May 18, 2010

""Now that the sex lives of Supreme Court justices have become grist for commentators, we are finally free to discuss a question formerly only whispered about in the shadows..."

"... Why does Justice Antonin Scalia, by common consent the leading intellectual force on the Court, have nine children? Is this normal? Or should I say 'normal,' as some people choose to define it? Can he represent the views of ordinary Americans when he practices such a minority lifestyle? After all, having nine children is far more unusual in this country than, say, being a lesbian."

73 comments:

Fred4Pres said...

Figures Kinsley came up with that tripe.

All I know is I am glad there are not nine children in the world carrying Kinsley's defective genes (and I am not talking about his medical condition).

mesquito said...

Grist for which commentators, Michael?

C'mon! Name names!

Fred4Pres said...

Hey Mike, it was Andrew Sullivan who made Elena Kagan's sexuality an issue. Believe it or not, most conservatives cared a lot more about her political orientation.

mesquito said...

Could you be referring to some lunatic at The Atlantic?


Hmmmm?

David said...

I guess what is an unusual, minority, lifestyle differs by location -- doesn't it? Where I grew up and where I live (two different places), large families are not uncommon. Maybe nine is uncommonly large, but I know several families with more than six children. While it's a fairly small percentage of the total population of married couples, I don't think it's fair to count those who've been married too short a time to have had several children. Of those who've been married more than 20 years, better than 25% of the families in my neighborhood have more than five children. This is well above the usual estimate for the proportion of lesbians in our society.

I think it's also fair to point out many who did not have large families would have had larger families had they been able. My wife and I are the parents of three children. We would have had more had our doctor not advised us against having more. My younger sister also has three, and only had those through the miracle of in vitro fertilization. When you consider the number of families which are smaller due to medical necessity, large families are not nearly as unusual as they must be in Michael Kinsley's world.

xWerkz Studio said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Adam said...

"Why does Justice Antonin Scalia ... have nine children?"

My first guess would be that he and his wife prefer sex to the BBC.

Original Mike said...

Or late night sandwiches.

Irene said...

The same question can be asked about Joseph P. Kennedy.

AJ Lynch said...

It's kind of a humorous observation.

traditionalguy said...

The day may be here at last when rational people are expected to believe an argument that says Black is White and Up is Down. Kinsley's comment is the least serious reasoning that I have ever seen come from a sane person. IMO loving and raising a family of children is all good and has always has been honored as such. While a goal of being childless is a self centered personality defect.

Bob_R said...

So no one is taking this to be a joke on Kinsey's part?

danielle said...

*hilarious*

he strike me as a no contraception kinda guy; maybe they don't have rhythm.

Penny said...

From the Atlantic Article, this funny paragraph:

"Speculation is already rampant about why Scalia chose nine children over a more conventional lifestyle. Is he a sex maniac? That suspicion naturally arises. But perhaps once he started, he just never got around to stopping. Or maybe he just likes children. In recent days, Scalia’s friends have rushed to his defense, going out of their way to portray him as a model of sexual restraint. "Every Friday a bunch of us used to go down to this bar to pick up women," one of his college roommates recalls. "We’d always ask Nino if he wanted to join us, but he always said he was too busy studying. Frankly, we thought he was gay.""

lucid said...

Obviously Scalia has got a very hot wife.

rhhardin said...

He wasn't trying hard to avoid having children, is all.

Ricardo said...

"Obviously Scalia has got a very hot wife."

Or, a very tired wife.

theobromophile said...

Eh, agree with David.

Scalia is 74 years old and got married in 1960. That was the year that the Pill first was sold in the United States, five years before Griswold prevented states from banning contraceptive use in the marital relationship, and over a decade before Roe and Eisenstadt. Many families in the 1960s had nine children, especially if they were Catholic. What makes little sense is this business of evaluating a 74-year-old Catholic man on the same standards we would use for a 25-year-old.

So I'm going to fight the proposition that a septuagenarian father of nine is more statistically unusual than a lesbian. Moreover, the idea of using statistical averages to evaluate Supreme Court justices seems silly: aside from the joke about the average human having one testicle, it would make little sense when applied to nine different people. If you pick out any nine (brilliant and highly educated, at least middle-aged) Americans, at random, you aren't going to get nine white Protestants with 2.1 children.

Finally, while there is a choice element to having children that is not reflective of sexual orientation, it's also a biological element as well as the compromises and decisions made within a marriage. For all we know, Mrs. Scalia spent twenty years poking holes in Antonin's condoms and throwing her Pills down the toilet. Maybe she got pregnant no matter what - breastfeeding, natural family planning, etc.

Trooper York said...

I always thought Scalia had a lot of balls. So to speak.

Freeman Hunt said...

Kinsley thinks it's obvious that there are more lesbians than large families. I'm not so sure.

Kevin said...

Go to Green Bay. Scalia would fit right in...

Sea Urchin said...

I'm one of seven kids, and I always thought it was odd that people thought it appropriate to comment on my mom's sex life whenever I told them that. ("Wow! Your mom's been BUSY!") In fact, given the weeks around birth when a couple has to abstain, he's probably had LESS sex over the years than another married man whose wife had fewer pregnancies.

And as far as the number of his children, well, more people who work and produce and innovate is always a good thing. I hate it when people act like it's a terrible moral failing to do more than replace yourself.

"The world must be peopled!" - Much Ado About Nothing

Big Mike said...

Michael Kinsley doesn't have any children of his own, does he?

Hmmmm.

Bob said...

After all, having nine children is far more unusual in this country than, say, being a lesbian."

Utah would probably be an exception to that, I'd think.

Sea Urchin said...

Actually, Mormons on average have just 1-2 kids more than whatever the national trend is at the time. It's just that the ones at the top of the bell curve with 7, 8, 9 and 10 kids tend to be very OBVIOUSLY Mormon.

Gabriel Hanna said...

My hometown was almost entirely Mormon or Mexican.

9+ children definitely more common than lesbians.

I had two great-grandmothers that had at least nine surviving children--what was unusual was how few they lost.

Look in an old cemetery and count the headstones with one date. Instructive.

SteveR said...

As Bill Cosby told his wife, "Pope says you gotta do it". Tell me again who brought up the whole issue of Kagan's sexuality. I don't care, all I know is it wouldn't include me.

Flexo said...

For all we know, Mrs. Scalia spent twenty years poking holes in Antonin's condoms and throwing her Pills down the toilet.

How very sad that the anti-child contraceptive mentality is presumed to be the norm. And the mother of Father Paul Scalia would be shocked that someone who think so of her.

Kensington said...

Scalia must wear baggy shorts.

Moose said...

I'm with Kensington on this...

Roman said...

This is like the old joke about why a dog licks his genitals...Because he can!

Chase said...

yawwwwwwwwn (stretch, Lips go "smack, smack", lick inside of mouth, fart audibly)

ZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZzzzzzzzzz

knox said...

... the implication being that anyone with a ton of kids is a freakish anomaly. Nice.

Paul said...

Isn't Kinsley a lesbian?

edutcher said...

The Mormons still do it the old-fashioned way. In my former job, there was a manager who was Mormon - 10 kids. David's probably quite right about the number of people who would have more if they could. Most two income families have trouble with two or three, let alone 5 or more

In any case, I get the feeling Kinsley won't rest until he has a tape of Kagan and Ginsburg.

themightypuck said...

First of all Kinsley is joking and it was a bit funny. Second, nine is an important number for Scalia. His nickname is Nino (one letter from nine) and he is one of the nine. Perhaps he wants to leave an entire court of Scalias as his legacy.

vnjagvet said...

The same question can be asked about Joseph P. Kennedy.

Or his famously rabbit-like son Robert whose wife was pregnant at the time of his death with their eleventh child.

Palladian said...

"Perhaps he wants to leave an entire court of Scalias as his legacy."

That caused a tingle to go down my leg. Or maybe it was a chill.

Ritmo Brasileiro said...

The war against reality continues unabated.

One in ten individuals is estimated to be gay. Women are roughly 50% of the population, which leaves us with 15 million lezzies.

There is no way that 15 million people with nine or more children exist in America.

Of course, you could look this all up for yourselves... but that would go against the neoconservative impulse of mythmaking your way into the predictable talking points.

Ritmo Brasileiro said...

Seeing as how Kinsley has a rather advanced state of multiple sclerosis I'm finding all the speculation on his sexual attractiveness and activity to be an especially classy form of retort... well, classy by Althousian standards.

Ritmo Brasileiro said...

Make that Parkinson's. Not a big difference to people willing to at least look into some of the facts about what you've turned into the latest grudge match.

Palladian said...

My paternal great-great-great grandfather Milo had 11 wives and 57 children. My maternal grandmother had 9 children. And unlike my father's side of the family, she isn't a Mormon or a Catholic! She's a healthy 91 this year.

Palladian said...

Shouldn't Democrats, the descendants of 20th century eugenics, be pleased that a brilliant man like Scalia had so many offspring? We need to encourage smart people to have lots of kids. But then again, the Democrats have come to see that as a dangerous thing, as smart people are more and more coming to realize that the party's debased idea of liberalism is ruining the country.

Palladian said...

Ah, there's Ritmo with that famous condescending liberal "empathy", presenting the idea that a Parkinson's patient can't possibly have a sexuality, and that we can't treat such an "invalid" in the same manner we would treat any other intelligent adult. Walk on eggshells, people and don't discuss the "cripple's" obviously barren, sexless existence!

What grotesque prejudice, masquerading, natch!, as "class".

Freeman Hunt said...

One in ten individuals is estimated to be gay.

By wildly inflated estimates, sure. Most estimates go about 2% to 5% which is, I think, probably much more accurate.

G Joubert said...

Now that the sex lives of Supreme Court justices have become grist for commentators...

I distinctly remember talk about William O. Douglas's sex life in the 1960s. So it isn't as if it's a new thing.

Ritmo Brasileiro said...

No worse than whatever brainlessness conflates one's physical sexual capabilities with "sexuality" generally, or that pretends that advanced Parkinson's doesn't impinge on the same physical and motor capabilities that facilitate sexual function.

Only Palladian would be so crazy to pretend that a disease that kills people by eventually disabling their swallowing and respiratory functions doesn't impinge on sexual function. Palladian's not so stupid to not get this (although probably immensely ignorant); he just likes popping off on wild tangents when he's lost an argument. His creative sense overwhelms his reason, which is probably the same condition that propels him to do something so hare-brained as to take issue with "empathy". Well, that and the fact that he probably lacks empathy - a problem also shared, incidentally, by sociopaths.

Ritmo Brasileiro said...

By wildly inflated estimates, sure.

Citation?

Most estimates go about 2% to 5% which is, I think, probably much more accurate.

There goes the argument from personal belief, the conservative's favorite fallacy of logical reasoning.

Ritmo Brasileiro said...

Hey Kinsley! Palladian wants you to know that incontinence is no obstacle to your "sexuality"!

(I think he means your sex life, but what the hell. When Palladian's arguments are as desperate as this why make it worse on him?)

Freeman Hunt said...

Here you go, Ritmo.

Freeman Hunt said...

And there are all of these.

Ritmo Brasileiro said...

Even at 5% that's got to be higher than the percentage of people with 9 or more kids.

edutcher said...

Kinsey's estimate of 10% has long been discredited. One of the more interesting attempts to get it right was by extrapolating AIDS data, which came up with an estimate of between .5 and 1.5 % of the population, which seems to be in the ballpark of data Freeman gives us.

As always, Ritmo and his friends are behind the factual curve when they try to snow everybody for some Lefty talking point.

Hombre said...

Ritmo Pompous Montanus wrote: Even at 5% that's got to be higher than the percentage of people with 9 or more kids.

What he meant to say was: "I apologize, Freeman, for rudely and stupidly arguing from personal belief that you were arguing from personal belief."

Ritmo Brasileiro said...

So sorry to intrude on your no doubt vast expertise on homosexual demographics with the "leftist" politics of Kinsey's studies, edutcher.

Surely AIDS data will get us data on the basics statistics of homosexuality, of a caliber that Jesse Helms can only dream of.

Ritmo Brasileiro said...

What el Asshole Hombre meant to say was Freeman's use of the phrase "I think" is NOT an appeal to her own personal beliefs. Of course, it's pretty stupid and rude to assert such a thing, but el Asshole isn't capable of any better.

Because, you know, it's not enough for him if others decided to proceed with citing the actual studies. All Hombre has are personal appeals and personal beliefs, if that even.

Ralph L said...

My grandfather had 60 first cousins, and his father was the seventh son of a seventh son. People thought he had healing powers because of that.

My niece has one first cousin and no siblings. We're dying out fast.

Jason said...

Scalia is a practicing Catholic. This link explains everything.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=47P59ha9k9s

Ralph L said...

Ritmo, when you find yourself in a hole, first stop digging.

Allison said...

Jason beat me to it.

5 minutes of actual research and the author of this speculation would know that Scalia and his wife were Catholic Italian-Americans practicing what Scalia laughing said was that birth control known as the Rhythm Method.

But then he wouldn't have anything to write. It's time for Atlantic to pull the plug.

JAL said...

Maybe the Scalias love children and wanted 9. Maybe more?

What is interesting to me is the tolerance, openmindedness, and acceptance of other life style choices by a number of liberals on other sites.

Not.

edutcher said...

Ritmo raises the issue of the much-discredited Kinsey and anyone who mentions that the data suggests a much lower figure than 10% gets the usual "If you can't beat 'em, insult 'em" Lefty drivel instead of valid rebuttal (feel free to insert punchline).

Ritmo's definitely running the projector tonight

Ralph L said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Ralph L said...

Rhythm Method!

Slow Joe said...

Guess who's going to be paying for Kinsley's social security?

The next generation of taxpayers. Kinsley never paid social security taxes. No baby boomer did. They played a neat game where they let their representatives spend far more than tax revenue, and used their social security withholdings to pay for roads and welfare and pork. In other words, they stole, as a generation.

And those who had enough children to shoulder this burden often realize just how evil that was. And those who didn't have kids at all often rationalize that they somehow did the world a favor. They are probably right, but it's still the case that Scalia's kids will be paying for boomer benefits the boomers only pretended to pay for.

Let's hope they all have tons of kids too, or have the budget make sense at some point. Fact is, people who don't have kids should consider refusing all social security. No one retiring today actually paid for it... that's just an illusion to permit spending to continue to rocket away.

David said...

This ignores the open secret that Scalia is gay and celibate. Nine children is a hell of an achievement for a celibate gay catholic conservative. You heard it here first.

MadisonMan said...

Bob R @ 4:28: I thought it was.

theobromophile said...

How very sad that the anti-child contraceptive mentality is presumed to be the norm. And the mother of Father Paul Scalia would be shocked that someone who think so of her.

Flexo: given that I'm a pro-life, anti-contraceptive woman, I think I'm quite justified in saying that you need to re-read what I wrote and stop getting on your high horse. I pretty explicitly said that it could have been Mrs. Scalia who wanted nine children; how you twist that into me having an "anti-child" mentality and projecting it onto her is good for a morning laugh... and not much else.

jamboree said...
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jamboree said...

I agree with the nine kids. That's freakish. I want to know what's up with his wife. As a child when I came across school friends who had families like that, I always furtively observed the mother to see if she was being abused, under undue duress by some belief system to become what I saw as a brood sow with a litter. It was very bizarre to me. I'd be more accepting now simply because I don't care anymore. I don't feel like someone can leap out from the shadows and force that kind of lifestyle on me.

But more on the subject, I do remember very vaguely, it was a long long time ago, some whisperings about Souter.

I am of the opinion that Supreme Court Justices are supposed to be super brainy and therefore weirdness of one form or another goes with the territory - like math/comp GSIs with the long beards and questionable hygiene.

Moose said...

Jason -

Thank god someone mentioned "The Meaning of Life". Perfect.

I was just too lazy...

Flexo said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Flexo said...

I guess you had me fooled, theobromophile, with all your talk about the Scalias having condoms and the Pill. Again, as if that were the norm, as if it should simply be presumed that they would naturally have them in the first place.

And you too would do well, theobromophile, notwithstanding my using your quote, to not think that the comment applied only to you and not the rest of the world.