Last week Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia died in his sleep at a resort in Texas. This week, the conspiracy theorists have swooped in with all manners of theories and accusations ranging from ‘Obama killed him’ to ‘Dick Cheney killed him’. I am waiting for Richard Belzer to add his two cents worth any day now and theorize that he knows just how the CIA had him killed.
This whole scenario could have been so easily avoided if only Scalia had the courtesy to die someplace other than Texas! Or if only somebody had the good sense to perform an autopsy. There was no murder, and Justice Scalia died of natural causes. He was not a well man, as his family knew and has told us. So why all the mystery? Because under Texas law, it is permissible for the pronouncement of death to be made by phone, without the Medical Examiner or anybody acting in an official capacity ever having seen the body, which is exactly what happened in this case. The local Justice of the Peace was out of town, so she pronounced Scalia dead by phone without ever seeing his body. Also, no autopsy was ordered, at the family’s request. This combination is the base recipe for disaster … enough gaps in procedure and credibility to get those bored, over-imaginative minds brewing. Then, to add insult to injury, the resort owner, who discovered Scalia’s body, mentioned that he had “a pillow over his head”. Throw another log on the fire.
Conspiracy theories are nothing new. In recent history, the ten (10) top conspiracy theories were:
- Lee Harvey Oswald did not act alone (or possibly at all)
- Princess Diana was killed on purpose
- Aids is a manmade disease
- The government was involved in 9/11
- Elvis never really left the building
- The 1969 Apollo moon landing did not happen
- A UFO crashed in Roswell, New Mexico
- Global warming is a hoax
- President Obama was born in Kenya (another ‘Trump-ism’)
- Holocaust revisionism
With the possible exception of the first one, all of the above, every single last one, have been credibly de-bunked, as will the “murder” of Justice Scalia. Were it not an election year, were it not for Trump and his “road-show mentality”, and were it not for ultra-conservative radio personality Alex Jones, the rumour would likely never have seen the light of day. First of all, despite Donald Trump’s hasty conclusion that the pillow was “on his face, which is a pretty unusual place to find a pillow”, the resort owner who found him clarified that the pillow was leaning against the headboard and above his head, not on his face. And besides … what kind of murderer is going to leave the pillow over the victim’s face, for Pete’s sake??? Secondly, what was to be gained by murdering Scalia? He was one of nine justices serving on the Supreme Court. His textualist/originalist views were disagreeable to some, but that never kept him from being well-liked and well-respected by all who knew him. There was, simply, nothing to be gained by his death and much to be lost.
Justice Scalia was known to have heart problems, high blood pressure and was recently rejected for surgery to treat a shoulder injury based on his other health problems. “Our family just has no doubt that he was taken from us by natural causes,” Eugene Scalia, Justice Scalia’s youngest son said on Wednesday. “We accept that. We’re praying for him. We ask others to accept that and pray for him.”
Meanwhile, it is a tragedy that his family, friends, and the public must suffer through politically-motivated rumours. Though I often disagreed ideologically with Scalia’s conservative, textualist decisions, I had great respect for him. One quote, in particular, stays in my mind, “I attack ideas. I don’t attack people. And some very good people have some very bad ideas. And if you can’t separate the two, you gotta get another day job.” He was a good man, and he served the Supreme Court and this nation well for over 30 years. Let us not diminish this memory by allowing the conspiracy theories and theorists to turn this into yet another three-ring circus.