Wednesday, September 28, 2011

PEG's open letter

Pascal Emmanuel Gobry has written an open letter to me here. I am copying and pasting my reply from the comments there below.

So, trying this again: I wish you would consider the possibility that I described that post as fascist not because I wanted to use that as a vague insult but because I find that a fair description of the platform you’re describing.

The text of your piece advocates the imposition of an economic platform that you admit is broadly unpopular, enforced if necessary with emergency powers, and dictated by small committees of elites. By invoking emergency powers and admitting that this program would be deeply unpopular with the French people, you’re walking into disturbing territory. Corporate capture of government, enforced by the threat of violence and under the direction of undemocratic oligarchies, sounds like textbook fascism to me. I am opposed to fascism.

Also, I just disagree about the nature of Catholic teachings on the death penalty. The pope is not only the leader of the Holy Roman Church but according to doctrine an infallible (literally) leader of God’s vehicle for righteousness on earth. The last pope wrote unambiguously and explicitly that the death penalty is cruel, unnecessary, and anti-Christian. If your morality is informed by Catholicism (as Douthat’s surely is) when the topic is abortion, it is fair for me to ask that you be consistent when the topic is the death penalty.

Further, I disagree with your argument that it would be better for those condemned to death to be executed rather than spend life in prison. It seems to me that this is straightforwardly contradicted by the fact that most of those on death row (and certainly Troy Davis in particular) fight desperately to prevent their own executions.
I don’t find anything particularly personal about any of that. If you are really personally affronted, please email me at freddie7 AT gmail DOT com.


  1. The pope is not only the leader of the Holy Roman Church but according to doctrine an infallible (literally) leader of God’s vehicle for righteousness on earth.

    This is imprecise. The pope is only infallible on rare occasions-- when he proclaims that he's speaking infallibly, on matters of faith and morals, I'm pretty sure. It's a pretty rare occurrence. (Ordinarily I'd be Googling to be more precise, but gotta run).

    I think that the argument of inconsistent application of Catholic morality is fair as to folks like Douthat-- I don't see a tag for "Poverty" or "Death Penalty" at his blog among the stuff like "Culture Wars", "Abortion", "Sex and Marriage", and "Movies" over there-- but it's not fair to say that everything the pope proclaims is supposed to be regarded as infallible by Catholics.

  2. From the comments at that link:"I am one of the few people on the blogosphere who is willing to make the simple point that political positions have moral consequences."

    Wow, that's deep, man. I mean, whoever thought that there is a big linkage between politics and morality? You're so rare, almost no one thinks in those terms, particularly in the political blogosphere. Don't ever let anyone tell you that you are not a beautiful and unique snowflake.

  3. @reflectionephemeral: While you're RIGHT about the infallibility piece, it's just imprecision and not really an undermining of the argument at stake. The Catholic Church's "Seamless Garment" doctrine protecting life is, well, seamless from conception until extinction.

  4. i didn't know you were on twitter. what's your handle?

  5. Freddie's post just points out something that all semi-liberal Catholics know from experience, which is that some Catholics are quite adept at loudly quoting seamless garment doctrine on abortion or birth control but are oddly silent when the subjects of the death penalty, war crimes, or economic justice come up. And they call the rest of us "cafeteria Catholics!" Too funny.

  6. Pearls before swine, Freddie.


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