“You Shouldn’t Say That…” as a gift, not an attack

(cc  ClintJCL)

I'm at The American Conservative today, talking about the legitimacy of campaigns for civility and condemnations (not de jure censorship) of extreme and/or offensive speech:The Case for Civility Campaigns After Charlie Hebdo Arguing that campaigns for civility, against catcalling, against graphic sexual content in the public sphere, against “microaggressions,” differ only in degree, not in kind, from the Charlie Hebdo murders requires casting every cultural war as an exercise in annihilati … [Read more...]

Trapped by Torture in Enmity with the World

hand door

Reading over more details about the Torture Report, I was reminded of a passage I'd just read in Achilles in Vietnam: Combat Trauma and the Undoing of Character, in which Jonathan Shay tries to put his finger on just what it is that makes torture an abomination, rather than ordinary roughness or ill use: American soldiers literally felt tortured by their Vietnamese enemy. Prolonged patrolling in Vietnam led to a decomposition of the normal, the familiar, the safe.  Every familiar item of the p … [Read more...]

Torture Report Details Wounds to Prisoners and Guards


The torture report (well, the unclassified executive summary) came out today, and the news is grim and gruesome.  The Daily Beast has aggregated some initial lowlights: In Nov. 2002, a detainee who had been held partially nude and chained to the floor died, apparently from hypothermia. This case appears similar to the that of Gul Rahman, who died of similarly explained causes at a Afghan site known as the "Salt Pit," also in Nov. 2002. The site was also called ‘The Dark Prison’ by former captive … [Read more...]

Endless War without a Proving Peace

Still from Restless Heart, the Augustine biopic

My parish here in DC is very lucky because, now that the summer's over, we get to have Adult Sunday School after the 9am Mass with two of the Dominican friars from the House of Studies.  The new semester started this past Sunday, and the first topic was just war theory.  The Dominican who presented melded encyclicals, excerpts from the Catechism, Ecclesiastes, as well as the writings of Aquinas and Augustine.  He cited this passage from chapter 12 of my patron saint's City of God: Whoever gives … [Read more...]

“Love Unconcerned with Being Returned”


So far, when I've used Jen Fulwiler's Saint Generator to pick a saint to learn about and from for the month, I've mostly pulled saints I hadn't heard of before, from times and places that are very far from me.  Today, when I visited her randomizer, it spun up a saint I already love very much: Saint Maximilian Kolbe.I think the first time I heard of him was in RCIA (people in the class were supposed to pick out and present lives of various saints at each class), and I had the same kind of … [Read more...]

For Now We Kill As Through A Glass, Darkly


Meanwhile. over at AmCon, I have a piece on the botched execution in Ohio, where the error not have been inflicting pain, but in failing to hide that suffering from the spectators.  Here's a teaser: There’s no mystery as to why Ohio found itself running low on the traditional three-drug lethal injections. Many of the components of the cocktail are manufactured outside the United States and several international companies have refused to allow their drugs to be shipped to the United States if the … [Read more...]

Now we shoot through a screen, darkly

b17-flying-fortress (1)

Via Mark Shea, Time has a lovely story about a German pilot who couldn't find it in his heart to shoot down a crippled American bomber during World War II. As Stigler's fighter rose to meet the bomber, he decided to attack it from behind. He climbed behind the sputtering bomber, squinted into his gun sight and placed his hand on the trigger. He was about to fire when he hesitated. Stigler was baffled. No one in the bomber fired at him.He looked closer at the tail gunner. He was still, his … [Read more...]