Hoping to be Incensed
The last thing you want to be at Wesleyan is heteronormative. Though my spell-check doesn’t recognize the word, the students of Wesleyan are widely aware of the dangers of prescribed gender roles. On a campus that uses the pronouns ze and zir, it sometimes seems so obvious that all genders deserve equal rights that it doesn’t even need to be said. Of course discriminating against women is wrong—we’ve moved on to bigger issues. Justice Scalia, however, has stated that he does not believe that the constitution protects against gender and sexuality discrimination. Despite his antithetical beliefs, we should still appreciate his visit to campus as an opportunity to challenge and discuss our own political leanings and to engage in dialogue with a very important judicial leader.
Justice Scalia believes that the Fourteenth Amendment’s “equal opportunity” clause does not protect against gender and sexuality discrimination because the authors of the constitution did not have women or homosexual people in mind when they crafted the clause.
This originalist perspective opposes the belief that the constitution is a “living document” with a dynamic meaning that evolves with American society. This rigid view is absurd in the context of an American society that is incredibly different from the Constitution era. America is no longer ruled solely by white, rich, Protestant men, and our interpretation of the constitution must reflect this.
Despite this difference in ideology, it is an honor to have Justice Scalia speak at Wesleyan. Scalia is known for his readable, passionate, and even funny writing style. He is undeniably intelligent, and, as a Supreme Court justice, is very involved in setting legal precedents that affect us all. Beyond Scalia’s obvious qualifications, it is important that Wesleyan students hear point of views different from their own.
As a group that in many ways is politically homogenous, the student body does not always need to hear its beliefs reaffirmed. Much more can be gained from exploring the views of someone we disagree with, understanding their logic, and re-evaluating why we hold a different opinion. I hope that Scalia’s speech affects me, challenges me, and even incenses me—as long as it forces me to think.