Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Just WHAT, Exactly, Is Being "Clarified"?

Recently, there has been some buzz around the Catholic blogosphere about the formation of a new group called the "Coalition for Clarity". In case it isn't evident from the moniker the group has chosen for itself, the "Coalition for Clarity" is a coalition of Catholics against torture. A worthy cause, to be sure, and one in which I would, under most circumstances, most gladly join. But it is the fact that the group's name, itself, is lacking in "clarity" and appears to me to be more of a poke in the eye to certain people than it is an identifier of any particular agenda or set of beliefs that prompts me to write this.

As I wrote in my comments at Erin's post on Creative Minority Report, I'm sure this is going to come off much stronger than I intend, but I believe it is something that needs to be said.

I oppose (and have ALWAYS opposed) torture - including such so-called "enhanced interrogation techniques" as waterboarding - under ANY circumstances (ticking time bomb scenario included). While I have not been as outspoken on the issue as Mark Shea, I have put my anti-torture views front and center on several occasions.

For example, when Catholics Against Rudy was in its early stages, I argued strongly that Giuliani's torture stance should be in the forefront of the campaign to illustrate where his public record fell short of Catholic teaching (unfortunately, the comments to the linked post do not appear for some reason; but this was one of those rare occasions in which my comments were 100% in agreement with the post's author, my old friend Tony A. (a.k.a Morning's Minion) - for the record, here's another instance).

Also, when Sam Brownback failed to speak out strongly against waterboarding during one of the GOP presidential debates, I publicly withdrew my support from him. Mark Shea even highlighted my letter to Brownback at his own blog.

So, I'll put my anti-torture bona fides up against anyone's, including Mark Shea's. And if anyone - on the basis of what I am about to write - wishes to dismiss me as part of the so-called "rubber-hose right" or a member of the "vast neo-con project" or a "Republicath" (I am a member of no poltical party) or any other epithet to imply that I am somehow more loyal to some political agenda than I am to the Church's social teaching, then you're barking up the wrong tree.

That said, I am reluctant to join anything billing itself as the "Coalition for Clarity" for a number of reasons:

(1) I am uncomfortable with the whole "Coalition for Fog"/"Coalition for Clarity" dicotomy since I have faithful Catholic friends (Shea would label them "Faithful Conservative Catholics[TM]") who oppose torture, yet who have been unfairly accused of being for "fog" in the torture debates;

(2) I'm not so sure that "clarity" is actually being sought, but rather see the effort as something more along the lines of "we're not like the the people who Shea has labeled as being 'for fog'"; and

(3) nothing about the name overtly or otherwise indicates exactly what it is the group stands for.

So, I beg the group's founders for indulgence while I offer this humble suggestion:

How about you drop the cute euphemism, which is really nothing more than a play on Mark's overly theatrical name calling, and adopt a straightforward name that says what you REALLY mean and what you REALLY stand for? Something like ... I don't know ... "Catholics Against Torture"?

That is, unless the REAL purpose of the group REALLY IS to show that you're not associated with people that Mark likes to call names.

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At 1/27/2010 2:09 PM, Blogger DP said...

Good post, Dale says sheepishly. I posted a link to this at the Facebook page, along with another post critiquing the tone.

At 1/27/2010 2:23 PM, Blogger Paul Zummo said...

Ditto. Maybe I will be proven wrong, but I doubt but little that this will wind up being an exercise in moral chest thumping, proceeded by ritual flaying of anyone who even deviates one iota from the established position. That said, I generally find Erin Manning to be a a fairly reasonable blogger, so perhaps this will in fact be a worthwhile venture. One can only hope.


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