Maybe my readers can help

Maybe my readers can help May 24, 2012

A reader asks:

Is there a corollary to Godwin’s Law that covers the practice of immediately going to pedophile priests when losing any argument with a Catholic?

I know what she’s talking about. Somebody erupts in an illiterate rant about, say, how Catholics are stoopid and the Church believes in six day creationism. You try to correct this with facts. Response: “Oh yeah! Well Catholic priests are all child molesters!” This tiresome tendency of launching a nuke to avoid any sort of intelligent conversation is a staple among some anti-Catholics.

I got nothin’ in terms of a name. But it seems like there should be a name for this particular sleazy dodge, if only to defuse it as citation of Godwin’s Law serves to highlight the BS strategies of other Internet conversations. The Pedo Strategem? I dunno. If you have an idea, let me know.

Update: The heavy lifting has already been done courtesy Jay Anderson at Pro Ecclesia. It is called “Anderson’s Law”” and is formulated thusly:

“As a debate involving the Catholic Church (either a discussion about the Church specifically, or a discussion in which the Church is taking a position) grows longer, the probability of someone mentioning the sex scandal approaches one.”

Jay also has a corollary (which I suppose can be called “Anderson’s Corollary”):

“Once such reference to the Scandal is made, whoever mentioned the Scandal has automatically “lost” whatever debate was in progress.”

Both the Law and the Corollary presuppose, of course, that the Scandal is not actually germane to the subject at hand. So an argument with proceeds “Catholics stoopid for believing the Real Presence.” “Actually, there are solid biblical reasons for it.” “Oh yeah? Well your priests are all pedophiles!” fulfills both the Law and the Corollary. However, an argument which proceeds. “We Catholics are awesomely superior to you Protestants.” “Well, there is that little matter of your priests raping children while bishops covered it up that would tend to open that claim to question” fulfills neither the Law nor the Corollary.

Upperdate: Reader Victor Lam moves that the Law be changed to the Bernard Francis Law. I emphatically second that. The motion is moved and seconded. If Mr. Anderson agrees, I think it should henceforth be called the Bernard Francis Law or, alternatively, the Cardinal Law. What say you?

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