In asking about Scalia's dissent in Lawrence v. Texas and his view
that privacy is not constitutionally protected, Eric Berndt, a law student, shocked the crowd by asking, "Do you sodomize your wife?"
Scalia refused to answer the question while the crowd gasped and the administrators promptly turned off Berndt's microphone.
Very classy. I have to agree that perhaps Mr. Berndt could have found a more productive (and mature) manner in which to phrase his question. One that Justice Scalia would have actually answered with a response that could have contributed to the discussion regarding privacy. Instead the result was simply an emotional response from the crowd and a line in the school paper.
Now, obviously I wasn't there and perhaps this article took the incident and twisted it to make Mr. Berndt's question appear obnoxious by taking that one line out of a longer quote, and the question "Do you sodomize your wife?" was actually appropriate in context.
This incident makes me think about the question of how to respect an office or other position (such as President of the United States, or Supreme Court Justice) when you strongly disagree with, and perhaps even personally dislike, the person holding the position. I think that the respect of the position doesn't mean that the individual shouldn't be criticized, but it can (and maybe should) change the way the criticism is expressed.
Update: Wonkette has an email response from Eric Berndt (linked to by JD2B) Some excerpts:
"It should be clear that I intended to be offensive, obnoxious, and inflammatory. There is a time to discuss and there are times when acts and opposition are necessary. Debate is useless when one participant denies the full dignity of the other."
"...I did have a legal point: Justice Kennedy's majority opinion in Lawrence asked whether criminalizing homosexual conduct advanced a state interest "which could justify the intrusion into the personal and private life of the individual." Scalia did not answer this question in his dissent because he believed the state need only assert a legitimate interest to defeat non-fundamental liberties. I basically asked him this question again - it is now the law of the land. He said he did not know whether the interest was significant enough. I then asked him if he sodomizes his wife to subject his intimate relations to the scrutiny he cavalierly would allow others - by force, if necessary"
"We protestors did not embarrass NYU, Scalia embarrassed NYU. We stood up to a bigot for the values that make NYU more than a great place to learn the law. I repeat my willingess to discuss this issue calmly with anyone who respects my identity as a gay man."