October 2015 Archives
October 1, 2015
There must be prosecution
There are so many horrifying things going on in the world that picking something to write about is hard. One of the reasons I don't write about some of them is because I don't know what to say. This is not like that.
Here is a story which is hard to believe is real. This woman, Jewel Shuping, decided that her true identity was as a blind person. She eventually found a quack psychologist who was "willing to help her become blind." Notice the similarity to "helping" people to die, by the way. He deliberately blinded her over time, with her consent, by putting drain cleaner in her eyes. Now she's blind and, allegedly, happy.
She "consented," despite being obviously a person with a serious psychological problem whose ability to consent to such insanity should be ipso facto considered null. In one of the terminally non-judgemental news stories about this, she says,
“I really feel this is the way I was supposed to be born, that I should have been blind from birth,” Shuping said. “When there’s nobody around you who feels the same way, you start to think that you’re crazy. But I don’t think I’m crazy, I just have a disorder.”
If the logic of that distinction escapes you, you are not alone.
There is not the slightest question in my mind that there are either state laws or professional regulations (most likely both) that apply to what this "doctor" did. He should have his license to practice revoked by the relevant board and be charged with something like criminal endangerment. A jurisdiction in which this is not punishable has embraced functional anarchy, and a particularly nasty variety thereof, under the guise of consent. If this goes, anything goes. There must be punishment, with due process of law and the full rigor thereof. Throw the book at him, and make him thereby an example to others.
October 5, 2015
Babies are worse than disease
This post is going to be rather slapdash from the perspective of statistics. I imagine that some of my readers will have fun looking up the statistics, perhaps some just in order to tell me I'm out to lunch, perhaps some to support my thesis.
I was inspired to think of this thesis by this article by Fr. Robert McTeigue. He is a good raconteur. His anecdotes about how he made students turn pale by telling them that birth control could fail and that condoms do not always protect against disease are amusing, in a dark way, which is probably exactly what he intended.
Let's start with the acknowledged fact that the sexual left's vaunted "safe sex" procedures are not terribly close to perfectly safe. Fr. McTeigue has some of the details. Others can be found. This is even more true for prevention of STDs than for prevention of pregnancy. If one uses a LARC, which is the leftist "gold standard" in pregnancy prevention, one can in essence temporarily sterilize oneself pretty darned effectively. (LARCs are IUDs, long-acting sterilization injections, or birth control implants under the skin.) STD prevention, on the other hand, is more a matter of reducing the rate of infection spread within a population if condoms are used according to protocols. (Keep comments family friendly, please, if commenting on this part of the post.) It is actually irresponsible, as Fr. McTeigue points out, to tell an individual that condoms make sexual intercourse "safe" from the spread of disease. At most, they make it safer, and even a few liberals have acknowledged this, though as far as I can tell, the phrase "safer sex" as opposed to "safe sex" never really took off.
But that reduction is worth it to the sexual left, and they will ardently promote "safe sex" as "responsible behavior" while not acknowledging that promiscuity itself is irresponsible, both emotionally and physically. This point has been emphasized by Dr. Miriam Grossman, who saw the wreckage of the hookup culture up close, along with the utter failure of the medical establishment to talk about it honestly.
October 6, 2015
Rusty, Maureen, Fascism, Socialism, Liberalism, Oh My!
In case you already weren’t aware of the scandal at the venerable magazine First Things, one of their blogs written by Maureen Mullarkey; who is a painter in “real life” and writes on art, culture, and the Catholic Church, was taken down by editor Rusty Reno because he felt that the writing on the blog had crossed a line that Rusty was no longer going to tolerate – so he posted an editorial that said in part:
Maureen has a sharp pen and pungent style. Her postings about Pope Francis indicate she’s very angry about this papacy, which she seems to view as (alternately) fascism and socialism disguised as Catholicism. This morning she put up a post that opens with the accusation that the Vatican is conspiring with the Obama administration to destroy the foundations of freedom and hobble the developed world. I've had my staff take it down…
To point that out, as Francis does, in no way makes him a supporter of the Castro brothers or a disciple of Che Guevara, as Maureen implies.
Enough! We need to think about the church and the world as they actually are, not by way of caricatures.
Other writers have commented on the inappropriateness of firing Maureen in this very public fashion – that’s not what interests me here. Instead, I want to explore a more subtle argument that seems to animate Rusty’s criticism of Maureen – that her concern about the Pope’s sympathy for socialist ideas (or run-of-mill left-wing ideas if you prefer!) gives aid and comfort to fascist or totalitarian or tyrannical ideologies. Well, not to put too fine a point on it – they do! Haven’t we been through all of this before?
October 9, 2015
Distributism and the American political economy.
In light of the excellent recent posts on the question of political economy from Tony and Jeff, it may be well to review some of the observations and principles which form a wise basis for evaluating that tangled question.
Readers unfamiliar with our history should be aware: The pernicious dominance of the financial interest, and its plunge into fraud and usury, has been a frequent subject for conversation around here for many years. When a Distributist commenter pronounces thusly: “Mere financial property, apart from other things, makes its holders more beholden to [the] state than otherwise,” he may perhaps be surprised to discover little disagreement from us.
That situation, however, is not broadly descriptive of America, even after the financial crisis and rescue late in the previous decade.
How many there are in this country, or for that matter across much of what used to be called the West, who hold exclusively or primarily financial assets, eschewing land, machines, luxury items, etc., is unknown to me but it cannot be a very large number.
I'm willing to conjecture that generally speaking wealth in financial assets strongly correlates with wealth in physical possession of land and the means of production. But that should not lead us to neglect the many millions who are indeed the Distributist’s ideal of small property holders: They own, let us say, a house, two cars, an iMac, cellphone and several other devices; perhaps a small hobbyist's beer-brewing operation, or some rifles or shotguns for recreational shooting, or tents and camping equipment, or bicycles, kayaks, golf clubs; antique chess boards, a nice smoker or grill, a collection of Churchill first editions. I could go on.
America is still a middle class country, and a vibrant middle class is what both Distributism and free markets, rightly understood, aim to achieve
October 11, 2015
Safeguards? We don't need no stinkin' safeguards
So as not to be misunderstood, let me say at the outset that suicide is always wrong, gravely evil, that "assisted suicide" is murder, and that it would not make everything okay if euthanasia and assisted suicide were confined to "those who really want it and are competent and rational," "those who are terminally ill," "those who have met stringent criteria" or any of the other bromides we hear. The "safeguards" don't make it all right, period. If someone sat before me and told me, in the calmest terms, that he wanted to kill himself because he was going to die of cancer in six months, that he had weighed all the options, and that he was willing and able to go through any necessary mental evaluation or other evaluation to show that he was under no constraint or coercion, to jump through a variety of bureaucratic hoops, in order to obtain a "peaceful and dignified death" for himself, it would still be absolutely wrong to cooperate, and such a person should still be prevented from murdering himself.
Nonetheless, the fact of the matter is that assisted suicide is never, ever confined to such cases. Wesley J. Smith has reported countless times where the news media have distorted actual practice, stating that some law allows "only the terminally ill" to commit suicide when this is not true, stating that "strict safeguards" will be in place, when in fact they will not be, and so forth.
We need to remember this, partly for rhetorical and political reasons and partly to keep our own minds clear about what it means in a society to turn healers into killers and to make death an end in itself.
This has already been made abundantly clear in Europe, particularly in Holland and Belgium, where babies are killed, children can "request" suicide, and the elderly are euthanized without request. In Oregon--vaunted as an example of moderation in assisted suicide laws--doctors are required by the law to falsify medical accounts, patients can easily go doctor shopping to find one (including a doctor who does not know their case well) willing to help make them dead, and state health care plans not-so-subtly have encouraged suicide by covering death but not treatment.
So any alleged safeguards are a lot of baloney, and the reason for this is that, once death is counted as treatment, it devours a culture's sense that there should be a preference for life over death, which in turn makes safeguards seem discriminatory and pointless.
A recent example of this dynamic in Holland connects it with the issue of medical conscience.
October 18, 2015
Anti-adoption historical revision
The exhibit featured Victorian art about women who had children out of wedlock, their fate, and the fate of their children, with a special focus on the placement of the children in an orphanage for foundlings.
One article is called "Exhibition on Forced Adoption Prompts Outpouring From Women Moved By Loss." (I guess in the digital age, conciseness in headlines is no longer valued.) The other is called "The Victorian Women Forced To Give Up Their Babies." Here is the first paragraph of the piece from July:
Donations to fund an exhibition on unmarried women who were forced to give away their babies – dubbed “fallen women” in the 19th century – have been accompanied by poignant comments that show how deep the trauma still lies in many families, say organisers at the Foundling Museum.
October 19, 2015
Private Property In The Extreme
This is not about extreme forms of private property. It is about the rights ownership of private property in the face of someone in severe or extreme need who is without.
Catholic Social Teaching (CST) includes a standard doctrine on private property. If one parses the many attempts to lay out CST appropriately, the first, and by far the most important (in my view) element of that teaching is that private property is part of the natural law. I heartily endorse this teaching. Private property does not arise merely as a result of social choices to allot and allocate to a man powers over certain goods.
Probably the second most common element of that teaching as found is that the “right” to private property is not absolute: it has limits. A man’s right to his property (or, to ‘his’ property) runs up against other goods, other demands, and must give way in some cases to other rights, needs, or demands of human nature.
October 26, 2015
Opening the window in Babylon
This is an interesting article from this summer by Australian pastor Stephen McAlpine, who appears to have been mugged by reality and who is starting to grok the zero-sum game. I haven't read all of the comments, though I did find it mildly amusing to see one reader trying to steer him back onto the reservation, i.e., to get him back to discussing progressive issues like the environment instead of implying anything about those divisive sexual issues.
I have one or two quibbles. I notice that he still feels that he has to deprecate "placarding Parliament," which seems to refer to overt political activism motivated by religious considerations. He needs to get over that. Placarding Parliament (or abortion clinics) has its place. But never mind the quibbles; let's celebrate the fact that someone who was previously not getting it is starting to get it. Herewith, a few good quotations from the post.
October 27, 2015
Thank God for the Atlantic
It appears that Europe's experiment in mass, unrestricted immigration of Muslim workers is not going terribly well. Reports are leaking out of overwhelmed German hospitals, parents who abandon their children at pharmacies, a father who knifed doctors and nurses at a hospital, open TB. Cholera is also a worry, but don't worry, we're told, because modern sewage systems will prevent its spread. One aid worker is said to have been gang-raped but allegedly kept quiet about it for a while because of politicized peer pressure. Women who go to try to help Muslim immigrants at the Austrian border are berated as "Christian whores." (There's gratitude for you.) And meanwhile, the piles of garbage and human waste grow. (Wanna revise that estimate on the risk of cholera spread, WHO?)
Some of these problems are intrinsic to the insane attempt to allow sudden floods of immigrants from poorer countries into any country all at once. What could be expected but overwhelmed medical systems, the breakdown of order, the spread of disease, and piles of garbage?
October 28, 2015
Buckley for Mayor
How is it that a Yale-educated Yankee aristocrat whose first language was Spanish earned the votes of half the Irish and Italian Catholics of the NYPD for Mayor in 1965? How is it that this same man, bereft of security, carried the same preachment into a room full of agitated black New Yorkers, and came out knowing, “they gave him their respect, if not their votes”?
How is it that renegade Conservatism was presented to New York City in 1965 and earned 15% of the available votes of that great city, at the very height of Liberalism’s prestige?
These questions, along with some of the greatest questions ever posed, are ably posed, assayed, examined, related and undertaken, but never fully answered, in William F. Buckley, Jr.’s supreme literary work, The Unmaking of a Mayor, now brought out for a 50th anniversary edition by Encounter Books.
It is difficult overestimate the greatness of this book. But it is easy to overestimate its readability; those who undertake to plumb its depths should gird themselves for a rigorous instruction.
The new Foreword by Neal B. Freeman fleshes this discrepancy out, at least a little bit: Buckley lost his right-hand man, the aforementioned Freeman, campaign chief of staff, who declined Buckley’s offer to co-write the book, which we know now as The Unmaking of a Mayor.
This was to be WFB’s fabled Big Book, his contribution to Political Philosophy, should he have managed to induce Freeman to discipline WFB’s old rascal mind; but the book never got the discipline. So we’re left with a Buckley mash-up of monumental significance.
Part of the vital challenge is the detective work necessary to tease out what’s monumental and what’s trivia.
The fact that a reasonable portion of the platform of Buckley for Mayor, circa 1965, was implemented by Rudy Giuliani, circa 1994-2001, and Michael Bloomberg, circa 2001-2013, may suggest where the detective work should begin.
Nor should the story of Reagan’s realignment victory be told without reference to, fifteen years before, the quixotic campaign of Buckley for Mayor. Both men espoused the same principles.
Fifty years ago a great American Conservative made the case, in a hostile environment, for the superiority of his creed to that of the regnant spirit of the age. He did it with physical courage, patriotism, humor, and warmth.
I wish I could have voted Buckley for Mayor.