Squeamish Ilk

Lies and Live Action.

Thomas Peters of the American Papist and now Catholic Vote has been furiously blogging about the Live Action sting on Planned Parenthood. The actions of Live Action have single-handedly changed the political landscape in America.

Some have cast doubt on the actions of Live Action and taken the view that this was nothing but lying.

So, I know I’m a bit late to the party, and everyone wants to know if Rob Bell is a universalist, but just because America’s political pulse has a short attention span doesn’t mean I have to. So, let’s look at Live Action and see what we can tease out.

I suppose the best thing to do might be to turn to the handy-dandy Catechism and see what we might find.

#2484 points out that “the gravity of a lie is measured against the nature of the truth it deforms, the circumstances, the intentions of the one who lies, and the harm suffered by its victims.” This means that at worst, Lila committed a venial sin. Which truth was being deformed? I’d say it was the truth of what goes on at planned Parenthood. The circumstances were a sting operation. A friend of my girlfriend writes at Barefoot and Pregnant and thinks we should see the actions of Lila Rose as an act of war. Read her post here.

What harm was suffered? Realistically, Planned Parenthood was voted to be defunded, and women seeking free or extremely low cost healthcare for specifically feminine problems might have to turn to insurance and other healthcare means. However, the victims were the perpetrators of murder in this case.

Canon #2483. defines lying as “the most direct offense against the truth in order to lead someone into error.” That is all true, but in terms of the entire situation, Lile Rose was working to bring planned parenthood OUT of error as my buddy Dan Lord posted on his blog.

I don’t understand all the squeamishness over an organization setting up a sting operation on another organization. Don’t people read about Rahab anymore? Don’t people know about Tamar? How these biblical women lied and it worked out for a greater good. Rahab said she had no spies in her home, and hid the Israelites. Tamar lied so that she could have a child by her father-in-law, because he had denied her one of his sons.

Dietrich Bonhoeffer says “God’s truth judges created things out of love, and Satan’s truth judges them out of envy and hatred.” Are we really here to pass judgment on Live Action? If so, let’s do it intelligently. At worst, Lila Rose is guilty of a practical joke. She’s misleading, but not with the intent of trying to harm the individuals she is lying to.

We see worse on television everyday in terms of lying, deceit and misleading conversation. Maybe the squeamishness of our culture shows us an altogether different reality than what I first thought. Maybe this uproar shows us that we hate when practical jokes, and the actions of a few individuals reshape our politics. We dislike when politics and pop-culture collide. We dislike when organizations we’re led to believe are here to help are shown to be what they really are. And thus, we are a culture of self-blinding children.

What we have to ask ourselves is: What kind of world do we desire to live in? Do we wish to live in a world where Planned Parenthood workers are better “trained” to more covertly handle prostitution rings? Do we want a world where our children are experts at turning a blind-eye to structural and systemic problems in organizations in their society? “The ultimate test of a moral society is the kind of world that it leaves to its children,” says Bonhoeffer.

I think that with the de-funding of planned parenthood we can begin to build a better society, with an organization that can provide some of the same services, without the inhumanity, without the massive bankroll of abortions, without negative consequences that were part of the Planned Parenthood portfolio. We can leave a better world to our children, especially now that there will be more of them out there.

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About Eli

Brazilian.Catholic.Lover.Photographer.Adventurer.Theologian.

4 responses to “Squeamish Ilk”

  1. Mike says :

    Hi Eli,

    Just some comments on what you’ve said. I am probably less familiar with the situation than you are, but I had some questions about some of the statements you’ve made.

    I guess most generally I am a little confused by what your overall point is. You seem to swing between simply commenting on how the issue has been received:

    “If so, let’s do it intelligently”
    “Maybe the squeamishness of our culture shows us an altogether different reality than what I first thought.”

    And taking an actual stand on the issue:

    “I don’t understand all the squeamishness over an organization setting up a sting operation on another organization.”
    “I think that with the de-funding of planned parenthood we can begin to build a better society”

    I think it’s important to keep these two lines of commentary separate. Otherwise, it seems like you’re trying to backdoor the argument that we should support Live Action into an unrelated argument – that the way people have received the issue reveals a deeper truth about our culture.

    Lets look at a specific example of where this becomes problematic. You admit that what Live Action did was sinful:

    “This means that at worst, Lila committed a venial sin.”

    You also conclude that the defunding of Planned Parenthood is good:

    “I think that with the de-funding of planned parenthood we can begin to build a better society”

    Are you trying to imply that, because the defunding of Planned Parenthood is good, then the sins of Live Action are justifiable? If so, I need you to explain how this argument isn’t consequentialist (this sin is ok because it accomplishes good), which has been argued against in Veritatis Splendor. If that’s not what you’re saying, then why are you confused that people are angry at what you have admitted is a sin?

    Secondly, I think i’m confused by you’re wording here:

    “women seeking free or extremely low cost healthcare for specifically feminine problems might have to turn to insurance and other healthcare means. However, the victims were the perpetrators of murder in this case.”

    You identify two groups of victims: the organization Planned Parenthood, and the women who use it’s services, including those who use it for services unrelated to abortion. However, in the last sentence you seem to leave out the second group of victims and focus only on the first, which unintentionally carries the implication that the second group of victims is equivalent to the first group.

    Finally, i’d like to comment on the section that begin’s with this:

    “We see worse on television everyday in terms of lying, deceit and misleading conversation.”

    This is another part where conflating the two lines of argument becomes problematic. Are you saying that because much worse lies have been told we can accept a lie that isn’t quite as brash? How is that not settling for a lesser evil? To me, it seems like the correct response is to confront those worse conversations we see on television, rather than use them as something to point to to justify more tolerable deceit.

    I’m sorry and please let me know if i’ve mistaken some of what you were trying to say. The problem I see is that you have interwoven two ideas. First, that people have reacted very harshly to a sin that you see as relatively venial, and secondly that the defunding of Planned Parenthood is good. Since these two arguments are not quite clearly separated, as I was reading it sounds like your trying to make the implications I stated above.

    Peace,
    Michael

    • Eli says :

      As happens with all my hammered out posts, I was a bit inconsistent in my thought stream. I’ll just do better to revise from now on. I was getting ready for work while writing this, thus the brevity, terseness, and inconsistency.

      But let’s address your comment:
      My overall point was an attempted defense of Live Action on the grounds that it was a positive thing. As someone who dislikes abortion I am glad this happened. However, as someone who sees the need for some prenatal services that PP provided, I see how some might be upset and myself feel that there is an opportunity to provide more healthcare and reduce the abortion rate through this defunding.

      As far as sinfulness goes, I think Live Action is justifiable under just-war theory. I know that seems odd, and it’s a long story, but I will explain presently, in the morning.

      The wording in that spot was a bit tight, and inconsistent. I’ll edit in the morning.

      I will clear all this up presently, I just wanted you to know I see your comment and have replied!

      • Mike says :

        Eli,

        It`s no problem, I probably read more into the post than you were trying to say (if that makes sense). And thanks for clearing up your position, I understand it more now.

        I am also very interested in hearing your justification with just war theory, so I have something to look forward to!

        Peace,
        Michael

        • Eli says :

          Well, the link to the barefoot and pregnant blog really put it best. I think I’ll let her speak for herself, suffice it to say, an ambush is considered an act of just-war if the war is already under way and is not a pre-emptive strike.

          I’d offer more, but really you should check out Calah’s post, it’s extremely well written. See the link in the post for the barefoot and pregnant blog.

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