Friday, August 16, 2013

Mystery Priest at Crash Site

The story:

The sketch:
The strangest part of this whole thing for me is the man is universally reported to have been a Catholic priest, and yet the only two possibilities appearing in all the reporting are either he was a priest at the right place at the right time or he was an angel appearing as a priest. While both those are true possibilities, did it never occur to anyone to mention that according to Catholicism, he may very well have been a saint from heaven? Bueller? Bueller?

Funnily enough, you do get some such suggestion from The Blaze, but I don't know why on earth they fixated on Padre Pio. 
Cause Padre Pio has a beard when he appears and wears his Capuchin habit.   Excerpts:
...A woman from St. Madeline’s in Ridley Park, gave her five prayer cards for people who were in the process of beatification and needed a miracle. Every day after Mass, she and her mother would go to the hospital and pray the rosary over Paul, then say the five prayers. “Whenever I came to the Padre Pio prayer, Paul blessed himself, even though he was totally unconscious,” Betty said.

Several people witnessed the phenomena, including a few nurses. Betty decided to call a local group of Padre Pio devotees and report what was happening. They decided to send someone to the hospital with one of the gloves worn by Padre Pio over the bloody stigmata wounds in his hands. On Monday, March 12, Paul was blessed with the relic and within days, one of his many serious ailments had miraculously vanished.

Betty called the group again and on April 6, 1984, the glove was once again brought to Paul and laid on his head. “I knew immediately something happened because it was like an electric shock went through him,” Betty said. “He opened his eyes and looked around the room, very clear-eyed. Then he fell back into the coma again but I just knew something had happened.”

She was right. The next day, when she returned to the hospital she was shocked to find her son sitting in a chair and watching television. He turned and said “Hi Mom.”

The nurse rushed in and told Betty: “He’s been talking all day!” When she called the neurosurgeon to tell him Paul Walsh was talking, the doctor said, “It’s not possible’ and hung up on her.”

But it was true. “They gave Paul another cat scan and all the doctor kept saying was, ‘I don’t believe this. I don’t’ believe this.’ The frontal lobe of his brain wasn’t smashed anymore.”

Even more inexplicable was what happened days later, on Easter Sunday morning, when Paul and his roommate woke up to find a man standing at the foot of Paul’s bed. Described as “an old priest in a brown robe,” Paul thought it was Betty’s brother, Charley, who bears a remarkable resemblance to Padre Pio.

“I remember being very certain that my Uncle Charley had been in to visit me,” Paul said. “I did see him. He was very happy and smiled at me. And then he left the room.”

Betty knew it couldn’t have been Charley because he lives in Boston. She folded up a picture of Padre Pio, hiding the name, and showed it to Paul. “That’s who visited me,” he said. “Isn’t that Uncle Charley?”

Weeks later, Paul Walsh walked out of Crozier Chester Medical Center, completely healed...
More awesome in the above story at the original link.  There are tons more stories about Padre Pio, both during his life and after his death, so I suppose turning immediately to him as an explanation made a little sense, but it's not as though we've had any shortage of holy priests these past 2000 years who might be answering prayers as God's delegates sent from heaven.  Honestly, ask a Catholic!

Thursday, August 15, 2013

Christian Forgiveness is to Forgive the Unforgivable

Mark Shea on mercy. Excerpts:
...increasingly, we are a culture that only has "mercy" on people who "couldn't help it" or "didn't know any better." The problem is, that's not mercy because allowing for weakness, ignorance, or some other excuse is not mercy. It’s excusing. Now, it’s a fine thing, in any conflict, to search first for reasons why somebody who appears to have acted in malice did not really do so. We should always do this as our first act of charity. But a curious thing has happened in our culture, something that impinges even on Christians who ought to know better. As we reject God more and more, we have allowed more and more space for excusing evil and less and less space for admitting sin. Result: we have arrived at an era in which everything must be excused and nothing may be forgiven.

We see this in the weird combination of sophistry and mercilessness that is post-modernity. Straining credulity, we create enormous and preposterous excuses for all manner of moral derangement precisely because we believe there is no mercy for sin. Then, when somebody finally does cross the line into what is undeniably sin (Nazis, child molestors, racists, terrorists, tobacco lobbyists or some other category of culturally inexcusable evil), we simply rain down on their heads all the contempt and vilification in the world—and live in fear of what judgment awaits us should we fail to find an excuse for our own sins.

That’s not hard to grasp. Apart from the miraculous forgiveness of the gospel, what else should we expect? When we look sin in the eye—real sin in all its vicious, willful, sneering, lying malice—well, who wants to forgive that? Why, if you did that, that bastard would get off scot free! Forgive that tool I work with, the one who has been gunning for my job and spreading ugly rumors about me at the office water cooler? Forgive that bitch who spent years beating me as a kid and laughing at my tears? Forgive that zit-faced moron who deliberately keyed my car when I confronted him about tormenting the neighbor’s cat? Forgive Osama bin Laden? NO!

But Jesus does, in fact, demand exactly that mercy of us. In fact, both here and in the Our Father, he predicates any hope of our receiving mercy on our willingness to extend it to others. Be merciful and you shall obtain mercy. Forgive and you shall be forgiven...
For more on the sort of mercy we're talking about, see here and here.

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

A Good God is Everywhere — And Provides for Everything with Love

The best recounting of the sacrifice of Maximilian Kolbe I've ever read.  Excerpts:
...The Nazi commandant calls the first name, second, third, fourth. Franciszek Gajowniczek hopes hard that he would live to see 42… live to hold his children close again…seventh, eighth, ninth names…”

He’s only a few years older than I am. And he’s only one name away from seeing the sun rise tomorrow. We turn at Bobby Johnson’s corner.

“And then they barked the tenth name: Franciszek Gajowniczek. And Gajowniczek — he falls to the ground. Near starving, he peels back every shred of dignity and he flat out begs, ‘No, I am married! I have children! I am young! I beg of you!’

The kids are quiet.

“And behind Gajowniczek, a man breaks rank… And he steps forward so all can see his face —- Maximillian Kolbe — a Christian. A Christian who was known to give up his food rations to those less hungry than he was. A Christian known to give his blanket to those not as cold as he was. Maximilian Kolbe, he was known to these incarcerated Jews as the Christ of Auschwitz… and he steps forwards silently, takes off his cap, and before the commandant he says,

“Let me take his place. He has a wife and children. I am not married. I am not a father. He is young. I am old. Take me.” I turn around so that I can see the kids’ faces. “Maximilian Kolbe was only 6 years older than Gajowniczek — 47.”

Hope turns from me, looks out the window. Rain drops start to splat the windshield loud.

“And Gajowniczek, laying there on the dust on a July morning, he would later say, ‘I could only thank him with my eyes. I was stunned and could hardly grasp what was going on.’

And Kolbe, he was dragged off to a wire box like a dog kennel with the nine other men, left to starve.”

This is always the part of the story that gets hard, when the lump grows too large in my throat. The children say nothing and I push the words past the stinging in my throat.

“Kolbe spent the next 14 days singing hymns and praying with those nine other men, as one by one, all of them starved to death… And only one month prior to Kolbe being dragged off to starve, on June 15, 1941, — Maximilian Kolbe had written this to his mother:

‘Dear Mama, I am in the camp of Auschwitz. Everything is well in my regard. Be tranquil about me and about my health, because the good God is everywhere and provides for everything with love.’”

I had memorized that line of the letter. Because if a man in the midst of one the most hideous scenarios known in the history of the world could write a line like that — not from a bad day at the office or a hard day with the kids, but from the death stench of Auschwitz — how can anyone deny this ultimate iron-clad testimony : A Good God is everywhere — and provides for everything with love...
Her kids' reaction here. A reaction from the man whose life he saved. Excerpts:
...Gajowniczek later recalled:

'I could only thank him with my eyes. I was stunned and could hardly grasp what was going on. The immensity of it: I, the condemned, am to live and someone else willingly and voluntarily offers his life for me - a stranger. Is this some dream?

I was put back into my place without having had time to say anything to Maximilian Kolbe. I was saved. And I owe to him the fact that I could tell you all this. The news quickly spread all round the camp. It was the first and the last time that such an incident happened in the whole history of Auschwitz.

For a long time I felt remorse when I thought of Maximilian. By allowing myself to be saved, I had signed his death warrant. But now, on reflection, I understood that a man like him could not have done otherwise. Perhaps he thought that as a priest his place was beside the condemned men to help them keep hope. In fact he was with them to the last.'...
St. Maximilian Kolbe, Martyr for charity, pray for us!

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

"I Am A Son of the Church": Pope Francis on Liturgy, Faith and Morals

Pope Francis shouldn't be making any of the liturgical traditionalists nervous. Not after this quote.  Excerpts:
...In the Orthodox Churches, they have retained that pristine liturgy, which is so beautiful. We have lost some of the sense of adoration. The Orthodox preserved it; they praise God, they adore God, they sing, time does not matter. God is at the centre, and I would like to say, as you ask me this question, that this is a richness. Once, speaking of the Western Church, of Western Europe, especially the older Church, they said this phrase to me: Lux ex oriente, ex occidente luxus. Consumerism, comfort, they have done such harm. Instead, you retain this beauty of God in the centre, the reference point. When reading Dostoevsky – I believe that for all of us he is an author that we must read and reread due to his wisdom – one senses what the Russian soul is, what the eastern soul is. It is something that does us much good. We need this renewal, this fresh air from the East, this light from the East. John Paul II wrote about this in his Letter. But many times the luxus of the West makes us lose this horizon. I don’t know, but these are the thoughts that come to me. Thank you...

And if you were wondering if he'd be changing doctrine any time soon, well:
...Patricia Zorzan:

Speaking on behalf of the Brazilians: society has changed, young people have changed, and in Brazil we have seen a great many young people. You did not speak about abortion, about same-sex marriage. In Brazil a law has been approved which widens the right to abortion and permits marriage between people of the same sex. Why did you not speak about this?

Pope Francis:

The Church has already spoken quite clearly on this. It was unnecessary to return to it, just as I didn’t speak about cheating, lying, or other matters on which the Church has a clear teaching!

Patricia Zorzan:

But the young are interested in this ...

Pope Francis:

Yes, though it wasn’t necessary to speak of it, but rather of the positive things that open up the path to young people. Isn’t that right! Besides, young people know perfectly well what the Church’s position is.

Patricia Zorzan:

What is Your Holiness’ position, if we may ask?

Pope Francis:

The position of the Church. I am a son of the Church...

Monday, August 12, 2013

No, Of Couse Churches Will Never Be Forced to Marry Gay Couples

Oh, ye gods and little fishies.  Excerpts:
"...We have a civil partnership, me and my husband Tony," said Barrie, who owns a surrogacy centre in Chandlers Quay, Maldon, and is about to open another in Los Angeles.

"The only way forward for us now is to make a challenge in the courts against the church.

"It is a shame that we are forced to take Christians into a court to get them to recognise us.

"But we don't want to force anyone into marrying us – it is supposed to be the happiest day in my life and that would make me miserable and would spoil the whole thing.

"Aren't Christians meant to forgive and accept and love?"..."

All together, now!

A good comment.  Excerpts:
...“I am still not getting what I want,” cried Barrie, stamping his foot on the plush purple shagpile. And so they are now suing their local parish church - the fellowship where they worship; where their children were baptised; and which supported Tony through the trauma of throat cancer a few years ago - because they can't get married there.

Quite why they think this is the fault of their parish church is unknown, but on this matter they seem to have more money than sense. The Church of England is bound by the law of the land, and it is Parliament which has emphatically prohibited the state church in England (and Wales) from performing same-sex marriages.

But Tony and Barrie are intent on forcing the matter, and so the Church of England will be embroiled in lengthy (and very expensive) litigation. “It is a shame that we are forced to take Christians into a court to get them to recognise us,” said Barrie.

Sod Scripture (1Cor 6:5-7).

He added: “It upsets me because I want it so much – a big lavish ceremony, the whole works, I just don’t think it is going to happen straight away."

Now, this doesn't strike His Grace as a good example to set the children. Throwing a hissy fit because "I am still not getting what I want” is a little childish, to say the least. We all want things very much, Barrie, but we're not all so loaded that we're accustomed to getting them.

Take religious liberty, Barrie.

Why should a free church - or, indeed, any religious institution in a liberal democracy - be subject to the coercion of the wealthy and powerful? Surely the Christian way - since you say you are both practising Christians - is to engage in constructive dialogue and gentle persuasion - with both church and state; not piss everybody off - including some of your co-sexualists - with haughty threats, aggressive lawsuits and interfering demands.

The Church of England is protected in law by a 'quadruple lock', Barrie. Has your (expensive) barrister not told you that? We have been assured by the Secretary of State no less that this is inviolable; that the Gates of Equality and Human Rights shall not prevail against it.

But Barrie isn't getting what he wants.

And neither is Tony...
Our Lady of Walsingham, pray for us.
St. Thomas More, pray for us.
St. John Fisher, pray for us.
St. Edmund Campion, pray for us.
All you Jesuit martyrs, pray for us.
Ugandan Martyrs, pray for us.

Sunday, August 11, 2013

Further Evidence for God the Father

Because moms don't often make jokes this bad.  God has an awesomely awkward sense of humor.  Excerpts:
…In between these musings, [Peter Kreeft] also told me of the most spectacular conversion he ever saw: a former student who had been an atheist (ex-Catholic). He was brilliant, got A's in his sleep, had a photographic memory and was as rich as Midas cuz daddy was a heart surgeon. He got into drugs and alcohol, but could handle it and so graduated with a med degree and got a red convertible from dad to celebrate.

On the night of his graduation, he drove to a bridge with the full intention of taking it at 100 MPH and committing suicide for the simple reason that he had everything and his life was completely empty and meaningless. Speeding toward the bridge, he suddenly saw, looming up in front of him, a giant purple hippopotamus. (He swore he was stone cold sober.) Stopping the car, the kid said "Who are you?" and the hippo replied, "I'm God and I want you to do what I say."

The kid agreed and the substance of the command was "Repent. Believe in Jesus Christ. Go to Bible school, become a pastor, save souls." The kid asked, "Why are you a purple hippopotamus?" and God replied, "Because you were so far gone this was necessary to get your attention." The kid obeyed, went to Bible School, became a pastor, and helped inner city kids get off drugs and alcohol. One of Peter's students knew somebody he helped, and that's how word got back to Peter that this brilliant former atheist was now a pastor. Peter met him and got the whole story first hand. A lulu of a conversion story proving yet again that God is weird and that he loves you and has no concern for his own dignity when it comes to emptying himself for our salvation...

This is what happens when the Being whose aesthetic preferences encompass the kiwi, the dodo bird, and, well, me, is put in charge of the cosmos. And why the Devil in his pride thought God ridiculously undignified, and fell.

Saturday, August 10, 2013

There's an Odd Thomas Movie!


It's always a good sign when the author of the books, Dean Koontz, likes the movie. Excerpts:
Gerda and I and two friends just saw the completed Odd Thomas film. It is so wonderful that I am whacked flat by happiness. It makes no missteps, races forward with unrelenting momentum, is gripping, and has great heart, and even has an excellent score! It is a totally fresh wind in the genres upon which it touches, and we felt that we were seeing one of those rare productions with the potential to dramatically alter how other filmmakers approach such movies in the future...
Unfortunately, it's held up in a financial and legal quagmire.  Excerpts:
...The film's producers, Two Out of Ten Productions, is suing several organisations which it claims owe $35 million for marketing and paying off production loans.

Odd Thomas is not expected to be released until the legal matter is settled.

The Mummy director Stephen Sommers helmed the film, which stars Yelchin (Star Trek into Darkness) as a short-order cook who can speak to the dead.

Patton Oswalt, Addison Timlin, Nico Tortorella and Gugu Mbatha-Raw also feature in the movie...
I'm going to cheat because I really want to see this movie in theaters: please pray for the successful release of this movie and excellent sequels to come.

Thursday, August 8, 2013

Infrastructure of Tyranny--A Citizenry That Excuses or Ignores These Things

In the first part of this survey of what Conor Friedersdorf has called the "infrastructure of tyranny,"  we looked at the practice of extraordinary rendition, which is basically the art of making people disappear.  In the second part of this survey, we looked at black site prisons, or where people have been disappeared to.  In the third part of the series, we looked at secret detention, or simply not acknowledging that a person is in your hands.  In the fourth part, we looked at indefinite detention without trial.  In the fifth part, we looked at assassination without trial.  In the sixth installment, we looked at the goal of Total Information Awareness.  In the seventh installment, we examined the repeated enactment of legal decisions secretly without public knowledge or review.  In the eighth installment, we took a look at the seemingly innocuous spread of political correctness throughout the Western world.  In this ninth post, we'll examine perhaps the most dangerous and deadly part of the infrastructure of tyranny out of all of them: a citizenry that excuses or ignores these things.

Let us begin by observing what should be obvious by now: what once was unthinkably crazy, the realm of the mentally ill and irrationally paranoid, is far from impossible or unthinkable today. Go back through the series, and recognize that I have not touched up all the bits and bobs of the infrastructure of tyranny. Perhaps I'll add more to the series before too long and discuss civil forfeiture, the dangers of eminent domain, or the peculiarities of the Bilderberg gatherings. But I think I've gathered enough information on enough troubling realities to point out that something has gone badly wrong with the way the West works.

The question is whether anyone cares enough to change the direction in which the country is going.  Consider, for instance, the following:
There are columnists reassuring us that Big Brother isn't watching.  Note also the way in which the left vociferously criticized President Bush's Patriot Act and other policies which pursued an "anything in the name of National Security" course, but have remained astoundingly silent in the face of President Obama's expansion of Bush era policies.  The right embraced the notion of anything in the name of National Security under President Bush and are having a hard time doing anything differently under President Obama.  Opposition to these policies, then, are unlikely to come from the institutional right or left.
h/t George W. Obama

To whom, then, shall we go?

There are signs of rising opposition from the USCCB to certain of the government's policies when it comes to religious liberty.  Add to that the religious witness against abortion, the consistent opposition to torture across administrations, and the triumphant religious stances against slavery and for civil rights, and I think the best hope for a renewal of civil liberties and freedoms in this country lies with a religious or at least philosophically motivated defense of human rights and freedoms against the potential for abuse in so many of the structures discussed throughout this series.

Remember a society will either have a citizenry with highly honed consciences or it will have a high level of cops.  But we live in an age which claims for conscience the right to decree good and evil, not merely the responsibility of recognizing right and wrong.  We live in a rising tide of the dictatorship of relativism, identified by Pope Benedict XVI when he was still Cardinal Ratzinger.  As Mussolini purportedly put it:
...Everything I have said and done in these last years is relativism by intuition.
If relativism signifies contempt for fixed categories and those who claim to be the bearers of objective immortal truth ... then there is nothing more relativistic than Fascist attitudes and activity... From the fact that all ideologies are of equal value, that all ideologies are mere fictions, the modern relativist infers that everybody has the right to create for himself his own ideology and to attempt to enforce it with all the energy of which he is capable. --Diuturna [The Lasting] (1921) as quoted in Rational Man : A Modern Interpretation of Aristotelian Ethics (1962) by H. B. Veatch
So it may be increasingly difficult to defend human rights when the citizenry doesn't believe in the existence of human nature or the natural law.  It may be impossible to defend that antiquated notion which resides in so quintessentially modern a document as the Declaration of Independence:
...We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness. — That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed, — That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness. Prudence, indeed, will dictate that Governments long established should not be changed for light and transient causes; and accordingly all experience hath shewn that mankind are more disposed to suffer, while evils are sufferable than to right themselves by abolishing the forms to which they are accustomed. But when a long train of abuses and usurpations, pursuing invariably the same Object evinces a design to reduce them under absolute Despotism, it is their right, it is their duty, to throw off such Government, and to provide new Guards for their future security. ..
The texture of the moment may be seen more clearly when one takes a look at the dystopias of the past and discovers how closely they resemble our daily news, our daily realities.  See, for instance, the following, and mark which moment you finally realize what year it supposedly is referring to:
...It is impossible at this time to determine their whereabouts, due primarily to a policy of total media blackout regarding the more extreme government activities (illegal arrests, incarceration without due process of law, torture and grotesque executions—most of which are carried out in secret). Add to this the media disinformation about the more visible government activities which the public can hardly fail to notice (forced closure of churches and schools, arrests on unsubstantiated charges of treason, and the more socially acceptable forms of execution — all of which are apparently “legal” under the new statutes). It is widely believed that our people are being held in “civilian internment camps”, the euphemistic term for concentration camps used in the president’s Omnibus Anti-Terrorism Act of March, 2108.

How has this come to pass? How has the unthinkable become the ordinary? Although Americans are very different from us, they are human after all, and thus quite susceptible to the psychology of perception. The average citizen strolling down an average street in a totalitarian state does not experience his world in terms of continuous absolute madness. However distressed it may be, the passage of months and years gives to even the most extreme of situations a certain semblance of normality. The image Americans once had of their society was a mental construct. And when more than a century ago it began to mutate, they found it extremely difficult to believe that the land of the brave and the home of the free was becoming a landscape of secret nightmare where millions of children were murdered annually, discreetly, hygienically in the clinics and hospitals of their land. Legalized murder, loss of the transcendent vision, and the death of authentic culture should have been sufficient warning to them, for each is a key symptom of a society’s collapse into totalitarianism. But democracies are not immune from self-delusion, although they tend to forms of oppression which are not overtly violent. Democracies in the final stages of decline, however, will degenerate into overt oppression, but they will do so in the name of freedom. That Americans began to realize this fact only when it was far too late, played no small part in the development of outright tyranny...--Michael O'Brien, "Three Views of the Future: The Church in A.D. 2109"
Still far fetched, thank God.  Still far future speculation, and perhaps a nightmare never to come.  But the powers that have been turned against Al Qaeda and other jihadist terrorists could well some day be turned against other international religious organizations.  The infrastructure exists.  It has been used against American citizens without trial.  Why are we safe, if these others weren't?  Why should we assume that we have done no wrong, that we will never trigger a datamining operation, never be flagged on a no fly list or a kill list, never be indefinitely detained on suspicion of being suspicious, never be disappeared and judged too dangerous to ever be released?  What safeguards do you have against this apparatus?  Innocence?  Abdulrahman al-Awlaki was innocent of anything other than being the son of an extremist cleric who exhorted other men to violence.  Abdulrahman was innocent.  It did nothing to protect him from sudden death from the sky.  No arrest.  No trial.  No Miranda rights.  No chance to prove innocence in court.  No protection of any kind.  Why should you be any different?  Why should I?
First they came for the Socialists, and I did not speak out--
Because I was not a Socialist.

Then they came for the Trade Unionists, and I did not speak out--
Because I was not a Trade Unionist.
Then they came for the Jews, and I did not speak out--
Because I was not a Jew.
Then they came for me--and there was no one left to speak for me.--attributed to Martin Niemöller
No. We must respond--and that response is the subject of the last post in the series.

Tuesday, August 6, 2013

Infrastructure of Tyranny--Political Correctness

In the first part of this survey of what Conor Friedersdorf has called the "infrastructure of tyranny,"  we looked at the practice of extraordinary rendition, which is basically the art of making people disappear.  In the second part of this survey, we looked at black site prisons, or where people have been disappeared to.  In the third part of the series, we looked at secret detention, or simply not acknowledging that a person is in your hands.  In the fourth part, we looked at indefinite detention without trial.  In the fifth part, we looked at assassination without trial.  In the sixth installment, we looked at the goal of Total Information Awareness.  In the seventh installment, we examined the repeated enactment of legal decisions secretly without public knowledge or review.  In this eighth installment, we'll take a look at the seemingly innocuous spread of political correctness throughout the Western world, also known in certain circles as "newspeak."

“We have now sunk to a depth at which the restatement of the obvious is the first duty of intelligent men”--George Orwell
From a remarkable piece, we hear something of the origins of the term. Excerpts:
...I first heard the phrase "politically correct" in the late 1940s and early 1950s in reference to the political debates between Socialists and members of the United States Communist Party (CP). These debates were an everyday occurrence in my neighborhood in the Bronx until the McCarthy committee and HUAC silenced political talk on the streets. Members of the CP talked about current party doctrine as the "correct" line for the moment. During World War II, the Hitler-Stalin pact caused many CP members considerable pain and often disgrace on my block, which was all Jewish and mostly Socialist. The "correct" position on Stalin's alliance with Hitler was considered to be ridiculous, a betrayal of European Jewry as well as Socialist ideas. The term "politically correct" was used disparagingly to refer to someone whose loyalty to the CP line overrode compassion and led to bad politics. It was used by Socialists against Communists, and was meant to separate out Socialists who believed in equalitarian moral ideas from dogmatic Communists who would advocate and defend party positions regardless of their moral substance.

Given that history, it was surprising to hear right-wing intellectuals in the 1990s using the phrase "politically correct" to disparage students and professors who advocate multiculturalism and are willing to confront racism, sexism, or homophobia at the university. Yet it is not uncommon, for example, for right-wing critics to accuse students (or other professors) who insist that women's voices or the voices of people of color be included in the curriculum of making rigid, oppressive demands that infringe upon academic freedom. The implication of these accusations is that people calling for compliance with antisexist and antiracist education today are similar to the Communist party hard-liners who insisted on compliance with the "correct" line on the Hitler-Stalin pact. It is a clever ploy on the part of neoconservatives, a number of whom were former CP members and know how the phrase "politically correct" was used in the past, to insinuate that egalitarian democratic ideas are actually authoritarian, orthodox, and Communist-influenced when they oppose the right of people to be racist, sexist, and homophobic. The accusation of being "politically correct" is a weapon used by right-wing professors, and publicized by conservative media critics, to protect themselves against criticisms of their own biases by students or other, usually younger, professors. It is a way of diverting the issue of bias within the university to issues of freedom of speech without acknowledging that the right to question professorial authority is also a free speech matter...--Herbert Kohl, “Uncommon Differences: On Political Correctness, Core Curriculum and Democracy in Education”, The Lion and the Unicorn, Volume 16, Number 1, June 1992, pp. 1–16 | 10.1353/uni.0.0216
From the above, we can see that political correctness in its original form meant literally to be correct according to the standards of a certain political group with a particular ideology--that is, to toe the party line.  In states with a single party, as in the Russia of Stalin, Lenin, and Khrushchev, all citizens would be expected to do so.  In states with many parties, or at least two major parties, wouldn't you expect a certain freedom when it comes to what you say?  And yet, behold what until very recently was the law in Canada. Excerpts:
...The effect of killing Section 13 will be debated for years among anti-racist groups and civil libertarians. But it is undoubtedly a turning point. Since 1999, Canadians who felt aggrieved by material transmitted online have been encouraged to seek redress under federal human rights law, which targeted material “likely to expose a person or persons to hatred or contempt” based on grounds of discrimination like race, religion or sexual orientation. Storseth’s bill repeals the provision outright, leaving the Criminal Code as the primary bulwark against the dissemination of hate propaganda by electronic means.

With it will go one of the most divisive disputes to grip the country since the introduction of the Charter of Rights itself—a contest of values that over the past five years has pitted Canadians’ desire to protect minorities from discrimination against the bedrock principle of free speech. Mainstream media outlets, most notably Maclean’s, have been hauled before commissions to answer for their published content. The commissions themselves have come under fire for allowing their processes to be used as a bludgeon against legitimate expression, tailored as they are to encourage complainants to come forward. Meantime, a Saskatchewan law similar to Section 13 has become the subject of a Supreme Court challenge that could invalidate hate-speech provisions in most provincial human rights codes. By year’s end, it is conceivable that no human rights commission in the country will be in the business of adjudicating published material...
Who was impacted while that law was on the books? A number of folks.  Ezra Levant, one of the most widely known targets of the Human Rights Commissions in Canada, sums up what the system meant (and, in some provinces, still means). Excerpts:
...It is not the Canadian way to criminalize hard feelings. We criminalize violence or other crimes. Not Section 13. It criminalized the feelings itself, without any proof of any harm coming from it.

It is no surprise that, for the first 32 years in that law’s existence, not a single person who was prosecuted under it was acquitted.

It had a 100% conviction rate — usually a laughable statistic from a dictatorship’s legal system. But that’s the thing — the enforcers of Section 13 had more in common with those countries’ sham trials than with Canada’s tradition of impartial and professional courts.

Canada’s human rights commissions and tribunals — there is one in each province and territory, in addition to the federal one — are not run by real judges. Most of them aren’t even run by lawyers.

They’re political appointees, usually activists who specialize in newfangled human rights. That is, the booming industry of hurt feelings.

Unlike real judges, these rulers are not required to be neutral; are not required to abide by legal precedent; do not have the same rules of evidence as real courts; allow hearsay; do not have the same standard of proof as a court; have powers of warrantless searches and seizures; and do not have legal aid for poor people who are accused.

On the other hand, complainants — people who claim their feelings were hurt — usually have the case prosecuted for them by government-funded lawyers.

And there has never been a case of a frivolous hate speech complaint being rejected with a cost order against the complainer.

No wonder the laws attracted bullies, eager to use what was initially meant as a human rights “shield” instead as a political “sword” to skewer enemies who have “hurt” their “feelings.”

Astoundingly, more than half of all Section 13 prosecutions in the past decade were filed by one man, Richard Warman. He is not gay or black or Jewish; he’s a privileged white man, a lawyer, a government bureaucrat and a former employee of the Canadian Human Rights Commission.

He actually filed complaints to the CHRC while he worked there.

And he won, again and again, and was awarded tens of thousands of dollars from the people he complained against — though they were usually on trial for being rude to gays or blacks or Jews.

After 36 years, this un-Canadian star chamber is now finally shut down. But similar laws against hurt feelings still exist provincially in B.C., Alberta and Saskatchewan...
In several cases, Catholic clergy and other ministers have been defendantsMacleans magazine, something of a Canadian institution, was not exempt from being investigated and brought before a commission.

There are also the rising tide of consequences for failing to be politically correct when it comes to gay marriage.  Excerpts:
...We are all well aware that even if Parliament tells us that two men — or three or whatever daft thing they next try to enforce — can marry each other, this would have no validity whatever in the Catholic Church. We can’t and won’t attempt to “marry” two people of the same sex.

But the issues at stake do not essentially relate to this. They relate to things that are already happening: a teacher reprimanded for saying that true marriage can only be between a man and a woman; an office worker disciplined for giving his views on the subject in a private email.

We are seeing the enforcement of something horrible, something which, in fact, does not have the true backing of the law but is simply being accepted as standard practice: the crushing of opposition to same-sex “marriage” and the attempt to impose a standard view on the subject on everyone.

Essentially, the position is this: If I am a firefighter, a social worker, a teacher, a policeman, an office worker for a local authority — or if I hold any sort of public position, such as that of magistrate or borough councillor, I may face dismissal, serious penalties and massive public humiliation simply because I disagree publicly with the government’s policy in this area.

This has not been spelled out in law, but it is happening; and, over the next months and years, there will be endless legal cases relating to this as people struggle to assert a right to free speech that current practice denies them.

I can announce my opposition to the government’s policy on Afghanistan or Europe or the building of the new high-speed railway, and all this is — at present — recognized as freedom of speech.

But if I announce, for example in a letter to a local newspaper or on Twitter, that it is absurd and gravely wrong to impose on Britain the notion that two men can marry each other, then I may face serious penalties.

The Coalition for Marriage — an excellent campaigning organization fighting to defend true male/female marriage — has publicized some truly shocking cases where people have been disciplined for sharing an opinion supportive of marriage between a man and a woman...
Let's move from Canada to the United States, now, and examine a cause which has recently rallied the US Catholic Bishops as almost nothing else in a very long time: religious liberty.  Questions have been raised regarding the administration's party line on religious liberty--or rather, on freedom of worship. Excerpts:
...Knox Thames, director of the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom -- a Congress-controlled body tasked with monitoring religious freedom abroad - spoke at a recent briefing about the worry, reportedly saying he sees a change in lingo and that it's not an accident. Well-known religious freedom advocate and Georgetown University professor Thomas Farr reportedly agreed.

The whole subject of what the United States means by the term "religious freedom" may be up for a more full public debate soon, with the new administration and USCIRF scheduled to go out of business next year. Folks like Thames and Farr say limits on religious liberty are often indicators of human rights problems in countries generally, and that health of religious freedom correlates with economic growth. But some American advocates say the United States needs to clarify what it means by "religious freedom" in a post-9/11 world, and what are its priorities? A decade ago the term implied fighting limits on persecuted communities, often Christian, but today religion is discussed differently in foreign policy, with a special emphasis on violence by Muslim extremists.

Here is the full quote of Knox Thames, the USCIRF director. It's what he said at the Feb. 3 public staff briefing about the future of U.S. religious freedom policy sponsored by the House Foreign Affairs Committee Subcommittee on International Operations, Human Rights and Oversight:

"I have noticed a change in terminology by President Obama and Secretary Clinton over the past months. Starting during the President's trip to Asia, he referred to 'freedom of worship' on several occasions, but never once mentioned 'freedom of religion.' This trend has continued with Secretary Clinton. In her speech at Georgetown University and her more recent Internet freedom speech, both times she only referred to 'freedom of worship.'"

"Religious freedom is one of those unique rights that, to be fully enjoyed, other rights like association and speech must also be protected. Words matter, and so it's unclear whether this new phraseology represents a change in policy. Hopefully this language only reflects speech writers trying to create good prose and not a shift in policy, as it would mean a much narrower view of the right. It will be interesting to hear what language the President uses at the Prayer Breakfast, if he talks about religious freedom issues."...
There's plenty more where all this came from--Ayaan Hirsi Ali's remarkable life story; Theo Van Gogh's death; and more.


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