Wednesday, January 27, 2016

it's OK, they're not human like we are

OK, first, these guys out in Oregon occupying federal property.  No, I do not support them in any way, shape, or form.  Here is a good synopsis of the Mormon ideology that seems to motivate them.  Since I started this post, a shoot-out with police killed one of the occupiers' leaders which in turn has prompted for calls to end the stand-off.

That being said, these folks, too, fall under that inconveniently broad umbrella "intrinsic human dignity."  They have it just as much as anybody else who reads this blog.  Thus, while their actions cannot and should not be endorsed, we likewise cannot treat the Oregon occupiers as objects, not persons.  This unavoidable reality means ridicule that makes cheap gay-sex jokes about them is wrong. Not as wrong as what the occupiers commit, nor like the intentionally inflammatory covers of Charlie Hebdo, and certainly not as awful as the evils committed by ISIS or other terrorist groups.

This notion that we can disarm difficult, intractable problems through dehumanizing satire embodies what I've elsewhere called "comedy porn."  Like visual porn or any other addiction, this soul-emptying "humor" becomes a necessary habit.  This has elite support today, too.  Mark Judge on "virtual signaling," a term coined by James Bartholomew.

Virtue signaling is the popular modern habit of indicating that one has virtue merely by expressing disgust or favor for certain political ideas, cultural happenings, or even the weather. When a liberal goes on a tirade about how dumb and dangerous Senator and Republican presidential candidate Ted Cruz is—a tirade devoid of specific examples of Cruz’s mendacity—that person is actually signaling to others that he or she is virtuous. It has very little to do with Cruz’s actually personality or record.


It’s delivered like Holy Writ, without sourcing or self-reflection or doubt: Islamophobia is declared irrational, blamed for producing feelings of anger and betrayal in Muslims, which then pushes young people “on the edge” towards radicalization. No need to dive into data about Muslim attitudes about jihad. No need to examine the contradiction of liberals who argue that vulgar elements of pop culture have no effect on people, even people “on the edge.”
Read it all here.

All of this forms the habit of denigrating the intrinsic human dignity of those we don't like or find disagreeable politically, socially, or intellectually.  They're stupid, ignorant, uncultured--so it's OK when we ridicule them.  "They had it coming."

Now, just a reminder-that-we-know-we-really-shouldn't-need-at-this-point, the Church defends the intrinsic human dignity of all (see the Catechism# 2284-2301).  Pope Francis' popularity hinges on, gosh, actually observing this.  Notice the joy of the crowds:

That's because the people--the believers and the skeptics alike--know he also visits and embraces the orphans.  

I do think it's important to note, as the epistle reading from Mass January 17 did, that the Holy Spirit gives different gifts to different people.  So not everybody embraces orphans--because they might be called instead to embrace the prisoners.  Pope Francis, being the Pope, does it all.  He also quite ably maintains the Church's teaching, too, on the social issues some wished/feared he would change.

So in our midst now, just like we did with Benedict XVI, St. John Paul II, blessed Paul VI, St. John XXIII, and yes even those before him, we have the Holy Father calling us away from the temptation--and habit--we know and practice so well:  ridiculing others based on our mistaken diminution of their humanity.