Permit me some wide-ranging musings, beginning with the relatively (in the cosmic scheme of salvation) small potatoes question of net neutrality.
Let’s be clear. Net neutrality is a good thing:
It is, in a word, what we’ve always had. The only people who opposed it were people bent on making your life and mine miserable for the sake of profit. So when the FCC, to almost everybody’s intense relief, did the right thing and upheld net neutrality what was the reaction of the rightwingosphere that perpetually declares “prudential judgment” as its rationale for dissenting from clear Church teaching on everything from war to torture to the death penalty?
Well, Sen. Ted Cruz made good on the dollarpalooza of money he received from telecom lobbyists by lying that net neutrality is “Obamacare for the Internet“.
Thing is: It’s just not. But that did not stop the rightwingosphere from dutifully stampeding itself into a full-on panic du jour on net neutrality, repeating the “Obamacare for the Internet” trope 87,700 times and once again coming down on the visible-from-space wrong side of an issue while terrifying the very people who are going to benefit from this obviously right decision. Suddenly, everybody in the rightwingosphere was fantasizing that the effect of this decision was not (as it is) to maintain the status quo, but that it somehow meant that the FCC was going to police our speech and throw us into one of Obama’s Nazi Muslim concentration camps. You know, the same FCC that had FOX News, Rush Limbaugh, and every talk radio host rounded up and gassed years ago.
Tom McDonald (who differs with me in that he is more concerned about how the FCC sausage was made than I am, but not in seeing that the sausage still tastes good and is quite edible) mentions the absurd hysteria in his piece about the decision:
Ars compiled this selection of replies from opponents, which is notably most for 1) wingnuttery, 2) lies, 3) idiocy.
Everything in this statement from US Rep. Marsha Blackburn (R-TN) is utter nonsense:
“Ironically, this order will likely do nothing to address the fairness issues raised by Democrats and Internet activists. Rather, under the guise of keeping the Internet ‘free and open’, they simply advocated for an approach that allows Big Brother to step into the shoes of service providers. The government will regulate rates, create its own fast lanes, control the placement of content, and raise fees and taxes. If you like your service plan, you will not be able to keep it. The age of ObamaNet is upon us and I hope the government proves better at running a network than a website, but logic would seem to dictate that I not hold my breath.”
In fact, of course, all this obviously good decision does is make sure that we will continue to enjoy the amazing power of the internet without companies like Comcast ruining life for everybody but themselves and the corrupt politicians they have in their pockets. Could there be a downside to it? Sure. There is a downside to almost every human act. Tom McDonald makes a reasonable case for why some people might have misgivings that I can respect. But the thing is, not many FCC critics make Tom’s reasonable case. Most make the hysterical lying demagogic case Tom rightly rejects.
More than that, I’m just not feeling the downside all that much which is why, with respect, I disagree with my honored Patheosi colleague Tom that there was something especially problematic with FCC procedure here. It seems to have been conducted like any other with one exception: there was vastly *more* input from the public than usual. And hurrah for that since, as far as human reason can ascertain, the downside of the FCC protection of net neutrality is so negligible that this easily qualifies as a good call and exactly what an informed public wanted. Meanwhile the downside to believing the documentably stupid lies of people like Cruz, Blackburn and the kooks, crooks, and liars Tom rightly ridicules would be disaster and nothing but disaster for the very suckers who are regurgitating their propaganda. And it is they, make not mistake, and not people like Tom whose voices completely dominate the rightwingosphere response to the FCC ruling.
Why do I mention this? What does it have to do with the Catholic faith?
This: Every time I hear a conservative Catholic argue to ignore the teaching of the Church, the appeal is made to “prudential judgment” as the rationale for doing so.
All that might be reasonable–if the demographic who perpetually appealed to their superior powers of prudential judgment over the teaching of the Church demonstrated the prudence God gave geese. But the reality is that this demographic demonstrates, in almost every matter apart from opposition to abortion, euthanasia, and gay “marriage”, an almost preternatural capacity for sheer obvious wrongness and an eagerness to listen to demagogues and not reasoned discourse. The same keen discernment that sees net neutrality as the prelude to tyranny
- lionized Cliven Bundy,
- promoted to a leadership position a SC GOP party leader (“prolife”, doncha knowing) who called for the summary execution of ebola victims during the ginned up pre-election panic last October,
- continues to defend the genius of the Iraq War,
- doggedly defended Maciel and Corapi,
- cheers for the torture and murder of innocents (by such marginal conservative nobodies as Dick Cheney and his Catholic court prophet Marc Theissen (seen here obscenely defending anal rape, beatings, suffocation, and freezing innocents to death)
- lionizes creatures like Ann “attack Christian doctors for trying help Ebola Victims instead of converting and milking ‘rich Hollywood liberals’ (read: ‘Jews’) for their money” Coulter
- cheers for Rush Limbaugh’s attacks on Bring Back our Girls, his soft-pedaling of sexual assault, and his empathetic “Liberalism killed Robin Williams” analyses
- panics along with Lindsey Graham’s perpetual hysteria and call for war to solve every problem (the same Graham who is so committed to American values and the Constitution that he said he would “literally use the military” to force Congress to approve more military spending. Graham later explained that “literally” actually meant “I’m just joking”).
- never loses faith in the prophetic powers of Bill “Wrong About Everything Always” Kristol
- strokes its chin in approval of New Testament scholar Bill “Let’s talk phone sex while saying Jesus was crucified because he interrupted the revenue stream to the Big Government Temple” O’Reilly
- erupts in beaucoup excuses for O’Reilly’s multiple documented fabulisms while complaining of how cruel it is that the Liberal News Media hold him and FOX to the same standard they hold themselves.
- applauding the humiliation of the poor
- cheers for defrauding workers of their wages (the sin nobody hears crying out to heaven for vengeance because of the din raised on behalf of bailing out Job Creators with our taxes)
- tells poor families that they must not use artificial contraception on pain of mortal sin while simultaneously rah-rahing for punishing those families by having their benefits capped for the crime of having “too many children” (thereby discrediting the Church’s perfectly true and widely ridiculed teaching as something even “faithful conservative Catholics” don’t believe)
- struggles to make sure that convicted stalkers have access to the technology of mass slaughter, while insanely and brutally accusing the parents of the dead children at Sandy Hook of being part of a conspiracy to make gun proponents look bad (no help needed there)
- offers bizarre conspiracy theories that Benedict is still semi-pope,
- says that girls should not be vaccinated with HPV vaccine in order to make sure they get cervical cancer as the God-ordained punishment for being tramps (I was told–by the director of an anti-euthanasia program no less–that it is better to make immoral women to “face the consequences of their sins” than to immunize against HPV. Strangely, this is not something recommended for punishing red-meat-eating males with heart disease or sugar-eating males with diabetes)
- lionizes a wife-beating grifter who ditched his first wife for a new squeeze while still president of a Christian college and championing “family values”
- defends herding whole populations into internment camps (and suggesting we need to revive that for Muslims and other undesirables)
- treats the reshuffling of the Vatican bureaucracy as equivalent to a sentence of death by ebola and treats Catholics who calmly trust the Spirit’s guidance of the Church as lying servants of Mammon, all while making clear that care for the sick and dying is a form of disgusting punishment fit only for losers like Mother Teresa and not for a figure in which one invests one’s own dreams of power.
- cheers for rolling coal
- applauds the cold blooded murder of civilians in a country with whom we are not at war
- has birtherism panics
- has fist bump panics
- has Harry Potter panics
- has Liberal Batman panics
- “Francis the Modernist Evolutionist” panics
- has FEMA concentration camp panics
- panics about such dangerous films as “The Lego Movie” and “The Muppet Movie“
- has fraudulent James O’Keefe panics
- has Saul Alinsky-the-Satan-worshipper panics
- has Lattegate panics
- and is stampeded into ginned up panics against desperate and persecuted Middle Eastern Christians with Ted Cruz standing on a mound top of thousands of their corpses in order to insult them as anti-semites and fundraise at the same time. Sen. Cruz, by the way, is hailed by his father as an “Anointed King” Who Will Bring The “End Time Transfer Of Wealth”.
It’s this sort of thing, piled up a hundredfold over the past decade, that has completely killed my ability to take seriously conservative claims to a prudential judgment superior to the guidance of the Church on the death penalty, particularly when, with now-trademark lack of judgment, that demographic appeals to Conservative Folk Hero Antonin Scalia as the trump card against the Magisterium–a man who says that executing the innocent is constitutional. Yesirree, if there’s one thing Roe v. Wade means, it’s that killing innocents is perfectly fine as long as it’s legal.
Jesus says: “He who is faithful in a very little is faithful also in much; and he who is dishonest in a very little is dishonest also in much. If then you have not been faithful in the unrighteous mammon, who will entrust to you the true riches? And if you have not been faithful in that which is another’s, who will give you that which is your own?” (Lk 16:10–12).
The Left is epically wrong on some very large issues and lies that it is appealing to “primacy of conscience” to rationalize those evil it approves. But the Right, flying the false banner of “prudential judgment” has perversely taken it upon itself to be massively and imprudently wrong on what sometimes seems like practically everything else. Meanwhile, the sanity of the Church calls to us saying:
We are the temple of the living God; as God said,
“I will live in them and move among them,
and I will be their God,
and they shall be my people.
Therefore come out from them,
and be separate from them, says the Lord,
and touch nothing unclean;
then I will welcome you,
And I will be a father to you,
and you shall be my sons and daughters,
says the Lord Almighty.”
Since we have these promises, beloved, let us cleanse ourselves from every defilement of body and spirit, and make holiness perfect in the fear of God. (2 Co 6:16–7:1)