Clanging cymbals

June 3, 2018 § 23 Comments

If we don’t grasp that love is rooted in truth, all of our attempts at love devolve into the empty and dissonant clanging of cymbals.

And if we fail to understand and unequivocally oppose usury then all of our opposition to sodomy, contraception, fornication, adultery, abortion, torture, unjust war and the like is self-defeating.

(HT TomD)

Women should be tried as adults

February 6, 2018 § 153 Comments

Some days it seems like I am the only person on earth who actually respects women.  Men and women are different, both individually and when considered as populations.  But one of the ways we are the same – at least in my view – is that both men and women are moral agents, responsible for the behaviors we choose.

Yet a great many people – notably feminists and the mainstream pro-life movement, though those two are hardly exhaustive – really don’t seem to think this is the case at all.

In the comment thread below reader Jay posted a link to the following image:


This image was allegedly posted in a Facebook advocacy group started and governed by the very same young woman who accused her ex-boyfriend of rape (a year and a half after the alleged incident), in a case we discussed here.

There are several things to observe about this image.  I’ll point out a few.

First, the image characterizes the distinction between rape/sexual assault (a very serious matter) and consensual sex (at best a minor matter, probably nobody else’s business) as something which occurs strictly and only in the woman’s mind.  If she was subjectively afraid to say no and did not actually say no, he is guilty of sexual assault or rape.

Personally I would have no problem with colleges punishing extramarital sex – as demonstrated by actual evidence – severely, independent of consent.  The idea that consent turns extramarital sex into a minor matter in the first place is simply wrong.  Premarital sex is a grave, despicable, life-wrecking moral wrong.  Consenting to fornication is a grave moral wrong.  Physically forcing someone else’s participation in a morally despicable act is itself a morally despicable act, but the idea that fornication is just no big deal while rape is a terrible moral violation is false.  They are both grave moral wrongs and should be treated as such.

Second, we would never buy the “I was afraid to say no” line of argument if the action was, for example, murder. The particulars matter, as always, but the most the particulars could do – even when in fear for your own life – is mitigate some of the guilt for actively participating in a murder.  Saying no, resisting attempted persuasion or compulsion to do evil, is a basic obligation of every moral agent without exception.  Failure to resist evil is itself a moral failure.  And yes, this of course includes women – at least if you have any respect for women.

Third, if this image in fact comes from the alleged source – from the actual young woman who years after the fact accused her boyfriend of “rape” in the Shenandoah wilderness where she drove him – it appears to be a tacit admission that, whatever actually did happen between them, she didn’t actually say “no”.

A feast of dust and stones

April 13, 2017 § 50 Comments

Saying that sexual desire is good in itself is like saying that hunger is good in itself. That is, it isn’t even really true at all. 

Hunger is good only inasmuch as it proposes to man the genuine goods of eating to be pursued in our fallen condition: preservation of life, growth, nutrition, and the social goods of breaking bread together or of men hunting or plowing as brothers, in honor. As a sense of depravation or craving, hunger is often aimed at disordered ends and is a prison for the incontinent. Thus we have the vice of gluttony.

Sexual desire likewise is only good inasmuch as it proposes to man the real goods of marriage: of mutual love between spouses and the creation of new life from the physical expression of that love. As a sense of depravation or craving, sexual desire is often aimed at disordered ends and is a prison for the incontinent. Thus we have the vice of lust.

The main difference between hunger and sexual desire is that a man can’t live without eating. Sexual desire though is not going to kill you. 

The heroes, architects, and analysts of the secular ‘morally neutral’ manosphere see the desolation wrought by modernity, and propose a great feast on stones and dust. What shall we eat, if not the stones and dust that surround us? What shall we drink if not the plentiful seawater and gasoline?

(Originally posted as a comment here.)

How to determine the price you are sold for in the slave market

September 26, 2016 § 28 Comments


Your personal price as a chattel slave, in dollar terms, is reflected in your credit rating. In this post I will outline a proposed methodology for calculating the price that you are currently selling for in the chattel slave market. I haven’t worked out the details: this post is really just a starting point.

Like many modern terms, ‘loan’ is used equivocally.

Suppose that you are a borrower of money. We can calculate your value as a chattel slave by looking at the differences between the non-recourse (and therefore non-usurious) loans you can acquire and the personally guaranteed (usurious) loans you can acquire.

Scenario 1: non-usurious borrowing

In one sort of loan — a non-usurious loan — you sell your lender a stake in some property that you are purchasing or that you already own.  You retain the use of the property, so you pay rent to your ownership partner (lender).  This rent is often called ‘interest’.  You may also buy back your partner’s share over time.  This is often called ‘principal’.

If your partner doesn’t know you very well, he is going to want to get some idea how well you will take care of the property that he owns in partnership with you. This kind of knowledge is provided institutionally by the modern process of establishing credit ratings. Based on your trustworthiness – whether established by credit rating or some other means – your lending partner may require a larger down payment (thus lower loan-to-value ratio) and / or may charge a higher rent (because he is taking a greater risk).

If you stop making payments for any reason, he can recover what he is owed by repossessing the property. Financially and morally this is the same scenario as a landlord evicting a tenant who stops paying the rent. Depending on circumstances, this may or may not affect your credit rating specifically or your reputation generally.  But your partner’s financial claims are limited to the property that you own in partnership.

In this non-usurious scenario, your trustworthiness as a partner with custody and use of the lender’s share of the property is reflected in the interest rate and in the loan to value ratio (and thus the size of the required down payment). These in turn are generally determined by your credit rating.

Scenario 2: usurious borrowing

In a usurious loan, the lender’s claim is not against property or only property: it is against your personal guarantee that you will repay the loan.  The thing you are selling to the lender in this case is not an ownership stake in property: it is a contractually binding ownership stake in you, yourself.  This will generally be reflected in a larger required down payment and a higher interest rate.

Calculating your price:

Your current market price as a chattel slave is related to the similarities and differences between these two kinds of scenarios.  Specifically it is related to the premium you have to pay in terms of larger down payment and higher interest rate for the unsecured personal loan.  I’ll propose the following calculation for the sake of discussion:

Take the largest personal unsecured loan you could get approved by a reputable lender with your current credit rating.  Then determine what size non recourse loan you could get approved – say to purchase some real estate – with the same down payment and interest rate.

Your current price as a chattel slave – the price for which your owners are currently buying and selling you in the marketplace – is the same as the price of the property that you could purchase with the non recourse loan.

Defective identity

January 5, 2016 § 37 Comments

[20] For the invisible things of him, from the creation of the world, are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made; his eternal power also, and divinity: so that they are inexcusable.

[21] Because that, when they knew God, they have not glorified him as God, or given thanks; but became vain in their thoughts, and their foolish heart was darkened. [22] For professing themselves to be wise, they became fools. [23] And they changed the glory of the incorruptible God into the likeness of the image of a corruptible man, and of birds, and of fourfooted beasts, and of creeping things. [24] Wherefore God gave them up to the desires of their heart, unto uncleanness, to dishonour their own bodies among themselves. [25] Who changed the truth of God into a lie; and worshipped and served the creature rather than the Creator, who is blessed for ever. Amen.

[26] For this cause God delivered them up to shameful affections. For their women have changed the natural use into that use which is against nature. [27] And, in like manner, the men also, leaving the natural use of the women, have burned in their lusts one towards another, men with men working that which is filthy, and receiving in themselves the recompense which was due to their error. [28] And as they liked not to have God in their knowledge, God delivered them up to a reprobate sense, to do those things which are not convenient; [29] Being filled with all iniquity, malice, fornication, avarice, wickedness, full of envy, murder, contention, deceit, malignity, whisperers, [30] Detractors, hateful to God, contumelious, proud, haughty, inventors of evil things, disobedient to parents,

[31] Foolish, dissolute, without affection, without fidelity, without mercy. [32] Who, having known the justice of God, did not understand that they who do such things, are worthy of death; and not only they that do them, but they also that consent to them that do them.

Romans 1:20-32

Decades ago I attended a school with a large deaf population.  One of the interesting things about the deaf community is that there actually is such a thing as the deaf community.

By ‘deaf community’ I do not mean a community of people united by common challenges and the common purpose to overcome those challenges. That kind of community would involve communal acknowledgment that there is an objective disorder to be overcome, or simply endured (and those enduring it supported) when it cannot be overcome. That kind of community would acknowledge human dignity to be an objective matter of reality independent of what anyone (or everyone) thinks.

What I mean, rather, is a community of people who (qua community[*]) celebrate the objective defect as if it were a positive good and insist upon that defect as a principle of their identity.  I mean a community of people many of whom are insulted by the very idea that the defect actually is objectively a privation, a defect: people who feel simultaneously entitled to special compassion because of their predicament and insulted by the idea that there is anything wrong in the first place.

Modern cafeteria realists, because they are cafeteria realists, cannot tell (or selectively project incapacity to tell) the difference between being and privation; between creation and destruction; between authority and tyranny; between good and evil.  They are under the delusion that because, like gravity, it cannot be directly seen, value is a matter of mere opinion or of aggregate opinion. They are under the delusion that productivity is just a matter of perspective, that perversity is love, that their rule is justified by the principle that nobody has a right to rule, that their favored policies and procedures are justified by the goods at which they are directed but that what is good in the first place is a matter of obscure subjective opinion hidden behind an impenetrable is-ought gap which relegates the good to the land of inscrutable subjective cartesian ghosts or optimized material machinery.

When you find yourself wondering why modernity is pervaded by degenerates and defectives, understand that this is by choice.  Modern man has decided that, as the measure of all things, he only believes in the realities in which he wants to believe. As a result he has chosen defectiveness as the principle of his own being.

[*] As always, individual persons may be more or less committed to the community, may or may not fully grasp the object of their loyalty, etc.  It is a basic mistake to equate persons with the objects of their loyalty. An individual American is not America, and America cannot be reduced to nothing but the aggregation of actual Americans.  Same for Islam, feminism, liberalism, etc.  Just as personal defects are not the essence of a person, objects of personal loyalty are not themselves the person.

Freedom of association: only skin deep

June 5, 2014 § 45 Comments

In the comments below I wrote that unqualified freedom of association is a libertarian fantasy, which led CJ to ask:

Zippy, not to get all positivist on you, but would you mind discussing principles that should be considered when qualifying freedom of association?

I think it will be easy enough to avoid positivism here, as long as we realize that we are just talking in order to wrap our minds around what is going on not writing computer code that can be executed to decide cases which have been specified in sufficient linguistic detail.

For our purposes here I’ll take “association” to mean pretty much any voluntarily chosen interaction between people, and “freedom” to imply legitimate choice.  Legitimate can refer either to legal legitimacy under the positive law or moral legitimacy under the natural law. I will confine my remarks to the latter.

Leaving aside questions of intrinsic morality which pertain to things like murder and adultery, whether and how to associate with other human beings – who to rent to, who to make friends with, etc – generally falls within the realm of prudential judgment.  Many right-liberals selectively take “prudential judgment” to mean that it is impossible to do wrong, or at least it is impossible to judge that others have done wrong, when it suits their purposes.  This is a particularly common rhetorical tactic when it comes to justifying war.

But here we know better.  Prudential judgment applies to acts that are not immoral in themselves as behaviors, but it doesn’t follow that they cannot be judged morally right or wrong based on intentions and circumstances.  In fact a prudential situation is precisely one in which the morality of what we do is determined by intentions and circumstances.

This applies to every choice we ever make.  There are no amoral choices, strictly speaking, which is why it is important to cultivate virtue, or habits of making good choices.  We can’t explicitly think through everything we do in every moment, despite the fact that everything we do is morally fraught.

But some choices are whimsical, idiosyncratic, and personal; whereas others involve more grave matters.  Whether to drink water or wine with dinner is mostly, for most people, just a matter of personal preference.  There is nothing at all wrong with personal preferences, but they can easily be overridden by more important considerations.  The choice of wine for an alcoholic is imprudent in a way that it is not for the rest of us: and because it is imprudent, it is morally wrong for him to choose it.

To model this more “algorithmically” (with the caveats about positivism in mind – this is just an intuition pump, not positivist rules), lets postulate three levels of moral gravity in the matter of a particular proposed choice: preference, serious, and grave.  Grave considerations outweigh serious ones, and serious considerations outweigh preferences.  So when a choice involves a preference set against a serious concern, a morally just prudential judgment favors the serious concern.

Choices about whom to associate with and why can involve any of these ‘levels’ of moral gravity in their particular matter; and to the extent that “freedom of association” implies that preferences can morally override other serious or grave considerations, it is just flat out wrong.

Most of the time, choosing Coke over Pepsi is just a matter of personal preference.  But doing so at the table with a bunch of Pepsi executives, knowing that one of them will be fired because of it, is a different matter entirely.  The attempt to sanitize our prudential decisions morally by invoking “freedom of association” is liberal tommyrot.

Tightening the thumbscrews of kindness

March 21, 2014 § 23 Comments

In my previous post I made the contention that Cardinal Kasper’s proposed ‘pastoral exception’ (hereafter “PE”) – the proposal that the Church, as a disciplinary matter, should endorse reception of Holy Communion by (some but not all) Catholics who are engaging in regular sexual relations with someone other than their valid spouse – is cruelty, not kindness.

(I’ll reiterate that what is proposed is that the Church should endorse some Catholics – those on a special list meeting certain criteria, I suppose – both engaging in regular sexual relations with someone other than their valid spouse and receiving Communion.  Nobody is required to show ID and walk through a naked body scanner before reception of the Eucharist).

I might have left the impression that I think that adopting the PE would be cruel and vicious toward some people but merciful toward others, and I would like to correct that (possible) false impression.  Adopting the PE would be cruel and vicious toward literally everyone.

It is obvious that the PE would be cruel and vicious toward Catholics who are in irregular situations and are putting forth the effort to try to do what is right.  This is not merely theoretical.  Implementing this proposal would kick the most vulnerable of penitents — those who are leaning heavily on the Sacraments and the unchanging doctrine of the Church to remain continent in the face of overwhelming pressure to do otherwise — right where it hurts.  The PE would completely undermine all of the support that they have.  These are real people we are talking about, not policy abstractions, and they are among the most spiritually vulnerable of the Christian faithful.

It is also obvious that this would be cruel and vicious toward any Catholics who are “on the fence” and depend on the steadfastness of the Church in order to choose what is right.  This is true even of those on the fence who ‘break bad’, for many reasons.  One reason is that it leaves them with the false impression that morality is a matter of arbitrary rules, as opposed to a calling to do what is good and loving for themselves and others.  Another is that it leaves them with no concrete picture of the road home.

Another group of people toward whom this is cruel and vicious is those who are ignorant; and really, the whole spectrum from those who are invincibly ignorant to those who willfully reject sound doctrine.  These fall into many subcategories.  For example, Catholics who are ignorant and not yet married are presented, through praxis, with ideas about marriage (and in particular indissolubility) that are false and misleading — possibly to the point where, when they attempt “marriage,” it will be invalid.

It would be easy to get lost in the weeds of casuistry by looking at particular kinds of cases here, but one consideration overwhelms all others: that the only cure for ignorance is truth, and that the longer ignorance (or willful rejection of the truth) persists the deeper into the trap of sin people fall.  Every ‘irregular’ union has a beginning and an ending (in death if not before); and the longer it goes on the more entangled and difficult it becomes for the persons involved.  Even someone who stumbled into a difficult situation out of invincible ignorance is better off knowing the truth, and knowing it sooner rather than later; because only the truth can set you free.  The Good, the True, and the Beautiful are a unity.  Christ is the Way, the Truth, and the Life. Objectively evil behaviors are chosen because of defects of knowledge and/or defects of will.  But even in those cases where the defects are of knowledge, the person is better off coming to know the truth – the sooner the better, in every sense of the word “better” – rather than remaining enslaved to ignorance.

Then there are those Catholics who are not involved in irregular relationships themselves but are looking on and possibly adopting various ‘pastoral’ positions.  The PE is cruel and vicious toward them too, again for a whole variety of reasons.  Just one is that it encourages an egotism-of-kindness, the attitude that we are good people because we hide sometimes painful truths from “those people” who are so much lesser than we are and cannot handle the fullness of truth.  It encourages the same sort of self-centered attitude of “kindness” that is involved in endorsing euthanasia: the idea that if I, hypothetically, were suffering or radically disabled I would desire the “kindness” of death for myself, administered by a “merciful” murderer at the cost of his own soul.

Finally, we come to non-Catholics.  The PE is manifestly vicious and cruel toward them, because it encourages false ideas about the Faith through praxis.  The ramifications of this deception are (like all deceptions) diverse.  But the PE is perhaps most acutely cruel toward those who are drawn to the Faith, because it is a bait and switch. Evangelism and ecumenism are real goods, but it is not kind to deliberately cultivate false beliefs in people as a way of – supposedly – drawing them to Christ, as if Christ were Pepsi to mohammedan Coke.

What are you doing here?

July 11, 2013 § 7 Comments

Today is the day to read Elspeth.

Evil for the win!

May 29, 2013 § 26 Comments

Suppose Bob has a plan to achieve good end X.

Suppose that in order to succeed at achieving good end X, Bob’s plan requires that Dave must form an evil intention.[*]  Suppose further that Bob plans to act in some concrete way – say by speaking to Dave – in order to convince him to form that specific evil intention.

Bob’s act – perhaps of speaking to Dave – is formal cooperation with evil.  Bob is deliberately trying to produce a specific evil intention in another human being. Bob’s plans will fail if Dave fails to form the specific evil intention.

In the terminology of double-effect, the evil effect (Dave forming a specific evil intention to commit a specific evil act) is a necessary cause of the good effect that Bob seeks.  But an act can never be justified, under the principle of double-effect, when an evil effect is required as the cause of the intended good effect.


[*] This reasoning holds even if it is part of Bob’s plan for Dave’s evil intention to be thwarted by circumstances.

Kicking them while they are down for Jesus

May 29, 2013 § 69 Comments

It has been suggested that it is morally acceptable for pro-life operatives to lie to abortion clinic workers, requesting an abortion that one does not intend to carry out, because clinic workers are already known to be formally cooperating in other abortions.

On top of the naked consequentialism in this approach to lying, it completely inverts the moral theology of scandal.

Under the moral theology of scandal even an otherwise morally acceptable behavior – which lying is not – can be sinful if it leads another person to sin.  Formal cooperation with evil – like a clinic worker agreeing to help someone get an abortion, or a slut agreeing to sleep with her seducer – is sinful.  Formal cooperation with evil is sinful even when the intention to do evil is thwarted by circumstances.  A tempter who is lying is just such a circumstance.

The moral theology of scandal is directed toward the protection of those who are vulnerable to temptation.  Even if an action is not evil in itself, it can become evil if it tempts another person to form an evil intention or perform an evil act.  The fact that a person may be a habitual sinner in general does not remotely begin to excuse specifically and deliberately creating the near occasion for a specific, new sin.

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