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It’s only a ruddy parking ticket

Remember the Monty Python court room bit?

Behold Michael Sean Winters yesterday in the National Catholic Reporter, doing a very similar bit.

President Barack Obama lost my vote yesterday when he declined to expand the exceedingly narrow conscience exemptions proposed by the Department of Health and Human Services. The issue of conscience protections is so foundational, I do not see how I ever could, in good conscience, vote for this man again.

I do not come at this issue as a Catholic special pleader, who wants only to protect my own, although it was a little bracing to realize that the president’s decision yesterday essentially told us, as Catholics, that there is no room in this great country of ours for the institutions our Church has built over the years to be Catholic in ways that are important to us. Nor, frankly, do I come at the issue as an anti-contraception zealot: I understand that many people, and good Catholics too, reach different conclusions on the matter although I must say that Humanae Vitae in its entirety reads better, and more presciently, every year.

No, I come at this issue as a liberal and a Democrat and as someone who, until yesterday, generally supported the President, as someone who saw in his vision of America a greater concern for each other, a less mean-spirited culture, someone who could, and did, remind the nation that we are our brothers’ keeper, that liberalism has a long vocation in this country of promoting freedom and protecting the interests of the average person against the combined power of the rich, and that we should learn how to disagree without being disagreeable. I defended the University of Notre Dame for honoring this man, and my heart was warmed when President Obama said at Notre Dame: “we must find a way to reconcile our ever-shrinking world with its ever-growing diversity — diversity of thought, diversity of culture, and diversity of belief. In short, we must find a way to live together as one human family.”

To borrow from Emile Zola: J’Accuse!

And so on, for 13 more throbbing paragraphs, all to upbraid Obama because, to quote the NCR’s own reportage,

Although Catholic leaders vowed to fight on, the Obama administration has turned down repeated requests from Catholic bishops, hospitals, schools and charitable organizations to revise its religious exemption to the requirement that all health plans cover contraceptives and sterilization free of charge.

It’s quite extraordinary that Winters thinks (or pretends to think) that requiring all health plans to cover contraceptives and sterilization is somehow the opposite of a greater concern for each other and of protecting the interests of the average person against the combined power of the rich. It’s quite extraordinary that he thinks it’s liberal to want to make it harder for women to use contraception. It’s quite extraordinary that he thinks it can possibly be liberal to attempt to force people to have children when they don’t want to. It’s extraordinary that he thinks the church should interfere with and mess up people’s lives in that way.

Zola, of course, wrote his famous essay in response to the Dreyfuss affair. Then, the source of injustice was anti-Semitic bigotry. Today, while I cannot believe that the President himself is an anti-Catholic bigot, he has caved to those who are. In politics, as in life, we are often known by the company we keep. Hmmmm. Sr. Carol Keehan, a woman who has dedicated her life and her ministry to help the ill and the aged or the fundraisers and the lobbyists at NARAL? Is that really a tough call?

What a disgusting bit of rhetorical bullying. Because Obama hasn’t caved to Catholic demands over insurance coverage for contraception, therefore Obama is doing something mysteriously bad to Carol Keehan?

Theocracy at work.

H/t  Dan Fincke.

Comments

  1. says

    … the president’s decision yesterday essentially told us, as Catholics, that there is no room in this great country of ours for the institutions our Church has built over the years to be Catholic in ways that are important to us.

    No sir, not at all. The president’s decision is telling you that there’s no room in the lives of people who choose not to follow your religion’s rules for your faith-based meddling.

  2. says

    So Mr. Winters would ask us to believe that being anti-contraception doesn’t make one bigoted against women’s rights, but that expecting some organizations who chose to be in the medical care industry to furnish services in said industry they personally disagree with, where limited options are available, does make one bigoted against Catholics.

    Y’know what? I could actually see this argument (not the, ‘don’t vote for Obama because of this’ part of course, but the rest) if insurance was a drastically different business. But guess what? It ain’t. We each, in our own states, only have a limited number of health care providers available to us. We have limited control over where we live, especially those of us with families or unusual jobs. If we are lucky enough that our job PROVIDES our insurance, we have essentially no choice at all. Then there’s price! Almost no one (other than–big shocker–the rich) is in a real position to make a choice about insurance that takes “whether they object to covering my reproductive needs” into account as anything other than a very periphery decider.

    So yeah, Mr. Winters, not saddling millions of women with this situation IS worth making some insurance providers think a little bit harder about their morality, and about why they’re in the health care business in the first place. Their industry is there to help people, not to force their beliefs–religious or otherwise, Catholic or otherwise–upon them.

  3. says

    Yelling “bigotry” sure has come into fashion all of a sudden as the new NO U.

    I think about this often, especially in the context of violent Islamists. I can’t help but wonder if we liberals made a mistake in ever bothering to invoke such criticisms as “bigot,” “racist,” or “homophobe,” or to ask people to exercise “tolerance.”* The people we use those words on don’t really seem to be much affected by them, but they sure love turning them around on us now, pretending victim status in order to gain sympathy from less skeptical liberals.

    *I have always thought ‘tolerance’ was a stupid thing to ask of people, but that’s a different matter.

  4. says

    Well it’s not really a different matter. I just don’t use the word “tolerance,” because I don’t believe in tolerance of everything, so I don’t see the point of the word (and, more, I think it’s misleading). It seems to be taken to mean “tolerance of things that deserve tolerance” – but that’s so circular as to be worthless.

    And as you say, it’s become a weapon wielded by intolerant people to shame critics. One of god’s little jokes.

  5. says

    I have always thought ‘tolerance’ was a stupid thing to ask of people, but that’s a different matter.

    Why?

    You can’t demand (politically anyway) that everyone like each other or each other’s practices but you can in the social and political sphere require certain minimums of civil tolerance for what is unburdensomely tolerable.

  6. says

    I have always defined “tolerance” as “I don’t commit physical violence, attempt to use the powers of government, or threaten to do either in order to stop you doing what you choose to do with yourself in your private life.” It doesn’t mean “not criticizing” or “deferring to the self-imposed rules of others in my own life” or “not stepping in when people try to impose themselves on other people.”

    I can tolerate all sorts of things that I think are stupid and even harmful, as long as people keep those things to themselves. If you want to listen to shitty music, watch bad movies, follow the rituals and dietary rules of some desert cult or other, knock yourself out. If you want to engage in extreme sports, listen to music so loudly that it damages your hearing, or cut off bits of your own bits in accordance with your religious nonsense, or actually knock yourself out one way or another, I’m actually mostly fine with that too. The minute you want to impose that on people who are opposed to it, you can get bent. You don’t get to make me bungee jump with you, or go to church with you, or follow your religion’s rules because my freedom makes you uncomfortable. And you don’t get to do that to anyone else either.

    And this whole “conscience” nonsense? If doing your job worries your conscience, then QUIT. You get to follow your conscience all you like, but you don’t get to force other people to follow your conscience.

  7. says

    civil tolerance for what is unburdensomely tolerable

    But how does one go about defining “unburdensomely tolerable”? As I recall, various Muslims found it overly burdensome to tolerate a Jesus and Mo comic panel on an atheist student FaceBook page.

  8. Pandademic says

    It still blows my mind when people equate “denying special treatment” with “bigotry.” If a law has an important and worthwhile secular purpose (such as granting all people, regardless of where they live and work, equal access to medicine and treatment), then exemptions should only be considered when they don’t compromise that purpose.

  9. says

    It seems to be taken to mean “tolerance of things that deserve tolerance” – but that’s so circular as to be worthless.

    Exactly. Things that aren’t actually bad (homosexuality, women making their own reproductive choices, people disagreeing with me) do not require my tolerance. Things which are actually bad do not deserve it, nor receive it.

    But like Improbable Joe said, there are things which are only actually bad when expressed. Things like, people disagreeing with me, and bad writing aren’t actually bad (in my view) when they’re not being promoted. When they are, I exercise my intolerance of them through criticism. But if I were to attempt to legislate against them, or to use government to censor them, that would be wrong, since I believe government-imposed censorship and thought crime legislation are wrong.

  10. says

    Why?

    You can’t demand (politically anyway) that everyone like each other or each other’s practices but you can in the social and political sphere require certain minimums of civil tolerance for what is unburdensomely tolerable.

    Because asking people to tolerate things they think are actually bad is just silly. Would you listen if someone asked you to tolerate religious bullies threatening Salman Rushdie for writing a book? Of course you wouldn’t; in the face of such a crime, “tolerance” is an irrelevant invocation. Many of the people who attempt to legislate against, for example, homosexuality, consider it to be bad in the way that you and I consider rape and murder to be bad. They are wrong about that, obviously, but that is where we should be coming after them, is on their wrongness about that. Tolerance is not a value they share with us. It’s a meaningless point of contention.

  11. LeftSidePositive says

    Yeah, how come the big meanie government won’t let me severely restrict the rights and choices of my employees??!? If I’m a religious institution then I OWN my employees, dammit!!! By not letting me force my preferences on people who are dependent on me for food and shelter, you’re oppressing my freedom to oppress my underlings!!! What’s the point of having a religion if you don’t get to force people to do what you want instead of persuade them through the beauty and clarity of your theology?!?!??

  12. says

    Improbable Joe @ #7:

    “I can tolerate all sorts of things that I think are stupid and even harmful, as long as people keep those things to themselves. If you want to listen to shitty music, watch bad movies, follow the rituals and dietary rules of some desert cult or other, knock yourself out. If you want to engage in extreme sports, listen to music so loudly that it damages your hearing, or cut off bits of your own bits in accordance with your religious nonsense, or actually knock yourself out one way or another, I’m actually mostly fine with that too. The minute you want to impose that on people who are opposed to it, you can get bent. You don’t get to make me bungee jump with you, or go to church with you, or follow your religion’s rules because my freedom makes you uncomfortable. And you don’t get to do that to anyone else either.

    “And this whole “conscience” nonsense? If doing your job worries your conscience, then QUIT. You get to follow your conscience all you like, but you don’t get to force other people to follow your conscience.”

    Now that is so well put, it should be a wall poster.

  13. Aquaria says

    the president’s decision yesterday essentially told us, as Catholics, that there is no room in this great country of ours for the institutions our Church has built over the years to be Catholic in ways that are important to us.

    Not if you want to feed at the taxpayer trough, scumbag.

    That’s what these pieces of shit don’t get: You want to whore for federal money, you have to do what the fed wants to get it.

    It’s that, or get all your funds from charity, Catholics. Good luck with that!

  14. says

    It’s quite extraordinary that Winters thinks (or pretends to think) that requiring all health plans to cover contraceptives and sterilization is somehow the opposite of a greater concern for each other and of protecting the interests of the average person against the combined power of the rich. It’s quite extraordinary that he thinks it’s liberal to want to make it harder for women to use contraception. It’s quite extraordinary that he thinks it can possibly be liberal to attempt to force people to have children when they don’t want to.

    Well, gosh, it’s not like women are people or anything, Ophelia. Now, ICKLE PWESHUS UNBORRRNN BAAAYYYYBEEEEEEZ? Mikey considers them to be MUCH more fully human, especially if they’re male.

  15. Brownian says

    I do not come at this issue as a Catholic special pleader, who wants only to protect my own

    Of course you are. It’s what Catholics do, whether it’s special pleading on behalf of all Catholics (“Obeying the law of the land and reporting molesters is all fine and good for everyone else, but we’ll handle our own cases, thank you very much”) or on behalf of yourself (“Obeying the Pope and eschewing contraceptives is all fine and good for everyone else—especially everyone else—but I can’t really afford another kid right now…”)

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