Tuesday, April 21, 2009


I, for one, do not care one whit whether "walling"—it's okay, they were flexible, fake walls that the questioned were being whipped into— and "waterboarding"—it's okay because we didn't really drown them—of detainees in secret prisons and black sites, etc., did or did not provide us with useful information. That is, I don't care whether Cheney or Obama is right about the effectiveness of such treatment, i.e., torture. It might very well be the case that we could get very good information out of all sorts of suspects if, for instance, we raped and tortured their families in front of them and then mutilated and murdered those families, but that wouldn't make it the right thing to do.
Why? Because there are things that are wrong, no matter what good consequence they may provide—side note: it is very funny that some of the same people who think torture is justified because it might provide good information (ends justifying means), think the use of destined-to-be-discarded embryos is morally repugnant no matter what medical breakthroughs might be possible (ends not justifying means).
There are certain actions that are beneath a civilized person, a civilized nation, a human being. There are certain things that make those who engage in them beasts. There are worse fates than the loss of life.

Thursday, April 09, 2009

Two questions for Holy Week

First: At what historical point did "moral" come to mean "chaste" and "virtuous" "sexually moral"? It seems that there was a time when it took quite a bit more to be moral than just to use one's naughty bits in the prescribed fashion. Indeed, it seems that sexual morality was but a rather uninteresting piece of the moral life.
In the same vein, we seem to be—at least by the BBC's lights—entering an era in which "ethical" means "having a small carbon footprint". How is it that the moral or ethical life—presumably an integrated life—has come to be so limited?
Second: Why or how exactly did it come to be that being economically or socially liberal meant that one had to support abortion on demand? There is no natural affinity between these two sets of beliefs, nor is it clear what other forms of sexual liberation really have to do with this.

Monday, April 06, 2009


When parking my car this morning--and already frustrated because the parking people had stopped me to check my permit and the occurrence of both a funeral and Holy Week on campus had meant that there was very little parking available--I parked behind a H2 with Arizona plates, but not normal plates, "Save our environment" plates. Discuss.

Friday, April 03, 2009

The ease of criticism

It is enjoyable to see the conservative Catholic blogosphere and many of the bishops of the United States, most of whom have had absolutely no interest in Notre Dame—which, for better or worse is the premier Catholic university in the United States—except perhaps to watch football games, all the sudden be very, very interested in its Catholic character after having invited Barack Obama to speak at graduation (as they have invited every newly elected President for decades).
Critical morality is ever so much easier than the positive variety.