Sail On!

Monday, October 12, AD 2015



To Our Venerable Brethren, the Archbishops and
Bishops of Spain, Italy, and the two Americas.

Now that four centuries have sped since a Ligurian first, under God’s guidance, touched shores unknown beyond the Atlantic, the whole world is eager to celebrate the memory of the event, and glorify its author. Nor could a worthier reason be found where through zeal should be kindled. For the exploit is in itself the highest and grandest which any age has ever seen accomplished by man; and he who achieved it, for the greatness of his mind and heart, can be compared to but few in the history of humanity. By his toil another world emerged from the unsearched bosom of the ocean: hundreds of thousands of mortals have, from a state of blindness, been raised to the common level of the human race, reclaimed from savagery to gentleness and humanity; and, greatest of all, by the acquisition of those blessings of which Jesus Christ is the author, they have been recalled from destruction to eternal life. Europe, indeed, overpowered at the time by the novelty and strangeness of the discovery, presently came to recognize what was due to Columbus, when, through the numerous colonies shipped to America, through the constant intercourse and interchange of business and the ocean-trade, an incredible addition was made to our knowledge of nature, and to the commonwealth; whilst at the same time the prestige of the European name was marvellously increased. Therefore, amidst so lavish a display of honour, so unanimous a tribute of congratulations, it is fitting that the Church should not be altogether silent; since she, by custom and precedent, willingly approves and endeavours to forward whatsoever she see, and wherever she see it, that is honourable and praiseworthy. It is true she reserves her special and greatest honours for virtues that most signally proclaim a high morality, for these are directly associated with the salvation of souls; but she does not, therefore, despise or lightly estimate virtues of other kinds. On the contrary, she has ever highly favoured and held in honour those who have deserved well of men in civil society, and have thus attained a lasting name among posterity. For God, indeed, is especially wonderful in his Saints – mirabilis in Sanctis suis; but the impress of His Divine virtue also appears in those who shine with excellent power of mind and spirit, since high intellect and greatness of spirit can be the property of men only through their parent and creator, God.

2. But there is, besides, another reason, a unique one, why We consider that this immortal achievement should be recalled by Us with memorial words. For Columbus is ours; since if a little consideration be given to the particular reason of his design in exploring the mare tenebrosum, and also the manner in which he endeavoured to execute the design, it is indubitable that the Catholic faith was the strongest motive for the inception and prosecution of the design; so that for this reason also the whole human race owes not a little to the Church.

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4 Responses to Sail On!

  • the greatest event since the Resurrection of Christ and the first Pentecost was the discovery of the New World. Yeah, there is circumstantial evidence that others made their way to the Americas before Columbus but their efforts had no long lasting results.

    Queen Isabel the Catholic, Servant of God, uniter of a free and Catholic Spain rid of the Muslim invader, backed Columbus with little more than faith and money.

    Despite the sins of those who came to the Americas, the world is a better place for Columbus’ efforts. Cortez put an end to human sacrifice and cannibalism. We have had no French Revolution. We have had no National Socialism. Except for poor Cuba, we have had no Marxism. We have had no Holodomor. We have had no Irish Potato Famine. We have had no gulags, no death camps with crematories, no genocide, no Final Solution. As for the Indians who were treated poorly, I offer no defense, but they did not treat each other well either. Slavery was an institution imported here by the Eastern Hemisphere and rid by the West.

    This nation, whose founding fathers were a hodgepodge of Deists, Protestants and Masons, did, with Catholic help from Spain and France, Pulaski, Lafayette, Kosziusko and von Steuben, defeated the mightiest Empire in the world, and then fought in two World Wars as an ally to defeat an evil enemy, and then brought down the most evil empire the world had ever seen.

    None of this happens without the vision of Columbus. Those who criticize his governance probably voted for Obumbler.

  • Penguins, since I now live here I am grateful for Columbus’ journey. But to claim all is rosy and no ills came of it is silly at best. Especially the claim of no genocide of final solution. This seems to fly in the face of the history of the new world and especially the US. It is estimated that population of the native people was reduced by over 90% after Columbus landed. Whole villages were depopulated. Most due to disease, but many due to slaughter because we wanted their land. They did not all partake in human sacrifice, in fact few did and Cortez was only able to defeat the Aztecs because the rest of the native tribes hated them.

    The Indians were not poorly treated, my brother treated me poorly when he wouldn’t share the bed, The Indians were murdered, enslaved forced to live on poor land, forced to move again, and again, stolen from and lied to. Not just by the Eastern Hemisphere Empires, but by the American government. Though the evil enemy in WWII was plain, a real study of history would question who was really evil in WWI.

    Yes, I criticize the governance of a man who had slaves carry him from place to place. Please include some honesty in your replies.

  • Tongue firmly is planted in cheek: On June 25, 1876, Custer and half the Seventh Cavalry died for it (see Dee Brown). Plus, America is liable for divine retribution for slavery, Islamophobia (The Shores of Tripoli), conquering the better parts of Mexico (Manifest Destiny), ravaging Eden, exterminating the passenger pigeon, capitalism/robber barons, exploiting labor, seizing the Philippines, Dresden/Hiroshima/Nagasaki, daring to oppose Leninism/Stalinism, mistreating gays, racism, income inequality, the war on women, homophobia, global warming, gun violence, cruelty to animals, etc. Someone let me know if I omitted a liberal swear-word.
    There are two brands of liberal: the ones that hate America and the ones that really, really hate America and the uses Americans make of their liberty. Above (in my opinion) are some of their reasons.

  • Paul, I am in no mood for another person to go and pick an argument with me. So you don’t like my post. I don’t give a damn. I did not offend Mr. McClarey who runs this blog and whose judgment I respect, nor most of the regular posters here. I’m certain they would have let me know about it in no uncertain terms if I did.

    As for questioning who really was the “bad guy” in World War I, I have had it with people who excuse the Austro-Hungarian Empire (ostensibly because it was ruled by a Catholic) and Germany. The Austrians and Germans were an expansionist bunch. Germans wanted Polish land for almost a thousand years. Bismarck remarked that Poles were dogs who should just die and he enacted the Kulturkampf. Anyone who defends the Germans in WWI is a nonentity to me.

    Respond to who you want, but leave me alone.

Pope Leo and Saint Michael the Archangel

Monday, September 29, AD 2014

(I originally posted this in 2010.  I think I will begin posting it on each September 29, the feast of the Archangels.)

In 1947 Father Domenico Pechenino related what he had witnessed over six decades before.

“I do not remember the exact year. One morning the great Pope Leo XIII had celebrated a Mass and, as usual, was attending a Mass of thanksgiving. Suddenly, we saw him raise his head and stare at something above the celebrant’s head. He was staring motionlessly, without batting an eye. His expression was one of horror and awe; the colour and look on his face changing rapidly. Something unusual and grave was happening in him.

“Finally, as though coming to his senses, he lightly but firmly tapped his hand and rose to his feet. He headed for his private office. His retinue followed anxiously and solicitously, whispering: ‘Holy Father, are you not feeling well? Do you need anything?’ He answered: ‘Nothing, nothing.’ About half an hour later, he called for the Secretary of the Congregation of Rites and, handing him a sheet of paper, requested that it be printed and sent to all the ordinaries around the world. What was that paper? It was the prayer that we recite with the people at the end of every Mass. It is the plea to Mary and the passionate request to the Prince of the heavenly host, (St. Michael: Saint Michael the Archangel, defend us in battle) beseeching God to send Satan back to hell.”

Cardinal Giovanni Batista Nassalli Rocca di Corneiliano wrote in his Pastoral Letters on Lent“the sentence ‘The evil spirits who wander through the world for the ruin of souls’ has a historical explanation that was many times repeated by his private secretary, Monsignor Rinaldo Angeli. Leo XIII truly saw, in a vision, demonic spirits who were congregating on the Eternal City (Rome). The prayer that he asked all the Church to recite was the fruit of that experience. He would recite that prayer with strong, powerful voice: we heard it many a time in the Vatican Basilica. Leo XIII also personally wrote an exorcism that is included in the Roman Ritual. He recommended that bishops and priests read these exorcisms often in their dioceses and parishes. He himself would recite them often throughout the day.”

The Prayer written by the Pope is of course the famous prayer to Saint Michael:

Sancte Michael Archangele,
defende nos in proelio;
contra nequitiam et insidias diaboli esto praesidium.
Imperet illi Deus, supplices deprecamur:
tuque, Princeps militiae Caelestis,
satanam aliosque spiritus malignos,
qui ad perditionem animarum pervagantur in mundo,
divina virtute in infernum detrude.

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6 Responses to Pope Leo and Saint Michael the Archangel

  • An annual posting is good and necessary. When I was a child the prayer to St. Michael intention was for the conversion of Russia. At my mission church we have prayed for about 10 years to St. Michael after daily Mass and at the 0730 Sunday Mass which has no music other than the Sanctus and Agnus Dei. In another parish they preface the recitation with “For religious freedom”. The diocese of Arlington is very traditional. When my nephew was in Afghnistan and Iraq I sent him blessed St. Benedict medals and St. Michael holy cards for him and his men. It’s a powerful prayer.

  • As for recitation of exorcisms, the only words to that effect that I can recall taught to us by the IHMs were “Begone Satan!”. To be used when one is distracted during Mass or at prayer. It works.

  • Was it ever addressed by the Church as to why it was removed from the low Masses?

  • I don’t know where the “why” is addressed, I know it happened in #48 of Inter oecumenici.
    At the same time Psalm 42 before mass was dropped, (I will go in to the altar of God: to God Who gives joy to my youth. Judge me, O God….)

    Here’s a link “The Day The Mass Changed”

  • Our new 30-something pastor has asked everyone to recite the St. Michael prayer at the end of Mass. it is quite appropriate and moving.

  • Chapter II. Mystery of the Eucharist

    I. ORDO MISSAE (SC art. 50)

    48. Until reform of the entire Ordo Missae, the points that follow are to be observed:

    j. The last gospel is omitted; the Leonine Prayers are suppressed.

    Thanks, Anzlyne.

7 Responses to Libertarianism & CST: The Debate Continues

  • My response:
    Sanchez says I’ve done nothing to alter his original opinion of my views:
    “everything that coheres with the libertarian worldview is in; everything which opposes it is out.”
    Let me explain why it looks that way. As I have already mentioned, and as has been mentioned by other Catholic libertarians and even pro-market conservatives, there are two kinds of statements about economics; “normative” or moral statements, and descriptive or technical statements. In my reading of the Papal encyclicals, there is very little, if anything at all, in the way of normative or moral statements that I would toss out. This is because the vast majority of such statements are clearly oriented towards the ultimate ends of economic activity, which is the common good. No disagreement from me on that!
    What I consider “out” are statements of a descriptive or predictive or theoretical nature that are either dubious or simply false. And there are plenty of those.
    “As a matter of interpretive principles, I reject Hargrave’s narrow textualist approach which would create a tensions in the encyclical’s text and also put Leo XIII’s instruction out of continuity with post-Leonine developments of Catholic social teaching (CST). Hargrave, oddly, seems to forget that Rerum Novarum launched, not capped, the Church’s modern social magisterium.”
    I don’t believe my reading of RN creates tensions in the text itself. Here Sanchez and I have what I consider to be mostly a semantic dispute that I’m not even going to address in detail here. But I do believe there are tensions between RN and later developments in CST. So what?
    The whole reason we have these debates is to overcome the incessant moralism and dogmatism that the self-appointed defenders of CST often engage in. I am not arguing that all Catholics must be libertarians, but I am arguing that the goals of justice and general prosperity are best served by a market economy. In the minds of more than a few Catholics, this argument itself is heretical. In Leo XIII we have a pope who articulated and defended the first and most basic pillar of a free market economy – the individual, natural and inviolable right to the fruits of one’s labor as their property. In further discussing the relation between the individual man and the state, Leo XIII defends the idea that it is man who precedes the state (a reversal of the old Aristotelian idea), that his rights exist before the state exists, and it is the state that exists to serve man and protect his rights. He rejects the notion that the state has a duty to confiscate the surplus wealth of individuals and redistribute it to the poor (except in cases of extreme need). If all of this causes “tension”, well, one can read it all out of the encyclical, deny that it is there, magically “contextualize” it out of existence – or one can accept that there are tensions, and that this is ok. Who said there had to be 100% consistency on these points? We’re not talking about the Immaculate Conception here.
    I could also go off on a long tangent about a whole host of other “tensions” in the pre and post Vatican II Magisteriums that are a heck of a lot more disturbing than this one, but Sanchez is quite familiar with those already.

    Sanchez says I and others blatantly mischaracterize his views about what CST calls for. Well, I never intended to mischaracterize. His views weren’t exactly clear to me, and in some cases I was simply speaking in general terms about what people on his side of the spectrum tend to believe. I have a feeling that if we got down to details, we would probably end up agreeing on a number of issues. If he rejects mass egalitarian projects like Obamacare, onerous taxes on the wealthy, a Leviathan administrative state, etc. then I don’t see that we have many practical disagreements. The key issue for the libertarian is the use of force. As a minarchist I’m not a “pure” libertarian anarchist, but I do reject confiscatory taxation as a violation of the right to private property. I reject the idea that an entity with an absolute monopoly of violence is required to “intervene” in the economy – let alone to ensure that “labor” is somehow exalted over “capital.” Of course I am interested to see how that might be done without “heavy handed, often costly regulatory measures.” Impress me!
    “I would ask Hargrave, in charity as a fellow Catholic, to drop libertarianism’s Manichaean outlook which would have all the world divided into “freedom lovers” and “statists.””
    I haven’t called anyone a statist, not here, in my previous reply, or in my Crisis piece. If I did in a comment box somewhere, I apologize.

  • That picture of Leo XIII is vaguely campy. Why are you using it?

  • There are many reasons why the state may interfere with free markets, other than redistribution of wealth.

    Protectionism, whether in the form of tariffs or subsidies is often proposed on strategic grounds, to ensure security of supply in the event of conflict. For more than a century, French governments protected their iron and steel industries, subsidized agriculture for this reason. They built a vast rail network, 30,000 km of it, with branch lines serving every hamlet. Most of these could never operate at a profit; they were intended for the rapid mobilisation of reserves and it was as much part of the national defences as the frontier fortresses.

    It was Liberals and Radical Republicans, one recalls, who treated universal suffrage and universal conscription as two sides of the same coin and saw in the levée en masse the supreme expression of the republic, one and indivisible

    Adam Smith, one recalls, defended the Navigation Acts, requiring British goods to be exported in British ships on precisely these grounds: they created, in effect, a naval reserve and a ready supply of fleet auxiliaries.

    An Arch-Conservative like Bismark, ran Prussia like an armed camp; every male citizen was a soldier, actual or potential, industry was increasingly integrated into the system of national defence and the distinction between the armed forces and the “Home Front” was blurred.

    One recalls Rousseau, “Each man alienates, I admit, by the social compact, only such part of his powers, goods and liberty as it is important for the community to control; but it must also be granted that the Sovereign [the People] is sole judge of what is important.”

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  • So far all wealth transfer has done is export abortion, contraception and sterilization to men and women around the world, particularly in developing countries that don’t want it. In fact, the recipients of charity must agree to sterilize, Norplant or vasectomies in order to receive food, medicine, water and mosquito nets. It disgusts me. I refuse to support government mandated wealth redistribution until the evils of abortion and contraception are abolished. Let the poor receive hard goods (such as bags of rice) through reputable suppliers only, and not the U.N. and its population councils as it is presently done. I demand that Pope Francis account for where charitable donations go, and give us a sound reason why Catholics should support wealth redistribution in the face of this great evil.

  • This is most certainly an oversimplified assertion, but libertarianism, as it is generally espoused today, is compatible neither with Catholicism nor, for that matter, with the American ethos. Liberty and order, which may superficially appear to be incompatible, must be pursued simultaneously, as neither has unqualified primacy of place in the creation and maintenance of the good society.

    Catholicism and the American ethos define order in a quite different manner, but both acknowledge that order, pursued in a predetermined, consistent and principled manner, is necessary to true liberty and the pursuit of happiness. One of the primary challenges for American Catholics is to resolve the tension between the Catholic view of order and the American view of order.

  • ” . . . but libertarianism, as it is generally espoused today, is compatible neither with Catholicism nor for that matter, with the American ethos.”
    Correct. Libertarianism, as it is generally espoused today, is a corruption fomented by major party hacks and other fascists of varying hue. Libertarianism, as I knew it 30 years ago before it became a threat to the Standing Order, was so compatible with the American ethos that we had trouble even finding contrast to give it substance and definition. It was compatible with Catholicism like nitrogen is compatible with breathing. As it is generally espoused today it is not Libertarianism. To believe that it is, is to swallow the Kool-Aid and join the lockstep ranks of statist lemmings.
    The corruption that Libertarianism has suffered is the same corruption that has pervaded all of American society. All of society and everything relevant to it – in short, pretty much everything – is now seen through the lens of collective politics and government. In this way, the Progressive Fascists have already won the day. This warped, Godless perspective cannot but paint its diametric opposite in anything but the ugliest of shades. The better part, then, it to shatter the lens of corruption and look straight on.
    Once the corrupting interference is excised, Libertarianism is viewed from a human perspective which is the only accurate view: Morals and ethics ought to be taught by parents to their children, informed and reinforced by their chosen houses of worship without question of correctness, even in dissimilarity, among the citizens. Responsibilities ought to be solely the realm of the individual, forged by the necessity of either working in profitable mutual effort or failing. Rights ought to be propagated primarily through their mutual defense even (or especially) in disagreement in order to preserve the integrity of community and nation (“I may disagree with what you say but I will defend to the death your right to say it.” Try that on ANY campus of “higher learning” today.) Shortcoming in any of these three areas represents a failure, and it is incumbent upon friend and neighbor to offer fellowship, loving chastisement and opportunity for mutual benefit in its cure. These are the cornerstones of Libertarianism.
    Government ought to be the warehouse in which violence in the name of order is bound, and loosed only in circumstances that render no other solution, and solely for the enforcement of contract or punishment of aggressive criminality. All other activity ought to be the domain of the individual citizen; a vigorous Catholic Church would be sine qua non for a prosperous, charitable and orderly community.
    The Austrian School, and not the Keynesian, is the Libertarian economic model. How this can be called incompatible with Catholicism can only be an act of lack of information. Economics, like Salvation, is the action of individuals and cannot be successfully collectivized. The end result is multitudes in landscape, but a forest is only as healthy as its trees.
    So, whatever is called Libertarianism today, it is not. Libertinism, perhaps, but that would die a quick and painful death in a truly Libertarian society; or Anarchy, maybe, but that’s a simple absence of something, and natural abhorrence to vacuum would rapidly address such inequity, and not for the better. Libertarianism is only as visible as it is nowadays because the epicenter of political thought has moved so far from what it used to be. Libertarians’ most object wish is to be unrecognizable from the mainstream in thought and action. The difference between us and other political stripes is that once upon a time, we were.
    So, apologies for the rant. I’m simply tired of seeing the incorrect application of that term. Winessing the success of the Fascists in its obfuscation, to the point that good Catholic folks can’t recognize the system that would best provide for our optimal social condition, is tremendously frustrating and so I had to vent. I appreciate your kindness and time.

The Forgotten Men & Women of America

Monday, November 26, AD 2012

In 1883, William Graham Sumner published an essay titled “The Forgotten Man” (originally titled “On the Case of a Certain Man Who Is Never Thought Of” – not quite as catchy) which is as relevant today as it was when it was written. The essay is a great exposition of the laissez-faire understanding and approach to social problems and articulates what I believe many on the libertarian right and within the Tea Party believe today. From a Catholic point of view, there is much I find agreeable within it, though there are certain tangents, unnecessary to the main argument, that I would take issue with.

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14 Responses to The Forgotten Men & Women of America

  • “Of all tyrannies, a tyranny sincerely exercised for the good of its victims may be the most oppressive. It would be better to live under robber barons than under omnipotent moral busybodies. The robber baron’s cruelty may sometimes sleep, his cupidity may at some point be satiated; but those who torment us for our own good will torment us without end for they do so with the approval of their own conscience.” – CS Lewis

  • Bureaucracies, militaries, etc. are unproductive but necessary to varying extents.

    No, the civil service and the military perform useful services. They are not, however, services that emerge from market transactions, hence the resort to public agency.

  • Useful does not = productive. Unproductive does not = useless.

  • ” . . . the civil service and the military perform useful services.”

    Truth. The military destroys things and kills people in order to prevent such evils from being inflicted on the citizenry. It does not (since they stopped issuing letters of marque) produce wealth, goods, or servicers. It takes assets, economic resources, wealth from the producers. Similarly, the civil service/bureaucrats do not produce but take from the productive sectors.

    And, above the two are politicians that deal in coersion and fraud; and have devolved into latter-day Gracchi trading bread and circuses for votes.

    Some thoughts:

    This rewards bad behavior.

    See Zerohedge, PA has issued a study showing how a family of four on various welfare entitlements has higher disposable income than the similar family that grosses $69,000 a year.

    There is no such a thing as a free lunch; or something for nothing. Someone pays for it.

    It’s always other people’s money.

    Nations reach breaking points when producers/taxpayers become outnumbered by dependents/tax takers.

    Symptoms of national disaster include the tax-taking segments growing more rapidly than the wealth-producing sectors, they call it “The evil, unjust private sector.” In 2011, the US national debt grew by more than did the evil, unjust private sector GDP, and that is just one part of the increases in government taking.

    Voting for abortionists, sodomists, and class hate-mongers (they promise to take more from somebody else that you hate whom they charge isn’t paying his “fair share”) to feed the Obama-voting moron bloc is not one of the Corporal Works of Mercy.

    Let’s have some fun. List the public utils produced by various bureaucracies.

    I’ll start with the EPA: higher prices for elecricity, gasoline, home heating oil; and shortages to boot.

    Feel free to jump in.

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  • Seeing as salty truth-tellers of old are the elixir of choice in these parts, I offer, for your edification, from 1872…

    Michael Muller, while a favourite of some (what are now thought to be) fringe Catholic groups, has in his other works great insights into prayer and the faith. Well worth a read, IMHO. Deeply rooted in the 32nd Doctor of the Church, St. Alphonsus Liguori.

  • “Vice is its own curse. If we let nature alone, she cures vice by the most frightful penalties.”

    He ignores the penalties inflicted on the innocent bystanders. No man is an island. No action happens in a vacuum. Every vice has a societal cost. The idea of victimless crime is non-reality.

    You read Sumner’s quote and see an affirmation of natural law. I see a justification of natural selection, which wouldn’t be surprising since such thought was rising to the forefront of academic thought in his time.

  • Darren O.,

    I’m familiar with Michael Muller. He’s the theological equivalent of 90-proof alcohol – drink it only if you’re sure you can handle it.


    Some things labeled “victimless crimes” really do have victims. Others really are harmless. Marijuana does not post a greater risk to society than alcohol; both should be prohibited or both should be legalized. In my opinion, both should be legal, not one person ought to ever be molested by the state for possessing or indulging in them. We can and should still punish crimes resulting from intoxication, but not everyone, not even the majority, will abuse these substances to the point that they pose an actual threat to someone else (to the point where the police need to become involved, that is).

    Sumner’s point and mine is that you cannot save people from themselves, and that what motivates the majority of intervention by the state is not so much a concern for society as a self-righteous delusion that enlightened elites will save the lower classes from themselves and elevate them. I reject this fantasy on moral and practical grounds.

  • “Marijuana does not post a greater risk to society than alcohol; both should be prohibited or both should be legalized.”

    There is a point when risks becomes too costly for society. While alcohol comes with its costs, introducing another intoxicant into the market will simply increase the harm incurred. And while the one indulging won’t be prosecuted in a legalize all vices society, everyone else would be punished in some form.

    This is the problem I have with the Ron Paul crowd and its obsession with legalizing narcotics. It is their belief in the license to participate in vices as the ultimate example of real freedom. Their freedom is embracing the worst habits of us and not the free exercise of what makes us a great citizen, community and country.

    “Sumner’s point and mine is that you cannot save people from themselves”

    It’s true the decision to do good or bad ultimately lies with the individual. However, law can have a positive effect in deterring one to do harm to him or herself. Absent the law, the tempted individual sees license to partake of legal activity without a true understanding of serious, even dire, consequences.

    You acknowledge there is a risk to legalization, but your interpretation of Sumner’s point makes risk evaluation pointless. For no matter the risk, you can’t save people from themselves. The result is a society where there are no personal limits. All narcotics are legalized, and no societal costs until harm to another party is done. That’s a difficult argument to make to a mother crying over a child killed by a school bus driver who showed up to work hung over from a crack high.

  • Kyle,

    I question whether or not the costs of prosecuting people for marijuana are greater than the alleged harm that these people cause society. It is a grave thing to take away a person’s freedom, or to otherwise interfere in their life, and it is all done at the expense of the taxpayer (i.e. forgotten man). Is it justifiable to cause real and lasting harm to moderate drug users? Because that is what happens when the state arrests, prosecutes, fines, monitors and ultimately imprisons a man. It is harm to a real individual, who may have dependents, who may be a worker paying taxes, who may have any number of social roles.

    So when you say that the “harm incurred” would be increased, I see that it would be decreased.

    “It is their belief in the license to participate in vices as the ultimate example of real freedom.”

    That’s really just not true. I think Ron Paul and many of us supporters would be the first to acknowledge that those who sin, are slaves to sin, that those who are addicts are not really free. This isn’t about suggesting the best means to personal freedom, but rather defining the role and the limitations of the state and the rights of the individual. We believe people ought to be free to make bad choices, though I honestly don’t see the substantial difference between having a drink (which we all regard as morally neutral, not being Puritans) and smoking a joint.

    It is also about, again, the forgotten man – the taxpayer, who has to cough up the dough to finance the criminal justice system that prosecutes all of these people for their own good. I don’t want my tax dollars spent on this. America was fine when marijuana wasn’t a controlled substance, and it will be fine again when these absurd laws are finally scrapped.

    “However, law can have a positive effect in deterring one to do harm to him or herself. ”

    Whenever you use the word “law”, I see “coercion”, because that is what we are really talking about, and in my view the use of force against a person requires a much greater justification than “they have a bad habit we need to stop for their own good.” And I have to tell you, from personal experience, that I’ve known maybe one, two at the most people who were afraid to smoke marijuana because it was “against the law.” It is a non-factor for most normal human beings. Many more people I knew refused to smoke because of drug tests or even lie detector tests that current or potential employers might subject them to.

    Believe it or not, freedom does work. Because freedom includes the rights of employers not to have potheads for employees, especially when people want to join the police or firefighters or military. This idea of the coercive state as our nanny, telling us what is best for us, though, is a degradation of human dignity. We have enough people throwing away their dignity all on their own, and we don’t need the state adding to it.

    “Absent the law, the tempted individual sees license to partake of legal activity without a true understanding of serious, even dire, consequences.”

    What I just said really proves this false. People lose their jobs, their friends, their money, their homes due to drug addiction. These are punishment enough, and they are all imposed by organic social institutions, not the artificial Leviathan. On the other hand, people who use drugs and can retain all of these things have demonstrated that they have a handle on it, and it is stupid and vindictive to punish them for it.

    “That’s a difficult argument to make to a mother crying over a child killed by a school bus driver who showed up to work hung over from a crack high.”

    She should be mad at the school for not screening their employees. Do you really think a crackhead cares that crack is against the law? To even become a crackhead you would have already have to have broken dozens of laws. Crackheads should be removed from the streets and put in rehabilitation facilities (not prisons where they can be gang-raped by unchecked prison gangs), not because they violated some absurd Puritanical rule against intoxicants, but because they do pose a threat.

    But a casual pot smoker is not a crackhead, and less of a danger than an alcoholic.

  • Hi Bonchamps. Had to step away and get some things done. Back to the discussion…

    You and I agree there are reasonable limits on freedoms. Freedom of speech doesn’t mean you can yell fire in a theater. Right to bear arms doesn’t mean you can possess a nuclear missile in your backyard. The debate is where to draw the line.

    You mentioned the costs to enforce the drug laws as a justification to cease the prohibition. It is my belief that the rightness or wrongness of a law is never based on its enforceability or its costs.

    If we, as a society, decide sex trafficking is wrong and should be illegal, does it matter the cost to enforce it? At what budgetary line does a harmful activity became non-harmful? Is sex trafficking bad when enforcement is $1 million but licit when enforcement costs $1 million + $1?

    How much has been spent on stopping and prosecuting murder? By the legalize narcotics standards, we should cease those laws. They are simply ineffective and too costly. Murderers will murder anyway. Or, is it possible the very existence of the law provides a beneficial deterrence to would be murders?

    You say the drug user’s addiction is punishment enough. If you have known, worked with, lived with, been the victim of, etc. an addict, you know that person is not the only one punished. Those people are the real forgotten men, the trail of victims the addict leaves behind. Those who have to live with the costs incurred by an addict’s habit. Don’t forget those forgotten men.

    In regards to Ron Paul supporters, I know very well how they think and what issues are important to them. The Paulistas rally around narcotic legalization as the ultimate example of freedom. Yet, finding such fervor about the rights of the unborn and religious freedom is virtually silent. They claim to be freedom fighters, but their motivations are really selfish. “Let me smoke my pot. Erase my debts you evil big banks.”

    I could go on and on about the problems of Paulistas. I have 2 in the family and have seen endless postings by them and their friends. You are the sanest one I’ve ever met, probably the only sane one.

  • “You mentioned the costs to enforce the drug laws as a justification to cease the prohibition. It is my belief that the rightness or wrongness of a law is never based on its enforceability or its costs.”

    Well, I don’t share that belief. I think it is morally wrong to not consider the practicality or the costs, because if they are worse than the problem that the policy claims to address, you are imposing unfair and unnecessary burdens on people. Costs matter, especially when you are proposing to confiscate people’s private property to pay them. There is rightness and wrongness to consider every step along the way. When you say you don’t care about costs, you’re basically saying that you don’t care about the consequences of your actions. How is that anything other than sociopathic?

    “If we, as a society, decide sex trafficking is wrong and should be illegal, does it matter the cost to enforce it? ”

    Yes, it does matter. It absolutely matters. There is a hierarchy of needs and priorities. I don’t know exactly where sex trafficking falls on that hierarchy, but I’m pretty sure that there are things higher than it that need to be addressed before that issue can be addressed.

    “How much has been spent on stopping and prosecuting murder? By the legalize narcotics standards, we should cease those laws. They are simply ineffective and too costly. Murderers will murder anyway. Or, is it possible the very existence of the law provides a beneficial deterrence to would be murders?”

    The state exists to protect natural rights. Laws against murder reflect the fact that we have a natural right to life that no man is justified in violating. Laws against marijuana, on the other hand, prevent people from engaging in behavior that AT BEST might theoretically cause someone else harm. At worst they are proposed to save people form themselves, which is a violation of human dignity and free will.

    The law does not exist to “instruct.” It does not exist to make us better people. That is the role of religion, of society, of our families. The law exists to protect our rights against would-be violators. That’s all.

    “You say the drug user’s addiction is punishment enough. If you have known, worked with, lived with, been the victim of, etc. an addict, you know that person is not the only one punished. Those people are the real forgotten men, the trail of victims the addict leaves behind. Those who have to live with the costs incurred by an addict’s habit. Don’t forget those forgotten men.”

    First of all, I have.

    Secondly, the state doesn’t exist to help those people. That is what families, churches, and local organizations are for. The state shouldn’t have a thing to do with what ought to be a private matter.

    “I know very well how they think and what issues are important to them. The Paulistas rally around narcotic legalization as the ultimate example of freedom.”

    Well, this is at stereotype. I am a Ron Paul supporter, and I don’t believe that. Neither does Judge Napolitano, Tom Woods, Chuck Baldwin or any number of conservative religious Ron Paul supporters.

    “You are the sanest one I’ve ever met, probably the only sane one.”

    Check out the guys I mentioned.

  • Again, and with reference to Blackadder’s contention, the Federal Bureau of Prisons has a budget of $6.9 bn, of which the Department of Justice attributes $3.5 bn to the cost of incarcerating people for whom the top count was a drug charge. Federal prisoners account for about 11% of the nation’s inmates, but a much higher share of those incarcerated for street drugs (~30%). The federal Drug Enforcement Administration has a budget of $2.4 bn. Overall, around 20% of the sum of costs for law enforcement at all levels of government is attributable to the gross costs of enforcing the drug laws. Not 10% of all public expenditure is lavished on police, courts, and prisons. About 2% of all public expenditure can be fairly attributable to drug enforcement.

    (While we are at it, libertarians, around 15% of all public expenditure is allocated to the military, and somewhat under 30% of all soldiers are billeted abroad, so “the empire” accounts for just north of 4% of public expenditure).

What Conservative Catholics Should Keep Doing

Saturday, April 21, AD 2012

My last post got a lot of traffic, along with generous heapings of love and hate. The love is always appreciated. As for the hate, when it doesn’t amuse me with its enraged ignorance, it makes me sad with its malicious presumption.

How anyone could come away from my post thinking that I believe conservative Catholics should “shut up” about public affronts to Christ is beyond me. Maybe I didn’t make clear that I think we should have a public prayer campaign for the conversion of people like Jon Stewart. Maybe some of you don’t understand how much such a gesture would rial up the left, far more so than some hysterical campaign for a public apology. But tunnel-vision is funny that way.

So, in order to avoid any confusion…

By all means, please keep pointing out and denouncing public attacks on the faith.

That is what I intend to do here on this blog, and what we are all called to do.

Continue reading...

11 Responses to What Conservative Catholics Should Keep Doing

  • Islam or any other false religion is fair game for criticism and by extension mockery. The Angelic Doctor had a few choice words on the topic:

  • I don’t know how you leap from criticism, which is legitimate, to mockery.

    Maybe I agree with you in principle, that it isn’t “wrong.” I certainly don’t think it is wise or prudent given today’s circumstances. The threat posed by secularism in this country is greater – far, far greater – than the threat posed by Islam. I don’t see what we gain from it. I can only see it hurting us.

    And please, mind you, that I am speaking of mockery. Criticism of Islam is entirely legitimate and I have no problem with that. I do not believe in bending and bowing to avoid offending them. But I do think there is a BIG difference between criticism and mockery, and that mockery is totally unnecessary and irrational at this point.

  • Bonchamps: “Forgive me, as well, if I would like our public response to be mature and dignified, and not reeking of schoolyard tit-for-tat.”
    The National Endowment for the Arts gave millions upon millions of Catholic tax dollars to individuals who put a crucifix in a bucket of piss and called it “PISS CHRIST” , told people that Jesus was having homosexual relations with His Apostles, scandalized anyone who was unlucky enough to see the play “CORPUS CHRISTI”, ants on the Body of the crucified Christ, the life sized statue of Jesus crucified in chocolate with visitors invited to eat from the cross, dung on the image of our Blessed Mother, as “natural’ and “fecundity”, Vagina Monologues, and Jon Stewart. Then there was the silly things, a naked girl covered her body in chocolate syrup and bean sprouts and called herself covered in sperm because she says she always wanted to do that, and with our money? I mean what does a bottle of chocolate syrup cost and a bag of bean sprouts? She wanted the attention her outrageous behavior bought at our expense. Bonchamps: it is guerrilla warfare, ambush and hide. These people are monsters doing monstrous things, and Catholic tax dollars are funding this. So, If I do not buy Kraft anymore, the sponsor does not fund Jon Stewart and he has no pay check. Bonchamps: When was the last time you saw a prayerful gathering in the media? Never, unless the participants were being arrested. How would I know when and who to boycott and for what? St. Clare with the Blessed Sacrament faced down the invading Saracens and to a man they fell down and fled. I have begged and pleaded for the Blessed Sacrament in procession in public, now, before it is too late as Obama has taken all public places to himself.

  • More important than cowardice as reason for consistent media disinterest in criticizing Islam is the fact that Holy Mother the Church is far more dangerous to their (liberal) agenda.

    To paraphrase the smartest Yankee philosopher: “It ain’t mockery if it’s true.”

    Howdy, Joe!

  • Mary De Voe,

    I just don’t understand how anything you said relates to anything I said.

  • To see how serious the threat of Islam is, I recommend Pat Buchanan’s books, Day of Reckoning and Suicide of a Superpower.

  • The point stands. Islam’s losses are not our gains, at least not in the context of this media-mockery dispute.

  • My strategy is to point out that Jon Stewart gets beaten in the ratings by reruns of Friends and Family Guy. The kind of person who’s impressed by Jon Stewart typically hates to be on the declining end of a trend that’s become passe.

    I agree with Bonchamps for the most part on this subject, although I think there’s nothing wrong with differing opinions on tactics. I can convey dismissive uber-coolness better than sincere piety (I don’t know why, but it’s true), so I can go after Stewart for being predictable and pathetic. To each his own.

    I think Bonchamps is a little off about the Conservative Catholic response to Islam, though. The chiding that he mentions isn’t directed at Islam; it’s directed at the media. The South Park guys did more than anyone to expose the sad state of the media. Did they insult Islam? No, although the reaction of some Islamists to the non-insult was also illuminating. But the people who looked the worst in that affair were Comedy Central.

  • “The chiding that he mentions isn’t directed at Islam; it’s directed at the media”

    It still amazes me how people can say this. It’s like saying “in order to shoot at the guy standing behind you, I’m going to unload a full magazine into your body.”

    There’s a difference between simply pointing out that the media won’t mock Islam, which is true, and actually demanding that it do so, or taunting it to do so, lest it be considered “hypocritical”, which in my view is neither wise nor moral. Again, I see dishonorable Alinskyism at work in such tactics. Maybe I’m a medievalist pining for the lost days of chivalry, but I don’t want to win any battles at the expense of our honor.

    I’m not saying its inherently sinful, but I do think it lowers us in dignity to such an extent that I would question what makes “my side” so much better than “their side.” I reject the school of morality I found when I read Trotsky’s “Their Morals and Ours”, which basically states that what (in his context) Bolshevik revolutionaries do is right if it is for the sake of the communist revolution while the same acts committed by someone else for a different and presumably less worthy goal would be wrong. Which isn’t, again, to say that context doesn’t matter either – some things CAN be more or less moral depending on the circumstances. Here I think it is a clear case of doing intentional harm to an innocent bystander in order to go for the jugular. It smells rotten, it smells un-Christlike, and so I reject it.

    I really have no special love for Islam myself. I think the Crusades were justified and that Islam is about as false a religion as they come. But even King Richard had respect for Saladin.

    And as for South Park, they insult everything. Like many in our generation, anything is justifiable as long as you call it “comedy.” They insult all religions on a regular basis. And one can, I suppose, admire their consistency. But the point wasn’t really about them: it was about Donohue’s reaction to their really disgusting and unrepeatable mockery of the Church. I distinctly recall him calling the creators of South Park “cowards” because (in his mistaken view) they wouldn’t mock Islam. He was taunting them, goading them to do it.

  • Bonchamps – I agree with the principles you’ve stated. I don’t support Alinskyite tactics, and I don’t want to see “my side” resort to them. We disagree on whether our side *has* resorted to them. I haven’t seen any evidence of it. I don’t think you can call Pamela Geller a voice of conservative Catholicism, seeing as she’s Jewish and runs the Atlas Shrugs website. I think it’s fair to note the media’s reactions to her and South Park’s stunts, but I wouldn’t want to see Catholics get caught up in a call to insult Islam the way Christianity has been insulted over the years.

  • ” I don’t think you can call Pamela Geller a voice of conservative Catholicism”

    I don’t. A voice of conservatism, though, and one that conservative Catholics may well listen to.

    Donohue, obviously, is a different story.