Both Republicans and Democrats use Rape Victims, Not Help Them

When it comes to life issues, left-leaning politicians aren’t the only ones in politics who make mind-numbingly stupid remarks. While the Democratic party stands on the platform that killing an unborn child conceived in rape, and therefore punishing him or her for the sins of the father, somehow helps rape victims, Republicans have a long track record of trivializing rape victims and making anti-intellectual claims about how rape is physiologically different than consensual sex and therefore it is almost impossible for it to result in pregnancy. Most recently, Todd Akin, the Republican Senate nominee in Missouri, said, “First of all, from what I understand from doctors [pregnancy from rape] is really rare. If it’s a legitimate rape, the female body has ways to try to shut that whole thing down.”

Both parties are so off the mark in this debate that its not even funny. First, if abortion is murder then it is intrinsically wrong. Pregnancy from rape is not an exception: you’re still killing an innocent child. That does nothing to help the mother and it in no way achieves justice against the rapist. As for Republicans’ asinine claims: even if true it is completely irrelevant. Abortion exceptions for rape aren’t wrong because there are so few pregnancies resulting from rape: its wrong because it kills an innocent human being. The Democrat platform only serves to shift punishment from the guilty to the inconvenient but innocent. The Republican platform only serves to trivialize the unspeakable tragedy inflicted upon so many women. But, hey, that’s just politics as usual I suppose. Political solutions serve to further party agendas but they don’t actually “solve” anything.

When it comes to helping rape victims it is not Republicans or Democrats but the Catholic Church who offers the most reasonable course of action. Progressives may write off the Church as “backward” and “anti-scientific” but then progressives usually equate asinine statements made by people like Todd Akin to “dogmatic church doctrine.” In truth, they could not be more opposed.

The USCCB, whose role it is to establish policy for the practical application of church teaching in the United States, in “Ethical and Religious Directives for Catholic Health Care Services” Directive 36 provides the rubric for contraceptive use in an emergency room setting for rape victims:

“A female who has been raped should be able to defend herself against a potential conception from the sexual assault. If after appropriate testing, there is no evidence that conception has occurred already, she may be treated with medications that would prevent ovulation, sperm capacitation, or fertilization. It is not permissible, however, to initiate or to recommend treatments that have as their purpose or direct effect the removal, destruction, or interference with the implantation of a fertilized ovum”.

This includes contraceptives with a possible abortifacient effect as long as contraception and not abortion is its intent and moral certitude that ovulation has not occurred is established. Moral certitude does not necessitate a statistical probability of 100%, impossible to meet with current medical technology, but the highest degree of certainty possible with the tools available to us. Thus, if moral certitude can be established that the woman has not ovulated, thereby minimizing any risk involved that an already conceived child might be harmed, contraception may be administered in order to prevent conception resulting from rape and thus defending the women from further invasion by her attacker.

Catholic theology dictates that there are two realities involved in sex. There is the physical reality which is the anatomical/physiological mechanics of sexual intercourse that is pleasure, reproduction etc. and then there is the theological reality that sex is procreative and unitive. Note that the physical reality of reproduction (the mere promulgation of the species also existent in every animal on Earth) is distinct from the theological reality of procreation (where man and women cooperate with God to bring a new person into the world) and pleasure is distinct from unity. Contraception (as distinct from abortifacients) is wrong because it violates the theological realities of procreation and unity. However, rape is neither procreative nor unitive.

Neither the Democrat nor the Republican platforms have any foundation in science at all. Church teaching, however, does. While our politicians are guided by demagoguery and political expedience the Catholic Church decided to actually look at the reality of the situation and base its position on natural law: that is, on the scientific and philosophical reality of the world. It decided to actually look at how a woman’s body works and came up with a medically (and morally) sound solution. In the face of the same scientific facts our politicians have just plugged their ears and refuse to hear, victims be damned.

The mantra of politicians on the left has become “okay, okay, science proves that fetuses are human beings but they’re weak and defenseless so we can kill them anyway, especially in instances of rape.” While the mantra of those on the right has been “hey, I have absolutely no proof of this, but we can ignore rape victims because their bodies will magically sort things out for them.” And people accuse the Church of being anti-intellectual.


Liberty: a Prerequisite to Virtue

“Our constitution was made only for a moral and religious people. It is wholly inadequate to the government of any other.” – John Adams

Government is essential for the good health of any society – however, as John Adams indicates above, standing alone it is a wholly insufficient institution to the establishment of a free and prosperous community. When the government of a given society forgets this fact, encroaching beyond its natural function then liberty, and, consequently, virtue, is put in imminent danger. This is what differentiates good government from bad government.

So, what is the appropriate role of government? And when does a “good” government exceed or neglect these functions and thus become “bad”?

The role of government is to protect liberty and here is why:

Classical liberalism, better known as libertarianism today, considers the protection and promotion of individual liberty as the sum of good government and the route to a free and prosperous society – and the classical liberals are correct. However, many libertarians and their critics forget one crucial aspect: that liberty, while good in itself, serves largely as a means and not an end in and of itself. Liberty is the means to virtue – and it is virtue that we want to ultimately protect and promote within a society, but that only comes through the protection and promotion of liberty.

Often, we see government attempt to “promote” virtue within a society through the implementation of such benevolence programs as minimum wage laws, unemployment benefits, FEMA and more.  Instead, and in addition to doing a poor job at something free market could do better, these types of programs essentially rob people of the opportunity to be virtuous. Virtue only comes through the free volition of the individual. When a man or woman is coerced by their government to pay taxes to provide benefits to the unemployed or to pay a “just wage” to government union workers above market price then that man or woman is not practicing virtue in any form and is only lessened as an omnipotent government takes their money so that a faceless bureaucracy can hand it out to someone whom they have never even met. The economy of virtue is reduced to a zero sum game.

Thus, liberty (that is, the freedom to exercise free will and choose freely) is the bedrock upon which virtue must stand. Certainly, some people will choose not to share their good fortune in the absence of government coercion. However, this is the price of promoting a right and just society. If we are to enable people to freely choose to be good brothers and sisters to their fellow man then we must also allow them to make the free choice to not be their brother’s keeper.

Instead of lowering the entire citizenry to the level of the most vile scrooge government should serve to raise the bar for society, creating conditions favorable to practicing virtue. Entitlement programs do the opposite by inhibiting and de-incentivising virtue, not just for the recipient, but for the taxpayer as well by depriving him of opportunities to serve his fellow man freely.

Ultimately, virtue is a social experience requiring the cooperation of three distinct sources: the first is God, from whom stems the grace that makes human greatness possible, the next is government, whose role it is to promote and protect liberty, and, finally, is the person in question who, when given the graces that make virtue possible and the liberty that enables it , is responsible for the volition that produces the final product of virtue. Habitual virtue leads to the development of traits like courage, faith, mercy and others, and it is this personal growth that, when added to the actions of all the other members of the community contribute to the growth of society as a whole.

Many people have accused the study of economics as being an unjustly cold and calculating science. As if other sciences like chemistry or physics were not cold and calculating in their explanations of reality. However, the value of sciences, including economics, come from their contribution to society of how the world that we live in works. Thus, economics does not have to be cold and calculating when it informs social justice teaching because economics is a means to the end of social justice.

As Thomas Storck put it, “Economic activity is meant to serve the more important aspects of life, our spiritual, family, social, intellectual and cultural lives.”

Reducing government primarily to the role of protector of the governed and their liberty will surely leave a void but it would be a void that government was never meant to fill in the first place. Nature abhors a vacuum and the vacuum that would inevitably be created by the elimination of, for example, our current vast federal benevolence programs would be filled by private charities, religious organizations and, most notably, the Catholic Church – after all, aiding the less fortunate is Her rightful jurisdiction. One of the greatest steps that can be taken in favor of the economy of virtue is for government to stop marginalizing religious institutions and relinquish its ill-fortuned wards to the rightful heir: the Church.

A Chestertonian Reason for Hope

Mark Shea on the hopeful prospects that the US bishops now elicit:

The Roman Catholic Church in America has become what the Anglican Church once was in Britain: the Republican Party on its knees. – Vox Nova


Our bishops are the Democratic Party at Prayer. – Michael Voris


And I would simply note with regard to the bishops that they never supported health care reform to begin with. – Lying Obama Stooge Jay Carney


The bishops totally supported Obamacare and are the stooges of a Muslim president who was not born in America! – The sober and judicious Steve Kellmeyer


The increasingly polar lunacy of the people attacking our bishops gives me hope that our episcopal leadership has finally turned the corner from being the hapless bench of bishops who misgoverned the Church ten years ago. A lot of that crowd are gone now and the new guys seem to actually get it, judging from their gutsy response to the Tyrant in the White House. It is therefore only natural that as they start to get with the gospel and not with the institutional stupidity of their predecessors, extremists are going to behave toward them according to the anti-logic Chesterton describes: “If you hear a thing being accused of being too tall and too short, too red and too green, too bad in one way and too bad also in the opposite way, then you may be sure that it is very good.”

Gives me hope.

This is the flak the church gets for being nonpartisan and sticking to its own precepts in an uber-political nation like the United States. More like her please.

Restoring Marriage: Society’s Task

How we as a society define marriage is a controversial issue in today’s day and age. However, while whole movements exist defending one definition or another the problem is even more fundamental than that. Proponents of traditional marriage (between one man and one woman) for example assert that we must adhere to this definition as a society and by how the state approaches marriage in order to preserve and defend marriage. However, we should be asking ourselves: what are we “preserving” exactly? Divorce, infidelity, single-parent homes and domestic abuse all run rampant in America today. Is that what we’re trying so hard to defend? Will a constitutional amendment defining marriage as between a man and a woman change any of that? No, it will not.

Fellow Franciscan student Kevin LeRoy who is much smarter than I am addresses the crux of this issue on his blog, Psychenomics.

While defining our terms is important and necessary it is insufficient. We cannot “preserve” the integrity of marriage – our society has already compromised it. Instead, our goal should be to restore it. We must shed ourselves of the maxim of the sexual revolution that what happens in the bedroom stays in the bedroom. As social beings we all have a stake in the marriages of those around us. Furthermore, we must be the change in society we want to see. Only through a cultural paradigm shift can society regain a sense of sanctity and respect for marriage and, thus, for each other.

Simply stated, the laws follow society. Bitter legal battles aiming to coerce society into recognizing one definition of marriage or another accomplishes little. Americans will still seek no-fault divorce, cohabitate, contracept and otherwise behave in self-destructive ways that undermine their relationships. If we are to see more healthy marriages and whole, functioning families in the United States then society must choose it freely and that starts with individuals and communities standing up and taking action. The law can’t make people love each other.

Indefinite Detention Already Being Enforced

Republicans gave us the NDAA provision authorizing indefinite detention, including US citizens, without trial. However, the passage of NDAA was a bipartisan effort and it was our Democratic president who signed it into law, though he promised never to use his newly attained power to detain Americans indefinitely. Now, merely one month after the bill’s passage the provision is being enforced in order to justify the continued indefinite detention without trial and torture of a prisoner at Gauntanamo Bay.

Now, members of the same Republican party who gave us the NDAA in the first place want to repeal that provision.

I hope the provision is repealed. However, this should serve as a glaring example that, for all the talk of Left versus Right, our leaders have no problem engaging in bipartisanship when it comes to stripping the common man of his rights in order to augment their own power. It should be clear to anyone that our ruling class is now concerned only with representing themselves – not the constituencies that voted them into power in the first place. The good news is that the flow of power can only become so top-heavy before it will inevitably tumble, and when it does than perhaps our government may return to its original purpose of defending liberty, justice and virtue and not making fat men fatter.

Hate Politics. Love Democracy.

In a country where hypocrisy, political pandering and broken campaign promises are the norm of our political process, where each politician is under a constant barrage of lobbyists tempting them to betray their character and the common good of the country for thirty pieces of silver, how is the average-joe to respond? What is the every-day voter supposed to do? Over the years I’ve found my own response evolve into the simple motto: hate politics but love democracy.

Hate politics. This first part may be hard to swallow. After all, how can a guy who devotes so much time and effort writing about politics hate it? Furthermore, I find myself ever more eager to talk about it in public. I must love politics considering how I pursue the topic with such fervor. And as a matter of fact I do love politics – political theory that is. What I can’t stand is the political reality that stands as a constant obstacle to truth, and to real democracy in this country. Politicians, pundits, special-interest groups and, sadly, many average voters get sucked into the political vortex where they miss the forest for the trees. This is rampant on every side of the aisle, like Diane West of Big Peace who refuses to cooperate with muslims in defending the lives of millions of pre-born children because it would mean icky muslims coming in contact with our “respectability” and compromising the ethnic purity of America, or Feministe declaring laws like good conscience acts that allow health care professionals to opt-out of procedures they are morally opposed to, banning of sex-selective abortions, requirements that abortion providers post large signs that say it is unlawful to coerce a woman into having an abortion, and a law making it a crime for a woman to cause her own miscarriage are all “deeply depressing”. Then there’s also Arizona’s ban on teaching units in schools where “race, ethnicity and oppression are central themes” including Shakespeare’s The Tempest. These examples are just a drop in in the ocean of political vitriol that plagues our country at every turn. So, the reason that I hate the practice of politics in its current state is that it has no interest in the common good – instead, I see it more akin to a bunch of angry people trapped in a room all yelling their own self-interests and the loudest one wins; who wants that?

Love democracy. Instead, what I do love, and what inspires me to engage in politics at all, are the quixotic theories of democracy, subsidiarity, a free market, and the plucky tenets of Catholicism which are so audacious as to suggest that human life has intrinsic, infinite worth and all the ramifications that that has on the world. I love it because none of it is calculated, its not meant to mislead voters in order to win an election. All the theory is just so impractical. This is in stark contrast with the political machine at work here in America. Even Gingrich’s promise of a moon colony reeks of practicality. After all, its no coincident that the promise of colonizing the moon came on the verge of the Florida primary; its just another calculated ploy by a politician to win votes. G.K. Chesterton had the following to say concerning these calculating, practical men:

“There has arisen in our time a most singular fancy: the fancy that when things go very wrong we need a practical man. It would be far truer to say, that when things go very wrong we need an unpractical man. Certainly, at least, we need a theorist. A practical man means a man accustomed to mere daily practice, to the way things commonly work. When things will not work, you must have the thinker, the man who has some doctrine about why they work at all. It is wrong to fiddle while Rome is burning; but it is quite right to study the theory of hydraulics while Rome is burning.” – G.K. Chesterton, What’s Wrong with the World.

Indeed, we need men and women who do the impractical, who question the system and ask questions like: why confine ourselves to the ideology of the War on Terror, or the Federal Reserve, or entitlement programs, or the income tax? Why do we build our boxes at the expense of innovation? When doing the same thing has resulted in colossal debt, millions unemployed, unjust wars abroad, and 52 million of pre-born children killed here at home listening to the same practical men say the same practical things again and again is maddening. This is exactly why Ron Paul appeals to so many. Here’s a man who accepts only individual donations, gives unused office funds including much of his salary back the US Treasury every year, opted-out of the Congress pension plan, doesn’t even talk to lobbyists, and endorses such radical initiatives as bringing all troops abroad home, cutting 1 trillion from the federal budget year one, ending the War on Drugs, and returning life-issues to the jurisdiction of the states. Regardless of whether Ron Paul’s particular stances are correct I think we need more leaders of uncompromising character who aren’t afraid to question politics as usual – and that goal starts with us and our vote.