Saturday, January 26, 2019

I'm Joining This "Outrage Mob," And Here's Why

A local TV news person, Kevin Steincross, has been pulled off the air here in town, indefinitely. His error? He accidentally (he says) said, "Martin Luther C**n" instead of "King" on Dr. King's birthday. I could easily believe it was an honest mistake. He tripped over his words, and screwed it up.

On the other hand...

Black America has been forced to endure an unending litany of "honest mistakes," ranging from disrespect, to outright murder. Discrimination in housing, education, agriculture, you name it. Things are less bad perhaps in some ways, but not in others. Just yesterday or the day prior, I read of one young black woman here in Missouri who was repeatedly insulted, demeaned, and discriminated against by her own high school dance coach, and by another adult, and not only did the school administration do nothing, (except reluctantly fire said coach after some heinous, obvious text messages came to light) the parents and other daughters on the team threw a party, and wore ribbons in support of the fired coach! I'm going to remember this, the next time I'm tempted to tell someone to "get over it," or I think that it's ancient history.

Steincross hasn't been fired, either. He's just not on TV for awhile. I believe you, sir. But I'll tell you what: you can do reparation and penance for all of us Caucasians, even if it was a mistake. I'm Catholic; we do this all the time. I've said Marian prayers in reparation for all the blasphemies against God, and I am not often guilty of such sins personally.

I do know this: I don't think black Americans are as outraged about "SJWs" as some of my fellow whites are. There is nothing sarcastic about wanting holistic, comprehensive, systemic justice. In other words, social justice. Are we still defensive, because we're bearing guilt?

Friday, January 25, 2019

Virtue Signaling, Revisited

I have written before about this, and I urge you to consider Dr. Cross' clarifications carefully. As far as I understand the idea of virtue signaling, we are of one mind concerning the dangers of the accusation, offered without evidence.

For my part, you may assume that I believe whatever I say to be the truth as I see it. I have no D.C. cocktail circuit invitation waiting; there is no one I intend to impress. I am guilty of being stirred by passion frequently, and I may cause hurt that I may come to regret. I am not at the present time blessed with a superabundance of prudence, by any means. Yet if one definition of "virtue signaling" is to hide or obfuscate one's beliefs to curry favor, I have never been guilty of it, to my knowledge. Certainly not in a huge public forum like Facebook.

Some people who accuse others of "virtue signaling" just don't like being told that they are deficient in virtue.

The accusation without foundation or proof is only flourishing in the context of skepticism, where any assertion of truth is regarded merely as a statement of preference.

And we have arrived back at emotivism again. [I'm wondering if you'll finish this post, before you bash markets again.--ed.] Well... [Pete's sake, stahp!--ed.]

So, love me or my opinions, hate me or my opinions; it's up to you. Just please don't say that I don't really believe what I say. If I didn't believe something, I wouldn't say it.

Wednesday, January 23, 2019

Abortion, Continued: An Illustration

Those of you who are Trekkies/Trekkers may well know of the first episode of the second season of Star Trek: The Next Generation. That episode is called "The Child". In it, Counselor Deanna Troi becomes impregnated without her consent by an alien life-force. The life-form takes her flesh, and the pregnancy proceeds with astonishing rapidity (a couple of days). As you might imagine, the senior officers have a debate early on about what to do. Should the pregnancy be terminated? We see Troi half tuning out the discussion, as the camera solely focuses on her. After about fifteen seconds, she boldly declares, "Captain, do whatever you feel is necessary to protect the ship and the crew, but know this: I'm going to have this baby." The captain dutifully replies, "Then it seems the discussion is over." It's the perfect female-centric sentiment for this issue, even for 1988. Let's pause a moment and think.

Do we really intend to say that a baby acquires rights if and only if the mother wishes it to be so? Many people (the censors included) were probably relieved she chose to have the baby. It's still a worthy question. The characters, including Troi, call the life a "baby" and prattle on about the miracle of life plenty, which is incongruous for a show about the atheistic future. And of course, this incoherence with its fulcrum at the mother's will is a normal feature of our debates around this issue. The whole matter is morally absurd, though, and we should know it.

Another species of this utilitarianism is the notion that even a mother or father has the right to decide whether their child lives or dies. At almost no other point would we permit this incoherent foolishness. We would arrest parents who killed their children, whether directly, or through negligence. Because we live in a universe governed by reason--even with great tragedy and loss--this incoherence can't be sustained. I'm hopeful that we won't sustain it much longer.

The Inevitable Logic Of A Certain Pro-Choice Position

It makes sense to decriminalize all but the murder of children who have been born, if one accepts the premise that the pre-born are not persons. Measured against reality, this premise is false and indefensible, but the logic of abortion must go here. This regime of thought must accept an underlying utilitarianism, because anything other than utilitarianism re-opens the question of the morality of abortion itself.

Understand that I do not say it's not horrible, evil, and almost certainly demonic. It is. But truthfully, we must also say that all the "moderate" pro-choice rhetoric of previous years and decades was unprincipled in the strict sense. We may indeed be rightly horrified, but for abortion's most ardent defenders, they believe they are calling the bluff of what they saw as a hopelessly contradictory position.

For my part, I don't mind arguments meant to foster consensus for abortion restrictions based upon majority opinion, such as, "Two-thirds of Americans favor some restrictions on abortion." The purpose of such arguments is to put those who favor no restrictions on the defensive as outside the mainstream, so to speak. The danger of such arguments is precisely this: People may mistakenly believe that the moral dimension of abortion is determined by popular opinion, or by majority consensus.

This is the danger of incrementalism at every point as well.

All this is to say that we should keep praying and speaking out, and all of the other things. Yet we should also engage our minds to understand underlying philosophies--especially when they are false--and be mindful of the danger of adopting a false philosophy ourselves, even in service to a good cause.

Tuesday, January 22, 2019

Men: It's OK To Cry

I think it's weird that someone has to say this. On the other hand, there are some perils of excessive emotion, sentimentality, or whatever other negatives you can think of. To be emotionally healthy in one respect is to feel the right things at the right times.

We fear a lot of things in expressing emotion as men. We fear being seen as weak, or unmanly. Not tough enough, not strong enough. There is something to admire about stoics, who can set feelings aside to especially accomplish some great task. I have to wonder however if we have glorified stoicism to the detriment of ourselves.

One thing that's happened in our culture the last several generations is that we've transmitted these messages: Boys don't cry, girls do. Boys climb and build and break stuff, girls wear dresses, and have tea parties. This isn't necessarily bad; we are what we are. The counter-message of this culture, that biological sex has nothing to do with gender, is equally false. Boys and girls don't have to be socialized or taught some of these behaviors. When we overreact, and we believe that a child starts doing gender-atypical things, some people foolishly believe that the child should change genders. That's actually worse than making a kid rigidly conform to a traditional gender norm. I digress.

I cry a lot, for a man. I cry at sad things, happy things, the splendor of truth, sports, you name it. For many men, holding things inside is worse than letting it out. Men explode when anger and sadness get to be too much. You see all the violence lately? I'm no psychologist, but some of these guys need a good cry. They don't need sex; they need a good cry. Maybe for days. How many fathers left us? How many jobs have we lost? How many divorces have men endured? Close family deaths, maybe?

I have never forgotten what one teacher told me: Many men get angry when they should get sad. Who decided that men and boys aren't allowed to be sad? Who decided that they shouldn't ever cry?

I'm taking a stand, here and now. [You mean taking a sit.--ed.] Shut up; that's not funny. [You're right, it's HILARIOUS!--ed.]

Be who you are. Those that love you have already dealt with it, and those that don't love you don't matter that much.

Monday, January 21, 2019

Sex While Crippled: A Story

[Note: This is a blog post, but do not be surprised to see this in print at some point in the future.] No, this will not be graphic. But I got your attention, didn't I? I had a conversion experience to Jesus at 18, but truthfully, my life up until 21 (my baptism) was pretty sketchy. I drank too much, swore like a sailor, [So, not everything has changed!--ed.] and generally wouldn't have been convicted by the Romans, the Herodians, or anyone else for being a Christian.

The only thing I knew about sex in those teen years was that I wanted to have it. Some dudes in the neighborhood had actually schemed to have me lose my virginity when I was 15. She was willing, but I got scared. Then she got mad, which struck me as weird. Then again, there's your "toxic masculinity" right there: We can't admit that we're scared, and young, and this is probably wrong. And think of how broken this is. That young woman--God bless her--had learned the lesson that if you didn't have sex with boys, you were a "prude". If they didn't want to have sex with you, they were probably gay, and you are ugly. I avoided all that, that time. Other degradations I did not avoid, but intercourse, I avoided.

I got to college. I met this one neighbor in the dorms. We'll call her "E." She was sweet, beautiful, and kind. Blonde. I have always been sort of funny, so I can't say I don't know how to flirt. Maybe not much success, overall, but I can be charming! E invited me to her dorm room. I'm not exactly sure what would have happened, but this is college, man. If she presses the point, I'm de-flowered, man. I'm glad I didn't go, but then, I didn't understand the Christian teaching. I absolutely would have had sex that night. I guess I got scared again. I made some excuse, I think. Did I know it would have been wrong? Maybe. Other sins I committed, I definitely understood.

I saw E a bunch of times after that. Sometimes, I've regretted not going to her place. That's really dumb, upon reflection, but when you're in a wheelchair, and dating is weird, and you don't know what these AB (let the reader understand) girls are thinking, you think this might be your only shot, if you know what I mean. There is something powerful and intoxicating about being desirable. Of course, we know it's pretty great to sexually desire someone else, but reciprocation makes the world go round.

Anyway, it's really easy to think, "No one will ever want me, because I'm a cripple." We've talked about this before. It's not true, but it seems true a lot of the time. And I know now that being desired is not the end-all, be-all of being human. In fact, the Church teaches us that celibacy is superior to marriage. We're scared of this, because we're binary people, and we mistakenly think that if you say celibacy is better, you hate sex. Or that you're judging people who don't agree. And, if you hadn't noticed, we've had a disturbing number of clergy--who are absolutely supposed to know and live better than the rest of us--ruin many lives, and in some sense tarnish the splendor of the Church, with their predations. Nevertheless, the truth remains the truth. Sex is for marriage, and marriage is not the highest vocation.

I think it fair to say that Jesus has a ton of mercy for sexual sinners. One reason why is that the sexual act within a marriage is a picture of Christ and the Church. He calls Himself the Bridegroom, and we the baptized are the Bride. This is of course shocking, but that's precisely the point. Everything that is sin in the world is a twisting of something good. In the worst evils, we may have to look pretty hard, but I think we know this. Evil has no existence in itself.

Illicit sex or sex acts are usually sins of weakness, and though Our Lord never sinned, He is able to sympathize with our weakness. Part of his whole reason for coming to us was to set us free from our sins, and the tendency toward them. He walked in this world; he ate with sinners of all kinds. It's sort of odd that people feel judged by the Church, and by Christians, because we should understand sin better than anyone. On the other hand, a lot of people feel judged by others, and what they are actually experiencing are the pangs of conscience. "Only God can judge me!" That's true. What's awfully presumptuous is to assume you know that is going to go well for you.

In short, "it is not good for the man to be alone" has many dimensions. One of our cultural dimensions is the belief that the sexually active are powerful, that they are more human than the sexually inactive, no matter the reasons. It might just be easier to contemplate the parts of culture that don't give this message. We have to swat away the lies surrounding this. And if we have a disability--even quite a severe one--we have to believe that even a broken body is a good body, as my friend Amanda Beck would say. It is meant to be a sexual body, even if there is a proper time and place for that expression. Even if we choose not to use this capacity for any number of reasons, that's a choice we make. No mere person has the right to tell you or me that we are less than someone else, because we look different, or move differently, or even experience emotions differently than others.

Some activists are pretty crude on this point, but I'll agree: Sex is good! Sex is pleasurable. It is interesting to contemplate: I am a crippled person, a sexual being, in the world God made, redeemed by His Son Jesus Christ, and sanctified by the Holy Spirit. Commonality, yet also difference. Difference that we have yet to understand, or fully account for.

Confessions Of An Angry Catholic

I appreciate the admonitions from Dr. Cross to reject the "package deal" thinking of the two parties. We should be able to see that numerous assaults on the dignity of the human person are present in the ideology of American politics. I say "ideology" because it's really one: radical individualist amoral expressivism. "My rights, my needs, my wants are all that exist. I have no obligation to others, except that which I take on myself. The government exists to foster my expression of these rights, and the identity I choose to express as a result." It's not Right or Left, if you think about it. It's everywhere. The GOP talks a good game about rights, but in fact, they're individualists, too. They often say rights come from God, but you might get the impression that this god's name is "Market." They aren't really discussing the balance between free exchange as a means of managing scarcity, and the dignity of every person. In a sense, they can't. Any regulation of economic exchange whatsoever is "socialism." The fact that they haven't fully succeeded in turning the United States into a Randian capitalist paradise is somehow used as an argument that they don't intend to.

The Democrats, meanwhile, express their individualism through a permissive sexual ethics. I once might have said that they do this because "economic freedom" is not permitted by their ideology, but if you look closely, they love the market as much as anybody. But they are also adept at making plenty of noise about cushioning the blow for those left behind. "Family" is whatever you decide it is. Men and women, boys and girls, are just labels of self-identity. You can change them if you want.

This of course ignores the obvious truths we all know, about sex, biology, and personhood.

And this brings us to abortion. Is there anything more individualist than deciding that someone else has to die for my convenience? To put a sharper point on it, the "Left" serves the Market by turning women especially into simply cogs for the machine. Motherhood is inefficient, costly, and not at all profitable, in economic terms. Did we decide it was acceptable to kill our children for money? Better yet, did someone else decide for us? That's sure what it looks like. Have you noticed how "feminism" tends to say women are only empowered when they act like (and serve) men? It would be funny, if it weren't so evil.

You may have noticed that I haven't sacrificed everything for the vain hope of Donald Trump and the Republicans overturning Roe v. Wade. Should it be overturned? Absolutely. My sense is though that the GOP will do as little as possible, while using it as a weapon against the Democrats. Not that they have to try very hard. It seems the Democrats are enthusiastic about us literally killing ourselves.

For my part, I'll continue talking about the environment, refugees, and the poor, (for example) not because abortion isn't gravely evil, but because everything is connected. You know where I stand on abortion; if you want to fault me because I won't play the shell game of our politics, be my guest.

As long as you don't examine philosophically why we do anything, the powerful have you right where they want you. Issues aren't actually issues; they're cultural and tribal signifiers. That's all the issues have been for some time. Sadly, a lot of people are signaling that they don't really care about non-white people, whether American or not. They claim others including myself are "virtue signaling," which is a hypocrisy when real. When used as a deflection, it signals the embrace of vice as virtue. I can fault the Right as much as the Left here, and I do.

I've said enough for now, but I won't promise not to say more.