By Rob Watson | HOLLYWOOD – It is the old story about the scorpion and the frog. The two needed each other to cross a river to survive. The frog was apprehensive, knowing the scorpion had a deadly sting. The scorpion proclaimed that should the frog swim him across, he would obviously not use his lethal sting as they would both then drown. The frog gave into this logic, agreed to take the scorpion across… half-way across, the scorpion DID sting the frog. As they were both on their way to death, the frog asked, “WHY?” The scorpion proclaimed, “I could not help it. It is who I am.”
The Republicans are the scorpions of politics.
America has been the land of principles. The land of justice. The land of a democratic ideal. Our people have allowed the Republican party to crawl on our back with the promise and common goal of saving those ideals. To make us “great” “again”.
Amy Coney Barrett has been nominated to take over Ruth Bader Ginsberg’s seat on the Supreme Court. She has been placed there, not to represent our democracy, but to finish the job of the powerful few, the Republican party, that started the agenda decades ago. Women’s reproductive rights, protection against gun violence, common access to healthcare, LGBTQ rights…. She holds the lethal injection to wipe them all out. Her willingness to use such an injection is her most important qualification.
To quote Donald Trump as a disaster he perpetuated unfolds, “It is what it is” and Barrett will play her part. It is who she is. If she were someone else, she simply would not be the nominee.
How will she sting us? I took that question this week to Kate Kendell, Interim Legal Director at the Southern Poverty Law Center on the podcast RATED LGBT RADIO. For 22 years, Kendell led the National Center for Lesbian Rights. She stepped down from that role at the end of 2018, and then served as Campaign Manager for Take Back the Court, an organization committed to structural reform of the U.S. Supreme Court until October 2019.
“We are in a full-on crisis,” Kendell declared. “The court’s rightward lurch will make it impossible to correct things like gerrymandering, voter suppression, and the flow of dark money into elections. Any of the corrective actions we need to take to restore a functional democracy will be impossible.”
I asked her about Roe versus Wade, theorizing that not only is Barrett the kill switch to women’s reproductive rights in the United States, but the decision will be written with a woman’s face on it… hers. Kendell agreed, “Were Barrett to be confirmed… Roe is gone. There is no doubt about that. The best we can hope for is that they would leave it to the states. It is not inconceivable that they would go even farther and legislate themselves that no abortion is permissible. Barrett is quoted as saying that she believes that all abortions are immoral. Even in the case of the risk to the life of the mother, rape, and incest. She has no regard for a woman to have bodily integrity to choose when and where to be a parent.”
Kendell continued, “That is going to bleed over into all sorts of issues of privacy, including the rights of LGBTQ people. The ‘Mack truck’ this court has set up that can be driven through all its past rulings in favor of LGBTQ people … is ‘religious exemption. I don’t think the court would overrule same sex marriage, but they could rule that if one of your employees legally gets married in a same sex union, you could fire them if you find that offensive. There are all sorts of ways our enormous victories could be chipped away. If we begin to have exceptions to cases that say Non-Discrimination is our value, that Equality is our value, those erode completely if you asterisk it with ‘unless you don’t like those people’ – that is the environment in which we are heading with this confirmation. ”
“We are living in Trump’s America. Imagine that worldview being animated by the majority of the Supreme Court. Now, that’s a nightmare scenario.”
In the first Presidential debate Tuesday night, Donald Trump bragged about stuffing the courts. This Republican accomplishment disgusts Kendell. “As a lawyer, and someone who respects the judiciary, who honors judges and their service, the cast of clowns that have been confirmed with lifetime appointments on the Bench by the GOP Senate run by McConnell is an insult to what it means to serve on the judiciary. These are unqualified. Their ONLY qualifications to be confirmed was that they WERE hardcore conservatives who would rule in lockstep with the GOP. That perverts the very reason we have a third branch of government.”
The Supreme Scorpion will be Barrett. She, and they, cannot help it. It is who they have been. It is who they are.
Will they win against us? Ultimately, Kendell says no. “Look, I do feel bereft, about where we are as a nation. But we have a history as a Queer Community. We have had very dim moments before where we were not sure what the path out of it was. I think of the height of the AIDS crisis. I saw the lives of many of my friends snuffed out. First it was a trickle and then it was a torrent. I remember very vividly, Larry Speakes who was Reagan’s press secretary, being asked at a press conference ‘what is this administration going to do about all these gay men who are dying?’ And Speakes’s response was to laugh. To mock the idea we should even care that gay men were dying. So literally out of nothing… with NO government support, we created an entire movement and infrastructure to save our men and others impacted by AIDS and HIV. We have this in our muscle memory. How to show up and how to be on the front when life or death is on the line. We just have to recall that and reach into that reservoir and show up in this moment in the same way.”
The moral of the story is this. They may be scorpions…
… but they are sadly mistaken if they take us for being frogs.