False Equivalence-A common way for this fallacy to be perpetuated is one shared trait between two subjects is assumed to show equivalence, especially in order of magnitude, when equivalence is not necessarily the logical result. False equivalence is a common result when an anecdotal similarity is pointed out as equal, but the claim of equivalence doesn’t bear because the similarity is based on oversimplification or ignorance of additional factors. The pattern of the fallacy is often as such: If A is the set of c and d, and B is the set of d and e, then since they both contain d, A and B are equal. d is not required to exist in both sets; only a passing similarity is required to cause this fallacy to be able to be used.
Oh good. I was afraid that we would miss on the 70th anniversary of Hiroshima Mark Shea’s usual histrionics:
If nuking these cities was a major U.S. war crime, illicit under international law and Church teaching, then we are put in the position of demanding a higher price in blood to salve our consciences. There are times in real life when one must commit a wrong in order to avoid an even greater wrong. These instances arise frequently in wartime. Another example: the terrorist who must be “tortured” in order to find out where the bombs are.
Jimmy, you’re right when you say that we were participating formally in evil when we dropped the bomb. Unfortunately, our participation in evil began almost four years earlier when we entered the war. This is the nature of war. There is much, much evil in it, and we do ourselves a disservice when through our well-meaning but futile efforts to mitigate its evil we prolong it and make it even worse.
What ties each of these stories together is perverted courage. For instance, note the sick logic at work in Himmler’s remarks: the willingness to commit murder is transmuted, in Himmler’s diabolical imagination, into a brave act of self-sacrifice. He consoles the SS soldiers by telling them they are tough men willing to do the dirty work of war. They don’t moralistically refuse to do acts that risk hell but bravely undertake the work of sinning gravely for a higher cause. They have the guts softer men lack to butcher thousands of innocent Jews and are willing to endure this hardship—the psychological trauma that goes with doing monstrous evil—for the sake of the love of country without looking for any loopholes.
Myers uses the same curious rhetoric of bravery to undergird his stirring defense of his Kermit Gosnell view of life – which also turns out to be a stirring defense of the Dr. Josef Mengele view of life. These men, like Myers, were “unafraid” to reduce millions of other, slightly older, human beings to “pieces of meat”. Once again, the language of “courage” and “bravery” is deployed to describe the embrace of grave evil.
And it doesn’t stop there. The Croatian butcher likewise speaks of his monstrous evils in tones indistinguishable from Milton’s Satan. As though the filthy charnelhouse he helped to staff was an act of noble rebellion against an unjust God whom he had no choice but to defy, what with His simplistic ideas of “just war” that get in the way of what Needs to Be Done to Win. He speaks of his participation in slaughter as a beautiful act of patriotism that none but the bravest could undertake. Sure, he’ll go to hell for it. God is unjust! But our brave soul will spend his eternity in Hell secure in the notion that He Did the Right Thing.
This is much of a muchness with our last quotation from an American who argues (like ever so many Americans) that God asks far too much when he imposes Just War criteria on us and seriously expects us to believe that not even we can directly intend the mass slaughter of innocent human life. This reader doesn’t mess around with pretenses that Hiroshima and Nagasaki weren’t violations of Just War teaching. Instead he simply declares that God is wrong, we are right, and we have to have the courage to just go ahead and do monstrous evil because it’s the Right Thing to Do and God is a fool to say otherwise. You must “commit a wrong in order to avoid an even greater wrong.” Continue reading
(Some down time before the family heads off for Indianapolis and GenCon tomorrow morning. Had a great time in Kenosha visiting the mother-in-law. Fascinating visit to the Civil War museum in Kenosha. Details on Sunday.)
Well, Pewsitter and Eye of the Tiber square off! From Eye of the Tiber:
After close to an hour of staring at the headline he had just written about Pope Francis, an employee at the news aggregation website Pewsitter has reportedly begun questioning whether or not to add an additional exclamation point or three, sources have revealed.
The unnamed Pewsitter writer reportedly told a fellow staff member this morning that after having written his most recent headline about the Pontiff, that he wasn’t sure whether or not the headline warranted a few additional exclamation points to help convey the possible lunacy of the Pope’s most recent actions.
“He told me that he was also considering whether or not to add one or a few more question marks sprinkled in between the exclamation points to help express the fact that Pope Francis was doing something that at best could be considered odd and something out of character for a pope to do, or at worst, something completely heretical,” the source told EOTT. “You can see the stress that this news aggregation Mozart has to deal with on a daily basis to put out the works of art that that he does.”
Pewsitter links to the article, as it always does for any post critical of it:
PewSitter gets Eye-of-the-Tibered?! – COMMENTS!
And then Mark Shea showed up:
After the issuance of the Green Encyclical today I assume that Catholics will be debating global warming. I thought we would kick off the debate here on TAC with Mark Shea representing both sides:
As you probably know, I’m skeptical of the Global Warming hype, not least because its marketers and packagers keep changing the name. First, it was “Global Warming,” then “Climate Change” (as if climate does anything besides change) and lately it’s “Global Climate Disruption.” I’m also skeptical that it is man made, and I think the dishonesty of some of the scientists in the field, not to mention the packagers and marketers, leaves me cold (clever pun, eh?). So, for instance, when I see evidence of rising sea levels that doesn’t always refer me back to the same remote island nobody knows anything about except that it might be a case of erosion and not rising sea levels, I will begin to take our melting ice caps more seriously.
Go here to read the rest.
I have always expressed ignorance of the science for the very good reason that I am not a scientist. I have always granted the premise that there is climate change for the very good reason that change is what climate does. Beyond that, I have always left the matter in the hands of experts to hash out because what do I know?
Go here to read the rest.
A blog I have been reading lately is Daffey Thoughts, run by David Griffey, a Baptist minister who converted to Catholicism. The video above is from 2006. He is a graceful writer as demonstrated by this recent post:
This year has been a struggle, as I work things out relative to the shifts that have happened in Catholicism since I’ve been Catholic. The last vestiges of pre-progressive culture have been swept behind us, except for those sexual issues that would likely not impact celibate men. Everything else is increasingly along the lines of modern, Western, progressive and even secular social and political theory.
That is enough right there. Add to it the slammed doors on any hope that I will be able to act in the capacity of a minister of the Gospel, and it’s been tough. What to give up? What to sacrifice? What to commit to?
Well, I decided, a few weeks into Lent I admit, that my penance will be a daily visit to Catholic and Enjoying It. That may sound strange. But here is why.
In my early days of looking at non-Protestant Christianity, I stumbled on CAEI largely by accident. I was searching for some free downloadable articles by Scott Hahn, without success. Then I found an article by someone named Mark Shea. It dealt with the strange aversion many Protestants have regarding Mary. It was direct, but nice. Even respectful. There were some clever zingers, making the point without offending. But the point was solid, fair, and truthful.
I went back, found his website, and gobbled up the articles. They were almost all wonderful. Here was a conservative American Catholic, not afraid to point out when Conservatism wasn’t following the path of Christ. He was also fair when liberalism was correct. His blog was a little more raucous. But those were usually the readers. Mark himself was often the goalie, stepping in and stopping things before they went too far. Even telling his friends to back off. No personal attacks or accusations were allowed. Those would get you the door.
There you had it. You could be conservative and Catholic. The stereotype of Catholicism and Liberal Socialism voting Democrats as the sacramental calling of modern Catholicism was not universal. You could love America, admit it sins, but not emphasize them (which Mark pointed out was often a very un-Christian thing to do). You could respect the heritage of Western Civilization. You could evenly boldly declare “Why We Must Fight” following 9/11. He even liked Tolkien, and the books I liked. And his humor and mine were not too far off each other.
Perhaps it was my own fault that I saw in Mark’s rather balanced approach as what Catholicism was, rather than looking further. But that was well over ten years ago.
Today, the Church has changed in just the time since we came into it. The generation that had welcomed Protestant Clergy Converts into the fold have passed to retirement. With some exceptions in the priesthood, most now in charge (Boomer age) seem to want little to do with us, unless we can design webpages or raise money. And it isn’t hard to see that Oprah style liberalism and the growing pronouncements about reality from Church leaders sound increasingly the same. The Bishops’ willingness to almost in one voice support the Democrats in all things, as long as they don’t screw the Church, and the shift toward accepting the Secular narrative are hard to miss.
True, Pope Francis is a horse of a different color. But those who have studied liberation theology and the Marxist influences in South American Christianity will recognize at least some influences there, even if what he is willing to take a stand against other forms of radical leftist morality (again, usually where sex is concerned).
On CAEI, the change is even more pronounced. It’s almost an entirely different world. An entirely different blogger. Most regulars of old have long since moved on. The readers are either post-modern non-conformists cheering on their own superiority over all those loser “tribal Catholics”, or clearly hard to the Left progressives, with varying degrees of anti-abortion and non-gay marriage support. In fact, opposing gay “marriage” is about the only thing that separates much modern talk about homosexuality in the Church from your average LGBT rally. And CAEI echoes this.
CAEI is a strange mixture now of Jack Chick, Glenn Beck, Huffington Post progressive thought, and a reminder that Catholics are, whether we want to admit it or not, heirs of the Inquisition. For a couple years, many regulars tried to warn that there was little to do with enjoying anything on CAEI, and a growing discrepancy between a man who claims to be conservative, and a man who increasingly seems to love liberalism but hate conservatism. One by one, those readers have apparently given up and moved on. Only a handful remain. God love them.
For me, who has been accused of horrible things by the stock readers and by Mark himself – including not caring about murdered children at Sandy Hook and desiring to increase human slaughter – there is little joy or happiness now. The anti-Western, anti-American, anti-Traditional and anti-Conservative narrative fully embraced has made me more of an outcast there than I was at the Huffington Post. And to be honest, I’ve been called far worse on CAEI than I was at the Huffington Post. And it was leaving HP (as well as being banned for not being liberal) that was one of the reasons I started my blog! Which is always a possibility at CAEI, since the thing that gets you banned now is pretty much defending traditional and conservative viewpoints, with rare exception. Continue reading
Faithful readers of this blog will recall the interview that Stefano Gennarini conducted with Archbishop Marcelo Sanchez Sorondo, go here to read all about it. The interview has developed into a larger controversy following a First Things article by Gennarini. Go here to read it. Mahound’s Paradise sets the stage for us:
The President of the Vatican’s Pontifical Academy of Social Sciences (PASS), appointed by Pope Francis in 2014, just publicly dropped the “H” word on a pro-life writer at First Things.
The full saga involves the First Things writer, Stefano Gennarini, the Chancellor of the Pontifical Academy of Sciences (PAS), Bishop Marcelo Sánchez Sorondo and Margaret Archer, the president of PASS. It was in the context of initial criticism by Gennarini of the Vatican working closely with “population control” advocates Ban Ki-moon and Jeffrey Sachs.
Is your sole concern with human dignity confined to the period between conception and live-birth?…If so, this is a travesty of Catholic Social Teaching. [Gennarini of course never says anything of the kind, but this is a standard move.]
Why are you so totally uninterested in vicious practices, such as human trafficking that are an offence to the human dignity and right to life that you purport to defend? [Ditto.]
In the last two weeks of April in question, mass graves were found in Malaysia and Thailand of those killed by their intended traffickers; tens of thousands were set adrift at sea without food or water by those intending to traffic them before they feared for their own lives through the ‘civilized’ solution of a ‘blockade’. Is this of no concern to you? [Ditto again.]
Of course, your comments imply that you are a climate change denier… [Burn him!]
Why do you direct a hate message to Bishop Sánchez Sorondo alone? [There’s that H-bomb.] Various Cardinals were present at different meetings. Instead, blame me, blame PAS. [Well, yeah, but Sorondo is the Chancellor.] We are respected academics who take full responsibility for our actions and have, according to our Statutes, the duty and privilege of advising the Church on matters of Social Doctrine and its application. I am appointed by the Pope and responsible directly to him. I’m afraid that leaves you and your cohort out in the cold. Moreover, we work pro bono and are therefore are (sic) self-supporting, which makes me wonder which lobbyists meet your salary bill? [You dare to disagree with us? Who’s paying you?]
Why are we not allowed to speak to Jeffrey Sachs or the Secretary General of the UN? [It’s a bit more than that.]…Well, that was not the attitude of Pope Francis who invited him to a private Audience, immediately prior to our joint PAS/PASS meeting on 28 April – to discuss climate change and human trafficking. Do you really have a higher moral standard than the Pope? Or is your own minimalistic version of the Creed, consisting of the single item: ‘’We believe in the ethical depravity of abortion’ considered to be an improvement? [Ditto for the third time.]
It seems as if abject poverty, malnutrition, no schooling, and the prospect of no employment are of little concern to you after (children) have been born. [Well, personally, I also deeply care about employment opportunities for the unborn. But that’s just me.]
There have been a number of pre-emptive strikes against Francis and his imminent encyclical. So…
This time, they messed with the wrong woman – Margaret Archer, world-renowned social theorist and president of the Pontifical Academy of Social Sciences. In the context of an all-too-typical hit piece from First Things, she issued a defiant response. She asks a sequence of questions, starting with this one:
“Is your sole concern with human dignity confined to the period between conception and live-birth? If so, this is a travesty of Catholic Social Teaching, whose concern is not confined to the newborn but extends to the development of all those potentialities and powers that exist only in potentia at birth (such as walking and talking) that develop or can be irreparably damaged throughout life.”
I’ve had people get mad at me when I’ve pointed out that things like the death penalty gun violence, unjust war, torture, or poverty are prolife issues too. One reader furiously demanded to know why prolife activists were expected to drop everything and go protest some shooting in Detroit that killed a couple of people while a million and a half were dying from abortion, etc. I was, I was told, placing an impossible demand on people with limited resources to do everything and be everywhere.
But that’s not what I’m saying. I get that people have their focuses and can’t be everywhere doing everything. Well and good. If you are devoted to working against abortion full time and can’t fit anything else into your schedule then thank you for your hard work and may God bless and prosper it. You are one of my heroes.
Yet here’s the thing. An awful lot of the “prolife” subculture, protesting that it has no time to expand its energies beyond protesting abortion, *does* have a huge amount of time and energy to work *against* the clear and obvious guidance of the Church on the issues I mention above. Indeed, they often give every indication of having more time and energy for working against the Church on such issues than for actually doing prolife work.
Go here to read the rest.
Mark Shea has been trending left for quite a while and now he is using the favorite tactic of the contemporary left in this country: race baiting.
…but it’s totally not about race or anything and if you notice that it is you are “playing the race card”. The Death Penalty: Because the Magisterium is incompetent to teach about faith and morals when American white conservative sacred cows are involved.
Have you no sense of decency left Mark? Of course, it has long been known around Saint Blogs that in the heat of controversy Mark Shea will use any stick to wield against those on the other side, no matter how dirty and unfair the stick is. Back in 2013 Shea offered a public apology for his bad behavior and I congratulated him on it. Go here to read my post. One aspect of apologies is amendment of behavior and, regrettably, since that apology Shea has gotten worse in his public behavior, and the above putrid insult by him of Catholics who hold to the teaching of the Church for almost 2000 years as racists, is beneath contempt and is about as low as one can go in American contemporary discourse.
For 33 years I have engaged in adversarial relationships every day of my professional life as an attorney. I have always tried to never use unfair arguments and I have always attempted to treat my adversaries with respect. Sometimes I have felt that this has put me at a slight disadvantage occasionally with attorneys who have a win at all costs mentality. However, my success record in litigation has been rather good, and I have the added bonus of being able to look at myself in the mirror when I shave. I think that what I have done as an attorney is a good rule to follow in blogging, whether other bloggers do so or not.
As faithful readers of this blog know, I have absolutely no use for the late Ayn Rand, a puerile novelist who got rich on the formula of writing didactic libertarian novels like Atlas Shrugged, and filling them with smut at a time when smutty mainstream novels were still a rarity. I also have little use for libertarians, the perfect political philosophy for fifteen year old nerds. However, John Zmirak, at The Stream, is quite correct about a new form of “red baiting” going on in Saint Blog’s today:
Today Catholic circles are seeing the exact same tactic, except that now the use of guilt-by-association and false implication is serving the cause of big-government statists. The targets are conservative Catholics who distrust the modern secular state, and the smear-word is not “Communist” but “libertarian,” which is then connected with the thought of Ayn Rand. Welcome to the age of the Rand-baiters.
An entire conference held last summer at Catholic University of America was devoted to such Rand-baiting, to speeches that said, implicitly or explicitly, that Catholics who oppose the expansion of government and the large-scale redistribution of wealth are “dissenters” from Catholic Social Teaching. Listening to them speak one would imagine that opposing the leviathan state was a heterodoxy on par with supporting partial-birth abortion and euthanasia. Austin Ruse wrote a fine response to this conference, which provoked a sneering answer from Matthew Boudway at Commonweal.
Go here to read the rest. Can we supply an example of this Rand Baiting? Can we? (Mark, you are missing your cue!)
I am similarly dubious. When I hear Ryan a) ceasing to pretend that he was never an acolyte of Rand and b) doing more than paying lip service to Thomas and citing more than the word “subsidiarity” to give his rhetoric a veneer of Catholic respectability, I will take his Sister Souljah Moment with regard to Rand seriously. Till then, I’m not buyin’ Ryan. He seems to me to be a particularly odious epigone of the Randian Class Warrior against the weak, dressing his class warfare with a few rags from Catholic social teaching to make it look nice. When the Randian jargon goes and is replaced with actual Catholic social teaching beyond the bare repetition of the sacred word “subsidiarity” (interpreted to mean “individualism and hostility to the state”) I’ll start to trust that he is serious. Continue reading
In response to President Obama’s ignorant exercise in moral equivalency in invoking the Crusades and the Inquisition, ( as T.Shaw noted fewer people were turned over for execution by the Inquisition, actually Inquisitions, in all of history than die in American abortion clinics on any week day), go here to read about it, Jonah Goldberg quotes from his book Tyranny of Cliches which explains why such Catholic bashing is ahistoric and unfair:
As a fairly secular Jew I cannot and will not speak to the theological questions, in part because I do not want to. But mostly because I do not have to. The core problem with those who glibly invoke one cliché after another about the evils of organized religion and Catholicism is that they betray the progressive tendency to look back on the last two thousand years and see the Catholic Church — and Christianity generally — as holding back humanity from progress, reason, and enlightenment. They fault the Church for not knowing what could not have been known yet and for being too slow to accept new discoveries that only seem obvious to us with the benefit of hindsight. It’s an odd attack from people who boast of their skepticism and yet condemn the Church for being rationally skeptical about scientific breakthroughs.
In short, they look at the tide of secularism and modernity as proof that the Church was an anchor. I put it to you that it was more of sail. Nearly everything we revere about modernity and progress — education, the rule of law, charity, decency, the notion of the universal rights of man, and reason were advanced by the Church for most of the last two thousand years.
But isn’t the greater madness to make a real force for good the enemy because the forces of self-anointed perfection claim to have some glorious blueprint for a flawless world sitting on a desk somewhere? It is a Whiggish and childish luxury to compare the past — or even the present — to a utopian standard. Of course there was corruption, cruelty, and hypocrisy within the Church — because the Church is a human institution. Its dark hypocrisies are the backdrop that allow us to see the luminance of the standard they have, on occasion, fallen short of. The Catholic Church was a spiritual beacon lighting the way forward compared to the world lit only by fire outside the Church doors.
You know that you live in loony tunes times when a secular Jew like Goldberg has a better appreciation for the role of the Church in History than some Catholic bloggers: (Ahem, that is your cue Mark:)
“And lest we get on our high horse and think this is unique to some other place, remember that during the Crusades and the Inquisition, people committed terrible deeds in the name of Christ. In our home country, slavery and Jim Crow all too often was justified in the name of Christ…
“So this is not unique to one group or one religion. There is a tendency in us, a sinful tendency that can pervert and distort our faith. In today’s world, when hate groups have their own Twitter accounts and bigotry can fester in hidden places in cyberspace, it can be even harder to counteract such intolerance. But God compels us to try. And in this mission, I believe there are a few principles that can guide us, particularly those of us who profess to believe.
“And, first, we should start with some basic humility. I believe that the starting point of faith is some doubt — not being so full of yourself and so confident that you are right and that God speaks only to us, and doesn’t speak to others, that God only cares about us and doesn’t care about others, that somehow we alone are in possession of the truth.” (source)
Break out the popcorn! The latest in the longstanding Ferrara v. Shea feud:
With the release of the Senate Intelligence Committee Report on Torture, which does its mendacious best to blame the CIA for enhanced interrogation methods (torture) while giving Senate Democrats the Sergeant Schultz defense, I know nothing, nothing!, Mark Shea has decided to climb Mount Sinai again and damn every one who disagreed with him as to the inherent evil of torture:
Now that the Torture Report is out and we are discovering that the lies we listened to for so long (We only waterboarded three high value targets! We had to do it to save lives! Valuable intel! Are you telling me that some filthy terrorist is more important than an unborn baby in your sick twisted liberal mind?) are all exposed as appalling lies, it’s important to do an examination of conscience. Why? Because we Catholics consistently supported torture in larger percentages then the average American population. And the more we self-described as “faithful conservative” and “prolife” the more likely we were to do so. God’s name is blasphemed among the Gentiles because of us. (Romans 2:24)
The ugly fact is that in our fear and rage, we became the thing we hate.
Mark Shea has taken his agree-with-me-on-these-issues-or-you-are-not-really-pro-life routine to the pages of the Jesuit rag America:
But weirdly, when the topic is not the unborn, many allegedly pro-life people often forget their wisdom. Result: on many issues ranging from war to torture to refugees to the death penalty, it is extremely common to run into people who are anti-abortion, but not pro-life.
And so self-identified pro-life people, in a solid majority, favored the launch of the Iraq War, despite the fact that it failed to meet a single criterion of Just War teaching, was sternly denounced by Pope John Paul II, warned of by the world’s bishops, and dismissed as folly by then-Cardinal Ratzinger, who famously remarked that the “concept of a ‘preventive war’ does not appear in the Catechism of the Catholic Church” and who warned that it would result in catastrophe—as the destruction of the Chaldean Church, the deaths of at least 100,000 people and the transformation of Iraq into chaos eloquently attests.
Relatedly, self-identified pro-life Christians supported, in greater percentages than the general U.S. population, the use of torture against prisoners. Indeed, along with Evangelicals, self-identified pro-life Catholics may constitute the single most enthusiastic supporters of torture in American public life. This is despite the fact that the church describes torture as gravely and intrinsically immoral—exactly the same terms in which she describes abortion.
Similarly, the death penalty is sometimes treated as an issue in which the church’s guidance to inflict the punishment only if absolutely necessary is rejected on the theory that God “commands” rather than reluctantly permits the death penalty. Some even go so far as to declare the church, not merely entitled to an opinion from which they dissent, but actually “wrong” and work to execute as many victims as possible.
Finally, there is the strange spectacle of some Catholics opposing pre-natal help for low income women (thus increasing the likelihood of abortion for poor families who fear they cannot afford another child) and the even stranger spectacle of self-identified pro-life people brandishing guns and screaming for desperately poor refugee children from Central America to be sent back to the extreme dangers of rape, sex slavery and murder.
If a Pope decreed that all Catholics must paint their bottoms yellow, I suspect Mark’s only response would be to inquire what shade.
Donald R. McClarey
For those of you disturbed by the Relatio of the Synod, go here to read about it, Mark Shea explains at length why you are simply a misguided “Reactionary”:
The latest in months of Reactionary panic (ongoing since March 2013 with the election of Francis) was on display last week in the fears about “gradualism” being discussed at the Synod. What’s gradualism? Gradualism is the common sense fact that conversion usually takes a long time and sinners typically require baby steps to change. Calah Alexander, who is, like Yr. Obdt. Svt, a wretched sinner, has some rather appreciative words for gradualism. To which I say, “Hear! Hear!” I’ve never met a confessor who was not a gradualist and I doubt you have either. Indeed, most confessors I know tend to discourage gigantic vows of massive instantaneous conversion, particularly with entrenched sins. Why? Because when we fail to keep them, as we almost surely will, we can fly to the opposite end of the spectrum and despair. So the counsels tend to be “slow and steady wins the race”.
Unfortunately, Reactionaries (who tend to lack people skills) tend also to understand “gradualism” to mean “Let’s gradually change basic Church teaching until it conforms to the world, the flesh, and the devil.” When they hear “gradualism” they don’t hear “How can the Church welcome sinners and help them to become saints by baby step?” They hear “How can we slowly pervert the teaching of the Church until abortion and gay marriage are the eighth and ninth sacraments?” Continue reading
America, the Jesuit rag not the country, interviews Mark Shea. The money quote:
I love the man. It’s almost inarticulate, but I have nothing but love for the guy. I think he’s the absolute real deal and I feel tremendous hope for the church. As I said before, I’ve loved every pope we’ve had, but I particularly have a soft spot for this man just as a human being apart from whatever he does as pope. I think the world of him. There are some people you just recognize as genuine people and I always respond really strongly to them. There’s no artifice about him and I really like that. Continue reading
Mark Shea is back to his old trick of saying that unless you agree with me on policy issue x which is not directly related to abortion, you are not really pro-life. It is an attempt to stop debate on policy issue x, at least among pro-lifers. Mike Gannon at Pocketful of Liberty takes the argument apart:
This past Tuesday over at Patheos, Mark Shea, noted gadfly of Catholics and other Christians who come down on the small government side of the aisle, authored a post that started out with the provocative assertion “If we oppose abortion and social safety nets, we don’t really oppose abortion.”
Balderdash, I say!
Now, that’s a qualified balderdash, as I explain below. Mark Shea is a complicated thinker who is usually worth giving a second look (halfway through the piece he denounces the idolatry of the individual and the state in the same breath, demonstrating the difficulty one has at putting him neatly into this or that political box). Nonetheless, in this piece Shea falls victim to the temptation to cast aspersions on fellow pro-lifers who at the same time harbor serious concerns about the scope of our modern welfare state.
It’s a cheap trick that is all too common in political discourse to attempt to strong-arm a fellow traveler into lockstep with one’s own preferred platform by questioning their commitment to the cause if they disagree over tactics or emphases. Continue reading
Mark Shea has a habit of saying that unless people do x, x always being a policy he endorses, they really are not pro-life. This of course is simply an attempt, at least among pro-lifers, to stop debate on x and says nothing about the merits of x as a policy. His latest attempt to do so is on the issue of smart guns, technology that purports to prevent a firearm from being fired, unless the owner is the one pulling the trigger. Go here to read one of his posts on the subject. Blogger Rebecca Frech, at her blog Shoved to Them, relates an incident to describe why Shea is wrong as a practical matter:
The argument seems to center around smart gun technology. Shea reasons that if gun owners were truly pro-life then we would support all efforts to create guns which would only fire for their owners, and then the world would be a better place. People who don’t support such legislation and research, even if they support the protection of life from conception to natural death, are not truly pro-life because they participate in a culture which accepts the possibility of death by gun shot (Mark and his readers haven’t mentioned how they aim to prevent people from being bludgeoned with a rifle butt or pistol whipped with a handgun).
Gabriel Sanchez, a Catholic author I know and respect, has written a critique of my – as he calls it – selective “hermeneutic” of libertarian Catholicism at Ethika Politica. Specifically he is critiquing my critique of Mark Shea’s indictment of libertarianism as heresy at Crisis magazine. It seems he at least agrees with my point that libertarianism is not heresy, but that may be where the agreement ends There are some broad points of his critique I want to address.
First there is Sanchez’s claim that my argument regarding the limits Leo places on the state with respect to taxation and charity is “strange.” The part of paragraph 22 that Sanchez says I “overlook” is irrelevant; in context, it is clear that Leo does not believe that the state has a duty to expropriate and confiscate wealth in the name of charity. I could have quoted more of that paragraph to support my point, such as “[n]o one is commanded to distribute to others that which is required for his own needs and those of his household; nor even to give away what is reasonably required to keep up becomingly his condition in life, “for no one ought to live other than becomingly.”” After this, the part I did quote:
“But, when what necessity demands has been supplied, and one’s standing fairly taken thought for, it becomes a duty to give to the indigent out of what remains over. “Of that which remaineth, give alms.”(14) It is a duty, not of justice (save in extreme cases), but of Christian charity – a duty not enforced by human law.”
Maybe we live in two different semantic universes, but in mine, when someone says “no one is commanded”, “not of justice”, “not enforced by human law”, the meaning is clear: the state has no obligation to confiscate the private property of citizens and distribute it to whomever it deems worthy. Whether to give and how much to give is a matter for each individual to decide. I suppose it is arguable that the state could do these things with the consent of the people, but it is not required to do so and the libertarian argument against them would remain quite valid.
I have a new piece up at Crisis regarding libertarianism and heresy inspired by a post on Mark Shea’s blog. Since I post there under my actual name, and since the reasons I had for writing under a pen name have largely vanished, I suppose my pen name is no longer needed here, though I will keep it because the Marquis de Bonchamps is still my hero. Anyway, I wanted to post some additional thoughts here for those interested, and since there are (as of 5/3, 11 am Pacific Time) 320 comments between my article and Shea’s reply, there might be a few. So here they are:
1) I didn’t choose the name of the piece – or the picture (above). Shea and I am sure others know that writers don’t often get this privilege when they submit something for publication. It’s not that I wholly object to the title and I like the painting, but I might have chosen something else. It wasn’t my intention to provoke the man.
2) Speaking of which, I haven’t followed Shea’s writings enough to know whether or not he deserves the almost unprecedented levels of animosity directed at him through the com-boxes. I’ve found some of his writing to be agreeable in the past and I have nothing personal against him. It was his claim, not his character, I was seeking to critique. I don’t approve of or condone the savaging of the man on a personal level.
3) Shea, through the com-boxes in his reply (though oddly not in the actual reply), thinks my argument is “silly” because if libertarianism is heretical, it can’t possibly be worth anything (thus rendering my probing questions in the opening of the piece superfluous). And yet in his original post (the second link above), he makes a practical argument against libertarianism and I am still not sure if it is the reason why he thinks it is heretical or if it is just some unrelated tangent. If libertarianism is heresy – end of story, end of debate – why proceed to make a rather half-hearted point against it, in this case, that it is somehow “utopian”? Or is that the reason he thinks it is heretical? He didn’t make that clear, hence the questions I pose in the piece. I also make clear that since I believe that a) libertarian arguments against confiscatory taxation are rooted in true and morally good principles and b) the Church does not reject what is true or good that c) it is very likely that at least what I call libertarianism is not “heretical.” I thought that was rather obvious.
One last thing: another publication will be posting a reply to my piece on Tuesday. I won’t give anymore details for now, but I expect a lively exchange to result.