The reactions of liberal pundits to Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia’s recent interview with New York magazine have been predictably overwrought. Scalia listens to conservative talk radio! He believes in the Devil! He might not have any openly gay friends!
To liberals, all of this is proof of, in the words of a Slate headline, “[Scalia’s] remarkable isolation from anyone who doesn’t agree with him.” But it actually highlights how mainstream Scalia’s beliefs are, and how isolated and out of touch many liberals are.
On homosexuality, Scalia made it clear that he’s not “a hater of homosexuals at all” and stated the Christian teaching of hating the sin but not the sinner. He said that he has friends who he suspects are gay. When Scalia’s interviewer, Jennifer Senior, asked him if any had come out to him, he said no.
This seemed to scandalize some liberal writers. “Stop and consider, for a moment, how difficult it would be in a major American city in 2013 to construct a social world in which you might not know anybody who’s openly gay,” Slate’s Dahlia Lithwick wrote. Scalia, she continued, “seems a bit like a man living on a tiny remote island of the Supreme Court.”
But Scalia didn’t say that he doesn’t know anybody who’s openly gay. He said that nobody had confessed their homosexuality to him personally. Those are quite different things.
Liberals are obsessed with the idea that conservatives might not have any gay friends. But even if it were true that Scalia has no gay friends, it wouldn’t be that unusual. According to a 2012 Gallup poll, just 3.4 percent of American adults identify as lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender.
And since Scalia is a political and cultural conservative, a practicing Catholic, white (non-whites are more likely to identify as LGBT, according to polls), highly educated, and a high-earner (LGBT identification is highest among those with the lowest levels of education and income, according to Gallup) and in his 70s, it wouldn’t be surprising if Scalia had no openly gay friends.
It would be about as surprising as finding out that one of the liberal justices doesn’t have any friends who are conservative Christians (who, incidentally, make up a much larger share of the population than do gays).
Scalia further scandalized liberal sensibilities by mentioning his belief in the Devil. A piece in the Daily Beast stated that Scalia “still believes in the Devil,” as if such a belief were akin to a person believing in Santa Claus or the Tooth Fairy into adulthood.
A blogger on Rachel Maddow’s MSNBC blog wrote that Scalia’s belief that a “literal devil” is “a real person” is “just remarkable.” Scalia’s statement ranked as number eight in a Huffington Post list of “The 9 Weirdest Things We Learned From Scalia’s NYMag Interview.”