Thursday, October 26, 2006

Mark's telepathy once again comes into play ...

Or so I gather from reading this:

One interesting phenomenon that I have touched on (insufficiently) in the past come to the fore courtesy of Dave Armstrong's replies to some of the more virulent Coalition for Fog types out there. What I mean is this: there is an interesting discussion to be had about the relationship of the Church's developed teaching on torture (i.e. it's intrinsically immoral) with the Church past though and practice. The same can be said for the Church's developed teaching on slavery and various other morail issues (including, even, abortion). The telling thing is how little actual interest the Coalition for Fog types have in actually engaging that question. That's because the mission is not finding out how to understand and obey the Church's moral teaching on torture. The mission is *refuting* that clearly stated moral teaching.

I actually think that there's been far less development on abortion as on slavery and a host of other topics. The Church has consistently condemned the practice of infanticide via exposure and it strikes as a lot less complicated to extend that to abortion, but what do I know?

What I find quite interesting about this is that Mark is willing to engage or at least accept that people like Father Neuhaus, Dave Armstrong, Jimmy Akin, and Christopher Blosser disagree with him on this topic without questioning their fealty to the Magisterium, comparing them to Catholics for Free Choice, et al. I really don't see that much in the way of difference between my position and that laid out by Armstrong here.

Yet Mark regards Dave Armstrong as an individual who is asking these questions out of a desire to remain loyal to the Magisterium, whereas he describes all of us here in the following terms:

But this, in the end, is all the Coalition has going for it as it labors to persuade, if not other Catholics, at least each other that those who advocate obedience to the Magisterium are idiots who have failed to split the difference between past practice and present teaching.
That is why I get angry at the alleged Catholics of the Coalition who are, just like Catholics for a Free Choice, laboring to persuade Catholics to ignore that teaching using much the same sort of rhetorical trickery. Just as Catholics for a Free Choice uses the sleight of hand stunt of asking if the Church has ever infallibly defined when a human person comes into existence (it hasn't) and chatter about Thomas' theories of ensoulment on the 40th day in order to justify ignoring the Church's clear teaching about the dignity of human life from conception to natural death, so the Coalition is engaged in the project of asking what the exact, super duper precise fine-tuned definition of torture is, and point to earlier prudential judgments in order to, by similarl sleight of hand, persuade us to ignore the Church's clear, developed teaching about the obligation to treat prisoners with respect for their human dignity.

So as I understand it, Dave Armstrong and others are motivated by loyalty to the Magisterium whereas those of us like myself who have more or less identical positions are motivated solely by a base desire to dissent from the Magisterium on this issue for whatever reason. This is pure ad hominem and I'm going to try and respond to it as briefly as possible.

I have noted before that there are numerous Catholic apologists of repute who hold a very different view of Catholic teaching on torture than does Mark. I'm not terribly surprised by this because it's a complex issue, but if Mark wants his view on this to prevail he should do so with arguments rather than with insults and ad hominem attacks. There is a rather chimerical quality to this whole debate in that whenever these apologists disagree with him on this do so that they are motivated by loyalty to the Magisterium while whenever us regular folks repeat more or less those same arguments that we are no better than abortion supporters, are in the thrall of Joe D'Hippolito, et al because we do not accept Mark's fundamentalist reading of Magisterial documents as genuine. This whole debate would never have sunk to this level if Mark would have refrained from exercising his telepathic charism (he should remember well that doing this too much can lead to the creation of Onslaught) and just engage arguments rather than the inner thoughts and motivations of the people behind them, even if they don't happen to sit at the cool apologists' table.

As for this:

The Church is already looking pretty damned prescient in her refusal to catch war fever from the Administration in 2003. The lunacy of that same group of people, and its supporters, now telling the Church she doesn't know what she's talking about when she teaches that torture is intrinsically immoral seems to me to be a living laboratory demonstration of how many people are willing to learn from the proverb "Fool me once, shame on you. Fool me twice, shame on me."

Who exactly are "that same group of people, and its supporters" supposed to be Mark? Near as I can tell, they've pretty much ignored you since it became clear that you are incapable of having a rational conversation on anything related to national security policy without foaming at the mouth about the evils of the Iraq war? Irrespective of the fact that there were in 2003 and still are rather large differences between an issue of prudential judgement like war and peace and that of objective morality, I would note that the current Vatican position as noted in the preceding post is that religious and political leaders should support the Iraqi reconstruction, a view quite at odds with your own stated position that Iraq is lost and that we should flee the country at the first opportunity and leave the civilian population to be slaughtered by al-Qaeda and Sadr so as to engage in penance for mounting the Iraq war. In fact, the current Vatican line is more or less synonymous with the same one that (wait for it!) is currently held in the United States almost exclusively by neocons and the administration you so revile.
Also, if the terrorist threat is so over-estimated as the American Conservative article you cited with apparent approval the other day, then who exactly is killing all of these Iraqi civilians? According to the SITE Institute, the latest attacks were claimed by:

The Islamic State of Iraq and its Ministry of Information was established to protect the Sunni Iraqi people and defend Islam, by the Pact of the Scented People. It is composed of a variety of insurgency groups, including the Mujahideen Shura Council in Iraq, Conquering Army [Jeish al-Fatiheen], Army Squad of the Prophet Muhammad [Jund al-Sahaba], Brigades of al-Tawhid Wal Sunnah, and Sunni tribes. It claims a presence in the governorates of Baghdad, Anbar, Diyala, Kirkuk, Salah al-Din, Ninawa, and parts of Babel and Wasit, and is head by the Emir of the Believers, Abu Omar al-Baghdadi.

The Mujahideen Shura Council is "an umbrella organization of at least six Sunni Islamist groups taking part in the Iraqi insurgency: al-Qaeda in Iraq, Jeish al-Taiifa al-Mansoura (Army of the Victorious Sect), Monotheism Supporters Brigades, Saray al-Jihad Group, al-Ghuraba Brigades, and al-Ahwal Brigades." These are the people who have killed tens of thousands of innocent Iraqi civilians and to ignore the threat posed by them is nothing short of cognitive dissonance.

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