Saturday, May 4, 2013

Mark Shea is wrong

I like Mark Shea. Okay, I don't know him personally, but I like his posts, his intelligence, his insights, his sense of humor, his sometimes contrarian ways. I generally agree with him.

I'm even paying tribute to him by giving this a post a Shea-type provocative title.

Nevertheless, he is wrong - at least when it comes to Live Action.

The folks at Live Action stage undercover operations and record abortionists and abortion center staff revealing a willingness to cover up child abuse, rape, exploitation of women, fraud, murder, and infanticide.

But Mark is unhappy with the Live Action folks.

Seems he thinks they are lying.


That they do deceive the good people of Planned Parenthood and other baby killing centers is true. That's what undercover work is about. You go in in disguise to find out things that might not otherwise be revealed. Police do that regularly. The FBI does too. And the CIA. Journalists do it. And others.

Yes, lying makes the Ten Commandments' naughty list and is condemned by the Church. The Catechism of the Catholic Church states:

2482 "A lie consists in speaking a falsehood with the intention of deceiving."281 The Lord denounces lying as the work of the devil: "You are of your father the devil, . . . there is no truth in him. When he lies, he speaks according to his own nature, for he is a liar and the father of lies."282
2483 Lying is the most direct offense against the truth. To lie is to speak or act against the truth in order to lead someone into error. By injuring man's relation to truth and to his neighbor, a lie offends against the fundamental relation of man and of his word to the Lord.
2484 The gravity of a lie is measured against the nature of the truth it deforms, the circumstances, the intentions of the one who lies, and the harm suffered by its victims. If a lie in itself only constitutes a venial sin, it becomes mortal when it does grave injury to the virtues of justice and charity.

But that doesn't sound like what the Live Action people are doing. They are playing a role - they liken what they do to acting. They are playing a part. Just like the undercover police. Or reporters.

I remember once when I was a reporter I wrote a story about street corner beggars. To experience what they experience, to get a feel for what they feel, I put on old clothes, made a sign that said "Hungry," and stood on street corners. I did so in character, walking with a limp, speaking in a gravelly voice, etc.

Was I lying? No. It helped me to better understand the people I was interviewing.  It helped me to know how people react to beggars. It helped me better understand my own reactions to them.

(In case you are wondering, I donated all the money I got while begging to a homeless program.)

The Live Action people are not profiting by their actions. Their intent is not to harm others. It's to expose a grave crime that might not otherwise come to light.

I completely dismiss the lying charge.

But now there's a new line of attack. In doing what they do they are accused of somehow leading the baby killers into sin. They are tempting those misguided murderers to commit homicide - or at least to talk about their willingness to commit a hypothetical murder that will never actually take place.


The killing center staff went to work that day fully prepared to willingly commit murder. There's a good chance some of them did commit murders the day the Live Action folks stopped by. They didn't need any tempting by the Live Action people to slaughter children.

There's biblical precedent for what the Live Action people are doing.

King Solomon (1 Kings 3 16-28) is held up as model of justice in the way he handled the case of two women claiming the same baby. Cut the baby in half, he declared - catching one of the women willing to go along with the infanticide. Did he tempt her? No - he gave her an opportunity to reveal her true nature.

That's what the Live Action people are doing. The people who get caught have an opportunity to do the right thing - but they reveal instead how deluded they are and the SOP at the killing centers.

We need to pray for the death dealers that they will see the truth of what they are doing and will repent - like, say, Abby Johnson did.

And we need to pray that the people at Live Action will continue doing what they are doing until even ABC News will acknowledge the true nature of abortion and what the slaughter sites are doing.

Oh, and we should also pray that Mark will realize that he's wrong here and get back to his delightful skewering of sacred cows that really deserve it.

Pax et bonum


Suzanne F. said...

If you play a role trying to convince someone of something that's not true, that's a lie. If I come up to you dressed in a doctor's outfit and I'm "playing a role" and I try to make you think I'm a doctor by *telling untruths* that's a lie.

It does not matter that it's for a good end. Telling untruths with the intention of making someone believe them is a lie. It does not matter who the recipient is or why they are told. They are never permissible.

Biblical examples are not always the best, as they need to be interpreted within the context of Sacred Tradition and Church teaching. Church teaching says lying is always wrong.

Do Not Be Anxious said...

The Gospel precept of fraternal love requires us to judge whether or not it is appropriate to reveal the truth to someone who asks for it. 2488 The good and safety of others, respect for privacy, and the common good are sufficient reasons for being silent about what ought not be known or for making use of discreet language. No one is bound to reveal the truth to someone who does not have the right to know it. 2489

Not all failure to reveal the truth is wrong, as witnessed by the catechism quotes above.

Lee Potts, OFS said...

Do Not Be Anxious -- There is a big difference between not revealing a truth and misrepresenting the truth.

I'm with Mark on this one. The end never justifies the means. Satan is the father of all lies and using the tools of the enemy and the world can only move us toward hell and away from God.

Even the smallest sin damages the soul and separates us from the Lord.

Do we really need these videos to know that abortion and the people providing them are utterly evil? Have these videos added anything to our understanding of what goes on on these places? Is there anything new here worth committing sin, venial or otherwise, for?

A Secular Franciscan said...

Suzanne - one does not have to look to the Bible for examples. Blessed John XXIII, for example, was heavily involved with helping Jews to escape Nazi persecution, including issuing fake baptismal certificates. Was that lying? Was he wrong? Should he have stopped? He was not alone. During WWII Catholics across Europe from lay peopel to Vatican officials helped Jews to hide and escape. They housed them in Catholic schools and seminaries, claiming they were Catholic. Families took in Jewish children claiming they were their own. They denied knowledge of Jews' whereabouts. They issued false documents such as the aforementioned baptismal certificates. Lives were saved - as is happening with Live Action's efforts. One could also look back to Catholic involvment with the Underground Railroad in the U.S., or to the hiding of priests during the pesecution in England, to name just two historical instances.

A Secular Franciscan said...

Lee - yes, the videos have added to our knowledge. They have exposed what is going on to a skeptical public, and people are beginning to question. States are beginning to cut off funding for Planned Parenthood - helping to reduce the slaughter. Having worked as a journalist, I am aware of how uninformed people often are. They need to have concrete evidence presented to them again and again - and visual evidence of this sort is particularly effective with some people.

A Secular Franciscan said...

One could also consider the wording of the Catechism in regards to lying: 2482 "A lie consists in speaking a falsehood with the intention of deceiving."

The intention of Blessed John XXIII and others back in WWII was technically not "to deceive." It was to save lives.

Simlarly, one can argue that the intent of the Live Action people is not to deceive, it is to expose what is going on, to change hearts and minds, and to save lives.

Nate Winchester said...

Yes, Mark is also wrong wanting to play a semantics game that as long as you don't "technically" say anything incorrect, you're not sinning.

In other words, he's played the clever 'trick' where while "lusting" in the heart is wrong - even if you technically don't do anything with the object of your lust, "deception" in the heart is ok as long as you are technically saying true things.

Sorry, this protestant heathen says deception is deception is deception.

I'm with Mark on this one. The end never justifies the means.

Never? That sounds rather like the Pharisees taking Jesus to task for healing on the sabbath. After all, they were technically correct that He shouldn't be doing it. Which leads us to...

Even the smallest sin damages the soul and separates us from the Lord.

If I may mangle a quote: "Your difficulty is that you don't believe in a no-sin scenario." Or you seem to not believe that if you define sin so broadly, there could ever be a situation where you can't take any action that wouldn't be a sin. And if you want to say "then the proper action is to take no action", let me remind you of the parable of the sheep & goats where the goats' wrong doing was precisely that they DIDN'T take any action.

So let us return to LA...

If the subject enters and is not pregnant, they are guilty of lying.
If the subject enters and is pregnant, they are guilty of temptation.
If the subject never enters, then they are guilty of being complacent in the act at worst. Violating their conscience if said conscience is demanding action at the least.
Then there's the more extreme possibilities like out and out warfare which we'll set aside as not even worth considering.

So, a new trilemma appears. By the established metrics, the subject in question cannot do anything and not "sin". So what to do? I believe the first option is the best as the amount of time the subject takes up is time the doctor cannot be killing (and if something is to go wrong and she's forcibly aborted - like what happened with Gosnell, then nobody actually dies and the subject has again prevented someone else from sinning).

Call me a consequentialist or whatever, but seems to me that until you have a better sorting routine, that's the only option available. Though I will freely admit that consequentialism should be an consideration of last resort (what programmers might call a "tie-breaker") and never the option of first resort.

Do we really need these videos to know that abortion and the people providing them are utterly evil? Have these videos added anything to our understanding of what goes on on these places? Is there anything new here worth committing sin, venial or otherwise, for?

For those in a pro-life echo chamber - no, there is not. Unfortunately, we're not quite numerous enough. It's the great middle that has to be persuaded for any goal to work. The "center of gravity" in the body politic as some pundits say. Gosnell's trial has done a lot to shift that gravity in a direction we want. And if we stop helping the enemy crucify LA, it might get shifted even more.