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Scalia's quote: A fine *personal* cornerstone. Not so much a public policy one!

by Jeremy Hooper

On their official blog, the equality opponents at New Hampshire's Cornerstone Policy Research are quoting conservative Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia as saying the following:

“[H]ave the courage to have your wisdom regarded as stupidity”
Quote of the Day [CPR's blog]

It's a quote they're obviously hoping that Gov. John Lynch will take to heart as he mulls the state's recently passed marriage equality Antonin-Scalialegislation, with CPR's "wisdom" of course being defined with a veto rather than a signature.

However, if you expand the Scalia quote and look at the full meaning and context behind the words of Barney Frank's favorite justice, it's provides a far more revelatory regarding what CPR and buddies truly want. Because when looking at the the full quote, which was delivered to a chapter of the Knights of Columbus Catholic service organization, you will see that it exclusively applies to Christians and their faith-based pushes:

For the Son of God to be born of a virgin? I mean, really. To believe that he rose from the dead and bodily ascended into heaven? How utterly ridiculous. To believe in miracles? Or that those who obey God will rise from the dead and those who do not will burn in hell?

God assumed from the beginning that the wise of the world would view Christians as fools … and he has not been disappointed. …

Intellect and reason need not be laid aside for religion. It is not irrational to accept the testimony of eyewitnesses who had nothing to gain. There is something wrong with rejecting a priori the existence of miracles. …

If I have brought any message today, it is this:
Have the courage to have your wisdom regarded as stupidity. Be fools for Christ. And have the courage to suffer the contempt of the sophisticated world.
Weblog: Shroud of Turin Between 1,300 and 3,000 Years Old, Journal Says [Christianity Today]

So essentially, Cornerstone Policy, the state's organized opposition of CIVIL marriage equality, is asking Gov. Lynch to follow advice that was meant to apply specifically to virgin births, resurrections, holy miracles, and hellbound sinners. They are asking the governor to follow advice that wasn't even meant for religious people in general, but rather Christians in particular. And whereas the "wisdom" that Scalia was telling a certain group to allow to have viewed as "stupidity" was appropriate, considering it involves people of faith's personal and deserved freedom to hold on to their personal views no matter the scrutiny, the "wisdom" to which CPR is referring is not a matter of personal faith devotion: IT'S A MATTER OF FAR-REACHING, GROUP-DEFYING, BOUNDARY-BUSTING LEGAL FAIRNESS! There is a difference.

This (mis)usage is kind of like applying the Lord's prayer's "Give us this day our daily bread" line to a situation involving a government-funded food bank that wishes to only hand out bread every other day. Except in this case, it's the civil wisdom that is more fully baked.

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Your thoughts

Love the Lord's Prayer reference, great example of out of context quoting

Posted by: Bob Miller | May 11, 2009 2:18:53 PM

I love how they're quoting a guy who supported criminalizing homsexuality, a nice indication of the next goal of the 'defenders of marriage'

Posted by: Penguinsaur | May 11, 2009 2:35:28 PM

While I appreciate the in depth analysis about my choice of quotes, in most (but definitely not all) cases, it is just a quote of the day for people to think about and ponder. You will see that from time to time I do a little expounding on the quote, but in this case, I can tell you that Gov. Lynch never crossed my mind. Though, without thinking about it, I probably was talking to Christians and being steadfast in our beliefs. I do appreciate you putting it in the context of the speech, since I got it from Wikiquote and did not expand the link.

I do think that anyone who read that quote would be able to apply it to their own personal situation. Anyone who feels in the minority or marginalized on any given issue. Of course, since our organization is one which is based on Judeo-Christian and conservative principles, I would think my audience would not take it the same way as yours.

Though I would be flattered if Gov. Lynch read my blog, and even ecstatic if he read it the way I do - but I am not holding my breathe on either count.

Posted by: Jason | May 11, 2009 10:58:38 PM

Jason: A couple of things.

(1) Your blog is listed as CPR's official blog. So in that regard, you are representing the entire organization -- not just yourself. Just like when you link to am SPLC-certified hate group to "prove" how much damage marriage equality has brought to Mass. -- that reflects on your whole org, not just you:


(2) Of course you were talking to conservative Christians. That is your audience. And marriage equality is the de rigueur topic.

(3) What did or did not cross your mind is not really the point. The interesting point is that a quote that you felt compelled to use applies specifically to faith in general, Christianity in particular. Interesting, because that is what we see in your organization's every anti-equality action. Your side wants to use personal faith-based views to stifle others' CIVIL liberties. So that's why we found it funny/annoying that this quote was in such a similar vein.

(4) Gov. Lynch very well might read your blog. Again, it's a reflection of your organizaiton, which is certainly injecting itself into NH's marriage conversation.

(5) And lastly: EVERY HOUSEHOLD? Every household? You all are seriously claiming that you surveyed every household in 2 days? Well, that's simply untrue:


Posted by: G-A-Y | May 12, 2009 7:18:08 AM

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