instruere...inlustrare...delectare Disputations

Friday, July 30, 2004

Choosing sides

Two things that irk me deeply are mendacity -- deliberate falsehoods only an ignoramus or a fool could actually believe as he speaks them -- and stubbornly offered invalid arguments -- arguments that don't prove their conclusions even if their premises are true, but that continue to be offered long after their invalidity has been demonstrated.

So, as you can imagine, I haven't been enjoying the coverage of the Democratic National Convention. Nor do I expect to enjoy the coverage of the V shaped depression in the offing known as the Republican National Convention.

Jcecil3, on the other hand, has now drunk the Kool-Aid, as the saying goes. He writes:
I still feel a great deal of discomfort about the abortion issue... this was the stumbling block between me and Kerry. He answered it for me in the bolded sentence.
The bolded sentences in which Kerry answered Jcecil3's great deal of discomfort about the abortion issue are these, from last night's acceptance speech:
I don't want to claim that God is on our side. As Abraham Lincoln told us, I want to pray humbly that we are on God's side.
It's a curious line of reasoning, followed in the bright light of the day: John Kerry has publicly vowed to undo every small effort George Bush has done to resist worldwide abortion-on-demand-through-birth, which fact discomforts Jcecil3, who is pro-life. On the other hand, Kerry says that he doesn't want to claim that God is on his side, but that he does want to pray humbly that he is on God's side. And this not only overcomes Jcecil3's discomfort, it makes him positively enthusiastic about the fellow.

Now, it happens that, pray all he might, John Kerry is categorically not on God's side. On the matter of abortion, John Kerry, whether he realizes it or not, spits in God's eye. His position is literally damnable.

So I, personally, don't see much in the way of persuasiveness to his saying, "I want to pray humbly that we are on God's side." In fact, I see much that is ridiculous, and once again I must conclude that Kerry is either a liar or a fool to say this.

Still, I think Jcecil3's enthusiasm for this sort of guff hints at something worth noting. What he is responding to emotionally, if I read him correctly, is Kerry's profession of anti-dogmatism, of claiming the allowance, "I could be wrong." (And what matters is the profession of anti-dogmatism, since Kerry's speech was otherwise (and properly) full of dogmas.)

This week's hypothesis is that many self-described progressive Roman Catholics think it is better to be wrong and say "I could be wrong" than to be right and say "I am not wrong." And if the choice is between "a very intelligent man who tries to do what he thinks is right and who consistently makes fine hair-splitting distinctions and careful nuance" and who is flat wrong and a man of middling intelligence and laconic speech who accurately insists he is right, there's simply no question the progressive will embrace the former.

And if I had to guess at the answer to the question of why someone would prefer intelligent and nuanced error to unsophisticated and uncompromising truth, my guess would be, "Sloth."