According to Cenk Uygur, co-host of the Young Turks and a self-described fervent agnostic, “We have a lunatic on the court.” He is speaking of Justice Antonin Scalia who stated in an interview with New York magazine that he believes in the existence of the devil. In the words of Uygur, that is “cuckoo for cocoa puffs.”
Uygur admits that “a lot of Americans believe in the devil,” but, he continues, “I hope that it’s a symbolic thing they are talking about and not an actual creature with the horn and a tail. I mean that would be ridiculous right?”
Apparently, Uygur didn’t consider the possibility that Satan could be a real person without horn and tail, even unknowingly borrowing a page out of C. S. Lewis’s classic book Screwtape Letters, in which a senior demon counsels his younger demon to be sure that human beings have an exaggerated picture of Satan, one that sounds a lot like Uygur’s Satan: “an actual creature with the horn and a tail. . . . He’s got a pitch fork . . . .”
But it’s not enough for Uygur to mock Scalia for believing in the Young Turk’s fictional image of Satan. He asks a complete non sequitur: “How do you make rational decisions when you are a person who is proud of basing your decisions on sheer irrationality?”
Yes, Uygur claims that Scalia is “basically saying here the Gospels are what help me decide. The United States Constitution is supposed to help you decide in cases! Not what your insane Gospels say about Lucifer.”
Of course, Scalia said no such thing and, for the record, the Gospels will be here many millennia after the Young Turks are long forgotten. But Uygur’s remarks are completely off base and irrational because the last thing on Scalia’s mind was any connection between the existence of the devil and how he makes his Supreme Court decisions.
To the contrary, in his wide-ranging interview with Jennifer Senior, Scalia described himself as an “honest originalist” (with an exclamation point at that), explaining: “Words have meaning. And their meaning doesn’t change. I mean, the notion that the Constitution should simply, by decree of the Court, mean something that it didn’t mean when the people voted for it—frankly, you should ask the other side the question! How did they ever get there?”
Michael Brown holds a Ph.D. in Near Eastern Languages and Literatures from New York University. He is the author of 25 books, includingLine of Fire. Follow him at AskDrBrown on Facebook or @drmichaellbrown on Twitter.