Tuesday, May 11, 2010
Monday, August 06, 2007
RIP Cardinal Lustiger
Much more could be said, believe me....
Sunday, December 24, 2006
Merry ChristMass to all, and to all a good night
Thursday, December 07, 2006
Man on the street interview re: hugging
Oh, by the way, I was interviewed today for one of those 'man on the street' breakfast news segments (to be shown tomorrow, no doubt, as it was already 12 noon). A pretty, perky red-head 20-something woman, surely a recent graduate from Ryerson University's so-called 'school of journalism', hailed me and asked if I had been hugged today.
Reporter: Excuse me sir, can I ask you a question? Recent studies have shown that people over the age of 40....
Me: Well that's me...
Reporter: Really! You're over 40?! [A sly one, she is.] Well recent studies show that 40+ folks are not being hugged regularly.
Me(simultaneously): Yep [grinning with pride, while acknowledging that my "Dublin" Winter hat is hiding my gray. Do I really still look under 40, I ask myself? Maybe she'd like to go for a pint....hmmmm....no, no, no, be serious....]
Reporter:So have you been hugged recently?
Me: Yes. I awoke this morning to a hug; and I fell asleep last night in a sort of hug.
Reporter: [With a skeptical Sex & the City twinkle in her eye -- Can yuppies really find hugs & lasting love in urbutopia? Surely this old guy isn't being hugged for real, is he?]
Really? You were hugged this morning?
Me: [Quickly realizing that I need an 'exit strategy', as well as a good one liner in order to actually make the breakfast news -- I fail at both.] Actually, (screwing my eyes up as I access my middle-aged memory) I was hugged just about an hour ago.... Twice! [It's true, I left to run an errand an hour ago, and of course, my daughter hugged and kissed me goodbye, and then I gave a hug, well, actually a hug-kick to our overweight cat (32 lbs. and counting) who was sleeping in my Navy wool jacket.]
Reporter:So you have been hugged recently? And what does 'a hug' mean to you?
Me: [Summing up all of my razor sharp, lightning fast wit, I answer succintly.] Love.
Reporter: [Looking more skeptical and disappointed than ever, returning her mike to her pretty little urban reporter-mouth.] So a hug means love?
Me: [Witty as ever, and grinning at the camera, confidently knowing it can't record my hidden gray hair.] Yep.
Reporter: Well thank you for giving us your time.
Now there is a whole lotta hugging going on (in my life anyway), hugging that means l-o-v-e; but it precisely does not mean, eg, a gay-authored-sex&the-city-type-loving&hugging. But surely it still means love? Am I just old-fashioned, or has the world fallen for 2 forms of hugging -- High-School/Hollywood-type hugging everytime you want to emote and emotionally masturbate; and fornication-type hugging, everytime you get a bit horny? Oh, and we'll allow for a hug-your-granny photo-op too.I hug often, and I hug with love, and I sometimes hug with the hope of co-creating a new human being -- but surely the word love & the act of hugging entail more than mere sentimentality or gross lust.
Looks like Jimmy Carter's newest book finally reveals his latent anti-semitism & ignorance
This is a worthwhile read if you happen to be sappy and naive enough to care about what Jimmy Carter has been writing of late.
I don't feel at all good about referencing Dershowitz on anything, but the following is devastating to the Nobel winner's legacy.
Tuesday, December 05, 2006
The D'Souza's do in Elton John, Richard Dawkins & one of my favorite writers, Chris Hitchens
Yet a brilliant man like Hitchens, and a presumably intelligent man like Dawkins (actually that's a stretch, because he is obviously an arrogant, poorly trained intellectual, with merely special 'scientific' training - let me expound: eg, he has less than a college freshman's learning & capability in fundamental, philosophical logic - the "informal fallacies" abound throughout his popular works) so as I was saying, still, these secularist men continue to spout off about religion being the Sole Source of all wars & violence - all the while lambasting drunkards such as Mel Gibson (who blamed all the wars & violence on the Jews) as they simultaneously blame all the war & violence on the "Religions" of the world.
Bigots, the lot of them.
In contrast - review, for example, R. Girard's work on Violence & The Sacred, and one must at least acknowledge that religious folk (Christians at that!) may very well admit to their own contribution to the cycle of violence; so indeed did Pope John Paul II! But will the secularists like Hitchens, Dawkins, et al, ever admit to their own complicity in the murderous violence?
One of the D'Souza's points out that thousands were killled by, among other religious folks, personages of the middle ages. Also add to that thousands and thousands of those murdered by modern Jihadists, etc. Quite a toll, eh?, religious-murder-wise? 100+ million? So, in the history of the world, since Cain killed Abel (precisely for religious reasons), the toll of "religious" murders may enter into 1 million or even much more, but more importantly, may very well enter into a substantial proportion of the % of the then current population.
Even if one attacks D'Souza for under-representing the religious source of murderous behaviour, one must still admit that -- for merely a 100 year stint at it -- the secular regimes did quite well, and far outpaced their former 'religious' counterparts.
100+ Million dead, in 100 years. So his (D'Souza's) point is made, overriding any necessary demographic & statistical qualifications -- for instance, adding in the most recent religiously motivated murders by Jihadist Muslims, etc.
Yet secularists like Dawkins and Hitchens still have to account for the inordinate amount of secularist murders within the past 100 years -- because it is only within the past 100 years that professed secularists (atheists & agnostics) have been operating political bodies. And we haven't seen the end of it, I dare say. 100+ million people murdered for explicitly secular, ie non-religious, aims.
By the way, add in the secularists 'murders', in utero, of human persons not yet born into this world (abortion), and the millions pile up astonomically. 1 billion+? Within the past 100 years?
Let's be fair, at least, and honestly state that we all (whether religious or atheist) participate, more or less, in murderous hatred that seems to mark the Human Condition.
Friday, December 01, 2006
So Pope Benedict may NOT have reversed his thinking on Turkey as part of the EU
If you think this is unimportant to North Americans and Brits and all the rest of Western Civilization, go buy & read Mark Steyn's America Alone.
Tuesday, November 28, 2006
Your book as a seeming curse, and on being a conservative in Toronto
Long time, no write (remember "Wacky Wooing", re: the morality of using terrorist tactics - saturation/nuclear bombing of civilians - in order to secure professedly anti-terrorist democracies?).
So, I finally find -- and purchase (you're welcome!) -- your (my) book in Toronto, at the Indigo in the Eaton Centre (our Yonge & Eglinton Indigo location has NO copies to this date, at, arguably, the area of Toronto with the highest percentage of young, educated folks under 35 -- interesting). I've heard of censorship of imported materials by governments, but "censoring" a bestselling book by one of Canada's (most notable) own, making it unavailable in Canada? Huh?
So I am sitting at the downtown Indigo (as you know, the Barnes & Noble of Canada) reading your book while my daughter plays with the Thomas Trains (Our Lady of Perpetual Help/TCDSB had a professional day, so school's off), and two pregnant women (it's the demographics, stupid) with kids sit down too. As I look up to monitor my daughter, I realize that both women are whispering and glaring at me. Both women are clearly Muslim, as their cultural dress indicates this. Both women are staring at, and recognizing, my (your) book of choice. I unwittingly stand up, figuring I have been rude, and that there is another woman nearby who deserves the chair I am sitting upon. No dice. It is the book I am reading which is at issue. Hey, I don't sweat it. So when we leave, and I am managing Cinderella nap sacks & lunch bags & jackets (it's still too warm for Winter coats -- global warming?), I unintentionally carry my book (your book) openly in my hand.
So Daddy goes with his daughter into the plaza of Toronto's City Hall to see the new Cavalcade of Lights (not Christmas Lights/Tree, no) & say a prayer. With my book (your book) still in hand, my daughter runs around and demands new ice skates for the Winter -- and I notice that two men next to me are staring at my (your) book's cover. They exchange comments, laugh, and stroll away. Apparently I am simply a silly American sympathizer. Unfazed, I sit down with my daughter next to the ice rink. A burly red-headed guy walks by, and doing a double-take, looks at the bookcover, and, grinning, nods at me. Obviously, he must have been an upstate New York cop, on holiday.
We arrive at the subway and, as I cannot put my (your) book down while reading the hilariously depressing prologue, everyone around me can see what I am reading. At College Station, two University aged punk-guys get on, flashing body-piercings et al. One of these guys leans over, and proceeds (conspicuously) to peruse the cover of my (your) book. He snorts and shakes his head. They both snicker as they get off at Bloor & Yonge.
I finally arrive at Eglinton & Yonge subway station and meet several parents from my daughter's school on a day's outing, since school is off today. As we chat, my (your) 'nasty' book publicly beckons to them, and as they realize I may very well be the 'secret American parent' of the otherwise nice Jr. K girl (indeed I am!), the conversation falters and dissipates. My (your) book has ruined my daughter's chances of fun play dates with about 1/3 of her classmates. Moreover, I now face interminable mornings of chilly hospitality from my 'enlightened,' parental peers.
How has my (your) book already become taboo in a country where it has been manifestly unavailable? How is it that Canadians (N. Americans!), as a whole, have fallen for the anti-American clap-trap of the Europeans?
With Christmas greetings & best wishes, from a New Englander exiled in Toronto,
Monday, November 27, 2006
Finally got my copy -- please buy and read this amazing book
This is a must-read for anyone who cares about their children, their family, their culture, their freedom, America, or Western Civilization. If you think you'll disagree, please read it anyway and let me know why!
Friday, November 24, 2006
Happy Thanksgiving everyone, truly
I envy those of you who seem to feel secure about your kids, your family, your 'freedom'. From what I can see, my daughter is going to grow up in a very rough world ( say around 2020) -- and that in a (currently) N. American metropolis, with no current extensive crime problems!
In Toronto, or God's sake! Which in 20 years will be an abominaton.
Happy Thanksgiving. Good Luck.
Monday, November 20, 2006
For my great blogging friend, who wonders about same-sex marriage legislation
Rev. Anthony E. Giampietro, C.S.B.
B.A., Wesleyan University, 1984
M.A., University of Toronto, 1988
M. Div., University of St. Michael's College, 1993
Ph. D. (candidate), Fordham University, 2002
The New Natural Law Theory and the Question of Same-sex Marriage
Dissertation (Fordham University), directed by Joseph Koterski, Ph.D.
"In this dissertation I engage the new natural law argument that homosexual acts cannot be marital acts. I address two important disputes within contemporary philosophy. One is the issue of whether or not the new natural law approach is an authentic natural law approach. The other is whether or not this approach is adequate to the task of calling into question the arguments of those who advocate that persons of the same sex be given the legal right to marry one another. I argue further that these two disputes are related, that is, that the question of whether the new natural law theory is really a natural law theory has a direct impact on the question of its adequacy in dealing with the question of same-sex marriage.
The core of my argument is that the lack of an explicit metaphysics undermines both the natural law argument and the arguments of some who advocate same-sex marriage. I argue that the new natural law view ought not be taken lightly, however, since the intuition that it depends upon, namely, that the union-effecting nature of heterosexual intercourse is essential to the meaning of marriage, has wide support. But while this intuition may indeed be a recognition of a moral truth, the new natural lawyers do not show this to be the case. I then address the fact that many arguments for same-sex marriage depend upon the presupposition that sexual activity in general is in some sense union-effecting. I suggest that this presupposition is unwarranted and that it depends upon an acceptance and transference of the union-effecting meaning that the new natural lawyers say is intrinsic only to heterosexual intercourse and not to other kinds of sexual acts. In my conclusion I offer some suggestions for future work on this issue, specifically in the area of the metaphysics, or the nature, of sexual acts."
Tuesday, November 14, 2006
Well, I should probably explain to my reader (singular)
Bad news: It's only an old friend who feels sorry for 'ya.
Re: Elton John's "progeny" -- the point is, he won't have any, so he can afford to be reckless by promoting bigotry against organized (Christian & Jewish) religion. However, I feel sure that the majority of those who will willingly die -- in opposition to any Muslim "final solution" vis-a-vis those who are homosexual & living in "Europe" around 2100, CE, -- will be Jews, & also Christians like myself and my family, IE, followers of Jewish/Western Organized Religion. Yet I impiously & privately wonder whether the "gay community" will suffer for their chosen lifestyle when life & limb are truly on the line.
But I will surely choose death, and risk the safety of my family, over and against any bogus imposition of "Allah's Law" regarding homosexuals.
And in Europe and for Europeans, barring unimaginable reversals in the birthrates of "longtime" Europeans, that time is not far away.
Sunday, November 12, 2006
Meanwhile, in the UK -- designer babies loom...
Unfortunately, it may be to little, too late for the Archbishops & the Cardinal & their flocks
ELTON JOHN: 'I WOULD BAN RELIGION COMPLETELY'
"Sir Elton John wants religion banned completely.... Speaking to the Observer Music Monthly Magazine the singer said religion lacked compassion and turned people into "hateful lemmings".The PRESS ASSOCIATION reports: In a candid interview for a dedicated Gay issue of the magazine he shared his views on topics as varied as being a pop icon to Tony Blair's stance on the war in Iraq....
"From my point of view I would ban religion completely....Organised religion doesn't seem to work. It turns people into really hateful lemmings and it's not really compassionate."
The BBC has blithely reported the following: "Sir Elton John has said he would like to see all organised religion banned...."
The Archbishop of York has condemned what he called the systematic erosion of Christianity from public life. Dr John Sentamu told lay leaders illiberal atheists were undermining Britain's religious heritage.
Related to this, both the Anglican and the Roman Catholic leaders of England wrote the forward of the document '"Doing God": a Future For Faith in the Public Square. ' "The Archbishop of Canterbury, Dr Rowan Williams, and the Roman Catholic Archbishop of Westminster, Cardinal Cormac Murphy-O’Connor, have jointly backed a new religious think-tank in an effort to change the climate of opinion about the importance of faith in society."
Friday, November 10, 2006
You may not know him, but I thought this interesting....
Professor/Doctor Peters, JCD, over on In Light of the Law had this to say about a Roman Catholic's recent decision to join the Orthodox Church. For those of us who lament our "current Christian Communion's" ecclesial decision-making process, this case is worth pondering.
"I have never met Rod Dreher [pictured above] and know little about his work. Folks whose opinions I trust indicate that he is an intelligent, thoughtful man. A few days ago, Dreher publicly announced that he had left the Catholic Church and joined the Russian Orthodox Church, this, apparently, being at some level his reaction to the clergy sex abuse crisis and its associated scandals. See also his Clarifying and Gratitude posts. On the whole, I found Dreher's arguments for leaving the Church unoriginal and unconvincing, but then, I don't think there are any original arguments for leaving the Church (sub sole nihil novum) and I wouldn't find any of them convincing anyway (Domine, ad quem ibimus?), however much I might sympathize with what I was hearing."
Professor Peters continues:
Let me say, I don't think that all the ills of the Church are reducible to violations of canon law, nor is perfect adherence to law a guarantee of sanctity; but I do think that disregard for Church law has caused or worsened many of the problems we face today. Dreher would be right to decry the anomian attitudes that pervaded various hierarchies in recent decades. But no one should think that serious violations of canon law are unique to the clergy, nor should one underestimate the harm caused when someone, especially of a high profile, violates Church law in protest against those who violate Church law.
For the full post:
Re: Mr. Dreher, see, for example:
Sunday, November 05, 2006
Why have we not heard more about this, especially in light of the Schiavo debacle?
"Researchers at the Medical Research Council’s Cognition and Brain Sciences Unit and in Academic Neurosurgery in Cambridge, in collaboration with colleagues in Liege, have for the first time discovered a way to show preserved conscious awareness in a patient who has been diagnosed as vegetative. The research is published today in Science. "
Friday, November 03, 2006
Please read "Marriage & the Public Good" from Princeton
and this message from teh New Jersey R.C. hierarchy:
Monday, October 30, 2006
Why 'Pro-choice' & 'Pro-life' misunderstand each other
October 30, 2006 -- http://www.firstthings.com/onthesquare/?p=513
Richard Stith writes:
"Why do many pro-choice people find our arguments against early abortion not just unconvincing but absurd? Consider, for example, the ridicule that the defense of human embryos sometimes draws. In order to have any hope of winning the debate, defenders of unborn life must understand how an argument that seems wholly reasonable to us can strike our opponents as a bizarre (therefore religious) doctrine wholly unconnected to the real world.
I submit that pro-life arguments seem absurd to any listener who has in the back of the mind a sense that the embryo or fetus is being constructed in the womb. Here’s an analogy: At what point in the automobile assembly-line process can a “car” be said to exist? I suppose most of us would point to some measure of minimum functionality (viability), like having wheels and/or a motor, but some might insist on the need for windshield wipers or say it’s not fully a car until it rolls out onto the street (is born). We would all understand, however, that there’s no clearly “right” answer as to when a car is there. And we would also agree that someone who claimed the car to be present from the insertion of the first screw at the very beginning of the assembly line would be taking an utterly absurd position. To someone who conceives of gestation as intrauterine construction, pro-life people sound just this ridiculous. For a thing being constructed is truly not there until it is nearly complete. (Moving from ordinary language to metaphysics, we would say that a constructed thing does not have its essential form until it is complete or nearly complete. And it can’t be that thing without having the form of that thing.)"
"The difference between making and developing is not just an accident of language. Suppose we’re back in the pre-digital days and you’ve just taken a fabulous photo, one you know you will prize, with your Polaroid camera. (Say it’s a picture of a jaguar that has now darted back into the jungle, so that the photo is unrepeatable.) You are just starting to let the photo hang out to develop when I grab it and rip its cover off, thus destroying it. What would you think if I responded to your dismay with the assertion: “Hey man, it was still in the brown-smudge stage.
Why should you care about brown smudges?” You would find my defense utterly absurd. Just so for pro-lifers, who find dignity in every human individual: To say that killing such a prized being doesn’t count if he or she is still developing in the womb strikes them as outrageously absurd.
By contrast, if I had simply destroyed a blank, unexposed piece of your film, you would have been much less upset. You really would have lost little more than a smudge. Passive potential does not count for much. Only developing potential already contains its own form (essence, identity), is already the what that it is in the process of manifesting."
Wednesday, October 25, 2006
Hospital admits to burning aborted babies in waste incinerator
And we still do nothing? Or are some of you doing something?
Monday, October 23, 2006
We can't infiltrate the Muslim 'street'?
"NOT long after 9/11, I said, just as an aside, that these days whenever something goofy turns up on the news chances are it involves some fellow called Mohammad.
-- A plane flies into the World Trade Center? Mohammad Atta.
-- A sniper starts killing gas station customers around Washington, D.C.? John Allen Muhammad.
-- A guy fatally stabs a Dutch movie director? Mohammed Bouyeri.
-- A gunman shoots up the El Al counter at Los Angeles airport? Hesham Mohamed Hedayet.
-- A terrorist slaughters dozens in Bali? Noordin Mohamed.
-- A British subject self-detonates in a Tel Aviv bar? Asif Mohammad Hanif.
-- A terrorist cell bombs the U.S. embassies in Kenya and Tanzania? Ali Mohamed.
-- A gang rapist preys on the women of Sydney, Australia? Mohammad Skaf.
-- A group of Dearborn, Mich., men charged with cigarette racketeering in order to fund Hezbollah? Fadi Mohamad-Musbah Hammoud, Mohammad Fawzi Zeidan and Imad Mohamad-Musbah Hammoud.
-- A Canadian terror cell is arrested for plotting to bomb Ottawa and behead the prime minister? Mohammad Dirie, Amin Mohamed Durrani and Yasim Abdi Mohamed.
Sophisticates object that very few of the Mohammads on the list above are formal agents of al Qaeda. But so what? There are no "card-carrying members" of this enemy: That's what makes them an ever-bigger threat: You don't need to plant sleepers. If you've got a big pool of manpower and a big idea that's just out there all the time - 24/7, flickering away invitingly like a neon sign in the Western darkness - that's enough to cause a big heap of trouble.
AND there are minimal degrees of separation between all these Mohammads and the most eminent figures in the Muslim world and the critical institutions at the heart of the West. For example, in 2003, Abdurahman Alamoudi was jailed for attempting to launder money from a Libyan terror-front "charity" into Syria via London.
Who's Abdurahman Alamoudi?
He's the guy who until 1998 certified Muslim chaplains for the United States military, under the aegis of his Saudi-funded American Muslim Armed Forces and Veterans Affairs Council. In 1993, at an American military base, at a ceremony to install the first imam in the nation's armed forces, it was Mr. Alamoudi who presented him with his new insignia of a silver crescent star.
He's also the fellow who helped devise the three-week Islamic awareness course in California public schools, in the course of which students adopt Muslim names, wear Islamic garb, give up candy and TV for Ramadan, memorize suras from the Koran, learn that "jihad" means "internal personal struggle," profess the Muslim faith, and recite prayers that begin "In the name of Allah," etc.
OH, and, aside from his ster ling efforts on behalf of multicultural education, Alamoudi was also an adviser on Islamic matters to Hillary Clinton.
And it turns out he's a bagman for terrorists.
Infiltration-wise, I would say that's pretty good. The desk jockeys at the CIA insist, oh no, it would be impossible for them to get any of their boys inside al Qaeda. But the other side has no difficulty setting their chaps up in the heart of the U.S. military, and the U.S. education system, and the U.S. political establishment, and the offices of U.S. senators and former First Ladies. "
Mark Steyn was a winner of the 2006 Eric Breindel Award for Excellence in Opinion Journalism. Excerpted with permission from "America Alone: The End of the World as We KnowIt" (Regnery).
For the full article, see:
Friday, October 13, 2006
Europe, for all its woes, is not the same vis-a-vis abortion as N. America
I found this article on Natonal Review Online, and this article on First Things, and was astounded that the news media haven't said a thing....mum's the word.... I guess.
Argueably, Canada currently has no laws vis-a-vis abortion.
The USA has a myriad of minor laws restricting abortion, but has Supreme Court laws granting "open season" to all of the states which might choose it.
Thursday, October 12, 2006
Don't know if it's true
SHAMELESS STAR BUYS AN AFRICAN SOUVENIR
By ANDREA PEYSER
October 12, 2006 --
NO WORD - yet - on whether Madonna plans to nail her brand-new bouncing boy to a crucifix, live, in concert.
Madonna, the sluttish, egomaniacal mother-of-the-century has topped even her most revolting self. She plans to remove a baby from the loving arms of his dirt-poor father, in one of the most desperate nations on earth.
Madonna has traveled far beyond her bra-baring, intercourse-simulating, public girl-kissing, Jesus-emulating loser antics to grab attention - and flesh.
The one-named wonder, who already has given birth to two children by two different daddies, one of whom she would not deign to marry, has her heart set on raping Malawi.
What do you think about Madonna adopting a child from Malawi?Post your comments here
Days ago, she lined up 12 African boys - tots hand-selected for her perusal. She picked out a 1-year-old, David, to take home in her luggage.
Well guess what? The boy selected in this freakish slave auction is no AIDS orphan. He's got a biological father, plus a granny - but was placed in an orphanage after his mother died. His family loves him. They just can't afford him.
If Madonna possessed a speck of sanity or shame, she would write a generous check. Instead, the boy's father says he is thrilled at the prospect of a wealthy American carting off his progeny.
Madonna should nail herself on her crucifix - for real, this time.
Malawi is making an exception to its law that forbids foreigners from adopting a baby. Living proof that money talks.
Madonna, who at 48 has more undeserved cash than probably sits in the Malawi treasury, agreed to pay big bucks for the transaction.
In exchange for her human package, she will pour $3 million into a center to help 1,000 Malawi orphans.
She'll also spend a mil on a documentary about the plight of children there. Presumably, this plight does not include Madonna's child purchase.
But wait - there's a catch.
Children educated at Madonna's new orphan center and bin for rejected babies will be taught a curriculum based on her pet religion, kabbala.
There is nothing that money can't buy, I suppose. That is except talent and taste - and moral fiber.
Stop this monster!
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Wednesday, October 11, 2006
Britain's inheritance laws, gay/lesbian unions, and justice?
Last month, Britain’s Telegraph ran stories telling of two elderly sisters who brought the British government before the European Court of Human Rights. The sisters, both in their eighties, lived and worked on their family farm all their lives, caring for their parents and aunts as they grew older. When their parents passed away, the sisters inherited the property. And now, as the sisters look toward their own passing, they know that when one sister passes away, the other sister will inherit the property, and a resulting tax. The problem? The house, which was built at a price tag of £7,000 in 1965, is now valued at £875,000, which means there will be an estimated £236,000 inheritance tax levied upon the surviving sister. Neither sister has that kind of money. To pay the tax, the surviving sister will be forced to sell the entire property.
According to the Telegraph, the sisters have feared this result for some time now and for the past thirty-one years have been fighting to change the law so that it excludes family members from the inheritance tax (or death tax, as it is often called). This tax is not paid by spouses or civil union partners, but is paid by siblings and other familial descendants. And as the sisters note, other women who live in stable, loving, committed relationships—as the sisters have for all of their lives—are now granted civil partnerships by the state. One sister, Joyce Burden, told the Daily Mail, “If we were a lesbian couple, we would not be facing massive inheritance bills.” But, precisely because they are sisters, and not lesbians, they do not qualify as civil partners. For in the government’s eyes, there are profound differences between siblings and couples: “Couples enjoy a relationship of choice. Siblings, however, enjoy a relationship of consanguinity. Further, the relationship between siblings is forever, whereas couples may part.” And for these reasons, the government grants civil partnerships to couples but not to sisters. In Ms. Burden’s view, “This is an insult to single people who have looked after elderly parents. I don’t call that justice.” The sisters are now suing, citing two clauses of the Human Rights Convention—the right to enjoy private property and principles of anti-discrimination.
It is not readily apparent why this case should fall to a court of human rights: There isn’t any human right prohibiting inheritance taxes or mandating specific governmental recognition of filial relationships. Nonetheless, the rationale offered by the government for its policy is deeply problematic, for it simply gets the relationship between family and state wrong. With respect to both the inheritance tax and laws regarding civil unions, the government has simply forgotten that the human family stands prior to, and independent of, the state. The state does not create marriage or the family; it merely recognizes and—where sound law and policy are in place—respects and supports this natural and indispensable human institution. This has profound implications for both the inheritance tax and civil partnerships.
If the family is a pre-political, basic institution of civil society, then the goods of the family, including material possessions, should be recognized by the state as residing in the family and not narrowly, or exclusively, in either the individuals who comprise the family nor the state to which the family belongs. Hence, upon the death of an individual, his property should be allowed to remain with his family, with his wife, children, and any other designated relatives. The family enterprise that labored to generate the wealth should be allowed to be the institution that retains the wealth. On the current scheme, however, things appear exactly backwards: The state stands as the prime organ of civil society, and upon one’s death, one’s possessions are returned to the state, to be divvied up as the state sees fit. In this case, one sister’s property will be returned to the government upon her death, to be bought back by the other sister at the price of the current death tax.
But this makes no sense, for the family is the basic and natural institution. The state, though important and even necessary to advance and protect the well-being of persons and families, is instrumentally but not intrinsically valuable. In this case, after one sister’s passing, the other sister’s life will continue as before, particularly with regard to the estate and house. She does not really inherit anything; she merely loses her sister. Thus, when the government argues that couples “enjoy a relationship of choice” while siblings “enjoy a relationship of consanguinity,” the government fails to recognize that this “consanguinity” is the basis of all civil society and as such demands recognition, particularly when those ties of consanguinity truly bind. For consider the case of the family business, run by father and son, operated out of the first floor of their home, the family living in the upper floors. Upon the father’s passing, the business, home, and other aspects of his estate will be officially passed on to the son, but as far as the son’s—and the rest of the family’s—daily life goes, their material possessions have not changed. What was the father’s was the son’s, and what was the son’s was the entire family’s. None of it should be transferred to the state, only to be returned to the family upon paying the price of the inheritance tax.
The fatal flaw in the state’s approach to the inheritance tax is that it fails to account for the fact that human beings, in most cases, do not live as solitary individuals. Rather, they exist in communities, in families. Property law, however, views estates as the sole possession of one individual and thus, upon death, views the property as “transferred” or “inherited” even where there hasn’t been any real change, just a legal fiction. Then the inheritance tax kicks in, often leaving the survivors—as in the case of these sisters—in a position of having to sell the property in order to pay the tax. If the state will reject the false idea that humanity is composed only of atomistic individuals, and if the state will genuinely respect the natural institution of the family, cases like these could easily be avoided—and without any reference to domestic partnerships or civil unions. Members of a family should not need to enter into civil or domestic partnerships in order to protect their family farms, businesses, heirlooms, and other family possessions from misguided tax schemes.
Moreover, the government’s policy on civil partnerships is equally misguided. The state has long recognized the exclusive, permanent, and sexual union of a man and woman in marriage, and thus has treated married individuals as a single entity—a couple—and the fruit of their sexual union as part of that single entity—a family. But, in the wake of modernity’s sexual revolution, elected officials believed they had to recognize formally same-sex sexual arrangements. The solution they devised was civil partnerships: recognized domestic relationships between adults of the same sex.
The problem with this, however, was that it dictated that these relationships be sexual in nature. Thus, a middle-aged woman taking care of her elderly mother, or, as in this case, two elderly sisters living domestically—but not sexually—with each other do not qualify. This is lunacy. And all because the real push for civil partnerships was to create gay “marriage” without having to call it marriage. The legislature made a profound and dangerous error when it assumed that marriage is something the state created and thus something the state can refashion at will. If, on the contrary, marriage objectively exists as a given, and if marriage exists precisely because of its nature as a sexual and potentially procreative relationship, then the creation of any other recognized sexual relationship is certain to spell disaster. Witness the plight of the elderly sisters in England. They are denied rights that they would otherwise have solely because they are not in a sexual relationship with each other.
If the government deems it necessary to recognize other adult relationships besides marriage, then it cannot discriminate against competing relationships on the basis of sexual activity. For in venturing beyond marriage—with its contours based precisely on complementary sexual union—the state has no available reasons for citing sexual activity as the defining attribute of other adult relationships. In other words, civil domestic partnerships must be open to all adult domestic partners whether or not they are (or are willing to say they are) sexual partners.
In the end, the government’s faulty understanding of marriage and family and the family’s relationship to the state yields troubling results. If the state were to acknowledge the givenness of marriage and its pre-political nature, it would neither penalize surviving family members upon the death of a relative nor create alternative family arrangements that exclude and discriminate against those not engaged in sexual relations.
Ryan T. Anderson is a Junior Fellow at First Things
Tuesday, October 03, 2006
Interesting article about abortion within N. America
The Issue Harper Can't Ignore
During the recent election campaign, Stephen Harper said his views on abortion were "complex." "I don't fall into any of the neat polar extremes on this issue," he told Global news.
by Father Raymond J. De Souza
Abortion-on-demand is said to be either a fundamental Charter right or a massive violation of the fundamental right to life. Those are the "neat polar extremes" Mr. Harper describes. It would appear that a moderate position would be somewhere in between.
… likely, he means by "complex" that he belongs to the 52 percent of Canadians who … want "some restrictions."
Except in Canada. Our public policy — no restriction on taxpayer-funded abortion at any time during gestation — is unmatched by any other democracy. Save for Chinese-style mandatory abortions, it would not be possible for Canada to be more extreme in its abortion license. So extreme in fact that even our polar neighbours, Sweden and Norway, would blanch at our permissiveness. Both countries prohibit abortion in most cases after 18 weeks gestation. In Britain, it is 24 weeks. In Italy, 13 weeks. In France, Germany and Belgium it is 12 weeks.
Only the United States matches our abortion-on-demand policy. Even so, Americans have parental notification statutes, a prohibition on federal funding and a federal ban on partialbirth abortion — soon to be under review by the Supreme Court. The moderate Canadian position is, in fact, American-style absolutism taken to the extreme.
Last Sunday, the Calgary Herald pointed to the European examples, and declared its editorial position to be in favour of "reasonable limitations" on access to abortion. The editorial represented a departure from the paper's own extremist abortion position of the late 1980s, which favoured no abortion law at all and called for more robust support of abortion by tax dollars.
"We have been talking about the issue of abortion for several years, and discussing whether we should adopt a more moderate position, one that is more reflective of our citizenry," says Doug Firby, Herald editorial page editor. "Also there have many medical advances — on viability and on fetal pain — since the position we took in the 1980s."
Editorialists at the Herald report no great outcry at the change of position — which is not surprising, given that the editorial itself pointed to polling data that showed about half of all Canadians favour legal abortion "only under certain circumstances."
I support policies that would ensure that all Canadians, including those unborn, are protected in law and welcomed in life. In a democracy, we are entitled to have arguments about that, but heretofore that position has been declared as intolerably extreme — while the opposite extreme has been declared moderate. That's not a debate; it's a ruthlessly effective propaganda exercise.
The media has been largely responsible for this classification, and the move of the Herald toward moderation and balance is welcome indeed. Other major newspapers should follow suit, not only for the cause of life, but for the health of our democracy, in which public policy debates should actually mirror the actual shape of public opinion.
All of which brings us back to the opinion of the chief public official, Mr. Harper, who told Maclean's this week that he has "no intention of getting into the abortion issue."
It is implausible that his views on abortion are so "complex" as to be beyond explanation. More likely, he means by "complex" that he belongs to the 52 percent of Canadians who, polls tell us, want "some restrictions." It is also likely that he finds the whole subject too controversial and distasteful. But a prime ministerial weak stomach is not an excuse for bad public policy.
Mr. Harper's commitment to inaction is de facto support for the "polar extreme" he says he does not favour. His "moderate" position is therefore to do nothing to challenge the status quo that the majority of Canadians oppose.
Given that Mr. Harper is not shy about challenging the status quo on other issues — the gun registry, Kyoto, daycare, marriage — his position on abortion invites only two conclusions, neither of them flattering. Either he supports abortion on demand, but thinks there is political gain in dissembling; or he simply thinks the whole matter not important enough to do something about. The latter conclusion should offend both sides of the abortion debate.
Mr. Harper came to Ottawa, left and returned, not because he thinks it is his job to explain the Ottawa elite consensus to the country, but because he wants to challenge it. He now has the capacity to do just that. Let's hope he still reads his hometown paper.
Father Raymond J. de Souza is chaplain to Newman House, the Roman Catholic mission at Queen's University, Kingston, Ontario. Father de Souza's web site is www.newmanhouse.ca/desouza.shtml. Father de Souza is on the advisory board of the Catholic Educator's Resource Center.
Originally published in the National Post, March 2, 2006.
Used with permission of authors. Copyright © 2006 Christianity.ca.
Monday, October 02, 2006
Re: Life-Chain 2006 & cover-up conspiracy "exposed" by BBC.
This was a response I posted to a very reputable & intelligent canon lawyer & respectable professor -- Re: "Life Sunday". And also re: the BBC's feigned "breaking" coverage of a 'secret' Vatican Edict re: priest sexual misconduct; and also re: the scandal of N. American clergy -- the cover-up of the sexual abuse of minors, by (mostly) homosexual & ephebophiliac (i.e., perverted) R.C. priests in N. America since (at least) the 1940's.
By the way, this blog is a must-read for N. American Roman Catholics, if any R.C.s out there actually care about the things they so often complain about within the Church, with somewhat adolescent rage.
Re: Life-Chain 2006 & cover-up conspiracy "exposed" by BBC.
"I had the same reaction about our Life-Chain here in Toronto. Fewer folks than in 1999, but also fewer "spitters." However, one comment I heard was "Activists! Hmph!" Surely from a Western-liberal-pro-abortion youth (judging by looks, which can get you into trouble). But as he turned and saw me overhearing his comment, he blushed and remained silent. Canadians are so polite, even against their own moral(?) instincts."
"But re: the 'secret edict' and cover-up about pedo/& ephebo/philiac priests -- I can attest to muchcover-up. Not by the Pope (and possibly not by Vatican City persons), but by the N. American hierarchy. I could convince you of the validity of my witness to cover-up if you contact me privately, but I can assure it is NOT because I am a 'victim.' It is because I was there. So the BBC may be "off" on the particulars of the cover-up (they overemphasize the Vatican's involvement), but its report is dead-on re: the cover-up of (especially) ephibophiliac & homosexual priests & bishops in N. America."
Sunday, October 01, 2006
September 27, 2006
Warning: Quote History at Your Own RiskThe Pope’s Remark Revisited
by Raymond Ibrahim
The Pope is under attack. Once again, riots, demonstrations, and “retaliations” have sparked throughout the Muslim world. Major Muslim figures — political and religious — have condemned the Pope. The “Muslim Street” is burning his effigy.
What great crime did the Pope commit, exactly? He quoted history. In a speech about faith and reason, he quoted a debate between 14th-century Byzantine emperor Paleologus II and a Muslim theologian, where the former asked, “Show me just what Mohammad brought that was new, and there you will find things only evil and inhuman — such as the command to spread by the sword the faith he preached.” In the context of the Pope’s speech, the point in evoking this anecdote was twofold: 1) to show how even centuries ago, there was inter-religious dialogue — a good thing to be preserved; and 2) to show that there is no room for violence where faith is concerned.
Twice the Pope clarified that he was quoting. He also described the Byzantine emperor’s remark as “brusque.” Moreover, the Pope made it a point to mention one of the Koran’s most tolerant verses — “There is no compulsion in religion” [Koran 2:256].
Had the Pope really wanted to defame Islam, he could have quoted from the much more numerous “sword-verses” of the Koran, which most Muslim theologians are agreed have abrogated the more tolerant ones: “Fight those of the People of the Book [Christians and Jews] who do not believe in Allah nor the Last Day, nor forbid that which has been forbidden by Allah and His Messenger, nor acknowledge the religion of Truth [Islam], until they pay tribute with willing submission, and feel themselves utterly subdued” [Koran 9:29]. Or “When the sacred months have passed, slay the idolaters wherever you find them — seize them, besiege them, and make ready to ambush them” [Koran 9:5]
Even more ironic, had the Pope not been quoting, had these been his own words, he, like Paleologus, would only have been declaring historic truth — as recorded by Muslim historians themselves. Indeed, almost everything we know about the early Islamic conquests is derived entirely from Muslim sources: the Koran, the Hadith, and the histories. And all of them unabashedly declare that Islam was established by the sword.
For Muslims to be enraged because the Pope evoked a fact recorded in their own texts, is no less ridiculous than if Christians became enraged because some Muslim authority evoked something out of Christian history and as recorded in the Gospels — for example, that Paul and the other apostles preached the Gospel around the Mediterranean, and as a result were persecuted and martyred (in the passive sense, that is). Of course, the method which Paul and others used to spread Christianity — preaching — differs significantly from the method that Muhammad used spread Islam — the sword — hence the touchiness of the topic.
More amazing still is that when radical Muslims portray Islam as a religion of the sword (remember the flag of Saudi Arabia, birthplace of Islam), far from being criticized by other Muslims, they usually receive only applause and recruits.
A cherished Hadith, quoted by virtually every militant Muslim, records the prophet saying — “Behold! Allah sent me [Muhammad] with a sword, just before the Hour [of Judgment], and placed my daily sustenance beneath the shadow of my spear, and humiliation and contempt on those who oppose me, and whoever imitates a group is [numbered] among them.”
Abdullah Azzam, deceased mentor of Osama bin Laden and Muslim icon, once wrote: “We are terrorists. Every Muslim must be a terrorist. Terrorism is an obligation as demonstrated in the Koran and Sunna. Allah Most High said: ‘Muster against them [infidels] all the men and cavalry at your command, so that you may strike terror into the heart of your enemy and Allah’s enemy’ [Koran 8:60]. Thus terrorism is a religious obligation. And the Messenger [Muhammad] of Allah is the first terrorist and the first menace” [al-Hijra wa al-I‘dad].
Bin Laden himself, after discussing Islam’s relationship to the world, concludes that “The matter is summed up for every person alive: either submit [to Islam], or live under the suzerainty of Islam [as a second-class citizen, a “dhimmi”], or die.” And after murdering 3,000 civilians in the name of Islam, and repeatedly stating that his actions were in accordance to Sharia law, why didn’t Muslims protest in mass and burn his effigy for defaming their religion and prophet? Instead, a recent poll by al-Jazeera where 41,000 individuals participated revealed that 49.9% support the U.S.’s most wanted man.
In fact, when al-Qaeda, Hezballah, Hamas, the Taliban, Iranian mullahs, or the imam at any given Western mosque portray Islam as a religion of the sword, nary a word of criticism — indeed only affirmation — will be heard on the Muslim street.
But when the Pope quotes in passing someone else saying the same thing — then woe, all is woe. The reason for this is obvious. Muslim anger at the Pope’s remark is less due to the fact that he implied that Islam was spread by the sword — a historic fact that Muslims have traditionally been proud of — but because the main point of his talk was to show that violence is always contrary to God’s will. Clearly such a conviction implies that Islam, which Muslims know was spread by the sword, is not only ungodly, but false. In other words, if you evoke Islam and violence (i.e. jihad) in a positive manner — such as al-Qaeda et. al. do — saying Allah “wills it,” you are a hero, but when you evoke it in a negative context, which the Pope did, by saying that “Violence is incompatible with the nature of God and the nature of the soul,” you are a villain.
At any rate, has the international Muslim response — burning papal effigies, making death-threats, attacking Christian churches, shooting nuns in the back, and God knows what else — shown that Islam is not violent? That is, after all, what this is all about?
[Raymond Ibrahim has a new book coming out in Spring 2007 translating the letters of Osama bin Laden and is a regular contributor to Private Papers]
Sunday, July 02, 2006
Steyn vs. Hitchens
Would everyone please take my word for it? If you do nothing in your spare time except read these two authors, Hitchens & Steyn (whether in the media, in their published works available at your local bookstore, or else during radio interviews, or even on Blogs, etc.,.), you will be intellectually and humorously blessed, and also you will find/discover that It (viz., the Hope for our future) is neither Right nor Left, but reasoned argument and a sense of humour, and also a sense of Culture which in turn wins the heart.... So please, read these two most eloquent and thoughtful journalists, that the 21st century has unwittingly uncovered from among the bloggers & hangers-on of journalism, post 9/11 & post-Sadaam & post-Zarquawi -- please read them.
PS Remember, Hitchens infamously "trashed" Mother Theresa via a much-watched documentary, while Steyn has been routinely brought up before the Canadian "Muslim/religious 'bigot of notice' court" (my description). So my (well-known) religious sympathies are not necessarily supported by those who support those who these guys support.
Tuesday, June 27, 2006
Gore's "global warming" film/scheme ridiculed by scientists
"The Gods are laughing" http://www.canada.com/nationalpost/financialpost/story.html?id=d0235a70-33f1-45b3-803b-829b1b3542ef&p=1
Saturday, May 27, 2006
Are we not men? We are .... persistent vegetables
May 23, 2006
Joseph Bottum writes:
An amazing story in the Guardian today: Patients who were unconscious for years, diagnosed as being in “persistent vegetative states” came awake when they were given a new experimental medication. As Wesley J. Smith emails to note, “They interacted with their environment. And then, after four hours, became unconscious again. The story says ‘permanently unconscious,’ but I doubt that phrase applies any more.” It illustrates that “we really don’t know what is going on inside the minds of people diagnosed as permanently unconscious,” and it should cause great hesitation before pulling the tube by which people are fed. The doctors involved also claimed that the drug could have wider application, hoping that “the drug could have uses in all kinds of brain damage, including Parkinson’s disease and Alzheimer’s.”
One of my favorite pastimes
It may seem cheezy (like my favorite "Space Channel" movie show, sci-fi great 'Mystery Science Theatre') and it may not be "South Park" or "Ali G.", but it is truly entertaining and stimulating -- and as far as I know, it may be just another trendy cable show -- but watching Off Beat Cinema is one of my long-time, favorite past-times. And yes, they do show movies like the all-time great , O. Welles' The Third Man.
In each episode, Maxwell Truth--along with his beatnik buddy Bird the painter, and the lovely Zelda--discuss the movies they show, and the proper coffee to consume while watching these flicks. Each week they're joined by whacked-out friends and top national music acts as they guzzle espresso and talk flicks.
Saturday, May 20, 2006
I wrote too soon, Steyn is a veritable slugger...
1) TDVC is a bad piece of literature;
2)TDVC is nasty propoganda posing as literature;
3)TDVC is nasty propoganda posing as literature which has been made into a poor movie.
4) The "Gospel of Judas" is simply one more document from post-second century which illustrates precisely what the early Christian Church was up against vis-a-vis the Gnostic system of beliefs or dogmas. As Steyn's quote of a Universtiy of Aberdeen professor succintly notes: "the alleged Gospel of Judas 'contains a number of religious themes which are completely alien to the first-century world of Jesus and Judas, but which did become popular later, in the second century AD. An analogy would be finding a speech claiming to be written by Queen Victoria, in which she talked about The Lord Of The Rings and her CD collection.' "
There are many resources available to an average internet user which should/could debunk all of the "mystique" surrounding TDVC. But Steyn's article (http://www.macleans.ca/culture/books/article.jsp?content=20060515_126652_126652 ) briefly and devastatingly cuts short any attempt to find anything novel or valuable in either TDVC or the newly translated "Gospel of Judas".
And, as usual, Steyn is hilarious and admirable in terms of his writing skills and style, as well as his imagination. He is surely one of the greatest living writers currently being published in English-speaking journals and newspapers.
Monday, May 15, 2006
Steyn still a great pinch hitter...
"... Christopher Hitchens said on the Hugh Hewitt show recently that he “dislikes” the Republican Party but he has “contempt” for the Democrats. I appreciate the distinction, though I’m not sure I could muster even that level of genial tolerance."
R.I.P. Jaroslav Pelikan
"Jaroslav Pelikan died on Saturday at age eighty-two. The funeral is Wednesday morning at St. Vladimir’s Orthodox Seminary in Crestwood, New York, beginning at nine o’clock. Jaroslav Pelikan was in the estimation of many the twentieth century’s most distinguished historian of Christianity. He taught at Yale from 1962 to 1996 and was the immediate past president of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences. A pastor and the son of a pastor of the Lutheran Church–Missouri Synod, Pelikan entered into communion with the Orthodox Church in 1998.
In one of the first issues of First Things, David Lotz wrote “The Achievement of Jaroslav Pelikan,” summarizing Pelikan’s magisterial five-volume history of the Christian Tradition. A further appreciation of Pelikan’s person and achievements—by Robert Louis Wilken, his student and friend—will appear in a forthcoming issue of First Things. May choirs of angels welcome Jaroslav Pelikan home. "
from "First Things" weblog.
The Duh Vinci Con (undrum) by gullible
Thought this was an interesting waste of time -- his book, The Da Vinci Hoax is a much better waste of time. Neither reads, of course, are a waste of time.
Recently, CBC producer Peter Kavanagh had this to say:
"What's the difference between James Frey [of 'Oprah' fame], the author of A Million Little Pieces, and Dan Brown? Above all, it is the nature of the lies. That and millions and millions of dollars, and for James Frey the bad news is that the difference is going to become even more exaggerated....
....The comparison between James Frey and Dan Brown isn't as odd as it might seem. Frey wrote a non-fiction work, which turned out to be in part fictional, and he was pilloried. Brown wrote a novel, claiming that everything apparently based in historical fact was true, which turned out to be a lie, and became rich and famous. And it says something about our slippery grasp of the idea of truth that this bothers very few of us. Frey's lies were personal; Dan Brown's are historical and institutional."
Once one stops believing in Something, one will believe anything.
-- G.K. Chesterton
Sunday, May 14, 2006
When Liberals were liberal
I may be impulsive, but I agree (even) with the preamble:
"We are democrats and progressives. We propose here a fresh political alignment. Many of us belong to the Left, but the principles that we set out are not exclusive. We reach out, rather, beyond the socialist Left towards egalitarian liberals and others of unambiguous democratic commitment. Indeed, the reconfiguration of progressive opinion that we aim for involves drawing a line between the forces of the Left that remain true to its authentic values, and currents that have lately shown themselves rather too flexible about these values. It involves making common cause with genuine democrats, whether socialist or not."
Some more ecclesial weight behind most Americans' beliefs
A Letter from America's Religious Leaders
The Most Blessed Herman -- Archbishop of Washington and New York: Primate, The Orthodox Church in America
The Right Reverend John W. Howe -- Episcopal Bishop of Central Florida
The Most Reverend Joseph F. Naumann -- Roman Catholic Archbishop of Kansas City, KS
The Most Reverend Thomas J. Olmsted -- Roman Catholic Bishop of Phoenix, AZ
His Eminence Sean Patrick Cardinal O'Malley, O.F.M., Cap. -- Roman Catholic Archbishop of Boston, MA
To download postcards to mail to senators click here.
Text of Amendment
Text of Marriage Protection Amendment (SJ 1)
A Letter from Civic Leaders in Support of the Religious Coalition for Marriage
A Letter from America's Religious Leaders in Defense of Marriage
A Christian Declaration on Marriage, November 14, 2000
Catholic Bishops on Marriage
U.S. Bishops’ Reaffirms Support For Federal Marriage Amendment, March 15, 2006
Q and A about Marriage and SS Unions USCCB
For more, click here.
Home • About Us • email: RCMUSA@gmail.com
Monday, May 01, 2006
Happy Feast of Saint Joseph the Worker
And so it continues.... Sorry ( well, not so sorry) to be repetitive.....
May 01, 2006, 7:11 a.m.
The press and partial-birth abortion.
By Ramesh Ponnuru
“I remember sitting in my office,” Kate Michelman recalled years later, “and James saying to me: ‘Kate. This is a disaster.’” Michelman was the head of NARAL, the abortion lobby, and its vice president, James Wagoner had just brought her a copy of a congressional letter on partial-birth abortion. It was bad enough that the Republicans had just taken Congress a few months previously. Now NARAL and its allies had to deal with a new issue that was tailor-made for their opponents.
They quickly came up with a few defenses. Partial-birth abortions, they claimed, were done rarely and only for medical reasons. Planned Parenthood explained, “The procedure, dilation and extraction (D&X), is extremely rare and done only in cases when the woman’s life is in danger or in cases of extreme fetal abnormality.” There were only 500 to 600 such cases a year. Moreover, NARAL and Planned Parenthood claimed, the fetus felt no pain, since anaesthesia given to the mother had already killed it.
The press bought it. The Los Angeles Times reported that there were only 200 such abortions a year. “Typically, it is used in late pregnancies to save a mother’s life or after the detection of severe fetal abnormalities.” A New York Times story also echoed the abortion lobby’s talking points. USA Today, the New York Daily News, and syndicated columnist Ellen Goodman all repeated the claim that anaesthesia killed the fetus before the scissors made contact. None of these stories even acknowledged that pro-lifers disputed these claims.
All of them were false.
The claim about anaesthesia was debunked first. Martin Haskell, the abortionist who had first brought partial-birth abortion to public attention, had said in a 1993 interview that the fetus was not dead before the D&X began. Dr. Norig Ellison, the president of the American Society of Anesthesiologists, testified before the House that the claim that anesthesia killed the fetus was “entirely inaccurate” and dangerous to spread, since it could cause mothers to turn down anaesthesia to protect their unborn children. At this point, anaesthesia dropped out of the debate.
In September 1996—after Congress had passed a bill banning partial-birth abortion and Bill Clinton had vetoed it—Ruth Padawer, a reporter for the Bergen County, New Jersey, Record, disclosed that a local clinic performed 1,500 partial-birth abortions per year. That was more than the abortion lobby and much of the media had claimed took place nationwide. Within days, David Brown and Barbara Vobejda reported in the Washington Post that it was “possible—and maybe even likely—that the majority of these abortions are performed on normal fetuses.” Their finding tracked with Haskell’s remark that 80 percent of the partial-birth abortions he performed were “purely elective.”
Five months later, a bigger bombshell: Ron Fitzsimmons, executive director of the National Coalition of Abortion Providers, told American Medical News and the New York Times that he had “lied through [his] teeth” about partial-birth abortion. When Nightline interviewed him in November 1995, he had followed the party line: Partial-birth abortions were rare and performed only in extreme cases. In truth, he said, the vast majority were performed on healthy mothers with healthy babies. “The abortion rights folks know it, the anti-abortion folks know it, and so, probably, does everyone else.” He estimated that 3,000 to 5,000 were performed each year.
The Alan Guttmacher Institute, Planned Parenthood’s research arm, maintained that there were “about 650” partial-birth abortions in 1996, or at any rate that the number fell between 500 and 1,000. It stuck to that line for several years. Later, it issued a new figure: There had been 2,200 partial-birth abortions in 2000. Either the number had tripled in four years, or one or both estimates were flawed. Since clinics’ participation in the institute’s survey is voluntary, both numbers are probably underestimates.
Assume, however, that there are 2,200 partial-birth abortions annually. Is this a big number? Its defenders point out, accurately, that it is a small fraction of the total number of abortions each year in America. Yet it is also true, as pro-life lobbyist Douglas Johnson notes, that “[i]f a new virus [were] killing 2,200 premature babies annually in neonatal units, it would be on the TV evening news every week.”
Many reporters continued to spread myths about partial-birth abortion long after they had been debunked. In 2003, the Wall Street Journal reported that partial-birth abortion was “typically” performed “for medical reasons.” The same year, the Boston Globe, the San Francisco Chronicle, and the Miami Herald made the same false claim.
Much of the press, led by the New York Times, avoided using the phrase “partial-birth abortion” (or placing it in distancing quotes) whenever possible. This impulse has led to some convoluted Times headlines: “House Acts to Ban Abortion Method, Making It a Crime”; “President Vetoes Measure Banning Type of Abortion”; “Bush Signs Ban on a Procedure for Abortion.” The kids at Hogwarts speak the name of Voldemort more freely than the Times editors use the phrase partial-birth abortion.
The press has not shown any general reluctance to adopt politically contested phrases. When Congress banned “assault weapons,” the NRA bitterly protested that the phrase had been made up and referred to no distinct class of firearms. Yet the press adopted it without resorting to locutions such as “a class of guns called ‘assault weapons’ by advocates of gun control” or “Congress Bans Type of Gun.”
When pro-life presidents cut off family-planning funding for groups that counsel women to have abortions, pro-choicers called the policy a “gag rule”—and the press did not handle the phrase with gloves and tongs. Headlines, including New York Times headlines, regularly used variants of the phrase. Linda Greenhouse casually referred to Rust v. Sullivan, which concerned the policy, as “the abortion gag-rule case.”
The conservative Media Research Center analyzed 217 stories about partial-birth abortion on ABC, CBS, and NBC that aired between 1995 and 2003. They found that only 18 of those stories explained what took place in a partial-birth abortion (and only three of them explained it between 1998 and 2003). They reported on congressional votes and Supreme Court decisions about partial-birth abortion, but refused to provide the facts that would make it clear what the fuss was about.
The partial-birth-abortion debate was, as Michelman predicted, a disaster for the abortion lobby. But the press did everything it could to contain the damage.