Yeah, What Darwin Said
From Darwin Catholic:
... One of the major problems that we have in modern political discourse is that people far too often take any criticism of their positions to be an attack upon their persons. Senator Obama is something of an expert at this, since although he claims to respect the beliefs of those who disagree with him, he labels any actually statement of disagreeing beliefs (especially if it involves a suggestion of not voting for him) as being "divisive" and "negative".(emphasis added)
According to this usage of the terms, our discussion of abortion cannot help being divisive, for the simple reason that we are divided over abortion. Yes, Mark Shea has a penchant for putting things in an abrasive fashion, but at root, he's right. Senator Obama, whom he is criticizing in that post, holds that it should be legal to leave the victim of a botched abortion to die, and that it should be legal to kill an unborn child by jamming scissors into his skull and sucking out his brains. Those certainly aren't nice things to say, but they do need to be said on occasion, because that's our whole reason for objecting to Obama's positions on these issues.
It's true that our national discourse is in great need of improvement, but one of the ways that we need to be able to do that is to reach a point when we can honestly discuss why it is that we hold radically diverging beliefs on moral issues, whether it's abortion, cloning, euthanasia, gay marriage, capital punishment, torture or war. People need to be able to discuss these issues politely while not hiding in the least that these are major moral issues which involve major disagreements.
What we can not do is achieve any improvement or change on these issues without acknowledging and discussing the fact that we believe each other to be wrong, and why. The problem is not that pro-lifers need to stop saying that pro-choicers want to make it legal to kill unborn children in grisly ways, but rather that such a statement is seen as a conversation ender.
Let's be honest and cut to the chase: Those who decry pro-lifers for an alleged "culture war mentality" and who ask for tolerance and understanding and open dialogue when it comes to addressing those who are (so-called) "pro-choice" advocates NEVER extend the same courtesy to those on the "right" side of the political spectrum when they are seen as being on the wrong side of a moral issue. Be it the war, torture, the death penalty, the minimum wage, the environment, "neocons", free markets, you name it - these issues are treated as sacrosanct matters upon which there can be no legitimate difference of opinion. And the vitriol that is hurled at those who are on the "wrong" side of those debates, especially if they're politically conservative, never merits so much as a "Tsk, tsk" from the same people who will bend over backwards to mollycoddle those who support legalized abortion-on-demand, especially if those being mollycoddled are left-liberal Democrats who "are 'right' on all the other issues".
So, can we please be honest? What's really going on here is that there are Catholics who would otherwise be in 100% agreement with the Democrat Party agenda if it weren't for the issue of abortion, and they are, therefore, loathe to see people to whom they would otherwise be allied decried for their immoral and evil stand regarding the unborn.
The reason conservatives or Republicans who are on the wrong side of moral issues don't merit the same treatment is because ... well ... they're conservatives or Republicans. So, even when conservatives and/or Republicans are right on moral issues, they never get any credit. And when they're "wrong", they get invective from people the like you'd never see those same people hurl at the most egregious of "pro-choicers".
Don't believe me? Then try this experiment. Head over to a prominent Catholic group blog that specializes in Catholic Social Thought, and then defend the writings of George Weigel or Michael Novak. Or, perhaps, assail the minimum wage or defend capital punishment or the Iraq War. Guage the reaction from the blog's contributors (not other commenters). Then change the name you're posting under and defend the "pro-choice" position of Sen. Obama or Gov. Sebelius as something Catholics should embrace. Once again, guage the reaction from the blog's contributors. I can guarantee you that the former will be more shrill and dogmatic than the latter. Go ahead, see if I'm wrong.
Although I definitely take issue with Mark Shea's hyperbole when he pontificates about political matters (as demonstrated by my quote that Darwin links to in his post), at least Mark is consistent about dishing it out without regard to where his target falls on the political spectrum.