Ad Hominem Violence

We seem to be suffering from the loss of teaching logic – not complex “formal” logic, but basic logic as it has existed since the time of Aristotle, especially how to avoid basic logical fallacies.

I claim no expertise in logic myself. Indeed, I often regret the lack of logical instruction in my education. But exposure to even the most basic logical fallacies makes it difficult to tolerate a lot of what passes for argument in current public discourse.

One basic logical error is commonly known as “affirming the consequent.” Someone says, “If it’s raining, then the ground outside will be wet.” Someone else points out: “The ground outside is wet” and from this concludes: “therefore, it must be raining.” This is an obvious logical fallacy. The ground might be wet for any number of reasons – someone might be watering the lawn, for example – rain being only one reason among many for the ground becoming wet.

So, too, in politics we hear arguments that go something like this: “If the president’s policies work, then unemployment will go down. Unemployment has gone down. Therefore the president’s policies worked.” But this too is an obvious logical fallacy. Unemployment might have gone down for any number of reasons. The problem here is one of mistaking correlation with causality. If X comes after Y, this doesn’t necessarily mean X was caused by Y.

There are more high-power lines in some county; there also happen to be more cases of cancer in the same county. Have the high-power lines caused the cancer? It doesn’t necessarily follow. But plenty of people like to jump to that conclusion. We’d need a lot more evidence than mere correlation to conclude there was causality involved.

Another logical fallacy is the ad hominem fallacy, so-called because it is an appeal against the person making the argument rather than against the argument itself. Someone says “2 + 2 is 4″ and the reply is: “But you’re a bigoted homophobe.” Now, it may in fact be true that the first person is a bigoted homophobe (although that would presumably have to be proven, not merely asserted), but even if it were true, it doesn’t follow that 2 + 2 isn’t 4.

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A despicable man who cheats on his wife might be quite right when he says that copper conducts electricity; it counts nothing against his argument to point out that he is a terrible man. Terrible men make legitimate arguments all the time, and although we might wish it weren’t the case, absolutely saintly men and women can at times make terrible arguments. Either way, ad hominem arguments – argument attacking the one making the argument rather than the argument itself – are logically fallacious, and it doesn’t take a philosophical genius to see this.

And yet so much of contemporary political discourse is comprised of just such ad hominem attacks. Someone says, “We need to increase taxes to balance the budget” and the response is: “I can see you’re one of those high-spending liberals.” Another person argues that the way to decrease the budget deficit is to cut taxes on investment, and he hears: “You conservatives are always trying to enrich the 1 percent on the backs of the poor.” It doesn’t matter whether the speaker is really a liberal or not, or whether he is in the slightest interested in wealthy people. Attacking an opponent’s character seems sufficient for some people to imagine they’ve defeated an argument.

All logical fallacies are a problem, and if they go uncorrected, serve only to confuse argumentation. But there is, I would suggest, something especially violent about ad hominem arguments. These are not only logical mistakes, they are personal attacks. And as the stakes get higher and the arguments weaker, the more vicious the attacks tend to become. Wives and friends start getting attacked. It turns out you are friends with some notorious liberal. Gotcha! Your arguments are clearly bogus. One of the biggest problems we face in contemporary politics is the degree to which people mistake this pointless give-and-take for actual argument.

I once had a disturbing discussion with a young man who, after some minor back-and-forth, said: “Oh, you’re using logic; I don’t accept that form of Western imperialism.” Not only did his every statement depend upon logic of a basic sort – such as “To deny is not the same as to affirm” – but more tragically, in making this absurd claim, he was insulating himself from any counter-arguments that might have taught him something new.

Similarly, the tendency that frightens me most about current political discourse is the degree to which we have by our ad hominem attacks essentially insulated ourselves from the arguments of others. This is done in many ways, from “I won’t listen to a fascist hater” to “You egg-head intellectuals are never going to convince us that Trump isn’t the right man for president.” Really? Isn’t that just an admission of invincible ignorance? Can you imagine saying to Pope John Paul II or Pope Benedict: “You egg-head intellectuals are never going to convince us that abortion is wrong.” Should we take this as condemnation of them or you?

Egghead intellectuals make mistakes; but then again so do plumbers, cops, and saintly mothers. So let’s forget the ad hominem foolishness and get to the substance of the argument; that we so often don’t helps explain why we increasingly get fistfights instead of dialogue. Attack a person’s arguments, and he can respond with arguments. Attack a person’s integrity or, more ignorantly, his wife’s integrity, and expect something different.

If you’re conservative, not having liberal friends should be counted against you, not for you. The reverse is true for liberals. We need discussion partners of intelligence and good will to help us test our positions as gold is tested in fire.

Either way, responding to ad hominem attacks with more ad hominem attacks only doubles down on dumb.

Randall Smith

Randall Smith

Randall B. Smith is the Scanlan Professor of Theology at the University of St. Thomas in Houston. His most recent book, Reading the Sermons of Thomas Aquinas: A Beginner’s Guide, is now available at Amazon and from Emmaus Academic Press.

  • kevcal51

    I think that the ad hominem attacks are so predictable that many people remain silent because they do not want to be attacked. I know that I have. Not only not wanting to be attacked, but knowing that what you say, no matter how factual or truly logical what you say is, it will not even be heard by the other.

    Alinsky’s rules have been well ingrained in a certain portion of our populace, and many on the other side simply react in kind.This does not bode well for civilized, reasoned discourse.

    • Dave

      To silence oneself so as to ward off an anticipated attack is in fact to fall victim to terrorism. It’s not to say the silence isn’t prudent — nor that you alone make this move (we all do). But we have to be careful not to fall into culpable silence, a sin of omission. And this is very troubling indeed.

  • Michael Paterson-Seymour

    Λόγοσ ούδέν κινεί – Reason moves nothing says Aristotle. That is why ad hominem arguments play an essential rôle in politics and why he says that the object of rhetoric is calling the passions to the aid of reason.

    If one wishes to convince someone that there are no two square numbers one of which is double the other, reasoning may suffice; if one wants people to actually do something – make war on Philip, or impeach Warren Hastings – one needs to arouse their passions, such as indignation and moderate fear.

    • Craig Payne

      Yep. Echoing Aristotle, John Henry Newman points out that people are not typically persuaded by logical arguments.

      Yes, ad hominem attacks are despicable and stupid. But they work. So they will continue to be used, and even more frequently as their effectiveness is demonstrated.

    • Truthtold

      It is true that reason moves nothing. It takes appetite to move us. Reason is a cognitive faculty, not an appetitive faculty. It produces knowledge, not action.
      However, we typically have appetitive responses to rational conclusions. I reason that, given the wind direction and cloud cover, we are likely to have heavy rain in approximately two hours. The image of picnicking in pouring rain affects me emotionally. Those emotions move me to put off the picnic to another day. Reason can and should be used to influence action.

  • Michael Dowd

    It is perhaps true that since most of the voting public is ignorant concerning politics they must resort to label bashing: Democrats good; Republicans bad. But it hardly helps matters that the candidates themselves call each other names as a short hand method of negative identity. I doubt that any of this is likely to change as name calling is both easy and has a certain (false) righteousness about it.

  • “But exposure to even the most basic logical fallacies makes it difficult to tolerate a lot of what passes for argument in current public discourse.”

    Which is why I say that the misuse of logical fallacies has become, in and of itself, an appeal to authority fallacy.

  • Rich in MN

    There is a gray, “that dog bites” categorizing that, I know for myself, is easy to fall into. Recently, I was at a party in which one person began discussing her work as a union steward, and some of the underhanded things she had caught the company doing in its attempt to remove certain employees. She was becoming quite angry and then, out of the blue, made a remark along the lines, “I regret having to say this, but I am relieved that Antonin Scalia died.” Of course, the implication was clear that there was something about Scalia’s judicial behavior that was going to make it easier for employers to treat employees as disposable equipment. Given the emotional state of the person, it did not seem prudent to ask her how she saw Scalia impacting future labor relations. I don’t remember how, but someone in the room quickly lumped Scalia and Scott Walker, and all but one person in the room seemed to nod in agreement.

    I relay this story as an example of “liberals” exhibiting cookie cutter categorizing, but I know that I fill in “lacunae” in my own knowledge with my own types of “that dog bites” categorizing and stereotyping. None of us has perfect knowledge, so categorizing based on limited information is necessary. However, it is all too easy to raise it to an art form so abstract that a Picasso painting would look like stark realism by comparison.

    • Oscar Pierce

      Thanks Rich, particularly as I believe that we’re called to judge behavior (not individuals) and resultant outcomes in formation of conscience.

      Your comments have I think, insightful parallels to your comments to, “Friendship From Above.”

      • Rich in MN

        Oscar, thank you. When I have a bit more time, I will try to remember to refresh my memory on those other comments!

  • Steven P Glynn

    Excellent article Mr. Smith, I have been mourning the passing of logic for some time. It does however bring up a question regarding ad hominem. What if the speaker (we’ll make him a presidential candidate) indeed states that “In my administration 2 + 2 shall equal four.”, but one has heard that same speaker in front of different audiences state that the sum would be 3 or 5? Is it an ad hominem argument to point out that at some point the speaker was a liar? Regardless of how astute one may find a speaker, would it not be disconcerting to know that the speaker has quite recently made the opposite claim on virtually every issue? I too often regret a lack of logic instruction, but it would certainly seem logical to demand consistency (or at minimum an explanation for the lack of consistency) in an argument. How does one respond to someone nearly simultaneously supporting and opposing contrasting sides of every argument, without what would seem an ad hominem argument?

  • Fr. Peter Morello, Ph.D.

    “I don’t accept that form of Western imperialism” is the best comic line I’ve heard of late. Did you laugh or wonder [perhaps both] how you’re reasoning might match the comment? Like Rich in Mn and Paterson-Seymour below I agree there can be a value to ad hominem response. If we perceive a connection in a person’s viewpoint with their personal life experience it may cause that person to rethink their position, perhaps finding some validity in the ad hominem response. For example I once conversed with someone not wishing to reveal I was a priest and the person eventually asked Are you a priest. Needless to say much of what you say in your article is true. Nevertheless there is often a nuance of truth in a person’s seemingly unfair retort. Truth must be pursued in complete humility, the reason being obvious when we, that is all of us including myself, make the effort to recognize how much of what we perceive is colored by preconception.

  • rick

    Today’s NYT has an article about Trump’s foreign policy advisers, and the journalist’s travails trying to find anybody who’s ever heard of them, complete with a photo of one advisor whose eyes look like the Boston strangler about to clamp down on his latest victim. Wickedly funny if you don’t Trump; cheap NYT tirckery if you do. My point is that we’ve become relaint on the ad hominem to understand the vastly complex world we live in, not just because it’s easier dealing on an emotional level than on the logical, but also because human faces give us a shorthand way to communicate. I agree w/ Prof Smith that our discourse would be better if we substituted logic for personal attack. But it sure would clarify things if Trump hired some advisers with independent stature so we could better evaluate his positions. For all I can tell Trump could be Ron Paul on foreign policy or Dick Cheyney or anywhere in between. Hire David Petraeus and I might re-think not voting for him.

  • Sheila

    A perfect conversation during this week of passion. Look at the Perfect One who suffered unbearable torture and vulgarities at the hand of sinful man. Dogs ripping Him to shreds. None of that was logical. It was pure insanity. But that’s the reality of fallen man at his/her worst. That’s all of us folks. You and me. We all put Him there. We are by nature fallen man. Look what the torturers did to Christ’s companions. Don’t we see that happening today to many decent and God-fearing men/women within this secular society. Jesus’s companions. Where good is bad and bad is good. That is not logical. Jesus was and still is not logical to many. But to those who trust and love Him, we become like fools for Him. Its not about logic my friends. It’s about loving Him and following His ways to even the Cross. So we look to a candidate who has been trying to follow Him. Not for a short and inexperienced time, but most of their lives so godly habits have been formed. So decisions made on our behalf may have a better chance of having God in each decision that contains life and death issues. As imperfect as we all are in making “all” the right decisions, I pray for God’s intercession in this election and that He leads us to vote for a man who is not full of pride and outright boastings in himself, for “pride comes before the fall”. But instead vote for a proven, principled and faith-filled man who more than likely will continue to work to do God’s will in America. And in the process helo to turn America back to Him. Our secularized society, in and out of our holy Church, deserves God’s wrath for what we have done to so many, especially to our precious and innocent babies and children. And to eachother. Our opinions mean nothing compared to Yours God. Dearest God, we don’t deserve Your mercy, but we plead for You to please help us turn back to You in every way. We need Your help God. We NEED You in our lives every day! We ask for your forgiveness and mercy. Our Lady of Guadalupe please intercede for us and help us turn back to your Son. Thank you.

    • Howard Kainz

      “Vote for a proven, principled and faith-filled man who more than likely will continue to work to do God’s will in America.”
      And if there are no candidates like that, what is your “Plan B”?

      • Sheila

        I don’t need a Plan B because I believe I found the best candidate to vote for some time ago. That has never wavered, and in fact my decision is becoming stronger over time. I trust God in that decision and I am at peace. If you or anyone else feel you have not found the best candidate to vote for, then you need to talk to God about it until you get an answer. I’m sure you already know that. The two likely candidates are really not saying anything new, but one of them keeps changing his mind on many fronts. But who’s counting…not me. Hmmm.

  • Harry

    “You egg-head intellectuals are never going to convince us that Trump isn’t the right man for president.” Really? Isn’t that just an admission of invincible ignorance? Can you imagine saying to Pope John Paul II or Pope Benedict: “You egg-head intellectuals are never going to convince us that abortion is wrong.” Should we take this as condemnation of them or you?

    So, Trump supporters are like people who think abortion is OK? That is a very clever way to subtly make an ad hominem attack, a method that is almost subliminal, which makes it all the more potent. I hope it was unintentional, Mr. Smith.

    I am least uncomfortable with Ted Cruz, so these aren’t the thoughts of a flaming Trump supporter: It is disturbing to me how Catholic pundits (not you, Mr. Smith — at least not that I am aware of) are far more harsh with Trump than they are on our corrupt, self-serving establishment (consisting of Republicans and Democrats alike) that has perpetuated the diabolical social engineering we have seen destroy innocent humanity by the millions and assault institutions the necessary preservation of which humanity has understood from time immemorial. Such diabolical social engineering undermines the ancient understanding of all civilized people that marriage consists of a man and a woman committed to each other and to the children their union will bring forth, and the understanding that such couples will remain open to their union bringing forth children, instead of artificially preventing their conception — and if that prevention fails, arrange to have a “doctor” take the life their newly conceived child. As commonplace as the denial of the traditional Western ethic has become, it is nonetheless utterly revolutionary and is a blatant and eventually lethal assault on Western civilization itself.

    Even if Trump overthrows the current anti-life, anti-family establishment for the wrong reasons, he still seems to be willing to overthrow the establishment. Americans, when asked to choose between the certainty of inevitable disaster to which the current establishment is leading us, and the possibility of disaster along which the chance of a positive outcome, are going to choose the latter. This explains the Trump phenomenon. Ordinary people know that avoiding certain disaster sometimes requires taking actions fraught with peril.

    Catholic pundits would do well to point out the certain disaster we face if we don’t change course, rather than Trump’s deficiencies and the risks they may pose to us.

    • West

      Very well said.

    • Fr. Peter Morello, Ph.D.

      I like the way you put it Harry, that you’re least uncomfortable with Cruz. The reason is I’m extremely uncomfortable with Trump, and need to give rationale to friends if asked why Cruz.

      • Sheila

        Uncomfortable…I agree. Just one more reason. Plus Trump flippantly stated he is against abortion after being in favor of partial birth abortion. That’s a big leap. And he also stated that he will still support PP. Hmm. I do not trust this person.

  • Fr. Peter Morello, Ph.D.

    On the other hand. It cannot be denied that the salient point of your article is correct regarding the tendency to attack ad hominem when we apparently do not have a reasonable response to criticism. Recently I criticized Trump in a reasonable way addressing his lack of experience, generalities, and insults. The response was overwhelmingly negative, ad hominem accusation upon accusation from out of left field [even accusing me of being a progressive]. After awhile I got fed up with the accolades some gave Trump picturing him as messianic. So I decided to be insulting, completely vitriolic in several attacks aimed at their Messiah. The amazing thing was the response was much quieter, reasonable in tone [except for those convinced I’m progressive]. How do we explain that? Can it be that the harshness of my tone caused Trump supporters to think twice? I don’t know the answer. Perhaps in the end we can’t be too analytic and like Wittgenstein say “Leave the darn thing alone!” Perhaps we should listen briefly for content and brush things off. Perhaps that really expresses love. Perhaps Rodney King had the ultimate answer, “Why can’t we just get along!”

    • Dave Fladlien

      Father, I hate to say this to a good friend, but as you once said to me, there are a lot of people who write to this site, each believing intensely in what they hold and advocate, and each caring enough to take the time to express it, or even to try to share it. So we can’t expect that it will always be civil. I read those comments and saw that you got beat up pretty badly, but I’ve been on the short end of some of that in past too, and no doubt will be again.

      A very good clinical psychologist I used to know once told me that the difference between the people who are (rightly) imprisoned and the rest of us who aren’t is basically that we on the “outside” still believe we can resolve our differences with words; those on the “inside” do not. So they resort to violence.

      That’s why we can’t “just get along”. The combination of strong beliefs and the inability of many to settle for, and tolerate sincerely, the resulting disagreements makes it a virtual impossibility, at least in my opinion. Even assuming (and hoping) we avoid violence, it isn’t likely we will avoid a great deal of animosity.

      • Fr. Peter Morello, Ph.D.

        That may be true, and wishful thinking Dave. Much of what I said is subtle humor [at least I think so]. I wasn’t disturbed by the torrent of verbal assault [someone even called me an anarchist, which made me feel kinda proud that I was considered more anti establishment than Trump] since I expected it, and felt it was for a good cause. By all means stick to your strong beliefs. I certainly will stick to mine. Your psychologist sounds more like Confusius. Does he read tea leaves? [Dave. This is humor]. The gist of my post was friendly words addressing a rationale for peace in the midst of expected and oft warranted strong disagreement. For example Wittgenstein’s point was that we can analyze things to death. Take the point.

  • Dave

    Bravo, Prof. Smith, for putting your finger on a very important problem. I’ve noticed that while the pundits of the left excoriate a certain candidate — at times, properly, in my view — they fail to notice that his ad hominem comments occur when he is attacked, and that it is the Left itself that has perfected the ad hominem argument with all of its attendant shaming and social scorn, for quite some time now. Leftist politics is personal, deeply personal. Rightist politics tend to be principle-centered and so when attacked, people of the Right tend to respond first with principle– but can let it rip, too, when principle fails to win the day. So while recognizing that people on the right can and do fall to the ad hominem attack, I think it only fair to note that this is a characteristic attack of the Left, going right back to Alinsky and to his philosophical ancestors.

    You raise an important point regarding friendship, and it is worthwhile to recall that the late Justice Scalia (r.i.p.) counted amongst his closest friends those with whom he most deeply disagreed on the Court, who deeply mourned his passing. There is something very instructive about the quality of his Christian charity and his Christian gentlemanliness – as there is to the dignity of the family not responding to the scurrilousness of so many of the attacks against a man who can no longer defend himself. May his prayers for us help us overcome this deep social flaw of ours.

    Of course the greatest ad hominem violence was perpetrated against the King of King and Lord of Lords, accused of blasphemy and treason and subject to the vileness of scourging and crucifixion. His is the response that is our model, “Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do.” Only the logic of the Cross, only the logic of sacrificial self-giving love, which is so difficult to grasp until its meaning is given in a gracious act of pellucid clarity when the Father is ready –when the believer is able to receive it of the Father –, can overcome the logical fallacies that are rooted in hatred of the other and in fear that acknowledging the partial truth of the other side means that I will go without. Pray that we be ready to receive that Light; and, that if we have, that it have its full, purifying effect upon us and upon our social discourse. Then we can become part of the solution.

  • Michael DeLorme

    I was taken aback by the following:

    “It doesn’t matter whether the speaker is really a liberal or not, or whether he is in the slightest interested in wealthy people. Attacking an opponent’s character seems sufficient for some people to imagine they’ve defeated an argument.”

    So, calling a person a liberal is to attack his character? I’d say that, assuming—from the fact that someone speaks favorably of raising taxes—that the speaker is a liberal may be mistaken; I don’t see that it’s ad hominem. Raising taxes is, in fact, primarily a liberal solution to every problem. And liberalism, in economics, is creeping socialism.

    Sometimes, though, even conservatives want to solve things by throwing money at them; and sometimes that is the solution—when it’s voluntary.

    If someone were to say, then, that we’re better off under the socialist policies of Obama, than we were under the capitalist policies of Reagan, I’d question his sanity, first; maybe then, his character.

    Also, as to ad hominem…the fact that Mr. Obama has had someone of such low caliber as Al Sharpton visit him in the White House over 70 times does speak volumes. No, it doesn’t establish this President’s lack of character; it confirms it.

    • TomD

      Michael, I think that the author’s point, in part, was that, if I may state it in my own words, you don’t effectively and honestly interact with an idea, unless you engage it with other ideas.

      Simply calling someone a “liberal” is, in that sense, a form of ad hominem attack. If someone is sincerely interested in engaging in the realm of ideas, which seems to be increasingly less likely today in many website comboxes, then all forms of ad hominem should be avoided.

      Rather than, for example, the “you’re a liberal . . . well, you’re a fascist” exchange with respect to tax policy, if you favor tax cuts, have some real, in-depth data involving the effects of tax cuts and tax increases on the economy and then be prepared to engage in the complexity of the relationship between tax policy and economic policy/economic growth.

      Too often the ad hominem is the quick, “lazy” response, and diminishes the likelihood of having a meaningful and fruitful discussion. But having meaningful and fruitful discussions in internet comboxes may be unrealistic, especially with the volume of trolls who seem to regularly inhabit comboxes and whose purpose is to incite and dissemble, not to honestly engage and enlighten.

  • WSquared

    “Someone says “2 + 2 is 4″ and the reply is: “But you’re a bigoted homophobe.” Now, it may in fact be true that the first person is a bigoted homophobe (although that would presumably have to be proven, not merely asserted), but even if it were true, it doesn’t follow that 2 + 2 isn’t 4.”

    So in other words, Donatism is a kind of ad hominem argument: “the Eucharist consecrated and received by this particular priest is invalid because Father is a pedophile/meanie/boring bozo.” Now, that may indeed be true that Father is a pedophile. Or mean. Or boring. Or all three at once. But even if it were true, it doesn’t follow that given the correct matter, form, and intent, that that’s not the Eucharist.

    “I once had a disturbing discussion with a young man who, after some minor back-and-forth, said: “Oh, you’re using logic; I don’t accept that form of Western imperialism.””

    Oy, vey.

    “he was insulating himself from any counter-arguments that might have taught him something new.”

    …like his every statement being dependent on logic of some sort, or else nothing he says would make sense, would be intelligible, and therefore there would be no reason why anyone else should take seriously or even out-and-out care about his precious “opinion.” I am of Asian descent. But that has no bearing on how logic, “Western Imperialism” or no, keeps me sane, not least when surrounded by examples like what I’ve just read.

    “Can you imagine saying to Pope John Paul II or Pope Benedict: “You egg-head intellectuals are never going to convince us that abortion is wrong.””

    Actually, that IS the sort of argument made by enough Catholics at the parish level, DREs and some clergy included: “you egg-head intellectuals are never going to convince me that you love Jesus because you’re egg-headed intellectuals who necessarily make everything about the intellect and never about the heart!” We see a form of this every time we discuss the liturgy, especially when the music someone chooses is inappropriate due to the very truth of what is of the liturgy. Enough times, the very fact that praise of God– which the Catechism describes as loving God for being God– requires logical articulation still means “you make everything about the intellect and not about the heart,” no matter what the heck you say to people who dismiss Benedict XVI despite never having read him, much less understood him.

    Frankly, those who do not think with the faith they have been given should not be allowed to teach CCD or Prep anywhere, much less Confirmation classes or RCIA: St. Irenaeus observed that “the glory of God is a human being fully alive.” Either Catholicism addresses the whole person holistically, or it does not. And there are certain logical implications that follow from the premises that it does as well as the premises that it does not. For one, discernment in the Christian life, whereby one will be expected not only to know what we believe and why, but to make choices for or against putting God first, requires not just the will, but the intellect simply for demanding a sense of direction as well as a developing understanding of one’s target (expressed in terms of questions like “is God good?” and “does He care about me?”) in the first place.

  • Kris Kohler

    Unfortunately this excellent piece will never be read by the folks suffering from the malady of using ad hominems as effective debate technique. It appears that long ago voters lost critical thinking skills.

    • Michael DeLorme

      Some voters.

  • Maria Tierney Koehn

    Clear logical thinking today:

    “Why would the government need us to provide these services? Everyone knows the government can provide free services to anyone it wishes without our signing a form. It has always been clear to us that rather than being an “opt out,” the form is an opt-in. It gives the government permission to use our plan to deliver services such as ella, the week-after pill. The form even says our signature will legally alter our contract with our insurance provider.”
    – Mother Provincial of the Little Sisters

    • Fr. Peter Morello, Ph.D.

      Up early for awhile and read this happy, important post. Happy because the Little Sisters are sticking to their guns regarding the faith of the Church, and the spiritual integrity of us all giving us needed example.

  • Stogumber

    One mustn’t ignore that a lot of public debate isn’t about arguments. It’s about prognoses who cannot be confirmed or refuted today but about whom we have to make decisions today. Those debates are rightly occupied with whom to trust or distrust.
    The disadvantage of an intellectual is that he has more opportunities to hide his special interests or prejudices behind a lot of words.

  • Robert A Rowland

    Thanks Randall, you have hit on a meaningful discussion to decipher political campaign rhetoric. I have obviously never used or given ad hominem attacks much serious thought. You clarified the issue perfectly.

  • Steven Barrett

    Trump vs. Cruz … it’s like watching two snakes in a pit. Take your pick.