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Compare September 24, 2008

Sarah Palin: “Al Qaeda terrorists still plot to inflict catastrophic harm on America — [Obama’s] worried that someone won’t read them their rights?”

United States Conference of Catholic Bishops: “No human being should be treated as lacking human rights, and we have no business dividing humanity into those who are valuable enough to warrant protection and those who are not. Even this is not solely a Catholic teaching, but a principle of natural law accessible to all people of good will.” [source]

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  • Yeah that line was bad.

  • Apparently the “principle of natural law accessible to all people of good will” was not accessible to Sarah Palin.

  • Jimmy Mac

    Silly bishops. Don’t they realize that worrying about this will interfere with their fixation on matters sexual, particularly abortion? What IS this church coming to? If they keep this up we may have to deny them communion.

  • That Palin line jumped out at me. Of course, this was all code for continuing with the policy of illegally detaining prisoners indefinitely, denying them their rights, and even subjecting them to torture. Palin cannot be considered “pro-life”.

  • “Natural law” has to be one of the biggest hoaxes around. As if one could just enter http://www.naturallaw.org and find the answers to everything. By pure coincidence, said natural law corresponds to Catholicism in every instance ! Why, certainly one has to be impressed.

    Not to mention that according to the Catholic definition anything but “Some tea, sir ? If you’ve got a minute, would you be so kind as to tell us what naughty things you have been up to? ” is pretty much torture. Pressure, threats, heck lack of sleep -. Any interrogation technique that doesn’t coddle would be a no-no. This is of course a rather new Catholic development. When in power, serious torture – we’re not talking waterboarding – did come quite easily to God’s ground crew.

  • Katerina

    That line was lame. That was the beginning of the end for my hope in Sarah Palin. I still have some hope in other younger Republicans overhauling their party and getting away from the Bush/Cheney/Rove tactics.

  • J

    Sorry, there’s no contradiction between Palin’s statement and what the bishops said, unless, I suppose, one believes that terrorists have an inalienable natural right to being Mirandaised and tried as criminals. Just because terrorists have inalienable human rights, it doesn’t follow that a nation is obligated to prosecute them in a criminal court.

  • Policraticus

    “Natural law” has to be one of the biggest hoaxes around. As if one could just enter http://www.naturallaw.org and find the answers to everything.

    Except that natural law is unthematic and that it is the basis of constructing many contemporary contractarian and evolutionary accounts of ethics that reject any sense of divine law. You’d have a point if natural law were ever said to be thematic (i.e., explicit).

  • Although, if you get really nitpicky, her statement doesn’t deny that terrorists have human rights.

  • Riiiiight, Zach. I’m sure she actually meant to affirm that terrorists HAVE human rights by her statement! 😉

  • Well no but one way to read the statement is as a rejection of legalism.

  • You did hear the crowd response after that comment, didn’t you Zach?

    But you know, whatever helps you to sleep better at night….

  • S.B.

    So the Church has said that “human rights” = Miranda? That’s the key question if you hope to avoid some sort of fallacy of equivocation. (And the notion that Palin was talking about “torture” here is desperately partisan.)

  • S.B. – The “key question” is not the key question. Palin’s comment was clearly meant to mock concern for how terrorists and terrorist suspects are treated, to mock the idea that their rights should be respected.

  • S.B.

    Yes, it’s the key question. If Palin says, “I don’t think foreign combatants need to be read Miranda rights under a particular 20th century Supreme Court decision from the United States,” and someone else says, “But we’re all supposed to have natural rights,” the only way that’s NOT a fallacy is if “natural rights” demand Miranda warnings. Is that the case?

  • If Palin says, “I don’t think foreign combatants need to be read Miranda rights under a particular 20th century Supreme Court decision from the United States,”…

    But Palin did NOT say that, S.B.

  • S.B.

    She said “read them their rights,” which is the same thing. Stop quibbling and make an argument.

  • Policraticus

    Yeah, she’s talking about far more than Miranda rights here. Connotation and context actually can work together. Count on S.B. to tailor the data to suit his view and then try to accuse you of not making an argument. Classic courtroom stuff that doesn’t stand up against real logic (get ready for his dazzling response to me!).

  • Yeah, I too would like to see precisely what the bishops mean by human rights, just because it has so many uses and scopes. I don’t know if Miranda would fall under human law or natural law; I would guess human but it’s only a guess.

    That said, I don’t know if I quite buy Palin meaning only Miranda rights.

  • blackadderiv

    Yeah, she’s talking about far more than Miranda rights here. Connotation and context actually can work together.

    Presumably part of the context here would be McCain’s own views on the matter. McCain opposes torture and wants to shut down Guantanamo.

  • S.B.

    Blackadder — you’re assuming that the other discussants here are even trying to be reasonable, rather than just grasping for a reason to demonize Republicans.

  • “McCain opposes torture”

    Oh really? So why did he vote against the attempt to prevent the CIA from torturing people?

  • The opinion of the USCCB is not Magesterial teaching.

  • blackadderiv

    Oh really? So why did he vote against the attempt to prevent the CIA from torturing people?

    He didn’t. He was, in fact, the leader in the Senate of the fight to prohibit the use of torture and cruel, inhuman, and degrading treatment in interrogations, so much so that the provision ultimately adopted that prohibits such interrogation techniques is colloquially known as the “McCain Amendment.”

  • The opinion of the USCCB is not Magesterial teaching.

    It most certainly is. And what exactly do you have an issue with in the USCCB quote above?? What – do some human beings not have human rights??

    And Tony, that’s funny, because the quote I cited is from the USCCB statement against Pelosi and Biden’s public comments misstating the Church’s teaching on abortion. The quote, though, happened to provide a nice contrast to the demonic views of Governor Palin.

    Surely, you respect the “opinion” of the USCCB in that case, then, knowing the context?

    Oops!

  • Is every statement from the USCCB Magisterial teaching? Strictly speaking, I think the answer is no. The USCCB issues Magisterial teaching insofar as it is in communion with the Bishop of Rome. This relationship, at least to me, is less than clear. Anyone know of any good books on the Church’s teaching authority?

  • S.B.

    Oh really? So why did he vote against the attempt to prevent the CIA from torturing people?

    That is a complete misrepresentation. We’ve gone through all this before, and you could never refute the basic point that: 1) McCain believed (and correctly) that CIA torture was ALREADY illegal, and 2) making the CIA obey the Army Field Manual would ban lots of things that are NOT torture. It is dishonest to claim that he voted for torture.

  • JB

    Zach,

    No every statement from the USCCB is not Magisterial teaching, but neither is every statement from the Pope. Nevertheless, this statement is Magisterial, because it echoes the consistent teaching of the Church on the dignity of the human person.

    Additionally, consistently asking “what is the authority or weight or this or that teaching” is a somewhat individualistic and American (not Catholic-communio) manner of approaching and perceiving the teaching of our shepherds.

    We should, as a general rule, submit to their wisdom, love, prayer, and guidance, and lived out in their teaching authority.

  • S.B.

    Amendment: It is dishonest to claim that he voted for torture, without at least making it clear that this is nothing more than your personal interpretation and that McCain definitely didn’t intend to do any such thing.

  • JB,

    I agree with you about the statement and second your general rule about humble submission to the Church’s teaching authority.

    But I think the weight and authority of the different teachings matters quite a bit, especially since it is the great tendency of our culture to tend towards leveling everything. I’d argue the actual American influence on Catholicism is egalitarian and democratic and in that sense very un-Catholic, so asking what the weight and authority of a particular teaching is a very Catholic thing to do.

  • Nevertheless, this statement is Magisterial, because it echoes the consistent teaching of the Church on the dignity of the human person.

    Yes.

    Additionally, consistently asking “what is the authority or weight or this or that teaching” is a somewhat individualistic and American (not Catholic-communio) manner of approaching and perceiving the teaching of our shepherds.

    I’m not sure asking those questions is a uniquely american phenomenon. Theologians all over the world have asked that question throughout the history of the Church. Asking the question with the sole purpose of dodging teachings that challenge one’s political commitments (as Tony seems to do) might be more uniquely american.

    Imagine, a Catholic arguing against the Church’s proclamation on the dignity of every human life. You saw it here, folks, in the name of protecting one’s preferred political candidate from critique. I know of no Obama-supporting Catholics at Vox Nova who, when faced with a criticism of Obama regarding abortion, would dare to say that the Church’s teaching on the dignity of every human life is not authoritative.

    Zach – Two good books on the Church’s teaching authority:
    Sullivan, Magisterium
    Gaillardetz, By What Authority?

  • Horsecrap.

    McCain was not voting for some vague principle of keeping CIA and Army Field Manual techniques distinct. He knew exactaly what techniques were on the table, and he refused to support the ban. He justified it by appealing directly to waterboarding, and noted that it was already off the table as far as the CIA techniques were concerned. What patent sophistry. For a start, there are other torure techniqes on that list aside from waterbaording. And second, the ban on waterboarding amounts to no more than a vague promise, that can be channged by executive order at any time. True, McCain showed early leadership in opposing torture. But he shamefully caved on the issue.

  • “McCain didn’t intend to do any such thing”

    Ah, we are getting into Anscombe territory here, by the abuse of that word “intention”. Here she is:

    “From the seventeenth century till now what may be called the Cartesian psychology has dominated the thought of philosophers and theologians. According to this psychology, an intention was an interior act of the mind which could be produced at will. Now if intention is all important – as it is – in determining the goodness or badness of an action, then, on this theory of what intention is, a marvellous way offered itself of making any action lawful. You only had to ‘direct your intention’ in a suitable way. In practice this means making a little speech to yourself: “What I mean to be doing is…”

    A perfect summary of McCain’s position on the torture vote.

  • S.B.

    He knew exactaly what techniques were on the table, and he refused to support the ban.

    That’s another misrepresentation: As McCain said (you can’t refute him, nor have you even tried), the Army Field Manual would have banned much more than anything that could even arguably be called “torture.”

    He justified it by appealing directly to waterboarding, and noted that it was already off the table as far as the CIA techniques were concerned. What patent sophistry. For a start, there are other torure techniqes on that list aside from waterbaording. And second, the ban on waterboarding amounts to no more than a vague promise, that can be channged by executive order at any time.

    Not true: McCain said that CIA torture was illegal under the Detainee Treatment Act, which is an act of Congress. And as Blackadder already correctly noted — and as you cannot refute — McCain was primarily responsible for the fact that the Detainee Treatment Act was written so as to ban CIA torture. Not just torture, but all “”cruel, inhuman, or degrading treatment or punishment.” It’s flat-out dishonesty to pretend that only “waterboarding” had been banned, and that only by executive order.

  • blackadderiv

    The McCain amendment did a couple of things. First, it prohibited the use of torture or cruel, inhuman, and degrading treatment in interrogation, which was defined so as to include violations of the 5th, 8th, and 14th Amendments to the U.S. Constitutional. It also stated that military interrogators had to follow the Army Field Manual when conducting interrogations.

    The latter proposal, which McCain opposed, sought to limit CIA interrogators to the Army Field Manual as well. In order to view this latter opposition as somehow “pro-torture” one would have to assume 1) that torture was not already prohibited by the McCain Amendment, 2) that restricting CIA interrogations to the Army Field Manual would have solved the problem, and 3) that the only reason to object to so restricting the CIA is because one wishes them to use torture in interrogation.

    None of these assumptions seems very plausible. As to the first, one would have to argue that there were types of torture which didn’t constitute violations of the 5th, 8th, or 14th Amendments, something which is implausible on its face and is made more implausible if one looks at the relevant caselaw.

    No doubt one might object that the Bush administration can’t be trusted to apply the McCain amendment honestly. A reasonable concern. But it raises the question of why one thinks the proposal to apply the Army Field Manual to CIA interrogations would have been any different. The content of the Army Field Manual, after all, is at the complete discretion of the DoD, and if they wanted to they could change the Manual to allow whatever harsh techniques they wished, nullifying any effect of the law.

    Finally, it isn’t the case that the only reason one could oppose applying the Army Field Manual to interrogations is because one is pro-torture. Ordinary police investigations aren’t bound by the Army Field Manual and police regularly use interrogation techniques not contained in the AFM in the course of conducting their investigations. It would be passing strange if the CIA were more limited in interrogating members of Al Qaeda than a local sheriff was when questioning a drunk driver.

    I realize that some people tend to view the statements and actions of Republicans through a hermeneutic of suspicion, discounting any positive statements they make and casting any negative statements or actions in the most sinister light possible. But given the above, and given McCain’s long history of opposing torture in the past, I would think that at the very least he ought to be given the benefit of the doubt here.

  • S.B.

    It’s really shameful that the one guy who did the most to prevent the US government from committing torture — John McCain — is being lied about to such an extent on this site.

  • S.B.

    I should back away from that accusation . . . the minds of MM (and others here) are so riven with partisan hatred that when they misrepresent McCain’s record and his views, they’re not even capable of doing so knowingly; instead, they seem to sincerely believe in their invented caricatures. It’s not even possible for them to recognize that McCain stood up against torture, and that he had perfectly good reasons — completely unrelated to torture — for not wanting the Army manual to apply to the CIA.

  • lcb

    Comment deleted

  • It most certainly is.

    It most certain is not. See, Michael, two can play the blatant assertion fallacy.

    As Zippy stated, when they are in communion with Rome, and by definition the Magesterium, they teach magesterially. Kind of a circular argument, but that’s how it is.

    The USCCB is not recognized as a Vatican organ embued with any sort of supernatural infallibility.

    The quote, though, happened to provide a nice contrast to the demonic views of Governor Palin.

    I don’t believe it’s a violation of human rights not to read someone their Miranda’s in Arabic (or Farsi if they’re Iranian insurgents) on the battlefield. I don’t think that the USCCB believes it’s a violation of human rights (or at least I haven’t see that particular case elucidated yet).

    Now I find the term “demonic” with regards to Sarah Palin as “confusing” you might say coming from a Catholic. One would think that someone who advocates letting babies die on the table because that might “burden the original choice” of the birth mother, and who advocates pulling a baby by the legs partially out of the birth canal so scissors can be thrust into their little heads and their brains sucked out.

    So tell me, Michael. Who are you planning on voting for in November? The candidate of killing innocent babies, or the candidate of not reading terrorists their rights? Or are you planning on sitting this one out until you find a saint to vote for?

    Inquiring minds want to know.

  • David Nickol

    It’s really shameful that the one guy who did the most to prevent the US government from committing torture — John McCain — is being lied about to such an extent on this site.

    S.B,

    I don’t know anyone who doesn’t believe what Obama did as a prisoner of war was extraordinary, and I think he is to be commended for his stand against torture and for advocating the closing of Guantanamo, even if he didn’t go quite as far as some would have liked. But of course it was never necessary, until the Bush administration, for somebody to take a stand against the United States using torture. And it’s not as if McCain has been a all that much of a critic of Bush (or at least not until recently). So I wouldn’t accuse McCain of being “pro-torture,” but as someone who is appalled by what has happened under the Bush administration in this regard, I have to wonder exactly how different McCain would be from Bush if he gets elected.

  • S.B.

    the demonic views of Governor Palin.

    Can you at least pretend to be fair and rational?

  • Can you at least pretend to be fair and rational?

    Palin’s insinuation that human rights do not apply to some persons is demonic, as is Obama’s insinuation that human rights do not apply to some persons.

    Somehow I doubt you object to me calling Obama’s views on the unborn demonic though. I mean, can’t you at least pretend to be fair and rational?

  • S.B.

    She didn’t say “human rights,” she said “read them their rights.” If you don’t understand that phrase, have you never seen a cop show where someone gets arrested, and the police start saying, “You have the right to remain silent. Anything you say can be used against you in a court of law. You have the right to an attorney. If you cannot afford an attorney, the court will appoint one for you.” That’s what “read them their rights” means. It’s a reference to the fact that, in the Supreme Court’s Miranda case, a criminal suspect who had confessed to a crime had to be let free because he had been interrogated without being “read his rights.”

    Now, is it “demonic” to say that some people — say, on the battlefield — shouldn’t be “read their rights” in that sense? You haven’t even tried to grapple seriously with that question.

  • david

    Michael I.
    In What sense do you use the word demonic? I think this would help me understand your thinking a great deal.

  • Justin Nickelsen

    I don’t have time to read any of the above comments:

    Have any “Catholics” tried to 1) disagree with, or 2) downplay, or 3) twist the comments of the USCCB?

    I wouldn’t be surprised.

    ;)~

  • 1superdave

    Since when do enemy combatants, caught on the battlefield shooting at U.S. troups and planting roadside bombs, get the same protection under the constitution as U.S citizens. This comment can be said about the entire democrat party. Where have ya’ll been while the dems have fought tooth and nail to undermine the detention of “prisoners of war” Your last presidential canidate, John Kerry, mantained that the attack on 9/11/2001 was a criminal act and that the perps should be caught, Read their rights, lawered up, and tried in court. How is Sarah’s comment inacurate?

  • 1superdave

    With rights also come responsibilities. A responsible person doesn’t commit act of teror. When a U.S. citizen, vilates serious laws, they loose the right to rome freely, and are held in confinement. Against their will. Felns in most states loose the right to have a firearm, or vote. These are terorist. That’s what she said. Terorist. Not suspected terorist.

  • 1superdave:

    Terrorists are human beings made in the image and likeness of God. We are called to love the enemy. This is what your Church teaches.

  • 1superdave

    Sin always has consequenes. Grace forgives sin a nd forgiveness forgives transgressions but just because a murdered is a human that we love as Christians, that doesn’t mean we let him out of jail and invite him home to meet our kids. If one gets aids from sexual behavor and Gets saved the disease still destroies his health. If a combatant picks up arms against our sons and daughters, and is caught on the battle field he gets to sit in confinement until the armed conflict is over.

  • 1superdave

    Am I just Ignored because I’m not Catholic or because I have valid points that can’t honestly be refuted(without exposeing a liberal bias).

  • Don’t worry. I’m not ignoring you because you are not Catholic, nor should you be worried about the possibility that you are making irrefutable points. In fact, you’re hardly making any sense. I’m ignoring you, in part, because I am having trouble understanding what on earth you are talking about.

    You seemed, at first, to take issue with my concern with Sarah Palin’s views on “terrorists” and her reluctance to be concerned with their human rights. My church has a clear teaching about the dignity of every human life, even those people who are called “terrorists.” My church’s teaching leads me to reject Sarah Palin’s views as anti-human.

    You replied with the comment “just because a murdered is a human that we love as Christians, that doesn’t mean we let him out of jail and invite him home to meet our kids.” I’m not sure where you get the idea that I think we should invite terrorists to hang out with our kids. You seem to be making things up, and there is no point having this kind of conversation.

  • 1superdave

    What do you think should be done with humans that are shooting at us on the battle field?

  • 1superdave

    In all fairnest shouldn’t you reject aboma’s views as dangerous and stupid. The only alternative in your world view is to give the suspected terorist access to our courts and bail(due process )and let them rome freely, even back home to whatever muslim state they come from. All humans are not terorist,buutt,all terorist are humans. So tell me; is that dangerous or just plan stupid.

  • What do you think should be done with humans that are shooting at us on the battle field?

    Kill ’em all and let God sort ’em out. Happy?

    As for your 6:43 comment, I have no idea what you are talking about.

  • 1superdave

    the comment is what Sarah was refering to. Aboma whats to see the suspected terorist brought to our country and read their rights, which he pertends to include, bail, free lawers and all the rights that a U. S. citizen is afforded. That is dangerous. So what do you think should be done with the humans captured on the battle field shooting at us? If you don’t have an answer that’s ok.