Antonin Scalia and the Air We Breathe

ScaliaFollowing the death of Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia, political pundits and politicians are busy rallying their respective bases about the importance of the next Supreme Court appointment and, more specifically, about who is going to get to make that appointment: the current president or a future president. Everyone, of course, wants someone from their own side to make the decision. Democrats want it to be Obama while Republicans hope to delay the process until they might secure the presidency for themselves.

The highly influential SCOTUS Blog writes that “The stakes could not be higher.” Many are warning of a constitutional crisis. Social media is abuzz with “suspicious memes”.

In an article at The Huffington Post, law professor Adam Sulkowski lists a myriad of issues that are apt to be affected by a future Supreme Court and, driving the point home, writes that “The new SCOTUS justice will help decide the safety of the air we breathe”. It is no doubt true and it is no doubt absurd.

Sulkowski’s point is that it’s vitally important who holds this position; at least for those of us who “want to breathe” or “drink water”.

It’s vitally important who holds this position! That’s the message we hear whether we are talking about the Supreme Court, the presidency, the local sheriff, or the high school hall monitor. We need good people, or more accurately our people, in positions of power. There is some truth to it but the most effective propaganda generally contains some truth. If, as Picasso reportedly said, “art is a lie that tells the truth”; propaganda is very often truth in the service of a lie.

This is the shell game of mass society; the names are always changing and it’s important for you to take a side.

But if you’re fully invested in fighting over who gets to decide how safe it will be to breathe the air; you will likely overlook the absurdity of a system in which one person—or possibly a very small group of people—has such power. There was a time when humans beings didn’t have such power and didn’t make such decisions; it coincided with a time when we could take a deep breath without fear and without poison.

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