June 25, 2008

"Justice Scalia is Not a Nice Man. A fanboy learns the truth."

Well, the insolent fanboy has won the sympathy of at least one law blogger, but really... You presume to take up the Justice's time at a book signing and you haven't got a copy of his new book? You bring his 1997 book to get an autograph? I mean, I can see how an unsophisticated person might think it's okay to try that, but when it didn't work you should have felt chastened. Instead, you write a long letter — with typos and references to "Star Trek" and Jimmy Carter — scolding Justice Scalia?
I presented my book [A Matter of Interpretation], you took it, looked at the front cover, and gruffly said, "This is not my book. I won't sign this book." The book was pushed aside and you waived [sic] me away.

At first I thought you were joking. You had to be. Who doesn't sign their own book at a book signing? Apparently you don't. As the massive crowd poured in I tried to show you that the cover said in large bold print: 'BY ANTONIN SCALIA.' You were having none of it.

The event was free for me because I am a law student. In fact, I only went because it was free. I had class that night but skipped because this was going to be so much better than learning about informal rulemaking procedure in Administrative Law. I intended to buy your new book [Making Your Case] when I had the money. For now, I owned this book. It had inspired me. It was the one I wanted signed. And again, you'd already made the royalties off of it when I purchased it. So what could be the harm?...

I think it is important to note that you are a public servant. While you are not a member of the political branches, you nonetheless are on the public pay roll. It should be an honor for you to be admired so much that people even want your signature. But you have become arrogant and aloof in your marble castle up on the Hill.

If your intention was to sell book you have a funny way of going about it. Now I will never buy your new book, whereas I was looking forward to it before. I will tell everyone I speak to on the subject of Originalism and the Court how big of a jerk you were. I am not famous but I am well respected by those who know me. Any books you sell will not be from my recommendation.

But the worst part of it is that from now on and for the rest of my life I will never think of you the same way. From now on you will not be the lovable jerk you come off as. Instead you will be like a philosopher king growling at his peon subject.

Earlier in the evening you wouldn't even take a picture with me. I understood because of the onslaught of photos that would inevitably follow. I had the honor of meeting Justice O'Connor, who was speaking at my school, a few months ago. After the event she was in a hurry to be somewhere. I asked if I could have a picture with her. Though she was clearly put out she took thirty seconds out of her life to do something nice for an admirer. In my life this has been true of Lenard [sic] Nimoy (Spok [sic] from Star Trek), Stan Lee (creator of Marvel Comics), Senator Cornyn of Texas, and former President Jimmy Carter. They were all busy people and they took a few seconds to do something nice for a fan and member of the public. There are stories John Wayne would talk to his fans for hours while his food got cold. What can I say? You're no Duke.

I'm sure you won't care about me or my letter. You may not even see it. If you do you'll probably only correct the grammar and then throw it away. You'll see yourself as the victim of a slanderous smear campaign by a looser [sic] fan who can't afford a book. But you brought it on yourself by not taking a few seconds to sign a book you wrote at a book signing.
I like this comment at the second link: "This guy is a fan of Scalia *and* Jimmy Carter??? Something doesn't smell right." Yes, think about it. People who don't like Scalia could wreck his signings by bringing the wrong book (and trying to provoke a reaction by babbling and pointing to his name on the cover). I'm picturing hordes of Scalia haters deliberately screwing up his signings: Okay, when you get to the front of the line, you pull out your downloaded copy of his dissent in Lawrence v. Texas, tell him how brilliant and inspiring you found it, and beg him to autograph it.

ADDED: Justice Scalia's new book is "Making Your Case: The Art of Persuading Judges."


Middle Class Guy said...

The entitlement cry baby generation strikes again. Now we will here from the haters how his self esteem was shattered and his tender sensitive feelings were harmed. The poor baby.

JDAXC said...

MCG beat me to the main point.
I'm sure the poor baby is scared for life. BOO HOO cry me a river!
I love the part about how he will NEVER buy another Scalia book. I'm sure that will crimp Nino's cigar and scotch budget!

vbspurs said...

Now there's a hero litany one doesn't hear very often: Leonard Nimoy, Jimmy Carter and Nino Scalia...

What can you say about this story? The guy is a wuss, probabaly a plant, and definitely a dweeb with the lowest self-esteem this side of the Manson Groupies.

OMG, he didn't want to sign your ratty old book. Boo-bloody-hoo. Instead of a hero to you, he's now nothing but a jackbooted corporate Nazi goat!

Ugh, please.

When I went to a book fair, and went up to Anne Rice with a paperback, she pointedly said she wasn't signing any of her old paperbacks, but just the new novel available for sale "somewhere" (airy gesture towards the table selling her book).

A few years later, the scene was repeated with Susan Sontag who, when I presented her my well-worn copy of "On Photography", she smirked very condenscendingly saying, "ahh, this old favourite", and said she was only signing the new one.

Though I didn't consider either lady my heroine (to say the least), I wasn't offended, and actually I did buy Sontag's new book, which she did autograph.

Hey, why should Scalia be any different than America's foremost female intellectual of her time? Wussy.


James Wigderson said...

Okay, this guy actually reads Scalia, and never suspects he might be a bit blunt? A little bit short with annoying people?

I'd pay five bucks to someone to stand in line with a copy of Bush V Gore just to see what happens.

bearbee said...

Is that a standard policy that authors or their agents take during booksigning...to not sign other than that which is being hawked in order to promote more sales? Buy my new book and you get an autograph?

Smilin' Jack said...

What a dumb kid. Scalia wasn't there to make friends, he was there to make money. If the kid had just slipped him a fiver, everything would have been fine.

Rick Lee said...

The guy is an autograph hound. In the course of my work as a photographer, I've met a few. They are usually nice enough folks but they always seem a bit pathetic with their NEED to be around famous people.

former law student said...

I can see the point of the plaint -- this is not like bringing a sack lunch to the Palm; he did buy (at one time) a copy of a Scalia book, waited in line, etc. But the precondition of buying a copy of the book being sold is standard booksigning practice. I note that Pamela Anderson treated Borat much better than Justice Scalia did the letterwriter.

But this tells me that what's needed is a Law Trek convention, where Sulu, Chekhov, and Justice O'Connor could appear and sign autographs.

bill said...

Is that a standard policy that authors or their agents take during booksigning...to not sign other than that which is being hawked in order to promote more sales? Buy my new book and you get an autograph?

My observation is that it depends on the popularity of the author and the size of the crowd. The purpose is to promote the new book, and a decent size crowd can easily take 2-4 hours to work through and that might be after a selected reading and Q&A session. So if you just let everyone bring in a stack of old books and articles you want signed (I think ebay selling is also a cause), then the whole process just takes longer.

While I do enjoy hearing authors talk about their work, I do get slightly depressed when I add up all the time they waste signing autographs during a tour. That's time better spent writing the next book. I'm sure most authors would agree.

AS a side market, I've seen a number of authors selling autograph copies through their website; or, if you cover all the shipping, they'll autograph a book you mail them. Then there are smaller presses, like Subterranean Press, that deal in reissues with author signatures.

Beth said...

This fanboy is an ass. My favorite line in his letter is that O'Connor "was clearly put out" but posed with him anyway. Dude -- demanding that people do things that clearly annoy them is stupid and rude!

Revenant said...

Signings usually have posted rules for what will be signed, to prevent ebayers from showing up with 30 copies of the same book. Probably this guy figured the rules didn't apply to him. That kind of thing happens a lot.

William said...

Justice Scalia is a public figure. When he is in a private space he does not need to wear his public face, but when he chooses to appear in public he needs must put on a guise of graciousness and friendliness. It's part of the job.

Robert Cook said...

Scalia is an asshole. The guy brought an older book by Scalia and he pushes it aside claiming "This is not my book?!" Hell, he's a fucking asshole, and he supports his legal decisions with inaccurate data:


So, he's an intellectually dishonest (or at least sloppy) fucking asshole.

(If Anne Rice does the same thing at book signings, she's an asshole.)

At least the young student has learned early that our public servants too often consider us with contempt and distaste. Perhaps he will view these "esteemed" gentlemen and women with a tad more skepticism in the future, and consider that they too, have agendas other than justice or the welfare of the republic that they are pursuing.

Pundit Joe said...

Assuming this wasn't a put on, I think I have seen something similar at Sci-fi conventions. (Yes, I'm such a nerd that I have been to a few.) Some folks are shocked to find out that their favorite actor is really just a human being after all. They take the slightest offense and blow it out of all proportion because it shattered their illusions.

Most folks take such a realization as a life lesson while some become angry and resentful towards the celebrity.

Palladian said...

Did Scalia refuse to sign your book too, Mr Cook? Poor baby...

Robert Cook said...

I'd be more inclined to pelt him with rotten eggs than have him sign a book for me. I think he's a corrupt fraud.

Dust Bunny Queen said...

So, let me get this straight. This ignorant little jerk off of a law student picks up an old copy of the author's book, maybe at the Goodwill, and sashays up to the event where the author is signing his NEW books to promote sales of his NEW book. This little stain demands the author sign the old tattered book and gets all pissy when the author rightfully refuses since this is a promotional event for his NEW book.

Then the tiny prick, who somehow managed to get into law school, writes a letter full of misspellings, grammar mistakes and words that don't even exist and sends it to a Supreme Court Justice. He isn't in the least embarrassed by his lack of manners or inability to write even a decent protest letter. And somehow it is Scalia's fault??

Yep. He'll make a great lawyer.(sarcasm) I can see his television advertising now. How in the world did we allow our society to produce such a worthless piece of dung? We are doomed if this is the best we can send to law school or to obtain a college degree in anything.

Freder Frederson said...

I'd be more inclined to pelt him with rotten eggs than have him sign a book for me. I think he's a corrupt fraud.

Just wait 'til Simon shows up, then the Wrath of Kahn will rain down on you. You don't mess with his hero.

Scalia is an asshole. But the guy who wrote this diatribe is pathetic. Scalia's reputation as a jerk is legendary. He revels in it. I don't know why this guy was so shocked.

Freder Frederson said...

And since when are book signings paid events (as this one apparently was)?

ron st.amant said...

Maybe rather than being dismissive and angry at the guy, Scalia should just 'get over it' (his words, not mine)

Pogo said...

When my son was nine I took him to a comic book convention. He recognized all of the authors, and brought in old stuff and new stuff and these guys signed it all.

One artist was beseiged with autograph seekers. My son badly wanted to meet him. So he waited and I wandered around. But we had talked beforehand and I told him that this part of their job, signing, is boring and hard, so maybe he ought to give the man something, instead of just getting his signature, as a sort of thanks.

So, despite saying "this is dumb; he won't want this", he gave the artist a crudely stapled comic book of Batman (the artist's fame) he had drawn, all 8 pages. The man seemed stunned. He stared at it and then leafed through, and asked, "Is this for me?", and it was.

What a big smile he had. Where he had been efficiently scrawling his name over and over again, he leaned back and talked with my son for several minutes.

Made my boy's day.

But what would you give Scalia?

George said...

Makes me remember when Marvin Belli donned a glittering muu-muu to play a space monster on Star Trek.

My favorite sentence:

"I had class that night but skipped because this was going to be so much better than learning about informal rulemaking procedure in Administrative Law."

Yes, I would say anything would be better than that.

Must be a hoax.

Palladian said...

"But what would you give Scalia?"

A cannoli, a pack of Benson & Hedges and a big kiss on the cheek.

Kevin Walsh said...

Hey, I'd be happy if I GET to do a second book, and people bring the old one and the new one for me to sign. I'd be happy people have the first one, and enjoyed it. I wouldn't get all arrogant like Scalia did.

Just sayin'...


AlphaLiberal said...

Scalia is a bum. And a thief. To say citizens must kowtow to him like he's royalty is absurd.

Who cares if it's an older book anyway. A book signing is a book signing. Sounds like Scalia is mad he wasn't having his palm greased.

Have fun!

p.s. Looks like your comments have really fallen off, Ann.

blake said...

Justice Scalia is a public figure. When he is in a private space he does not need to wear his public face, but when he chooses to appear in public he needs must put on a guise of graciousness and friendliness. It's part of the job.

He must? Part of whose job? Scalia's PUBLIC persona is not of one who suffers fools gladly, not one to be trifled with.

blake said...


That's an awesome story. Dare I ask which Batman artist it was? Not the late Bob Kane?

blake said...

Oh, look, Alpha Liberal is here to piss in the punch bowl.

Is it more pathetic to seek special treatment at a signing, or to log in randomly to a successful person's website to cheer (what your delusional mind perceives as) their doom?

Pogo said...

it was some newer guy named Tom Nguyen. Not the usual comic artist, he is in pretty good shape

bill said...

From Tom Nguyen's resume: 1995-1996: Attended freshman year at University of MN, joined Theta Chi fraternity, and dropped out due to a lackluster art program full of art hippies.

Ha! friggin' hippies.

blake said...

Don't know him. (Not a big surprise, I don't really follow comix, but a few names have filtered down over the years.)

Looking at his site reminds of a scene in Ambulance where Janine Turner walks into Eric Roberts apartment for the first time and sees all the pictures he's drawn (he plays a comic book artist) of typically buxom, scantily clad women.

She says, "Wow, when did you first realize you were a heterosexual?"

WDOR said...

Scalia is well known as hostile toward autograph seekers. In Autograph Collector magazine's "10 Worst Signers" he's often listed as one of the worst signers in the world and will absolutely refuse to sign items through the mail.

I have sent him his book "A Matter of Interpretation" and he has always signed it. However, when I sent him an engraving containing the signature of every justice on the Rehnquist court other than Scalia and begged him to sign it, he opened it and returned it (postage prepaid) without signature. I finally got it signed in person, but it was tough.

The Fanboy was a horrible example of the whiny autograph collector. I'm a huge Scalia fan, but also realize that public figures face constant requests for signing by people that are rude and inconsiderate, so you have to remain considerate and respectful, even in the face of a justice who isn't accommodating. Scalia is well known as warm and funny to those close to him, but I can see why he puts up a shield against folks like fanboy.