Thursday, January 28, 2010

The Great Catholic Blog Torture Debate resumes ...

And while, for the record, I believe waterboarding is among the many wrongs commited by the Bush administration, and that other oft-cited incidents of detainee abuse (particuarly those resulting in death) should be investigated, and their perpetrators -- if guilty -- prosecuted, I concur with Jay Anderson:

... I am reluctant to join anything billing itself as the "Coalition for Clarity" for a number of reasons: (1) I am uncomfortable with the whole "Coalition for Fog"/"Coalition for Charity" dicotomy since I have faithful Catholic friends (Shea would label them "Faithful Conservative Catholics[TM]") who oppose torture, yet who have been unfairly accused of being for "fog" in the torture debates; (2) I'm not so sure that "clarity" is actually being sought, but rather see the effort as something more along the lines of "we're not like the the people who Shea has labeled as being 'for fog'"; and (3) nothing about the name overtly or otherwise indicates exactly what it is the group stands for.

So, I beg your indulgence while I offer this humble suggestion. How about you drop the cute euphemism, which is really nothing more than a play on Mark's overly theatrical name calling, and adopt a straightforward name that says what you REALLY mean and what you REALLY stand for? Something like ... I don't know ... "Catholics Against Torture"?

Lastly, my opinion of Mark Shea remains the same as it was last year, around this time (when, curiously enough, I found myself blogging on this same topic):
... that any legitimate disagreements with the Bush administration that could be mounted are obfuscated by his tendency to play fast and loose with the facts; imbue dubious motives to his critics, and substitute the virtual equivalent of sheer playground bullying for civil, rational and charitable debate -- which has, over the course of the past three years, alienated a number of erstwhile friends and readers within the Catholic online community who would have otherwise supported him.
That Shea is credited as both the inspiration for, and a participant of, 'The Coalition for Clarity' gives me a bad impression. Chalk it up to past history. (At the same time, I'm always open to surprises).

(Prior posts on the subject are compiled here).


  1. Bush has been a private citizen for over a year. McCain was opposed to torture.

    I think this gaggle of moral superiors (presbyters?) should be renamed the coalition for DETRACTION.

    Do these saintly superstars truly believe that opposing torture, capital punishment, Iraq, and hating President Bush justified voting for abortion, class warfare, drone assassinations, escalating war in Afghanistan, and Obama? Holy cow!

    My biggest beef with such sanctimonious savants is their comparative silence on abortion and execrable democrat/liberal/progressive ideas and policies.

    You won't get into Heaven if you vote Democratic, even if you did it because you hate George W. Bush (snark). Many people (me included) need to get to Confession.

    There's my spiritual work of mercy for this night.

    T. Shaw

  2. Hi, Christopher! I hope you'll give the Coalition a chance. The name is my fault; I put a picture on my blog a year ago with that name, and someone asked, and things started happening, etc. It wasn't meant to tweak anybody--but as I said to Jay Anderson, I didn't call it Catholics Against Torture or some such thing because that doesn't really get at what the group is supposed to be about.

    What it is supposed to be is simply a place to post Catholic teaching on torture along with various interesting questions raised, discussions, etc. The blog takes the position that all torture is evil, that things like waterboarding do count as torture, and that there aren't exceptions to the principle "Don't torture" on the grounds that we're the good guys, that we're trying to get information to save lives, or that there's a ticking time bomb somewhere (and so on).

    The reason I credit Mark Shea as inspiration for the blog is simple: he did inspire me. I was one of those people who wasn't sure what torture was or if it could possibly be wrong when all the good Republicans I knew approved of it. I'm the sort of person who responds best to a rhetorical smack upside the head; a gentle, calm tone would not have convinced me to re-examine my rather smug positions at all.

    So I'm grateful to Mark for persevering despite my lack of clarity on the subject. And now I want to do what little I can to help clear things up for anyone else who, like me, was genuinely confused about torture. My own tone tends to be different from Mark's, because while I'm not opposed to strong rhetoric I tend to favor persuasion over debate.

    I recognize that some people who are sincerely wrestling with the issue may reach different conclusions than I do, but I also realize that there are a lot of Catholics who have convinced themselves that the Church isn't really against "our sort" of torture--and I see that as being a spiritually dangerous place to be. Let's face it: that 51% of Catholics, a sizable number of them weekly churchgoers, said in a survey they had no problem with a person being tortured (not "interrogated" or "waterboarded," but *tortured*) if we thought he was a terrorist and had information is shocking and disturbing.

    Anyway, appreciate the mention, and hope you'll give us a chance!

  3. "My biggest beef with such sanctimonious savants is their comparative silence on abortion and execrable democrat/liberal/progressive ideas and policies."

    In fairness, T. Shaw, I think the participants of the present 'Coalition for Clarity' didn't vote for Obama, and have been vocal as well on abortion and the many deficiencies of the present administration.

    Red Cardigan -- thanks for responding.