Conspiracy theories are always funny. Within hours of Antonin Scalia's death, people had figured out the truth. Clearly Scalia's death involved foul play. The government assassinated him, somehow! Why would anyone believe this? Because they skipped the autopsy, duh! "Natural causes" might as well be "face smothered with a pillow."
My own reaction to Scalia's death rolled out in multiple phases. Initially, I was just shocked, given how completely unexpected it was. Then I went on to laugh at the conspiracy theory folks, because conspiracy theories are always funny. After that, I felt a little elated, as my own political viewpoints are quite different from most of Scalia's. And then, I felt terrible for feeling elated in the wake of someone's death, and so on.
At the end of it all, I realized that I had never actually taken the time to hear Scalia speak at length about anything. I knew about how he voted on several major cases, I knew that one anecdote about him and Ginsburg watching opera shows together, and I had even skimmed a few of his legal opinions, but I wasn't too familiar with him as a person. To address this, I found an hour-long book interview with Scalia in C-SPAN's archives. If you ever want to see something with literally no audiovisual stimulus or entertainment of any kind to get in your way, go to C-SPAN.
Scalia's explanation of his philosophy did little to win me over. As an originalist, he believed that the best way to interpret the Constitution is to approach every component of it as tied to its exact meaning at the time of its enactment. In other words, the Constitution is fixed and not dynamic. To be exceedingly obvious, his legal knowledge far surpassed my own, and he would run circles around me in a discussion about any particular case. His devotion to this methodology, however, seems to tie him to all sorts of inevitably terrible outcomes.
As an example of this, originalism prevents him from even considering the concept of the death penalty being unconstitutional. In this interview, he explains that, because the death penalty was legal at the time of the Constitution's adoption, it is obvious that the founders did not see it as cruel and unusual punishment. Therefore, it must be constitutional. While this is logical in a rote, A to B to C kind of way, it completely precludes the possibility of the meaning of "cruel and unusual" changing in society as social standards change and new technologies (and, therefore, new ways to execute people) develop. Similar sorts of thinking motivated him to be one of the most vociferous critics of gay marriage, which... yuck.
Despite this, he did manage to come across as fairly witty and self-aware in the interview. Acknowledging that his philosophy could lead to outcomes that people don't desire, he claimed that it is up to Congress to actually pass better laws to guarantee better outcomes ("the rule for a judge ought to be garbage in, garbage out"). He also said that he is open to the idea of gaining wisdom throughout life and not being completely attached to older ideas or opinions. This kind of approach was refreshing for me to hear, as I'm used to people in other branches of government constantly trying to claim that they've somehow held all of their current positions from the very beginning (when they clearly haven't).
Ideally, we would all be open to changing our opinions on just about anything, based on the body of evidence available to us and the quality of people's arguments. I would like to say that I approach political issues in that way. To be honest, though, I don't take enough time to seek out the opinions of people that I disagree with.
Unless this is what the government WANTS me to think after they KILLED Scalia in COLD BLOOD. Have you seen the CHEMTRAILS up in the sky? They will get into your mind and...