My issue with the many comedic jabs at Scalia's death is not based on the fact that I agreed with his politics—in the least. Scalia was not progressive; he interpreted the Constitution in a very traditional way, and this was his right--in fact, it was his duty as a Supreme Court Justice; to interpret the Constitution as he believed it to stand.
A large reason that I took issue with jokes being made was, yes, death is personal and tragic; but second, Scalia represents many of my closest friends' and family's values. He is not an anomaly, he is a representation of a large chunk of the United States (whether you mourn that fact or not). And though I did not agree with his politics, and certainly have lively conversations around my own family's bustling dinner table (which I would say could be a fair representation of America's own varying views), I did not find most of the jokes tasteful - though they made their point.
It is fair, also, to say that parody and comedy have their place - and that is, to make a point.
The point? Scalia wasn't progressive. Worth noting though; I believe disagreement is healthy and necessary. Each side refines the other. [Does this mean that disagreements regarding the law do not get personal, or messy (especially when a variety of civil rights or freedoms come into play)? Absolutely not. These disagreements are very personal, and justified.]
But the deeper question in all of this--and one that I continually ask within my own life and relationships--is, "How do we disagree well, and in love?" (Also worth noting; I feel like the phrase "in love" or "with love" has become hollowed out as it's been overused, and even abused as an excuse or justification for wrongs that are just...well, wrong.)
And the best example of this (beautiful) kind of disagreement, and one which I can only hope America's households, religious institutions, and various social communities mimic, has come into sharper focus since the passing of this conservative Supreme Court Justice.
I think RBG and Scalia's friendship displays something far deeper, and far more rare in our present society; the ability to disagree—and still regard one another as human beings (even friends). Sometimes friendship (or perhaps even just respect) can boil down to the simplest of things, and endure through the deepest of disagreements. What it boils down to? My humanity; your humanity; our shared experience as members of a larger human race. Friends and family have extended this simplicity to me, and I to them, especially in this last year of deep division between our ideas of what "wrong" and "right" mean, in very personal ways. (It has been extremely challenging, and beautiful, and really, really messy.)
And as I said, parody and comedy can be used as powerful tools to make a sound argument or statement; but, in my opinion, I believe many of the posts displayed a deeper issue that we as Americans (and just humans in general, let's be real) need to figure out, and that is the issue of disagreement while upholding another person's humanity.
You disagree? Perfect. Let's exchange ideas, and then let's grab a beer; go to the opera; tell each other some really cheesy jokes.
After all, that's what friends are for.
Interviewer: How come you are such good friends with that guy Scalia?
RBG: Because he makes me laugh. (Watch below.)
RBG's tribute to Scalia:
"Toward the end of the opera Scalia/Ginsburg, tenor Scalia and soprano Ginsburg sing a duet: 'We are different, we are one,' different in our interpretation of written texts, one in our reverence for the Constitution and the institution we serve. From our years together at the D.C. Circuit, we were best buddies. We disagreed now and then, but when I wrote for the Court and received a Scalia dissent, the opinion ultimately released was notably better than my initial circulation. Justice Scalia nailed all the weak spots—the 'applesauce' and 'argle bargle'—and gave me just what I needed to strengthen the majority opinion. He was a jurist of captivating brilliance and wit, with a rare talent to make even the most sober judge laugh. The press referred to his 'energetic fervor,' 'astringent intellect,' 'peppery prose,' 'acumen,' and 'affability,' all apt descriptions. He was eminently quotable, his pungent opinions so clearly stated that his words never slipped from the reader’s grasp.
"Justice Scalia once described as the peak of his days on the bench an evening at the Opera Ball when he joined two Washington National Opera tenors at the piano for a medley of songs. He called it the famous Three Tenors performance. He was, indeed, a magnificent performer. It was my great good fortune to have known him as working colleague and treasured friend."
This is the kind of love (and respect) I want to offer to each person I meet; and this is the kind of challenge and refining I want my friends to demand from me.
Thanks for the wisdom, as always, RBG.