I haven't decided whether to recognize the Rev. Pat Robertson or Justice Antonin Scalia as this week's winner of the coveted Grumpy Abe Linguistic Lunacy (GALL) award. Neither is a rising star in his class anymore but both are known to draw extensive media attention when they speak. It's sort of like the NFL referee announcing the crucial decision by the deciders in the booth on high for a disputed play down on the field.
First, Preacher Robertson told his TV audience that people should be careful about wearing second-hand clothes without thoroughly laundering them because it was possible that they may possess "demonic spirits". Prayer, too, would help protect the new wearer, he said, to "rebuke any spirits that happened to have attached themselves to objects". (No, he's not talking about ancient tree spirits!)
Not that he's totally sure about this threat, but "it ain't going to hurt" to be careful.
That seemed to qualify as a winner until along came Scalia - a Supreme Court justice, for heaven's sake - who expressed his distaste for the Voting Rights Act in the case being argued before the court by describing it as a "perpetuation of racial entitlement". The historians are sure to mention this somewhere in their accounts of Scalia, just as they have never let modern readers forget the day in 1857 when Chief Justice Roger B. Taney ruled in the Dred Scott case that slaves should never-never become citizens, even if they were freed.
It had been a close call, but now that I've revisited the details and the sweeping consequences, the GALL award goes to Scalia. (But I did throw some industrial strength cleanser into the washer!)