I may be stupid…

I may be stupid… January 30, 2012

…but at least I’m dense.

So last week I ran a piece that hurt a number of my readers (the one about the CBS reporter who was raped, ridiculing the arguments of torture defenders whose excuses for torture also work out to be excuses for rape). A number of women who had endured abuse themselves wrote to complain and I wrote back, attempting to explain why I wrote it. Some people favored the piece, others strongly objected. A nagging voice in the back of my mind told me there was something in the complaints I should heed, but since I am given to scruples anyway, I was also unsure as to whether I should take the piece down or not.

I kept mulling it over, largely focusing on the logic and arguments and not really thinking beyond that. Then something occurred to me.

Would I have written it had my own wife been a survivor of rape? If the discussion has opened old wounds for her, would I have said it? The answer was a very clear, “No.” Nothing was worth making her cry or hurt. Even landing a good punch on real defenders of real evil. In fact, to do so was to fail to see her humanity, which is what defenders of torture do to their victims.

So, I have taken both the initial post and the defense of it down and I will let this stand as my mea culpa to any and all readers offended by what I wrote and I will be getting myself to confession presently.

I am sorry. Please forgive me.

"I just have to say that what you wrote sounds creepy."

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  • Joseph

    Yeah… you took it way too far, dude.

    • SDG

      Since Mark has come to this conclusion himself, and has apologized and asked forgiveness, is this an appropriate, helpful or charitable response?

      FWIW, I’m not sure I agree myself that the initial post was inherently problematic, but given the vehemence of the negative reaction and the painfulness of the issue, I think it makes sense to prefer to err on the side of sensitivity. So, good on you, Mark.

      • Mark, I don’t think there was anything WRONG with it, but it would have been better if you had made the point theoretically rather than posting a real life example. Still, it could have hurt someone, and I think you did the right thing in taking it down.

      • Joseph

        @SDG: If Mark is contrite, he won’t have a problem with it. He’ll probably agree with it, over and over again. He crossed the line, he knows it, but that doesn’t mean that he can never ever be reminded of it again. It will help him avoid making the same mistake in the future. It was very bad, as Mark admitted. You aren’t a woman who was raped so you obviously wouldn’t know. But, if you read what Mark said, when he viewed his comments in light of his beloved wife, he realized just how horrid were his previous comparisons. The harm was unintentional, but it did occur.

        • Andy, Bad Person

          How is it helpful to pile on?

          • Linebyline

            Not only isn’t it helpful, but it’s actually counterproductive. First of all, Mark already not only said he was sorry, but censored himself. What more is he supposed to do? Post an apology every day? At some point, the matter needs to be let drop.

            Second, when a criticism is repeated over and over, it becomes far too easy to tune out. Beating Mark over the head with how badly he screwed up (granting for the sake of argument that it was a bad screwup) will make it very easy for him–whether he means to or not–to tune out the criticism even when it’s legitimate.

            Ranting and raving and harping and nagging may feel good, but they don’t help. That’s concupiscence for you.

  • Pat

    You said that you were, “largely focusing on the logic and arguments and not really thinking beyond that.” Then, you followed with, “If the discussion has opened old wounds for her, would I have said it?” referring to your wife. Thanks for your openness in looking at it this way. This is one thing I’ve always admired about Popes JPII and B16 (and other holy men and women as well). Their ability to convey certain Truths with logical arguments and with no compromise at all,yet do it with humility and love.

  • Folks, given that Mark is one of the few people in blogland that when convinced he is/was wrong he posts public apologies I think it’s time to move on. The piling on doesn’t help any.

    Ultimately please remember we are his guests on his blog. If you got a problem please comment but try to behave.

  • Thomas R

    Good for you, too many people online kind-of never will admit a mistake for fear of looking “weak” or something.

  • Consistency

    Thanks brother. Charitable stuff.

  • freddy

    God bless you, Mark!
    Your example of combining “Catholic” with “gentleman” is a powerful force for good.

  • As Colin Gormley noted above, almost nobody admits when they are wrong on the Internet. Mark is to be commended.


    I’d like to point out that this might come from the same place that all the name-calling (rubber hose right, stupid-evil party, evil-stupid party, liars for Jesus, etc. etc.)

    Even when you are right, saying things without charity makes it wrong and you may not always be right.

  • I have this book given to me by an Evangelical Protestant. It’s a series of dream revelations, sounds awful, right? It’s called The Final Quest and it’s a terrific book. Your post reminded me of two things in it:

    “We will fight for truths more than for the people for whom they are given. … You can only do His work when you are doing it with Him, not just for Him.”

    Yer a good guy, Mark.

  • Evelyn

    Good on you, Mark. Using your wife’s perception as a criterion is an excellent idea.

  • Chad Myers

    Mark, it was prudent to take it down. Thank you for your publicly humiliating apology in this matter. I know it was difficult and no one likes to eat humble pie, so it is refreshing to see when someone does it and does so publicly.

    The larger point you were trying to make still stands, though. Perhaps you can try another post that uses another, less hurtful, analogy to illustrate the same point (e.g. that there is no such thing as “good” torture).


    • Roberto

      Humbling oneself is not humiliating, but uplifting. We should all do that more often.

  • Jeff Stevens

    One of the things I admire about you, Mark, is that you’re willing to admit when you make a mistake and most impressively, to ask forgiveness.

    I forgive you. Thank you for your humility. It is an example to us all.

  • Confederate Papist

    Didn’t see the original post….but the fact that you took it down and apologised is indicative of your wonderful character.

    Blessings to you!

  • KJ

    Thank you Mark.

  • Roberto

    Great example, Mark! Thank you. I will keep your approach in mind in the future.

  • quasimodo

    ditto to what Jordan Henderson said

  • Rachel K

    Thank you, Mark, both for taking it down and for the apology. It takes generosity of spirit to admit that you’re wrong.

  • Matt Talbot

    Classy, Mark. Kudos.

  • Thanks, Mark. You got it.

  • Babs

    Good lesson for us all in this. Thank you.

  • Elizabeth Louise

    Mark, thanks very much for this post. I appreciate it and that you were willing to reconsider your original post. God Bless.

  • Nick R

    Your ability to publicly admit a mistake and apologize is commendable.

  • Esther

    Thanks for having the decency to admit to your mistake.