The following Wespeak was collectively authored by a number of involved students, including the following: Virgil Taylor ’15, Ross Levin ’15, Nico Vitti ’12, Paul Blasenheim ’12, Zak Kirwood ’12, Cheryl Walker ’12, Meggie McGuire ’12, Mariama Eversley ’14, Isabelle Gauthier ’14, Josh Krugman ’14, Joseph Cribb ’13, Hannah Rubin ’13, Cesar Chavez ’15, Dan Fischer ’12, and Mica Taliaferro ’12. Though it may be written from a first-person perspective, it should be taken as a collective statement of these signers and the larger collective organizing dissent for Scalia’s arrival.

I find it extremely disappointing that so many students on this campus have such an uncritical attitude towards illegitimate authority structures like the Supreme Court and are even more militant against any form of organized, disruptive dissent expressed towards these structures. What follows is my response to some of the most commonly voiced concerns of liberal Wesleyan students:

Liberal students say that protesting Scalia would undermine the credibility of Wesleyan students. I actually think that it would undermine Wesleyan students’ credibility as critical thinkers who are supposed to take action in the face of injustice if there were to be no protest at all. People who would look down upon us for expressing dissent are not the people we would be trying to reach anyway, because they will likely look down upon any challenges to institutionalized power no matter how they’re expressed.

Liberal students say that there is an inherent value in hearing other people’s perspectives in a democracy. I agree, but I already know Scalia’s perspective and so do most people who will be at the lecture – you can read about it on Wikipedia or watch him on Youtube giving what will likely be a basically similar speech as the one he will give to us. Scalia’s perspective is well established in the discourses of the media and in the communities and homes that many of us students come from. I and other students have heard enough white supremacist capitalist patriarchy dressed up in rational discourse and we think that these ideas need to be challenged openly.

Liberal students say that protesting him would be attacking his ability to voice his opinions and believe what he wants to believe. This is one of the most absurd, infuriating arguments that I’ve heard from students and administrators about Scalia’s visit. Here’s why:

Scalia has perhaps one of the most powerful positions from which to voice his opinions all the time – that’s basically his main job, to produce opinions based on his personal belief and have them be effected into policy. So his ability to voice his beliefs is perhaps more protected than most people’s, and in fact I would argue that his free speech actually has the effect of silencing many others (take his Citizens United ruling for example, or his impassioned defense of anti-sodomy laws). Scalia’s basically unrestricted authority to free speech that has the ability to affect policy is one of the main reasons this illegitimate power needs to be challenged.

Liberal students say that everyone at Wesleyan has the same liberal opinions and that we need some ideological diversity to freshen up our dialogue. The reality is that expressions of dissent that are critical of Scalia’s illegitimate authority and critical of problematic institutions like the Supreme Court and the United States government are in fact much more unheard and unique than anything Scalia has to say. I would propose that most students at Wesleyan are actually entirely unfamiliar with critiques of state authority, “objective” legal discourse, and settler colonialism that many students protesting Scalia would be voicing.

With that said, I urge you to abandon your wimpy liberal notions of decorum and propriety as they only serve to validate existing authoritarian hierarchies that are responsible daily for the (living) deaths of marginalized peoples. Let’s give Scalia a real Wesleyan Welcome and remind him that his power is illegitimate and ultimately subject to the rage of the people his power subordinates.

  • alum ’10

    This makes me extremely disappointed to be an alumnus. Current students are doing a piss-poor job of representing a Wesleyan education.

    Firstly, the Supreme Court is part of the nation’s framework. Let me guess, you want to abolish the presidency, Congress (I’d actually be okay with that one), and all other forms of power? Let everyone rule themselves? What are we, ten and naive? Every first world nation has a court of the highest order, one to decide cases and be the final authority. So you disagree with some of the justices’ opinions. FUCKING. DEAL. WITH. IT.

    Sorry to say it, but you are in fact unoriginal and typically liberal. Guess what, I’m liberal too, and I’m impressed and proud of Wesleyan for bringing a conservative speaker to campus. If you are so intolerant of conservative views, how to you expect to change anything? Listen to him, not just Wikipedia.

    How is his power illegitimate? Yeesh, pathetic…

  • student ’15

    If the Supreme Court, a body set forth is our Constitution whose appointees must be affirmed by the Senate and subject to impeachment by the Congress, is “illegitimate,” what is legitimate? The judiciary is removed from the everyday political discourse for a reason — so they can rule on the matters of law with some objectivity.

    Furthermore, I think most students here are familiar with critiques of state authority, “objective” legal discourse, and settler colonialism and the fact that you talk down to us, your peers, by assuming you know so much more than us is pretty condescending.

    With regard to these issues, I challenge you to propose some realistic alternatives to the framework that — while imperfect — has served this nation and its people for over 200 years. This is the framework we live with — it can be changed for the better or the worse through the electorate but to say it’s illegitimate and so forth is to have very little perspective of what’s realistic. Do you suggest some form of direct democracy? In a vast nation of >300 million? Or some anarchistic communitarian framework? Give me a break. Settler colonialism? Yeah, it happened and it sucks and as a result we live in a neo-colonial world. But what do you suggest? We all up and leave unless we’re Native Americans? Revolutions, our founders and the philosophers who influenced them believed, are the final recourse when all else has been exhausted. We can fix our government and political dialogue without tearing it down or radically restructuring it — that’s the beauty of a republican democracy.

    • Another Student ’15

      “What is legitimate?” Good question. With a 9% approval rating, I’d say Congress is far from legitimate. Having deliberately violated its own governing rules many times over, I’d say the presidency is about as legitimate as King George’s government in 1776. And the judiciary is much more influenced by public opinion and social movements and so on than you give it credit for.

      There are models of less fucked up government out there. Parliamentary systems, which every industrialized nation has except the US and Canada and Britain, tend to be much more representative and fair than our winner-take-all system. Public campaign financing also does a lot toward the end of better government. Personally, yes, I would prefer no government and no corporations and no hierarchical organizations and I’m not sure exactly how that would work, but the wealth of historical and modern examples (the Zapatistas, worker co-ops [such as the worker-owned factories in Argentina], yes Native American societies, anarchist Spain, Zuccotti Park, etc) prove to me that it’s not an impossibility at all. And I don’t think that having an exact working model for an alternative society – especially a model that is judged “realistic” based on today’s society’s standards – is necessarily important. In fact, trying to have some kind of universal model, like we and as far as this nation is concerned Antonin Scalia do for the Constitution, just seems like hubris to me.

      I’m sorry if you interpreted this Wespeak as talking down to you. I don’t think that was the intention…however, I do know that I don’t appreciate ideas similar to my own being dismissed by a simple “Give me a break.” I’d rather engage in dialogue than feel provoked into being defensive.

      • OP ’15

        We voted for our representatives in Congress. Just because their current approval rating is dismal does not delegitimize their governance. If you disapprove of them, then go vote in other representatives with whom you DO agree.

      • Anonymous

        Christ, we did NOT vote for our “representatives”. 41% of the voting-eligible country voted in 2010, about half of them got the guy or gal they DIDN’T want, and if you want me to believe the remaining 20% or are satisfied with their representatives, I hope you’ve got a mountain of evidence to show me so we can move on to pondering what the remaining 80% of people in this country want.

      • student ’15

        Maybe we would know and be able to better implement what they wanted if people actually participated in our elections. I do think we should use the alternative vote or something instead of FPTP, and that we need some kind of electoral reform, but that’s another issue. The point is, if people feel unrepresented, maybe they should exercise their political rights at the ballot box before complaining about how unrepresented they are and how we need a totally different system or how the government isn’t legitimate.

      • Anonymous

        As these things often go, your “The point is” is better than the comment I replied to – that’s why I wish you’d said it in the first place. But anyway, the ballot box is a fine suggestion for change about one November day a year. It’s not a very good suggestion for the other 364 days, or for dealing with that small “what if your candidate loses?” problem I alluded to earlier: somehow, by voting /for/ someone (or not voting at all), that means you’re totally cool with someone else entirely taking the reigns, because “hey, that’s democracy!”

      • Anonymous

        Actually, the United Kingdom is a Constitutional Monarchy with a democratic parliament, and Canada is part of the British Commonwealth, under the Crown, and directly governed by their own parliament.

      • Anonymous

        If you represent ANON .you f’d up by going after CHRIstiaNS AND JEWS YOU WANT A WAR bring it

      • Another Student ’15

        I was talking about how they are the only two other countries that use single-winner, divided-by-district electoral systems for their legislature, like the United States.

        Student ’15 – You are ignoring huge systemic problems that act as impediments to our “representatives” representing our will (such as the issues with the electoral process I mentioned). Your response is the equivalent of saying “if you don’t like this country, find another one!” It doesn’t really address anything I said.

      • student ’15

        I think I addressed the question with which you opened your previous comment about what constitutes a legitimate government. While I agree that there are problems with our electoral system, but I think that the solution is to work within the system to fix it by advocating reforms such as public campaign financing, electoral transparency, the implementation of nonpartisan redistricting commission, etcetera. However, to tear down or radically revise a political system which has generally served us well for over two centuries is killing the patient to cure the cancer. Advocate for reform, vote for candidates who support such measures, sign petitions or lobby for the issue. Reform, not revolution, is the answer.

        Also, I don’t think what I said is at all equivalent to saying, “if you don’t like this country, find another one!” More like, “if you don’t like this country, get involved in our democracy and change it at the ballot box, or by running for office, or by advocating for reform.” By twisting my words into a jingoist statement with which I completely disagree, you’re misrepresenting my views and souring the dialogue.

        Regarding the issue of condescension, I just feel you could have worded your statement better than saying that you feel most Wesleyan students are actually entirely unfamiliar” with a set of issues. Firstly, this school is full of intelligent and well-informed people — give your peers some credit. Secondly, that’s the sort of ivory tower intellectual hubris which turns a lot of people off from the very valid points of many liberals. I just think you would have connected more with the audience if you hadn’t used the phrasing you did.

        Finally, I think it’s perfectly valid of you guys to protest in non-disruptive ways. I don’t think your points — while expressed somewhat to the extreme for my taste — are wholly without merit, and I think it is your right — some might even say civic duty — to raise awareness about them. That being said, some of us also want to hear what Scalia has to say, want to be challenged intellectually by his views, and believe he also has a right to free speech at Wesleyan. Please don’t violate our rights to hear him speak, nor his right to speak to us. Just because you disagree with his views doesn’t justify a violation of his rights. And I would posit that the best way to challenge his hypocritical and arch-conservative positions would be to do your homework — instead of throwing around inflammatory but unsubstantiated buzzwords and labels — and ask him some challenging questions, really put him on the spot. I intend to go to Memorial Chapel tomorrow evening prepared to listen, learn, and challenge — and I hope you all will allow the rest of us to do undisturbed if we so desire.

      • anon

        maybe the U.S. political system has served you and me well my friend….talk to the vast majority of the world population and they won’t agree. the real jingoism is looking only at what we get from our current political system and no one else

  • Student ’15

    I think some of these posts in regard to giving Scalia a “Wesleyan Welcome” and protesting his presence on campus are unnecessarily aggressive. I understand that some students may choose to involve themselves with tomorrow’s event by peacefully protesting, and while that is not a decision I would make for myself, I think it’s great that we live in a nation where college students are able to make the choice to do so, for whatever reasons they see fit. It is important, however, to understand that Justice Scalia is in part (and some may argue only in theory) responsible for maintaining that freedom. Even if you disagree with his opinions, and even if you find our governmental system frustrating, there must be a certain degree of respect for the position that he holds and the country he represents. And that includes addressing him as Justice Scalia, not just “Scalia.” I firmly believe that respect for his position and his life’s work, regardless of ideology, is necessary in such a civil democracy as I do hope ours is.

    As not just a liberal student, but as an educated member of a democracy, I do certainly believe that it is invaluable to hear different opinions in our system, and not just hear them, but respect them. I disagree wholeheartedly and passionately with most, if not all, of Justice Scalia’s opinions and decisions, but I am all the same honored that he is coming to our predominantly liberal campus and I am excited to hear him speak. I think this is a valuable learning experience more than anything, and the fact that people are getting riled up about him being here is and exciting and wonderful way to see different opinions and the things that people are passionate about. We must all remember, though, how lucky we are. He is, without question, one of the most intelligent federal government officials in office today and that in and of itself deserves respect. Certainly there is a reason why he and Justice Ruth Bader Ginsberg, one of the most liberal judges serving on the bench today, are very close friends despite their drastic ideological differences. That reason is, of course, mutual respect, and I think that some of the more outraged students in the Wesleyan community, while entitled to their opinions and actions, should remember that voicing disagreement is not the same as being blindly disrespectful. There is much more to be said for intelligent, civil debate than just shouting that somebody is wrong because they aren’t a liberal and happen to have a lot of political power.

  • Anonymous

    I am protesting the protesters with bull horn and clackers.FREE SPEECH IS FREE SPEECH.Trying to silence someone is WRONG ,so I shall try Silencing them KHARMA IS A B! TCH ! You reap what you Sow

  • Biagio6539

    In a civilized world people can always discuss even if they disagree or dislike their opponents position or philosophy. Decorum and propriety are not wimpy. It sometimes takes a great deal of courage to maintain decorum in order to convey your position in a civilized manner. Justice Scalia’s power derives directly from the Constitution is completely legitimate. That does not mean that his decisions or comments are not the legitimate subject for disagreement and even rage but there is no good reason to engage in conduct which you are recommending that may result in unnecessaryand possibly illegal harm to others.

  • Student ’14

    Let me first get something straight: I am not a fan of Scalia. However, I believe that saying that he is unwelcome at our campus is the equivalent of saying that anyone who has different views than you is similarly unwelcome. Sure, you believe in freedom of speech, but only if you agree with the speech. I’m not saying Scalia needs his right to free speech defended, I’m saying any student with any even moderately different viewpoint needs hir free speech defended, and that by attempting to silence him you are essentially using intimidation tactics to silence anyone else on campus who has opinions that deviate from the Wesleyan general opinion. I do not think protesting undermines Wesleyan students’ credibility and if you disagree with Scalia’s politics, by all means, peacefully protest his politics. Do not protest his coming here to talk to us. By being stubbornly intolerant of other points of view, you are lowering yourself and becoming what you are criticizing.

  • Student ’15

    It’s ironic that part of the title of this article is “Silencing Scalia” when he is coming to talk to us about free speech. Just a thought.

  • anon

    I’m quite certain the Supreme Court does not fall into the category of “illegitimate authority structure.” You sound like the rich whiney liberal kid that Wesleyan students as a whole are stereotyped for. I do not support what Justice Scalia stands for and what he says on the whole, but I will not be attending any of these protests so I am not affiliated with uninformed, bored children like yourself.

    • A person

      It’s funny you say this sounds like a rich kid writing, because the Supreme Court’s illegitimacy has probably most impacted the poor and disenfrancised in this country, most significantly by authorizing the theft of land from indigenous peoples.

      I would think Wesleyan students would have some idea as to what the author means when ze says that the Supreme Court is illegitimate, but unfortunately no one seems to know.