Barney Frank Calls Justice Antonin Scalia a Homophobe

And here is then-NYU student Eric Berndt's public statement in response to why he asked Scalia back in 2005 if he sodomized his wife:

"Debate is useless when one participant denies the full dignity of
the other. How am I to docilely engage a man who sarcastically rants
about the 'beauty of homosexual relationships' (at the Q&A) and
believes that gay school teachers will try to convert children to a
homosexual lifestyle (at oral argument for Lawrence)?"

"Justice Scalia has no pity for the millions of gay Americans on
whom sodomy laws and official homophobia have such an effect, so it is
difficult to sympathize with his brief moment of 'humiliation,' as some
have called it."

"Beyond exerting official power against homosexuals, Scalia is an
outspoken and high-profile homophobe. After the aforementioned
sarcastic remarks about gay people's relationships, can anyone doubt
how little respect he has for LGBT Americans? Even if no case touching
gay rights ever came before him, his comments from the bench (that
employment non-discrimination is some kind of "homosexual agenda,"
etc.) and within our very walls are unacceptable to any self-respecting
gay person or principled opponent of discrimination. The idea that I
should have treated a man with such repugnant views with deference
because he is a high government official evinces either a dangerously
un-American acceptance of authority or insensitivity to the gay
community's grievances."

"I am 17 months out of a lifelong closet and have lost too much time
to heterosexist hegemony to tolerate those who say, as Dr. King put it,
"just wait." If you cannot stomach a breach of decorum when justified
outrage erupts then your support is nearly worthless anyway. At least
do not allow yourselves to become complicit in discrimination by
demanding obedience from its victims."

Comments

  1. says

    “”I am 17 months out of a lifelong closet and have lost too much time to heterosexist hegemony to tolerate those who say, as Dr. King put it, “just wait.” If you cannot stomach a breach of decorum when justified outrage erupts then your support is nearly worthless anyway. At least do not allow yourselves to become complicit in discrimination by demanding obedience from its victims.”

    Wow Dude, your parents really got their money’s worth didn’t they?

    I’m a left wing liberal homo and even I am put off by “heterosexist hegemony”. LMFAO!

    I’m sure the good folks at California Equality have a corner office just waiting for you.

    Kidding aside, I think this kids heart is in the right place. He’s right, when we defer to someone out of respect for their position, age, etc., they must also give back the same respect. If they don’t, we need to call them out on it.

    Just please don’t ever try to use a phrase like “heterosexist hegemony” again. It sounds SO Sarah Lawrence 1974.

  2. says

    “Heterosexist hegemony” just means that he’s been formally studying LGBT issues, which is great despite how “1974” it sounds. He’s already doing more than most people.

    And overall, great response. Shitheads don’t deserve respect, and in fact to not mock them is socially irresponsible.

    This was a while ago wasn’t it, I wonder what Berndt is up to these days.

  3. says

    “Heterosexist hegemony” means that in order to make a real difference he better learn how to talk to regular folks.

    I’m not knocking him, I just hope he doesn’t fall into the trap of speaking in terms that don’t relate to the average person. We all need to communicate our needs as citizens in plain English in order to make a real difference. I’d be interested to know what he’s doing now as well. Follow up Andy?

  4. jessejames says

    Heterosexual sodomy is a method of birth control, sometimes known as Italian birth control. So given Scalia’s ancestry it is quite possible he is familiar with it or even practices it. Seems like a fair question to one who is against homosexual sodomy.

    Bravo to college youth on the quest for truth!

    So does he? LOL

  5. nic says

    @DEREK W,

    to be honest, i wish i would have had the balls to confront such a massive, blustering maw as scalia when i was a kid in college. and eric’s defense was apt, even though in 2005 we were in the throes of the shrub’s stultifying administration.

    hegemony is a good word. it describes heterosexism and the american “might makes right” philosophy to a tee. if we are to talk down to “regular folk”, how are we ever going to elevate discourse?

  6. nic says

    ross polombo is a cutie. we have the hunky miguel marquez and dan champion also playing for our team. i assume that jeff ranieri and the guy who often anchors the “early today news” are too. what about david muir? gawd he’s handsome.

  7. says

    Nic: Me too on the balls issue. But, I don’t think it’s talking “down” to people to use English that everyone can understand. The educated classes (wow, that sounds exactly like what I’m ranting against!) will always know what is being said.

    “Heterosexist hegemony” is exactly the wrong way to get a point across because it stops the person it is being said to dead in theri tracks. While the speaker/writer is going on with their subject, the listener/reader is still back on that phrase either thinking “WTF” or pondering why the person didn’t say it another way.

    This is why I compared it to California Equality. I think they exist in a world where phrases like this are commonplace and most people don’t live in that world. You need to speak to your target market. While this type of language is groovy for a seminar on LGBT higher studies, it falls flat in the real world.

    Sorry to take up so much space with the subject, but, if we want to advance (which is the point of this very smart young man) we MUST get better at expressing our goals.

  8. nic says

    DEREK W,
    you are right in that regard. bush/cheney, tom delay, rush limbaugh, bill o’liely, sean hannity and others of that ilk (‘ilk’, the favorite term of right-wingers) didn’t get where they got by appealing to people’s intelligence.

    still, i can’t help being a little sad that this is where we are headed. even our harvard educated, constitutional scholar president has adopted the word “folk”. whatever happened to the words “people” and “persons”?

    can you imagine what the declaration of independence would sound like nowadays? “we folk think that folks are the same . our christ and lord, says so….”

  9. Sargon Bighorn says

    Heterosexist Hegemony? I thought that was a shrub pruning term that Martha Stewart would use. You mean it does not refer to pruning one’s hedge row?

    Of course Scalia should be spoken to that way, it’s called speaking Truth to Power. More people need to do it more often.

  10. says

    Vassar ’79 here and the guy’s prose is perfect—exact words for an exact meaning. this is not something to make a joke out of. being an elitist by demeaning someone’s writing is so State School.

  11. YooHoo says

    I believe his target audience was the NYU Law community as this response was published on the NYU Law listserv. As an FYI, the NYU Law community is generally not afraid of words like hegemony or heterosexist and likely would not have been distracted by them.

    Unfortunately, we cannot say the same about your comment, as it seems to have distracted at least half the people commenting on this thread (including me!) from the important substance of Berndt’s message.

    Apology accepted for taking up so much space on this ironic tangent.

  12. Diogenes says

    1. Heterosexist hegemony? Deconstructionist jargon like that is ruining education. GLBT civil rights are a much different beast than the civil rights struggle in the 1960’s. There are more heterosexuals. There always have been and always will be, that gives them hegemony.

    2. Barny Frank needs to take his medication. The man is nuts and NO role model for anyone. Save those who wish to be a crooked politician…even then there are better ones.

  13. nic says

    DIOGENES,

    hegemony has very little to do with numbers and everything to do with power and influence. plus, you ain’t no Derrida, darlin’.

    i wish i had a dollar for every jackass who still thinks that telling someone to take their meds is a good put-down.

  14. Bobbyjoe says

    Does anyone else find it a little funny that after reading an article about reactions to Scalia and this one man’s multi-paragraph discussion of why he attempted to challenge and embarass the USSC justice, a few commenters single out one particular phrase from the entire text (“heterosexist hegemony”) and spend their comment time analyzing and critiquing the word choice and use of this one particular term rather than looking at the overall argument or issues in the article… And (here’s where it gets funny) suggest they’re doing so because they’re AGAINST an overly academic and/or deconstructionist approach?

    Think about that for a minute.

  15. says

    “Apology accepted for taking up so much space on this ironic tangent.

    Posted by: YooHoo | Mar 22, 2009 10:07:10 PM”

    YooHoo: Please perform fellatio on my engorged male sexual member. After which I would expect a humble thank you for my allowing you to perform the act of fellatio as per my request.

    Or in English: Blow me and say thank you when I’m done, Bitch. Jk!

    BOBBYJOE: Ironic, no? lol

  16. ZnSD says

    Thanks BobbyJoe. Honestly. The complaint is that it wasn’t dumbed down enough for you? Or that it’s outdated, i.e., Sarah Lawrence 1974. Personally I’d be thrilled if there were more gay men running around who sounded more like Eric Berndt than the 7th grade girls they usually emulate. Present company included. Usually I love your comments Derek but I think you missed the boat on this one.

  17. says

    It’s depressing to think that anyone in our community would ‘bash’ someone for using a term like “heterosexist hegemony”. Just as we need to be able to battle for our rights in every-day society, we also need to be able to work within the realm of academic theory.

    The concepts of heterosexist hegemony and heteronormativy are far from “deconstructivist jargon”. These concepts are the core theories of the gay civil right movement. Just because you don’t understand that academic theories are a vital part of the social world does not mean they aren’t valid.

  18. nic says

    DEREK W is a smart guy, and he made a valid point in that the kid’s statement would likely not play in Peoria. but, from what i gather, the young man made an appropriate statement in the appropriate forum. what pissed me off was the “deconstructionist” b.s. comment.

    i, too, wonder what scalia’s response was and what the young guy is up to now.

  19. Bruno says

    The fact that Barney Frank is now all over the news (as he’s slowly gained a rather lofty and visible place in Congress) and slagging off Scalia is music to my eyes.

  20. tooboot says

    Hey Derek:
    het⋅er⋅o⋅sex⋅ism
       /ˌhɛtərəˈsɛksɪzəm/ Show Spelled Pronunciation [het-er-uh-sek-siz-uhm] Show IPA
    –noun
    a prejudiced attitude or discriminatory practices against homosexuals by heterosexuals.
    Origin:
    hetero(sexual) + sexism

    Related forms:
    het⋅er⋅o⋅sex⋅ist, noun, adjective
    he·gem·o·ny (hĭ-jěm’ə-nē, hěj’ə-mō’nē)
    n. pl. he·gem·o·nies
    The predominant influence, as of a state, region, or group, over another or others.

    You might want to go back to school or pick up a book sometime. Just because you have a blog does not make you intelligent. Eric Berndt’s audience was college going, educated readers. Now maybe you could take up the mantle of dumbing down theoretical jargon for the core audience who reads your blog?

  21. anon says

    Alas, Frank’s comments won’t help him much when his felony conviction appeal (bank fraud?) comes before the SC. The Obama admin will probably have to go after him and Dodd at some point to save themselves politically (yes, it’s all going so well in DC right now, isn’t it?).

    Using a term like “HH” is a self-labeling act where you make yourself identifiable to other like-minded people by the exact terms you use. Otherwise, the question was petulantly useless.

  22. dan cobb says

    Scalia is nothing less than a wannabe Mousilini. He is dismissive of gays and ridicules gays at every turn. An awful, repugnant human being! He was an only child, and behaves like it…. I’m sure he was coddled and treated like mommy’s little emperor –probably still is to this day. He is also dismissive of women. How did such a neadrathal get onto the Supreme Court? He also has many children… at least nine as I recall… and you just know at least one of them is gay…. can you imagine the self-loathing that Scalia instilled in that poor child? Nasty stuff!

  23. dan cobb says

    Scalia is nothing less than a wannabe Mousilini. He is dismissive of gays and ridicules gays at every turn. An awful, repugnant human being! He was an only child, and behaves like it…. I’m sure he was coddled and treated like mommy’s little emperor –probably still is to this day. He is also dismissive of women. How did such a neadrathal get onto the Supreme Court? He also has many children… at least nine as I recall… and you just know at least one of them is gay…. can you imagine the self-loathing that Scalia instilled in that poor child? Nasty stuff!

  24. Eric M Berndt says

    A friend just pointed this out to me – Andy, thanks for the nod. Thanks for the support (and diction suggestions) from commenters, too.

    Richard – Scalia made no response, but looked around like he was waiting for security to escort me out (they didn’t). I work at a nonprofit, Heartland Alliance’s National Immigrant Justice Center, and run a sub-project that focuses on LGBT and HIV-positive asylum seekers and other immigrants.

    I’ll admit that “heterosexist hegemony” makes me cringe a bit these days, but I did write that letter late one night amidst a blizzard of controversy (and schoolwork!), and intended it for a NYU Law listserv. (I meant HH to refer to the way certain people, though not anti-gay, refused to see that gays have a right to be vocally indignant about our law school community honoring Scalia. It struck me as reflecting privilege instead of animus…). Perhaps I needed an editor, but I’m still proud to have my name signed to the letter, and certainly glad that I made that stand.

  25. nic says

    Eric Berndt,

    yeah, by googling i was able to answer my own questions. however, i wasn’t sure whether the Eric Berndt doing good stuff in Canada was the same Eric from NYU. thanks for the response, assuming you mistook the guy commenting above my comment with me.

    ANON,

    were i you, i wouldn’t hold my breath on Barney’s conviction, much less on his appeal to the Supremes and that self-satisfied bigot. petulance better fits your belaboring the use of HH. is deference owed (simply by dint of his position)to a bigot who gives you no respect?

  26. Janice says

    I am sad that we have to call each other names, particularly when it is our representatives doing it. I hope that everyone has the right to love and be loved. I do not agree that a relationship between the same sex should be called a marriage but, I think that any partnership should have the same legal rights. Marriage is a religious term and is between a man and a woman. As a heterosexual and a Christian…I would be grateful if we could just change the language from marriage to something else. I know I have walked into a hornets nest but, I would just like to open up communication without a fight.

  27. TANK says

    It’s kind of an all or nothing thing when you deny equal rights, janice. Whether or not that was your intent matters little.

    Correction: marriage is not a religious term. Marriage is all about the legal rights–what a private interest decides to do to celebrate it (religious or otherwise) is their business and does not concern marriage (a legal term with rights). It is completely within the domain of the state to issue and confer a marriage license. It’s not about your meaning of marriage and mine; this is a fact.

    It’s also funny how relativistic religionists become when facts are used to refute them.

  28. TANK says

    And I have yet to see a single real argument against barney frank here. Lots of noise, no substance. Barney got behind legislation proposed to regulate fannie and freddie when the repubs controlled the house.

  29. nic says

    JANICE,

    i hope you continue to comment. you are an open-minded person after a compromise, and we should welcome all gay-friendly people. we gays and lesbians run the risk of alienating the people who, for the most part, wish us well. in short, people like you. don’t give up on us: we are pissed at the way we have been treated, thus the anger. whether you want to argue over the term “marriage”, that is not a deal breaker for me. it is all a matter of semantics. all i want is the same rights as you and your male partner have. we are all productive citizens of this country. you and he should pick up signs demanding equality for all, whenever there is a chance. we can quibble about the word “marriage’ later.

  30. Sarina says

    Why is anyone shocked by his comment? As if it was not true. Fox News, as usual, pointificates about how you’re not a bigot if you are against gay rights. Right, and the KKK is not a racist institution.

  31. Rain says

    Oh, and its Mussolini, guys. As in, Benito Mussolini, fascist dictator of Italy during the second world war. Just my two cents.

    Wait, make that .9458 cents. The dollar’s devaluation continues.

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