Mirror of Justice

A blog dedicated to the development of Catholic legal theory.
Affiliated with the Program on Church, State & Society at Notre Dame Law School.

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Yuk? Oy vey.

Well, well now.  What are we to make of that rather aggressive Christmas Eve greeting from Michael P.?

I appreciate Brother Michael's describing me as decent and admirable, but I would forfeit whatever claim I might have to either of those qualities if I were to let his post go unrebuked.

Liberal Catholics frequently lecture us "Rambo Catholics" about the need for respectful discourse, the importance of engaging "the other" with civility and openness to competing arguments and points of view, etc., etc.  Indeed, Brother Michael himself pleads with us to have "open, truly open minds."  Yet like so many liberal Catholics Michael seems to have trouble imagining that people could have "open, truly open" minds yet actually dissent from liberal ideology on matters of sexual morality.  Michael's post caricatures and ridicules those who don't share his views.  Evidently he regards us as unsophisticated schlubs whose idea of a moral argument is to exclaim "Yuk!"  In that most predictable of liberal tropes, he insinuates that we are like racists -- "Black bonding sexually with white?  Yuk!"  Gentle Michael is understanding of our schlubbiness, though, and even offers an exculpatory diagnosis. After calling for moral theology to take on board the "yield of modern and contemporary experience," he says:  "Think, here, human sexuality. I fully understand that for many of us [that would be us poor unsophisticated schlubs--RG] this is hard to do---for some of us impossibly hard:  those whose socialization and psychology have bequeathed to them a profound aversion---I am inclined to say, an aesthetic aversion (though, of course, they do not experience it that way)---to unfamiliar modes of human sexuality."

Well, there you have it. How can it be that there are people who disagree with sophisticated, open-minded, liberal people like Michael?  Don't worry, it can be explained.  They are victims of forms of "socialization" and "psychology" that have bequeathed to them an "aversion" to "unfamiliar modes of human sexuality."

This is as absurd as it is offensive, so I'm not sure whether to laugh or protest.  I have never been in doubt about the insincerity and hypocrisy of many (certainly not all) who preach about "civil engagement," "respect for the views of others," "openness to argument," and so forth.  I have suspected that in their heart of hearts they don't believe a word of it.  Usually, though, they at least keep up the pretence.  They don't plead for the virtue of open-mindedness, for example, while publicy manifesting the vice that is its opposite.

In the course of his remarks, Michael mentions my mentors, John Finnis and Germain Grisez, together with two liberal scholars he admires, Cathleen Kaveny and Jean Porter.  Michael claims that the liberals are the ones more faithful to the great tradition that runs from Aristotle through Aquinas.  This strikes me as preposterous, but MoJ readers needn't rely on my judgment of the matter or Michael's.  Readers can (and I hope they will) have a look at some work by Finnis and Grisez and some work by Kaveny and Porter and judge for themselves which writers are superior to the others in analytical rigor, logical precision, interpretative soundness, and depth of insight.

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