Miscellaneous Meanderings on the signs of the times
Dr. Mark S. Latkovic
June 1, 2016
~It’s a strange thing, you know. For about 45 years, since its inception, the pro-life movement has rooted its approach and arguments in both reality and modern science. But now, it turns out, reality is not so important. In fact, like unicorns and Martians, it may not even exist or if it does exist, there may be more than only one. The denial of reality is at the heart of the transgender movement. This will have significant implications for how we respond to it and argue against its’ positions.
~Pope Francis’ much-anticipated apostolic exhortation on the family was released on April 8, titled Amoris Laetitia (“The Joy of Love,” https://w2.vatican.va/content/dam/francesco/pdf/apost_exhortations/documents/papa-francesco_esortazione-ap_20160319_amoris-laetitia_en.pdf ). There is a whiff of the fundamental option that hovers over the document. As well, the “devil is in the details,” as they say, or in this case, in the footnotes. Its’ interpretation has largely come down to something we teachers have always told our students: Don’t ignore the footnotes, for that’s where the interesting and even controversial stuff is often found (Cf. Regis Scanlon, OFM Cap, “Amoris Laetitia: A Deceptive Joy,” http://www.hprweb.com/2016/05/amoris-laetitia-a-deceptive-joy/). I’ll be saying more about the exhortation in the comings days and months.
~If Trump can run for President, anyone can run.
~The #GiveElsaAGirlFriend is trending on Twitter urging Disney to make the Frozen movie character “the first LGBT princess.” How about #GiveElsaABoyFriend, instead? (See also http://www.msn.com/en-us/movies/news/are-we-ready-for-a-gay-disney-princess-we-may-be-closer-than-you-think/ar-BBsVwGU?li=BBnb7Kz).
~Being on Twitter is a strange place to be (more so than Facebook), especially if you want to keep your sanity…and keep your blood pressure down.
~When it comes to celebrities, some people on social media are like Pavlov’s dog in that they like everything they post –sometimes without reading – to the point where they could post the cover of Hitler’s Mein Kampf and these fans would click the “Like” button.
~The use of the N-word by a black comedian at the White House Correspondents’ Dinner (see http://time.com/4313607/white-house-correspondents-dinner-2016-larry-wilmore-n-word/), is nothing short of offensive – especially when it’s directed at a black president – even if it was done in a spirit of “fun” and “honor.”
~On the subject of fetal pain laws, one doesn’t even have to read the following story – http://www.msn.com/en-us/news/us/when-can-fetuses-feel-pain-utah-abortion-law-and-doctors-are-at-odds/ar-BBsDwVI?li=BBnb7Kz) – to know that the “doctors’” views will be portrayed more favorably than the lawmakers’.
~With the death of the anti-war pacifist, Daniel Berrigan, S.J. at age 94 (see http://www.nytimes.com/2016/05/01/nyregion/daniel-j-berrigan-defiant-priest-who-preached-pacifism-dies-at-94.html?_r=0), I was reminded of a student that I had many years ago at the seminary who was a strict pacifist. Actually, that’s putting it too mildly. He claimed to be a radical pacifist. Thus, police shouldn’t carry guns, husbands shouldn’t intervene when their wives are being raped, the Church is wrong to uphold the principle of self-defense, there are no just wars, etc., etc. He was shortly after asked to leave the seminary.
~I’ve learned over the years – especially this year! – that voting is a strange activity, arousing strange passions. People won’t vote for someone they just don’t like. At least that’s how conservatives behave with respect to other conservatives. Liberals? Well, not so much.
~Obama is going to name Stonewall Inn the first national monument for gay rights (see http://www.latimes.com/nation/nationnow/la-na-obama-stonewall-gay-rights-20160504-story.html). This guy really should have better things to do with his time. But he can’t, he simply can’t resist promoting, and currying favor with, gay rights groups.
~“Receiving Charlemagne Prize, Pope says ‘I have a dream’ for Europe,” is the CNA headline. And then we have Pope Francis: “To create dignified, well-paying jobs ‘requires coming up with new, more inclusive and equitable economic models, aimed not at serving the few, but at benefiting ordinary people and society as a whole,’ he said.
Doing this ‘calls for moving from a liquid economy to a social economy,’ he said, and pointed to the social market economy described by St. John Paul II’s Nov. 8, 1990, speech to the Ambassador of the Federal Republic of Germany.
‘It would involve passing from an economy directed at revenue, profiting from speculation and lending at interest, to a social economy that invests in persons by creating jobs and providing training,’ he said, adding that ‘we need to move from a liquid economy prepared to use corruption as a means of obtaining profits to a social economy that guarantees access to land and lodging through labor.’” (http://www.catholicnewsagency.com/news/receiving-charlemagne-prize-pope-says-i-have-a-dream-for-europe-84389/). With all due respect to the pope, this portion of his speech sounds more like it could have been written by some U.N. bureaucrat, with all of its contemporary liberal economic buzzwords. An economy not directed at “revenue”? In order to “invest” in people, one needs to generate revenue.
~My biggest fear of a Trump presidency is its precedent for a Kanye presidency.
~Meme: a word coined by an atheist (see Richard Dawkins, The Selfish Gene; https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Meme, under “Origins”) 40 years ago that even the most uneducated person has heard of. Natural Moral Law: a concept thousands of years old, with a rich biblical, theological, and philosophical meaning, that most people have never heard of.
~As I always say: Before you blow things up, it’s a good idea to have a plan for what you’re going to build up.
~Bishop Edward Braxton’s article on the Black Lives Matter movement has much to recommend it (see http://americamagazine.org/issue/bridging-racial-divide). It praises certain aspects of the movement, but is also critical of some of its positions and tactics. I do not believe, however, that when all is said and done, it deals adequately with the violent nature of the movement or adequately sizes it up.
~Every time I see the word “sedevacantist,” I see something like, “You said you’re a vacationist?”
~“Spurning Unity, Trump Claims ‘Mandate’ to Be Provocative,” read the NYT headline (http://www.msn.com/en-us/news/politics/spurning-unity-trump-claims-%e2%80%98mandate%e2%80%99-to-be-provocative/ar-BBsUjsW?li=BBnb7Kz). Gee, I thought that was Miley Cyrus’ mandate.
~Under the banner of expanding transgender rights, the Obama administration has issued an edict that public schools allow transgender students to use whatever bathroom matches the sex that they personally identity with, causing great controversy (see https://www.facebook.com/topic/GenderIdentity/106156979415348?source=whrt&position=6&trqid=6284258936680712483). And this is the pressing “civil rights” issue of our day?
~Amid all of the hoopla over Italy’s Parliament approving gay civil unions (see http://www.nytimes.com/2016/05/12/world/europe/italy-gay-same-sex-unions.html?_r=0), a less reported story, just four days later – but one that symbolizes much of what is wrong with same-sex unions – is one that addresses the country’s sterility, i.e., its no-child mentality. As the BBC noted (http://www.bbc.com/news/world-europe-36297177), “Just 488,000 babies were born in Italy in 2015, fewer than in any year since the modern state was founded in 1861.” Italy’s health minister called the decline in the birth rate an “apocalyptic” situation. The article concludes with this staggering statistic: “Italian women give birth to 1.39 children on average, compared with an EU average of 1.58.” (A country needs 2.1). And this is a “Catholic” country.
~If society is viewed as a necessary evil, then naturally accounts of ethics such as utilitarianism will arise since one needs to balance one’s self-interest against the self-interest of other persons – seen as obstacles to one’s own interests, one’s own fulfillment.
~We’ve gone from trans-continental to trans-fats to trans-sexual to trans-gender.
~Every time I hear the word “bipartisan” now, I think someone is coming out with a new gender identity.
~“Coming out” is another phrase that one has to be careful today to specify the meaning.
~One more good reason not to have sex until you’re married: avoiding sexual assault accusations and lawsuits on college campuses (see George Will, “Due process is still being kicked off campus” (http://www.jewishworldreview.com/cols/will051416.php3).
~As I have observed before, Facebook fosters both communion and division: it expands our pool of friends, but it also makes us aware of their opinions, some of which we may find disagreeable.
~LGBTQ…Really, we’re running out of letters to accommodate these activists.
~When you’re a convicted pedophile, is it really a good idea to name your private jet, the “Lolita Express” and your private island “Orgy Island”? (See http://www.foxnews.com/us/2016/05/13/flight-logs-show-bill-clinton-flew-on-sex-offenders-jet-much-more-than-previously-known.html?intcmp=hpbt4).
~Did you see the story on the first penile transplant – for a single, 64-year-old man? I know, chuckles, but save the jokes. This ground-breaking transplant is truly a potential game-changer for this former penile cancer patient, who had his penis amputated. The three goals of a genitourinary vascularized composite allograft transplant are: “to reconstruct external genitalia to a more natural appearance, re-establish urinary function, and potentially achieve sexual function.” (See the Massachusetts General Hospital press release here: http://www.massgeneral.org/about/pressrelease.aspx?id=1937). I see nothing that would necessarily be immoral about such a transplant, as long as we are talking only of the penis itself (as with this procedure) and not the testicles. In fact, in response to a reporter’s question at the press conference at Mass General, one of the doctors on the transplant team said that the operation involved “non-germline tissue.” He also spoke of the difficult ethical issues that would involve – issues they weren’t ready to deal with – and the IRB agreed with them. Of course, the usual criteria for any transplant to be morally good would apply: consent of donor and recipient/recipient’s family, physical and psychological suitability of the candidate, consideration of risk, possibility of success, etc. (See the press conference here: http://commonhealth.wbur.org/2016/05/penis-transplant-my-patients). Unfortunately, as noted in the press conference, transgender persons may want access to this surgery at some point in the future. But hopefully the operation may benefit not just cancer patients, but wounded warriors. The latter would present more technical difficulties, but not insurmountable ones (See also this NYT story from December 2015: http://www.nytimes.com/2015/12/07/health/penis-transplants-being-planned-to-heal-troops-hidden-wounds.html).
~President Obama’s 2016 commencement address at Rutgers called on the students to “Use your logic and reason and words” to refute positions you disagree with (You can read the full speech here: https://www.whitehouse.gov/the-press-office/2016/05/15/remarks-president-commencement-address-rutgers-state-university-new). I’m not sure the students heard much about logic and reason over their 4 years at our nation’s 8th oldest university.
~Why is it that when you sneeze and no one says “God bless you,” you feel compelled to say it to yourself?
~Some people walk their dogs; I walk myself.
~Commencement season, otherwise known as silly speech season, is upon us, and so therefore are the platitudes and inanities. A good piece on this is Thomas Sowell’s “Commencement Season,” http://jewishworldreview.com/cols/sowell052416.php3.
~Dennis Prager is someone I respect immensely, but I don’t agree with a lot of what he says in this column on why he’s voting for Trump – even if he makes some good points (See http://m.townhall.com/columnists/dennisprager/2016/05/24/dennis-prager-n2167737).
~When it comes to the debate over voting (or not voting) for Trump or Clinton, we are in serious need of a discussion over the nature, purpose, and morality of voting itself. We’ve had lots of the former without having had much of the latter.
~Obama’s visit to Japan (see http://www.nytimes.com/2016/05/28/world/asia/obama-hiroshima-japan.html?_r=0) included his speech commemorating the dropping of the atom bombs. It being Obama, the speech was the usual mix of historical error, jumbled thinking, and moral equivalency (See the devastating analysis of it by Ben Shapiro here: http://www.dailywire.com/news/6107/president-obama-gives-one-most-repulsive-speeches-ben-shapiro). One doesn’t have to think that the bombing was immoral (as I do) to think that the president’s speech was plain awful and misguided (See further: “How To Justify Hiroshima,” http://editor.currentaffairs.org/author/darcymcewan/).
~Whenever I hear that someone has been accused or convicted of “domestic violence,” I think that our language has betrayed the goal we are seeking, namely, preventing the behavior in question. Is there a more moral-agency-draining phrase than “domestic violence”? If there is, I don’t know what it is. Now, we could use the older, more vivid term, “wife-beater,” but then that gets off all of the “girl-friend beaters” (especially with less couples getting married today) and it may confuse people who think you’re referring to a certain undershirt made famous by Marlon Brando in Streetcar Named Desire.
~Listening to the late comedian George Carlin critique and make fun of politically correct language (see https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hkhUivqzWv0) and then listening to Bob Dylan’s classic 1966 song, “Stuck Inside of Mobile With the Memphis Blues Again,” made me realize just how many lyrics we may have to change in the interests of political correctness. Dylan’s song contains the lines, “Now the rainman gave me two cures/Then he said, “Jump right in”/The one was Texas medicine/ The other was just railroad gin/An’ like a fool I mixed them/An’ it strangled up my mind/An’ now people just get uglier/An’ I have no sense of time” (See http://bobdylan.com/songs/stuck-inside-mobile-memphis-blues-again). Uh oh. As Carlin noted in his routine, we can’t call people “ugly” any more, and here’s Dylan using the word in his song! Better change that to “An’ now people just have more appearance deficits.” Sorry Bob.
~I’m not a weatherman, but when I hear the forecast is for partly cloudy skies, I want to know: Is that just another way of saying it’s going to be partly sunny (and vice versa)?
~More bad stuff from Obama’s speech at Hiroshima: “How easily we learn to justify violence in the name of some higher cause.” Apart from overlooking the difference between moral and immoral uses of “violence,” why isn’t the prez willing to use this argument against abortion? Moreover, aren’t there, though, some (just) causes we should be willing to use violence, i.e., force, for?
~Confucius say: “He who tries to judge a woman’s age/Reveals that he’s no sage.” Actually, Confucius didn’t say that, I did.