Sunday, November 28, 2010

You're not a monster. And nobody called you that.


Here's my frustration. I write a provocative post, challenging abortion rights advocates to answer some uncomfortable yet important questions. A fellow Catholic blogger writes a response taking issue with what she feels is an unbalanced piece

Fair enough, so far. 

Then, Miss Gwen comments on the other blogger's post and includes the following:
I made the mistake of commenting on Leila's blog because it was an "open letter" to pro-choice people. Of course, it turned into a giant attack with tons of questions being fired away and, as always, the judgment that I am some sort of sick, twisted monster who runs around trying to kill unborn babies and supporting genocide.
I wonder if anyone else sees my frustration? 

Where was the "giant attack"? I don't see it, and I've looked. In fact, 51 comments into my post, an abortion rights advocate (Anonymous 11:11) wrote the following:
11:11 here again. First, I want to say that I am really impressed with how civil this discussion has remained. I haven't gotten into an abortion debate in years, because it rarely stays civil.
How does Anon 11:11 see the polar opposite of what Miss Gwen saw?

Also, the "open letter" I wrote contained over 20 questions itself, but Miss Gwen makes it sound like the "tons of questions being fired away" came only after she commented, and that they shocked her. But, how is that possible?

Miss Gwen then says that, "as always," we judged her as a "sick, twisted monster" who supports genocide. I'm not trying to be difficult, but huh? Can anyone show me any evidence of that? I have re-read the comments and I see none of it.

In fact, even when Miss Gwen stated (on the Peter Singer post) that she might support an occasional case of infanticide, no one called her a sick monster. 

Miss Gwen, I thought you knew how much we like you, and that we think you are beautiful and intelligent. We have been polite to you, we have enjoyed your participation, and yes, we have often vehemently opposed your philosophies and ideas (even to the point of thinking those ideas were horrific). But we Catholics can separate the value and dignity of a person from the value of her ideas. We can love and respect you as a human being, while even hating the positions you hold. 

I don't get why you take this all so very personally. 

Think of it this way: If you and I were having a rational discussion about abortion, and you said, "I think it's monstrous that you want to force a woman to carry an unwanted fetus to term," I would respond by saying, "Yes, I know that you think it's monstrous, but..." and then go on to talk more about the ideas. As long as you are not attacking me personally, it's perfectly okay with me that you think my ideas are monstrous. 

By the way, it's a sin for a Catholic to spew hatred or personal judgement at another person. So, if it happens that some Catholic attacks you personally (i.e., "you're evil" rather than "your idea is evil"), you can call him on it! Tell him to get to confession, because that sort of thing is not allowed.  :)

Anyway, thanks for hearing me out. And please let me know (anyone, on any side) if I've got it all wrong.

Blessed Advent everyone!

137 comments:

  1. Leila,

    One word (well, actually two!): Cognitive Dissonance.

    No, you haven't gotten it wrong...it is just that this is the fundamental, rather the ontological question of all questions...and defending the termination of life is difficult and unnerving. It causes "cognitive dissonance" in the person. For, in the deepest recesses of each of our minds, we know that a life/culture based on self-centeredness (which allows even the taking of anohter person's future, life and potentiality) is and will create a culture and society that is no good of a place to live. When people become inconvenient happenings and "thingified," then all of us become diminished and society in general losses it's meaning.

    Remember: it's a culture of life that we are protecting. Yes, we are protecting that culture by protecting the innocent individuals in it, but it goes beyond this, to actually protect the entire society from becoming uncivilized, babaric, and nihilistic.

    Sometimes pro-lifers fail to communicate what the whole defense of life LOOKS like. It's a FULL CULTURE that we are promoting.

    Defensiveness and projection is what is needed for pro-choice people to maintain their positions. You are all about clarity, logic, and rationality. But, when one holds a position that is anti-life (what we Catholics refer to as the culture of death), then psychological defense mechanism must be fired up to keep one's position and to remain psychologically stable. Because, God gave every person a conscience. And in our deepest being each one of us knows what is right and wrong. But, we all ALSO were given freewill.

    "Cognitive dissonance is an uncomfortable feeling caused by holding conflicting ideas simultaneously. The theory of cognitive dissonance proposes that people have a motivational drive to reduce dissonance. They do this by changing their attitudes, beliefs, and actions.[2] Dissonance is also reduced by justifying, blaming, and denying. It is one of the most influential and extensively studied theories in social psychology"

    Life Matters.

    It's hard to be in the position of having life (esp. a life in the priviledged first world) and having to rational to others that some are unworthy of living.

    So, patience and love my dear Leila. Martin Luther King knew when he showed others the denied humanity of ohters, violence and anger would be the envitable reaction. Just keep holding up the Truth....be willing to suffer their reactions, you are not wrong, rahter you are on the side of truth and justice, but this requires taking on the fear, anger, and wrath of those still trying to maintain their position. Think of the images of the Civil Rights movements and the folks who spit on the marchers. Love them Leila! Logic is good, but love in the end will open their hearts and free them from the burden of defending the violence and waste of abortion.

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  2. Wow great number 1 comment! Yes miss Gwen, we have always really appreciated your viewpoints and I'm sad you Don't feel this way!

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  3. Here's Are My Open Questions to Abortion Supporters:

    Would you really want to live in a world where nobody defends or is against abortion anymore?

    Why do you think the Catholic Church defends life?

    Yours,

    Little JoAnn

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  4. Wonderful comment Little JoAnn! One thing that I can appreciate about the Catholic church above and beyond that of the protestant church is that the teachings are all part of a seamless fabric, and make perfect sense when seen in that context. With various protestant sects, the fabric is pulled apart, and the rules no longer makes sense, and become indefensible.

    The fight to end abortion is the most important step in restoring this fabric of life, but like you said JoAnn, it is part of a culture of life which has many facets.

    I am convinced that Catholicism is so maligned, mocked, and misunderstood by our culture because the teachings are scattered around in piecemeal fashion (by the media, "Cafeteria Catholics", etc), and of course, they cannot sustain themselves without the undersatnding of the whole fabric of the culture of life.

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  5. Little Joann,
    Good explanation, I love it and I love belonging to a faith that is full of such smart and lovely people!! God Bless!

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  6. Thanks Anonymous. Sorry for my million typos...I have a horrible, old, 10 year old computer, AND I am a marginal speller.

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  7. Little JoAnn, thank you, thank you, thank you! I needed to hear that!

    And regarding your second comment:

    Would you really want to live in a world where nobody defends or is against abortion anymore?

    It is so funny that you asked that! Years ago, a friend and I wrote a regular editorial column for the Phoenix paper. We had a "pro-choice" guy write us a letter slamming our pro-life position. Eventually we "befriended" him. We asked him if he weren't just a "teeny-tiny" bit happy that we stood up for the unborn, who had no voice. We were actually surprised when he responded that he was in fact, a teeny bit grateful that there were people like us who did!

    It was a relief to hear him say it. Because suddenly things made a little more sense and were a little less horrible.

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  8. I will just point out that Leila and I had a conversation the other day (Chesterton quote post) where I pointed out that her logic was not as rock solid as she implied. I was using an example to point out an issue with her logic. She replied,

    "Mai, you seriously think this is the level of our (Catholic) discourse ... I absolutely know now why I can't have a conversation with you. Maybe I will try again in a few days."

    Leila, I wasn't even saying that your ideas were silly (even though I think they are) - I was merely pointing out problems with your logic. Argue those ideas if you wish, but do not say that they are based on causative logic - and that I don't understand logic. I really don't know why you were so upset.

    Also, I continued to have this conversation about logic because another person in the conversation said that I did not believe that logic exists. I did not become offended and run away for days, I simply defended myself.

    So let's not only accuse the liberals of being defensive. And I know you were not talking about me in your post. It seems to me that you are using Gwen as an example here, but the first commenter specifically is going on and on about all people who are pro-choice. Here's a line from Little Joann's post: "Defensiveness and projection is what is needed for pro-choice people to maintain their positions" Really? That seems pretty far-reaching. That's a lot of pro-choice people to include in such a statement.

    I personally have become used to the extremely passive-aggressive statement "It is not you that is monstrous, it is your ideas that are monstrous." In my opinion, the only way to deal with passive aggressiveness like this is to confront it head-on.

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  9. Mai, because I'm lazy, could you cut and paste the quote you said that made me respond like that? Thanks.

    Also, do you agree that Miss Gwen's view of the conversation was not accurate? That what she said happened never actually happened?

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  10. I decided I'm not too lazy. Here's some of the stuff you left out, Mai:

    MaiZeke said...
    I'm running with this.

    People who wear red could be communists. So let's stop people from wearing red.

    If we allow gays to marry, then siblings could marry eventually. So let's stop gays from marrying.

    I think those two are the same type of logical consequences.


    I answered:

    Leila @ Little Catholic Bubble said...
    Mai, you seriously think this is the level of our (Catholic) discourse (and I'm gonna change one word, but not the essence):

    Mai likes ice cream. She eats ice cream a lot. People who like ice cream "could" be communists.

    I absolutely know now why I can't have a conversation with you. Maybe I will try again in a few days.


    There was no defensiveness at all. Just frustration.

    As for passive aggressive? That's silly. No one has been passive at all. We are telling it exactly like we see it, pretty strongly, and still being respectful. If you call that passive aggressive, well, then we have two different definitions of that as well.

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  12. Paul, interesting observation. Can you give me the evidence that this is what happened with Miss Gwen? It's all public record, so specifics, please. Thanks.

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  13. Paul, and I'm specifically talking about what I mentioned in this post, about Miss Gwen saying we called her a monster and attacked her. Thanks, Paul!

    And, if it's getting so tiresome, why do you keep reading? ;)

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  14. PS, Paul... How do you account for Mrs. M? She has been perfectly logical, completely open, not defensive in the least, and we have had a great conversation, even though we don't agree on the most serious issues of the day, such as abortion, marriage, love, God, etc.

    Why are we able to have a great discourse, if what you say above is true of what I do to liberals?

    Thanks. Now, I'm out the door for baby to get his shots. Yikes!

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  16. This is why I quit posting Catholic stuff and stopped going to many "Catholic" sites.

    I've read Leila's reversion story (excellent!) and many of her postings, which are consistent with Catholic teachings.

    But it seems many Catholic sites break down into "flame wars" in the combox. IMO it's a waste of time and energy.

    If you don't like what Leila has to say - move on to another blog. It is her blog, after all...

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  17. Dear Miss Gwen,

    I do not now, nor have I ever, thought you, the average pro-choice person, or a woman who has had an abortion, is a monster. I do believe there are SOME in the abortion industry who know the truth about what they do and continue to participate in such evil, but the majority of people are simply misguided about the loving thing to do.

    I believe a woman desperate enough to get an abortion deserves compassion, not hatred.

    I believe true compassion is honesty about what is good and evil.

    I believe you, and the average pro-choice person, believe you are helping a person by promoting abortion as a viable choice.

    I believe this is misguided- and results in murder- though the victim is nameless and unseen.

    I believe there is redemption and hope in the person of Jesus Christ, for anyone who has participated in ANY way in abortion.

    I believe His sacrifice on the cross covered ALL of our sins- mine and yours. No sin is too great for Him.

    I believe His arms stretched out the cross is His longing for us to turn to Him in our despair and sorrow- and that He throws His arms around us and rejoices when we turn to Him and ask forgiveness.

    I believe we have to stand up and fight for the least among us- that we are only as strong as the weakest. I do not believe this is the poor- but the unborn- who NEVER have a voice.

    I believe we have to fight for these babies- these nameless, faceless souls- to share the good news about LIFE. Sometimes this is very uncomfortable, even gut-wrenching, as people come to realize their participation in killing an innocent person. But again- I believe in forgiveness, redemption and HOPE through Jesus Christ.

    I believe you are a beautiful, intelligent soul who is loved very much by Jesus Christ- that you are my sister in Christ- and I hope you continue to come around and know that you are loved.

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  18. Interesting viewpoint, Paul... here's how I see it:

    Leila puts up a provocative post asking for input from liberals about why they believe what they do.

    Liberals respond.

    Leila et al point out the flaws they see in that person's logic, and/or ask follow-up questions.

    Liberals get frustrated at the amount and/or complexity of questions; they may also become offended at what they perceive to be a personal attack (i.e., they view the amount of questions as an attack). They also take offense at some of the logical conclusions drawn from their viewpoints but can't explain why those conclusions are so impossible. (An example - MaiZeke's opposition to sibling marriage; she has said that it won't happen but has yet to admit [to my knowledge] that it could and should based on the logic she has used to defend same-sex marriage).

    Liberals bow out of the discussion because they are too busy or annoyed to continue the conversation anymore.

    Leila et al are disappointed, yet again, because the logic has not yet been explained in a way that makes sense, even if we disagree.

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  20. Monica - I always enjoy your comments! I couldn't agree more with how/why Church teachings are so often misunderstood. Just when I get frustrated, I try to remind myself how confusing it can get when all you receive are sound bites from the media - even Christian media.

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  21. Paul,

    When Leila makes a "vent" post it is usually because the subject is committing acts of libel against either Leila or other blog commenters. For example, Miss Gwen has accused commenters on Leila's blog of calling her a "monster."

    Leila, naturally, takes exception to the notion that she would allow and/or condone anyone in her blog comments calling anyone else a monster. Thus, the follow-up post.

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  23. Yes, Paul, really. Do you disagree? If so, why?

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  24. Let's just talk about this one: "An example - MaiZeke's opposition to sibling marriage; she has said that it won't happen but has yet to admit [to my knowledge] that it could and should based on the logic she has used to defend same-sex marriage"

    This was one of the first of my own blog posts in response to one of Leila's questions. It is at http://hameno.wordpress.com/2010/09/29/same-sex-marriage-vs-sibling-marriage/. It was written well before Leila and the others put all of the caveats and instructions about how I am supposed to reply to one of her questions.

    My point is that when I question your points (in a non-libelous manner) you become equally offended.

    It is tiresome. Why do I stay? I ask myself this often. I like to try to understand what you all are thinking. Similarly, I continue to read a blog where the writer is a young-earth creationist who believes in evolution. If you can believe that. It's absolutely fascinating to watch him 'defend' his ideas - it is something I don't come in contact with, and I'm seriously trying to find out how others (people who don't think like me) think.

    I have a huge problem with statements like this as well: "They also take offense at some of the logical conclusions drawn from their viewpoints but can't explain why those conclusions are so impossible." LOGICAL conclusions? Your logical conclusions are like saying that a person who wears a red shirt may be a communist. That is why these logical conclusions are impossible.

    Goodness gracious! You ignore the things I say!

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  27. Mai said on her blog (thanks for the link, Mai):

    If I thought we could control that siblings could get married and not have children with each other, maybe then I’d support sibling marriage. But I wouldn’t want to have the state give out a license for marriage with contingencies.

    Mai, if only you had said this clearly on this blog, I would have understood. Because at least what you said above makes sense. If you did say it here, then I apologize. Now I see what your "stop" is (as Elisabeth put it). You oppose sibling marriage due to the possibility of birth defects. If the possibility of birth defects is eliminated somehow, you might be okay with sibling marriage. That makes sense to me! So, thank you!! That is all I am trying to get to... a point that makes sense, given your stated philosophies.

    I imagine that you will continue to get upset if I question you about Tay Sachs and whether or not the possibility of passing on Tay Sachs is a reason to forbid certain other adults from getting married. You might say that is a ridiculous question (I think you already have), but that doesn't stop me from thinking it's a logical follow up to you saying that serious birth defects would make you want to prohibit certain people (siblings) from marrying.

    So, I am not being combative, I just want to know.

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  28. Same-sex vs sibling sex marriage was the first explanation that I put on my blog, in September http://hameno.wordpress.com/2010/09/29/same-sex-marriage-vs-sibling-marriage/. This was before I received more instructions on how to reply to one of Leila's questions. However, the reason I brought it up again was to talk about lines like this: "They also take offense at some of the logical conclusions drawn from their viewpoints but can't explain why those conclusions are so impossible." That's from Joanna, but similar things come out of the mouth (hands) of Leila. I spent a lot of time explaining why these "logical conclusions" of yours were anything but. But those explanations of mine have been ignored, apparently. That is very frustrating.

    This is tiresome, but it entertains me - it is quite ridiculous. I agree with Paul, "Committing acts of libel" is an outrageous statement, and again we are asked to refute it. Fun times!

    Joanna: typically one prosecutes someone for libel, in the courts. If you really are going to do that, I will definitely have to re-consider how much I enjoy this entertainment.

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  29. Paul, Gwen says she was called a monster. And that she was attacked. Do you see that in the abortion thread? Can you find it? If not, then what is your point?

    As for my follow-up posts. That's what I do here. This is my blog and I want to keep clarifying until the point where I am satisfied. I think what happened with Miss Gwen is a perfect illustration of how two sides can have something in black and white in front of them and come up with two different realities. She said she was called a monster and attacked. I don't see that anywhere at all. I put the question out there in a new post, and asked if anyone else saw Gwen being called a monster and being attacked. So far, no one can point to where that happened.

    So, why do you have a problem with what I do? If you don't like it (and I mean this in the nicest way, seriously), you don't have to read it. It's my own musings, my own processing, my own "thing" that I do to try to make sense of things.

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  30. Sorry, it took a while for my original comment to show up, so I posted parts of it again.

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  31. Also, Paul, there is more than just Mrs. M who has been able to have a pleasant, non-accusatory conversation with me, and who I haven't done a follow-up post on. There has been Matt in Seattle, and (apparently from above) Anonymous 11:11. I know there have been some other anonymouses, too. You and Mai (and even Gwen) have been generally friendly, too.

    When I do a follow-up post, it's not a "vent" in my mind. It's an opportunity to pull out a particular statement or idea that needs to be exposed or explored some more. I hate when everything gets buried in the comments. If you don't like this picking apart of ideas and thoughts, then I don't know what to say. That's what I do here.

    Maybe I need to put a big disclaimer to everyone who comments: "If you post here, you will have your ideas challenged and picked apart. Just as I expect that you might do to mine. No one has been censored here."

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  32. Mai, I apologize, it got stuck in spam so I released it as soon as I noticed.

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  34. Paul, you are dead wrong about my motives, but that is your issue. I cannot control what others think. I don't care if you stay or go, but please stop implying that I am a liar. Thanks.

    You still haven't shown me where my post was inaccurate? Did someone call Gwen a monster and attack her?

    And as for what Gwen said, and my post here about it, it really does make me quite sad that we cannot even see the same reality when it is on the record. I think it would make anyone sad. This is where we are, and it does make me frustrated. But putting it "out there" helps me and others understand why oftentimes the two sides cannot communicate.

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  36. I'm sad. This dialogue has really deteriorated.

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  37. Mai (and Paul),

    Wikipedia's article about definition says that libel is "the communication of a statement that makes a claim, expressly stated or implied to be factual, that may give an individual, business, product, group, government, or nation a negative image."

    The first definition for libel at Dictionary.com is: "defamation by written or printed words, pictures, or in any form other than by spoken words or gestures."

    I don't see the requirement in either source that prosecution is mandated for a communication to be considered libelous. Can you substantiate your claim that prosecution is mandated for a written statement to be considered libelous?

    Paul, if you're still reading, why is it ridiculous? See, this is another thing I dislike about arguments with "liberals." So many times (it seems to me) there's a statment made such as, "Well, that's utterly ridiculous" with no follow-up. If my statement is ridiculous, TELL ME WHY. Just don't throw out that it is and walk away. Otherwise you're not contributing to the discussion. If I'm wrong, I want to know; how else can I learn? It could be that I'm misunderstanding the concept of libel, but I won't know that unless someone tells me and demonstrates by referring me to a decent source that informs me otherwise.

    Also, Mai, thank you for the link to your blog post. That's why I added the bracketed caveat; I didn't know if you had indeed responded on your personal blog or elsewhere.

    I would echo Leila's question, then, about two people who have the genes for Tay-Sachs. That seems to be to be the logical conclusion of your belief about why two siblings should not marry. If two siblings should not marry due to the chance of birth defects, why not two unrelated adults who have an equal chance of passing disease/defect to their offspring? What about an adult who is HIV-positive or has AIDS; should s/he be prevented from marrying as well?

    The thing is, Mai, when your explain that "[our] logical conclusions are anything but," we disagree with your logic. And I've yet to see a satisfactory explanation from you as to why the logic you're allegedly dismantling is flawed. You've made the argument but I remain unconvinced.

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  38. sorry, that should be "Wikipedia's article about defamation..."

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  39. This really has to be the last time I comment.

    After my comment regarding the abortion post, I count at least 13 questions ranging from what I see the role of Government is in this country to whether or not I see the prematurely born babies pictured in you post as "as human as I am." Who realistically has time, energy and space in the comment box to answer all of these questions? Then, I am roasted for not answering all these questions? How many of you voice your opinion in the midst of a group of liberals?

    Here are the "lovely" assumptions and responses posted about me or in reference to my position:

    I have "no problem with one group of humans determining the level of humanity of other humans." This conclusion comes from the mysteries of Leila's logic.

    From Nanette: "I wonder what a to-be-grandmother who is Pro Choice thinks of the child her daughter carrys in her womb? A blob? Does she mourn if it dies or just shrugs it off?" So, Pro-Choice grandmothers care nothing for their grandchildren in utero. I've heard this argument before. Apparently, because I vote pro-choice, I have no feelings or legitimate sorrow for miscarriages, premature births and no love or excitement for growing fetuses.

    From Kaitlin: "But how can you not understand that certain people feel it IS their "calling" to protect these innocent babies and try to save them from death. Even if you don't actively participate in helping us-I can't understand how you don't agree that what we're doing is intrinsically right and good." I never think that Pro-Life people are doing good work? Due to my morally wrong opinion, I'm unable to recognize 'good' versus 'bad'?

    From Christina: "I'm sad to say Miss G. that although you are consistent, my stomach turns at the thought of what your beliefs could lead to if everyone felt that way. "
    Ah, so my pro-choice position physically sickens you

    From Traci: "As a health care provider I've often wondered how many pro choice advocates would step into the room and kill the baby themselves. This same thought changed my view of the death penalty. I could never pull the trigger just like I could never suck out the baby." So, because of my opinion, I should be able and have no problems commiting all sorts of violent acts, from sucking embryos out of the womb (vampire imagery here) to stepping in as executioner to deliver the death penalty.

    From Anonymous: "Gwen open your heart and let Jesus touch and heal you. I sense you are suffering and the only way to find peace is through Jesus and his healing love." So, now I am sick, ill and in need of being healed by Jesus Christ? No thank you, I am very healthy and at peace in mind and spirit. I don't know you so please don't assume I need to be healed just because I don't share your opinion and I'm not Christian so please don't assume I need YOUR God to heal me.

    From JoAnna: I am guilty of libel for voicing my opinion and feelings about the discussion. Wow. Way to encourage comments.

    Another commenter about pro-choice positions assumes that women who abort are putting their career first. I put my career above all else in life, including having children (because after 8 years of graduate education, shame on my for wanting to provide for future children and raise them in a secure environment! and shame on me for wanting to pursue a role in addition to or besides motherhood. Implications here include that if I am pro-choice, I must not value the role of being a mother).

    No, you did not use the word monster, but if we add up the words and phrases attached to my name by others on this blog it amounts to almost the same thing.

    I've learned all I need to know about Catholic, conservative positions and "discussions" on this particular blog.

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  40. Miss G, I will let the record stand, and people can decide for themselves if being sickened or horrified by an idea is the same as being sickened or horrified by a person.

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  41. CL, don't feel too bad, at least about Paul. He and I are "buddies" now, off the blogs. We will continue to talk, but in a different forum. :)

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  42. And Miss Gwen, one more thought: I'm not sure what you've "learned" about Catholic, conservative positions. Didn't you already know what we think about abortion? I'm thinking it was not a surprise to know that we abhor it?

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  43. Paul, Leila is not asking you to leave. She is just saying that no one is twisting your arm to stay here if you don't like the content.

    Also, it is understandable why many of left leaning commenters get frustrated when they are so drastically out numbered by people who share and practice the same Catholic faith. However, no one here thinks that anyone is a monster.

    Mai, as for your comment about people wearing red shirts must be communists, I think it's important to remember that when we are talking about logical conclusions, we aren't saying that these conclusions that you find ridiculous are going to happen tomorrow but rather over many years.

    For example, legalizing gay marriage is not going to immediately create widespread acceptance of sibling marriage. However, it will act as another catalyst changing societal norms, and then one thing leads to another and before you know it people are okay with a brother and sister getting married because genetic testing has advanced far enough that they can screen embryos for every possible genetic defect and regulations will be in place to make sure that this happens. This removes the current argument against sibling marriage.

    Another example of largely unforseen yet logical consequences is that of society after contraceptives were legalized and were in use by the vast majority of women. The initial hope was that it would eliminate unwanted pregnancies, create happier marriages, and liberate women from the "burden of fertility". It was supposed to be this positive feel good change!

    However, if you take a look at the cold hard facts, since the introduction of the pill, you will notice that the rate of babies born out of wedlock has sky rocketed, abortion has been legalized, and the U.S. Supreme Court used the case legalizing contraception as precedent for Roe v. Wade.); the divorce rate has sky rocketed; China enforces its one child policy even on women who are already pregnant with their second children through forced abortions during all 9 months of a pregnancy, and many many American women are in situations where they believed they could have children into their 40's only to discover that once their corporate ladder climbing days are over, their years of fertility have passed them by. (Oprah did a whole show on this once.) A few sociologists and the Pope himself predicted these things would happen back in the 60's, but people thought they were nuts. Turns out, after 50 years of the pill, they were the logical ones after all.

    Leila, I appreciate all of your idea picking. I think it is challenging for all involved, and I learn so much from you! :)

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  44. Joanna, the whole wikipedia article about defamation/libel is about it being a crime, and how it is seen under various legal jurisdictions. I'm expecting you to say again "You've made the argument but I remain unconvinced." It's really becoming a bit of a sociological experiment for me, now.

    Leila, could you make a post about the pope's recent comments about condoms? I'd like to explore casuistry, and/or whether or not it's ok for Catholics to disagree with the pope.

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  45. And through all this, Miss Gwen, there is still the elephant in the room, in the form of a question:

    You said that life begins at conception. If so, then one of two things must be true: Either the unborn human is "less human" than you or he is "as human" as you. Which is it?

    It's uncomfortable asking the question. I hate it, too! The whole subject makes me sad and sick. But it's okay to be uncomfortable if it brings us closer to what is true.

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  46. My observation is: when these posts start to touch on the deep, most difficult struggles of the human condition, i.e, abortion, emotions run high. We are seeing stress reactions and cognnitive dissonance.

    Let us be compassionate. Violence can not overcome violence.

    I believe certain individuals are expressing regret, grief, guilt, denial, and pain. This comes out as anger and in attacking.

    The effect of abortion in our society is so immense and pervasive. In the silence of their own hearts, many people have been unable to process and integrate the injustice of abortion that has HAPPENED in their very own lives, either to them, to a partner, to a former lover, a best friend, a relative, or a parent.

    The added tragedy of abortion is that it, in turn, creates an additonal culture of SHAME which people internalize and can not fully work through. Hence, one sees rage and anger come quickly to the surface when the subject is broached.

    Whenever we talk to someone who is vehemetly against abortion, particularly a person who wants to go at it and stay logical at all costs, I personally start to move into a listening mode as I have found that these same individuals have either procured an abortion (for themselves, a partner or another) or are really still very much enduring the denied loss of a beloved family member or child because of such an abortion, i.e., a sibling, a nephew, a child from a relationship that did not become a marriage, or an act of victimization, unprotected or intoxicated sex.

    Having to sustain a world view that maintains killing an innocent person whose potential has yet to be realized and enjoyed is torture.

    This is what all great champions of human life have known. That the oppressor is a victim of violence (of the culture of death) as well!

    A fully gestated, older person does not have more worth than a lesser gestated younger person. Being vulnerable doesn't take away one's humanity.

    Believing the opposite of this is a difficult and terrifying position, especially for First Worlders and indidivuals longing to be compassionate, broad-minded, just, and commmittment to equality and fairness.

    As someone who has dozens and dozens of liberal friends, relatives, and loved ones, these are truly the ideals that liberals hold.

    But, it is the culture of death that has deceived them.

    From outside the church, stain glass windows do not look beautiful. They look dark, non-descript and even, ugly.

    It is only when you step inside, the light shining from outside INTO the Church, does one see the beauty of the stain glass window.

    I believe Grace plays a role in understanding the full dignity of the human person. As Catholics, as believers we have been given this gift of Grace to see that Life is Worth Living and that the Least of These are equal.

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  47. Leila - I am a lawyer, and I am truly impressed you can stay so calm and charitable throughout com box dialogs like this one....FWIW, i read as objectively as possible, and the "liberal" side presented in these posts certainly appears to have a low tolerance for debate and the expression of opinions from the opposing viewpoint...

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  48. Mai, certainly! I will do that in the next few days, God willing. Thanks for patience! Life is nuts here at the Miller house. :)

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  49. Thank you for the encouragement, Dobspc. Sometimes the dialogue is fun and energizing, sometimes not. This time, it's not. It's uncomfortable and sad, but it's necessary.

    I never intend to hurt anyone. But for reasons that Little JoAnn covered well, sometimes it's particularly painful to have this dialogue.

    But so few people will talk about Truth anymore that I can't stop putting all this out there.

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  50. Miss Gwen,

    You claimed, at another blog, that the commenters here at Leila's blog called you a "sick, twisted monster who runs around trying to kill unborn babies and supporting genocide."

    Going by Wiki's definition of libel as, "the communication of a statement that makes a claim, expressly stated or implied to be factual, that may give an individual, business, product, group, government, or nation a negative image" -- don't you think that making such accusations of Leila and/or the commenters at her blog fits this definition?

    If your statements were TRUE, that would not be libel. But none of the quotes you highlighted said anything of the sort. The quotes you highlighted were commenters saying how your opinions (or pro-choice opinions in general) made them feel. NOT YOU, AS A PERSON, but your beliefs.

    Examples:

    I have "no problem with one group of humans determining the level of humanity of other humans." This conclusion comes from the mysteries of Leila's logic.

    So you do have a problem with it? All right, then how can you be okay with one group of humans (pro-choicers) determining the humanity of other humans (unborn children)?

    Not an attack on you, but rather questioning your logic.

    From Nanette: "I wonder what a to-be-grandmother who is Pro Choice thinks of the child her daughter carrys in her womb? A blob? Does she mourn if it dies or just shrugs it off?" So, Pro-Choice grandmothers care nothing for their grandchildren in utero. Hang on, Nanette said nothing of the kind! She did not make a statement, she asked a question.

    I've heard this argument before. Apparently, because I vote pro-choice, I have no feelings or legitimate sorrow for miscarriages, premature births and no love or excitement for growing fetuses.

    Where did Nanette say any of that in her question? Miss Gwen, you are drawing an inference that is simply not there. Why not ask Nannette for clarification before making an assumption about what she meant?

    From Kaitlin: "But how can you not understand that certain people feel it IS their "calling" to protect these innocent babies and try to save them from death. Even if you don't actively participate in helping us-I can't understand how you don't agree that what we're doing is intrinsically right and good." I never think that Pro-Life people are doing good work? Due to my morally wrong opinion, I'm unable to recognize 'good' versus 'bad'?

    Kaitlin never said you are unable to recognize 'good' versus 'bad.' If you do feel that pro-life people are doing good work, why not clarify that she is mistaken about your beliefs? Again, not an attack on you, but on what you (may) believe.

    (continued in next post)

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  51. From Christina: "I'm sad to say Miss G. that although you are consistent, my stomach turns at the thought of what your beliefs could lead to if everyone felt that way." Ah, so my pro-choice position physically sickens you

    Your BELIEFS. Not YOU, personally. Are you really surprised that pro-lifers are sickened by the position that unborn children can and should be killed at a woman's whim? If so, you don't seem to be very familiar with what pro-lifers are and what they believe!

    From Traci: "As a health care provider I've often wondered how many pro choice advocates would step into the room and kill the baby themselves. This same thought changed my view of the death penalty. I could never pull the trigger just like I could never suck out the baby." So, because of my opinion, I should be able and have no problems commiting all sorts of violent acts, from sucking embryos out of the womb (vampire imagery here) to stepping in as executioner to deliver the death penalty.

    Traci is discussing HER feelings, HER viewpoints, not yours. If you don't feel that way, then respond to Traci with why you do not. Either tell her that you would have no problem committing an abortion yourself, and why; or tell her that while you don't feel that you could do so, you still feel that abortions are justified because ______. Once again, you're drawing inferences that simply don't exist.

    (continued in next post)

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  52. I lost the rest of my continued post, but you get the gist.

    Mai, libel is a legal term but it's possible to use legal terms and concepts outside of a litigious context.

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  53. I find it ironic that Miss Gwen had time to compile and address each comment that she felt attacked her and respond with a witty remark, yet didn't have time to refute them and/or address them seriously. By commenting on a blog, you open yourself up to dialog, a dialog that you must feel is worthwhile on some level. Why the sudden change of heart? I thought Kaitlin's points a long time ago would have been very easy to answer...yet they never were.

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  54. The value and dignity of the human person is entwined in his and her embodied self.

    We were not created to be worthless, recyclable nor replacable.

    Our value doesn't accumulate through our actions. It is.

    We are not fundamentally material.

    We are not robots.

    We are not parts.

    The human experience is lovingly created for parenthood, relationships, love, sacrifice, transcendence, and pursuit of something greater than him/herself.

    Each individual is fully unique.

    Each indiviual has dignity.

    Each indididual is created in the likeness of God.

    People are not accidents.

    People are not random, meaningless matter.

    People are not replaceable biological matter.

    Life Matters.

    Life is Worth Living.

    Once you have a child, and perhaps if you have struggled with IF, these Truth get fully revealed.

    We all make mistakes.

    We all wish we could have the utmost control over our lives.

    A human being, however, is never a mistake.

    A human being, yet to be born, is potentiality yet fulfilled.

    That person will one day be irreplacable and beloved by his or her future spouse and children.

    The sin and tragedy of abortion is the fruit of the contraceptive world view that divorces human love, procreation and human dignity.

    It can not be explained in a sound bite. But, it is what every bride, every groom, hopes and dreams their life will look like on the day they say I Do.

    Life is the Great Will Be.

    Erring on the side of Life is a good role of the dice!

    So many people would give everything to be even the poorest person in our abundant, affluent country.

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  55. Leila, bless you for your courage in finding the logic in the other side of the debate. My head is spinning after reading all of the comments here. I am amazed that you can even break down the comments and try to focus like a lazer beam on a single point. The comments are all over the place! It's amazing to read both sides of the argument. I see so many people misunderstand the logic you are trying to follow. I am not sure where the link in the logic is broken, but it is always fun to watch it play out on here and everyone try to understand each other's logic. Happy Monday!

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  56. Kristy, thank you.

    Miss Gwen, you took issue with me saying something specific, so let me put it in context and then you can correct me:

    You said:
    I think I've already answered your question Leila regarding when exactly life begins (in my opinion). I've stated it before and I'll state it again: life begins at conception and the meeting of egg and sperm. In the above pictures, I see three premature humans and I believe it when you tell me their mom wanted them very much and loves them.

    I still stand by my position that should a woman/mom seek an abortion, I uphold her right to safe access to such a service. And yes, I understand the procedure to be the terminating of life. It may be that this baby is a separate human forming inside her. I still uphold her right to choose whether to carry a baby to term.


    {i.e., It may be that this baby is human, but the mom still has the choice to abort.]

    I answered:
    Miss G, you are a liberal who makes sense. You admit to the killing, and you admit that you have no problem with one group of humans determining the level of humanity of other humans.

    At least you are consistent, and I wish all abortion advocates stated their position so clearly.


    Gwen, you claim that the "mysteries of Leila's logic" brought me to say the part in bold. Can you help me understand how I shouldn't interpret your words the way I did? My goodness, if I am misunderstanding, tell me how. Did you not say that the unborn may very well be human, and even if that is the case, the mom still has a right to kill that human?

    Where am I going off the rails?

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  57. The problem with the view of the pro-choice verses the pro life argument or trying to have a friendly discussion is: It is illogical! The killing of a defenseless vulnerable human being is completely illogical! It is illogical to kill ones offspring and it is illogical to desire that as an option for anyone. That is the whole entire point. Birthcontrol would be another simply illogical discussion. Why would a perfectly healthy woman take a pill to make her body not work? It is illogical.

    I think that is the point of siblings marrying the whole question is illogical. We can see that now, but at the rate we are going it won't be long before we consume that error as well.

    What our culture really needs is to find God and celebrate His gift of life.

    God bless Leila --

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  58. I'd like to comment on Megan's arguments, specifically this paragraph:

    However, if you take a look at the cold hard facts, since the introduction of the pill, you will notice that the rate of babies born out of wedlock has sky rocketed,

    - not a bad thing in my opinion. Single parents are perfectly capable of raising children. Much better than being raised in an abusive or combative household

    abortion has been legalized,

    - also not a bad thing in my opinion. Obviously, although I refuse to debate abortion here
    the divorce rate has sky rocketed;

    - much better than being stuck in an abusive marriage. Again, single parents are perfectly capable of raising children. Divorces that happen amicably produce well adjusted children. My stepdaughter is a perfect example.

    China enforces its one child policy even on women who are already pregnant with their second children through forced abortions during all 9 months of a pregnancy,

    - Disagree with most of China's policies regarding procreation, but don't think it is related to the pill and/or abortion being available

    and many many American women are in situations where they believed they could have children into their 40's only to discover that once their corporate ladder climbing days are over, their years of fertility have passed them by.

    - Of course, some women, like me, put off having children and focused on their career, and are now having children in our 40's. Incidentally, I am the sole breadwinner in my house, my husband stays home with the child/soon to be children (I also pay the child support, BTW). I love contraception for this reason. However, infertility is not only caused by old women trying to conceive, but also by environmental factors both from what women are being exposed to now, and from what their mothers were exposed to when they were in the womb. Also, infertility is a hot topic and young women are being informed of fertility issues at a much younger age. The availability of contraception does not CAUSE all women to have children in their 40s.

    A few sociologists and the Pope himself predicted these things would happen back in the 60's, but people thought they were nuts. Turns out, after 50 years of the pill, they were the logical ones after all.


    - nice that he predicted this, but these are not bad things in my opinion.

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  59. Miss G-I am sorry that you felt attacked by my question and comment. I am not sorry that I said it, I stand by my words and would still love an answer to the question. I understand that you no longer what to answer questions in this forum. Again, I am sorry that I made you feel that way.

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  60. Mai- some 60% of marriages in the US end in divorce. Do you think all of these marriages involved an abusive or combative spouse? Or even a significant fraction? You are setting up a false dichotomy here- either a child is raised by a single parent, or the child is forced to endure parents who abuse each other. I am surprised that you do not find the trend of child-rearing out of wedlock to be problematic, considering the massive statistics supporting the traditional family unit.
    Certainly we all know a woman or handful of women who was being abused and needed to leave her husband. This sad situation does exist. But 60% of children are being raised out of marriage, 40% have only intermittent contact with their fathers.

    How could this possibly not strike you as problematic? Yes, single parents are capable of raiting children. However, statistically speaking, they are not as good at it as married families- whether we measure academic performance, happiness, teen suicide and pregnancy rates, crime rates... the nuclear family always comes out ahead.

    And so while we all know of a case of a woman whose husband beat her and who should leave, from a statistical (dare I say logical) perspective, the married parents always come out as a hugely preferable chioce.

    What is your support for the statement that children from amicable divorces turn out well-adjusted?

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  61. Mai, you're making sense, and I appreciate your clarity. Let me ask you to be even more clear.

    In your opinion (leaving aside the issue of abuse for a moment):

    Is single parenting preferable to married parenting, or vice versa, or are they equal/neutral options?

    Is divorcing better than staying married, or vice versa, or are they equal/neutral options?

    Is abortion preferable than giving birth when the child is "unwanted" or vice versa, or are they equal/neutral options?

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  62. Mai, are you of the opinion that domestic abuse has skyrocketed along with the divorce rate? In other words, do you believe that domestic abuse is the #1 cause of divorces?

    You may believe that single parents are "just as good," but I can tell you that, unless you can afford live-in help, being a single parent is HARD. My husband and I separated for a short time when my oldest daughter was an infant, and even though I had a good support system in place (my parents nearby, etc.), it was the most difficult three months of my life -- and that was with only one child! Single parenting is do-able, but not preferable.

    I believe it's better for the parents and the kids if there's a mother and a father working together in harmony (i.e., no abusive situations) to raise their children.

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  63. Monica and JoAnn, I agree with what you've presented. I know women who are single parents, and I know women who have to endure long stretches without their husbands, and it is hard. I don't know how they do it, seriously.

    And when I said Mai was making sense, of course that doesn't mean that I agree with her premises, just that she's being clear about what she believes, and I can understand her perspective better... She is not sugarcoating it.

    That's all I am asking of anyone as I ask these questions: Just state what you believe, clearly and loudly! Just like I do. :) Then, people can see what the choice of worldviews is, and make their own decisions.

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  64. Okay, here is what has to happen here. I am going to modify my "Welcome to Liberals" page up at the top. I want to make sure that no one comes here unaware of what it is I am doing, or how I will be asking them to back up their beliefs. (By the way, any liberal is free to ask me how I back up my beliefs, too! I can take it. I welcome it.)

    Next, I need to do another post, an illustrative post, which will be my imaginary (fantasy) dialogue with a liberal. I wish I knew how to post a flow chart, ha ha!

    Thanks for giving me this great opportunity to exercise my brain (it needs the exercise)!

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  65. Totally off topic. Leila, I'd like to learn the title of the obscure Max. Kolbe book on Mary that you are reading. Sounds fantastic!

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  66. Abigail, it's called Aim Higher, and it's not easily found, apparently. Here is the link to what I found on Amazon:

    http://www.amazon.com/Aim-higher-Spiritual-reflections-Maximilian/dp/0913382590?ie=UTF8&tag=littcathbubb-20&link_code=btl&camp=213689&creative=392969

    I am sure that has to be the one, although there is no picture. I believe it was originally published in the Philippines, and not in America, which is why it is so obscure. It is amazing!

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  67. OK, after reading these comments for 2 hours, I am now way too tired to come up with anything remotely coherent.

    However... Leila PLEASE post soon with your article by Fr Fessio about the MISINTERPRETATION by the media of the Pope's remarks about condom use. Mai made a comment/asked a question about 378 comments ago (haha!) that was never responded to, and I fear it has lead her to believe we (Catholics) don't know how to answer it. She wanted to know what we think about the Pope's recent comments about condom use, and if we think that it is ok to disagree with the Pope on certain issues.

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  68. I haven't really followed this blog, I just arrived and read a few of the posts and comments, but what I think Miss Gwen meant when she said she was called a monster was that a lot of people seemed to think she was a bad person because of her opinions and it made her feel bad. Also, because people rely on connotation, emphasis, and tone of voice to interpret the exact meaning of a phrase or sentence, comments posted on the internet can often be interpreted the wrong way.
    Reading from an objective perspective, I notice that many of the "conservative" commenters seem rather smug. Not to say that the liberals don't either, and both sides seem very accusatory. It seems people have actually been irritated to the point of leaving the blog by other peoples comments.

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  69. HopeYouLove, welcome! Oftentimes, questioning others in a Socratic way seems "smug" because we don't waste a lot of time and try to get right to the point. People who have been on this blog for a while start to realize that "that's how we roll" here. :)

    It certainly is a danger that people will get irritated and leave. I think the truth is worth that risk. I think most people do stay, because Truth is not really talked about that much anymore in our culture. Usually we try not to "offend" anyone with the Truth. But Jesus did not take that view.... He said that households would be divided because of Him, and so we know that not everyone is comfortable in conversations where we don't presume that "everyone can be right."

    Thank you for your thoughts!

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  70. You know, if Miss Gwen would have simply commented and said, "I feel as though I'm being called a monster," etc., she would have gotten a dozen replies assuring her that no one thought she was a monster. But rather than do so she went to another blog and complained about her alleged mistreatment here. Seems very passive-aggressive and not at all conducive to frank discussion.

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  71. Little JoAnn wrote a great post based on what she wrote here:

    http://jerusalemmydestiny.blogspot.com/2010/11/we-are-not-robots.html

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  72. Oh silly me JoAnna! Of course, my person is "separate" from my ideas. So of course, when I'm told I need to be healed, I cause stomachs to turn and I must be incapable of having any emotion or compassion for miscarried births BECAUSE of my opinions, that has nothing to do with projections of who I am. Yeah, right.

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  73. Miss G, it may be hard to understand, but our worldview is such that people's ideas and actions are separate from their personhood. As a Catholic, I would never say, "So and so is a bad person." I would say, "So and so does BAD things/acts." For us, those are entirely different things, even if for you, they seem the same.

    No one here wants you to walk away feeling hurt or demeaned. I would encourage you to express what you're feeling (instead of accusing us) so that we can make sure we're not hurting you. Like Joanna said, if you commented "I feel like you guys are calling me a monster" people would have come out of the woodwork to affirm you, assure you that no one thinks you're a monster, and explain what they meant.

    We don't love some of your ideas/beliefs, but, believe it or not, we do love YOU.

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  74. Miss G:

    1) No one said you caused stomachs to be turned. Pro-lifers are sick about abortion. Your position makes stomachs turn, but not you. Why is it hard for you to see the distinction? I am sure there are ideas we hold that make you sick, but does that mean we make you sick? It's such a huge, huge distinction.

    2) No one said that you don't have compassion for miscarried births. I assume that you do! I will just cut and paste what JoAnna already wrote:

    "Traci is discussing HER feelings, HER viewpoints, not yours. If you don't feel that way, then respond to Traci with why you do not. Either tell her that you would have no problem committing an abortion yourself, and why; or tell her that while you don't feel that you could do so, you still feel that abortions are justified because ______. Once again, you're drawing inferences that simply don't exist."

    Again, you are failing to make distinctions, and it makes conversation difficult.

    3) Someone said you need to be healed by Jesus Christ. That is a sign that she thinks you are a monster? I see it as a sign of a sincere Christian who loves you and wants the best for you (however misguided or unwanted you see that love to be). I have encountered many fundamentalist Protestants who desire to "save" me because I am Catholic and they believe my soul to be in danger. Do I take that as meaning I am a monster? No...I find it a bit annoying, but also a bit endearing. It means that they care enough about my soul to speak up. That's a loving thing in their eyes, not a sign that they despise me or think I am a monster. Why would it bother me?

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  75. Miss G,

    Once again, YOUR BELIEFS are what cause stomachs to turn. Not you, personally. You are a beloved child of God with inherent worth and dignity, no matter what you believe. If someone hopes for your "healing," that's a far sight better than hoping you'll burn in hell (for the record, no one here hopes the latter). Yet you are as offended as if we had said the latter and not the former. Don't you, Miss G, hope that pro-lifers will "see the light" and change our views? Do you think we should find that notion as offensive as you seem to find ours?

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  76. I have a question: In some way I can see why Miss G is offended, or upset. It does seems strange that someone can hold "monstrous ideas" and even advocate for them and not be a monster. I'm not sure I really understand how this works. I'm being totally frank here. When does one who holds such ideas and even advocates for them become a "monster" or evil person? I think this is a serious issue. Our society will become further and further balkanized along these lines if we cannot figure this out.

    Is there such a thing as an evil person? I mean to me it almost seems like here we are saying there is no such thing, but only people who hold evil beliefs?

    I think Miss G hears this: "Miss G, You hold vile despicable views and advocate for the murder of millions of people, but we'd love to hang out with you and drink a beer." I have to agree to some extent that this seems a bit incongruous.

    I am really just putting my thoughts down here, because I am genuinely confused on this.

    Marc

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  77. I have repeatedly said that I think the "Don't like your ideas, but like you" idea is odd (and passive aggressive), although I've come to accept it and not get offended when people here say it to me.

    But I've been thinking about the homosexual child issue. People here (I think the majority) have said that they couldn't attend a wedding between homosexuals. So this child who loves his mother beyond everything has a mother who says, "Honey, I love you but can't love your lifestyle". The mother will refuse to come to the wedding of him and the man he has chosen to be his partner for life. "It's not you, honey, it's what you are *doing*" she'll repeatedly say to console him. I doubt this will make him feel any better that is mother is not in attendance, on this, the happiest day of his life.

    I can overlook all of you saying things like "like you, hate your ideas", mostly because I don't know any of you, and really could care less for what you think of "my ideas" (I don't like yours much either). But if my mom said said something like that to me? I'd be devastated. And probably run away from people like her, like Miss G is doing with you.

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  78. Back to the not-so-little Liberal and Secular Bubble. It's a better world there.

    I'm tired of this little world.

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  79. Marc, I think that's a great question. Here's how I see it: There is no doubt that atheists and liberals see my opposition to same sex marriage as cruel... even horrifying, if it means that gay people do not get to experience "love" on this earth (which is all there is for an atheist). And, they also might think that it is monstrous that I believe that rape victims must carry the child to term. They might recoil at the very thought. I can take what they say about my ideas and separate them from what they think of me. I have liberal friends who can still enjoy my company while hating my Catholic faith. So, I wish that Gwen can understand and make a distinction between her beliefs and herself, and know that we can make a distinction, too.

    However, would I want to have a beer with Dr. Carhart or another abortionist? No, I would not. I think someone who can pull a living child out of a womb and crush her skull and dismember her parts is not someone I want to hang out with. I am sure there are evil people. Carhart and others may be those evil people. But I cannot be sure that they will not be with me in Heaven one day (if I make it). It's like Dr. Bernard Nathanson, who started NARAL and demonized the Catholic Church, oversaw the abortion of over 75,000 babies and even aborted his own child, with his own hand, without batting an eye. He is now a devout Catholic, pro-life activist....

    (to be continued...)

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  80. So, yes, I believe there are evil people. I believe that sometimes it's fairly clear who they are (but still we cannot read their hearts) and sometimes not. There are probably evil people sitting in the pews with us on Sundays. However, it's not for us to determine who is evil or not. We are all redeemable, till our dying breath. We cannot concede even a single soul to the devil. So, we do what Jesus does... we treat all sinners with dignity, and we pray that God judges us with great mercy as well.

    Can I be extremely close friends with a person who advocates for abortion? Probably not. But that doesn't mean I think he/she is a monster. It means I think he/she is blind, and I pray for conversion of heart. It happened with Bernard Nathanson, it happened with Norma McCorvey (now a pro-life Catholic, formerly "Roe" of Roe v. Wade). Norma McCorvey was won over by the love of a little girl, the daughter of pro-lifers who prayed outside her abortion clinic (which she ran with her lesbian lover). The little girl shared her lunch with "Miss Norma" every day. And Norma was won over by love.

    Okay, I am rambling. I am sure someone else has a better answer, and I am eager to hear it.

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  81. Mai, I wouldn't attend a polygamist wedding either, if my son were a part of it. But I would still welcome him into my home.

    Would you attend a "cutting" ceremony if your child wanted to be part of a group of "cutters"? I don't think you would want to be seen as condoning something that you feel will be harmful to your child. I can imagine you would still love your child and welcome him into your home.

    Catholics feel that a homosexual lifestyle is harmful. And no parent who believes that should be faulted for not celebrating something they believe to be codification of something terribly harmful.

    Sometimes, we can love and yet not condone. This is something you will see as you continue to raise your children.

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  82. Mai: If you think "I don't like your ideas, but I can like you" is passive-aggressive, what do you think of me and my ideas? I am guessing you cannot separate me from my ideas, so do you dislike both me personally and my ideas? Just curious.

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  83. Marc, there may be something else that is being lost here. And maybe there is a need to clarify for all those who think I am here to form consensus or friendships, or to become popular.

    When I engage liberals, this blog becomes about picking apart ideas until they are laid bare. I will unravel them, layer by layer, till there is some sort of clarity (even if it means there is no conclusion). So, this blog is about ideas.

    Lots of people have gifts for reaching out in compassion, for healing, for bridge-building, for music, science, oration, artistry, mechanics, etc. What I do is think things through. It's what I am doing here, and I guess it doesn't come off as "caring" or "compassionate" at all times. So be it. That's not what we are doing here.

    Am I a compassionate person in real life? I believe I am, but you'd have to ask those around me.

    But is that how I want to spend my (very limited) spare time on my blog....trying to make people feel loved and accepted? No. I just don't have time to do that here. I hope everyone who needs that can find it, but it won't be here. I feel like we already have a "therapy-based" society (I'm okay, you're okay) and perhaps not enough people examining the merit and truthy of ideas. I hope to provide that balance, in the tineist way.

    Isn't diversity a good thing?

    :)

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  84. Let me ask the liberals here: How should we talk about ideas? Give me an example, using something you disagree with that Catholics believe...say, gay marriage or abortion. Show me how we can dissect ideas and get to the truth of something in a way that makes everyone feel comfortable. Thanks!

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  85. It's a good question. I'm wondering about Paul's comment that basically my admission that I don't particularly like your ideas either means I'm back in my own liberal bubble.

    It is during this conversation that I'm admitting it, but it isn't like (I think ... I'm trying to think over arguments) it isn't like I repeatedly said that sort of thing when in the middle of a discussion. Even when I said Leila wasn't being logical, I made a point to say I'm happy to entertain her and others making points about how, say, sibling marriage could be related to gay marriage, but to say that it will logically follow (and that I didn't understand logic) was too much.

    I probably used the word "absurd" when someone said things like "since you think a person is their ideas, I can see why you would kill me if I were an invalid" or something of the sort, and asked her to tone down the rhetoric.

    Even when Little JoAnna and Leila say repeatedly, after explanations, that they remain unconvinced, or explain again what they think I missed the first time around, it's amusing/frustrating but not offensive - that is completely different than "Your ideas make my stomach turn."

    And when Marc and Monica say things like "You are completely not understandable" or "I disagree with you 100% of the time" that is MUCH preferable to me than "Your ideas are completely monstrous."

    I don't know if that helped any with Leila's question, it was more me just rambling on ...

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  86. Mai, I've had first-hand experience with practicing what I preach. A few years ago, my father (lifelong Protestant) decided to marry a woman who was a twice-divorced non-practicing Catholic. My husband and I decided that we couldn't, in good conscience, attend what we considered to be an invalid wedding. We took a lot of heat for it, and my father was furious. It was one of the hardest things I've ever had to do. But we stuck to our guns and I'm glad we did. When my kids are old enough to know what happened, they'll know that we did what we thought was right even though it was difficult.

    It was hard for my dad to see that I still loved him despite not condoning his actions. But I kept telling him that I loved him and did what I could to show him that. The marriage ended six months later and my dad and I fully reconciled.

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  87. Is there anything (an act or an idea) that you consider "monstrous", Mai?

    Thanks.

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  88. JoAnna, that is an excellent example. And I love that your witness to your children was that it often not easy to do the right thing. In fact, at times it can be excruciatingly painful.

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  89. Leila,

    I know you are not trying to build consensus here. I also know you are trying to engage in the world of ideas, but we are talking about life and death here. We are accusing people of supporting infanticide.

    When significant portions of a populace disagree on issues as fundamental as what a human being is, or whether some human beings are worthy of life, etc. we are getting into territory that I don't think lends itself to Socratic dialogue. Also, we would do well to remember that Socrates was put to death for his questioning. The "establishment" is pro-abortion, pro gay marriage, etc. If you are going to question these "societal truths" you should be prepared for the kind of reaction Socrates received. I don't mean death :) I just mean that there will be a violent reaction.

    There is no way to discuss these issues in a way that makes everyone feel comfortable. It is one thing to be Socrates and ask "what is justice?" It is another thing altogether to talk about flesh and blood babies that have died by the millions since Roe v. Wade.

    We must understand that Miss G's reaction is correct. In a way it becomes meaningless to try to make the distinction between Miss G's ideas and Miss G's person. To us her ideas, and her actions are monstrous. It must sound very hollow to her to hear us insist that we like her as a person.

    Anyway, who cares if everyone is comfortable? We are accusing people of supporting murder and infanticide here...Let's just not be surprised when people get upset about our accusations.

    This is the kind of debate that can tear an entire society apart. The slavery debate almost destroyed the entire country. We are on very dangerous ground here. We can only hope reason will prevail, but history should not fill us with confidence here.

    Marc

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  90. *Warning: Graphic*

    Mai, for example, I find this monstrous (it is a description of a partial-birth abortion):

    Brenda Pratt Shafer, a registered nurse from Dayton, Ohio, assisted Dr. Haskell in a Partial Birth Abortion on a 26-1/2 week (over 6 months) pre-born baby boy. She testified before the Senate Judiciary Committee (on 11/17/95) about what she witnessed. According to nurse Shafer, the baby was alive and moving as the abortionist “delivered the baby’s body and arms - everything but the head. The doctor kept the baby’s head just inside the uterus. The baby’s little fingers were clasping and unclasping, his feet were kicking. Then the doctor stuck the scissors through the back of his head, and the baby’s arms jerked out in a flinch, a startle reaction, like a baby does when he thinks he might fall. The doctor opened up the scissors, stuck a high-powered suction tube into the opening and sucked the baby’s brains out. Now the baby was completely limp.”

    Do you find it monstrous, too? How do we discuss this sort of idea? Can we not call it horrific, inhuman, monstrous? Or must we sugarcoat it so that no one feels that I don't like them personally? Help me understand.

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  91. Well. Serial killers. Torture - some of those machines that the church used to punish heresy, yuck. The holocaust. Not believing in moral absolutes? Not so much.

    As much as I was angry at the Zimbabwean government for denying that HIV existed, I'm not sure I would have called the idea monstrous. I mean, I could understand where it came from, even though from my point of view, they were essentially killing people with their policy. I set about to try to convince the Zimbabweans that I knew that HIV did exist, but I think that the tactic of calling their government's ideas monstrous would have been counterproductive. I had a specific goal in mind - to try to stop people from dying. If my goal had been to prove to my friends that their government was wrong, perhaps then I would have used "monstrous".

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  92. Marc, your points are very well taken. You are right. And I think there is some cognitive dissidence going on, because there is no way that any human being can read the description of a partial birth abortion, above, and defend it, without having to "go to another reality." We are talking about babies, who should be welcomed in love at his birth, who is instead met with those who stand ready to kill him in the cruelest, coldest manner. It is unthinkable, and it is monstrous.

    My only hope is that by engaging in an unemotional dialogue, we can "meet people where they are" and maybe plant some seeds. But I don't have any big illusions that I will change minds of those firmly on the left. What I do hope is that those Catholics who are weak in their faith or understanding, will become strong. Or, that those who stand for nothing right now (who sit on the fence), will decided to stand for something. Or, that orthodox Catholics might find a new breath of courage.

    But you have made a sound point, Marc, and I thank you for it.

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  93. Mai, that is good, then we both find things monstrous. Can you think of a case where normal, pleasant people thought that monstrous ideas were good? Or is it only serial killers and Nazis who think monstrous ideas are good? For example, what about the scenario above, with the abortion?

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  94. Regarding the Inquisition:

    http://www.catholic.com/thisrock/2007/0709tbt.asp

    That's a good place to start. The BBC had a good documentary back a few years ago that dispelled a lot of myths, too.

    The Inquisition did employ torture, and that is shameful, but it was still the most just and lenient of all the secular courts of the time, which were much more brutal.

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  95. Miss G - It appears my comment in Leila's post is really what has gotten under your skin. I apologize if you feel that this is a judgement about you personally. As Joanna and Leila have tried to point out to you - it was not. It was merely the thought of abortion and allowing a woman (pregnant or not) to decide to kill her child - and what (to me) that would or could eventually lead to that sickens me. Granted, you may not believe that when you believe a fetus is a separate person and that the pregnant woman has the right to terminate the life of that individual that it could lead to eventually lead to no laws outlawing a parent killing their child.

    You said,"I also support her in choosing to assign meaning in her life in whatever way she wants to-the meaning and value of life lost to abortion might be as profound or simple to her as life lost to premature birth."

    This is really the part that got to me. When can a woman stop assigning value to a life? What if a woman believed that the value of the life of her born & living child is just as profound or simple as life lost to premature death? Does that mean she has the right to kill the child? (You don't necessarily have to answer these questions - these are my thoughts). But, can you see why this sickens me? If that were to happen then women/parents could do this to any of their children without consequence.

    I do not believe that you are condemned based merely on your beliefs. That is God's decision - not mine. I am sure that you are a good person with nothing but well meaning intentions.
    I am glad that you have been a part of this discussion. It has lead me to think more about it myself. I used to be pro-choice as well.

    If we want abortion to stop or be reduced, we must do all we can to provide support for these women who feel like they cannot go through with a pregnancy or raising a child. We shouldn't let them feel trapped into abortion. That is not giving them a real choice. And unfortunately by making abortion so available to anyone for any reason only increases abortions -- which has been proven if you look at data since abortion was legalized.

    Again, my apologies if you felt it was an attack on you as a person. It was not and this comment is not to be either.

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  96. Uh - yeah. Have you seen pictures of people in late stages of AIDS? Eww. Disgusting. But what's the point in calling it monstrous? Is it going to accomplish your goal? Er ... what IS your goal? We've talked about it, I know. It's not to achieve consensus, nor is it to necessarily understand where I am coming from - you say you understand them already. It's more to question me on my ideas, you say. But by calling my ideas monstrous, I don't think that's questioning my ideas, that is judging them. And like Miss G, I don't like that very much, either.

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  97. Leila,

    I agree with you. I hope so much that you are successful. We both know one of those people who you "met where they were" and I sure am happy for it!

    I assume you are responding to my latest comment, but I can't see it in the comments...

    Keep up the good work.

    Marc

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  98. Marc, ack! It went to spam!! I don't know why.... I released it!!

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  99. Mai, what does the ravages of a horrible disease have to do with an act that is monstrous? Help? I am not sure what you are trying to say....

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  100. Mai, of course I judge ideas. All the time. What I question is your thought process, or how you came to believe/reconcile a certain idea or philosophy.

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  101. I'm trying to say that I didn't call Mugabe a monster for denying that HIV existed. His policy was almost single-handedly responsible for causing monstrous deaths of millions of Zimbabweans. But I didn't call him a monster to the people that I was trying to convince, because my goal was to get these people to believe HIV existed and consequently not die. If my goal was simply to judge Mugabe, I would have told everyone and everything that he was a monster, and my Zimbabwean friends would have trotted off.

    Of course you judge ideas. Well, what's your point in welcoming liberals here then? You may as well put a welcome mat out that says, "Come here, tell me your ideas, so I can tell you what a load of crap they are." I'm starting to agree with Paul and Miss G.

    I thought my point in coming here was to understand your ideas more, and get an idea of what some arguments on the other side are that I haven't heard yet, or lately. And to practice talking about my ideas.

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  102. This is splitting hairs, but in the post in question, no one called Miss Gwen a monster, and no one called her ideas monstrous. Those were words that Miss Gwen used to describe how she felt the comments portrayed her.

    Regarding Mugabe, if he tried to convince Zimbabweans that AIDS didn't exist with full knowledge that it did, and he was committing subterfuge for the deliberate purpose of killing as many people as possible, and ENJOYING it in the bargain, I'd probably think he was a monster. But if I thought he was just an extremely misguided person, I wouldn't.

    Mai, do you think that judging is always wrong, no matter what?

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  103. Jesus did exactly what Marc mentioned. He drank (and ate) with sinners at the table. He hated their ideas, he hated their actions, yet, there He sat. I have done a lot of different ministry in my life with many different kinds of people (all different ages from preschool to adult, male inmates at a medium/maximum prison, the poor and homeless). I don't like all the choices they make and the beliefs they held-and believe me, I heard some CRAZY beliefs when I did prison ministry-but I still loved them and spent time with them so that they would know not only that I cared about them, but that God did too. Did they all convert? No. Did I want them to? Of course. Did the fact that they didn't change how I treated them? Not in the slightest. Because I was motivated not only by love of God and my faith, but true love of them and who they were, right then and there.

    I just don't see how that is incongruous.

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  104. Now that I've read up some more, I'll add this caveat:

    My recent comment was about my ministry experience. Ministry has many different dimensions, among them discussion of ideas, but within the context of personal relationships.

    This blog, being what it is, doesn't share the same dimensions as my experiences. Leila has been very clear about the purpose of the blog, so I don't have to go into it. I just wanted to clarify the assertion that, "Hey I don't like your ideas but let's get a drink" is not incongruous in my opinion. It's what I would consider loving people (ie "willing the good" for people). Maybe I'm crazy...

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  105. I thought my point in coming here was to understand your ideas more, and get an idea of what some arguments on the other side are that I haven't heard yet, or lately. And to practice talking about my ideas.

    Mai, That is great. That is what we are doing. Did you think we would say that abortion is not a horrible evil thing? I am truly perplexed by what you thought I was going to do here. Did you think I would say your liberal ideas are wonderful, and I won't judge the idea on its merits? I am sorry, but I don't really get how you have been mistreated, misrepresented or misled.

    Do liberals not like the Socratic method of getting to a truth or a clarity?

    And, you never answered about whether or not what was done to the baby in the description above is monstrous? Please, I would like you to not avoid answering that. (The baby's "crime" by the way, was having Down Syndrome.)

    You see, if we can't even agree that what was done to that child was evil, then the best we can hope for (as I've said) is clarity. But not agreement.

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  106. Leila called my ideas monstrous, when we determined that I didn't believe in absolute morality/truth. Regarding Miss G, someone saying that her ideas make her stomach turn is pretty close.

    Once you tell me that my ideas are monstrous or that they make your stomach turn, where do we go from there? How would you suggest I reply to that in a discussion situation? I could say, "I'm sorry to hear that your stomach is turning. Let me get something for you." Are we done talking then? Is that the end of the comment thread? I could accept that, if that's how you want to operate.

    And Joanna, that's fine if you think Mugabe is a monster, but I guess, what is your goal? Do you just want to tell people what a monster he was? Or actually save people from dying? As I've said, deep down I thought he was a monster, but certainly didn't say that when trying to convince someone that he wasn't. I didn't think that judging so openly to the very people I wanted to convince was effective. I'm guessing you do.

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  107. Mai, JoAnna asked a great question: Do you think judging is always wrong, no matter what?

    And as for what I am trying to accomplish here, it comes down to "truth seeking." Remember when Mrs. M said she had never thought about "truth" in her life? That is probably the case for most young Americans. Truth-seeking is not a goal anymore, when it used to be the whole point of thought. So, I am trying to display or illustrate what I have found to be true. You may not agree, so you put out your idea of what you think is true. I think the readers (and there are many, many lurkers) can decided which side can stand the test of truth. Maybe they will pick your side. If I were you, that is why I wouldn't run out.

    Once, I was the only Catholic, anti-contraception voice on a Protestant forum. Those fundamentalists had a heyday with me! They slung all sorts of things my way and even mocked me. It was not fun, but then I got a private email from a young man and his wife, and they had never heard arguments like mine before. They thanked me, and they asked me for more information. So, it was worth it. Maybe that could be your role here?

    I understand if you want to move on (if you feel you were lured here under false pretenses), but you are always welcome to be here.

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  108. Mai, did you want to answer the question about the description of the partial-birth abortion? Was it monstrous, what they did to that child?

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  109. Leila, I do not like to discuss abortion for this reason alone. I find that pro-lifers bring up the most gruesome details as possible, as if this will somehow convince me. Yes, I'm sure what you described is monstrous, and I know this sort of thing happens. But still the consequences of NOT allowing abortion outweigh the consequences of allowing abortion. For me. And I'm done talking about abortion now.

    Again with Peace Corps Zimbabwe, we had a doctor (who was shortly thereafter fired) who took it upon himself to show all of us these extremely gross and disgusting pictures of AIDS patients in final stages. As if this were going to convince us not to have sex. Ever. It didn't. It was not an effective tool for educating about AIDS/HIV, it merely served to disgust us (some to a great extent...) and get him fired.

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  110. Mai,

    In the case of the AIDS pictures, a disease caused that horrific ravaging of the body.

    In the abortion scenario, a person caused a baby to die like that.

    HUGE distinction!!

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  111. Mai, please clarify that you get the distinction I mentioned above, about AIDS ravaging a body and a doctor ravaging a baby's body. You get that those are apples and oranges, right? Otherwise, I can't help it, I feel a whole post coming on that will address that point.....

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  112. No. I am done talking about abortion, as I said.

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  113. Mai,

    My philosophy is that sometimes you have to recognize evil to combat it.

    My husband didn't become pro-life until someone challenged him to look at the pictures of aborted babies on priestsforlife.org. He did, and it was then and only then he was able to recognize abortion for the evil it was.

    Whether or not I would call out someone or something as evil or
    monstrous depends in the context involved.

    I'm curious, Mai, as to what consequences would exist if abortion were illegal that makes killing children preferable?

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  114. Mai, you brought up the comparison of an AIDS patient being ravaged by disease and a baby having his neck stabbed and his brains sucked out at birth by an abortionist. You brought that up. However, I don't blame you one bit for not wanting to defend your position on abortion.

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  115. Mai,

    If you read my post above that is addressed to Miss G, you will see what actually made me sick. It was a response to a thought I had after reading her comment on the old post. Granted, I did not state this in my original comment, but I'm not the best at writing or expressing my thoughts on paper. I was not saying SHE was a terrible person or a monster. As stated earlier by other posters - you have a right to your ideas/beliefs. I do not agree with them...and yes, sometimes they can make me physically ill. I will not apologize for that and you shouldn't have to either. I am put off by the thought of what (I believe) some of these ideas could lead to - if society as a whole or majority ended up believing these things (that a woman has a right to place value on the life inside her (especially when it was already stated the the person believes that life begins at conception)...which could eventually 'justify' the killing of her unborn child...which may end up giving legal reason to eventually the killing of a born child ). I know this will NEVER happen - but the thought of it disgusts me - no apologies. You can poke holes in my logic - fine...I don't care. I really just wanted to point out I was not intending to attack Miss G. or anyone else who holds these beliefs. I think they are wrong and we are not here to gain consensus.

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  116. Oh, and Marc - I definitely agree with you on your post about the reaction to such a discussion. Thank you. I was not surprised at all by Miss G's reaction to my post...if I believed the same way as the "establishment" I would have had the same reaction, I am sure.

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  117. From a couple of comments ago, from Leila:

    L: Did you think we would say that abortion is not a horrible evil thing? I am truly perplexed by what you thought I was going to do here.

    M: Uh, no. You've pretty much argued abortion in exactly the way I expected, which is why I refuse to argue it with you.

    L: Did you think I would say your liberal ideas are wonderful, and I won't judge the idea on its merits? I am sorry, but I don't really get how you have been mistreated, misrepresented or misled. Do liberals not like the Socratic method of getting to a truth or a clarity?

    M: I don't actually see how "Your ideas are monstrous" and "your ideas make my stomach turn" fit into the Socratic method. Please enlighten me - I'm really interested to see how that fits in.

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  118. Mai, on the first question:

    How would you like me to argue my case against abortion? There's not really a "pretty" way to talk about it, unless one talks around it. But I respect that you do not want to talk about.

    On the second: It's been a long time we've been talking, so could you tell me when I said your ideas were "monstrous"? I think it might have been when I said something like, "If moral relativism (everyone defines truth for himself) is the norm in a society, the results would be monstrous." And then you clarified that you are not a moral relativist, and that there are moral absolutes. So, taking you on your word, I will not call you a moral relativist. But I stand by my statement that a society of moral relativism leads to monstrous things.

    As for stomachs turning, you yourself agreed that the description of late term abortions is "monstrous." You agreed! But you think it's worse if we don't allow such monstrous acts (if I understand you correctly; correct me if I am wrong).

    If you want to tell me it makes your stomach turn that I want to outlaw abortions, I certainly would not be offended. It may very well be that my ideas are sickening to you. But we can still have a discussion, as long as you are not saying I am a sickening human being, or getting personal.

    But if you cannot separate the idea from the person, then we can't talk, it's true.

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  119. With regards to calling Mugabe a monster. I think Mai is talking about strategy, and how to get the message across effectively. Mai, I can see why you would be prudent in how you used such words, not wanting to inflame or not be heard by those you are trying to help. I get that, totally.

    But on this forum, or in a situation where you were talking to other westerners, etc., you surely can speak the truth. The truth is, he was a "monster" if he did those monstrous things to others, willfully and with forethought. They're crimes against humanity, no? I think we could call Hitler a monster and not be far off. So, yes, we must be prudent in how we speak to certain groups in certain situations, but this blog is not a place to guard our words, it's a place to speak what is true.

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  120. Leila, I think you are avoiding my second question. I'll use your comment:

    "So, if it happens that some Catholic attacks you personally (i.e., "you're evil" rather than "your idea is evil"), you can call him on it! Tell him to get to confession, because that sort of thing is not allowed. :)"

    So I take it from that above statement that "Your idea is evil" is fine.

    I just don't understand this paragraph of yours:

    "L: Did you think I would say your liberal ideas are wonderful, and I won't judge the idea on its merits? I am sorry, but I don't really get how you have been mistreated, misrepresented or misled. Do liberals not like the Socratic method of getting to a truth or a clarity?"

    Tell me how "your idea is evil" fits into the Socratic method.

    You seem to be going back and forth - accusing me of not accepting the Socratic method, and then accusing me of not allowing you to "judge ideas". If you are using more than one method, that's fine, I'm sure I'll stick around, this is getting entertaining. Just as long as you admit that you are judging ideas sometimes, as well as using the Socratic method sometimes.

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  121. Mai, you are right and thanks for clarifying. I am not a formal student of the Socratic Method. I hope I did not imply that I do nothing here but the Socratic Method. I also do commentary, obviously. I comment on and judge different ideas and conclusions, after asking probing questions. I let others (like you) do the questioning and commenting on those ideas and conclusions, too. Then, I trust the readers to sort it out.

    I hope that helps.

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  122. I could be off here, but I don't think the Socratic Method and judging ideas are mutually exclusive. In fact, one could argue that one would use the socratic method in order to clearly understand ideas so that they can be judged fairly.

    No?

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  123. CL, If you're right then I'm thrilled, because that's how I've been using it. :)

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  124. I have to admit I'm using Wikipedia, and this line from the methodology section says this: "The teacher and student are willing to accept any correctly-reasoned answer. That is, the reasoning process must be considered more important than pre-conceived facts or beliefs." I would say based on that, the teacher saying "Your ideas are evil" does not fit in.

    Also, this one is interesting: "the method encourages students to reason critically rather than appeal to authority or use other fallacies". Based on this, appealing to revelations from God also does not fit in.

    Again, not saying that you can't do both of those things, because you do and I'm still here, but this is only partially Socratic method.

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  125. Thanks, Mai. I think I am on good ground, then. I don't appeal to revelations from God when I speak to atheists. I appeal to the Natural Law, which many atheists subscribe to.

    Also, I think that arriving at an evil idea can be a result of sound reasoning (though it may be founded on a faulty premise). For example, if one reasons that human life is expendable, then one can argue for genocide, right? I guess a case can be made for it. Would it be wrong for someone to comment that genocide is an "evil idea"? I don't think so, but I could be wrong. I will have to ask my kids, who know more about Socratic Method than I.

    I will tell you that a huge, huge part of ancient philosophical discussion and dialogue is about "what is the Good"? That would mean, I suppose, that there is also "evil"? And that we can talk about "evil" and "evil ideas"? If we can discuss the True, Good and Beautiful, why wouldn't it follow that we can also discuss what exists when they are lacking?

    I hope that makes sense.

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  126. Actually, Mai, I think you are misunderstanding that concept. The wiki says, "the method encourages students to reason critically rather than appeal to authority or use other fallacies" (emphasis mine).

    This sentence is talking about the logical fallacy of appealing to authority, which is fully described here, but in sum:

    "This fallacy is committed when the person in question is not a legitimate authority on the subject. More formally, if person A is not qualified to make reliable claims in subject S, then the argument will be fallacious." (again, emphasis mine)

    So, appeals to God (or the Catholic Church) as an authority are not fallacious in the Socratic method as long as it can be proved that God (or the CC) are legitimate authorities on the subject in question. That's a whole 'nother can of worms, but I just wanted to point out that an appeal to authority during a debate isn't necessarily always a fallacy.

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  127. I was thinking of this on my walk at lunch - my impression is that if you are the teacher and are trying to lead me through the Socratic method, the goal would get ME to say "That idea is evil." But if you are the teacher and are trying to teach me to reason, certainly telling me during the reasoning process that my idea is evil steps outside of the Socratic method.

    In other words, you and your crew have used the Socratic method outside of this discussion already, and are merely presenting me with your results.

    JoAnna, yes, it is a whole 'nother can of worms. We'd have to both accept what is an authority.

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  128. Mai, I see what you're saying. Maybe this is more how I see it:

    Mai and Leila are the "teachers," and the lurkers/readers are the "students". I ask you things, you ask me things, we challenge each other's ideas, and we try to show the reasonable steps we took to get to our (often opposite) conclusions. And then the readers decide.

    What do you think?

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  129. Well, sort of. Except that when I'm the teacher and you're saying something is evil, certainly I'm not leading you to it.

    It's an interesting way to think, though.

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  130. But remember, I'm not your "student", the lurkers are. The ones on the fence are the ones being taught about what you believe and why. And Catholics like me are able to see your thought process, the things that bring you to your beliefs. That's how I see it.

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  131. question???

    Wouldn't the socratic method teach using only the good the true and the beautiful??

    That leaves the abortion issue off the table.
    Doesn't it?

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  132. Marcy, I am not sure, but I think you're right that that is what the goal should be. I guess the other side would argue that abortion is a "good".

    I'm using the Socratic Method loosely. It's a way to dissect and pin down the thought process and try to find truth at the end.

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  133. : 0 Abortion is an intrinsic evil and evil as defined in John Haradon's dictionary is: The privation of a good that ought to be present. It is the lack of good that essentially belongs to a nature, the absence of a good that is natural and due to a being. Evil is therefore the absence of what ought to be there.

    If someone is declaring that abortion is a good---the argument is flawed from the get go.
    The dialogue will only go in circles because that is how a dishonest intellect has to operate. The question of Abortion as a good even pro choice politicians haven't said that.
    They say it is "needed" -- it is a "right" -- but have we really ever heard that abortion is good?

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  134. Marcy, I totally agree with you. You are right.

    Believe it or not, there are factions now in the pro-abortion movement who do claim that abortion is a good. And even "sacramental". I should do a post on that someday....

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  135. fifty million souls were not allowed life since 1973 I am not seeing the benefits of their absence.
    Is the air quality better?
    Is the water supply purer?
    Is there lasting peace?

    It is a groundless lie! Abortion has done nothing and has contributed nothing to the benefit of culture/society.

    Here is John Hardon's definition of Good.
    In general, whatever is suitable or befitting someone or something. Practically, however, it is that which all things tend toward or desire. The good is the desirable, and therefore the object of the natural (or supernatural) needs or tendencies of a being.

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