Wednesday, May 30, 2012


Like many of you I had to read George Orwell's Nineteen Eighty-Four in high school. It was the first real dystopian work I had read, and it did not impress me. The ideas of Big Brother and doublethink and unpersons seemed like an awfully ridiculous concept. How naive I was.

Today in America we are there. Big Brother actually does watch us. Far from repressing sex to keep people loyal to the regime (aka "culture") we use it as a tool, and just repress the babies, who have literally become unpersons. "PC" is our version of Newspeak, where loving your neighbor is called hatred and intolerance is called tolerance.

We have militant feminists who took the word "man" (meaning "human") out of the language and replaced it with "guy". These same women promote the degradation of women in order to make them "equal". We have blacks who have achieved the freedom to call each other the "N" word, and to be aborted out of existence. We have organizations fighting breast cancer by funding organizations that promote actions that increase the risk of breast cancer.

If I did not know the end game I would surely despair.

Monday, May 28, 2012

What Works - Graphic Images

Over the years I have been involved in several discussions of whether to use graphic images in battling abortion. The poster child for this is the Center for Bioethical Reform. Even their home page has a graphic video (with a 7 second warning so you can stop it if you want, but you actually have to take action not to see the video). Their GAP (Genocide Awareness Program) brings a large display with graphic images to college campuses.

Operation Rescue has buses and trucks plastered with graphic abortion images. This makes it harder to avoid seeing them, for better or worse. On the other end of the spectrum are sites like Priests for Life, which have graphic abortion photos on the site but you have to look for them. Or the eponymous 100 Abortion Pictures, whose name indicates what you will see if you visit it.

I know different people have different tolerances for them, as shown in these videos.

But do they work? I have heard people say that at functions like Planned Parenthood fund raisers they are very effective at dissuading donations. In the news media, I don't think any main stream media showed pictures of the horrors of the Kermit Gosnell abortion clinic, even though they were available to the public.

The GAP claims to be effective on campuses, but I know I for one will not support the Center for Bioethical Reform because last year they picketed 49 Catholic churches with graphic abortion images because the bishop of the diocese had been critical of Fr. Frank Pavone, head of Priests for Life. While I want to see abortion end, and I am not personally against the use of graphic images, disrupting masses to "punish" Catholics who live in a diocese whose bishop you don't like is neither useful nor an appropriate use of the images.

The fact is, for all the rhetoric on both sides, nobody to my knowledge has numbers to say how effective is the use of graphic images outside abortion clinics. I have only my own anecdotes to add to the confusion. At the clinic where I go each week, one of the gentlemen recently acquired a grisly image of part of a baby's head being held with forceps. The pictures is approximately five feet square, and he holds it on the side of sidewalk facing the clinic, so it is really only visible to people going in and out of the clinic. One day a woman came up to him and repeatedly kicked at the picture until she broke the foam panel that holds it. Another time a man came up and argued with us about it for several minutes, before agreeing that it was a free speech issue and he was in the wrong. But several women have come out of the clinic, walked up to him as he held this image, and thanked him for it, saying they changed their minds because of it.

Memorial for Whom?

Marched once again with my Boy Scout Troop in the Memorial Day parade. Aside from a very poor turnout of spectators, I was shocked when we carried the American flag past a group of "young men" who booed. It was hard explaining to the Cub Scouts why an American would boo an American flag, and I admit I didn't try. Why should I try to justify that behavior, especially on the day we honor those who gave our lives for us. What the hell is this country coming to?

Friday, May 18, 2012

ProLife book

I recently joined a new social networking site. ProlifeBook,com. I certainly don't need another time vampire social media site, but I thought it might be a nice way to get some fresh ideas and network with others who are pro life. Sadly in the area where I live, although most people believe "personally" in respecting life, many give little thought to the issue and do little to actively promote the idea.

One of the features I have been exploring, that I have not explored on other social sites, is polls. One of the polls asks the religion of members, and it seems from the responses that a significant majority (75%) of members are Catholic or orthodox, followed by 15% other Christians, 3% non-Christian religions, and 8% not religious (atheist/agnostic). Now this is a very unscientific poll, but I couldn't help but do some analysis.

According to the Pew Forum in America the breakdown of population by religion is 24% Catholic, 54% other Christians, 5% other religions, and 16% not religious. I realize that this site does not host only Americans, but a significant number of folks from other countries, but I think it's fair to say a majority of members are American, so I'm going to use these numbers for an approximation.

Using the numbers above, it would seem that Catholics are way more pro-life than these other groups (which makes sense because the Catholic Church is the only major religion that has not changed its position on abortion, contraception, and other life issues in the past 100 years or so). If you go back 100 years, you would find all Christian religions (and most others) united on issues of abortion, euthanasia, contraception, and the like.

Excluding the Catholics, who skew all the numbers, and the "other religions" because the absolute number in the poll is too small to draw conclusions, how are the Christians doing against the atheists? Not very well. The non religious account for 8% of responders vs. 16% in the general population, while the Christians account for a mere 15% of responders vs. 54% in the general population.

Now this may not mean anything other than that the poll was not voted on by non-Catholic Christians, or that the site itself has not been discovered by many non-Catholic Christians. I don't intend to nor encourage you to draw any other conclusions, but no matter what the reason, we should encourage our brothers and sisters in Christ (and everyone else) to become part of the discussion.

In fact, if you're reading this, and you're not on pro-life book? Why not?

Saturday, May 12, 2012

What works - Personhood

This is part 2 of a series on what works for pro lifers. The first was about fetal pain laws. So, personhood amendments. These are a great idea in theory, but I have yet to see one which passed. One problem I think is that the wording always leaves room for opponents to claim that it will lead to earthquakes and hurricanes. Colorado's says:
Section 32. Person defined. As used in sections 3*, 6**, and 25*** of Article II of the state constitution, the term "person" shall apply to every human being from the beginning of the biological development of that human being.
In Florida it says:
SECTION 28. Person Defined: (a)The rights of every person shall be recognized, among which in the first place is the inviolable right of every innocent human being to life. The right to life is the paramount and most fundamental right of a person. (b)With respect to the fundamental and inalienable rights of all persons guaranteed in this Constitution, the word 'person' applies to all human beings, irrespective of age, race, sex, health, function, or condition of dependency, including unborn children at every stage of their biological development regardless of the method of creation. (c)This amendment shall take effect on the first day of the next regular legislative session occurring after voter approval of this amendment.
Oklahoma's says:
“A ‘person’ as referred to in Article 2, section 2 of this constitution shall be defined as any human being from the beginning of the biological development of that human being to natural death. The inherent rights of such person shall not be denied without due process of law and no person as defined herein shall be denied equal protection under the law due to age, place of resident or medical condition.”
Wisconsin's says:
Equality; inherent rights.  Section 1.  All people are equally free and independent, and have certain inherent rights; among these are life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness; to secure these rights, governments are instituted, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed.  As applied to the right to life, the terms "people" and "person” shall apply to every human being at any stage of development.
What's wrong with saying:
The term "person" applies to any living member of the species homo sapiens.
Much harder to argue against that. It's harder to argue that this isn't true because it's science fact, not words of law to be interpreted.

I can't imagine someone wiggling their way past that definition, but on the other hand I would not have expected doctors to redefine what a contraceptive was (used to be defined as preventing conception, now redefined as preventing pregnancy) and the redefine what pregnancy means (used to begin at fertilization, now redefined as not to begin until implantation) all in order to reclassify abortifacients as "contraceptives". What a pack of lies.

But it may be that it's not the language at all, but the consequences. If I made a law that said gravity existed and it would affect people's ability to commit abortion, would they vote it down? Would they argue that gravity doesn't really exist?

Thursday, May 10, 2012

What works - fetal pain

I recently heard an argument that Governor Romney is pro life because he would support a "fetal pain" bill. I also have recently had several people tell me the good news about sonogram laws and "personhood" amendments. Let it be understood that I applaud all these efforts. I think protecting innocent life means protecting innocent life, by whatever means necessary. While some say we shouldn't use graphic images and others say we should not challenge laws in court until we know we have a majority I think we should not stop anyone from pursuing a path that leads towards respect for human life.

But I do think some things are better than others. So I decided to write a blog post about it. It soon became a series. This is the first in that series, in which I will discuss fetal pain bills.

For those unfamiliar, these laws seek to ban abortions after 20 weeks on the basis that the fetus will experience pain as it is being killed. Now I consider this law to be dangerous, for the following reason. When there is a rights conflict, the higher right wins. That is a fundamental of law. So with Roe v. Wade the courts established that a woman's right to "privacy" is more important than another person's right to life. Fetal pain laws establish that the "right" to be free from pain is more important than a woman's right to "privacy". It then follows that the "right" to be free from pain should trump the right to life for a person who is sick or injured. Instant euthanasia argument, and made by well meaning pro lifers.

For that matter, how effective are fetal pain laws at reducing abortions? According to the Guttmacher Institute, the number of abortions after 20 weeks of gestation is 1.5% of the total number of abortions. Now, it's great to reduce abortions, even by one, but is it worth it at the cost of establishing dangerous legal precedents?
So, although I appreciate the sentiment, I don't personally want to spend my efforts promoting fetal pain laws. Furthermore, I think Governor Romney's support for a fetal pain bill is more an attempt to appease pro life voters without hurting his chances with pro choice voters. I don't think by itself it demonstrates a pro life position.

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Relatively speaking

I don't know who came up with this, but a friend once told me about a curious custom. After reading a fortune cookie, say the words "in bed" and see how the wisdom becomes funny (and sometimes risque). For example: "A pleasant surprise is waiting for bed." or "Your success will astonish bed." It's gotten to the point where every fortune cookie fortune I read, I mentally add an "in bed" even if I don't say it, just to find out what it would have said.

I've come to notice that there's a similar trick used by many people today, which they confuse for being smart. That is, they either mentally, or often verbally add the words "for you" to everything anybody says. Things like "abortion kills an innocent human life...for you" or "religious liberty is a fundamental right...for you." Sadly, they don't even see, probably by becoming accustomed to hearing it over and over, how logically self contradictory it is.

Saturday, May 5, 2012

Hate Speech

With all the anti-Christian Bullying by anti-bullying folks, I was thinking this morning about "hate speech". The claim of the bullies is that it is hate speech to tell someone they are going to hell. I'm almost inclined to agree (although I think the term "hate speech" is not helpful). In fact, it is un-Catholic to tell someone they are going to hell. More on this later.

Let's consider some things. The over-used phrase "Judge not, lest ye be judged" from Matthew 7 is often thrown in the face of Christians as a cautionary tale against speaking out against sin. But of course, only against the sin that the particular sinner doesn't and spoken out against. Let's look at the whole verse, not just the phrase:
“Stop judging, that you may not be judged. For as you judge, so will you be judged, and the measure with which you measure will be measured out to you. Why do you notice the splinter in your brother’s eye, but do not perceive the wooden beam in your own eye? How can you say to your brother, ‘Let me remove that splinter from your eye,’ while the wooden beam is in your eye? You hypocrite, remove the wooden beam from your eye first; then you will see clearly to remove the splinter from your brother’s eye.
and in Luke 6:
“Stop judging and you will not be judged. Stop condemning and you will not be condemned. Forgive and you will be forgiven. Give and gifts will be given to you; a good measure, packed together, shaken down, and overflowing, will be poured into your lap. For the measure with which you measure will in return be measured out to you.” And he told them a parable, “Can a blind person guide a blind person? Will not both fall into a pit? No disciple is superior to the teacher; but when fully trained, every disciple will be like his teacher. Why do you notice the splinter in your brother’s eye, but do not perceive the wooden beam in your own? How can you say to your brother, ‘Brother, let me remove that splinter in your eye,’ when you do not even notice the wooden beam in your own eye? You hypocrite! Remove the wooden beam from your eye first; then you will see clearly to remove the splinter in your brother’s eye.
and from John 8:
Then the scribes and the Pharisees brought a woman who had been caught in adultery and made her stand in the middle. They said to him, “Teacher, this woman was caught in the very act of committing adultery. Now in the law, Moses commanded us to stone such women. So what do you say?” They said this to test him, so that they could have some charge to bring against him. Jesus bent down and began to write on the ground with his finger. But when they continued asking him, he straightened up and said to them, “Let the one among you who is without sin be the first to throw a stone at her.” 8Again he bent down and wrote on the ground. And in response, they went away one by one, beginning with the elders. So he was left alone with the woman before him. Then Jesus straightened up and said to her, “Woman, where are they? Has no one condemned you?” She replied, “No one, sir.” Then Jesus said, “Neither do I condemn you. Go, [and] from now on do not sin any more.”
and in 1 Corinthians, Paul writes:
It does not concern me in the least that I be judged by you or any human tribunal; I do not even pass judgment on myself; I am not conscious of anything against me, but I do not thereby stand acquitted; the one who judges me is the Lord. Therefore, do not make any judgment before the appointed time, until the Lord comes, for he will bring to light what is hidden in darkness and will manifest the motives of our hearts, and then everyone will receive praise from God.
So, what can we take away from these passages? They are pretty clear:
  • Don't judge others.
  • Jesus is the judge of all.
  • Repent and turn away from sin.
So clearly, telling someone they are going to hell is judging them, and usurping the power that rightly belongs to God alone. So, on that basis, is the eponymous Dan Savage correct in his "hate speech"? Furthermore, how do we square this with the seven spiritual works of mercy, one of which is "admonish the sinner"? Let's see what the trusty Catechism has to say. Under the Gifts and Fruits of the Holy Spirit we find the Theological Virtues (for the scriptural references, follow the link and read the footnotes):
1813 The theological virtues are the foundation of Christian moral activity; they animate it and give it its special character. They inform and give life to all the moral virtues. They are infused by God into the souls of the faithful to make them capable of acting as his children and of meriting eternal life. They are the pledge of the presence and action of the Holy Spirit in the faculties of the human being. There are three theological virtues: faith, hope, and charity.
1822 Charity is the theological virtue by which we love God above all things for his own sake, and our neighbor as ourselves for the love of God.
1823 Jesus makes charity the new commandment. By loving his own "to the end," he makes manifest the Father's love which he receives. By loving one another, the disciples imitate the love of Jesus which they themselves receive. Whence Jesus says: "As the Father has loved me, so have I loved you; abide in my love." And again: "This is my commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you."
1824 Fruit of the Spirit and fullness of the Law, charity keeps the commandments of God and his Christ: "Abide in my love. If you keep my commandments, you will abide in my love."
1829 The fruits of charity are joy, peace, and mercy; charity demands beneficence and fraternal correction; it is benevolence; it fosters reciprocity and remains disinterested and generous; it is friendship and communion: Love is itself the fulfillment of all our works. There is the goal; that is why we run: we run toward it, and once we reach it, in it we shall find rest.
See the pattern? Sin can separate us from God. It is our duty, commanded by Christ, to point this out to those who are in error. In the story of the adulteress Jesus doesn't say "adultery is OK". even though he forgives her he confirms that she has sinned and says "Go and sin no more." In fact, even atheist Penn Jillette agrees that we should admonish the sinner. In this video he says:
"If you believe there's a heaven and hell and you think that someone might be going to hell, or not getting eternal life or whatever, and you think that it's not really worth telling them much do you have to hate someone to not proselytize them? How much do you have to hate someone to believe that everlasting life is possible and not tell them that? I mean if I believe beyond a shadow of a doubt that a truck was coming at you and you didn't believe that that truck was bearing down on you, there's a certain point where I tackle you."
So, is it OK to tell people they're going to hell? No. Although the Church recognizes the existence of hell, and we are told by Christ that many people go there, it is not our place to judge, but Christ's alone (as I think was made abundantly clear by the Bible passages above). The Church does not teach that any particular person is in hell, even Hitler, even Judas. It is not our place to judge.

So what does the catechism say about homosexuality?
2357 Homosexuality refers to relations between men or between women who experience an exclusive or predominant sexual attraction toward persons of the same sex. It has taken a great variety of forms through the centuries and in different cultures. Its psychological genesis remains largely unexplained. Basing itself on Sacred Scripture, which presents homosexual acts as acts of grave depravity, tradition has always declared that "homosexual acts are intrinsically disordered." They are contrary to the natural law. They close the sexual act to the gift of life. They do not proceed from a genuine affective and sexual complementarity. Under no circumstances can they be approved.
2358 The number of men and women who have deep-seated homosexual tendencies is not negligible. This inclination, which is objectively disordered, constitutes for most of them a trial. They must be accepted with respect, compassion, and sensitivity. Every sign of unjust discrimination in their regard should be avoided. These persons are called to fulfill God's will in their lives and, if they are Christians, to unite to the sacrifice of the Lord's Cross the difficulties they may encounter from their condition.

Sound like "hate speech" to you? The problem comes when people insist that saying that sin is a sin is "hate speech", and that's one reason why I have a problem with the term - it doesn't mean anything, and therefore means anything the speaker wants it to mean. It is merely a tool for bashing people who have beliefs you don't like.