Monthly Archives: August 2011

Tips For Pundits.

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Right you are Klavan on the Culture!  If I may add to your list of tips for pundits:

4.     Do not pontificate on subjects that you are bone ignorant of.

5.     Remember that taking a middle course on an issue is not inherently going to be the correct course.

6.     Whatever else you do, try not to bore your readers or listeners. Continue reading

Information and Metaphysical Conclusions

I was struck by Kyle’s post on Friday “Abortion, Rational Decision-Making, and Informed Consent“, but it took me a while thinking it over to come to an explanation of exactly what I find wrong about it. Kyle is addressing the issue of “informed consent” laws which require a woman seeking an abortion to view an ultrasound of her baby or read an explanation of fetal development at the stage of pregnancy her child is at. He is concerned, however, that such laws miss the real moral point:

Catarina Dutilh Novaes explains her worry about some new laws requiring physicians to show a woman an ultrasound of the fetus and describe its status, organs and present activity before performing an abortion. She writes: “It does not take a lot of brain power to realize that what is construed here as ‘informed decision’ is in fact yet another maneuver to prevent abortions from taking place by ‘anthropomorphizing’ the fetus” and “it is of striking cruelty to submit a woman to this additional layer of emotional charge at such a difficult moment.” She’s right, I suspect, about the underlying motivation behind the laws and the suffering their practice would impose. If the legislators and activists pushing these laws recognize the suffering they may inflict, they clearly see it as justified, weighing, as they do, the vital status of the nascent life as greater than the emotional status of the expectant mother.

There’s something to this. The information the physician is legally required to communicate by these new laws informs in a very limited way: it doesn’t provide evidence of personhood or a right to life or any such metaphysical or moral reality. The sight and description of the fetus may give the appearance of a human life worthy of respect, but, as pro-lifers note, appearance is not indicative of moral worth. An embryo doesn’t look like a human being, but that appearance doesn’t signify anything moral or metaphysical about it.

The woman, for having this information, is not in any better position to make a rational, ethical decision. It may cause her to “see” the nascent life as human, but it doesn’t offer her a rational basis for such a perception. Her consent is no more informed after seeing and hearing the physical status of the life within her, and so these new “informed consent” laws don’t achieve what they are supposedly designed to do.

There are places conducive to informing people about the nascent life’s stages of development and about what exactly, scientifically speaking, abortion does to that life. A high school health class, for example. There, the scientific information about the unborn life and abortion can be more thoroughly considered, and once fully understood, serve in other settings as a reference point for metaphysical and moral considerations. Consent to abortion should be informed, but the information these new laws require to be communicated does not on its own result in informed consent or provide an additional basis for a rational, ethical decision. Why? Because, by itself, appearance is not ethically relevant and can also be misleading.

Now on the basic point, I agree with Kyle: appearance is not moral worth. A person is not worthy of human dignity simply because someone looks at him or her and sees similarity. To say that would be to suggest the converse: that when someone looks at another and sees simply “other” he is justified in not treating that person with human dignity. For instance, one could imagine (though I think it is the far less likely option) a situation in which a woman is leaning against abortion because she thinks that the child inside her will look “just like a baby”, she sees a fuzzy ultrasound of something that still looks like a tadpole on an umbilical cord, and she thinks, “Oh, that’s all? It must not be a baby yet. I’ll abort.”  Clearly, in this case, the information would have led to the wrong conclusion.  An appearance of similarity or dissimilarity does not a person make.

At the same time, the suggestion that informed consent laws are a bad idea just rubs me the wrong way, not just from a pragmatic point of view but from a moral one, and when I have this kind of conflict between instinct and reason, I tend to poke at the issue until I come up with a reason why it is that the apparently reasonable explanation seems wrong to me. Continue reading

August 30, 1861: Fremont Orders Freeing of Slaves of Rebels in Missouri

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John C. Fremont led a life of considerable achievement and seemed to many of his contemporaries a man of destiny.  However, in the Civil War his destiny  eluded him.  An engineering officer in the US Army Corps of Engineers, his personal charm led to his marriage in 1841 to Jesse Benton, a woman of considerable ambition and the daughter of the legendary Senator from Missouri, Thomas Hart Bent.  Now politically well connected, Benton achieved fame and the title The Pathfinder, by leading settlers along with scout Kit Carson over the Oregon Trail.  In the 1830′s Fremont had taken part in various topographical mapping expeditions into the West and this served him in good stead in determining the best routes for the pioneers.  His exploits were steadily followed in the eastern papers, and Fremont became a national celebrity.  During the Mexican War, Fremont played a major role in the conquest of California, although he displayed much energy but little military skill.  After the war he served as military governor for California, and, after California was admitted to the Union, Fremont served briefly as a US Senator for the state.

Although he was of Southern birth, Fremont was an ardent foe of slavery and became the first Republican candidate for President in 1856.  Obtaining a third of the vote, and 114 electoral votes, Fremont proved that the new Republican party was a serious contender in national politics.  His electoral slogan of “Free Men!  Free Soil! Fremont!”, resounded throughout the North, Fremont winning all of the Northern states except Illinois, New Jersey, Pennsylvania and Indiana, demonstrating that if the North was unified, it could elect a President.  Fremont suffered in the election by false allegations that his father was a French aristocrat and that Fremont was a Catholic.  (Fremont’s father was a middle class Frenchman who fought for the Royalists in France and who immigrated to America.  Fremont was an Episcopalian.)  The Democrats also made hay of the fact that Fremont had been born out of wedlock, and that at the time they started their romance, his mother had been married to a man not his father.  Salacious political gossip is not an invention of the Twenty-First century.

Continue reading

Hey Hey! Ho Ho! Christian Candidates Have Got to Go!

For weeks, there has been a “holy war” being waged against Rick Santorum by “gay rights” activists. No one is spared from this onslaught. It should be noted that Michele Bachmann is also being attacked for her Christianity…even to the point of pirating and editing videos with lies painting her as a bigot.

Anti-Christian bigotry is afoot…and apparently…there are no rules.

de·cen·cy? ?[dee-suhn-see]
1. the state or quality of being decent.
2. conformity to the recognized standard of propriety, good taste, modesty, etc.

There is nothing decent about the “gay rights” movement. Nothing.

The ‘Gay Rights’ Community’s Jihad Against Stacy Trasancos

Earlier, I wrote about The ‘Gay Rights’ Community’s Jihad Against Rick Santorum. The ‘jihad’ comment was rather a joking matter that allowed me to describe the main point which is Rick Santorum’s defense of Natural Law. Political candidates should be given leeway on the use of hyperbole and also should expect to be at the red hot center of verbal attacks from opponents. In my report today, however, the jihadist activity of ‘gay rights’ activists is not a joking matter at all. It is very real.

My friend Stacy Trasancos, a fellow Catholic mom who is concerned about the world her children have to grow up in, is under attack from the ‘gay rights’ community for daring to write what she thinks about public displays of affection. She’s received death threats, which she has reported to law enforcement, and is naturally questioning whether or not she should continue to simply speak publicly about her beliefs.

I believe it is important at this time for the Catholic blogosphere to come to her aid by offering support in the form of encouragement and in the form of condemning the tactics of the ‘gay rights’ movement against people of faith who simply would like to take their kids to the park without having to risk exposure to depravity, not to mention who would simply like to write what they think about things on a blog.

It’s time to stand in defense of our sister Stacy Trasancos. Read: You duped me, O Lord…and leave a note of encouragement.

Thank you.

UPDATE: I recommend we all turn to the Blessed Mother for help and not to engage in fruitless arguments, but only mature and serious discussion on this important subject.

UPDATE: Comments are now closed.

Feast Day of the Beheading of John the Baptist

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August 29 is the feast day of the beheading of John the Baptist, the herald of Christ.  Charlton Heston, in the video clip above, gave a powerful portrayal of the Baptist in The Greatest Story Ever Told, capturing the raw courage and energy that animated John the Baptist as a result of the blazing faith he had in God.  Like Elijah, John came out of the wilderness to fearlessly proclaim the word of God, but what Elijah and the other prophets could only glimpse darkly, the coming of the Messiah, John saw with his own eyes.  The last and greatest of the prophets, John fulfilled the role of Elijah as proclaimed by the prophet Malachi:

Behold, I will send you Elijah the prophet before the coming of the great and terrible day of the Lord. Continue reading

Top Ten Topics That Will Rock Your Catholic Blog

(cross-posted at Acts Of The Apostasy)

Do you run a Catholic blog, or is it more like a Catholic blahhhhg? Do you wish you had more readers? Is your Sitemeter daily count smaller than Kate Middleton’s waist size, and you wish it would expand (the daily count, not KM’s waist)? Does your combox have more robo-generated spam comments selling shoes and junk than comments left by actual people?

If you answered “yes” to any of those questions, then what you need are The Top Ten Topics That Will Rock Your Catholic Blog, as compiled by the AoftheA Editorial Board. The EB scoured Catholic blogs for several hours days weeks months and months to generate a list of hot-button issues that delivered consistent results across the world.

If you want to increase traffic to your blog, and you want the combox conversations spiced up a bit, touch on any of the subjects listed below. You can either be pro or con – doesn’t matter. You don’t even have to write well or display logic – just have an opinion and a thesaurus and a glib turn of phrase or two, and bang! Your daily hits will spike. Your combox will quickly resemble a back alley at midnight deep in gang-contested turf. Yeah, it will get rather testy, but that’s what commenting at Catholic blogs is all about: loving our neighbors – even the Anonymous ones – with ham-fisted charity and bare-knuckled mercy. Continue reading

Dedicated to the Fighting Patriots of Goshen College

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“Pacifists are the last and least excusable on the list of the  enemies of society. They preach that if you see a man flogging a woman  to death you must not hit him. I would much sooner let a leper come near  a little boy than a man who preached such a thing.”

                                                     G.K. Chesterton

I just hope the version with lyrics below will not be deemed too militaristic:

Continue reading

The ‘Gay Rights’ Community’s Jihad Against Rick Santorum

Rick Santorum joked that the ‘gay rights’ community has launched a jihad against him for explaining on the campaign trail that marriage is only for one man and one woman and cannot be changed even if attempts are made to redefine it. On Top Magazine says Santorum is “playing the victim card” for pointing out what really is something of a social media “holy war” on the part of “gay rights” activists. They are currently engaged not in debate but rather in a campaign to smear the good name of Rick Santorum because he refuses to uphold the “sanctity” of “gay marriage”.

The “jihad” comment has very little to do with the substance of what Rick Santorum said in the speech in question. Watch the video below. I’ll have a transcript excerpt and my own commentary afterward.

I should note that the video above has been heavily edited by “gay rights” activists who are apparently following Rick Santorum around and recording him because of the threat he poses to their movement. I would recommend to the Santorum camp that they have every speech videotaped in full and uploaded to Rick Santorum’s YouTube account as soon as possible. I’ll post every one on my blog if they will do that. Other Republican candidates should do the same as they come under attack from various groups.

What the “gay rights” community is doing to Rick Santorum by launching a smear campaign against him on Twitter and on their blogs is comparable to jihad because of its complete intolerance for Christianity. Rick Santorum is a Catholic. What he believes as a Catholic is what his conscience tells him is right and true. What these activists do not seem to understand is that it is not Santorum’s Catholicism that makes it important for him to defend traditional marriage as a presidential candidate. Rather, Santorum’s obligation to defend traditional marriage as a candidate comes from his reason and from his courage. All who understand what America really is, whether Catholic, protestant, Jewish, or even non-religious, should be standing with Rick Santorum to defend traditional marriage in America’s public square.

Here’s the quote we should be paying the closest attention to in the video.

Rick Santorum:

Marriage is what marriage is. It existed before there was the English language or a State. It is something that was given to us from the very beginning of time. It is something universal in every culture, and it has been remarkably consistent in every culture. Why? Because it reflects Nature and Nature’s God.

“Nature and Nature’s God” is a quote from the Declaration of Independence.

When in the Course of human events it becomes necessary for one people to dissolve the political bands which have connected them with another and to assume among the powers of the earth, the separate and equal station to which the Laws of Nature and of Nature’s God entitle them, a decent respect to the opinions of mankind requires that they should declare the causes which impel them to the separation.

When we deny Natural Law, we deny the very foundation of America. Actively campaigning for our government to enshrine as a “right” something so contradictory to Natural Law as “gay marriage” is to actively campaign for tyranny on behalf of a government that tramples the rights we are entitled to by virtue of our creation as human beings made in the image of God.

Again, from the Declaration of Independence:

 [...][A]ll men are created equal [and] are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights[...]

If Natural Law no longer counts in America’s laws, then there is no longer such a thing as unalienable Rights which trump the Powers of the State. “Rights” are now, apparently, based not on what we are endowed with by our Creator, but rather are based on moral relativism. If authentic rights are now meaningless, then America has essentially become nothing more than a barbaric democracy that is barely held together by the seams of a Republic established by the Founding Fathers of our nation.

Many are saying that the economy is the most important issue today. Truly, it is the issue that most immediately affects the vast majority of Americans. I would argue that the problems with our economy are merely the latest symptom of a country virtually destroyed by moral decay and failure to live up to the values upon which America was founded in the first place. It could be that our economic woes are the last gasp of a dying America. I would submit that those candidates who are running primarily on economic issues and who fail to stand for the Declaration of Independence can only ultimately provide, as President, a band-aid for a country that is suffering from internal hemorrhage.

May God help America in this time of need.




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