Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Now THAT'S What I'd Call a "Debate Club at Auschwitz"

I'm not sure I could find a more apt example of a so-called "Debate Club at Auschwitz" than the current handwringing and Catholic angst over the Lila Rose exposes. I mean, this is the equivalent of us all standing around and expending all our efforts debating for days on end whether the military tactics used to liberate the death camp at Auschwitz met just war requirements while ignoring the horrible facts of the death camp itself.

I'm making no judgment whatsoever on the licity of what Lila Rose did (and I do have some doubts about the morality of Live Action's activity), but rather on the inordinate amount of time spent by Catholics handwringing over it. Just seems completely disproportionate to the alleged evil done by Lila Rose vs. the evil that was exposed via the sting operation.

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At 2/22/2011 2:55 PM, Blogger Dad29 said...

You and Dr. Peter Kreeft are in complete agreement on "common sense" morality.

Kreeft, however, thinks that Live Action's morality was compellingly correct.

At 2/23/2011 9:12 AM, Blogger Rae said...

The "hand-wringing", as you call it, has less to do with the morality of the Live Action stings of the past, and more to do with fear for the future. Will deception become the acceptable and even preferred tactic for pro-life efforts in the future? Will success in arousing public interest become the measure of how effectively we are fighting abortion?

I howled with laughter when I watched the first PP sting video, the one from New Jersey. I didn't think to question the ethics. But even before Mark Shea raised his questions, I had begun to grow uneasy about the reactions nation-wide.... The true horror of Planned Parenthood is the abortions. I was not convinced by Live Action that PP regularly and consistently covers up sex trafficking. In New Jersey, they found someone who took their bait and openly described how they could subvert the law. Would she have done this if she had not been tempted to do so by the Live Action "undercover agents"? Maybe, maybe not. Maybe she was so insecure and so steeped in the evil of that place that when a client came in and asked her to do what is illegal, she eagerly agreed in order to please. Maybe it was not how she was trained, and maybe she would not have eaten the apple if it had not been offered to her.

I was also uneasy about how the focus suddenly changed from the evil that we absolutely know is done at PP to the evil we only surmise is done (ie. facilitating of sex trafficking). My group of pro-lifers who pray and hand out literature outside of PP every Friday suddenly began to produce signs and shout out condemnations about PP covering up sex trafficking. Then the legislators got into the act. I applaud Rep. Pence for his de-funding efforts, but again I was uneasy that he used the sex trafficking charge to arouse public interest. But he's a politician, and politics very much is like a football game - you use the strategies most likely to win victory. I've done it myself in trying to get embryonic stem cell research legislating defeated in the Delaware legislature. In that effort, I know that on at least one occasion I went too far in exaggerating a fact that I knew would resonate more with voters than the killing of embryos. And I regretted it right away, and decided I would err more on the side of strict truth and less on the side of a winning strategy, in the future.

I don't like Peter Kreeft's argument. I have read it, twice. I like Mark Shea's. I do not think Mark is being a legalist, or shooting from an ivory tower perspective. I think he is being prophetic and warning us away from a very dangerous way of fighting abortion.

At 2/23/2011 9:45 AM, Blogger Jay Anderson said...

I'm not defending Lila Rose's actions (not condemning them either because, quite honestly, even were I to come to the definitive conclusion that the sting equaled "lying", it's not the sort of thing I'd lose any sleep over).

But the amount of time spent handwringing and second guessing over this matter is completely out of proportion to the alleged "harm" done.

Finally, no one has answered to my satisfaction whether ALL sting operations generally, including those conducted by law enforcement, are intrinsically evil. Of course, that would lead to an absurd result.

But then, I happen to believe that not every intentional statement of something that is untrue constitutes a "lie". Otherwise it would be "evil" for me to (1) tell someone I feel "fine", when in fact I do not; (2) tell someone they look nice when in fact they do not; (3) deny that my wife has put on weight, if in fact she has, the next time she asks (when in fact what she really wants is assurance that I still find her attractive); (4) be an undercover police officer; (5) be a spy for my country; or (6) tell my kids that Santa put presents under the tree (I know that this is controversial in some circles, but it is widespread enough that if the Church truly thought it "evil" we would have had a definitive statement by now).

At 2/23/2011 9:52 AM, Blogger Jay Anderson said...

As for "legalism" and "phariseeism", when I read people saying that they pray that they'd have the "strength" to remain silent or even tell the truth if faced with the Nazi looking for hidden Jews rather than lie to protect those who would face almost certain death, I struggle to find a more apt description than straining at gnats to swallow a camel.

At 2/23/2011 10:15 AM, Blogger Phillip said...

Thank-you Jay.

At 2/23/2011 10:40 AM, Blogger Anthony S. Layne said...

Jay, I understand what you mean. But on the other hand, you never know what will cause people to say, "Hey, wait a minute ... did we just pass a stop sign back there?" Some of the rhetoric is overblown, but the internal conversation itself is probably a good thing. I doubt we'll fall apart over it. And no one has forgotten the evil of Planned Barrenhood. I'm not sure we'd be Catholics if we didn't feel some guilt about the tactics. :^)=)

At 2/23/2011 11:11 AM, Blogger Jay Anderson said...

Please allow me to address one comment that I've seen come up on other blogs in response to the real-life scenario (REAL-life people were actually faced with making this REAL-life choice, thus the reason the scenario keeps coming up) of misleading Nazis looking for hidden Jews. I've seen more than one commenter write the following:

"Maybe we need to do a better job of hiding our [sic] Jews."

To which only one response is merited:

F U and the glib horse you rode in on you snarky and insensitive POS !!!

[please note that this is NOT addressed to anyone who has commented here]

At 2/23/2011 4:43 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

This is a bit of a tengential commetn, but I've been wondering for some time about the the pro-life movement, and whether it is becoming "instiutionalized." By that I mean, that people have jobs being professional 'pro-life' types, that there are lobbyists and political agendas, etc., that have become very accustomed to being, professionally, pro-life. And I wonder if that figures at all in this present debate. I, too, have been rather dismayed at the level of hand-wringing, as well as the timing of it. Just when it looks like the biggest coup of the pro-life movement is about to occur, are people trying to snatch defeat from the jaws of victory?

I don't think anyone would do this consciously, per se, but I wonder if subconsciously this figures in at all. I'm sure people will shout vociferously no, and that I am a fool, which is true. But I pray this kind of inertia is not settling in. I pray folks aren't getting used to being 'pro-life.' I don't know if the tactics are moral or not, but I do know such things have been used by both sides for years, and no one complained until now, which I find interesting.

At 2/26/2011 2:37 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

This reminds of a debate within the pro-life movement 30 years ago. I remember sitting around the kitchen table actually debating if a pro-lifer could work for or vote for a law that only restricted abortion but didn't actually outlaw it.

The moral problem being debated was were we giving moral support for abortion by voting or working for a law that put a few restrictions on an abortion clinic? Could you vote for an law that only allowed abortion in cases of rape, incest and life of the mother? Would that not be tantamount to voting for abortion in certain instances? There were lots of scenarios like that discussed.

JPII came to the rescue, saying that it was OK to vote for such laws as long as you were clear that these laws were a beginning and not a final end. That your ultimate goal was to outlaw all abortion...

What most people see as normal tactics now really caused a lot of angst among pro-lifers back then.

About Lila Rose...I think the problem is that we are so used to abortion that in some ways we don't really understand that this is Nazi Germany and the death camps are all around us. Was it a sin to be in the resistance movement in WWII? Aren't these people considered heroes now? Is spying OK in certain circumstances? Is a sting operation OK for the police?

At 2/26/2011 3:13 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I wanted to clarify my above comment. When I referred to the resistance movement, I was only referring to their non-violent activities like spying, shielding and hiding Jews, solders,and other innocent people and exposing the evil of their day. Like the White Rose society...


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