A Version of Godwin's Law for the Sex Scandals
Rich Leonardi posts the text of a letter to the editor of the Cincinnati Enquirer responding negatively to an essay by a SSPX priest that called for continued protests in front of an abortion clinic utilizing photos of the remains of aborted babies:
CHURCH HAS ITS OWN ISSUES TO RESOLVELeaving aside the controversy giving rise to this letter (for my part, I believe exhibiting graphic photos of aborted babies to be counter-productive; it is much more effective to show pictures of ultrasounds, especially of the 3-D variety), I want to focus on the ad hominem argumentation utilized in this letter to "counter" the priest's position.
So, the reverend from St. Pius X Chapel in Northside encourages his flock in his guest column 'Abortion protests will continue' (March 17) to increase the protest of the Clifton women's center using graphic pictures of aborted babies. He vows to continue the protest until the center closes while not caring how it affects adjacent businesses or the sensibilities of innocent individuals.
How about protesters armed with graphic pictures of priests abusing children camping out in front of St. Pius church? Problem priests and pedophile preachers have abused thousands of children with 'mental abortion' for years without recourse.
Joseph Gorman, Finneytown
I wonder if there will ever be a rule similar to "Godwin's Law" (regarding references and analogies to the 3rd Reich) for invocations of "the Scandal" as a rhetorical device?
It would go something like this: As a debate involving the Catholic Church (either a discussion about the Church specifically, or a discussion in which the Church is taking a position) grows longer, the probability of someone mentioning the sex scandal approaches one.
And then there's it's corollary: Once such reference to the Scandal is made, whoever mentioned the Scandal has automatically "lost" whatever debate was in progress.
Finally, let's not forget the codicil known as the "Time Better Spent Fallacy": The Church has enough things to worry about and can better spend its time on cleaning up its own messes rather than on [fill in the blank]. Among Catholics, this fallacy is frequently invoked by "progressives" in arguing against the Church's reform of the reform.
Perhaps the Scandal is still too recent - with the repercussions still being felt and likely to be played out for years to come - for such a rule of debate to gain any traction at this juncture. But surely, at some point in time, such ad hominem argumentation against the Church and its teachings needs to be consigned to similar status as inappropriate Nazi comparisons.