Monday, March 29, 2010

Sometimes bad cases make good law

Most of you are well acquainted with the antics of professional scumbag Fred Phelps, whose mantra "God Hates Fags" now extends to anyone who dies in defense of our Constitution that defends the right of homosexuals to exist.

Now, adding insult to injury, the father of a fallen Marine, whose funeral Phelps' "church" picketed, has been ordered by the Fourth Circuit of the U.S. Court of Appeals to pay court costs for that cockroach Phelps.

If there is a God, I am certain that Phelps will be writhing in the next life in some serious pain (of his own making) for being so loathsome in this life. But under the U.S. Constitution, it was Phelps who was wronged. His First Amendment freedom was infringed upon by a grieving father, and the most conservative Court of Appeals in the country upheld Phelps' right to speak evil.

I applaud the court for its principled stand. Freedom of speech is far too precious to deny even to a hate-filled homophobe whose own self-promoting celebrity status now makes him fair game for satirists and bloggers.

There is a well-known legal maxim that "bad cases make for bad law". No judge wants to have Fred Phelps for a poster child. But our Constitution is not a fair-weather friend, and a country that might censor a devil today would silence an angel tomorrow. Even in death, that Marine served in defense of our country and the values we hold dear, first among which is the right to speak freely. I salute both father and son for their sacrifice.

Saturday, March 6, 2010

Sins of the Father

The Sacred Heart of Jesus Catholic School in Boulder, CO recently expelled a preschooler because the child's parents are lesbians. The Archdiocese of Denver has released a statement justifying the expulsion:

“Parents living in open discord with Catholic teaching in areas of faith and morals unfortunately choose by their actions to disqualify their children from enrollment.”

The pastor of the school, Father Bill, has further explained his reasoning in his blog post titled What wisdom is at work in not having children of a gay marriage in a Catholic school?. Most commenters on his site have vehemently disagreed with his position in expelling the child, and small wonder: he misstated his position and thereby generated the very controversy he was trying to avoid:

“The core issue for us Catholics on this question is our freedom and our obligation to teach about marriage and family life as our Faith teaches.”

He is mistaken. This is an expression of Protestant belief. It invites the Catholic lay reader to misconstrue the meaning of "us". I suspect what the good pastor really meant was:

The core issue for the Catholic Church on this question (or any other) is the ability of the Magisterium to understand the will of God, the presumption that God will ensure that it does, and the freedom and obligation of the clergy thus enlightened to teach to others less attuned to God's wishes, in the hope that the faithful will not fall away in a misguided and self-deluding belief that they can more reliably intuit God's teachings without a reliable intermediary.

Some commenters wondered about the Church's tolerance of divorce (at least with respect to parochial school attendance), but this is a false analogy: no parishioner thinks that divorce is an objective good. Even non-Catholics understand divorce to be a failure.

In contrast, the understanding of the morality of sexuality is evolving in American society quite rationally, with increased understanding by scientists of its etiology and the apparent lack of negative societal impact.

The "moral relativism" here is not about sexuality, but about the increasing unease by Catholics (since Vatican II) with the proposition that the clergy is credible in matters of sexuality, even as it has simultaneously failed to understand the root causes of clerical paraphilia and failed to provide an understandable narrative that harmonizes recent genetic and social science on sexuality with the teachings of the Church.

When Jesus was asked, “Are you the one who is to come, or should we look for another?”, he did not say "I am, trust me." He said (Mat 11:5-6), look around and believe what you see with your own eyes:

“The blind regain their sight, the lame walk, lepers are cleansed, the deaf hear, the dead are raised, and the poor have the good news proclaimed to them. And blessed is the one who takes no offense at me.”

When deciding whether to trust the Catholic Church in matters of sexuality, my own eyes tell me that gays are clamoring not for the self-indulgence of "free love" but for the sacrament of marriage, that these lesbians are raising their children not as an atheist but believing in Christ, that sexuality is in fact not "ordered towards an intrinsic moral evil" but rather oriented towards a well-integrated psychological, social, and spiritual whole.

In short, my eyes tell me that Father Bill is not speaking for God on this issue. Perhaps it is time for the teacher to become the student.