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to Section One | to Arts & Entertainment
posted Friday, April 8, 2016 - Volume 44 Issue 15
George Mason University renames Law School ASSoL after Scalia
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George Mason University renames Law School ASSoL after Scalia

by Victor Hawthorne - SGN Staff Writer

What many thought was an early April Fool's Day joke is actually a real gift from the Comedy Gods.

After having received a generous $10 million from the Charles Koch Foundation and $20 million more from an anonymous donor, George Mason University eagerly changed its law school's name to The Antonin Scalia School of Law.

Such haste resulted in an unfortunate (or fortunate depending on what side of the political spectrum you fall on) result as the law school became the butt of numerous jokes all over the Internet. Twitter users who are less than fond of the late Supreme Court jurist immediately seized upon the new acronym and began tweeting comments containing the hash tags #ASSLaw and #ASSoL:

'Seriously. They're calling their school 'ASSoL'?'

'Pro-Tip: Practice safe #branding. Watch your acronyms. 'Mom! Dad! I got into the ASSoL!'

'Hearty congratulations to David Bernstein, who is now, officially, an ASSoL professor.'

This week, administrators at the university announced they are re-re-naming the school to something a little less comedic: The Antonin Scalia Law School.

ASSLaw Dean Henry N. Butler sort of apologized to students and alumni in an awkward letter announcing the new name change:

'Under the terms of the anonymous gift, we are authorized to use a variety of different names. The name initially announced - The Antonin Scalia School of Law - has caused some acronym controversy on social media. The Antonin Scalia Law School is a logical substitute. We anticipate the naming will be effective on July 1, 2016 pending final approval by the State Council of Higher Education for Virginia.'

While most of us are giggling over the delightful coincidence that an acronym could be so perfectly fitting, the reaction all over the Internet highlights how deeply controversial and unfortunately influential the late justice was.

The most common response to NPR's Nina Totenberg's congratulatory tweet, 'George Mason renaming its law school The Antonin Scalia School of Law. The late Justice, genuinely beloved teacher, must be on cloud 9!' was 'I flat out would not attend any school named after Scalia.'

In another sign of how unpopular and controversial Scalia is, the university is now looking into how to accommodate law school students who don't want Scalia's name on their diplomas.

It is difficult to imagine a scenario making headlines across the nation had it been another Supreme Court Justice and not Scalia. Had it been Justice Steven Bryer, nobody would have even noticed. Not even Alito or Thomas could have mustered up this sort of reaction.

But that is why the acronym is so perfect - because it was Scalia, one of the most unashamedly and vocally hateful and repressive Supreme Court Justices in history. The man who for decades denied Gay Americans their basic human rights. The man who entrenched oligarchy into our political fabric through Citizens United. The man who fatally voted to expand the Second Amendment.

While most of us who have a soul and a sense of humor would like to believe that this is no coincidence, that maybe the Universe was warning the folks at George Mason University to not name their law school after someone so evil, or that maybe George Mason University is fooling us all in naming their school ASSoL after, well . . . the biggest one of them all, or that because it happened the day before April Fool's Day, the Universe has one hell of a sense of humor.

It's probably just one of the most the most perfectly timed, superbly fitting, and hilarious coincidences to have ever occurred. But just in case there is some sort of hidden meaning (and for the record), George Mason University - you've just sold your soul to the devil.

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