Black, blue…ALL lives matter.

I’m getting old enough that there are fewer and fewer things that truly infuriate me. One of them, though, is the argument that supporting Black Lives Matter means that a person is anti-police, or that supporting Blue Lives Matter means that a person is racist.

This thinking is the classic example of the false dilemma fallacy. It is presenting two choices and arguing that they are the only two choices. For instance: “Either you think that Elvis Presley is the greatest musician in history or you are an idiot.” I would hope that Elvis fans know how stupid this would be to argue.

We have heard about tragedies involving the shootings or beatings of African-Americans that were umprovoked. We have also heard about tragedies of police officers being ambushed. There are both horrible. Anyone who believes that supporting one group makes a person an enemy of the other group is a fool, and anyone who suggests that there is a comparative value that makes one tragedy worse than the other is also a fool.

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Separation of Church and State (continued)

OK, OK – time to stop ignoring the 800 pound gorilla in the room. We all know that much of what has motivated the U.S. Council of Catholic Bishops for some time, along with many other Catholics and religious figures, is the abortion issue. The ultimate goal, of course, is to overturn Roe v. Wade; the efforts have been relentless of late and have become more and more confrontational.

Well, regardless of one’s personal views on abortion, there is but one conclusion that can be drawn (perhaps sadly):  there is no way to ban first trimester abortions without violating the Constitution. There are many admirable people who believe that the human soul is imparted at the moment of conception, but this is clearly a religious view and not a scientific view. No scientist would classify a fetus three months old or less as a viable human being and, whether we like it or not, ours is a nation that keeps religious views out of secular law.

Catholics should remember that the First Amendment not only keeps our church out of the law but, more importantly, keeps the law out of churches. Do we want to return to Colonial days of legal religious persecution? Do we want to return to the early 20th Century when Klan-dominated or -influenced legislatures sought to shut down Catholic schools? Or to the 19th Century when Mormons were lynched?

The one thing that seems clear to me is that any progress in the abortion problem must start with all sides starting with shared values; everyone that I know wishes that there never was a reason for people to seek abortions. Is it too much to ask that all Americans focus their energies on eliminating the social ills that lead to the pregnancies that cause women to seek abortion, such as poverty, antiquated adoption laws, rape, incest, etc.?

Separation of Church and State

One week from Sunday, the U.S. Council of Catholic Bishops is staging a rally calling attention to its concerns about threats by government to religious freedom. The rally was sparked by concerns over the national health care requirement that Catholic institutions (except, of course, churches themselves) cannot opt out of providing elements like birth control to its employees. From a neutral point of view, I find this very interesting; if this issue is heard by the Supreme Court, it could go either way, and both sides will cite the First Amendment in support of their cases.

But, is that all that is inspiring the U.S.C.C.B.? Given recent events, I doubt it. Stay tuned.

Is Mitt Romney a Unicorn?

Pretty silly question, huh? Well, several bloggers have begun a campaign to “investigate”, even creating a website (is-mitt-romney-a-unicorn.com) Their logic and criteria are, of course, absurd, but that is precisely their point; they are using exactly the same logic that Arizona’s Secretary of State and Bozo Trump are using to claim that President Obama is not really a native-born U.S. citizen.

Now that the birthers are (we can only hope) ultimately humiliated, is there any chance that we can start focussing on real issues? Not only is this birtherism a distraction, we all know in our subconscious that birtherism is racist.

The sterotypical racist is depicted as an undereducated redneck hick. That is a dangerous presumption. Sometimes, racists wear $1000+ suits and look respectable…with the possible exception of their hair.

Logical Fallacy from the USCCB needs to be mentioned.

This is a difficult post. The United States Conference of Catholic Bishops have been admirable in taking states like Wisconsin to task for being “unChristian” in their treatment of workers’ rights and their desire to cut assistance to the poor. Bravo!

Unfortunately, they have taken some of the luster away from their stand by condemning the Sisters in the United States for spending too much energy on fighting poverty and not enough on fighting for Pro-Life causes. Regardless of your personal position on pro-life issues, the USCCB are guilty of one of the most common logical fallacies:  creating a false dilemma. Creating a false dilemma is when you are told that you have only two choices, and that they are at odds with one another. False dilemmas are the meat-and-potatoes of negative political campaigns; i.e., “A vote against candidate A is a vote for American values.”

So, why is this a false dilemma? Simply put, there is a 100% correlation between the number of abortions sought and the poverty rate. I can understand why the USCCB, given their drive to eliminate abortions, want to take anyone to task who doesn’t confront the abortion issue head-on but, with all due respect, the Council has let its emotions cloud its judgment. If American Nuns are allowed to pour all of their energies into fighting poverty, it will also reduce abortions. On the other hand, directly confronting abortion laws will not do anything to reduce poverty.

Love and Letting Go

Lot’s of people from my generation remember the cliche’, “If you love something, set it free.” Sting wrote a song about it, numerous satires came from it, etc. Well, it is true, but there is more depth to it than a lot of people imagine.

Many years ago, I had a student of whom my wife and I were exceptionally fond, so much so that we asked her to housesit for us and we joked about adopting her if she ever needed it (not a slam on her mother; she’s wonderful, too!) She was one of those students who would come by during lunch or after school to talk philosophy and I was one of her coaches.

I was delighted, then, to find that she had returned to this area after grad school and was in a career that made me very proud. Sadly, she wanted nothing to do with me. With my thick skull, it took a while to realize that trying to find out why she shunned me was only making matters worse and was intruding on her privacy; therefore, I “set this love free.”

However, what doesn’t get mentioned is that a person has to set him or herself free, also. For months, I have been plagued with self-recrimination about what a horrible person I must be to drive this wonderful young woman out of my family’s life, and how stupid I must be that I can’t figure out what I did wrong. Only in the past week have I finally realized that such thinking accomplishes nothing.

In conclusion, the late singer-songwriter Dave Mason wrote, “There ain’t no good guy. There ain’t no bad guy. There’s only you and me and we just disagree.” I may never know what the disagreement is about, but that isn’t important.