Anzac Day

Sunday, April 25, AD 2010

Today is Anzac Day, in Australia and New Zealand.  We who lag a day behind will observe it on Monday.  It commemorates the landing of the New Zealand and Australian troops at Gallipoli in World War I.  Although the effort to take the Dardanelles was ultimately unsuccessful, the Anzac troops demonstrated great courage and tenacity, and the ordeal the troops underwent in this campaign has a vast meaning to the peoples of New Zealand and Australia.

At the beginning of the war the New Zealand and Australian citizen armies, illustrating the robust humor of both nations,  engaged in self-mockery best illustrated by this poem:

We are the ANZAC Army

The A.N.Z.A.C.

We cannot shoot, we don’t salute

What bloody good are we ?

And when we get to Ber – Lin

The Kaiser, he will say

Hoch, Hoch, Mein Gott !

What a bloody odd lot

to get six bob a day.

By the end of World War I no one was laughing at the Anzacs.  At the end of the war a quarter of the military age male population of New Zealand had been killed or wounded and Australia paid a similarly high price.  Widely regarded as among the elite shock troops of the Allies, they had fought with distinction throughout the war, and added to their reputation during World War II.   American veterans I have spoken to who have fought beside Australian and New Zealand units have uniformly told me that they could choose no better troops to have on their flank in a battle.

Don the kiwi, one of our commenters, has allowed me to share with our readers some of the experiences of his family in World War I.  Out of a population of less than a million, New Zealand had 18,000 soldiers and sailors killed in World War I, which would be the equivalent of over five million US dead in a war today.  10 percent of the New Zealand population served in World War I, which would be the equivalent of 30 million Americans serving in a war.

I have several relatives who were involved in WW1, which always spurs my interest in the various conflicts around the world that our little group of islands deep in the South Pacific were voluntarily and influentially involved in.

My maternal grandfather, Don Piper, born in Cornwall in 1890, emigrated to NZ in 1910. He volunteered in the army at the outbreak of war in 1914, and was in the first wave of landings on Gallipoli peninsular. He survived the whole period of that phase of the war and hated the defeat they suffered. He spent the next year or two in the trenches in France, and after being wounded was repatriated – after a period of convalescence in England – to NZ. He entered the army as a private, and came home a 2nd Lieutenant.

During this time, he met his future brother in law, my great uncle Eustace Nicholson who was also on Gallipoli. He also survived this mayhem, and continued his service in action on the Western front – then a Sergeant Major, and on leave in England, met his future wife – a Parissienne who was working as an au pair in England. After the war, he left NZ, went back to England, sought her out, and married her in Paris, then came back to NZ. I have very fond memories of my dear Aunt Jeanne – during my high school days I would visit her and practice my French with her.

 

My dad’s oldest brother, Uncle George, also served in WW 1. He missed Gallipoli, but served for a couple of years in the trenches in France. In 1917 he was gassed, and returned to NZ as an invalid, having only one lung – the gas having destroyed the other. He was sent to a convalescent home just out of Auckland to fully recover. 

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9 Responses to Anzac Day

  • Donald,

    Very nice post. Cheers and God bless to our Aussie and Kiwi compatriots.

  • Thank you Dminor!

  • Thanks for this excellent post Don.
    When I was a young boy, I was fascinated by the stories Pop Piper would tell us. I recall one such story listeneing spellbound as he recounted, in his soft Cornish accent, of his appointed task on Gallipoli.
    His officer said, “Piper, you’re a Cornishman aren’t you?”
    “Yes sir” replied grandad.
    “Well Piper, Cornwall has a lot of mines, so you can be a tunneller.” Now Pop Piper never worked in a mine – his family were seafarers, from the port of Fowey on the Cornish coast. Nevertheless, he was a tunneller. He told how they would dig tunnels under the Turkish lines. “Then, when you could hear the Turk above us talking away, we would stuff the tunnell full of explosives, set the fuse, and get out of there real quick.”
    Pop Piper had a bad heart, caused by the stress and poor diet during the 8 months on Galipoli and a couple of years in the trenches. He died in 1958, a week before his 68th.Birthday. My family always said I am very like him. I am 68 next month – I hope history doesn’t repeat itself 😉
    As you rightly observed Don, its Monday here, and just gone 8 am., so I’ve gotta get off to work.
    Will call back later.
    Regards to all.
    Don Beckett.

    They shall not grow old as we grow old.
    Age will not weary them, nor the years condemn.
    At the setting of the sun, and in the morning,
    We Will Remember Them.

  • Thank you Don for allowing me to use your family history in this post. Such remarkable stories should never be forgotten.

  • I just posted this erroneously on *last* year’s ANZAC day post, so I bring part of it forward (with one addtion):

    I remember reading that “we are the Anzac army’ was a marching song, sung to the tune of Aurelia (which to those unfamiliar with that name, is same tune as the famous anglican hymn “The Church’s One Foundation”)

    It’s easy to blame Gallipoli on WC, and it all but ruined his political career for a generation, but the whole British administration backed the plan … Kichener, Fisher, Asquith … that is, until they didn’t or got cold feet.

    Too many Anzacs …and Britsh … soldiers and sailors paid with their lives for inept combined tactics. W.C., however, was not responsible for Kichner’s unwillingness to combine landings with the naval assault on the Narrows, nor for the Navy’s unwillingness to press the battleship attack against the Narrows batteries when victory was at hand, nor the abysmal British generalship when the landings finally did take place – particularly at Sulva Bay.

    Sic transit mundi.

    Had it worked, the Ottoman Empire would have been out of the war … and likely no Bolshevik revolution, no Arabian revolt, and, perhaps, no World War 2. Who knows. The sacrifice of those who died on that terrible peninsula, who were maimed or wounded, though, is honored by all who admire duty, loyalty and courage. May they rest in peace and honor.

    O happy ones and holy!
    Lord, give us grace that we
    Like them, the meek and lowly,
    On high may dwell with Thee:
    There, past the border mountains,
    Where in sweet vales the Bride
    With Thee by living fountains
    Forever shall abide!

  • In regard to the Anzac song tryptic67, you are quite correct that it was sung to the tune of The Church’s One Foundation. There were a lot of variants and this one was popular with the British infantry:

    We are Fred Karno’s army,
    Fred Karno’s infantry;
    We cannot fight, we cannot shoot,
    So what damn good are we?
    But when we get to Berlin
    The Kaiser he will say
    Hoch, hoch, mein Gott
    Vot a bloody fine lot
    Fred Karno’s infantry

    Fred Karno was of course a British comedian of the time, the traditional self-deprecating humor of the British Tommies being one of their many fine features.

    http://www.phrases.org.uk/bulletin_board/27/messages/792.html

  • The reference to the six bob a day in the Anzac song was the amount that the private soldiers were paid. The Anzac troops often referred to themselves as six bob a day tourists.

  • Fascinating stuff, Donald – thank you for sharing it.

    I saw the movie “Gallipoli” as a young teen – what a devastating ending.

    One of the best treatmnets of the ill-fated Gallipoli campaign (at least that I’ve seen) is in “Castles of Steel” by Robert K. Massie – the sequel, if you will, to one his real masterpieces: “Dreadnought”.

  • I have Castles of Steel in my library, one of many, many books I have not gotten around to yet, alas. Gallipoli was one missed opportunity after another by the Allies. The courage of the troops, and the courage was amazing, could not redeem the blunders of the generals and admirals. The idea of forcing the Dardanelles was sound; the execution of the idea pathetic.

British Government Shows Prejudice Towards Papal Visit

Sunday, April 25, AD 2010

[Updates at the bottom of this post as of 4-25-2010 AD at 8:28pm Central time]

An internal U.K. government memo titled “Policy planning ahead of the Pope’s visit” have caused an uproar in Britain and which included the following suggestions:

  • The launching of Papal-branded condoms.
  • Blessing homosexual marriages.
  • Opening an abortion ward.

There is more, but you get the picture.

The memo was distributed to key officials in Downing Street and Whitehall.  Many recipients were not so pleased which eventually led to an investigation and finally to a public apology by the U.K. Foreign Office:

“The text was not cleared or shown to Ministers or senior officials before circulation. As soon as senior officials became aware of the document, it was withdrawn from circulation.”

“The individual responsible has been transferred to other duties. He has been told orally and in writing that this was a serious error of judgement and has accepted this view.”

“The Foreign Office very much regrets this incident and is deeply sorry for the offence which it has caused.”

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40 Responses to British Government Shows Prejudice Towards Papal Visit

  • I’m a British Subject and also a Roman Catholic and am appalled at this memo and how it portrays my country to the world.

    I’ve spent this morning contacting the relevent ministers and heads of the civil servants by letter and email.

    If you’d like to express your concern the Scottish Office is the department in charge of the visit- you can contact them by email at
    http://www.scotlandoffice.gov.uk/scotlandoffice/58.html

    The minister concerned is Jim Murphy. The Foreign Secretary is David Miliband. He can be contacted at
    [email protected].

  • I live in the UK and am constantly apalled by the things this and other popes have said on many subjects they have no knowledge, experience or place to make comment.

    I have read the whole list its simply proposes confronting the Pope with reality of the modern world, his beliefs and policies which are at odds with the majority rational thinking people in this country.

    This just shows the moral hypocrisy of the Chatholic church.

  • “Chatholic church.”

    Rob, if you are intent on going through life as an anti-Catholic bigot, at least do so as an anti-Catholic bigot who can spell.

  • Rob, let me get this straight: because people don’t *agree* with the Pope it’s then perfectly acceptable to torment him and hurt him?

    Typical “open minded” and “tolerant” Liberal.

  • I’m British and I couldn’t be happyer that this was sent to the pope. He has the responsibility and opportunity to stand up to pedaphellia in the catholic church,instead he blames it on homosexualaty. He could help end the aids crisis in africa by condoning the uses of condoms, instead he says they dont work. This is the workings of a old, twisted and evil mind. If there is a hell I’m sure thats were he is going!

  • Why don`t you also offer condoms or aborted babies to the Dalai Lama? You bigot may not know it, but the Pope and the Dalai Lama are on the same page when it comes to defend human dignity. I am almost sure you are one of these who throw themselves at the Lama`s feet to feel cool and trendy.
    But it only shows how small your imagination is, tried up by your so-called “rationality”.

  • Matt,

    First the email was only an internal government email, not a global email.

    Second you don’t know what you’re talking about.

    You need to do your own research or at least read Catholic blogs to understand the misperceptions out there.

    And be careful who you judge that goes to Hell.

    Be merciful as your God is merciful.

    Because He will judge you as you judge others.

  • It is interesting to watch western governments, which owe their existence to Christianity, now openly ridicule and reject it. I am getting tired of it for one and make no mistake about it I will defend the church

  • Oh Britannia, what has happened to you? You were beautiful once…

  • Doreen, many thanks for your links to relevant government contacts. (and I hope that you’ll be able to see the Holy Father in person during his visit!)

    Per the Telegraph, the ‘ideal visit’ list was attached to a memo that stated, “Please protect; these should not be shared externally. The ‘ideal visit’ paper in particular was the product of a brainstorm which took into account even the most far-fetched of ideas.”

    That these sorts of insulting ideas would be the product of a government ‘brainstorm’ speaks volumes about the immaturity of the Foreign Office employees involved. Leaking it to the press seems an anti-Catholic action. But hey, we ARE the easy target these days, hmmm? If “South Park” is an indication, it’s safer to bash Christianity in general than Islam.

    Contrary to the belief of the Times reporter, I suspect that the Holy Father will take this inanity in stride.

    Praying for the safety and good health of our Holy Father as he visits England.

  • That something like this would be put together is in a sense not surprising. I could see some 20-something ex-campaign assistant, now political appointees pulling off this kind of stunt in our own government. And the grown ups at the Foreign Ministry sound rightly appalled.

    That we’ve got a couple Brits showing up here to defend the memo, however, just goes to show the old empire still hasn’t lost the sort of blokes that the Irish side of my family came to know and love over the centuries…

  • what a disppointment the UK has become!

  • This is almost as disgusting as hiding pedophiles in the church.

  • With this example of British bigotry and noting the comments of some of the Brits who have shown up to defend it, I say Thank God for 1776!

  • This is why Britain has become a society of degenerates.

    Apparently they didn’t realize that 1984 wasn’t an instruction manual, but a warning.

  • I kind of like the idea of the Pope and the Queen singing a duet together.

  • *sigh* Homophobia knows no borders. Glad I am an atheist.

  • Why would an atheist come to this website?

    When Pope Benedict XVI meets Queen Elizabeth II, I can only hope he has one question for her: “WTF?”

  • Union Jack,

    Thank you.

    I’m sure the British people are disappointed in how you engage in charitable dialogue.

  • Personally I find this whole episode amusing and find it difficult to take even slightly seriously. The catholic church is a sprawling institution keen on looking after its own interests and with lots of bazaar ideas that are counter to human instinct or out of touch with the world we live in. That’s before the issues of a former member of the Hitler Youth engaging in efforts to marginalise the seriousness of child abuse within the organisation he works for.

    All in all, this is not a serious event and while the pope is a leader of faith he is not a political statesman (due to the size of the vatican) and he is not above mockery for his ideas.

  • To Antony (April 25th 9:56pm)

    The pope can ask the Queen what he likes but she can respond however she feels best. She afterall is also a leader of faith as well as the head of state to almost a third of the worlds population.

    In effect she has greater authority than the pope and so can say whatever she feels is best.

  • The Pope has made no secret of his hatred and contempt for secular society and secular values. But secularists have values — some of which are at utter variance with the Pope’s very medieval views. So, when they are expressed, whether they refer to pedophelia, stem-cell research or the church’s attitudes to celibacy within the church itself or celibate attitudes to women generally, sexuality, aids, family, fertility-management etc., why should catholics be surprised? The civil servants are entitled to have their views — even if they are not entitled to communicate them in the fashion alleged.

    Moreover, the thing that Catholics are becoming most renowed for is their eternal preoccupation with being offended and persecuted. If you say ‘boo’ to a Catholic, he is persecuted; and yet Catholics can hold the most outrageous and dogmatic notions concerning state governance, which interferes with the rights of others — and yet they are perfectly indifferent to them.

    In Papal states,which is how most Catholic countries are run, citizens have been unable for decades to avail of divorce, the use of contraceptives or the right to arrange abortion facilities even in cases of the most violent rapes.

    What some civil servant thinks, thefore, is by comparison a minor matter even if it rightly needs to be dealt with by way of internal discipline.

    As to the Pope’s outrage, he should really make up his mind whether he is a religoius leader or simply a politician with a state and a religion of his own. That might make things easier for those who have to relate to his excursions.

    And as to his visit to the UK?

    If he doesn’t come, so what? That wouldn’t be the end of the world , would it!

    Seamus Breathnach

  • “She afterall is also a leader of faith as well as the head of state to almost a third of the worlds population.

    In effect she has greater authority than the pope and so can say whatever she feels is best.”

    This is simply delusional. The Queen is a mere figurehead and has virtually no power. The Anglican Church is in the process of becoming extinct. The Commonwealth of Nations is almost entirely a fig leaf implemented during the dissolution of the British Empire and has little substantive meaning.

  • Seamus Breathnach I assume is the author of this idiocy:

    http://www.scribd.com/doc/10062380/The-Jesus-Joke-Part-1-by-Seamus-Breathnach

    Tito, this post is attracting a poorer quality of trolls than we are accustomed to!

  • I just wonder how quick the same people would be to make fun of Islam?

    I am proud of the fact that I am British and live in a country tolerant of all religion views. I wouldn’t mock other’s religious views and find it objectionable.

    Regarding the civil servant, I find their mockery asinine and more suited for a sixth-former than coming from someone who’s salary is paid by my taxes totally out of order and who is suppoed to be doing a job.

  • To Doreen Lambert,

    I would expect the same people would be just as quick to parody elements of other faiths, be it Islam or Buddism. The only difference is that they would probably have the better judgement and not write it down in those cases. A casual look acros the internet will show that nothing, no matter how tasteless or inappropriate can be spared from humourous mockery whether it be people, icons or religion. Perhaps it should be a relief that the memo didn’t go further and invite the pope to open an orphanage? He does seem to be having trouble from that sort of thing recently.

  • Donald R McClarey,

    You’re absolutely right in some regards about the Queen being a figurehead and her power being limited however what few powers she has, such as disolving parliament and enacting laws are substantial and it is within her rights (albeit not in her character it seems) to disolve her government or refuse to bring bills into law. So how does the Pope compare then? Does he have the final say on national laws or whether a government will be desolved for election? What true power does he hold?

    To your next point and again you are correct in that the Commonwealth is not a global force to be reckoned with however neither is the global catholic population for the simple reason that national governance is normally (always?) above the grumblings of a multilingual ultra-conservative sat in Rome.

    Anyway, back to my main point: The pope and christianity in general, whichever flavour is followed is not so special that it can’t be mocked. Especially when there is so much to mock.

  • “What true power does he hold?”

    The power to bind and to loose as given to Saint Peter by Christ Matt, the same power also possessed by all other popes throughout history. He also has the power to appeal to the consciences of men and women and converting them to Christ. His power apparently disturbs quite a few Brits in and out of office.

    As to the Queen, who personally I view as a good woman, her power is of a purely ceremonial function. If she stepped one foot outside of that role, something she is too wise to do, she would quickly learn who rules the UK, and it most certainly is not her.

  • Don,

    As far as trolls, that’s for sure.

    They are a perfect example of throwing straw man and ad hominems.

    It only goes to show how the shallow and course they are.

  • Donald,

    Firstly, thanks for a dignified response. You’ll have to forgive the pedantry but from your description it sounds like at best the popes have the same influence as any other sect or religeous leader. Anyone can appeal to a conscience and plenty of non catholics have run around the globe trying to convert people to their own brand of christianity. From your description there is nothing special about the man aside from his position in a large established organisation and so is just as open to ridicule as said leaders.

    I don’t want to deviate too far from the given topic of mockery of the pope so I won’t say any more on the queen however if you are keen to persue that thread of debate then feel free to carry on and I may respond.

    Tito, feel free to contribute more than a few lines and maybe open the debate a little wider. Of your 3 posts you’ve only contributed anthing to this discussion once and so could be accused of trolling. Coherance would be a benefit as ‘…throwing straw man…’ makes little sense unless you use the word ‘man’ as a speach stabiliser. As for the ad hominems, be specific; there is a lot of text here and reading the lot again looking for them is unnecessary.

  • Not to mention that they can’t seem to spell, nor do they have any comprehension of basic grammar. I think their stupidity speaks for itself.

  • “Anyone can appeal to a conscience and plenty of non catholics have run around the globe trying to convert people to their own brand of christianity. From your description there is nothing special about the man aside from his position in a large established organisation and so is just as open to ridicule as said leaders.”

    Popes have been subject to ridicule and much worse Matt since the days of Peter. When our popes are attacked we Catholics tend to take umbrage about it. We are funny that way. The hatred and bile that popes tend to engender detract from your contention that there is nothing special about the pope’s position. No one gets upset about, or cares, for example, about what the governing body of the Unitarian-Universalists does or does not do. As the late Lenny Bruce, heroin addict and comic of genius, said, and he despised the Church, “The Catholic Church is the church people mean when they say “the Church”.” When it comes to Christianity, there is the Catholic Church and then there is everyone else.

  • Matt,

    Thank you for proving my point.

    If the Pope is such a lowly figure as you deemed to explain, why are you bothering engaging in dialogue with us here across the pond?

  • Donald,

    Thanks again for engaging in a rational discussion, it seems that our stances have converged, or at least are converging. The mockery directed towards the pope is due to his position in the same way that many other figures are critisised.

    My conclusion is that the pope is not special and so is open to mockery causing catholics to get the hump on his behalf because they’re ‘funny that way’.

    It’s now morning in America, I hope the American readership of this like my conclusion…

  • Tito,

    I bother to engage in this because I’m amused by it. Donald McClarey has helped in this by providing rational counters to my points and while I have not accepted his statements I have been engaged in the light debate that has been provided. I’m sure that we could engage in a far more heavy series of points and counter points but this is the internet and nothing written here actually matters. I think that Donald recognised this and I can only respect that if true.

    The reason why I entered into this on an American website was because I was hopeful of finding an irrational foaming-at-the-mouth bible enthusiast who would hopefully show an exploitable weakness in discussion such as intolerance or factual errors. As it can clearly be seen no such character has appeared, probably due to the time of day.

    Anyway, over to you Tito, I prove your point do I? Which point might that be? That I throw straw, man, or that I engage in petty ad hominem attacks? Perhaps I’ve shown that I am shallow although how I may have shown that much of my character in such few words is intriguing. Alternatively I may have not proven your point at all since you’ve not made a point yet.

    Which is it?

  • irrational foaming-at-the-mouth bible enthusiast

    Not to be stereotypical, but you’d be rather hard-pressed to find that in Catholic circles, at least with all the modifiers you used. You’ll be more likely to find that sort of caricature in the Fred Phelps’ of the world.

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  • irrational foaming-at-the-mouth bible enthusiast

    It’s like me saying you watch too much BBC to come up with a that type of stereotype.

    Like Big Tex said, you’d be hard-pressed to see any of that in most Catholic circles.

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David Brooks, Clueless Commentator

Saturday, April 24, AD 2010

My friend Jay Anderson at Pro Ecclesia takes the clueless David Brooks, a “conservative” commentator who endorsed Obama in 2008, to the verbal woodshed.

Check out David Brooks’ latest attempt at responsibility avoidance with this rich piece of Op/Ed mendacity:

… The center has been losing political power pretty much my entire career. But I confess that about 16 months ago I had some hope of a revival. The culture war, which had bitterly divided the country for decades, was winding down. The war war — the fight over Iraq and national security — was also waning.

The country had just elected a man who vowed to move past the old polarities, who valued discussion and who clearly had some sympathy with both the Burkean and Hamiltonian impulses. He staffed his administration with brilliant pragmatists whose views overlapped with mine, who differed only in that they have more faith in technocratic planning.

Yet things have not worked out for those of us in the broad middle. Politics is more polarized than ever. The two parties have drifted further to the extremes. The center is drained and depressed.

What happened?

History happened. The administration came into power at a time of economic crisis. This led it, in the first bloom of self-confidence, to attempt many big projects all at once. Each of these projects may have been defensible in isolation, but in combination they created the impression of a federal onslaught…

Yeah, that’s it – “History happened”. What a bilious load of vomitous nonsense and absolute crap!

How about this for a REAL explanation, Mr. Pantcrease Admirer:

All the “post-partisan” posing was a lie. You KNEW it was a lie, but WANTED to believe the lie, so you CHOSE to believe it. You then aided and abetted the lie by writing glowingly of the “moderate” credentials of a man who had NEVER exhibited one iota of political centrism in his entire (albeit short and unremarkable) political career, all the while trashing the REAL centrist in the race who, ironically, you had up until then spent the previous 8 years heralding, fellating, and otherwise trying to foist upon the rest of us.

Meanwhile, all us yokels out here in Jesusland saw right through the lie and chose NOT to believe it. For that, you belittled us, called us a “cancer”, questioned our intelligence and intellectual curiosity, and treated us as generally inferior to your more sophisticated and urbane sensibilities. Maybe the “uneducated class” is a whole lot smarter and more politically astute than the coastal elites in the “educated class” give us credit for. At the very least, it appears that the riff-raff are a whole helluva lot smarter than you are.

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8 Responses to David Brooks, Clueless Commentator

  • Always loved this clip from Casablanca! Shocked, just shocked! Yep – I’m with the yokels out in Jesusland. And, I have to say, nothing Obama has done has shocked me at all. I fully expected it, just sad that I was right.

  • noooooo. if you keep putting up Casablanca clips I shall soon lose what little desire I have to study and instead watch Casablanca! Curse you and your temptations!

  • I read Brooks’ book “Bobos in Paradise.” His thesis in that book (published in 2000) is that the cultural radicals of the 1960’s melded with the economic conservatives of the 1980’s and produced “bobos.” “Bobos” is Brooks shorthand for “Bourgeois Bohemians”: the sort of upper-middle class types who follow the stock market, but accept things like global warming, “a women’s right to choose,” gay marriage, etc. I live in a neighborhood full of bourgeois bohemians. (I live in one of the few affordable housing units around these parts – just down the street from me there are mansions with Mercedes with Obama stickers plastered to them parked in the driveway – those folks are the bobos Brooks speaks of: they drive the Mercedes 3 blocks to shop at Whole Foods. I love my new home and am still astonished that I am able to afford this particular neighborhood, a block away from Lake Michigan. But during most of my adult life, I’ve been able to find good deals in ritzy urban neighborhoods – neighborhoods not filled with Republicans, but with wealthy liberals. OK, so I gave up my car to live here – but work is 3 blocks away. So I know the bobo breed well.)

    Brooks hates the culture wars. He wants those pesky socon issues, like abortion, to just disappear and go away and is very annoyed at socons who fret about things like pro-life issues, which Brooks can easily shrug off.

  • LOL Michael! Whatever you do, don’t click below!

  • “I fully expected it, just sad that I was right.”

    As am I Susan, although I am heartened by the fact that he is giving birth, inadvertantly, to a stronger conservative movement in this country.

  • “Brooks hates the culture wars.”

    He is on the side that is ultimately going to lose Donna so I can understand his distaste for them.

  • If you look at the occupational history of the 15 notables who ran for President in 2008, what hits you is that Barack Obama was the least prepared of them all to assume the office (though one might argue his judgment is less unreliable than that of Messrs. Gravel, Kucinich, or Paul). Given how little time he had put in as a working lawyer, he would have been a mediocre candidate for Attorney-General of Illinois (or for a municipal corporation counsel, while we are at it). His election to the Presidency is an indication that politicians are now merchandise. Not only was the general electorate snookered, people who likely fancy themselves informed and sophisticated observers of the political world (Brooks, Andrew Bacevich, Scott McClellan, Scott McConnell, Douglas Kmiec, Julie Eisenhower, David Friedman, John McWhorter) drank the Kool-Aid as well. To top it off, partisan Democrats (and Republican snot-noses like George Will) are wont to go on tears about the inadequacy of Sarah Palin, who has spent a dozen years of her life running public agencies. It is not just Brooks, it is a baffling collective addlement, the civic analogue to the housing bubble.

  • I’m sorry, why would anyone listen to David Brooks? He’s always given me the impression of a below par media personality desperate to be loved, especially in “respectable” circles.

    He’s the male Peggy Noonan, if you ask me. People like that are only moderate because they don’t really believe in much if anything and would rather go back to sipping sangria on the roof of a midtown skyscrapper.

What Evil Looks Like

Saturday, April 24, AD 2010

The Face of Evil

Pure and unadulterated evil.

Attorney Jeffrey Anderson of Saint Paul, Minnesota, has had success in winning millions of dollars[1] from homosexual pedophile abuse cases against the American Catholic Church over the years.

He has stated many times that he will not be satisfied until he sues the Vatican in federal court with Pope Benedict in tow [2].

“We’re chasing them. We’re taking bites out of their a@#,” said the lawyer. “All the roads lead to Rome. What we’re doing is getting us closer every single day.”

He may have been driven in the past in pursuit of justice for many victims of homosexual pedophiles, but what was a mission to bring justice is apparently now driven by diabolical forces to take down the Catholic Church Herself at all costs and with prejudice.

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47 Responses to What Evil Looks Like

  • I think he’s scummy lawyer but the “face of evil?” Hyperbole is neither prudent nor helpful. Who knows why he has gone on a quest against the Church? Perhaps he was hurt by a Catholic and is seeking revenge.

    Of course we should pray for him, but let’s not demonize him.

  • but the “face of evil?” Hyperbole is neither prudent nor helpful.

    Why Michael I am being prudent in calling out evil.

    Moral conscience, present at the heart of the person, enjoins him at the appropriate moment to do good and to avoid evil. It also judges particular choices, approving those that are good and denouncing those that are evil. It bears witness to the authority of truth in reference to the supreme Good to which the human person is drawn, and it welcomes the commandments. When he listens to his conscience, the prudent man can hear God speaking (CCC 1777) & (Cf. Romans 1:32)

    Your accusation of “Hyperbole” is actually imprudent of you.

  • I don’t expect you to change your mind Tito but I agree with Michael. If you read the section of the Catechism that you just quoted, it concerns judging particular choices (actions) – not judging a particular person, which I think you would have to say you are doing in this post.

    Do you not think in some ways the Church has brought this on itself? I understand a legitimate defense of the Church against calumny, but I think this is a bit extreme.

  • This man has stated without equivocation and a clear mind he wants to bring the pope to trial.

    This is ridiculous and considering his spartan and efficient work ethic he is determined without a doubt to bring this to fruition.

    I’m reading the CCC in black and white, not with your nuanced colored glasses.

    It is explaining conscious, not action. But I suppose your not interested in this considering your previous comments.

  • You can denounce someone without calling them the face of evil. Wanting to sue the Vatican out of spite is evil, but “the face of evil?” I think you give him far too much credit and appear to be overreacting.

  • Michael,

    If you want to go against the Magisterium so be it.

    I’m not going to argue against your conscious.

    That is between you and God, not I.

  • You give Mr. Anderson too much credit Tito. He has made a ton of money by suing the Church. If there was no money to make I can guarantee you he would not be around.

    Here is some background on him.

    http://www.bishop-accountability.org/news2003_01_06/2003_04_16_Schimke_TrueBeliever.htm

    He is not the face of evil, nor is he a crusader for justice. He is a fellow who stumbled into an unexploited area of tort litigation and has reaped a bonanza.

    Making much more of him than that is an insult both to great sinners and true crusaders for justice.

  • Donald,

    We can agree to disagree.

  • Bringing the pope to a civil trial is hardly the worst threat leveled against the pope or the Church. Arresting him would be more serious, but really a rather pathetic desire. More serious are attempts to kill the pope, bring down the Church, deny the sacraments, etc.

  • Michael,

    I suggest you write to the Vatican your concerns about CCC 1707 and why you disagree with it.

    I doubt anyone at the Vatican is reading this post.

  • One ought to condemn evil There is absolutely nothing in the Magisterium to suggest that the way one must go about that is to by declaring them to be the faces of evil.

    The way you are denouncing this man is imprudent and diminishes true evil.

  • Michael,

    You’re arguing semantics.

    You’re being imprudent by going against the teaching of the Church with your own personal interpretation.

    We are Catholics, not Protestants.

    I suggest you write the Vatican about your concerns.

  • Tito:

    The catechism calls the choices as evil, not people. You have entered into the dualist heresy when you call someone pure evil. As St Thomas Aquinas pointed out, not even Satan is pure evil.

  • Tito, you are not following Catholicism when you engage the dualist heresy and call someone pure evil. St Thomas Aquinas makes it clear, not even Satan is pure evil. It is heresy which you engage — condemned heresy, and through a misapplication of the catechism which talks about choices, not people.

  • Thank you Zach and Henry.

    After rereading CCC 1777 I see where it says choices.

    As far as “pure” evil, I can’t vouch for that.

    I’m using semantics when I call him evil or the face of the evil.

    What he is certainly doing is evil and that is what I am calling evil, his choice in pursuing these lawsuits.

    Thanks for the brotherly corrections Zach and Henry.

  • Tito:

    You are now accusing me and are out of control. There is nothing remotely close to supporting your position in 1707 other than that man sins and can be seduced by evil. This is true of every sin. There is no personal interpretation here; quite frankly 1707 is irrelevant. What on earth am I “personally interpreting” different to the Vatican? I quote frankly am totally baffled by your position.

    Nothing there suggests that those who are trying to make money or avenge some petty slight ought to be called by Catholics using prudence & charity “the face of evil” and “what evil looks like.”

  • Michael,

    I’m going to ignore your comments from here on out on this post since you’ve gone off the deep end.

    Like I said, take it up with the Vatican.

  • Tito:

    I’m saying the same thing as Henry & Zach! How are they doing “brotherly correction” while I’m “off the deep end!”

    I do not appreciate being called a Protestant and accused of being opposed to the Vatican when there is no basis for it.

  • It’s certainly not imprudent to say that someone’s actions are evil. However, I don’t think it’s necessarily prudent to denounce a person as “the face of evil”. That doesn’t mean his actions aren’t evil.

    It doesn’t seem to me that Michael is in any way twisting or ignoring the catechism here.

    (Maybe everyone’s just spending too much time at the computer today. Personally, I’m going to go mow the lawn, since it’s “work that Americans won’t do”. 🙂 )

  • Now, let’s explore this further, Tito.

    What is your take of St. Catherine of Sienna? She took on a pope — quite strongly; would you have called her pure evil for opposing the actions of a pope? What about popes which attacked their predecessors? Is your argument that no one can offer a complaint against a pope, or that this complaint is what is wrong?

    If you think it is possible to launch a legitimate complaint against the pope, what would be necessary for it? If you do not, what do you think of St Catherine and other popes?

  • Michael,

    I’m a Neanderthal Catholic when it comes to reading “into” statements and “nuance”.

    If what you were trying to point out was the same as Zach and Henry (I’ll take your word for it), then I to thank you for your brotherly correction.

    I appreciate the feedback. Especially when I learn something new everyday.

    For the record I have a degree in Marketing and not in Theology, Philosophy, etc.

    I read it as it is. Not what I think there is or what I want to read into it.

    Thanks Michael, I do appreciate learning from my mistakes!

    Tito

  • Yeah, lots of time on the computer and my girlfriend isn’t happy about that.

    So I want to withdraw my comments that Michael is a “Protestant” and is “going against the Magisterium”.

    I say it with love!

    Thanks guys, anymore comments I will respond to later.

    Gotta go jump in the pool and get this extra energy out of my system 🙂 !

    Tito

  • Geez though it is really nice outside.

    Although in New England there are about 40,000 mayflies per square foot, which puts a damper on things.

  • He is not the face of evil, nor is he a crusader for justice. He is a fellow who stumbled into an unexploited area of tort litigation and has reaped a bonanza.

    Right. I don’t think he has much of a case on the merits, but this is the type of thing plaintiff’s lawyers do; they drum up publicity and hope for a settlement or a sympathetic judge. If the case was stronger, then he’d be perfectly justified in bringing it. As it is, he’s just acting like a scummy tort attorney trying to make some money. That’s a bad thing, but it’s not ‘pure evil’ – and it’s certainly not as evil as the actions of many priests and bishops in this scandal.

  • Jesus seemed to consider doing harm to children to be the ugliest sin. If there’s an example of pure evil in the pedophile scandal, it’s the pedophiles.

  • I am stuck in front of a computer and paper for at least the next two weeks. Darned law exams. 🙁

  • “Maybe everyone’s just spending too much time at the computer today. Personally, I’m going to go mow the lawn, since it’s “work that Americans won’t do”.”

    That is work this American would not do if I wasn’t so cheap! I despise mowing, an activity no doubt that is mandatory in portions of Hell! I have it done by a service at the office, but I and my eldest son do the home lawn. Fortunately it is raining here so I can put it off until tomorrow!

  • Michael, I still can feel the joy that exploded within my soul when I finished my last final at law school and realized that whatever else awaited me in life I was done with finals! (Of course then there is the bar exam but anyone who can cram can pass that.)

  • Don:

    After the birth of my child, that is the next great true joy I will experience. Alas, that it comes in 2 more years.

  • The face of evil?

    I look in the mirror, and pray.

  • I heard this guy being interviewed on the radio the other day. The way he spoke didn’t impress me- he sounded like a second degree lawyer attempting to gain notoriety/publicity.
    The weather continus to be unseasonally beautiful here in my part of the world – but very little rain over the past couple of months, so the farmers are whingeing – some ares in the North Isalnd and eastern coast in the South Island have been declared drought stricken.
    As for mowing lawns, that’s a job my wife does – she claims I’m too lazy to do it, but I know she loves it for the exercise.
    (That’s my story, and I’m sticking to it) 🙂

  • It’s rainy here; a good day for a thorough spring cleaning. I’ve been bopping over the computer in between bouts of scrubbing and dusting. Just put the vaccuum cleaner away, there’s a big pot of spring vegetable soup on the stove and whole wheat bread in the oven and the place smells heavenly. I wish I could all invite you over for soup and homemade bread. You could eat off the floor, although it would be rather tricky with soup. 🙂

    Michael, good luck with your exams.

  • Henry Karlson accusing others of heresy … now THAT’S hilarious!

  • “As for mowing lawns, that’s a job my wife does – she claims I’m too lazy to do it, but I know she loves it for the exercise.”

    Don, I was unable to convince my kids that lawn mowing was fun, although I gave it a good try! As for my wife, she is firmly convinced that mowing the lawn is my job, curse the luck!

    “I heard this guy being interviewed on the radio the other day. The way he spoke didn’t impress me- he sounded like a second degree lawyer attempting to gain notoriety/publicity.”

    That is basically my opinion also.

  • Henry,

    Nice try.

    Comparing Catherine of Siena to this monster is an insult to humanity.

    Down the rabbit hole you go.

  • T. Shaw,

    Straw man.

    Although I know where you’re coming from, it is prudent to call evil evil.

  • Yeah, catching up after a dip in the pool.

    It’s about 80 degrees here near downtown Houston and not a bit humid (yet).

    Simply beautiful!

  • Jay – er, if you are going to make such a vague statement, at least actually define the heresies you are implying I follow. Otherwise, you would do well to see your confessor. I actually pointed out the heresy involved, and where one can look to see it is indeed rejected.

  • Not sure who ‘Jay Chambesr’ is – don’t think I’ve seen that commenter before. Either it’s someone using a different handle to hide their identity (which is just lame), or it’s someone who has strong opinions about Henry who has never before expressed them here. In either case, they shouldn’t throw around accusations of ‘heresy’ without some explanation.

    Of course, fwiw I think Henry’s rather tone deaf reading of the ‘pure evil’ line above – which is a colloquialism for a very bad person rather than a theological statement – is off too, but at least Henry set forth his reasoning.

  • I would definitely have to agree – mowing the lawn is a man’s job. My husband is bitterly disappointed that my son is off to college in August!

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  • Hmmmm.

    Looks like Kiwi chicks are cut from the same mould as kiwi blokes – mowing lawns is a breeze.

    But I’m real glad the chicks have the babies 😉

  • May I make a statement? Guess what,we are ALL going to die naked and penniless,put into the ground,embalming last aprox.four years,so the worms eventually get to us all.It’s facing God that we need to worry about,the mercy is here on earth,there’s only justice on judgement day.So this fool attorney cannot relly hurt anybody but himself.

  • I hope you are wrong, Sue. My salvation strategy is heavily dependent on mercy.

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3 Responses to Weekend Video Clip: The Scarlet Pimpernel

Gallup: One Point Difference In Party ID

Saturday, April 24, AD 2010

Further evidence that the Democrats are looking at an electoral disaster of epic proportions is given by a Gallup poll on party ID released this week.  The polls show Democrats at 46% and the Republicans at 45% in party ID.

The advantage in public support the Democratic Party built up during the latter part of the Bush administration and the early part of the Obama administration has all but disappeared. During the first quarter of 2010, 46% of Americans identified as Democrats or leaned Democratic, while 45% identified as or leaned Republican.

The latest results, based on aggregated data from Gallup polls conducted from January to March of this year, show the closest party division since the first quarter of 2005, when the parties were tied at 46%. Democrats enjoyed double-digit advantages in party support in 11 of 12 quarters from the second quarter of 2006 to the first quarter of 2009.

By the end of last year, the Democratic advantage had shrunk to five points (47% to 42%), and it narrowed further in the most recent quarter.

The six-point rise in Republican support since the first quarter of 2009 is due entirely to a growing proportion of independents who lean to the Republican Party, rather than an increase in the percentage of Americans who identify as Republicans outright. (Gallup measures party identification by first asking Americans whether they identify as Republicans, Democrats, or independents. Those who are independent or express no party preference are then asked whether they lean more toward the Democratic or the Republican Party.)

In fact, the 28% of Americans who initially identify as Republicans today is identical to the figure Gallup measured in early 2009, when the Democrats still had a double-digit advantage in support. Since then, there has been a three-point reduction in the proportion of Democratic identifiers, and a three-point decline in the percentage of Democratic-leaning independents.

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4 Responses to What is a Youth?

  • Ah, restrainedradical, you mention my favorite film about the law!

    I rather follow the Joe Pesci mode of less is more in opening statement, although when I was a young attorney I am afraid that my openings my first time or two resembled those of the hapless public defender.

  • Ha. That was my first thought when I saw the title of the post too, restrained. Great movie. Not familiar with this version of Romeo & Juliet.

  • “I remember my youth and the feeling that will never come back any more –the feeling that I could last for ever, outlast the sea, the earth, and all men; the deceitful feeling that lures us on to joys, to perils, to love, to vain effort –to death; the triumphant conviction of strength, the heat of life in the handful of dust, the glow in the heart that with every year grows dim, grows cold, grows small, and expires –and expires, too soon, too soon –before life itself.”
    Conrad, Joseph

    “Youth is wasted on the young.” Yogi Berra

Live Long and Prosper

Friday, April 23, AD 2010

Leonard Nimoy is calling it quits as to any future portrayals of Mr. Spock, and is retiring from show business.

Leonard Nimoy, the actor who has famously portrayed “Star Trek’s” original alien Spock for over 40 years, has announced he’s officially hanging up the pointy Vulcan ears for good. Nimoy, 79, plans to retire shortly from show business and the “Star Trek” convention circuit, according to the Canadian newspaper Toronto Sun.

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4 Responses to Live Long and Prosper

South Park, Fear and Self-Censorship

Friday, April 23, AD 2010

I confess that I have never watched South Park.  From what I have read about it, the show holds nothing sacred and has had cruel attacks on Christ and other religious figures.  Some people have given it a thumbs up for not being politically correct.  I guess the latter is true, because in an episode that aired Wednesday the South Park crew went after the ultimate sacred cow in today’s America, the founder of Islam, Mohammed.

Or rather they attempted to.  Comedy Central, obviously caving to death threats from Islamic extremists, bleeped out the portions of the broadcast aimed at Mohammed:

Comedy Central bleeped out all references to the Prophet Muhammad in Wednesday night’s episode of the animated show “South Park.”

The episode was a continuation of last week’s episode which depicted the Prophet Muhammad in a bear suit.

A radical Muslim website threatened the show’s creators following that episode.

Comedy Central confirmed to FoxNews.com that it had censored the show, and that the episode was not available on its website.

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50 Responses to South Park, Fear and Self-Censorship

  • Matt Stone and Trey Parker are part of the problem.

    Look at their depiction of Muhammad. They were scared enough not to portray him, so they opted for a bear costume.

  • They were scared enough not to portray him, so they opted for a bear costume.

    This was a reference to an earlier episode of South Park where Comedy Central censored an image of Muhammad. Trey and Matt were basically mocking the network for their actions and making a point about the completely absurd double standard, and Comedy Central not only validated their point, but upped the ante as well. Truly remarkable.

  • I have seen South Park on occasion. It’s often hilarious, but too vulgar for me to watch in good conscience. At the same time, I don’t really get the criticism offered in the post. Sure, there’s a double standard; Comedy Central doesn’t receive many death threats from Scientologists (one of the few episodes I’ve seen), Mormons, Catholics, or many other groups. They do receive death threats with a nonzero plausibility from various Muslim groups. And so they have censored some inflammatory comments aimed at people who are threatening their employees.

    Why, exactly, does a tv network devoted to comedy have a moral obligation to stand up to Muslim extremists? Isn’t it just good business practice to take reasonable steps to protect your employees? Also, I can see why you’d object if you thought the show was a valuable contribution to society; but as you don’t, why would you care one way or the other whether it is edited to be less offensive?

  • John Henry,

    It’s my impression of the cowardice of Hollywood and their constant attacks on non-violent Christians is what Don was getting at.

    It’s to highlight how morally deprived and without standards Hollywood has… and to continue to remind the culture of these biases.

    Paul,

    Thanks for clearing that up. It makes much more sense that way.

  • “Why, exactly, does a tv network devoted to comedy have a moral obligation to stand up to Muslim extremists? Isn’t it just good business practice to take reasonable steps to protect your employees? Also, I can see why you’d object if you thought the show was a valuable contribution to society; but as you don’t, why would you care one way or the other whether it is edited to be less offensive?”

    We all have a moral duty in a democracy John Henry to stand up to those who choose to use murder and threats of murder to get their way. Weimar Germany is a prime example of what happens when most people decide to simply keep their heads low and not speak out against those who use violence to intimidate. I dislike what little I know of South Park intensely. I dislike far more those who use threats of homicide getting their way.

    Comedy Central is guilty of cowardice. The cowardice is more contemptible due to their pose of being courageous in giving a forum to a show like South Park which regularly butchers sacred cows. At the first hint of trouble the pose drops in an instant and they stand revealed as cowardly school yard bullies who are shocked that there are consequences to puerile insults.

  • It’s to highlight how morally deprived and without standards Hollywood has… and to continue to remind the culture of these biases.

    Again, why is it morally depraved for a comedy television channel to censor a program – making it less offensive – out of concern for the safety of its employees?

  • Again, why is it morally depraved for a comedy television channel to censor a program – making it less offensive – out of concern for the safety of its employees?

    I double down on your again and will repeat myself to clear my point.

    It is to remind people, again and again, of the moral depravity around us. Once we stop speaking out, like Don says, evil will triumph.

    Or you can continue to live in your relative lap of peace and luxury and continue slinging non-sequiturs at those of us trying to change the culture from your peanut gallery and let it slide.

  • Weimar Germany is a prime example of what happens when most people decide to simply keep their heads low

    Don, you are too well read and sensible to make this type of analogy. Censoring a vulgar comedy show that mocks Muslims in the U.S. in 2010 is not remotely analogous to the rise of the Nazi’s in 1920’s and early 1930’s Germany.

    At the first hint of trouble the pose drops in an instant and they stand revealed as cowardly school yard bullies who are shocked that there are consequences to puerile insults.

    Not really. They still ran the episode, and they have responded to countless legal threats over the years from offended parties. They are willing to accept legal risks, but not physical threats to their employees; that doesn’t seem crazy for a comedy tv channel to me. I don’t understand the content of the moral obligation you are imposing on comedy tv channels. You agree that there is little value to the programming, but state that they should ignore threats to their employees lives in order to broadcast it.

  • Maybe it’s important to point out the hypocrisy of a network that likes to pass itself off as “edgy” with all its attacks on non-violent Christians and suggestions to employees of other “less noble” networks to go fornicate with themselves.

    What Comedy Central should have done is made clear why they are engaging in a double standard by issuing a disclaimer that spelled out that the reason they don’t censor blasphemous things such as Jesus watching pornography is because Christians, despite the rhetoric of Hollywood, don’t actually turn out to be very violent when they have their Faith mocked, whereas practitioners of Islam have shown themselves to be quite violent when their faith is questioned in the arts and the media.

    The fact is that “edgy” Comedy Central is really just a bunch of cowards and bullies striking out at those who don’t fight back while shrinking from those most deserving of having their beliefs (or at least how those beliefs are often put into practice) called into question.

  • It is to remind people, again and again, of the moral depravity around us.

    But aren’t you making the case for broadcasting ‘depravity’?

    Look, this isn’t a big deal. I don’t care whether or how Comedy Central censors their programs. I’m sympathetic to the idea that Western culture needs to defend its values; I just don’t think this is the best example to make that case. It seems to me we could pick our battles better.

  • I generally disapprove of skewering religion for laughs, and maybe it isn’t Comedy Central’s job to draw the line in the sand. But if any show were going to get away with something like this, it’d be South Park. It’s disappointing that no one stands up to this kind of crap:

    “It’s not a threat, but it really is a likely outcome,” al Amrikee said, referring to the possibility that Parker and Stone could be murdered for mocking Muhammad. “They’re going to be basically on a list in the back of the minds of a large number of Muslims. It’s just the reality.”

    That kind of stuff is just crying out for ridicule. When South Park does those “Jesus and Pals” TV, they’re probably blasphemous (and sometimes funny, I’ll admit). I never issued a mafioso-sounding statement like that guy, though.

  • I think the obvious source of frustration here is not that people want to see Islam insulted, but rather the feeling that Islam is being rewarded with more respect because of the small minority of its followers who are ready and eager to behead or otherwise attack those who offend them, while Christianity is being punished because it lacks a true violent minority.

    And this is made the more galling because Christians are often scolded for allegedly being violent and oppressive.

  • but rather the feeling that Islam is being rewarded with more respect because of the small minority of its followers who are ready and eager to behead or otherwise attack those who offend them, while Christianity is being punished because it lacks a true violent minority.

    Well, but it’s not just Christianity. South Park takes on all comers – from Jews, to Mormons, to Scientologists, to politicians; it’s basically anybody in the country that doesn’t happen to have a sizable minority that issues official death threats. And even then, they ran the episode. I don’t think that really amounts to more respect for Islam; just an acknowledgment that some of its adherents are prone to violence. If anything, that results in less respect for Islam as a religion. People wouldn’t respect Catholicism more if Catholics issued death threats every time they were mocked, although it might lead to a reduction in mockery. In the end, this is not a flattering message about Islam; quite the opposite.

    And this is made the more galling because Christians are often scolded for allegedly being violent and oppressive.

    I can understand why that suggestion is galling. But this is much better understood as the idea that there are different rules for Islamic terrorists than for everyone else, than as a contrast with Christians, or Jews, or whomever. If South Park only picked on Christians this would make more sense to me. As it is, it appears like a comedy channel is being criticized for not confronting terrorists more forthrightly…I’ve never thought that was in the job description of a comedy channel, nor do I think on the merits that there is that much value to insulting religious traditions. I understand the hypocrisy objection Jay raises – and I understand the artistic expression objections no one here has raised – but it’s only hypocrisy if there’s inconsistency. The threats of Islamic extremists are different in kind than the other threats, so I see that type of inconsistency as sensible rather than hypocritical. At least, while I might want to run the episode unedited just to be contrary, I don’t blame people actually responsible for the decision for choosing otherwise.

  • But of course comedy central had no issue leaving in the parts of the same episode where Jesus was watching porn and buddha snortng coke.

  • Interesting discussion- I like John Henry’s out-of-the-box thinking on this- my first reaction is to lash out at the cowardice of Comedy Central- but really the reality is that the threat of violence is a real one and one has to be prudent. The real solution to the double-standard is for Catholics and all Christians to find a non-violent means of conveying the same kind of “threat” not to the lives but to the livelihoods of South Park’s personnel and Comedy Central as well. This is a whole lot harder than having a little violent mafia that can be summoned to break some arms and legs to get our way. But it shouldn’t surprise us that since Christ’s Way is the Truth, He wouldn’t allow us to take immoral shortcuts. And so, we resume the battle for souls in an often hostile world- My own contribution has been to stop watching larry david’s show after the “piss christ” episode even though I really really wanted to see the Seinfeld reunion bits, and I stopped watching South Park a year or two ago and even Colbert is something that I am rarely taking in anymore- I suppose it is something of a boycott, and boycott are only effective if they are huge- these things are tough to organize, but we start with ourselves and our little sphere’s of influence to get people to consider just taking a powder of such offensive programs.

  • If anything, that results in less respect for Islam as a religion. People wouldn’t respect Catholicism more if Catholics issued death threats every time they were mocked, although it might lead to a reduction in mockery. In the end, this is not a flattering message about Islam; quite the opposite.

    That’s actually precisely one of the takeaways I had to this kerfuffle. I don’t think it justifies Comedy Central’s decision, but what does it say that even a veiled threat is taken so seriously?

  • You own a business with many employees under your care. A couple employees want to stage some public spectacle sponsored by the company that you have no objection to except that protesters promise to retaliate with lethal force. What do you do?

  • “Don, you are too well read and sensible to make this type of analogy. Censoring a vulgar comedy show that mocks Muslims in the U.S. in 2010 is not remotely analogous to the rise of the Nazi’s in 1920’s and early 1930’s Germany.”

    Actually John Henry I think that Islamic Jihadists and the Nazis have quite a bit in common in regard to their use of violence and the threat of violence to achieve their ends. I also think many of the elites in our society are every bit as decadent and cowardly as the elites who ran Weimar Germany.

  • “They still ran the episode, and they have responded to countless legal threats over the years from offended parties.”

    They ran a censored episode John Henry as a sign of their capitulation. They were unafraid of legal challenges, because, as you and I as attorneys both know, they had nothing to fear from the legal challenges and much to gain from the free publicity. They gave the Jihadists a victory and gave way to death threats because they are craven cowards.

  • John Henry, we commonly come up short in various ways. We should not. We need to understand that we come up short. Lacking in physical courage and cojones is coming up short. Offering apologetics for this sort of behavior works toward breeding more of it in the coming generation, which is not to be desired.

  • AD, I believe the phenomenon you’re describing is referred to as ‘projection’ in the psychological literature. Not everyone evaluates arguments primarily through the prism of adolescent chest-thumping. Not that there is anything wrong with being an adolescent, of course. It’s a question of the proper time and place.

  • I also think many of the elites in our society are every bit as decadent and cowardly as the elites who ran Weimar Germany.

    And so…what? Comedy channels should run programs offensive to Muslims to prevent radical Islamists from over-taking our government like the Nazi’s seized power in Germany? As I said, I don’t really care one way or the other what Comedy Central does. I’d probably rather see the episode unedited; but I don’t think the arguments you’ve offered are very compelling.

  • They gave the Jihadists a victory and gave way to death threats because they are craven cowards.

    Again, what is ‘craven’ about this? It may be cowardly – most precautionary measures can be so described – but what is craven about it?

  • If Catholic programmers had bowed to threats made by Islamic extremists who did not like the orthodox Catholic perception of Islam or some key component of Islamic religious practice- like the problem of reciprocity in giving religious liberty to non-Islamic religions- then I would be upset. Catholics should not bow down to unjust demands- but Comedy Central is probably staffed by moral relativists who represent the secularist mindset well- hold to certain ideals until they become inconvenient- and switch back when they the storm has passed. The South Park approach of skewering all sacred cows will be revised according to the level of “threat” to either physical lives of the show’s creative staff or to the economic damage that a planned or spontaneous boycott would create.

  • AD, I believe the phenomenon you’re describing is referred to as ‘projection’ in the psychological literature. I would advise you not to showcase certain insecurities, intellectual or otherwise, so openly.

    I look forward to john Henry’s next blog post about how conservatives commentators need to be more reasoned, and how we should avoid ad homimem argumentation. Leading by example, as always.

  • Paul, I don’t know why you felt the need to comment there. I mean, honestly. What are you trying to accomplish? Granted, I shouldn’t have responded with an ad hominem to AD”s ad hominem. It’s bad practice. I don’t really see why you decided to get involved, though. I certainly wasn’t talking to you, and there is no need for you to be so nasty.

  • So, basically you acted like a tool, and your reaction is to admonish me.

  • I apologize, again, for responding to AD’s ad hominem in kind. There is not much else I can do. I am not going to hi-jack Don’s thread any further responding to your unnecessarily hostile remarks.

  • When someone is attacked via ad hominem or otherwise it is acceptable in my view, and in fact can be noble, for a third party to defend the person attacked.

  • Mike,

    I agree. I thought what happened was that Art Deco attacked me with an ad hominem and I responded, wrongly, in kind. Then Paul jumped in ostensibly to scold me for responding with an ad hominem, while throwing another into the mix. Was I wrong to interpret Art Deco’s remark as a childish ad hominem? If so, then I apologize both for misinterpreting and for responding as I did. As it is, I just apologize for the response.

  • John, I dunno. I suspect that all of us just allowed our passions to momentarily get the better of us, me included.

  • John Henry,

    Why are you bending over backwards to defend cowardice?

    You say you really don’t care about this issue, yet here you are a dozen posts or so into defending your view on it.

    Your attitude, if I may say so, is precisely the wrong one to take. You are distorting the comparisons others in order to continually justify a position that most of the people here rightly and instinctively know is wrong – servility and groveling in the face of a relentless and brutal enemy.

    You say,

    “Look, this isn’t a big deal. I don’t care whether or how Comedy Central censors their programs. I’m sympathetic to the idea that Western culture needs to defend its values; I just don’t think this is the best example to make that case. It seems to me we could pick our battles better.”

    We don’t get to pick our battles, John. Our battles come to us. They “pick” us.

    If we can’t stand up for ourselves over “small” things, then I question our ability to stand up over large ones.

    When dealing with an aggressive foe, boundaries must be drawn, they must be made to know that they can NEVER get away with death threats against American citizens.

    I don’t give a rats about the content of South Park. The show has its great political moments, it has also terribly insulted the Church and Christ on numerous occasions. The show’s writers are still too childish and naive to understand that the Church is the best thing that ever happened to Western civilization and is worth promoting, and not attacking; so be it.

    They’re still American citizens and they still deserve to be able to exercise their first amendment rights without fear of death threats from a group of fanatics who use violence to show how angry they are that people portray them as violent in the ultimate act of psychopathy.

    What if the Muslims threatened to blow up the studio where South Park is made unless Matt and Trey convert to Islam? Should they do it? Where do you draw the line? At what point does “safety” take a backseat to human dignity and honor?

    I would like to know.

  • I view this whole thing as a sad commentary on free speech today. The 1st amendment at its finest is meant to protect the thoughts and speech that people would die for; yet it has become merely interpreted by our society as the right to say whatever disgusting and offensive thing they can think of.

    While the creators of South Park & Comedy Central would no doubt believe themselves to be advocates of free speech (as shown by the show’s frequent attempts to push the limits of the FCC), it is telling that what they backed off as soon as any consequences were hinted at.

    That’s not to say the made the wrong decision. I don’t think unnecessary blasphemy is funny nor do I think it’s worth dying to protect the right to unnecessarily blaspheme. I just wish that they would take the same time & effort they have put into this into saying something worth saying and worth dying for.

  • John Henry, I do not think the term ad hominem means what you think it does.

    That aside, my personal biography is obscure to you, as are my insecurities and what not.

  • What if the Muslims threatened to blow up the studio where South Park is made unless Matt and Trey convert to Islam? Should they do it? Where do you draw the line? At what point does “safety” take a backseat to human dignity and honor?

    Since you’ve specifically requested that I respond, I will, but I think my shift as volunteer pinata on this thread will be over after that. I am not sure that running vulgar, self-satisfied cartoons that insult various religious traditions is a matter of ‘human dignity’ and ‘honor’. And so I’m fine leaving the decision of whether to offend Muslims in that way up to Comedy Central and the writers to work out among themselves. It’s not like we’re talking about high art or a great contribution to culture here. South Park is probably the crudest show on cable – and that’s a difficult category to win these days. Notice, most of the criticisms above are about a double standard – South Park goes after anyone else with abandon, but not Muslims. I explained above that there seems to me to be a reasonable distinction there given the threats of violence, or at least there is room for reasonable disagreement.

    Is this a type of ‘surrender’ to violence; maybe, but I would not be surrendering anything I view as particularly valuable here. A private company that runs a Comedy Channel self-censoring to make its program less offensive doesn’t bother me. When something that I value is at stake, that’s where I’ll draw the line. For instance, if the FCC or some other government group tried to coerce a private company to self censor in this manner, I’d absolutely oppose that type of government action. Or if the program in question was a debate among scholars about the Koran or Islam & violence, I’d have a problem. But, as it is, the terrorists are damaging themselves more than anyone else – and more than any episode of South Park could.

  • John Henry, I do not think the term ad hominem means what you think it does.

    That aside, my personal biography is obscure to you, as are my insecurities and what not.

    AD, now, that you’ve re-appeared, I apologize again. I am well aware of what an ad hominem is; apologies for the misinterpretation (assuming you were not intending to insult me) and response (regardless of whether you intended to insult me or not).

  • ” I am not sure that running vulgar, self-satisfied cartoons that insult various religious traditions is a matter of ‘human dignity’ and ‘honor’.”

    Way to twist the argument. It is a matter of dignity and honor to not cower before threats of violence, regardless of what one is doing.

    For their part, Matt & Trey are challenging the double standard as applied to Islam. As a point of logic, they are absolutely correct – it is inconsistent and cowardly for CC to allow them to mock Christ and other religious figures but not Mohammed. It is a clear sign and signal that Islam’s violent threats have “worked”, that they have acquired a special immunity. This is unacceptable.

    “It’s not like we’re talking about high art or a great contribution to culture here.”

    It doesn’t matter.

    “South Park is probably the crudest show on cable – and that’s a difficult category to win these days.”

    You haven’t seen Drawn Together, then… At any rate, while it is slightly off-topic, South Park may be crude but it often approaches political issues from a more mature standpoint than most cable news commentary. Sometimes I think the creators add as much vulgarity as they do as a test – if you “see through it” and watch the show for the message, you learn something. I could be wrong.

    “Notice, most of the criticisms above are about a double standard – South Park goes after anyone else with abandon, but not Muslims. ”

    Though this isn’t your point, I will say here that Matt and Trey WOULD “go after Muslims” – it is the network execs. at CC that censor them.

    The first part of the episode (it was a two parter) highlighted the fact that BEFORE the controversy in Denmark, South Park prominently featured a Mohammed in the original “Super Best Friends” episode and there was NO PROBLEM.

    Then a group of fanatics in Denmark arbitrarily decided that it was the time to start getting violent over print depictions of Mohammed, and everything changed. Frankly, as a Christian I am as disgusted as any civil libertarian at this servility. These people are bullies, and you stand up to bullies, you don’t back down.

    “When something that I value is at stake, that’s where I’ll draw the line.”

    Ok. I think that strategy is pointless, since the thing to be valued is our freedom not to be threatened by violent extremists, but whatever.

  • Why expect the Comedy Central execs to be any braver than the newspaper editors who refused to publish the Mohammed cartoons, or Western leaders who rush to preemptively denounce “hate crimes” against Muslims the second after any Muslim commits a hate crime?

    The merits and faults of South Park are secondary compared to the larger context, which is that Western governments and media (the same media which pride themselves on “speaking truth to power”) are utterly cowed by Muslim. The MSM caved on the Mohammed cartoons; Mark Steyn was hauled before the modern day equivalent of the Star Chamber in Canada for “hate crimes” (his “crime” was actually quoting a Muslim iman accurately); the French media reports on “youths” holding their nightly carbeques in the Paris suburbs without mentioning that the Renault-torching youths all belong to a certain religion; Geert Wilders is on trial for hate crimes against Muslims, although he is the one who needs police protection; Theo van Gogh was carved up in an Amsterdam street in broad daylight and none of his fellow filmmakers saw fit to mention his brutal slaying at that year’s Academy Awards. I could go on – and on. The more they bully and threaten, the more the West kowtows to their demands, to their inviolate right never to be offended, no matter how mild or unintentional the offense is. A few years ago, some company in the UK banned coffee cups depicting Porky the Pig because Muslim employees were offended by them. The Jews traditionally have never had much use for pork, but I’ll wager it never crossed the minds of even orthodox Jews to call for a ban on cups with pictures of cartoon pigs.

    The Muslim grievance society is perpetually aggrieved. They demand and demand and demand, and the West gives in and apologizes and capitulates endlessly. And the same people who do give in to the Muslims because of the very real fact of Islamic extremism fret about imaginary “tea party violence” and congratulate themselves for being daring when they insult Christians.

  • “And the same people who do give in to the Muslims because of the very real fact of Islamic extremism fret about imaginary “tea party violence” and congratulate themselves for being daring when they insult Christians.”

    That they do – and they sicken me.

  • Very interesting thread. My first instinct was to side with the snot-nosed religion-bashers over the violent psychopaths and the cowards, but really there are no role models in this story.

    I think it is the obligation of anyone in the field of communications to risk his life for human rights. We typically don’t think of it that way, but Vaclav Havel would. If you’re lucky enough to go a few decades without risking your life for something, you’re in a historical lull, but those don’t last long. The whole point of life is to pick a side.

  • Is Obama a coward for refusing to release the prisoner abuse photos?

    It’s one thing to put your own life on the line, but when you’re responsible for the lives of others, sometimes you should bite your tongue. Besides, it’s not like Comedy Central was protecting the Holy Grail. It was a cartoon. The right of Comedy Central to air a cartoon on one side and real lives on the other. I think they did the right thing.

  • Giving into a threat of murder restrainedradical merely encourages those who make the threats. It is cowardly and simply doesn’t work in the long run.

  • Some of you may be getting caught up in the vulgarity of southpark but it actually touches a lot on social and political issues. By the mere fact that they are willing to accept death threats because they believe in free speech actually says a lot about their character.

    Lets set aside the problems you have with southpark and at least acknowledge that.

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  • Of course catholics would defend the muslims because just like them they are responsible for far worse evils than ANYONE in the history of hollywood. Im glad its finally coming to light just how corrupt the holier than thou are.

  • Right. People killed in just wars waged by the Catholic Church (the “Crusades”) = a few thousand.

    People killed by atheist communists for a demented ideology that doesn’t even work = somewhere in the neighborhood of 100 million.

    No, you non-believers have us beat.

  • MR, who can possibly argue with someone who has such a keen grasp of history? For future reference I am going to exercise my prerogative of blog censorship and state that I find your assumed name offensive and any further comments under that name will go to the spam file and you will be banned from this blog. I defend the right of the South Park creators to be jerks in the face of Jihadist death threats. That does not mean that I wish to see their style of ignorant jerkiness emulated in my threads.

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Earth Day- Catholic-Style!

Thursday, April 22, AD 2010

I love children- I love nature- there isn’t any true contradiction according to my reading of Catholic social teaching. If you love kids you will hate abortion- and if you love kids you will want a clean and beautiful natural environment. Of course, there will be some room for debate on how to achieve the three-fold societal goals of increasing our human populations, and simultaneously, increasing the living standards for everyone (universal common good), and also maintaining or improving the health of the natural environment- all of this must happen together or else pressures will come into play and threaten all three- like the fact of cruel and unusual living standards for many causes some to look at human population growth as the enemy and so they set about attacking the unborn as undesirables. Same for environmental degradation- it tempts the non-believer into pursuing unholy solutions. So, I propose we Catholics get out front on all three fronts- we don’t have to make up a social doctrine- we have one already- all that is needed is serious study, contemplation, and implementation of reasonable plans of action- and let the Holy Spirit take care of the rest!

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2 Responses to Earth Day- Catholic-Style!

  • This is beautiful. It is exactly what Catholic environmentalism is about, in fact any kind of enviornmentalism. Nearly all environmentalists I’ve known have been moms with children, wanting the best for them. Where is the logic in killing children in order to save the earth for children? Mr. Spock would say it doesn’t compute.

    We weren’t able to have children, and it was a sorrow for many decades, but since becoming an environmentalist — we’ve lowered our GHG emissions by 60% over the past 20 years, along with lowering many other pollutants, while saving money and improving our living standard — I feel I’m giving life to children, or at least not harming them, as I was before.

    Sort of makes me feel like a mom 🙂

  • Excellent ad!

    Now that is the way we are supposed to engage the “worldly” culture.

Krugman v. Levin on Climate Change

Thursday, April 22, AD 2010

Jim Manzi, a conservative expert on climate change, recently reviewed Mark Levin’s coverage of the subject in his book Liberty and Tyranny. Mr. Manzi was unimpressed:

I’m not expert on many topics the book addresses, so I flipped to its treatment of a subject that I’ve spent some time studying – global warming – in order to see how it treated a controversy for which I’m at least familiar with the various viewpoints and some of the technical detail.

It was awful. It was so bad that it was like the proverbial clock that chimes 13 times – not only is it obviously wrong, but it is so wrong that it leads you to question every other piece of information it has ever provided.

Levin argues that human-caused global warming is nothing to worry about, and merely an excuse for the Enviro-Statist (capitalization in the original) to seize more power. It reads like a bunch of pasted-together quotes and stories based on some quick Google searches by somebody who knows very little about the topic, and can’t be bothered to learn. After pages devoted to talking about prior global cooling fears, and some ridiculous or cynical comments by advocates for emissions restrictions (and one quote from Richard Lindzen, a very serious climate scientist who disputes the estimated magnitude of the greenhouse effect, but not its existence), he gets to the key question on page 184 (eBook edition):

[D]oes carbon dioxide actually affect temperature levels?

Levin does not attempt to answer this question by making a fundamental argument that proceeds from evidence available for common inspection through a defined line of logic to a scientific view. Instead, he argues from authority by citing experts who believe that the answer to this question is pretty much ‘no’. Who are they? – An associate professor of astrophysics, a geologist and an astronaut.

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48 Responses to Krugman v. Levin on Climate Change

  • It’s also worth noting that Manzi wrote his post on Levin in response to Ross Douthat’s point that “conservative domestic policy would be in better shape if conservative magazines and conservative columnists were more willing to call out Republican politicians (and, to a lesser extent, conservative entertainers) for offering bromides instead of substance, and for pandering instead of grappling with real policy questions.”

    Ross is right.

    Good post, John Henry.

  • The breach of trust between the scientific establishment and the public must be healed before any “policy questions” can be addressed.

    This is an opportunity for the scientific establishment to come to grips with living in a democratic society. It’s methods and data must be open to public scrutiny and review, skeptical and opposing points of view must be given a chance to prove themselves, or be disproved based on the evidence and not political intimidation.

    The “scientific consensus” argument is naive at best and dangerous at worst in a supposedly democratic society. Underneath it is the assumption that non-scientific laymen should shut up and blindly accept whatever it is “scientists” tell them. This is why conservatives such as Levin try to point out the skeptics and dissenters – to show that the “consensus” which we are all supposed to bow, never question, and goose-step to is more of an illusion than a reality.

    If “climate change” really is the great problem the majority of of climate scientists claim it is, then they need to change their methods of interacting with the public. Yes, I know – it would be easier, as Thomas Friedman argues, if we were like China, and had had a communist Central Committee to simply issue top-down decrees on climate change and any number of issues.

    Unfortunately we’re stuck here in the good old, bad old USA, where the people theoretically still have a right to a say in the laws they are to live by, and therefore ought to be able to choose between different points of view on the matter. Don’t worry though, I think that whole idea is on its way out the door anyway.

  • Ross Douthat’s point that “conservative domestic policy would be in better shape if conservative magazines and conservative columnists were more willing to call out Republican politicians (and, to a lesser extent, conservative entertainers) for offering bromides instead of substance, and for pandering instead of grappling with real policy questions.”

    Douthat was the author, along with Reihan Salam, of Sam’s Club Republicans. I’ve read a lot of political works in my life, ranging from the more polemical (like Levin) to the more philosophical. Out of all the things I have ever read in my life on politics none, zip, zilch, nada have been as inconsequential and devoid of any meaningful point as Douthat and Salam’s book. I even appreciated books that I strongly disagreed with much more because at least the author had a strong viewpoint and his convictions were clear for all the world to see. Sam’s Club Republicanism was a 200-page plus bit of meandering (and dubious ) history, the “substantive” policy offering essentially being “let’s offer more tax credits to the middle class.”

    The reason I bring this up is that it really strikes me as both aggravating and yet funny that the people who complain the most about the lack of substance in our political discourse are those who are themselves rather substance-less and rather mediocre both intellectually and stylistically.

  • Amen, Joe. Amen, Paul.

    As for Douthat’s point, he’s already admitted that he has a need to be liked by his liberal bosses, peers, and audience, and therefore shapes his writing accordingly to appeal to them:

    “I’m also acutely aware, from my own experience, of the way that peer effects – the desire to be perceived as the “reasonable conservative” by friends and peers, the positive reinforcement from liberal readers, etc. – can subtly influence the topics one chooses to write about and the tone one chooses to take. It’s not a matter of wanting a seat at the table in the Obama Administration, or anything absurd like that; it’s just a matter of being aware of your audience, and wanting to be taken seriously by people who don’t necessarily share your views, but who exert a significant influence over your professional success even so.”

    http://rossdouthat.theatlantic.com/archives/2008/10/a_seat_at_the_table.php

    Attacking fellow conservatives is just what the house conservatives at liberal publications do to gain acceptance and be seen as “reasonable”.

  • That’s not to say that polemical conservatives like Levin and Coulter shouldn’t be called out when they go overboard rhetorically or just plain get their facts wrong or engage in shoddy scholarship.

    It’s just that when folks like Douthat (or David Frum) send out the clarion call for conservatives to take on the Levins of the world, I’m going to take it with a big ol’ fat grain of salt.

  • It is interesting that your first response to the post is an ad hominem against Douthat and Salaam. I, and nearly all of the reviewers as it relates to the history section, disagree with your characterization of the their book on the merits. But what’s striking to me is that you would describe Reihan Salaam – a far more subtle and detailed policy thinker than Mark Levin as any familiarity with his writing suggests– as substance-less. You can say what you want about the positions he takes, but about the only thing that you cannot say is that his writings lack substance. This suggests to me that you are either unfamiliar with his writing, or that you are mistaking ideological agreement for substance.

  • That’s not to say that polemical conservatives like Levin and Coulter shouldn’t be called out

    Yes, in practice, that appears to be exactly what you are saying. You frequently take that one blog post Douthat wrote years ago, and use it as a reason to dismiss everything he’s ever written that criticizes conservatives. It’s all a bit forced. I suppose we can add Ramesh Ponnurru to the list of insubstantial conservatives now? And Jim Manzi?

  • It is interesting that your first response to the post is an ad hominem against Douthat and Salaam.

    Umm, that wasn’t an ad homimen. It was my reaction to the book. And it’s interesting that your first response to my comment was to reflexively defend Douthat.

    I, and nearly all of the reviewers, disagree with your characterization of the their book on the merits. /i>

    Bully for you. What can I say, I guess I’m not as easily impressed by mediocre punditry.

    ut what’s striking to me is that you would describe Reihan Salaam – a far more subtle and detailed policy thinker than Mark Levin as any familiarity with his writing suggests- as substance-less. You can say what you want about the positions he takes, but about the only thing that you cannot say is that his writings lack substance. This suggests to me that you are either unfamiliar with his writing, or that you are mistaking ideological agreement for substance.

    First of all, note that my critique of Salam was centered very specifically on his work with Douthat on Sam’s Club Republicans. I made no general comment about Salam’s overall work, which is admittedly much better than that of Douthat. I was mainly concerned with Douthat, who I consider to be a highly overrated writer.

    I am also amused that here you are, approvingly linking to an article about the need to reject close-mindedness and for conservative writers to be able to freely critique other conservatives, and yet your reaction to my reaction to Douthat is to simply dismiss me as either ignorant or ideological. Not surprising, considering the source.

  • I read the book as well, Paul, and my take on it was completely different than yours. Douthat & Salaam’s point is that we need to address the real concerns of the middle class. You can obviously take issue with their specific policy proposals, but I don’t see how or why conservatives would disagree with the fundamental point of the book.

    Jay, if you’ve followed Ross’s column and blog over the last few weeks, it’s fairly apparent that he isn’t interested in currying favor with his liberal counterparts or the editors at the Times; consider his repeated defenses of the Holy Father.

    Joe, I’m sympathetic to your point regarding the scientific consensus argument… certainly there have been times that the consensus is wrong. And I agree that their communications methods need improving. But neither means that Levin’s approach is valid or appropriate, does it? The mere fact that there are dissenters doesn’t invalidate the hypothesis of AGW. (For the record, my point here isn’t to defend that hypothesis; I simply agree with Manzi’s critique of Levin’s approach.)

  • Whatever, John Henry. I don’t expect you to read my blog, but if you did, you’d know just how full of crap that last comment is. I criticize conservatives on at least a weekly, if not daily, basis (probably, in terms of frequency, a lot more than you do).

    And I don’t even like Levin or Coulter. Or Limbaugh. Or Beck. Or countless other ideological polemicists. I don’t watch them or listen to them. I’ve criticized them on my blog and others’ blogs. I think Levin and Coulter (especially Coulter) are detrimental to conservatism. But when I criticize them, its not a matter of self-aggrandizement the way it is for some.

    Yes, Douthat gets under my skin. So what? I think he revealed something about himself in that piece (which is actually only about a year-and-a-half old). I’ve said it before, substantively, on the issues, he’s probably one of the columnists who most closely fits my own ideology. But there’s something about him – this need to seem more “reasonable” than all those other conservatives – that makes me dislike his style.

    It’s one of my pet peaves, so, yes, I write about it fairly often. But this comment of yours …

    “It infrequently amazes me how little criticism conservatives deserve on your accounting.”

    … is an outright falsehood. Read my blog and you’ll see that I frequently criticize conservatives, including, most recently, a post on Arizona’s immigration law. Better yet, don’t read my blog. Just keep on with the pretense that I never, ever criticize conservatives or the ideology that often masquerades as conservatism in the GOP. I mean, my comments on this don’t have anything to do with my belief that Douthat is a poseur. No, it’s just that I’m a blind ideologue.

    I’m going to stop now before this turns into a flame war.

  • “conservative domestic policy would be in better shape if conservative magazines and conservative columnists were more willing to call out Republican politicians (and, to a lesser extent, conservative entertainers) for offering bromides instead of substance, and for pandering instead of grappling with real policy questions.” Ross is right.

    ‘Conservative’ domestic policy would be in better shape if the trustees and administrators of the American Enterprise Institute and other such agencies were very sparing about hiring anyone without a completed dissertation or years of professional experience in the field of endeavour about which they are expected to write and research. It would also be in better shape if Republican elected officials understood themselves to be in the midst of an interlude in their life between engagements in business or the professions, and if they had convictions to begin with. It would in addition be in better shape if there were employed academic talent to tap. Cloning messrs. Dreher and Friedersdorf is not likely to improve much.

  • Chris,

    “But neither means that Levin’s approach is valid or appropriate, does it?”

    Not necessarily.

    However, I think it bears reminding that for YEARS we were told that the sky was falling. First Gore tried to scare us all – a man who isn’t a scientist – with his video, which was declared by a British court to be full of inaccuracies. Then when the scare tactics weren’t having the desired political effect, they decided to run roughshod over the democratic process.

    The mere fact that there are dissenters that aren’t being given equal time before the public and who the supposedly mainstream scientists will not face in a public forum is enough to warrant some kind of serious response. I don’t know if Levin provides it (I don’t really like what I know about him), but someone has to. Someone like Lord Monckton. And preferably without the stupid, discredited lie of an ad homoniem that anyone who doubts AGW is “paid by the oil industry.” At this point, I wouldn’t even care if they were, since the IPCC and its work through the UN is supported by population reduction fanatics.

  • Joe, I *completely* agree that the apocalyptic tone of Gore et al. is wrong, period. First it was overpopulation, now it’s global warming; every decade there’s a new crisis which threatens to destroy us all. My concern is that we might throw the baby out with the bathwater and erroneously reject AGW because of the hysteria of some of its advocates and their proposed solutions.

  • Jay,

    But there’s something about him – this need to seem more “reasonable” than all those other conservatives – that makes me dislike his style.

    AS you note, it seems to come down to a question of Ross’s style and one’s preference (or not) for it. In my case, I happen to like it, but I certainly grant that it may not be to everyone’s liking.

  • Thanks, Chris.

    As for Douthat’s defense of the Holy Father that you mentioned in an earlier comment, I thought he was too equivocal even in that:

    http://proecclesia.blogspot.com/2010/04/ross-douthat-media-attacking-wrong-pope.html

    Perhaps we can ask your co-blogger if my criticism of Douthat’s piece on Pope Benedict is just more evidence of my blindly ideological defense of yet another “conservative”.

  • Right below the excerpt Jay posted from Douthat’s article is this:

    Now of course similar incentives are also at work for people who make their living writing and talking to a more partisan audience: If you run, say, a right-wing talk radio show, or work for an explicitly conservative magazine, stoking partisan fervor is almost always in your professional interest

    It’s in the interests of conservatives to self-police. (And it’s true: some bloggers here like Jay do that.) No one has cornered the market on substance. There’s always the possibility that these “urbanite” conservatives are tempering their opinions not because they’re craven or sycophantic, but because they’re around people making strong counterarguments, and their moderation reflects that influence. Lord knows, I don’t like a lot of what the NY/DC corridor conservatives write, but I’d rather read their measured criticisms than the ravings of some moonbat.

  • O no, if global warming’s real, we are going to face the first natural paradoxical disaster in the history of man. The seas are going to rise, and the seas are going to fall, they’ll be monsoons, and they’ll be drought, it’s going to get very cold, and very hot at the same time! I’m very afraid of having to wear a heavy coat and clothes that are as light as possible at the same time; imagine handling a flood while dying from drought. We all have to take the threat more seriously, and stop making fun of it.

  • Jay, I’ve been away from my computer for the last hour or so. I agree that you criticize conservatives. But I don’t understand your criticism of Douthat. Douthat’s point was fairly innocuous – conservative intellectuals should call out the entertainers and politicians when they’re pandering. In response, you’ve (again) linked to a blog post that was an honest exploration of the pressures on conservatives in the MSM. It seems to me that you’re taking a post that show-cases introspection and intellectual honesty and saying that it proves a lack of both – and this in response to a point you claim to agree with. As Chris said, above, this may just be a matter of style. But I found your reaction to Douthat’s comments odd. It seems to me that you’re basing your criticism more on who makes the statement than the substance – and that’s what I meant by saying in practice you don’t approve of criticism of conservatives. You don’t mind making criticisms yourself, but if the non-approved people make them, you attack them even if you agree with the substance of what they’re saying. That is what I find off-putting, although I appologize for the sloppy and inaccurate way that was phrased above.

  • Yes,

    Lets all be good little boys and girls, always eat with the proper fork, and treat politics as if it we were all at Gollatz Cotillion.

    Some things are worth “raving” about. Some things are worth the slightest infusion of passion and emotion. Some things require more than the functions of an indifferent calculating machine. Some things are worth fighting for.

    I’ll rant and rave ’till the day I die, dag nabbit! ::whips out his dueling pistols and fires randomly into the air::

  • Joe,

    Yes, raving can be necessary. *But*, if the context is a discussion in which we are trying to *persuade* others that our course is the best, raving can often be counterproductive.

    If we’re trying to rally the troops or “speak truth to power”, raving is often appropriate. If I’m trying to *convince* someone that my way is the best way, it’s less effective. The context matters.

    An elementary point, obviously, but one worth making nonetheless.

  • I am not an art history major, but it would seem that the master artists of their time catered to the ruling houses of Europe. My bride, who has a degree in art history is one of those who can usually spot the family member or patron in the sacred art paintings of the masters. So the artists, though proud, matter-of-factly bent their art to flatter their benefactor’s good profile.

    Although supposedly the high priests of objective observation and reporting of facts, modern researchers are no less dependant today on reliable funding streams from foundations and other sources than their artistic forebears were on stipends and largesse of the great families.

    I am no more inclined to grant, without checking, the integrity of a scientist than I am to believe that the guy in the front rank kneeling before Jesus (or Peter, or an Angel) only coincidentally looks like a Medici.

  • That’s fine Chris – I’m just sick of the people who don’t make the subtle distinctions you do, and try to insist that any form of struggle in itself is some kind of insanity that ought to be replaced with servility.

  • Suffice it to say that I’m all for self-policing our own, but have issues with those who are “professional self-policers” like Douthat, Dreher, and Frum. They’re the conservative media equivalent of tattle-tales.

  • I agree Jay. They are lukewarm, and they will be spit out.

  • Jay,

    Yes. I love your way of dealing with the problems — hide it from view, and if anyone exposes it, call them “tattle-tales.” Why am I not surprised? Didn’t you learn from the child abuse crisis we are facing that a culture of secrecy is NOT what is needed?

  • Jay, given that the views of at least Douthat & Dreher aren’t exactly mainstream conservatism (no one would mistaken their brand of conservatism for Rush’s or Sarah’s), I’m not sure why you’d consider *them* “professional self-policers”.

  • Paul,
    I am also amused that here you are, approvingly linking to an article about the need to reject close-mindedness and for conservative writers to be able to freely critique other conservatives, and yet your reaction to my reaction to Douthat is to simply dismiss me as either ignorant or ideological. Not surprising, considering the source.

    Heh. Let’s clarify, here. The ignorant or ideological line was in response to your claim that Reihan Salaam’s writings lacked substance. You’ve clarified that you were not criticizing his writings as a whole, only his book. Ok, then we just disagree about the book.

    As to your criticism of my criticism of your criticism of the critique that conservatives need to criticize each other, I’m not sure what your point is. It seems to me that there is plenty of criticism going on, and my criticism of you was linked to a very specific point – namely, that characterizing Reihan as nonsubstantive is laughably, obviously wrong. You’ve conceded that point, more or less, so we’re left with disagreement about their book. But since you’ve acknowledged that the criticism of the book doesn’t necessarily apply to all of the writings of the authors, I don’t really know what to say. You don’t like Douthat. You tried to link the criticism of his book to all of his writings, but would not do the same for Salaam. Ok, that’s fine. Is Douthat right or not about the lack of and need for more debates (a la Manzi) in conservatism or not?

  • I hear you, Jay. Of the three “professional self-policers” on your list, Douthat is the only one I tend to like. So maybe it’s a stylistic approach.

    And Joe, I hope it wasn’t my comment about “raving” that set you off. I meant that I’d rather have someone *in the family* say “This is a bad argument of ours” rather than have some lefty nut screaming it at me. Again, style.

    (But feel free to shoot up the place, Yosemite Sam! It wouldn’t be the same if you didn’t!)

  • J,

    It’s all good. I understand now what you meant, and the point is taken.

  • I’m not sure why you’d consider *them* “professional self-policers”.

    That is what I find odd also. The assumption is that Douthat doesn’t really believe what he’s saying, but rather is just catering to his audience. That assumption just doesn’t bear much scrutiny; I’ve been reading he and Reihan since they were completely unknown independent bloggers (well before the Atlantic), and they have been remarkably consistent over time. To me (and this is just my impression – I may be wrong), it seems to me that Jay is confusing stylistic and occasional substantive differences with insincerity. Dreher I think is sincere, but overwrought. Frum I have no use for whatsoever.

  • I agree that self-appointed self-policers can get very annoying at times — though Douthat almost never bothers me in that respect. Dreher and Frum, on the other hand, I didn’t like even before the apostatized in their different ways, religious and political respectively.

    Looping back to the original point, however, I certainly understand and share Manzi’s frustration with a fair amount of science coverage from explicitly conservative authors. It’s not as if there aren’t important points to be made on scientific issues from a conservative point of view. Whether it’s new atheists trying to make expansive theological and socialogical claims based on mis-applying evolutionary history, or enviro-hucksters like Gore massively distorting real climate science, there are important rebuttals to be made. But unfortunately magazines like National Review don’t seem to have very good instincts in sorting real, solid criticism from polemics which fail to address the real evidence and issues.

    Some science coverage they run is good, but others is just execrable.

  • Right-liberalism (i.e. Mark Levin) is not properly conservative. It should be heavily criticized, especially when it tends towards the hackish and populist. Douthat does this effectively, as do Dreher and Frum. I support them (although Frum can be a real piece of work, as in his absurd “Unpatriotic Conservatives” NR piece).

    This is not to say that within the rightist coalitions (infused with the “freedom” of right-liberalism) that Levin et al. cannot be valuable. But “K-Lo’s” defense (the Corner last night) was hugely weak, and we need many more Jim Manzi’s.

  • Yes. I love your way of dealing with the problems — hide it from view, and if anyone exposes it, call them “tattle-tales.” Why am I not surprised? Didn’t you learn from the child abuse crisis we are facing that a culture of secrecy is NOT what is needed?

    Henry, I have a very open comment policy and so I approved this comment, but I think this attack by analogy is completely unfair; and, to compound the irony, you’ve managed an Anderson’s Law violation… while criticizing Jay Anderson! Please keep your future comments more civil.

  • John Henry: Anyone who uses “Godwin’s Law” or a variation of it is already falling for a modern, anti-analogical sensibility, and does not win anything just because they claim a win. So I don’t care if I “violated” Anderson’s law or not.

    The analogy IS apt. If someone complains about “those who are policing us” because “they are tattle tales” (though not necessarily so, could be an ad hominem if we want to play name that fallacy), this kind of mentality is juvenile and is used by people who have things they want to hide. And with the culture of secrecy within the Church, so it is within any political group. They benefit from, are not harmed by, such revelations; they help, not hinder, because they allow for metanoia. To hide error, to hide falsehood, to hide sin because it is not comfortable to expose it just the continuation of Adam’s error.

  • But unfortunately magazines like National Review don’t seem to have very good instincts in sorting real, solid criticism from polemics which fail to address the real evidence and issues. Some science coverage they run is good, but others is just execrable.

    Exactly right. The link post appeared at the Corner, but Manzi obviously knew when he wrote it that he would get completely unsubstantial comments like this in response. Conservatives need to raise their game.

  • Thanks, John Henry.

    And I apologize for the intemperate nature of my previous remarks (seems that I’m always having to do that when we have this discussion 😉 ). I think it is correct to conclude that my problem with 2 of the 3 individuals I mentioned is one of style; in the case of Frum, however, it is also about substance.

    As I said, I do think it is important for conservatives to police their own, and I hope that I have done so when the circumstances merit it (ironically, one of the instances where I did call out someone was when Frum questioned the patriotism of those conservatives who opposed the Iraq War).

    And, of course, Henry completely missed the point of the “tattle-tale” remark. The point was that no one likes the kid who goes around pointing fingers and tattling on his schoolmates, and I was likening those who are self-appointed policers to the tattle-tale. It’s a subtle point: self-policing is important; but those who are too dogmatic about it tend to be overbearing snots. We can agree to disagree on whether that description is applicable to Douthat.

  • Glad to see we are somewhat in agreement, Jay. And apologies again for the double-offense of being intemperate and unclear.

  • HK – I will be away from the blog for a while, so your comments may not get through, unless Darwin or someone else approves them. I think comparing cover-up of the sexual abuse of children with political disagreements is unwise and unnecessarily inflammatory if your purpose is to encourage discussion rather than a flame war. Or would it strike you as a good starting point for discussion, if I compared the moderation of comment threads at a certain blog with the abuse scandal cover-up? I would not do such a thing because it’s obvious it would offend you more than it would help resolve the disagreement. But a similar thing could be said about your comment.

  • “Henry completely missed the point”

    I heard the sun rose in the east this morning too.

    🙂

  • “They are overbearing snots.” Or maybe they are the ones who call attention to a problem which no one wants to be made known. It is very common for bullies to denounce “tattle telling.” And that is exactly the issue. “They are snots.” That’s rich. Jay proves my point. This is exactly the attitude which is wrong, which trains people to ignore conscience, and indeed, helps keep evil in power.

  • John Henry

    If the political parties are doing evil, and the ones who expose the evil are called “tattle tales” it is quite similar to the way many people attack the media for exposing cover-ups against children. As long as the “don’t be a tattle tale” mentality prevails, metanoia will not.

  • If the political parties are doing evil, and the ones who expose the evil are called “tattle tales” it is quite similar to the way many people attack the media for exposing cover-ups against children. As long as the “don’t be a tattle tale” mentality prevails, metanoia will not.

    Jay didn’t say that if “the political parties are doing evil” people should not expose them, nor that those who did expose them would be “tattle tales”. What he did complain about is the phenomenon of people who consistently point out the faults of their own group (be it political, cultural, religious, etc.) in what appears to be an attempt to fit in with or curry favor with some other antagonistic group. Or simply in an attempt to seem “above it all”.

    This is, in fact, a real tendency which some people display, and it is one which causes unnecessary hurt and division. That doesn’t mean that no one should ever say anything negative about groups to which they belong, nor would Jay ever say such a thing.

    While it’s important to recognize, acknowledge, and repair the faults of one’s own “side”, constant harping on the faults of one’s own group (especially in a way which seems callibrated more to one’s own aggrandizement than to correcting faults) does not create metanoia, it just labels one as an annoy-a.

    Stretching someone’s statements beyond recognition in order to try to accuse them of being of the same mentality of those who covered up sexual abuse committed by priests falls much more in the annoy-a than the metanoia category.

  • “Stretching someone’s statements beyond recognition in order to try to accuse them of being of the same mentality of those who covered up sexual abuse committed by priests falls much more in the annoy-a than the metanoia category.”

    lmao

  • DC

    In other words, “don’t be a voice of conscience.” I get it. I always got it. I was accused of being the “tattle tale” when I was young, too. Yes. Better to let abuse continue.

  • Ok, I’m going to ask that we not continue this line of conversation. It’s dull for anyone not involved, and it’s not going anywhere productive. Henry believes he is a voice of conscience. Others believe he is reading uncharitably, then making an inapposite and needlessly inflammatory analogy. I don’t think there’s much room for resolution of differences on the point, and I did not write this post with such a conversation in mind. Everyone has had their say.

  • You can mark me down as being on the Manzi/Douthat side of this dispute. I’ll confess I’ve not read the section on global warming in Levin’s book (or any other part of it). But I read his response to Manzi, as well as the responses of K-LO and Andy McCarthy on the Corner, and I’m somewhat familiar with Levin’s style of argument more generally. Needless to say I was not impressed. For what it’s worth, I’ll add that I thought Douthat’s book (which is actually titled Grand New Party; not Sam’s Club Republicans) was quite good.

    There is a natural tendency for political movements to grow lazy in their argumentation, which ultimately impairs their ability to be successful. Subjecting fellow conservatives to criticism when they are not living up to standards is one way to stave off this sort of deterioration, and I think Manzi’s post was a good example of that.

  • John Henry

    Yes, it is “dull” to people with a dull conscience to consider how our socialization with “don’t be a tattle tale” is actually the kind of practice needed to keep sin and evil from being exposed into the light and repented. The fact of the matter is — it’s not dull, it is to the point. The mob boss, the union boss, an institution with a culture of secrecy, political parties who are harboring evil, etc — all will call the “rat fink” out in one fashion or another. They are always the one no one likes. Why is it?

    [Ed. Note: Henry, I was serious. As I said, I very rarely delete comments, but I would ask – again – that you not submit any more comments in this vein. You have expressed your opinion, repeatedly. If this is a topic you wish to discuss, there are venues for that at your disposal. As a courtesy, I would ask that you not continue trying to change the topic of this thread. Best, JH]

  • Levin responds on The Corner here, and it seems to me at any rate basically reveals that the scientific cards are all on Manzi’s side on this one, while the noise is on Levin’s.

    I suspect one of the dynamics here is that most people are willing to give those on “their side” a pass when they figure their heart is in the right place and the issue doesn’t seem all that important. Since most conservatives are not in favor of taking drastic and expensive action to reduce carbon emmissions, there’s not necessarily a lot of practical pressure to sort good arguments from bad arguments.

    And yet, the fact remains that some arguments present very valid reasons why we shouldn’t rush to pass certain kinds of regulations in the name of “saving the planet”, while other arguments are very poor indeed.

The words of the Pope on "Earth Day"

Thursday, April 22, AD 2010

I don’t have much patience for “Earth Day” b/c it’s a made-up (holi?)day. I tried to avoid wearing green today and decided to take the day to announce that my wife & I are expecting to add to the environmentalists’ fear of overpopulation.

But environmentalism matters; we can’t be distracted by the sappy appeals to Mother Earth. Care for the environment is an important aspect of the faith as the Holy Father tells us:

51. The way humanity treats the environment influences the way it treats itself, and vice versa. This invites contemporary society to a serious review of its life-style, which, in many parts of the world, is prone to hedonism and consumerism, regardless of their harmful consequences[122]. What is needed is an effective shift in mentality which can lead to the adoption of new life-styles “in which the quest for truth, beauty, goodness and communion with others for the sake of common growth are the factors which determine consumer choices, savings and investments”[123]. Every violation of solidarity and civic friendship harms the environment, just as environmental deterioration in turn upsets relations in society. Nature, especially in our time, is so integrated into the dynamics of society and culture that by now it hardly constitutes an independent variable. Desertification and the decline in productivity in some agricultural areas are also the result of impoverishment and underdevelopment among their inhabitants. When incentives are offered for their economic and cultural development, nature itself is protected. Moreover, how many natural resources are squandered by wars! Peace in and among peoples would also provide greater protection for nature. The hoarding of resources, especially water, can generate serious conflicts among the peoples involved. Peaceful agreement about the use of resources can protect nature and, at the same time, the well-being of the societies concerned.

The Church has a responsibility towards creation and she must assert this responsibility in the public sphere. In so doing, she must defend not only earth, water and air as gifts of creation that belong to everyone. She must above all protect mankind from self-destruction. There is need for what might be called a human ecology, correctly understood. The deterioration of nature is in fact closely connected to the culture that shapes human coexistence: when “human ecology”[124] is respected within society, environmental ecology also benefits. Just as human virtues are interrelated, such that the weakening of one places others at risk, so the ecological system is based on respect for a plan that affects both the health of society and its good relationship with nature.

In order to protect nature, it is not enough to intervene with economic incentives or deterrents; not even an apposite education is sufficient. These are important steps, but the decisive issue is the overall moral tenor of society. If there is a lack of respect for the right to life and to a natural death, if human conception, gestation and birth are made artificial, if human embryos are sacrificed to research, the conscience of society ends up losing the concept of human ecology and, along with it, that of environmental ecology. It is contradictory to insist that future generations respect the natural environment when our educational systems and laws do not help them to respect themselves. The book of nature is one and indivisible: it takes in not only the environment but also life, sexuality, marriage, the family, social relations: in a word, integral human development. Our duties towards the environment are linked to our duties towards the human person, considered in himself and in relation to others. It would be wrong to uphold one set of duties while trampling on the other. Herein lies a grave contradiction in our mentality and practice today: one which demeans the person, disrupts the environment and damages society.

Not wasting resources has nothing to do with saving “Mother Earth” but rather everything to do with forming ourselves to not be dependent on material things and preserving things for others (both the poor of our generation and the future generations). In this, we are better formed to protect human dignity.

This shows just how detrimental it is for environmentalists to be pushing abortion & contraception to solve overpopulation; by teaching lack of respect for human dignity and selfishness, they are promoting the very behaviors that contribute to environmental damage.

So on “Earth Day” let us as Catholics reaffirm the Church’s holistic and inseparable teachings on human dignity and the environment.

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17 Responses to The words of the Pope on "Earth Day"

  • Congratulations to you and your wife. May you upset environmentalists on many more occasions.

  • Congrats, Michael! That’s awesome news!

    May the pitter-patter of many little carbon footprints pollute your household for many years to come.

  • Not wasting resources has nothing to do with saving “Mother Earth” but rather everything to do with forming ourselves to not be dependent on material things and preserving things for others

    Well, what you said after the but is actually in union with what you said before it; by working to preserve things for others is to preserve Mother Earth, so she can nourish us in the future.

  • Congratulations Michael!

  • Congratulations, Michael.

  • Thanks everyone! I appreciate it!

    I don’t want the thread to entirely devolve into giving me congratulations; did anyone have any thoughts about the pope’s words?

  • HK:

    I disagree. I think “saving Mother Earth” suggests that the Earth is some end in itself (which is how the pagans view “Mother Earth;” see Avatar) whereas the popes see protecting the environment as means to promoting virtue and glorifying God. That’s an important distinction, as I think the idea of virtue is sorely lacking in the environmental approach today, which is more of a corporate sales pitch then a true desire to sacrifice ones desires for the good of others.

  • Michael Denton

    I am not surprised you disagree — but it is not because of a Christian sentiment, but through a post-Christian positivistic demythologized cultural criticism that you offer what you just said. Christendom knows Mother Earth. Positivism does not.

    Now, a few comments.

    The Church teaches about the salvation of the world, that God so loved the world that he gave his only begotten son for it. The world groaned for salvation. You would do well to stop promoting a Gnostic rejection of the world (it is a heresy) and to study Church teaching on the salvation of the earth.

    And this then goes to your “suggests that the Earth is some end in itself.” Well, what if it does? It is an end in itself in the same way as the salvation of the body means the body is an end in itself. In the same way. Which is again how your argument reads very Gnostic.

    Now, your claim about pagans — I will say, which pagans are you talking about? What exactly did the pagans say, what did they do? And what is it about what they did which is against Church teaching?

    It’s funny and sad to see how your response reads just like a Protestant speaking against the saints. They talk about how Catholics make the saints ends in themselves, and how they are just like the pagan gods and goddesses.

    Of course there are many problems with this argument. One: even if they are similar, so what? As C.S. Lewis pointed out, the pagan desires are manifested and fulfilled in Christianity, and so we should expect the similarities. Second, learn the difference between relative and absolute, because this will deal well with your “ends” argument and is related to worship of the saints, where there is absolute and relative worship, absolute to God, relative to the saints. Just as wit this worship, “There is here no confusion or danger of idolatry, for this worship is subordinate or dependent,” so there is no idolatry of the earth when we recognize Mother Earth’s good and salvation, its good, as all goods (including our own salvation) is subordinate and dependent upon the Good.

  • Michael- I just gave my class a Catholic Earth Day lecture- in essence I compared the 7 themes of Catholic social teaching to receiving 7 gifts at Christmas from your parents- the first gift is the biggest/most expensive and personally desired and you lavish thanks on your parents and you treat that gift so well and tenderly- this is like the first theme of pro-life respecting the life and dignity of all human persons. Now by the time you get to the 7th gift and you open it and it isn’t something nearly as exciting as the first and you decide to not even thank your parents, you may even just leave it without a thought- it isn’t all that expensive you think- so who cares? Now this gift to me is like the Care for God’s Creation- the birds, the trees, the waterways, the air- all of it is not even close to being as precious to me as the gift of any one of my children- but still.. this gift matters- it cost something- it comes from Someone who loves us- it is part of what is intended for us- how can I not show gratitude for the littlest of gifts- and I drew out another comparison-

    I told my class that you could offer me a trillion trillion dollars and I wouldn’t take it if the cost was giving one of my children away for some stranger to just take off with- in fact I wouldn’t take the money even if all someone wanted to do was punch one of my kids in the face. That’s love- God’s love flowing through me- but my kids also go outside they breathe the air, they play in the ocean, they eat food from the soil and eat animals from slaughter houses- do you think that I am so dense that I don’t have a lot of thoughts about what they are taking in via the Environment? You better believe I do- I don’t blow off environmental concerns- I don’t necessarily buy into every article of environmentalist alarmism, but I am very interested, I don’t blow these things off with flippant remarks- I am a pro-life, pro-environment Catholic- I cannot see how one cannot be even if the larger movements for such issues do not always pass the smell test for me- I am not swayed from involvement because of that.

  • I don’t think the Pope’s quote quite takes the same direction as the USCCB’s seven pillars approach. I think he sees them as interrelated as are the virtues. If one is lacking others are weakend. Though, as there is a hierarchy in the virtues, perhaps we can say there is one in CST. The environment is to be care for but it seems the Pope places an emphasis (appropriately from my perspective) that if repect for the fundamental right to life (being born, not being euthanized) and freedom from a contraceptive mentality are not established, then a true environmentalism will never occur.

  • I am not surprised you disagree — but it is not because of a Christian sentiment, but through a post-Christian positivistic demythologized cultural criticism that you offer what you just said. Christendom knows Mother Earth. Positivism does not.

    “post-Christian positivistic demythologized cultural criticism.”

    Yep. You’re a professor to have written that.

    Seriously, this comment is nothing but a bunch of labels thrown at me. I am, let’s see…post-Christian, a positivist, Gnostic, and Protestant. I would respond to each of those accusations, and may do so if I have time, but for now I’ll simply let that you think I am guilty of all of the above at the same time stand as enough of a rebuttal.

  • I believe in one God, the Father the Almighty…

  • Congratulations on the new life! I too believe that environmentalism matters, but we have to get our priorities straight – something I wrote back in March along the same lines: http://avoiceintothevoid.wordpress.com/2010/03/26/npr-doesnt-like-pro-abortion/

  • Susan,

    Good link.

    You wrote,

    ” The intellectual elites have become more and more pro-abortion, even while the mainstream public has become more pro-life. ”

    Don’t you see? The elites know better than we do, with our “angry populism” and irrationalism. They can string together long phrases comprised of esoteric terms to belittle us with. We ought to recognize that they know more than we do and defer to their benevolent wisdom in the ordering social affairs.

    They only care about our saaaafety and the common goooood. And we’re just so gosh darn mean to them!

  • Perhaps my take on it is that the key thread that holds together the entire “Seamless Garment” is the right for the innocent not to be directly killed (abortion, stem cell research, euthanasia.)

  • hey can u make with earth day

Tennessee: No To Abortion Under ObamaCare

Thursday, April 22, AD 2010

Tennessee is the first state to declare that any health care plan exchanges set up by ObamaCare may not offer abortion coverage:

“No health care plan required to be established in this state through an exchange pursuant to federal health care reform legislation enacted by the 111th Congress shall offer coverage for abortion services.”

The legislation passed by impressive margins:  70 to 23 in the House and 27-3 in the Senate.

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12 Responses to Tennessee: No To Abortion Under ObamaCare

  • Csongratulations from a Tennesseee resident and Catholic. This is stronger action than the majority of our churches where the death penalty is the cause du jour of the church.

  • “Fight the pro-abortion provisions in Obamacare?”

    Are you mad?? This opt-out was a basic provision in the healthcare bill that passed; that, and the fact that every exchange must offer a pro-life option, and that every plan than includes abortion must insist on a separate payment covering the gross cost of such provision. This is far far stronger that the pathetic “pro-life” provisions that the NRLC signed off on during the Bush years on the issue of Medicare Advantage (where the government subsidized private insurance companies to provide healthcare under the Medicare program, with no protections against those funds going to abortion).

    When, I wonder, will pro-life groups start fighting the real scandal here, the cozy relationship between private insurance and abortion? Remember, the people on the exchanges will have far more pro-life options than those of us in employer-based insurance. Is this not a concern? After all, there is no moral difference between paying into a plan that covers abortion using private premia or taxes.

  • Are you mad?

    Very much so. I tend to think federal funding of abortion is something worth getting upset about.

    After all, there is no moral difference between paying into a plan that covers abortion using private premia or taxes.

    Great. Since you’ve agreed that paying for abortion is bad, whether from insurance or federal funding, you’ve agreed that Obamacare is bad and we should work to defeat it, just as you want us to work to defeat pro-abortion insurance.

  • Darkness’s Minion seeks to cover for pro-death Obama again.

  • Morning’s Minion’s basic point is quite right. I, however, do not share the same conclusions necessarily. The Senate bill (and thus the final bill that passed since it was unamended) had explicit provisions to allow states to bar insurance companies from selling policies with abortion coverage in the exchanges—in effect, what the Stupak-Pitts Amendment would have done at a national level, the Senate bill authorized at the state level. This wonderful act by the Tennessee legislature is not a novel in-your-face slap to the federal government. The legislature is taking advantage of a specific provision of the new health care law. A number of states will do this and should do so. Missouri is soon to follow Tennessee as it has already passed legislation out of committee in the state legislature doing the same thing.

    I work for a pro-life organization in Texas and I know that this is at the top of our lobbying agenda for the Texas legislative session.

    Morning’s Minion other point is also quite correct. The pro-life movement has really dropped the ball on dealing with the abortion moneymaking juggernaut in the private industry. In the legislative language passed by Missouri, it reads:

    Under current law, health insurance policies are barred from providing coverage for elective abortions except through optional riders. This act extends this prohibition to health insurance policies offered through any health insurance exchange established in this state or any federal health insurance exchange administered within this state. In addition, no health insurance exchange operating within this state may offer coverage for elective abortions through the purchase of an optional rider.

    It just so happens that Missouri and Tennessee have some of the most restrictive laws when it comes to abortion coverage. Missouri is one of five states that ban private insurance companies from offering abortion coverage in any comprehensive insurance policy. The “optional rider,” however, is virtually not on the market in the state. This is why many “pro-choice” advocates were diametrically opposed to the Stupak-Pitts Amendment. If there were a federal mandate that anyone receiving federal monies to purchase insurance could not buy comprehensive plans with abortion, then there is a huge market incentive to offer most, if not all, plans without abortion. Why would men, women passed childbearing age, families, and various other demographic cases purchase an insurance policy and pay extra to have abortion coverage? The fallback was that people that desired abortion coverage could purchase a supplemental rider with their own private funds. But it might turn out (like in Missouri) that riders are virtually not sold. This surely is not something for someone who is pro-life to be concerned about. This is reason for celebration.

    Nevertheless, it is certainly desirable that more than five states ban coverage of abortion in all comprehensive private insurance plans—unless our commitment to a market of maximum freedom overrides our pro-life ethic, which it should not. No one has the right to market a policy to reimburse a woman for the “choice” to kill her child.

  • “When, I wonder, will pro-life groups start fighting the real scandal here, the cozy relationship between private insurance and abortion?”

    Hey Tony, any time anyone wants to propose a ban on private insurance paying for abortion such legislation will have my immediate support. One little problem however: such legislation would doubtless be ruled unconstitutional under Roe and its progeny. The Supreme Court has made it clear that under the Federal constitution public funds need not be used to pay for abortions. Attempting to say that private funds may not be used to pay for a legal abortion would never pass constitutional muster. The solution of course is to overturn Roe, something made vastly harder by the pro-abort justices who are now being picked by the man you voted for.

  • Donald,

    Legal bans on private insurance offering abortion as a primary benefit in comprehensive plans has survived in five states. I believe we can make ground there. 🙂

  • I’m no lawyer, Donald (thank God!), but I don’t see how that follows. There is a supposed “right” to abortion, not a right to health insurance that covers abortion (the right to healthcare comes under Catholic social teaching, but sadly not from the American constitutional framework). States regulate what private insurance companies can and can’t do all the time – I see no reason why they cannot be prohibited from covering abortion.

    And remember, the part of Obamacare that you are praising in this post (for that is exactly what you are doing!) pertains to all plans on the exchange, even those available to people without subsidies. In other words, it effectively says that even private funds cannot pay for abortions if this provision is invoked by the states. This completely breaks new ground. And nobody to my knowledge has suggested that it is unconstitutional.

  • Could they have written the ban for private insurance paying for abortion into the federal legislation? Kind of like a Civil Rights Bill for the unborn. If they could have, why didn’t they? Why do states need to opt out at all?

  • Well Tony in the case of states banning private insurance I hope my legal analysis is incorrect, but I believe that the Supreme Court would find that a ban on private insurance paying for abortions is an undue restriction on the constitutional right of a woman to have an abortion. As in most cases in this area Kennedy would be the deciding vote. I do encourage states to pass such legistation however and put the issue to a test.

  • Don,

    As has been mentioned, given that 5 states have long had such laws on the books, it seems these laws would stand.

    I think the RTL movement would be well advised to take up the cause of restricting the facilitation of abortion by private industry, something they have generally been rather quiet about.

2763rd Anniversary of the Fovnding of Rome

Wednesday, April 21, AD 2010

Happy Birthday Rome!

Today, 2763 A.U.C., Rome was founded by Romulus and Remus.*

According to legend, Rome was founded on April 21, 753 B.C. by twin brothers descended from the Trojan prince Aeneas.  Romulus and Remus were the grandsons of the Latin King, Numitor of Alba Longa. The King was ejected from his throne by his cruel brother Amulius while Numitor’s daughter, Rhea Silvia, gave birth.  Rhea Silvia was a Vestal Virgin who was spoliated by the pagan god Mars, making the twins half-divine.

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6 Responses to 2763rd Anniversary of the Fovnding of Rome

  • “XXVI

    But the Consul’s brow was sad,
    And the Consul’s speech was low,
    And darkly looked he at the wall,
    And darkly at the foe.
    “Their van will be upon us
    Before the bridge goes down;
    And if they once may win the bridge,
    What hope to save the town?”

    XXVII

    Then out spake brave Horatius,
    The Captain of the Gate:
    “To every man upon this earth
    Death cometh soon or late.
    And how can man die better
    Than facing fearful odds,
    For the ashes of his fathers,
    And the temples of his gods,

    XXVIII

    “And for the tender mother
    Who dandled him to rest,
    And for the wife who nurses
    His baby at her breast,
    And for the holy maidens
    Who feed the eternal flame,
    To save them from false Sextus
    That wrought the deed of shame?

    XXIX

    “Haul down the bridge, Sir Consul,
    With all the speed ye may;
    I, with two more to help me,
    Will hold the foe in play.
    In yon strait path a thousand
    May well be stopped by three.
    Now who will stand on either hand,
    And keep the bridge with me?”

    XXX

    Then out spake Spurius Lartius;
    A Ramnian proud was he:
    “Lo, I will stand at thy right hand,
    And keep the bridge with thee.”
    And out spake strong Herminius;
    Of Titian blood was he:
    “I will abide on thy left side,
    And keep the bridge with thee.”

    XXXI

    “Horatius,” quoth the Consul,
    “As thou sayest, so let it be.”
    And straight against that great array
    Forth went the dauntless Three.
    For Romans in Rome’s quarrel
    Spared neither land nor gold,
    Nor son nor wife, nor limb nor life,
    In the brave days of old.

    XXXII

    Then none was for a party;
    Then all were for the state;
    Then the great man helped the poor,
    And the poor man loved the great:
    Then lands were fairly portioned;
    Then spoils were fairly sold:
    The Romans were like brothers
    In the brave days of old.

    XXXIII

    Now Roman is to Roman
    More hateful than a foe,
    And the Tribunes beard the high,
    And the Fathers grind the low.
    As we wax hot in faction,
    In battle we wax cold:
    Wherefore men fight not as they fought
    In the brave days of old.”

    It is always a good day when I have an excuse to post a section of The Lays of the Ancient Romans!

  • I’m glad it was in English and not Latin.

  • Good thing the Romans spoke English! 🙂

  • Phillip,

    And ‘Merican English at that! 😉

  • “And ‘Merican English at that!”

    Lord Macaulay Tito would be appalled by that statement!

  • I need to learn to read poetry so I can better use my satirical skills.

    🙂

Ash over Europe, Wilting Flowers and Produce in Kenya

Wednesday, April 21, AD 2010


Economics may be the “dismal science”, but I find this kind of story about the interconnectedness of the world endlessly fascinating. With flights restricted throughout the UK and Northern Europe because of the volcanic eruption, vegetable and flower growers in Kenya find themselves with mountains of produce with no market.

If farmers in Africa’s Great Rift Valley ever doubted that they were intricately tied into the global economy, they know now that they are. Because of a volcanic eruption more than 5,000 miles away, Kenyan horticulture, which as the top foreign exchange earner is a critical piece of the national economy, is losing $3 million a day and shedding jobs.

The pickers are not picking. The washers are not washing. Temporary workers have been told to go home because refrigerated warehouses at the airport are stuffed with ripening fruit, vegetables and flowers, and there is no room for more until planes can take away the produce. Already, millions of roses, lilies and carnations have wilted.

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5 Responses to Hakuna Matata Heresy- So Tempting

  • “ the Heavenly Feast is worth the sacrifices, worth the wait- just persevere, seek righteousness, be compassionate, and desire personal holiness which comes from God and God alone.”

    It’s so appropriate you should post this today. It speaks to my heart. As I read through Joe’s posting of movies below, I thought back to a movie I saw a long time ago entitled “King Rat”, based on James Clavell’s novel about a Japanese POW camp in 1945. I don’t have the time to do this posting justice, but woven into the fabric of the movie were moral questions about honor, duty, love, compassion, greed, envy, etc., each virtue or non-virtue integrated in varying degrees in each individual man from different cultures – American, British, Australian, and Japanese, and the degree to which each would compromise his particular moral code, or lack thereof, in order to survive. One poignant line that I will never forget was spoken by a dying 22-year-old, from starvation or fever, probably a combination of both — this is not verbatim — “I came from dust and will return to dust with just 22 years in between.” If that was spoken by a Christian, there is much hope and meaning, for our Lord is merciful and forgiving and is the resurrection and the life. If spoken by one without any particular belief in Our Lord Jesus, it causes me to be almost to the point of despair for his soul.

    “In the sweat of thy face shalt thou eat bread, till thou return unto the ground; for out of it wast thou taken: for dust thou art, and unto dust shalt thou return.”

  • This was incredibly insightful and made some striking points (and analogies) synthesizing a cultural problem very well as well as putting it into proper Christian perspective. Thanks Tim.

  • Hakuna Matata speaks to an autonomy of the moral order

    Scar is heteronomous.

    The circle of life is participatory theonomy.

    From Veritatis Splendor.

    40. The teaching of the Council emphasizes, on the one hand, the role of human reason in discovering and applying the moral law: the moral life calls for that creativity and originality typical of the person, the source and cause of his own deliberate acts. On the other hand, reason draws its own truth and authority from the eternal law, which is none other than divine wisdom itself.69 At the heart of the moral life we thus find the principle of a “rightful autonomy”70 of man, the personal subject of his actions. The moral law has its origin in God and always finds its source in him: at the same time, by virtue of natural reason, which derives from divine wisdom, it is a properly human law. Indeed, as we have seen, the natural law “is nothing other than the light of understanding infused in us by God, whereby we understand what must be done and what must be avoided. God gave this light and this law to man at creation”.71 The rightful autonomy of the practical reason means that man possesses in himself his own law, received from the Creator. Nevertheless, the autonomy of reason cannot mean that reason itself creates values and moral norms.72 Were this autonomy to imply a denial of the participation of the practical reason in the wisdom of the divine Creator and Lawgiver, or were it to suggest a freedom which creates moral norms, on the basis of historical contingencies or the diversity of societies and cultures, this sort of alleged autonomy would contradict the Church’s teaching on the truth about man.73 It would be the death of true freedom: “But of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil you shall not eat, for in the day that you eat of it you shall die” (Gen 2:17).

    41. Man’s genuine moral autonomy in no way means the rejection but rather the acceptance of the moral law, of God’s command: “The Lord God gave this command to the man…” (Gen 2:16). Human freedom and God’s law meet and are called to intersect, in the sense of man’s free obedience to God and of God’s completely gratuitous benevolence towards man. Hence obedience to God is not, as some would believe, a heteronomy, as if the moral life were subject to the will of something all-powerful, absolute, ex- traneous to man and intolerant of his freedom. If in fact a heteronomy of morality were to mean a denial of man’s self-determination or the imposition of norms unrelated to his good, this would be in contradiction to the Revelation of the Covenant and of the redemptive Incarnation. Such a heteronomy would be nothing but a form of alienation, contrary to divine wisdom and to the dignity of the human person.

    Others speak, and rightly so, of theonomy, or participated theonomy, since man’s free obedience to God’s law effectively implies that human reason and human will participate in God’s wisdom and providence. By forbidding man to “eat of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil”, God makes it clear that man does not originally possess such “knowledge” as something properly his own, but only participates in it by the light of natural reason and of Divine Revelation, which manifest to him the requirements and the promptings of eternal wisdom. Law must therefore be considered an expression of divine wisdom: by submitting to the law, freedom submits to the truth of creation. Consequently one must acknowledge in the freedom of the human person the image and the nearness of God, who is present in all (cf. Eph 4:6). But one must likewise acknowledge the majesty of the God of the universe and revere the holiness of the law of God, who is infinitely transcendent: Deus semper maior.

  • I have always thought that Hakuna Matata was an excuse for kicking back, taking it easy and doing nothing. As such, I suspect it is the most widely followed philosophy ever devised by fallen Man!

  • In philosophical terms, I’d label it hedonism, a type of materialism that sees the experience of pleasure and the avoidance of pain as the only true goods. It always reminds me of the tv character Frasier. All of his grand intellect and learning were solely focused on his personal enjoyment.

Infomercial as News

Wednesday, April 21, AD 2010

From the only reliable source of news on the net, the Onion.  This is truly back to the future for the Onion.  As this Mike Wallace commercial from 1957 indicates, it used to be common for reporters to shill for advertisers.

Of course modern members of the lamestream press would be indignant to stoop to doing commercials!   It would take too much time away from the political agendas and politicians they are shilling for!

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