It Is Personal

September 22, 2008 § 38 Comments

Imagine the person in the world who is most important to you: your wife, your child, your parent, your sibling, your best friend. Whomever it is, bring that person clearly into your mind; and understand that that is how God feels, is actually a poor reflection of how God feels, about every person.

Now suppose that there are two candidates for President. One of those candidates supports abortion and ESCR. The other candidate, the lesser evil candidate, is against abortion and ESCR. But he is in favor of murdering one person: the person you now have in mind.

Would you vote for the lesser evil candidate?

Tagged:

§ 38 Responses to It Is Personal

  • Anonymous says:

    “Now suppose that there are two candidates for President. One of those candidates supports abortion and ESCR. The other candidate, the lesser evil candidate, is against abortion and ESCR. But he is in favor of murdering one person: the person you now have in mind.Would you vote for the lesser evil candidate?”Now, imagine if you & thousands of others don't vote for the lesser evil candidate & the most evil candidate ultimately wins —Given the fierce Pro-Abort nature of that candidate, everybody's (unborn) loved ones are placed in long lines of government-funded concentration camps that are the abortion clinics across America for their daily scheduled executions — and with the no-holds-barred abortion policy of this candidate, the devestation is in the untold millions.But, who cares?4,000 abortions/day just wasn't cutting it.

  • love the girls says:

    I vote for Pat Paulson while moving to Chile and disappearing as a precaution.

  • tip says:

    I appreciate your argument, Zippy, honestly I do. This election is going to be extremely difficult for Catholic voters, myself included.No matter what arguments are presented, one of these men will wind up in the White House–not to say that either should be there, but one of them will be there.Both of them are awful and we all know the reasons they are so awful; however, the fact remains that one is far worse and poses to cause far more damage than the other.I will not vote for McCain, but I will vote against Obama because, frankly, I feel I must. I must, not because I’m naive to what McCain is made of, but not even McCain will destroy my ability to fight him–Obama, on the other hand, will indeed. He promises to.

  • William Luse says:

    It’s hard to get a yes or no answer, isn’t it?

  • tip says:

    Alright then, no I wouldn’t.

  • Anonymous says:

    William Luse:Have you stopped beating your wife?

  • Bob says:

    <>Would you vote for the lesser evil candidate?<>Yes.

  • Mark says:

    Just admit it. What you are really saying is, “I want Obama to win! I want as many babies as possible to die. And I condemn all of you to Hell if you disagree with me!”Also, you think you are a great Catholic apologist, you want the terrorists to win, you think you are better than everybody and, let’s see, you are afraid to admit it.Okay. I think I’ve covered all the standard lines of attack.

  • William Luse says:

    Good for you tip, and Bob too, even though he came up with the wrong answer. Anonymous is still tongue-tied.

  • love the girls says:

    William Luse writes : “Bob too, even though he came up with the wrong answer.”The answer is dependent upon the question, with the question given.What is not answered in the question is who is the lesser evil.But given that, the best answer is to vote for the lesser evil.

  • brendon says:

    I suppose a lot hangs on the person being thought of as most important to you. But it seems likely that for many people it is probably either a spouse or a child. If this is the case, an argument can be made for a very counterintuitive answer, one that might shed light on the point Zippy seems to be trying to make.As a matter of justice, I have a greater duty towards my spouse or my children than I do towards those who are simply my fellow citizens or my fellow human beings. This being so, if one wishes to argue that one must vote for one of the two candidates, no matter what, then it can be reasonably argued that my duty is to vote for the first candidate, the one who supports abortion and ESCR, rather than the second. This is because the duties I have as, say, husband or father have more weight than any other duties I may have.If the idea that justice and duty may demand one support a candidate in favor of more evils over a candidate in favor of less evils seems absurd, then perhaps one should reconsider whether or not limiting one’s choice of actions to voting for bad candidate A or worse candidate B is a false dilemma.

  • Bob says:

    LTG,I’m pretty sure that for Zippy and William Luse, it doesn’t matter much who was the lesser evil. For them, it only matters that <>evil<> was chosen.However, <>no one<> chooses evil. Even Eve chose a good, she didn’t choose to eat of the fruit <>because<> it was morally wrong to do so. She choose the lesser good of eating the fruit over the greater good of remaining in communion with God.One must always keep the eye on the ball.Peace,Bob

  • zippy says:

    <>I’m pretty sure that for Zippy and William Luse, it doesn’t matter much who was the lesser evil.<>Well, it would matter to me in the sense that I would tolerate the lesser evil for the sake of preventing the greater <>if<> I had an otherwise licit efficacious means of actually making that happen. In this case I wouldn’t vote for either, because voting is an extraordinarily ineffective means to achieving my good end.But this post is really more of an appeal to intuition than an argument. In a number of places people have been describing the embryos canniblized for ESCR as “already dead”, which is just plain factually wrong, and also permits us to paper over the fact that these are persons as valuable to God as you and I.

  • brendon says:

    <>However, no one chooses evil.<>I’m not seeing your point.If Barak Obama is elected President and signs the so-called “Freedom of Choice Act,” he will not be choosing to sign it as evil but rather as some apparent good. This wouldn’t make his signing the bill any less morally unacceptable.

  • Anonymous says:

    This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

  • zippy says:

    Enough with the personal attacks.

  • Anonymous says:

    “Well, it would matter to me in the sense that I would tolerate the lesser evil for the sake of preventing the greater if I had an otherwise licit efficacious means of actually making that happen. In this case I wouldn’t vote for either, because voting is an extraordinarily ineffective means to achieving my good end.”Zippy, could you tell me what you see as an effective means of preventing the greater evil in the case of our Presidential election? Is there one (or more)?-Chris M

  • Red Cardigan says:

    Zippy, all due respect, but I think your analogy is just slightly flawed.Mark likes to talk of greater and lesser cannibals, so let’s look at it this way:You are shipwrecked with a boatload of children whose parents abandoned them in admiration of Rousseau and don’t care at all what happens to them. You, of course, care, and you put the children who survived the wreck into your lifeboat with you.There are two islands you can reach. One is populated by Greater Cannibals who never met a person they didn’t like, gastronomically speaking, and who will almost certainly kill and eat most of the children (excepting only those you can actually carry as you flee from place to place on the island avoiding the cannibals). The other island is populated by Lesser Cannibals who view cannibalism as a dreary pagan duty, most of whom don’t like the taste of humans, whose leaders have restricted some cannibalism and take a stand opposing the people’s so-called “right to choose” cannibalism, and whose present chief is on record opposing most forms of cannibalism but who does speak in favor of one kind, which is allegedly medicinal. If you steer toward the island of Greater Cannibals, most of the children will die. If you steer toward the island of Lesser Cannibals, some of the children may die–OR you might be able to influence the chief to oppose cannibalism more strongly and to reject this allegedly medicinal variety as being both unlikely to cure anybody and ethically wrong. If you do nothing at all, the children will still die before you can reach any other land–but you won’t have *chosen* the Lesser Cannibals, so morally speaking you personally are in the clear.I realize that those who chose to abstain from voting or vote third party etc. are not in this exact position as this cannibal analogy, but upon learning today that the US has its lowest abortion rate in 30 years and knowing that this will almost certainly change for the worse under a President Obama, I think it’s just slightly possible that some voters in swing states might actually have the tiniest of proportionate reasons to vote against Obama even if the only way they can effectively do this is to vote for McCain.

  • zippy says:

    Red,As soon as we go to an analogy where we get to <>choose the outcome<>, correspondence to my argument fails completely. I’ve agreed many times that if I got to <>choose the outcome<>, the double effect calculus that many are attempting to apply (incorrectly in my view) to voting would apply.Instead of being able to choose the Island of the Lesser Cannibals, suppose that you were allowed to paddle once in whatever direction you choose, as long as you sign a paper explicitly assenting to the legitimacy of the local ruler no matter which island you end up on. The boat you are in is filled with 80 million other people, each of whom gets to paddle once as long as they agree to be obedient to the king of the island on which the boat makes landfall.Or something like that. In general, analogies where you get to choose the outcome, as opposed to pledging allegiance to a side and doing some trivial thing alongside millions of other people, are not going to be good representations of my argument.People do object that a vote is just a vote; in other words, it is not a pledging of loyalty or allegiance whatsoever, however slight. I don’t buy it. I’ve seen too many people trivialize the atrocities supported by their favored candidates to find that even remotely plausible. Voting has an effect on the voter himself which he cannot wish away; as I’ve said a number of times before, that is why the Soviets held elections. Even if it is true that a very saintly person is immune, there is a paradox in that a really saintly person would not be so presumptuous, in my view.People may not believe that voting has a ‘loyalty effect’ on the voter himself. I think there is one, an irreducable one built into the nature of voting as an act. I’ve seen it time, and time, and time again, including in myself. Even if I had the hubris to be convinced that I myself am immune, it is clear that it is predominantly true in human beings. And since we are ultimately discussing a social phenomenon, it is enough for it to be predominant even if individuals claim personal immunity.

  • zippy says:

    <>Zippy, could you tell me what you see as an effective means of preventing the greater evil in the case of our Presidential election? Is there one (or more)?<>For an individual? Nothing, and everything. By the time we get to where we are now, it is far too late for an individual to do anything effective to prevent the current disaster. Everyone in this discussion could die today, and the election outcome would not alter a whit.What we <>can<> do is change who we are; we can stop being the codependent concubines of politicians who support murdering the innocent.

  • Anonymous says:

    Some seem to depersonalize everything and turn voting into a numbers game, instead of recognizing the gravity of murder. As the Talmud says, “For this reason man was created alone, to teach you that whoever destroys a single soul, he is guilty as though he had destroyed a complete world; and whoever preserves a single soul, it is as though he had preserved a whole world (Sanhedrin 37a).”-Kurt

  • SteveG says:

    <>For an individual? Nothing, and everything. By the time we get to where we are now, it is far too late for an individual to do anything effective to prevent the current disaster. Everyone in this discussion could die today, and the election outcome would not alter a whit.What we can do is change who we are; <>we can stop being the codependent concubines of politicians who support murdering the innocent.<><>Well said, and this is pretty much where I am at this point. My only problem is that every time I ponder an Obama presidency, I feel ill.Ugh..what a horrible choice.

  • JohnMcG says:

    1. Even if the idea was to murder an innocent person, or even someone who was guilty of a non-captial crime, (e.g. a pledge to execute drug dealers) I could not vote for such a candidate.2. Part of the reason is that this is an incremental evil that would not otherwise occur. Which is part of why it is hard for me to consider a vote for either candidate as a vote for “cannibalism” or even for ESCR. ESCR is moving forward for reasons that have little to do with whom we vote for or who wins the election.3. I think zippy’s approach is somewhat dehumanizing of the candidates. They both favor terrible intrinsic moral evils, but that is not the complete picture of who they are as human beings. We are choosing someone to do a job, and I think we have to look deeper than just labeling them a cannibal, and thus unacceptable.On the other hand, it’s true that it only takes one murder in an otherwise sinless life to make one a murderer. That the person gave alms to the poor, etc., doesn’t make him any less so.4. I think zippy’s argument assumes that an exalted position of a vote, comitting oneself to that person and all he stands for and will stand for. And I wonder if it is this that we should reject versus the positions of the canI do not deny that it has that effect, as we have seen over the past eight years people who voted for Bush on pro-life grounds go through great lengths to avoid the conclusion that he has advocated the grave evil of torture (and I suspect we will again). We saw it last week with McCain supporters saying that his ad promoting stem cell research was a virtuous bait-and-switch because it did not explicitly say “embryonic.” We see it with Doug Kmiec and others’ tortured defenses of Barack Obama’s votes on the Born Alive Act. And this is before a vote is cast! (with the exception of some absentee ballots in other states).Though I didn’t do it in my case, I still instinctively think of the GOP as “my team,” and tend to react defensively when Republicans are “attacked.”I wonder if we would be better served by promoting a culture of devaluing votes, and promoting ideas rather than people, versus urging people not to vote at all.But maybe that’s more a matter of personal disposition than will. It would be like asking people to take a medicine and try not to have the side effect. For some, the side effect will be real and unavoidable, some might not have that side effect at all. It would be wrong for an alcoholic to take a drink, or even to hang out at a bar, while it may be less harmful for others.

  • Red Cardigan says:

    Zippy, here’s the problem I still have, though:80 million people with one oar stroke each are going to get somewhere.If roughly half of them paddle in one direction and roughly half in the other, then the direction they go will indeed hinge on the paddle strokes of a relatively small number of people–but those people can’t be identified until *after* the outcome has been accomplished.So if *those* people decide that since their one paddle stroke won’t make a difference, and they don’t bother, then their abstention may actually do harm.The problem is that while some of us may be reasonably sure we *aren’t* those people (non-swing-states), others of us *cannot at all* be sure that their paddle stroke, or vote, might not actually affect the outcome.

  • zippy says:

    Red:Remember, though, that the only folks who are allowed to paddle their one stroke are those folks who swear fealty to the Cannibal King.Since this is at least mildly OT to the current post, I’ve just published a < HREF="https://zippycatholic.wordpress.com/2008/09/some-things-are-dichotomies.html" REL="nofollow">new one<> which more directly discusses these issues.

  • William Luse says:

    <>They both favor terrible intrinsic moral evils, but that is not the complete picture of who they are as human beings.<>John, of course it isn’t, but you could say that about a child rapist, a pornographer, etc. How bad do they have to get before we say that they aren’t worthy of a vote?

  • zippy says:

    <>ESCR is moving forward for reasons that have little to do with whom we vote for or who wins the election.<>I agree John — but the things which drive people to cast a vote for a cannibal <>are<> the things which drive and enable ESCR, other forms of abortion, etc. Understand that voting is our civic liturgy: <>lex orandi, lex credendi<>.

  • JohnMcG says:

    william,I honestly don’t have a good answer to that question. As I said, it just takes one murder to make one a murderer. And there is symbolism to being the head of state — putting someone guilty of some offense in elected office sends the message that the offense isn’t a big deal.Still, referring to both candidates as cannibals seems a bit more reductive than what I think we’re called to.—I guess the basic question comes back to what a vote is, and do we have the power to say what it is or change it.Jesus ate with prostitutes and tax collectors. There are two obvious counters to this:* <>Jesus is God; we aren’t<> — true, but I do think this is a model we were supposed to follow.* <>Voting for someone for high office is different from eating with him<> — Indeed.But it does seem that a risk of associating with sinners is that it would send the message that the sin was OK, and lead one to be more tolerant of that particular sin, and think it’s not as big a deal, which seems to be the concern about voting for either of the candidates.

  • zippy says:

    John:They are not merely medical cannibals, but leaders of armies of medical cannibals. And we should call them what they are. The Culture of Death hides behind the shadows of euphemism and medical waste bins. We are are called to bring light to the darkness and call vile wickedness by its rightful name.

  • Lydia McGrew says:

    But I’m gathering (this may belong better up in the post above), Zippy, that you would do the “swear to the cannibal king” thing if you could _effectively_ save the children by so doing. So I’m guessing that this act of swearing fealty to the cannibal king has to be something sufficiently limited in its scope that you could at least in theory do it without sinning.

  • zippy says:

    Lydia:Yes (though I suppose it depends on the particulars of the oath of obedience or whatever).As long as the contemplated act is not <>intrinsically<> immoral, we are potentially in the domain of double effect; which is to say, where the act can be justified as long as no bad intention obtains and as long as there is a proportionate reason to do it.The part of ‘proportionate reason’ that most people ignore (and in many cases are probably simply unaware of) is correspondence between means and end: that is, the “proportion” is not (or not merely) a relationship between bad effects and good effects, but is a measure of how effective without going overboard the act is in actually achieving its end. In Aquinas’ account of self-defense, the ‘proportion’ is not between the life of the victim and the life of the attacker: it is between the means used and the end achieved. This is also seen in the Just War doctrine, an application of double-effect with a venerable moral theology pedigree in our tradition. Excessive force is illicit; futile force is illicit; only proportionate force is licit when cooperating with grave evil.Thus my constant assault on the mythology of the effectiveness of voting in mass market elections: the very reason it fails a test of proportionality is because it involves the person in material cooperation with grave evil without being capable of achieving its putative (election outcome dependent) end, and in addition it gives rise to bad effects on person and population which obtain no matter what, that is, which do <>not<> depend upon the election outcome.

  • JohnMcG says:

    I think the Culture of Death is also about reducing human persons to whatever part of them serves our needs.

  • Anonymous says:

    How is McCain proposing to murder that ‘one person?’

  • Ann says:

    Zippy,I’m commenting very late on this post, but I have a genuine question Say your argument (and it’s absolutely true) convinces enough voters not to vote for McCain; not to vote period, or vote third party, and Obama is voted into Office.What have we accomplished?

  • zippy says:

    <>What have we accomplished?<>I guess I would say, in the first instance, assuming my account is true, that what we accomplish is we avoid doing something evil (that is, something which involves material cooperation with evil without a proportionate reason).But looked at from a more tactical/strategic external political perspective, what we’ve done is taught the political class that pro-lifers are really pro-life, and will not sell themselves to the ‘least bad’ politician who nevertheless supports murdering the innocent. If you want the support of pro-lifers, you need to actually be pro life. From a more ‘internal’ perspective, we’ve through our choices made ourselves uncompromising holy warriors and witnesses to the truth in a deeply compromised and corrupt culture.Probably a great deal more can be said, I guess, but that’s my off the cuff summary.

  • Ann says:

    You’re absolutely right Zippy, but that still leaves one or the other. Do you think that McCain doesn’t know a good number of the votes he’ll get are, in truth, votes against Obama? Even putting McCain aside, a pro-life VP has shell-shocked most of the left–they despise her for that very reason and who knows what influence she may have should he be elected. He’s awful, but he’s a start, or, more honestly, she is. Obama, on the other hand, is an eager killing machine just waiting for someone to let him loose.I don’t want McCain, but Obama’s not even a remote possibility, and I feel obligated to do something to help stop him–even if all I have to use against him is a vote. Trying to halt a godless beast is my proportionate reason.Do you honestly believe that I want babies to die? Even one? Do you believe that everyone who will vote for McCain is advocating evil? Or selling themselves to the lesser monster? Not one of us has to vote, and we all know it. Appears to me that more voters are for Palin than for McCain–at this point, he’s the puppet, not us. I don’t know. “Pray as if all depended upon God and work as though all depended upon you.” I don’t know if I’m taking too much upon myself while not having enough faith in God. I just don’t know and the time to decide is running out.I do thank you for your thoughts (off the cuff or not)

  • zippy says:

    <>Do you honestly believe that I want babies to die? Even one? Do you believe that everyone who will vote for McCain is advocating evil? Or selling themselves to the lesser monster?<>To the first two questions, I would answer certainly not and certainly not (and I also say “certainly not” when the proposition is “for Obama” rather than “for McCain”). The last one is probably not worded the way I would word it, but there is a nugget of truth to it.

  • ann says:

    Well, I disagree (however, I do agree that the wording choice was not the best). Voting against one isn’t necessarily ‘selling’ oneself to the other. For myself, voting for neither is selling myself to chance.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

What’s this?

You are currently reading It Is Personal at Zippy Catholic.

meta

%d bloggers like this: