Wednesday, August 31, 2005

Kennedy and Kyoto

“For They That Sow the Wind Shall Reap the Whirlwind” by Robert F. Kennedy Jr.

His premise:

As Hurricane Katrina dismantles Mississippi’s Gulf Coast, it’s worth recalling the central role that Mississippi Governor Haley Barbour played in derailing the Kyoto Protocol and kiboshing President Bush’s iron-clad campaign promise to regulate CO2.

His conclusion: ... Governor Barbour is indirectly responsible for Hurricane Katrina, and only Kyoto can save us now.

The responses to his blog are more interesting than the blog itself. Enjoy the field trip, if you can stomach it!

The Lysistrata Project

I decided to look over the assorted reports about Cindy Sheehan this morning, and was interested in the many comparisons I found (via Google) between Sheehan and Lysistrata. Lysistrata is the comedy by Aristophanes about the Athenian women, lead by the remarkable Lysistrata, who wished to end the Peloponnesian War. The Athenian women pursued this goal by locking themselves into the Acropolis, and by going on a "sex strike" in order to force the end of the war. (The ultimatum seems to be that the Athenian men must lay down their swords in order to pick up their swords, so to speak; although, we must note that most of the Athenian men, husbands and fathers, are away in military service.) The Google query and the subsequent results appear to demonstrate that there is something strikingly similar about the aims of Lysistrata, the Athenian women and Sheehan - surely quite obviously on the surface. We must take seriously the possibility that Aristophanes's wisdom can provide much matter for reflection on the present.

As an aside, it is amazing what can be found on the WWW, particularly when it comes to associations and causes. Look at this "cause" for example: The Lysistrata Project, Theater Artists Against War, Anti-War, Stop the War on Iraq, Sharron Bower, Kathy Blume. It would seem that these women have read Aristophanes's comedy as a support for their cause, which is really quite amazing. (In part, because they seem to presume that Aristophanes elected the Athenian women as his spokesman in his comedy.) How else are we to read this? "Antiwar activism got a feminist edge. The Lysistrata Project saw 1,029 productions of Aristophanes' hilarious, bawdy comedy performed all over the world on March 3..." Now I think it is safe to say these women almost rival the laughable aspects of Aristophanes's comedy, but they do so only in a qualified way. (They are reflections, seemingly willingly, of the Athenian women in the Lysistrata.)

Regarding Sheehan, it does seem striking that the main contention at present about Sheehan is that she dishonors her son by her speech and actions. I would ask, is it even remotely clear that this woman has some notion of nobility whatsoever? Surely the accusation presupposes an opinion about what is noble, but the picture of Sheehan seems to admit of no such thing, that is, it admits of no such thing outside of her concern with survival (or preservation). At any rate, Mark Steyn has put his finger on the issue, I think, when he identifies those among the anti-war movement who are willing to see American soldiers as children:

Ever since America’s all-adult, all-volunteer army went into Iraq, the anti-war crowd have made a sustained effort to characterise them as ‘children’. If a 13-year-old wants to have an abortion, that’s her decision and her parents shouldn’t get a look-in. If a 21-year-old wants to drop to the Oval Office shagpile and chow down on Bill Clinton, she’s a grown woman and free to do what she wants. But, if a 22- or 25- or 37-year old is serving his country overseas, he’s a wee ‘child’ who isn’t really old enough to know what he’s doing.

Sunday, August 28, 2005


We can always look to Canada for progress -- in this case, progress from the murder of unborn babies to the legalized abuse of born ones:

Woman raised in homosexual household speaks against same-sex marriage

Ottawa, Aug. 26, 2005 (CNA) - A Canadian woman who grew up in a homosexual household in Toronto in the 60s and 70s says same-sex marriage does not respect or protect the rights and best interests of children.

Dawn Stefanowicz said as a child she was at high risk of exposure to contagious STDs due to sexual molestation, her father's high-risk sexual behaviors, and multiple partners.

. . .

Stefanowicz, who cared deeply for her father, noted that growing up in a gay household exposed her to "bathhouse sex, cross-dressing, sodomy, pornography, gay nudity, lesbianism, bisexuality, minor recruitment, voyeurism, and exhibitionism.” In addition, she said, "Sadomasochism was alluded to and aspects demonstrated. Alcohol and drugs were often contributing factors to lower inhibitions in my father's relationships."

After two decades of exposure to these behaviors, she became insecure, depressed, suicidal and confused over her own sexuality.

. . .

“Children need consistent appropriate boundaries and secure expressions of emotional intimacy that are not sexualized in the home and community,” she wrote.

In addition, legalized same-sex marriage will provide “a direct legal entranceway of indoctrination, desensitization, personal and political recruitment of our vulnerable children by some gay activists within our schools while silencing all students who oppose the gay agenda.

Check out her complete statement.

More Exact

Concerned Catholic kindly posts some selections I took from Vatican documents on the liturgy -- one can, I think, see the direction things are headed by observing the greater specificity of each succeeding paper.

What about the facts on the ground? The other day I overheard two priests from a liturgically liberal (academic) chapel talking. "Going to be here Sunday?", one asked. "No", the other replied. "Too bad", says the first, "We're being more exact about ordinary and extraordinary Eucharistic ministers." He did not sound pleased, but I could not suppress my joy. We'll have to see where this goes . . .

Saturday, August 27, 2005

The Present Norm

"Rome has changed its stance after decades." On my understanding, the idea that Pope Paul VI's "new Mass" suppressed the "old Mass" is an opinion long dominant in the Church, though strongly denied by solid Catholics such as the present Holy Father. The Vatican never officially spoke on this, however. According to this information from a blogger named Papabile, that may be changing. Someone wrote to Cardinal Dario Castrillón Hoyos asking for the lifting of restrictions on the old Mass. In response, the Cardinal's office said:

While it is true that the use of the prior edition of the Roman Missal was not abrogated or suppressed, its use still constitutes an exception to the present norm established for the Roman Rite by Pope Paul VI on 3 April 1969.

It is not suppressed, but it is not the present norm. What about when the 60s are finally over?


New Exhibit at the London Zoo

Our good friend, ConcernedCatholic (link to his blog: Culture, Politics, and the Catholic Faith) has observed through second hand reports the recent spectacle at the London Zoo, which has added a new display: Homo sapiens! See the news article here: Humans Are Ones on Display at London Zoo. CC properly emphasizes from the news article the purpose of this new display: "Seeing people in a different environment, among other animals . . . teaches members of the public that the human is just another primate." I do wonder if saying that the human being is "just another primate" logically follows from the fashionable notion that human beings were at one time just primates, and accidentally diverged from primates at some point in history. Whether this distinction is necessary, it seems to at least to press us to consider those "accidental accretions," (namely speech and reason) however acquired, in terms of education today. However, even this question misses the point, I would think, since it is clearly an error to suggest that men are simply primates. We do not visit the zoo because we believe the animals in the zoo constitute a living extension of the human family, any more than we "refer" to the lives of apes because we think doing so will provide some insight into our condition or guidance for our actions. Differently stated, how often are those who believe that we are primates spotted having dinner with their pilous cousins from the jungle. What then can we say about this "lesson" on display at the London Zoo? Let us consider the following, directly from the mouth of one of the participants:

Tom Mahoney, 26, decided to participate after his friend sent him an e-mail about the contest as a joke. Anything that draws attention to apes, he said, has his support.

"A lot of people think humans are above other animals," he told The Associated Press. "When they see humans as animals, here, it kind of reminds us that we're not that special."

A remarkable feat, no doubt, to parade around a zoo exhibit, scantily clad, in order to teach people that there is little that is special about being human. It is all a little too special if you ask me. Anyway, I refer everyone to CC's thoughts on this subject. In addition, let us with a degree of wonder proper to this subject repeat the child's question on seeing the new exhibit: "Why are there people in there?" Perhaps because they feel they belong there.

Thursday, August 25, 2005

International Scene

Colombian president pledges not to approve legalization of abortion
Bogotá, Aug. 25, 2005 (CNA) - President Álvaro Uríbe Velez of Colombia has promised Church leaders in his country he has sent a letter to the country’s congressional body urging lawmakers not to pass a proposed law that would legalize abortion.

The vice president of the Colombian Bishops’ Conference, Bishop Ivan Antonio Marin, said, “The President is going to make known a letter he sent to Congress regarding the opposition to abortion. The President ordered the letter be publicly disclosed.”

Congressman Jose Luis Arcila proposed a bill that would have changed Colombian law to allow for abortion in cases of rape, artificial insemination or in the case of “non-consenting implantation of a fertilized egg.”

Priest fined for calling anthropologist “pro-abortion”
Brasilia, Aug. 25, 2005 (CNA) - A panel of judges in Brasilia has ordered a Catholic priest to pay a fine for using the word “pro-abortion” to describe anthropologist Debora Diniz Rodrigues, a renowned defender of abortion and director of the Institute on Bioethics, Human Rights and Gender.

Last week judges in Brasilia ordered Father Luiz Carlos Lodi da Cruz, president of the Pro-life Association of Anapolis, to pay a fine of $3,000 for damages against Diniz.

The judges also ordered Father Lodi to refrain from using the word “pro-abortion” to describe those who defend abortion. Upon hearing the sentence, the Brazilian priest wondered aloud “what adjective should be used then to describe someone who defends abortion, since certainly one who defends divorce is not offended by being called pro-divorce nor is a supporter of Communism by being called a communist.”

“The judges failed to indicate which word in our language is acceptable, and has the same meaning but is non-offensive, for describing someone who openly defends abortion.” Father Lodi said.

An appeals court rejected a motion by Father Lodi to have the sentence struck down, and his only recourse now is to appeal to the country’s Supreme Court.

Where's My Share?

Mr. Eaton brought to my attention the worth of our blog, now reckoned at about 4k. Who's doing the counting, and why? Very peculiar stuff. . . .

Wednesday, August 24, 2005

Irony and Hope

David Warren notes some changes in tone and implication, as compared to John Paul II, in the Holy Father's recent address to German Muslims.

Most obviously, the implied "apology for the Crusades" has been rephrased. It now includes an accusation as well as a mea culpa. It politely reminds a Muslim reader that Christians were not alone in committing atrocities, in the Holy Land or anywhere, in past centuries. I think it tells the Catholic reader, as subtly, that we have done with making gratuitous apologies for distant historical events.

Pope Benedict's words were as follows:

Past experience teaches us that, unfortunately, relations between Christians and Muslims have not always been marked by mutual respect and understanding. How many pages of history record battles and wars that have been waged, with both sides invoking the Name of God, as if fighting and killing, the enemy could be pleasing to him. The recollection of these sad events should fill us with shame, for we know only too well what atrocities have been committed in the name of religion.

Is he splitting things down the middle, or just leaving proportions of blame unspoken? Warren also reads the Pope as not-so-subtly suggesting a Christian interpretation of Islam as the only hope for our future. In Benedict's words,

The dignity of the person and the defence of the rights which that dignity confers must represent the goal of every social endeavour and of every effort to bring it to fruition. This message is conveyed to us unmistakably by the quiet but clear voice of conscience. It is a message which must be heeded and communicated to others: should it ever cease to find an echo in peoples' hearts, the world would be exposed to the darkness of a new barbarism.

One thing I found interesting was the Pope's claim that "all of us, as Christians and Muslims, are believers", an explicit abandonment of the term 'infidel' as applied to Muslims. He further stated,

The lessons of the past must help us to avoid repeating the same mistakes. We must seek paths of reconciliation and learn to live with respect for each other's identity. The defence of religious freedom, in this sense, is a permanent imperative, and respect for minorities is a clear sign of true civilization.

I see two salient features in this paragraph, seeming to point in two different directions. One, respect for Muslim identity (as opposed to respect for Muslim humanity despite their false religious identity) seems to bespeak a toleration taken to the point of relativism, something the Holy Father is clearly set against. Two, the appeal to experience and qualifier "in this sense" suggests that the "permanent imperative" to respect the Muslim identity is not some categorical imperative, but a prudential requirement of the times, and perhaps for all forseeable times, given that the lack of tolerance in the past led to certain problems and would likely do so again.

In any case, Pope Benedict cited a passage of Vatican II referring to respect for Muslims because "they worship the one God living and subsistent, merciful and almighty, creator of heaven and earth, who has spoken to humanity and to whose decrees, even the hidden ones, they seek to submit themselves whole-heartedly, just as Abraham, to whom the Islamic faith readily relates itself, submitted to God...." For this reason, we must "together maintain and promote social justice and moral values as well as peace and freedom for all people".

The optimism of these statements seems to exhibit a prudence that partakes of both irony and hope. As the West takes the idea of toleration to decadent extremes and the Muslims in their fanaticism advance, the Church continues to articulate the true grounds of earthly as well as heavenly order.

Friday, August 19, 2005

No More than That

The New Testament dictum of rendering to Caesar and to God implied not merely that revelation was not designed to replace or destroy the things of Caesar but that the knowledge of what is politics will be a constitutive part of fully understanding what is revelation, a knowledge (politics) found only vaguely or indirectly in the sources of revelation. Revelation, in this sense, presupposes political philosophy and is incomplete without it. Revelation at its highest human intelligibility requires the "queen of the social sciences" to be just that but no more than that.

James V. Schall, Reason, Revelation, and the Foundations of Political Philosophy

Thursday, August 18, 2005

Recess is Over!

Let's hope John Roberts does as well in his field as John Bolton is doing in his . . .

Funding of Palestinian Propaganda By U.N. ‘Unacceptable,’ Bolton Says

By JACOB GERSHMAN Staff Reporter of the Sun

The United Nations’ funding of a Palestinian Arab propaganda campaign timed to coincide with Israel’s pullout from the Gaza Strip has increased tensions between the U.N. and American officials.

America’s newly installed ambassador to the United Nations, John Bolton, labeled “inappropriate and unacceptable” the United Nations Development Program financing of materials bearing the slogan “Today Gaza, Tomorrow the West Bank and Jerusalem.”

Mr. Bolton said yesterday that the UNDP had failed to explain why it funneled money to the Palestinian Authority to back the production of banners, bumper stickers, mugs, and T-shirts bearing the provocative slogan as well as UNDP logos.

. . .

The slogan, which suggests forthcoming Palestinian Arab triumphs in the disputed territories of the West Bank and East Jerusalem, has become a defining message for the Palestinian Arab government during the Israeli withdrawal from the Gaza Strip and some areas of the West Bank. The slogan appears to have been adopted not only by senior members of the Palestinian Authority but by Hamas officials as well.

Hamas’s top official,Khaled Meshaal, yesterday echoed the theme of the slogan in comments to reporters, Reuters reported. “Gaza is the first liberation, then comes the West Bank, then every inch of Palestinian land,” Mr. Meshaal said. “We are at the beginning of the road, and we have not and will not give up our weapons.The battle is not over.”

. . .

UNDP officials have argued that it isn’t their role to weigh in on the merits of geopolitical claims. Specifically, they have said that the Palestinian Authority had the freedom to develop a campaign without review from the UNDP, which funded the production of the materials through its Program of Assistance to the Palestinian People. The head of the Palestinian program, Timothy Rothermel, was quoted by Fox News as saying that the slogan is “consistent with the relevant U.N. resolutions and Security Council resolutions about the status of Palestine.”

Hat tip: James Taranto

Obesity, Profundity, Fecundity

four of my heroes are Aristotle, Aquinas, Samuel Johnson, and Chesterton, each of whom, with the exception of Aristotle, was probably obese, by current government standards. So I consider this anti-obese movement to be a direct attack on sanity and the huge bodies that proclaimed it! Chesterton always laughed at his size and probably died relatively young as did Aquinas. But how he or Aquinas could have done more than he did is beyond me.

James Schall, from an interview well worth reading.

Wednesday, August 17, 2005

Moral Authority

Mark Steyn casts some "rare shafts of light on the sewers of transnationalism" -- worth a read!

Friday, August 12, 2005

Me, Meme?

Usually aint my cup of tea, but New Victorian has graciously hit me with one of those meme-thingies. Though I will not go all the way with it, in terms of spreading the virus, I will try to respond to the first two inquiries in a way that's not too boring for blogdom.

This is the "Hefty Books" meme.

1. Name your three biggest non-reference books (excluding the Bible and text books).

I'm with NV on this one -- "The Complete Shakespeare", Yale edition in my case. Nice to have in a way, and got it in a bargain rack for $30. But I only had to slog through one play in this thing -- leaning over the 50 lb spread and squinting to make out the text, flipping to obscure locations to find the explanatory notes, the bulk of which are picayune -- before I implemented the policy of going to a used book store and buying a smaller edition when I actually want to read the Bard. Best Shakespeare buy: an old Everyman edition, pocket size, of all the History Plays and the Sonnets, with thin but sturdy paper, clear print, and a handy glossary of obscure words in the back. Cost me $1 at a flea market . . . .

I don't know if I'd consider any other non-reference books of mine 'hefty'. My recently purchased Encyclopedia of Saints (OSV) is fairly large, as are my Eerdmans early Church Fathers editions of Augustine and Crysostum and some Ecumenical Councils. None of these things is massive. All are boxed and sitting several states away in my brother's garage until he visits me at my new place . . . .

2. Name your three biggest reference books.

My biggest is Webster's Encyclopedic Dictionary of you-know-which language. It has a lexicon and some color maps in the back and other glitzy junk that might have some value, but it cannot stack up against the antique (late 19th century) Websters my parents inherited from one of my ancestors. That thing is printed on the thinnest (yet strong) paper in the world, and must be 2-3,000 pages long. It doesn't even have the pretentious title 'Encyclopedic', but it is infinitely meatier than mine. Almost every other word is illustrated with a small, attractive ink drawing of the thing it refers to, and every one has full etymology and samples of exemplary literary usage (not first usages as in the OED). That old book is hefty in more than one sense. As with the Everyman above, it lays to rest any notion of progress in society, at least in recent centuries . . . .

My Oxford-Duden is pretty big. That name should reveal to die Kennende what the thing is, though my German has deteriorated so much in past years that I'm 80% sure I butchered the two little words I chose to use. (The dictionary is in my office and cannot help me at this late hour.)

I also have a French-English dictionary -- the publisher eludes me at the moment -- which is old and pretty heavy. It is solidly built, thicker than heck though not particularly tall or wide, and has a pink section in the middle with Latin phrases and their French equivalents. I could ask for a wider selection of sayings, but the thing is large on quality as well as possessing noticable mass.

The heftiest book I consult regularly is the Summa Theologica, in an old Benziger Brothers edition split into three volumes of 1,000 oversize pages each. It is a beautiful piece of work, but unfortunately does not belong to me, but to my school's library. I would like to rescue one from a dusty rack one day, but thus far have had no luck in locating a neglected specimen. (Well, the library copies I've used are probably not taken out every day either. But with me they have had a temporary loving home.) On that day I will have to do this meme over again.

3. Tag three others.

Think I'll pass. But anyone who would like to compare the girth of their library to mine is welcome to leave comments!

Wednesday, August 10, 2005

Saving Souls, UN Style

This is a cautionary tale of sorts. What happens when you let pacifism and progressivism into the Catholic mind? For one thing, the UN at World Youth Day. As flocks of young souls come thirsting for the truth, they "will be encouraged to attend a pavilion where the [UN's] MDGs are promoted and lauded by Herfkens and other representatives." What, pray tell, are these things?

Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) . . . ostensibly are about the environment, helping women and children, and eliminating world poverty by 2015-- goals which fit well with Christian morality.

Never mind that the poor will always be with us. Attempting to end world poverty through viciously secular international bureaucracy is an eminently Christian thing to do.

Therefore it is no surprise that WYD Germany is partnering with the UN Millennium Campaign in Germany for its opening ceremonies. Added incentives for the partnership include a video address to the WYD pilgrims gathered in Bonn for the opening ceremonies on August 15 by none other than UN Secretary General Kofi Annan, and a massive fireworks display.

Who could be surprised! How better to please the Lord than by honoring the scandal-ridden, incompetent leader of the world's decadentura, with fireworks to boot! There is only one hitch:

Annan strongly supports population control, abortion, same-sex marriage, which are completely at odds with Catholic teaching.

Oops. Wasn't expecting that one. But there's more:

Also, pro-abortion groups and individuals are using the MDGs to push for global access to abortion under the auspices of "gender equity," "reducing child mortality," and "improving maternal health."

Moreover, the agenda of the UN itself on the matter is troublesome. Annan appointed pro-abortion Eveline Herfkens as the Executive Coordinator for the Millennium Campaign in October 2002. Prior to this appointment, Herfkens served as the Netherlands Minister for Development Cooperation (between 1998 to 2002). During this time, she supported the notorious proposal of an abortionist who wished to circumvent laws prohibiting abortion in various countries by performing abortions on a ship after taking women of the targeted countries into international waters.

Herfkens is to address the WYD pilgrims at the opening ceremony on August 15 in Bonn along with federal and state representatives.

Oh well, all a matter of saving souls I guess.

Monday, August 08, 2005

A Woman of the Eucharist

What must Mary have felt as she heard from the mouth of Peter, John, James and the other Apostles the words spoken at the Last Supper: “This is my body which is given for you” (Lk 22:19)? The body given up for us and made present under sacramental signs was the same body which she had conceived in her womb! For Mary, receiving the Eucharist must have somehow meant welcoming once more into her womb that heart which had beat in unison with hers and reliving what she had experienced at the foot of the Cross.

John Paul II, Ecclesia de Eucharistia

Truth and Timeliness

To begin with, only truth can be timely. Only truth can correspond to chances and dangers of any given epoch -- correspond as both affirmation and corrective.

On the other hand, the fullness of truth can never be grasped by a neutral and indifferent mind, but only by a mind seeking the answer to a serious and urgent existential problem. But this urgency can only be aroused by an immediately experienced, real situation, of the individual and the community.

Josef Pieper, The Silence of St. Thomas

Sunday, August 07, 2005

Red Cross Adding to Crucifixion

Given their name, it is ironic that this particular organization would so publicly drive another nail in. But they have:

Man Fired By American Red Cross For Not Celebrating Homosexuality


By Lindsey Douthit

The American Red Cross fired an employee, Michael Hartman, for expressing his disagreement with homosexuality.

It is important to realize that this is not a case of a man being persecuted for not promoting the homosexual agenda -- though it is close to that. As a Red Cross employee, he received an e-mail encouraging all employees to 'observe' gay pride month. He chose courageously to register his disagreement with the celebration of sexual perversity; and though he was careful to point out that he respected homosexuals as people, he did not shy away from criticizing their chosen way of life and citing Scripture in that regard. After a period of rough treatment, he was dismissed from the Red Cross.

He plans to seek help from Christian legal groups such as the Alliance Defense Fund.

Unfortunately, Hartman's legal options may be limited, as the Red Cross is a privately funded organization and may therefore exert its own prerogative in these matters.

I wouldn't call that unfortunate, exactly. In the current climate, it is a blessing to have private organizations outside the reach of the law when it comes to these things. It is crucial to good citizenship to be aware of the nature of such organizations, however. One would like to think of the Red Cross as a worthy charity anyone can proudly support. I would hate to have to renounce all ties to them, but such moves may be necessary on the part of Christian civil society if we are to reclaim our culture.

The Red Cross even has its own body of Corporate Diversity committees that oversees the implementation of a "diversity code" for the organization. Employees must participate in "diversity training" seminars, and they are subject to the "diversity vision" of the Red Cross that includes "sexual orientation" on the list of "communities we serve."

. . .

It is important that Christians are alerted to this unfortunate situation. Many Christians give money or support to the American Red Cross without ever realizing that the organization openly promotes homosexuality.

In the words of Michael Hartman, "If the public knew what was going on within the Red Cross I have no doubt their unselfish support would screech to a halt."


David warren has been brilliant as ever lately; check out all of his recent columns. But I couldn't resist quoting this digression in full:

On the subject of drinking, yet another long-term, in-depth study, this one of 7,000 persons by Australian National University’s Centre for Mental Health Research, has shown that people who drink (specifically, alcohol) are smarter and healthier than people who don't.

Also, I should think: wiser, kinder, prettier, happier, and better. But the study was restricted to drivelling tests of verbal reasoning, short-term memory, and the like. Unsurprisingly, teetotallers appeared to be more likely than certified alcoholics to achieve the lowest scores.

In a concession to the idiot lobby, the study specifies that the correct, “moderate” amounts are 14 to 28 "standard drinks" per week for men, 7 to 14 for women. (My standard drink would be a triple whisky.) But if you can get the results shown, from just a moderate infusion of alcohol, think what you could get from serious imbibing.

A similarly large study, flagged in Nature magazine about 1995, showed that cigarette smokers scored 5 points higher than non-smokers on I.Q. tests. This suggests another route to self-improvement.

Saturday, August 06, 2005

An Outrageous Answer

When Thomas . . . ranged himself on the side of the pagan Aristotle against the traditional philosophico-theological trends (an undertaking requiring great boldness), he did this not from a spirit of opposition to traditional doctrines or from a mania for innovations, but rather because his intrepid approach to truth recognized the voice of reality in Aristotle's work. This same intrepidity made him ask, in his Commentary on the Book of Job, whether Job's bold conversation with the Lord God did not violate reverence -- to which he gave the almost outrageous answer: truth does not change according to the standing of the person to whom it is addressed; he who speaks truthfully is invulnerable, no matter who may be his adversary.

Josef Pieper, The Silence of St. Thomas

Friday, August 05, 2005

Changing the Rules?

Blair Announces New Measures Against Terrorism

Friday, August 05, 2005

LONDON — Prime Minister Tony Blair on Friday announced new deportation measures against people who foster hatred and advocate violence following last month's transportation attacks that killed 52 people and four suspected homicide bombers.

Clerics who preach hate and Web sites or book shops that sponsor violence would be targeted. Foreign nationals could be deported under the new measures.

Blair said his government was prepared to amend human rights legislation if necessary if legal challenges arose from the new deportation measures.

Britain's ability to deport foreign nationals has been hampered by human rights legislation. As a signatory to the European Convention on Human Rights, Britain is not allowed to deport people to a country where they may face torture or death.

Traditionally, Britain has not been hampered by a Court that can overrule Parliament -- classically it is said that Parliament can do anything it likes short of making a man a woman or a woman a man (and these days it could certainly do even that). That power was beginning to erode precisely because of European integration, which officially subjected Britain to written codes of human rights to be imposed by courts (British or European). It will be interesting to see whether the response to these attacks forces any kind of decision about whether to continue down that path toward oblivion.

Thursday, August 04, 2005

Morality Alive?

This article, in the current (August 8) edition of National Review (link requires subscription) is a gas! Anthony Danials (aka Theodore Dalrymple, if I'm spelling that right) is speaking of Live 8:

Prima facie, the spectacle of superannuated rock stars setting themselves up as the moral instructors of the world is a rather odd one: only slightly less odd than that they should be taken at their own estimate. Their profession, after all, has not been a byword for restraint, good sense, or selflessness; nor have the practical effects of their artistic productions been always beneficial. A prison officer in England, himself of Jamaican origin, once told me that if he played baroque music to the prisoners in his charge they became calm, mild-mannered, and reasonable, while if he allowed them to play rock music they became agitated, aggressive, and violent. Have not these same musicians therefore the inescapable moral duty to maintain their silence and do all in their power to prevent the further dissemination of their music, which has hitherto seeped into the atmosphere like a poison gas?

He is always a great writer, but it doesn't get much better than that. The lesson of the piece is one Rousseau told in Emile, though one wonders if his own progeny have ever thought of it: namely, that attention to distant moral quandries very often masks slovenliness in those moral concerns that are much more in one's power: he mentions family, and also hints at the ordering of the soul. Though he mocks the mockable, there is something to be chewed on here for all of us, at least for me anyhow. Well worth grabbing it off the newsstand or library rack if you don't get it in the mail.


The Constitution does not speak of freedom of contract. It speaks of liberty and prohibits the deprivation of liberty without due process of law. In prohibiting that deprivation, the Constitution does not recognize an absolute and uncontrollable liberty. Liberty in each of its phases has its history and connotation. But the liberty safeguarded is liberty in a social organization which requires the protection of law against the evils which menace the health, safety, morals, and welfare of the people. Liberty under the Constitution is thus necessarily subject to the restraints of due process, and regulation which is reasonable in relation to its subject and is adopted in the interests of the community is due process.

Justice Hughes, West Coast Hotel Co. v. Parrish (1937)

If applied accross the board, these words would show that our Constitution requires neither unadulterated capitalism, nor a judicially enforced regime bent on the degradation of human life.

Tuesday, August 02, 2005

CBC News: Albertan ordered to pay ex-wife $200 a month for pet support

CBC News: Albertan ordered to pay ex-wife $200 a month for pet support.

NB, this is an older story that I encountered recently in a odd local publication entitled "Coffee News." Note the idea of progress here, which is implicit in the decision, from the issue of "child care" to "pet care." Progress in this example is only possible by means of an abstraction from the essential differences between child and, say, a dog in the family. (Do we see ourselves as "parents" of a pet, or masters?) And do we really need to ask? This is the character of decadence:

The result is a whole new branch of litigation and legal websites dedicated to fighting for the rights of a pet in the event of a divorce.
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