Lila Rose Revisited

Some time ago I wrote a post expressing some of my reservations about the activities of Lila Rose and her organization, Live Action. In light of their most recent undercover sting operation, it is a good time to revisit some of the objections and debates that came up earlier.  Initially I believed that Live Action’s activities were morally questionable in some cases, and definitely wrong in others.

I have to say that I stand by this assessment today, for several reasons I will state below.

First I want to make clear that I am 100% pro-life; I make no exceptions for rape, incest, or “to save the life of the mother”, for it is never permissible to kill an innocent human being to save another human being. At the legislative level I would like to see Roe v. Wade overturned, in which case many pre-Roe abortion bans would immediately regain their full force in many states.

Moreover, I think the extent of my opposition to abortion can be explain in the following way: I would actually have less of a problem with the destruction of Planned Parenthood’s property, crippling their evil work indefinitely, than I do with the deceptive campaign of Live Action. The right to life trumps the right to property, after all, and someone who uses their property, their advanced equipment and facilities, to commit mass murder has lost their absolute right to it as far as I am concerned. I wouldn’t consider sabotaging the machines and implements of death, or otherwise rendering the abortion mill inoperative, to be the least bit immoral.

I also fully support using the most graphic, bloody images we can find of abortion and its aftermath, and I do so precisely because these images reveal the truth of abortion, and contrary to what some detractors claim, serve to humanize the unborn in a way that language cannot.

I say these things up front because some may believe that those who hold reservations about Live Action’s methods are weak-kneed in the fight against abortion. This is far from the case. I support many measures that most “respectable” (i.e. cowardly) people would find unacceptable. I don’t care if people want to chain themselves to the doors of abortion clinics, as activists used to sometimes do. I don’t oppose any number of efforts to harass and disrupt Planned Parenthood.

But in my estimation, premeditated, pre-orchestrated campaigns of deception are the weapons of Satan. My conscience has never been “right” with the methods of Live Action. I do not believe that the ends justify the means, even though I am in frequent conflict with people over the moral status of certain “means” (some will disagree with my acceptance of property destruction and showing violent images on these grounds). I could quote Catechisms, saints, theologians and the like, but I don’t find it necessary. When we sin against the truth, we sin against God in a most egregious way.

In this particular case, there are many reasons to find Live Action’s methods not only immoral, but unwise:

In the first place, you lower yourself to the level of the person you are trying to expose. One of the PP workers in the videos counsels deception herself, telling the “pimp” that he should call his sex-slaves “students” in order to avoid suspicion. Even more importantly, we should keep in mind that the pro-abortion movement is based entirely upon lies! Is this who we want to emulate? Radical feminists and communists deliberately falsified many statistics in order to convince people that abortion was a social necessity. We cannot follow them down this road.

In the second place, PP can always claim that this was the personal decision of a low-level employee, and not official policy; there is plausible deniability.

Which leads me to point three: could this not give the impression that if PP were to somehow reform or update its official policies, that it would then be a respectable institution? Sex-slavery is a horrible blight on the planet, but is the main problem with PP really that it covers up the crimes of pimps? Of course not. On one level you might say that if the people can’t be convinced that child murder in general is wrong and should be illegal, you can at least try to show them how PP violates laws and moral rules that they actually value. But what if PP could be brought into full conformity with all the laws? Would we then sit back and call this a “victory”? Because realistically that is what PP will be asked to do before it is ever shut down. Then what?

Frankly I don’t care that Planned Parenthood breaks the law. It is perfectly in conformity with the law when it murders millions of babies. Furthermore it is almost impossible to see how a single life will be saved by this activity, or how it will even really slow down PP’s child-killing operations. So a receptionist or even a manager gets fired. So people see that PP breaks the law. Why would that ever change someone’s mind about abortion? What if it just convinces the abortionists and their supporters that they need a better act? What if people on the fence accepted this act?

There’s no necessary connection between abortion and sex-slavery or any other crime. One can be pro-abortion and anti-pimp, and I imagine the vast majority of pro-abortion feminists actually are. So these campaigns, in addition to being based upon deceptions, have the effect of actually shifting the focus away from the immorality, the absolute evil of abortion, and placing it somewhere else.

Schemes of this sort are always a gamble, they always have unintended consequences. That is among the many reasons why we ought not resort to them. And really, in the end, if the ends justify the means, then we should be assassinating abortionists, not lying to their secretaries. But the ends don’t justify the means, vengeance belongs to the Lord, and we must have faith that we will prevail in truth before we resort to what appears to be a quick and easy way in falsehood. It isn’t actually our job to save the world from Planned Parenthood; it is our job to be faithful to Christ, to obey His law, to trust in His final victory and judgment.

92 Responses to Lila Rose Revisited

  • Steve says:

    For what it’s worth, your initial post got me thinking on this, and when the new videos came out last week I decided definitively that I’m in your camp.

    (Now if only you’d support measures that would extend full legal protections to the pre-born from their moment of conception…)

  • Aaron B. says:

    The deception doesn’t bother me that much, but you made a great point with, “Frankly I don’t care that Planned Parenthood breaks the law.” If we tell everyone the problem is that PP breaks the law, then where are we left if they clean up their act and stop breaking laws — as you say, become respectable in mainstream terms? The average American is going to say, “Hey, they did what you wanted; what’s the problem now?” (Whether the type of people who promote abortion could ever do that is an open question, but they could at least get better at covering up the lawlessness.)

    To take the other side for a moment, I think the hope behind these efforts is that they will show those ordinary Americans — the ones who aren’t really fond of abortion and would be glad to see some limits on it, but who don’t want to be seen as extremists or have that option closed off entirely if their 13-year-old daughter gets pregnant — that PP isn’t just another specialized medical clinic like a chain of dentists or podiatrists. It’s a rapacious, lawless organization that doesn’t go by the same rules as everyone else (and doesn’t have to; the Obama administration apparently told the CDC to stop compiling statistics on them, like they do on everything else). Most Americans don’t have any idea about that, and I think the hope is that if they see PP for what it really is, they’ll push their representatives to shut it down, or at least reduce funding for it.

    It’s possible that could happen, but it’s probably not a real solution, for the aforementioned reasons: if you show people that PP doesn’t follow the rules, they’re more likely to want to reform PP or replace it with a “better” abortionist company, rather than turn against abortion itself.

  • Abortion alone will not get PP defunded. This group decided to use a little deception to figure out what else was really happening in those facilities. They did the same police do when they send undercover agents or set up sting operations with cops pretending to be drug dealers. I really don’t see the issue. After all, the group is not lying about the harms of abortion (like some do); instead they are exposing the true disposition of PP workers to support underage sexual activity, even illegal activity, which further justifies the movement to defund them.

  • Joe Hargrave says:

    Steve,

    What are you talking about exactly? What measures do you think I should support? Do you mean the Personhood initiatives I criticized? Because that is mostly a prudential consideration, one shared by others in the pro-life movement I might add.

    Unless you had something else in mind?

  • Blackadder says:

    Joe makes two independent arguments against the Live Action videos: (1) the videos were produced via immoral means because they involved deception, and (2) attacking Planned Parenthood for aiding sex trafficking might backfire, because if we make it sound like the problem with Planned Parenthood is that it is aiding sex trafficking then they can just stop aiding sex trafficking. The arguments are independent of each other in that one might accept either of them without accepting the other.

    Let’s take the deception argument first. Even if everything Joe says here is true, I don’t see that it changes how we should react to the release of the videos. Suppose, for example, that a peeping tom peers through a women’s window trying to get a look at her undressing, but instead sees that someone else has broken into her house and is about to assault her. What the guy did was wrong (you shouldn’t be a peeping tom), but, having seen that the woman is about to be assaulted, it doesn’t follow that he shouldn’t call the police or that the police shouldn’t respond to the report.

    As for the backfire argument, I just don’t find it very plausible. Take ACORN as a parallel case. Clearly the folks that made the ACORN videos disliked ACORN for reasons that had nothing to do with sex trafficking, and if ACORN had responded to the videos by saying that they would clean up their act, conservatives still wouldn’t like them. Okay, fine. There’s nothing logically or morally inconsistent about opposing a group for more than one reason. If the videos end up not doing any serious damage to Planned Parenthood’s reputation, then you haven’t actually made things worse off, they are just the same as before. On the other hand, it’s possible that (as with the ACORN videos) the fact that Planned Parenthood is willing to aid in sex trafficking might lead more people to think that maybe the organization shouldn’t be receiving a third of its budget from the taxpayers.

    The Live Action videos are kind of analogous to bringing up the racist and pro-eugenics views of Margaret Sanger. It’s true that even if Planned Parenthood had always been 100% committed to full racial equality, it wouldn’t change the fact that it is a horrible organization. But if pointing out the (true) connections the organization’s founder had to eugenics and racism makes people oppose it who might otherwise be pro-PP or on the fence about PP, then I don’t see anything wrong with doing that.

  • Mrs. Zummo says:

    I think the videos show a very real truth about abortion and it’s practitioners. Those that do not value the lowliest lives eventually come to value other lives less and less. First it’s the unborn, then the disabled, then children, then as Rose shows underage sex slaves. Evil grows. I don’t think what she did is wrong. I also don’t think a spy is wrong for sabotaging an unjust enemy for a noble cause.

  • Joe Hargrave says:

    BA,

    ” What the guy did was wrong (you shouldn’t be a peeping tom), but, having seen that the woman is about to be assaulted, it doesn’t follow that he shouldn’t call the police or that the police shouldn’t respond to the report.”

    Did anyone remotely imply such a thing? Or is it just the workings of your lawyer imagination?

    The problem arises when you begin rationalizing voyeurism with noble speeches about protecting your neighbors from possible crimes. Yes, “what the guy did was wrong”, but sometimes that bears saying when many want desperately for it to be right.

    “As for the backfire argument, I just don’t find it very plausible.”

    And yet you never actually explain why.

    “it’s possible that (as with the ACORN videos) the fact that Planned Parenthood is willing to aid in sex trafficking might lead more people to think that maybe the organization shouldn’t be receiving a third of its budget from the taxpayers.”

    It may. I won’t deny it. ACORN went down in flames. I think Planned Parenthood is a little more durable than ACORN was.

    But it may also backfire. And I don’t think it will contribute significantly to turning public opinion against the legality of abortion. As I said, it may just end up causing people to demand better abortion regulation or policies.

    At the end of the day, I’m not “anti Planned Parenthood” – I’m anti-abortion.
    No, it isn’t inconsistent to dislike an organization for two different reasons. (I’m so glad you pointed that out though!)

    The point is that when you introduce other reasons, you take the focus off of the original reason. You create a situation in which it becomes possible that if the new problem you’ve introduced is resolved, the old problem may not be a problem anymore. The shift in moral focus really bothers me, and I think most people can easily have their eye taken off the main problem of abortion and come to the thought, “if they’d only make this process safer and staff better people…”

  • G-Veg says:

    The use of deception by enforcement authorities is probably a fair parallel. I don’t see a fundamental difference from an ethical or moral perspective between lying to a suspect in order to elicit information and lying the ACORN or PP employees for the same purpose. (Please note that there are serious legal differences that should be considered before a private citizen undertakes their own undercover work.)

    I wonder then whether the principles Joe Hargrave lays out in the post, even if required of Christians, apply to law enforcement and, if they do not, are they, strictly speaking, “true?”

    Taking the facts of this case, exactly as they are, and applying them to a police action during a criminal investigation, (there are a host of legal and practical problems from a law enforcement perspective here that I am sidestepping) would it be ethical and moral to have lied as these folks did? If not, when does it become OK?

    I would suggest that, as the magnitude of the crime increases, all of us have a point at which we consider it morally or ethically “right” to lie… Right?

  • Joe Hargrave says:

    It also really just tickles me that you say things like this:

    “But if pointing out the (true) connections the organization’s founder had to eugenics and racism makes people oppose it who might otherwise be pro-PP or on the fence about PP, then I don’t see anything wrong with doing that.”

    As if they’re contrary to something I’ve said. If you point out something that is true, then obviously nothing wrong was done. I mean, do you really think I was implying something contrary to this?

    I’m afraid you missed the whole point and conflated the two issues you initially said were separate. It’s immoral to engage in a deception campaign; not to use the true history of an organization’s founder as an argument against the organization (though anyone who cares the least bit about logical fallacies will want a better argument – fortunately for people who specialize in such arguments, that excludes almost everyone).

    For the record, I’m opposed to most sting/entrapment operations, and I don’t care who carries them out. I can’t stand “Perverted Justice” and Chris Hansen’s sting operations catching pedophiles.

  • RR says:

    BA also makes excellent points. I think most of us know that willingness to aid sex trafficking doesn’t attack the problem of abortion, but it tarnishes PP’s reputation which is a good thing. It’s playing dirty. I won’t condone it. But I don’t doubt that it’s achieving some good.

  • Foxfier says:

    Part of Planned Parenthood’s tactics involve claiming they are defenders of girls in difficult situations, great friends of women.

    These videos expose that lie, and might get people to start thinking.

    I already know one person who has gone from a reluctant supporter of abortion to thinking it’s bad because the Gosnell case made her start wondering, and willing to listen to other facts. She’s shaping up to be a bit of a crusader, even.

    Killing babies is the biggest evil Planned Parenthood does, but the lies they tell to get women in there aren’t far behind. These videos fight those lies, showing that it’s not about the girls at all.

  • Dennis Larkin says:

    These tactics in your original post rank somwehere in my fifth or sixth ten thousand things to object to. If you think of them as actors, and look aat this as theater, then you may see more value in it. For what is theater if not someone pretending to be another. Johnson said that acting is mere mimicry.

  • G-Veg says:

    Forgive me if I am making your position more unwavering that you intended. It sounds like you are saying that lying is always ethically and morally wrong. If this is what you are saying, I am intensely interested in how you reconcile that position with 1) reguler “white lies” told to save feelings and interact on sensitive subjects and 2) the seeming necessity to lie in conducting lawful investigations.

  • Blackadder says:

    Joe,

    The analogy of Margaret Sanger’s racism was directed to the backfire argument, not the argument about deception. As with the videos, one could argue that “when you introduce other reasons [to oppose PP], you take the focus off of the original reason.”

    Why do I find the backfire argument implausible? For one thing, in the most analogous case (the ACORN videos) not only did the videos not backfire, but they led to the defunding and ultimate destruction of the organization in question. Maybe that won’t happen in this case (I don’t think the videos will led to PP going out of business, but it could well serve as a spur to getting them defunded). However, it’s hard to see how having it revealed that your employees are willing to aid in sex trafficking would actually *improve* PP’s reputation. As you yourself note, “[o]ne can be pro-abortion and anti-pimp, and I imagine the vast majority of pro-abortion feminists actually are.” That means that if you can show PP to be pro-pimp, you have an opportunity to turn many supporters of the organization into opponents. If PP then “cleans up its act” perhaps most of these folks will go back to being PP supporters. But since those people were supporters to begin with, the fact that they end up reverting to their original views doesn’t mean that the videos have backfired. There aren’t fewer anti-PP folks than there were at the beginning.

  • Baron Korf says:

    I disagree on all three counts.

    I do not see these videos as immoral or deceitful on the part of Live Action. You rightly say that the ends do not justify the means; however it is more appropriate to say the circumstances justify the means. Just as shooting someone is immoral, but allowed in war if they an aggressor. So here we have a LA posing a hypothetical situation, which PP believes to be true, that garnered an honest response from PP. And here is the significant difference between LA and PP that you missed: It was not LA’s actors that did the damage, but the truth said by the PP employee. The video itself is not a lie, but the honest reaction of PP employees to human trafficking.

    If this were an isolated incidence, your second point might be valid, but more videos are being released that show a pattern.

    If this leads to oversight that forces PP to clean up its act and go back to only killing the legal targets, it would still be a win. This would give parental notification, ultrasound, anti-coercion, and other laws the teeth they need to be effective. It would force the battle further into the light and onto our turf.

    The abortion and contraception culture will only be defeated by a slow war of attrition where victory will only be realized when our society turns against it. By giving all the restrictions their teeth and forcing the consequences of our unrestricted sexual ethos back into the lives of individuals, these small laws will win us battles that will otherwise be lost before they begin.

  • LarryD says:

    They did the same police do when they send undercover agents or set up sting operations with cops pretending to be drug dealers. I really don’t see the issue.

    The police is a legitimate public authority charged with enforcing laws, while LiveAction is not. I think that’s a significant difference.

    Joe, for what it’s worth, I’m sorta almost leaning towards sliding off the fence of ambivalence into your camp. Still ping-ponging this in my head. I’m not questioning the motives of Lila Rose and LiveAction – just their methods.

  • Joe Hargrave says:

    G-Veg

    Those are certainly good objections to raise.

    I do think lying is almost always wrong. The exceptions might be the “white lies” when we do them without thinking, as a sort of automatic socially-programmed response. We are all trained to tell these little lies and it is a very difficult habit to break, and even harder to state the truth tactfully. If we do it without sufficient reflection, then I don’t think it is gravely sinful. If we do it with full knowledge that what we speak are blatant falsehoods, then it is. In other words, the same criteria that apply to any mortal sin: 1. Is it grave (yes, lying is always grave), 2. Did you give full consent, and 3. What were the consequences?

    It should be noted that the consequences, while important, are not AS important as the gravity of the matter or the state of mind you are in when you commit the deed. Some people act as if consequences don’t matter at all (certain Vox Nova types), others elevate consequences to the highest consideration (as many do when considering Live Action’s methods).

    As for the police, I think deliberately orchestrated campaigns of lies are flat out immoral. Can there be exceptions? I won’t say NO categorically. I haven’t given it all the thought or study it demands to say that there can never be deception in an investigation.

  • T. Shaw says:

    Only the dead have seen the end of abortion or PP: as long as some above opinions persist, and the majority of AmChurch is more concerned with socialism and hating rich people prevail.

    “At some point forebearance is no longer a virtue.” That paraphrases Edmund Burke, Mac.

    Various US, state and city governmental secret police operations spend hundreds of millions of your tax dollars to do this type sting/entrapment and they lock up tens of thousands in prisons.

    Case in point: Midget Mike Bloomberg is about to lay off each and every public school teacher hired in the prievious five years. Yet, he has enough money to stage a publicity stunt to fabricate evidence to support repealing the Second Amendment. He sent several NYPD detectives 2,500 miles to Tucson, AZ to buy handguns from a gun show dealer that did not need to check with the secret police. One detectives – no crimes in NYC that week – muttered, “I couldn’t pass a secret dossier check.” Of course thestate-run media by-line was more statistics to support gun control.

    And, of course, America is Satan . . .

  • Dennis Larkin says:

    Are we being more Catholic than the Pope? Was it not justified to lie to the SS Stormtrooper at the door that there are no Jews hiding inside? God bless the young twerps who take it upon themselves to expose Planned Parenthood, while their more regally inclined elders argue about purity of technique. If we can make trouble for Planned Parenthood by pulling their vehicles into a no-parking zone, so be it.

  • Baron Korf says:

    It is a deception, true. But like I said, there is the matter of context. Faking a hand-off to the running back, going ‘all in’ with a high card 7, ‘body-shaping’ undergarments, and unmarked police cars are all deceptions as well.

    The context here is an undercover investigation based off of past wrongs done by PP and the very real horror of human trafficking. The difference between them and a professional shopper sent by management to a store to appraise the customer service is merely the stakes involved.

  • Joe Hargrave says:

    Yes, I can’t deny that in any game or in war, you have to use some deceptions to fool the opponent or the enemy.

    But this isn’t a real war. If it were, it would be justifiable to kill abortionists.

    But I can concede that you have valid points. I’m not sure if they justify lying, but they seem reasonable to me.

  • Dennis Larkin says:

    Not to be a pest, I remember a story about the young Karol Wojtyla praying in the basement of what had been his seminary, alone, in the dark, when he saw SS boots pass in front of the basement window and approach the door. They were rounding up recruits for the military. There was a loud, persistent knock at the door. He did not answer. He decieved the Nazi with his silence. He misled the Nazi. I think you can say he lied. Thank God he did.

    Furthermore, our legal dithering since 1973 has failed to bring about the necessary legal protections for the unborn. It ain’t working fast enough. I don’t see the value of a methodical 134 year plan to overcome abortion in America.

    Peace.

  • G-Veg says:

    Which brings us back to the question of lying, both in this narrow context and, more broadly, as being inherently wrong. It is almost like we are giving a wink and a nod to the idea that lying is OK in the context of avoiding a greater harm and wrong when used to facilitate a harm. Under that principle, undercover operations are, in most cases, the “right kind of lying.” As applied here, concocting a cover-story to expose corruption – whether or a politician, a discriminatory employer, ACORN, or PP is “right” if it is 1) done with the right intention and 2) done to attack a greater injustice.

    I’m OK with this. I suspect that an awful lot of truly good results came from such lies. I’d bet that many runaway slaves escaped their return because Christians lied to save them. I’ve read of Nazi suspects saved in similar ways.

    Objectively then, lying is not always “wrong” and telling the truth is not always “right.” It is about context and, therefore, one of your two objections seems to have been answered.

  • Foxfier says:

    I believe it’s phrased as lying is always wrong, but when it comes to justice vs truth you have to go with justice.

    Like someone said, killing is wrong, but there are times when it’s less wrong than not doing it.

  • BC says:

    There is something called “mental reservation,” which means your words can have a different meaning than what you know your audience will understand them to mean – for instance, if you were in Nazi Germany, hiding Jews, and a Nazi came to your house and said, “Are there any Jews here?” Your reply is, “There are no Jews here.” By “here” the Nazi meant in your house. But your definition of “here” means literally right here. You don’t have to explain that to the Nazi, and you’re not lying, you’re using mental reservation. I’m not sure if Lila Rose and her associates can claim to be using mental reservation, I haven’t really thought about it. A lot of what they say to the PP workers seem to be subjective… “what if…” which isn’t exactly lying, it’s implying that the situation is that way. Outright lying is ALWAYS wrong according to the doctrine of the Catholic Faith.

    Another point I wanted to make is that exposing the law-breaking of the PP organization is not fruitless, and may do more good than chaining yourself to the door or destroying all their instruments, machines, etc. (both of which will land you in jail, and then what good can you do?). If we can shut down their clinics for breaking the law, fewer babies die, fewer women are scarred for life. If we can defund them they can’t do as much harm. It’s a starting point. I don’t like having to do things in steps when it should be wiped out completely in the first place, but I don’t know that there is an ethical way to completely stop PP in their tracks.
    Ideas, anyone?

  • Joe Hargrave says:

    BC,

    You can stretch the meaning of anything, to justify anything.

    Frankly, I never understood the Nazi scenario. Why would a Nazi even bother asking if there were Jews somewhere? If they suspected Jews were in your house, they would come in and search by force. If they didn’t, then they wouldn’t search and they wouldn’t ask.

    Nazi: We hear there are Jews in your house. Is this true?

    Regular German Guy: No. There are no Jews here.

    Nazi: Ok, our mistake. On to the next house!

    People who want to defend lying really need a better example.

    On the other points, I don’t think there will be any clinic shutdowns. It is possible that this expose could contribute to the defunding of PP. I think what I suggested is also possible too. It could lead to a tightening of the pro-abort ranks and various measures designed to placate the public and the politicians, and it may well succeed.

  • Foxfier says:

    It could lead to a tightening of the pro-abort ranks and various measures designed to placate the public and the politicians, and it may well succeed.

    At which point the next sting will happen, and show that they’re still nasty.

    Drip-drop, drip-drop. A few statutory rape videos here, a prior supporter and high-ranking member quitting because the reality of it hit her in the face, an especially obvious butcher being found out (and a long chain of victims slowly coming to light– including victims of forced abortion), a few videos of their staff giving instructions on how to run a child sex ring, some news on how most of their abortuaries are in minority neighborhoods.

    We may not be able to do anything big, but those little bits help.

    We can’t really hope to gently change folks’ minds when they are deeply emotionally committed to abortion– we have to try to help them realize they’ve been lied to, so the understand the betrayal.

    BTW, Joe, apparently they did ask “are there Jews here?”

    (On a side note, I gotta use ‘K Syndrome’ in a story some time….)

  • RL says:

    BC’s example is similar to a story about St Anthenasius. The story goes something like this. His enemies were looking to arrest him and were traveling in a boat on the river. St. Athenasius was along the shore when the men pulled up and asked if he had seen Athenasius. The good saint replied, “He’s right in front of you, row faster!” The men rapidly rowed away.

  • “Giorgio Perlasca was born on January 31, 1910, in Como, Italy. His family and he moved to Masera in Padova for his father’s work. He once supported fascism and nationalism before World War II, getting into intense arguments, one of which with a school professor about nationalism ideology that got him banned from school. Because of his strong adherence to his ideas, he did not try to go back to school; rather, he volunteered to fight in East Africa and Spain in an artillery regiment of the Spanish Civil War. He fought on the side of Francisco Franco, who was a general that fought against the Soviets and is most known for his victory in the Spanish Civil War.

    Upon Perlasca’s return to Italy, he found an alliance between Hitler and Mussolini. He supported fascism no longer after the war, because of his anger with the alliance, which he believed should not have happened. He did not approve of it because of the fight 20 years prior, and more importantly, he despised the racial laws passed in 1938 that were sanctioning discrimination against Jews. He claimed that “I was neither a fascist nor an anti-fascist, I was anti-Nazi.”

    Perlasca was named an official representative of the government in 1943, being an official delegate with diplomat status in Budapest. He was sent to Eastern European countries as an emissary of purchasing meat for the Italian army. He was also sent to work for an importing firm in Budapest. When Eisenhower declared the official surrender of Italy to the Allies, Perlasca refused to follow the Italian Socialist Republic. He was sent to a diplomat castle for imprisonment because his Italian background suggested a German threat. While locked in the castle, the government was taken over by Croci Frecciate and the Germans assumed power. From there, the Hungarian Nazis began violence, persecution, and deportation of the Jews. Perlasca used a medical pass that issued him in-Budapest travel to escape the castle and seek refuge in a Spanish Embassy before the Nazis transferred the diplomats to Germany. He was able to receive a Spanish citizenship because of a postcard he had from his help in the Spanish Civil War. It said “To Comrade Giorgio Perlasca, wherever you are, go to the Spanish authorities and they will help you.” He changed his name to Jorge Perlasca and began to help Angel Sanz Briz, who was the head of Budapest’s Spanish mission, in rescuing Budapest Jews. Sanz Briz collaborated with Swiss, Swedish, and Portuguese diplomat representatives to issue safe conduct passes to the Jews for protection. Perlasca was placed in charge of the safe houses, but when Sanz Briz fled after receiving Nazi government threats, Perlasca had to step up. When the Nazis tried to take over the Spanish citizens’ homes where the Jews hid, Perlasca had to use deception to trick the Minister of Internal Affairs so they wouldn’t obtain the houses. He claimed that Sanz Briz had named him Spanish Ambassador, forging a document to make it official and confirming a representative appointment with Francisco Franco, who Perlasca had earlier fought by the side of in the Spanish Civil War.

    “At first, I didn’t know what to do, but then I began to feel like a fish in water. I continued giving protective passes to the Jews in ‘safe houses,’ flying the Spanish flag,”. Perlasca disapproved of the Nazi flags that flew everywhere; he never saw anything like it. The stars the Jews were forced to wear, and the signs outside shops and stores made an impression on him. He watched deportations and even saw the fascists murder an eight year old boy in the street because he was Jewish. Perlasca believed he had to do something because people were in danger, and when he saw the opportunity, he did it. Perlasca was afraid, but he said “opportunity makes the thief.” He worked with people like Raoul Wallenberg, Friedrich Born, and Angelo Rotta, in issuing safe passes. He once saw twins with a Spanish flag and took them in his Spanish diplomat car, soon finding out that they were wanted by the SS. He was threatened by pistols because he had the children, and when the SS man claimed that Perlasca was disturbing his work, Perlasca replied “You call this work?”

    Perlasca placed all Sephardic Jews under Spanish citizenship, and removed a large mass of Jews from death and concentration camp lists, while dodging the government and the Nazis. He allowed himself to protect, feed, and most importantly, save the Jews that hid from the Croci Frecciate raids. He visited the Spanish citizen houses personally every day to distribute fake passports. He also created a Spanish consul office in Budapest in 1944 to save would-be deported Jews. When he found that one million soldiers promised Hitler a massacre of 800,000 Budapest Jews, and that the ultra-Nazis were going to take the Jews from the International Ghetto, Perlasca’s protected houses, and place them into normal ghettos that would be set ablaze, Perlasca had to blackmail the Minister, claiming that if an agreement wasn’t settled, the Spanish government would sequestrate over 3,000 Hungarians’ property, when, in truth, only 100 Hungarians owned property in Spain. This saved 70,000 Jews only days before the Nazi surrender to the Soviets.

    Perlasca was held prisoner by the Soviet Army for several hours before being freed. He cleaned streets and returned to Italy after five months. He never told anyone about the feats he achieved, until the ‘80s, when Jewish women he saved found him. He only told small bits of his story at first. Perlasca talked to everyone as young as children, hoping that “no such madness is ever repeated.” He told people that if wrong was being done, to know that they’d be able to oppose to it.

    Perlasca had requested that he be buried in his hometown. He died on August 15, 1992 in Padua, Italy. His tombstone says “Righteous Among Nations” in Hebrew.”

    I am sure this “Con Man for God” reaped a rich reward in Heaven for his lies and deceptions to save lives.

  • Black Adder says:

    St. Augustine considers an example quite like the hiding Jews example in his On Lying. Given that he was writing not long after the persecution of Christians by the Roman Empire, it wasn’t merely a hypothetical either. Still, his conclusion is that you can’t lie even in that circumstance.

  • Zach says:

    Good stuff.

    Next time, we should talk about how it’s immoral to teach your children that Santa Claus brings them presents on Christmas!

    Then people will really think we’re crazy.

    IT’s hard to learn that the ends never justify the means.

  • Joe Hargrave says:

    Fox,

    “Next there was a lot of stomping and screaming in the stair well. “Sofort aufmachen” Open the door immediately! “Gibt es hier Juden?” Are there Jews here? As they entered the apartment the soldiers raced through the small rooms, opening closet doors along the way.”

    It’s like cops asking “where’d you hide the stash” or mobsters asking “where’d you hide my money” as they’re trashing your apartment. They’re going to find what they want whether you tell them or not. It’s a small point, but I wouldn’t mind seeing a better example of supposedly justified lying would be.

  • “2488 The right to the communication of the truth is not unconditional. Everyone must conform his life to the Gospel precept of fraternal love. This requires us in concrete situations to judge whether or not it is appropriate to reveal the truth to someone who asks for it.”

    I think this section of the Catechism would indicate that it is morally licit to hide the truth out of fraternal love. I must say that for myself I simply see no moral difficulty in lying to stop people from killing the innocent.

  • “I am sure this “Con Man for God” reaped a rich reward in Heaven for his lies and deceptions to save lives.”

    “I’m glad you’re sure. I’m not.”

    I have as little doubt on that point Joe, as I do in my belief that at the consecration the bread becomes the body of Christ and the wine becomes the blood of Christ. I think allowing those people to be killed would have been a hideous mortal sin and the lies to stop that monstrous crime were acts of pure Christian charity, and an incredibly brave manifestation of Christ’s admonition to love our neighbor as ourself.

  • Foxfier says:

    I just realized… we’re pretty unanimous in our agreement that there are times you basically have to kill someone, but we’re fighting about if it’s OK to lie?

    (Incidentally, Joe, you are the one that thought the Nazi thing was unrealistic. I simply showed that it was realistic, even if it didn’t play out like you parodied. Imagine, for a moment, what would happen if they found Jews when the person hadn’t turned them over when first asked. I think there was a movie recently that had a scene to dramatize a guy in France betraying the family he was sheltering?)

  • Jasper says:

    “Are we being more Catholic than the Pope? Was it not justified to lie to the SS Stormtrooper at the door that there are no Jews hiding inside? God bless the young twerps who take it upon themselves to expose Planned Parenthood, while their more regally inclined elders argue about purity of technique.”

    amen

  • A. Nonymous says:

    If I cannot deceive a wicked man to thwart his efforts to harm another innocent person, I cannot use potentially lethal force to physically defend an innocent person, should the situation arise. Then what good am I to anybody? How do you justify police? An army? If you do so by arbitrarily drawing a line between public and private morality, then you abolish morality. If you say any action whatsoever is properly the role of the state, then what about bad states with bad laws, to which nobody has any obligation to remain loyal? This over-reasoned approach to morality would make apathetic monsters of us all. I thought the reason why peaceful protest was preferable to violence in this situation was simply because we could not win, so it would be an irrational rebellion. However, should we ever have sufficient numbers or power, then our system allows for peaceful change through elections, and then by legislation, or judicial review and executive action. If we lived under an autocratic system, then it would be our duty, if we had sufficient numbers or power, to overthrow that government. It is obvious that evil-doers lose their right to the truth, and even life itself, when weighed against the rights of people who have done no harm to anyone else.

  • WJ says:

    The lying issue is more difficult (theologically) than it’s being handled by some here. Augustine had very strong reasons for considering *all* lies to be intrinsically evil and, in fact, grave sins. Now, there is a developed theology on mental reservation, casuistry, etc. that has developed in response to Augustinian worries about duplicity–some of which was developed in the context of early modern religious persecutions, when not being (or appearing to be) the right kind of Christian could land you in prison or worse–but it’s not sufficient to say, “I think Augustine was wrong here.” Seeing as he’s a Doctor of the Church and all, and that Thomas Aquinas found his arguments convincing, we need to rely on something more than our “intuitions” if we are to think with the Church on this issue.

    I wonder whether these kinds of activity could be legitimately described as falling under the condemned strategy of strict mental reservation, more on which here: http://www.newadvent.org/cathen/10195b.htm

  • Joe Hargrave says:

    Fox,

    “it’s also pretty clear that people survived because they didn’t say “why, yes, the Jews are here.”

    I suppose so. I suppose there are plenty more who died anyway when the Nazis didn’t simply take some guy’s word for it. I don’t think they were the most trusting bunch. But I suppose I could be wrong.

    “I just realized… we’re pretty unanimous in our agreement that there are times you basically have to kill someone, but we’re fighting about if it’s OK to lie?”

    Well, yes. Human lives are mortal. Truth is eternal. It seems worse to blatantly sin against truth than it does to kill in war or in self-defense. Then again, it seems worse to actually murder someone than it does to tell a lie.

    I really don’t want to play these games. I really don’t argue about when it is “ok” to kill someone, because as a Catholic I know when: in self-defense, and in a just war. The debate is really over whether particular scenarios fall under those categories.

    As for this “more Catholic than the Pope” nonsense – and I am sorry to say, it is absolute nonsense – there have in fact been many sinful popes throughout history. They have been sinful enough that, indeed, any number of the faithful could at a given time reasonably believe that he was more Catholic than the pope. The pope taking a concubine doesn’t mean you can take one. It means the pope is sinning and setting a terrible example for all of Christendom.

  • Foxfier says:

    I suppose there are plenty more who died anyway when the Nazis didn’t simply take some guy’s word for it

    What has that got to do with anything besides your silly example? I gave you three major examples that the question was based on, and pointed out that saying “yes, there are Jews here” would get you killed– as well as them.

    Lying is the only chance for them to survive, which is probably exactly why the question is so popular.

    Well, yes. Human lives are mortal. Truth is eternal. It seems worse to blatantly sin against truth than it does to kill in war or in self-defense.

    I must say that the equivocation of “they are not here” seems a far less thing than having to slit some poor SOB’s throat because he is the sentry.

  • Joe Hargrave says:

    Fox,

    What’s it got to do with it?

    Saying “no, there are no Jews here”, and then having the Nazis discover Jews there, would be just as likely to result in his death. I don’t think they’d appreciate the lie anymore than they would the truth.

    You gave one example where they didn’t follow up the question with a very thorough search. So the guy basically got lucky. My natural assumption would be that there would be a more thorough search of my grounds, and that my response had better take that into consideration as well.

    So, ok, not every door knock at 3 am looking for the hidden Jews will necessarily conclude in a search and/or discovery. Whatever. As I usually hear the situation posed, it is usually one in which it is reasonable to assume that the lie will be figured out anyway.

    I’m not even commenting here on the morality of lying when you KNOW you can get away with it, just the seeming absurdity of lying when you’re probably going to be found out anyway. That’s how these scenarios often seem. It is, as I said, a minor point. I don’t really care. Use the example all you want, and I’ll just assume in the future that it is specifically a scenario in which the lie will be believed and no one will try to verify it (I guess in my imagination, the Nazis were thorough murderers who would look around anyway and likely find what they are looking for, but there are always exceptions).

    “I must say that the equivocation of “they are not here” seems a far less thing than having to slit some poor SOB’s throat because he is the sentry.”

    It does seem that way.

  • Joe Hargrave says:

    I also have to say, thinking about it some more, that the officer DID actually search the barn in the one example – he was just inept and didn’t find what he was looking for.

    What if he had? Would the guy who lied to him have been let off with a slap on the wrist?

    You can say his survival somehow “depended” on his lie, but in my view it depended as much, if not moreso, on the ineptitude of the German officer.

  • T. Shaw says:

    Truly, only the dead have seen the end of abortion.

    I started to try to screw onto the Catechism’s just war standards to killing abortionists.

    Of course, most Catholics (including most anti-aborts) do not really, truly believe that abortion is murder. Or else, they believe it is sinful to try to to stop an in-progress murder. And, you must pray for the murderer . . .

  • Black Adder says:

    I think this section of the Catechism would indicate that it is morally licit to hide the truth out of fraternal love.

    Not revealing the truth is not the same as lying.

    I just realized… we’re pretty unanimous in our agreement that there are times you basically have to kill someone, but we’re fighting about if it’s OK to lie?

    We also all believe that it can be okay to kill someone but that it’s always wrong to use a condom. So what?

  • “I think this section of the Catechism would indicate that it is morally licit to hide the truth out of fraternal love.

    Not revealing the truth is not the same as lying.”

    The passage of the catechism does not limit one to standing mute, which would certainly be of virtually no use to someone attempting to divert a third party who is seeking out innocent people to slay them. Fraternal love then goes out the window in order to uphold a rather tendentious prohibition against lying under all circumstances, which I do not think the Church truly holds. Certainly Pius Xii authorized fake baptismal certificates for Jews in World War II. A great example of fraternal love and one which accords ill with a rigorist prohibition against lying.

    “Pius XII also set up a Catholic refugee committee in Rome, which he placed under charge of his secretary, Father Leiber, and his housekeeper, young Mother Pasqualina. In his book, Pie XII avant l’Histoire, Monsignor Georges Roche reports that this committee enabled thousands of European Jews to enter the United States as “Catholics,” providing them with efficient documentation service, including baptismal certificates, financial aid and other trans-national arrangements. The French historian estimates that by 1942 more than one million Jews were being housed, on Vatican orders, in convents and monasteries throughout Europe. British historian Derek Holmes reports that Jews as well as Italian partisans of underground guerrilla movements were dressed as monks and nuns, and taught to sing Gregorian chants.

    The Pope himself set an example by taking care of some 15,000 Jews and Italian dissidents at Castel Gandolfo, the Pope’s summer residence, as well as several thousand at Vatican City. Among those so helped was the Italian Socialist leader, Pietro Nenni, who needed a hiding place after his return from war-torn Spain, where he had served as a commissar with the International Brigades.

    Meanwhile in France, under the very nose of the so-called Vichy government, Cardinal Tisserant worked with the Joint Distribution Committee in facilitating Jewish emigration. His secretary, Msgr. Roche, has described an underground printing press at Nice, protected by the mayor of the city and the archbishop, where 1,915 false identity cards, 136 false work permits, 1,230 false birth certificates, 480 false demobilization cards and 950 false baptismal certificates were produced before the operation was discovered.

    In Hungary, Father Giovanni Battista Montini, the future Paul VI, was working with authorities on a scheme that would guarantee safety to the country’s 800,000 Jews on condition they submit to baptism.”

    http://www.ihr.org/jhr/v13/v13n5p26_Martinez.html

    Pius XII, another “Conman for God”, who I have absolutely no doubt has reaped a rich reward in Heaven.

  • Aaron B. says:

    I think the ACORN example actually supports Joe’s point. Yes, ACORN went down in flames. But did the substance of ACORN — left-wing rabble-rousing groups funded by government (and sometimes Church) money to work to tear down traditional structures — suffer that much? Are the ACORN employees standing at the unemployment line today, or did they get hired by other acronyms that stepped up to fill ACORN’s place? Has funding from the Soros types stopped because ACORN isn’t around to accept it, or has it simply flowed to other organizations that perform the same function? (We keep finding out about new anti-Catholic groups that the CCHD supports, and that’s likely to continue.) And do Americans realize this is still a problem, or do they think, “Hmm, there was some shifty stuff going on at that ACORN place, but it got shut down, so no need to worry about that kind of thing anymore”?

    I’m not saying ACORN shouldn’t have been shut down. It’s always nice to poke a stick into the spokes of the enemy when you get the chance. But it didn’t actually fix the problem. Likewise, even if videos like this could whip up enough anti-PP sentiment to get it defunded (and we’re a long way from that), I’m not sure it would affect the number of abortions that much. It might confuse things for a while, but the money would find other channels; and before long, people would think the problem was fixed and all abortions would now be done “properly” again. Back to square one.

    I think the crux is that it’s always dangerous to be dishonest about your aims in politics. Conservatives do this a lot, because it’s tempting to try to co-opt the arguments of the left, so they do things like claim affirmative action is bad because it hurts its recipients. While that’s true, it’s not the #1 reason they oppose it, and people realize that, so they look disingenuous. Focusing too much on PP’s lawlessness, when people know we would oppose them even if they never broke a single rule, makes us look like we’re trying to pull something.

  • WJ says:

    Donald,

    All of those activities fall well within the parameters of wide mental reservation that have been developed within Catholic moral casuistry. The question is: do the Nazi’s have the *right* to use the existence or nonexistence of pieces of paper as a basis for the extermination of persons? Obviously not. What if we, without lying directly to anybody, print out a series of documents which, if the Nazis choose to read them (not that they have the right to), and base a decision upon that reading, will err? Are we lying to the Nazis? No, we’re not. We’re not lying to anybody.

    There’s a whole moral theology developed around these questions. You may or may not be persuaded by it–as you are not persuaded by the doctrine of double-effect when applied to in bello scenarios–but you should at least acknowledge that many people in the CHurch have thought very hard about it.

  • Producing fake baptismal certicates WJ is the very essense of a written lie. If that can be done morally, then stating that someone cannot lie to someone seeking out an innocent in order to slay them literally is nonsense to me. I am quite aware of the confused and convuluted development of Church teaching in this area. My summary: too much Aristotle and not enough Plato. Grafting Greek philosophy onto Jewish revelation can sometimes produce pretty odd results and I think this is one of those areas.

  • WJ says:

    Donald,

    Telling a lie is always telling a lie *to somebody*. When you produce fake baptismal certificates, you are not telling a lie to *anybody*. You are just producing a set of documents that contains incorrect information. If I, for mere shits and giggles, write out a document saying that I’m the Pope of Slovenia, am I lying? Of course not.

    Now sometimes producing a set of documents that contains incorrect information *is* morally problematic–if for example I am counterfeiting money with the intent that merchants, who have the *right* to be informed about the legality of tender I provide them, be deceived about that legality. But sometimes it is not. In the case of the fake baptismal certificate, not only is their no lie perpetrated (because no one is lied *to*), there is also no fraud. Nazis don’t have the right to be informed about who and who is not a member of the Church. Similarly, disguising yourself as a monk in a similar situation is *not* a lie. It is providing the occasion for a likely misinterpretation, but, absent other conditions being met, this is non problematic.

    If it’s o.k. to lie on your account to aid the good, why is it not okay to kill innocents for the same purpose?

  • Foxfier says:

    Aaron B-
    if the only measure of success is wiping out a wide spread problem, then we should do nothing at all! Imagine if police applied that metric to crime prevention– “can’t stop all the robberies, better not do anything at all.”

    “Americans” can think many things– I’m not bound to measure my actions solely by the dumbest and least informed among them, since there are still people who think (or so they claim) that the ACORN tapes were edited from utterly harmless conversations and that no wrong doing ever happened, and I’m sure there are folks who haven’t even heard of them.

    Does defending ACORN, or giving people general reasons to do so, stop manipulative leach programs that illegally suck federal resources for to get left wing folks elected?
    Goodness, no.
    But it made people more willing to listen to the voter fraud charges against them, and that has started a big push to clean up voter rolls, and made some people want to know more about who is getting funding, anyways, and what kind of oversight they’re required to have; the voter fraud even made some people on the left agree they should be defunded because it makes them look bad.
    (Seeing as I got two ballots a year after specifically requesting my name be removed from my folks’ house, this is rather personal. Cute stories about dogs being called for jury duty notwithstanding.)

  • CT says:

    I’m not familiar with the theology here and I’m trying to sort it out in my mind, but from WJ’s description of mental reservation, it seems that the only “lie” that falls outside of that category is the utterance of the words “we’re in the sex business”. So had two people merely dressed like a pimp and a prostitute and asked hypothetical questions about young girls receiving treatment and how soon after an abortion they could work, there would be no lie b/c PP just drew it’s own conclusions? Joe, would you consider it deception if Lila had somehow found someone actually in the sex trade to go in and ask the questions? It just seems to me that you’re going in to find out the answer to a question (does PP follow the law?) and behaving in a way to make PP more likely to answer that question truthfully doesn’t seem that deceptive to me. Like I said, though – still trying to sort it out, so I look forward to the feedback.

  • “Telling a lie is always telling a lie *to somebody*. When you produce fake baptismal certificates, you are not telling a lie to *anybody*. You are just producing a set of documents that contains incorrect information.”

    That fails the giggle test WJ. My giggle test is whether I could tell it to a judge or a jury without giggling. The documents were clearly drafted to hide the identity of Jews being sought by the Nazis and to lie about the religious identity of the named person. The intent was clearly to deceive. I consider it praise worthy to do so to save a life. I can understand why convuluted distinctions have to be attempted to be drawn in order to salvage the prohibition against lying by those adopting the rigorist position of Aristotle, Saint Augustine, and the Angelic Doctor, but I find that a very unconvincing exercise. As I noted earlier, Greek philosophy and Jewish revelation can sometimes produce odd results, and I think this is such a case.

    “If it’s o.k. to lie on your account to aid the good, why is it not okay to kill innocents for the same purpose?”

    You might direct that question to every Pope in the Middle Ages who ever ordered that a city be besieged or who ever placed an entire nation under an Interdict due to a dispute between the Pope and the ruler of the nation.

  • Foxfier says:

    CT-
    there’s ways around *that*, even– if they’re going around getting information out about what this or that group does in response to learning about sexual situations, one could say they’re in the sex business. Extra funny points since the last two videos were also “about” adult men having sex with children.
    (Sort of like the “he’s not at home” response offered at the Catholic Encyclopedia when someone is in the house, but not taking visitors.)

    It’s less of a stretch than “making false documents claiming someone is Christian isn’t a lie because the ones the documents are aimed at don’t deserve that information.” (If one needs to deserve the information, then how on earth can someone trying to hunt out Jews to murder them be lied to about Jews?)

    WJ-
    If it’s OK to kill people who are trying to kill innocents, why is it not OK to damage truth that’s going to kill innocents?

  • WJ says:

    Donald, I don’t know why Aristotle has anything to do with this. The Augustininan prescription against lying–the one which Aquinas largely follows–derives from his claim that a lie ruptures the imago Dei within the human person, thus causing grievance damage to his soul. Aristotle has nothing to do with this, and you’re starting to sound like Luther.

    It’s nice that *your* giggle test involves the standards of judicial proceduralism as they are currently formed in the West. Thankfully the Church has a broader outlook on these areas. I really do not see, Donald, how you are not just a consequentialist, and how the positions you happen to take are not just reflections of your own given dispositions and attitudes. They are certainly not grounded in any principled way. (Why is it, for example, that abortion is always wrong and lying is not? The former ends only a mortal life while the latter–if we follow Augustine and Aquinas and every other Doctor of the Church who has thought hard about the matter–destroys the fabric of the soul. If you say that lying does *not* do this, then you are just wrong; it does. It’s established moral doctrine.) I don’t mean this in an uncharitable way, but it becomes difficult to converse with you about these things when you so cavalierly reject even the *attempt* to consider that the whole moral casuistry of the Church isn’t just smoke and mirrors.

  • WJ says:

    By the way, for a very good contemporary presentation of these issues, I recommend Paul Griffiths’s Lying: An Augustinian Theology of Duplicity.

    I’d love to stick around and continue to bother Donald :) but I’ll be checking out for the next week or so: work deadlines and a new baby…

  • Foxfier says:

    WJ-
    you said:
    When you produce fake baptismal certificates, you are not telling a lie to *anybody*. You are just producing a set of documents that contains incorrect information.

    The fact is those fake certificates were produced to make the Nazis believe that the folks were not Jews, saving their lives.

    from the CCC, and sorry for the big quote; wanted to be complete.
    2483
    Lying is the most direct offense against the truth.
    To lie is to speak or act against the truth in order to lead someone into error. By injuring man’s relation to truth and to his neighbor, a lie offends against the fundamental relation of man and of his word to the Lord.

    2484
    The gravity of a lie is measured against the nature of the truth it deforms, the circumstances, the intentions of the one who lies, and the harm suffered by its victims. To lie is to speak or act against the truth in order to lead someone into error.

    2485
    By its very nature, lying is to be condemned. It is a profanation of speech, whereas the purpose of speech is to communicate known truth to others. The deliberate intention of leading a neighbor into error by saying things contrary to the truth constitutes a failure in justice and charity. The culpability is greater when the intention of deceiving entails the risk of deadly consequences for those who are led astray.

    2486
    Since it violates the virtue of truthfulness, a lie does real violence to another. It affects his ability to know, which is a condition of every judgment and decision. It contains the seed of discord and all consequent evils. Lying is destructive of society; it undermines trust among men and tears apart the fabric of social relationships.

  • Foxfier says:

    As it does real violence to another, it seems that we’d look to the other place they talk about doing grave harm to someone:

    2263
    The legitimate defense of persons and societies is not an exception to the prohibition against the murder of the innocent that constitutes intentional killing. “The act of self-defense can have a double effect: the preservation of one’s own life; and the killing of the aggressor. . . . The one is intended, the other is not.”65

    2264
    Love toward oneself remains a fundamental principle of morality. Therefore it is legitimate to insist on respect for one’s own right to life. Someone who defends his life is not guilty of murder even if he is forced to deal his aggressor a lethal blow:

    If a man in self-defense uses more than necessary violence, it will be unlawful: whereas if he repels force with moderation, his defense will be lawful. . . . Nor is it necessary for salvation that a man omit the act of moderate self-defense to avoid killing the other man, since one is bound to take more care of one’s own life than of another’s.66
    2265
    Legitimate defense can be not only a right but a grave duty for one who is responsible for the lives of others. The defense of the common good requires that an unjust aggressor be rendered unable to cause harm. For this reason, those who legitimately hold authority also have the right to use arms to repel aggressors against the civil community entrusted to their responsibility.

  • Paul Zummo says:

    Telling a lie is always telling a lie *to somebody*. When you produce fake baptismal certificates, you are not telling a lie to *anybody*. You are just producing a set of documents that contains incorrect information.

    FWIW, I didn’t giggle at this, but rather rolled my eyes and said “give me a break” out loud.

    really do not see, Donald, how you are not just a consequentialist

    Donald’s not the one engaging in mental gymnastics in some attempt to remain consistent.

  • Congrats on the new baby WJ! As I am sure you are well aware, the Angelic Doctor in regard to lying heavily relies on Aristotle, or the Philosopher as he deemed him, and much of the Church teaching against lying under all circumstances relies upon the prohibition by Aristotle, Plato taking a different view.

    “It’s nice that *your* giggle test involves the standards of judicial proceduralism as they are currently formed in the West.”

    No actually it relies more on commonsense and an inborn BS detector.

    “Why is it, for example, that abortion is always wrong and lying is not?”

    Beep, beep, BS detector going off! It could be because one is a hideous crime against God and Man involving the destruction of the most innocent and helpless among us, and because lying may be a grave sin, a venial sin, no sin or praiseworthy depending upon the circumstance. Unless a lie leads to the destruction of the most innocent and helpless among us, it simply isn’t in the same league as abortion sin wise.

    “I really do not see, Donald, how you are not just a consequentialist, and how the positions you happen to take are not just reflections of your own given dispositions and attitudes.”

    Ah consequentialism, the all purpose weapon of last resort in Catholic comboxes. If I am consequentialist in this area WJ, than Pius Xii was just as consequentialist in this area, more so actually, since I am just theorizing and Pius XII actually implemented, thank God, massive deception on a grand scale to save innocent lives. As the actions of the Pope indicate, no matter what people may say, when push comes to shove, few actually think in practice, as opposed to theory, that it is wrong to deceive those hell-bent, term used deliberately, on slaying the innocent.

    “and you’re starting to sound like Luther.”

    Actually, I rather think that Luther got into heresy because he was a scholastic-uber-alles. (A statement which would have set off a rant from Luther!) The world is never a nice and tidy place, and the Church recognizes that in practice, if not always in dogma. Luther began his downward path by attacking what he regarded as abuses in the Church that did not accord with his studies. I find myself almost always in accord with what the Church does in the World, Pius xii having fake baptismal certificates printed to save innocent lives for example, even if such is not in full accord with what has been written by Aristotle, Saint Augustine and the Angelic Doctor.

  • Dale Price says:

    Telling a lie is always telling a lie *to somebody*. When you produce fake baptismal certificates, you are not telling a lie to *anybody*. You are just producing a set of documents that contains incorrect information.

    No, that’s not right. The documents are being presented to people for inspection with the intent to deceive them as to the identity of the bearer. Ditto Wallenberg’s forged Swedish passports for Hungarian Jews.

    I don’t see a way to distinguish what Bl. John XXIII and Raoul Wallenberg did that doesn’t involve special pleading.

  • CT says:

    Question: In the quote provided by foxfier, a lie is defined as “To lie is to speak or act against the truth in order to lead someone into error.” What kind of error is meant here? Does it mean to lead someone into sin or just to lead someone to believe anything that is not the stone cold truth? I’m just wondering if the same principles that make self defense licit also make certain deceptions licit. So that murder is the unjust taking of life, but sometimes life can be justly taken. Similarly lying is done in order to lead someone into error, but if the intention is not to lead them into error but to save a life (nazi example) or expose sin already being committed (Lila), it’s just. I may be way off here – I always hesitate to comment as I’m not as well versed as most of the commenters. But it just seems that if it would be ok for a real pimp to go in and ask PP these questions, then really what difference does it make if people act as if they are in the sex trade. The intention is not to make PP commit these crimes/sins, but to ascertain whether they are already committing them. The acting is done to create the best possibility of receiving an honest answer.

  • Foxfier says:

    CT-
    from the way it talks about damaging their ability to make choices by damaging what they “know” of the world, I’d say it’s any error.

    I’d imagine that folks weighed the wrong of making someone believe they don’t want to kill someone was less than the wrong of handing someone over to be killed, or doing nothing while an innocent is killed.

    I’d also hold a temporary and not directly harmful deception to expose a long-standing, murderous one is pretty low down on the “wrong’o'meter.”

    Assuming, of course, that they weren’t going with the “we’re in the sex business” in some way other than what they figured it would be interpreted as.

  • A. Nonymous says:

    “You gave one example where they didn’t follow up the question with a very thorough search. So the guy basically got lucky. My natural assumption would be that there would be a more thorough search of my grounds, and that my response had better take that into consideration as well.

    So, ok, not every door knock at 3 am looking for the hidden Jews will necessarily conclude in a search and/or discovery. Whatever. As I usually hear the situation posed, it is usually one in which it is reasonable to assume that the lie will be figured out anyway.”

    I cannot believe this is even up for debate. If you insist that acts meant to prevent greater evils that outwardly appear wrong are wrong, you are not talking about true standards. You keep talking about actual consequences, when sin is always in the intention, as was clearly decided in the case of concubinage in the early Church, accidentally killing very young human beings while saving the life of the mother, and in the very obvious case of defense. Do you maliciously intend to commit adultery or commit murder? No. Then it isn’t a sin. What is this obsession with Machiavelli’s false dichotomy? Ends or means? You’re barking up the wrong tree there. There are good ends and bad ends, good means and bad means, and truly good ends can potentially outweigh good means. Quite frankly, it is impossible to be moral and not always weigh means against ends, with the moral imperative being to put good ends first, otherwise you can’t have any Love in you. You’re really just criticizing putting bad ends before good means, which nobody denies is wrong. A well-developed conscience correctly weighs one against the other based on true standards. Therefore, I cannot believe you have seriously considered the absurdity of what you are saying, for if brought to its farthest logical conclusion, you’d have to be a total pacifist, which is not and never was the true way. It is not a sin against truth to utter a falsehood to prevent a greater evil, and it is utterly obvious to the universal human conscience that murder is a greater sin than a dutiful lie. And there is such a thing as a dutiful lie, just as there is such a thing as a dutiful killing. For it is not only just better to lie to prevent a greater evil than to lie maliciously, but it is often circumstantially your moral duty to lie to prevent a greater evil, for the exact same reason that violence, even to the point of killing, is your duty for the purpose of defense. We are told to personally not resist evil for the sake of the evil-doer, but we are emphatically supposed to resist evil on behalf of others, especially innocents – the idea being never to put yourself first. Well, telling the truth when you know the direct consequence will be the death of an innocent is the act of a selfish scoundrel, not a saint, which is the same as standing by and letting another innocent person be killed so as to not harm the assailant.

    You can legitimately disagree with Lila Rose’s methods because you believe she has not correctly weighed the ends against the means, or because you think she isn’t really pursuing a good end (as I think because her actions have completely taken away the focus from the mass murder of very young innocent human life), but you surely cannot unequivocally condemn deception employed to save lives. That is absurd. That is in itself morally reprehensible, even more so than a simple malicious lying. That is pure sophistry. Pure pharisaical garbage.

    And to claim the Holy Church teaches this horrible line of thought just makes a muddle of everything. A lot of you have mentioned St. Augustine, but nobody has mentioned that he said even self-defense (in the case of attempted rape), while wrong in itself, is circumstantially justifiable. Later Doctors, like St. Thomas, went farther and said such actions on behalf of others are not only justifiable, but in fact your moral duty. So, again, this is not a confusing issue at all. It is very clear cut, and you and all these other other young supposed Catholics with blogs are dead wrong, against tradition, and against common sense.

  • Lamont says:

    The transcript of one of Live Action’s tapes is posted here:
    http://www.ncregister.com/daily-news/lila-rose-vs.-planned-parenthood

    In this case they simply say that they are involved in “sex work” and manage some underage girls. Both of these statements are so vague that they clearly fall well within the category of broad mental reservation. Indeed, they are involved in sex work and assuming some young girls work for them they can truthfully say that they manage some underage girls.

    Almost everything else they say is in the form of a question and questions are never lies. If this transcript is representative of the methods that Live Action uses, my conclusion is that they did not lie and did not do anything morally wrong.

  • A. Nonymous says:

    This is absurd! This concept of distinguishing “mental reservation” from a lie is pure sophistry! The intention is to mislead, to deceive; therefore, it is a lie! Therein would be the sin, if the intention was out of malice and not for the sake of some cause that circumstantially outweighs honesty, just like physically forcing an aggressor (even at the cost of his life) to protect an innocent is our duty – the intention is to stop the crime, not to maliciously desire the death of the aggressor.

    “Questions are never lies, etc.” What are you, toddlers? A conversation is always more than the mere words! We are all responsible for all the content between the lines! The Church explicitly teaches us, like the Holy Spirit explicitly teaches us, like our very nature explicitly teaches us, that its the intention that matters. Live Action’s entire presence in that room was purposefully deceptive; just as the entire presence of the Crusaders in the Holy Land was militant for the purpose of defending innocents by killing hostiles. Should we ordinarily kill? No. Should we ordinary lie? No. Should we have defended the east from barbarians? Yes. Should Lila Rose defend the innocent by deceiving mass murderers? Maybe.

    Such incredible misinterpretations of Scripture, Church teaching, and your own hearts, have lead to the obvious widespread impotence in the West. You are Eloi.

    I am beginning to see now, the community of contributors in and around a lot of these Catholic blogs (usually Americans, sadly, who think they are traditional) are actually quite insane. You don’t even get this level of servile sophistical nonsense in communist forums. You should be proud to have outfoxed the fox.

    But this is par for the course, isn’t it. This is the same now world famous ‘American Catholic’ that posted an article two days ago by Donald R. McClarey declaring, “America is the greatest force for evil in the world in the history of mankind.” Right… What a load of rot. Combined with incessant calls for monarchy amid the ridiculous demonization (literally) of democratic republics, I’d say you’ve now successfully alienated about 99% of the good people in this country who would have been your allies. But at least you never condoned fibbing to save babies.

  • Foxfier says:

    Combined with incessant calls for monarchy amid the ridiculous demonization (literally) of democratic republics, I’d say you’ve now successfully alienated about 99% of the good people in this country who would have been your allies.

    In the words of lolCats: lulwhut?

  • Paul Zummo says:

    This is the same now world famous ‘American Catholic’ that posted an article two days ago by Donald R. McClarey declaring, “America is the greatest force for evil in the world in the history of mankind.”

    You realize that Donald was linking to the piece and criticizing it, right?

    Wow.

  • Joe Hargrave says:

    I can see why he/she prefers to remain “anonymous” – I wouldn’t want my name associated with such incoherent ranting either.

    You are very, very confused sir about who writes what, and who believes what, around here. Don was replying to a post at VOX NOVA that made the claim about America; if you knew the slightest thing about him or this blog, you’d know how idiotic you sound.

    I’m sorry that you see absolutely no value in, and actually have contempt for, this discussion. I don’t know what you thought you would accomplish by resorting to a temper tantrum; it hasn’t convinced me that these questions aren’t worth exploring.

    You’re beginning to see that we’re insane? Everyone can clearly see that you have no reading comprehension skills and don’t know what you’re talking about. See a priest or a shrink, asap. You aren’t welcome to comment on MY posts anymore.

  • DARREL says:

    Fpr a mistatement to be a lie it must be done to deliberatley deceive. Lila Rose amd her collaborators are actors who depict real life possible scenarios to try to capture PP response with no intent to gain services under false pretenses. Some who have been troubled by her undercover methods have asked EWTN.com about this. To see the detailed Q&A go to EWTN.com. Then FAITH(top)-scroll to Catholic Q&A-search questions-prolife forums-Judie Brown-finally search at bottom. Ms. Brown quotes theologians she has consulted as saying Lila Rose and collaborators are ACTORS and not liars. They are doing investigate journalism in these videos.

  • nobody says:

    You dismiss everything I wrote as incoherent ranting because of an honest mistake that has nothing to do with any of my arguments?

    My apologies to Donald McClarey and The American Catholic for accidentally misreading the homepage and misjudging your position. Searching for “America is one of the greatest forces for evil in the world in the history of mankind” led me to this site (now I know Nate’s original Vox Nova post was taken down), and because of the format I thought statements actually within Donald’s quote from Nate at Vox Nova belonged to Donald, and mistook this site for the source. No, I didn’t know who writes what, and who believes what around here, but you see what a horrible state the Catholic blogosphere is in that I quickly assumed The American Catholic was like all the rest.

    My arguments stand, and I hope someone at least considers them.

  • Foxfier says:

    If you can’t take the time to make accurate accusations when you’ve got the bit in your teeth, why should we think your other assertions are any more well thought out and accurate?

    you see what a horrible state the Catholic blogosphere is in that I quickly assumed The American Catholic was like all the rest

    Look to yourself; what I have seen of the Catholic blogosphere is far from horrible; it seems you are jumping to conclusions about the entire thing from a poor selection, just as you did here.

    You want Catholic bioethics?
    Mary Meets Dolly.
    You want joyful Catholic talk with humor?
    Creative Minority report.
    You want apologetics and art?
    Jimmy Akin. He got me interested in Catholic personhood theory years ago with a post on if Vampires could be people; I’ve been using it to build stories ever since.
    Catholic geekdom?
    Suburban Banshee. Saints, anime and movies.

    I believe most of the bloggers here have personal blogs, as well; you could read them, figure out who you agree with, and check their blogs. You could find a blog you like and go through its blogroll. Failing all that, make the blog you want to read.

  • Kyle Miller says:

    Lila’s group was role playing in order to test the integrity of PP. PP failed.

    The argument of “deception” and using the tools of the devil falls apart for at least 2 reasons.

    1. The acting in PP was not to conceal a truth, but to reveal a truth; PP would sell your kid down the river.

    2. Acting as someone you are not is sinful in all cases. If so, Jon Voight is going to burn in hell for claiming to be the pope. Acting in order to invoke a response or not is used in many fields. As pointed out earlier, law enforcement will do it to get information (reveal a truth). Military basic training instructors play the mean guy and yell many untruths about you to see if you are unfit for a highly stressful job (reveal a truth). Are spies participating espionage (revealing a truth) doing the devil’s work?

    Lila’s group is not out to make PP law abiding. They are out to expose PP for the immoral organization they are. To the anti-life and many in the general public, PP is just an organization trying to provide services some of which are controversial. The Lila project shows another side, the ugly inside of PP. And if their efforts result in handicapping PP from accomplishing any part of their mission, it’s worth it.

    To me, it is very similar to your example of smashing equipment. Except, in this case, what’s been smashed are jobs, hopefully funding, and their public image. And if this chaos causes one woman out there to pause and ask herself, “Does PP really have my best interests at heart?”, and the answer results in her turning away, then it’s all worth it.

  • Joe Hargrave says:

    I may as well post this here too:

    http://www.catholicnewsagency.com/news/pro-life-groups-video-stings-spark-ethical-debate/?utm_source=feedburner&utm_medium=feed&utm_campaign=Feed:+catholicnewsagency/dailynews+(CNA+Daily+News)

    Lila Rose thinks she is fighting a just war, and that lying is permissible in such a war. We are always fighting a spiritual war, but we are not actually in a declared temporal war with Planned Parenthood. And I don’t think the prohibition on lying disappears when a just war is declared – the First Crusade didn’t depend upon lies for victory, just absolute trust in God when the odds were overwhelmingly against it.

    So when you ask, “Are spies participating espionage (revealing a truth) doing the devil’s work?”

    They may well be. I don’t know if an ACTUAL just war would somehow make deception morally acceptable. I don’t see how it could, but perhaps a saint or pope wiser than I has made the distinction.

    As for some of the other things you said:

    “1. The acting in PP was not to conceal a truth, but to reveal a truth; PP would sell your kid down the river.”

    Through deception, anyone might get anyone else to reveal the evil things they would. That has never made it morally right. The PP operation was a deception, plain and simple. No linguistic sleight of hand will change that.

    “Acting as someone you are not is sinful in all cases. If so, Jon Voight is going to burn in hell for claiming to be the pope.”

    Everyone understands that entertainment demands a suspension of disbelief. It isn’t a sin to tell a fictional story, but it would certainly be a sin if you told a story that wasn’t true AS IF it were true in order to mislead people. No one is deceived by acting as an art form or entertainment. So there is no sin involved.

    “As pointed out earlier, law enforcement will do it to get information (reveal a truth). ”

    And I am not the first Catholic to point out that this is not morally acceptable, and that the fact that “law enforcement does it” does not automatically mean “Catholics can do it too.”

    “Military basic training instructors play the mean guy and yell many untruths about you to see if you are unfit for a highly stressful job (reveal a truth).”

    I think most people understand that when they go into basic training. If they don’t, they learn real fast. You can’t be guilty of lying to someone if the person you are saying the “lie” to knows it is a lie, and knows that you know it is a lie.

    As I explained to someone else, though – even if you COULD justify lying in these relatively less grave cases, it would never amount to a justification for premeditated campaigns of deception whose supposed benefits may only appear somewhere down the line.

    Frankly if they wanted to even try and be moral (I will never say “ethical”, a word I loathe unless it is coming from Aristotle), they could have found an actual pimp to go in and say these things, and put the hidden camera on him. And usually the police are using actual criminals in their own operations, not paid actors, so there may be times when these things are done without violating the moral law.

    “Lila’s group is not out to make PP law abiding. They are out to expose PP for the immoral organization they are.”

    As I noted. Not enough people think that child-murder is immoral, so we have to show people that they’re willing to accommodate pimps. All this may end up in either a more tightly-regulated PP, or perhaps its replacement with another abortion company. But even if it doesn’t, the ends do not justify the means.

    “And if their efforts result in handicapping PP from accomplishing any part of their mission, it’s worth it.”

    No, it isn’t. Some things are more valuable.

    “To me, it is very similar to your example of smashing equipment.”

    Huh? Smashing equipment doesn’t involve lying.

  • Mark K. says:

    Love wills the highest and best good for the sake of the beloved. If Lila Rose and her band of “Merry Pranksters” can end up “smashing the [moral] equipment” of PP employees to the point where they quit, then LA would have fulfilled the highest duty of “Love thy neighbor as you love yourself”, “against which there is no law”.

  • Kyle Miller says:

    @JoeH
    They may well be. I don’t know if an ACTUAL just war would somehow make deception morally acceptable. I don’t see how it could, but perhaps a saint or pope wiser than I has made the distinction.

    So if an allied spy went behind enemy lines, discovered the atrocities the Nazis were committing, and let the world know rather than waiting till the end of the war, that spy would have been committing a mortal sin?

    What about an investigative reporter? Also committing mortal sin by working undercover?

    Everyone understands that entertainment demands a suspension of disbelief. … No one is deceived by acting as an art form or entertainment. So there is no sin involved.

    The point of acting is to deceive the viewer, to transport the viewer from the every day life and submerge them into the world of make believe. The mark of a good actor is measured by how well they can deceive the viewer. (Ever notice people who cry in movies even though they know it’s fiction?) They do it well enough, they get awards for it.

    You may excuse the acting by saying it okay because it’s fictional and it’s just entertainment. This fails on two points:
    1) Lila’s crew is also participating fiction. Justified?
    2) Entertainment is the result of acting, i.e. the end. So acting, the means, is okay because it results in entertainment. Means justifies the ends?

    And I am not the first Catholic to point out that this is not morally acceptable, and that the fact that “law enforcement does it” does not automatically mean “Catholics can do it too.

    Not automatic, but there are clearly cases where undercover work has benefits no rational person can argue against. And, that undercover work hinges on deception.

    I think most people understand that when they go into basic training. If they don’t, they learn real fast. You can’t be guilty of lying to someone if the person you are saying the “lie” to knows it is a lie, and knows that you know it is a lie.

    You have never been to basic training. Have you?

    As I noted. Not enough people think that child-murder is immoral, so we have to show people that they’re willing to accommodate pimps. All this may end up in either a more tightly-regulated PP, or perhaps its replacement with another abortion company. But even if it doesn’t, the ends do not justify the means.

    You have to win some battles to win the war. Lila’s work is simply on offensive maneuver in a big war. If her work turns away one woman from killing her child, alleluia!

    Huh? Smashing equipment doesn’t involve lying.
    No, but it does involve disrespecting someone else’s property, a violation of the big 10. (CCC 2401)

    “I would actually have less of a problem with the destruction of Planned Parenthood’s property, crippling their evil work indefinitely, than I do with the deceptive campaign of Live Action.”

    The article rationalized the destruction by saying the offense of destroying innocent life is a greater sin, so the lesser, destruction of what is not yours, may be used to cripple the greater, abortion. (What’s destroying equipment going to accomplish? They will simply buy more equipment. Certainly not indefinitely.) It’s true killing proceeds destruction of property in God’s list, but then respect for other people’s property proceeds telling the truth. So, maybe God would approve undercover work before destroying OPP.

    The bottom line is you are ready to embrace a violation of the 7th commandment while dismissing all uses of deception.

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