I could hear you reading Scalia's dissent. Anyway, this one was, belatedly, for you.