Why power mongers love impossible goals

JRM Blue jacket Mary SweetenedThis is the text of Day 4, Week 2 of Dr. J’s Daily Chats, recorded on May 7, 2020: “Why power mongers love impossible goals.”

Last time, we talked about modest, attainable goals and utopian impossible goals.

It is Utopian thinking to believe we can prevent all deaths from the Wuhan virus. Why would the public authorities take on the responsibility to prevent all deaths? Why would the news media goad them into assuming such a goal?

Doing the impossible requires a lot of power. Let’s say, for the sake of argument, that a person or group has the goal of accumulating as much power as possible. Convincing everyone that an impossible task is a high moral duty would be quite useful. The people Continue reading “Why power mongers love impossible goals”

A sure-fire test for detecting ideology.

JRM Blue jacket Mary SweetenedWeek 2, Day 3 of Dr. J’s Daily Chats: Toxic Ideologies and how to detect them. What do the Wuhan virus and transgender athletes have in common? Listen in. This is the text of the chat recorded on Wednesday, May 6, 2020. 

Last time, I explained that the Sexual Revolution is a toxic ideology. Today, I want to give a simple test that will protect you against toxic ideologies. I’ll illustrate by looking at something on everyone’s minds right now: the Wuhan virus.

All decent people want to control the spread of the virus. We want to reduce the number of people who become ill. We want those who do become ill to have a better chance of successful treatment and cure. We want to develop more effective treatments and preventive measures.

These are all reasonable goals.

But not everyone is satisfied with modest objectives like these. We sometimes hear calls Continue reading “A sure-fire test for detecting ideology.”

The Sexual Revolution is Toxic.

JRM Blue jacket Mary SweetenedDr J’s Chats. Week 2, Episode 2.  The Sexual Revolution is Toxic. “You are your safest sex partner,” says the New York Department of Health. But they can’t bring themselves to tell people to knock off the casual sex. Listen in. 

This is the text of the chat recorded on May 5, 2020. 

Samaritan’s Purse has been running a field hospital in New York City’s Central Park for COVID-19 patients who do not require ventilators. The President of Samaritan’s Purse is Franklin Graham, son of Billy Graham. This organization has been providing around the world since 1970. 

But it was recently announced that Samaritan’s Purse will close its Central Park field hospital, after treating 315 patients.  This is due in part to pressure from city officials and LGBTQ activists. Corey Johnson, Speaker of the New York City Council recently demanded that the group not be allowed to continue providing COVID-19 relief. Continue reading “The Sexual Revolution is Toxic.”

Exceptionless Moral Norms: No Tradeoffs.

JRM Blue jacket Mary SweetenedDr J’s Chats. Week 2, Episode 1. 

Last time, we talked about tradeoffs. Tradeoffs are inevitable, and unavoidable. We are constantly making decisions that pit some good things against others. We want to spend time with our families: a good thing. We also want to earn a living, so we can support our families. Also a good thing. We often face decisions where we must trade off two good things.

Or, we may have to decide about risks. There is a risk of getting into a car accident, every time I get into a car. There is some risk of catching an illness from another person. Yet we drive our cars and come into contact with strangers every day. We consider those risks acceptable, all things considered, under most circumstances.

But I cannot leave you with the impression that there are always tradeoffs. There is such a thing as a moral absolute. Some moral norms have no exceptions, no tradeoffs. Take the commandment, “Thou Shalt Not Kill.”

“Thou shalt not kill” does not mean you cannot step on a bug. Nor does it mean that you cannot defend yourself from a person who poses an immediate mortal danger to you. The prohibition “Thou shalt not kill” prohibits the deliberate taking of an innocent human life.  Understood in that way, the commandment is an absolute moral norm. No excuses. No exceptions.

So here is what seems to have happened to us, as a culture. We have people with enormous amounts of power and influence who have stood things on their heads. We hear Andrew Cuomo telling pro-life supporters they have no place in New York. We see the state of New York light up the One World Trade Center to celebrate the extension of legal permission to kill preborn persons, the most innocent imaginable, right up until the moment of birth.

Yet in the effort to stem the spread of a virus, health officials are targeting activities with a relatively modest probability of harming anyone. Gatherings for worship. Going to the beach. And the government is willing to use its police powers to shut down synagogues, fine people, arrest them and even jail them.

Overall, we have absolutized things that should be relative: namely imposing risks on yourself or others. And we have relativized things that should be absolute, like no killing innocent people.

So while there certainly are tradeoffs in many situations, there are also some things that are always and everywhere morally forbidden.

And honestly, those constraints are not nearly such a burden. I mean, most people can go through their entire lives and never deliberately take the life of an innocent person. Normal people never deliberately withhold information that protects felons. Most people go their entire lives without ever sexually assaulting a child. Normal people never perjure themselves in a court of law.

All of which brings to mind:

Jeffrey Epstein did not kill himself. See you next time.

This is the text of the video posted on the Ruth Institute Facebook page, May 4, 2020. Dr J’s Chats. Week 2, Episode 1. 

Tradeoffs are unavoidable. You be the statesman.  

Episode 5: Dr J’s Daily Chats 

This is the text of the video I just made on the Ruth Institute Facebook page and posted on May 1, 2020.

The Wuhan virus is presenting us with questions that may never have exact answers. I hope I convinced you earlier that we cannot just “leave it to the experts.” One set of experts contradicts another.

And that is under the best-case scenario where we trust everyone to be telling us the complete unvarnished truth. We are a long way from the best-case scenario. I’m sure I don’t need to tell you that. Continue reading “Tradeoffs are unavoidable. You be the statesman.  “

The Human Person is Meant for Love.

JRM Blue jacket Mary SweetenedEpisode 4: of Dr. J’s Daily Chats. I made a short video, posted on the Ruth Institute Facebook page on April 30. Here is the text. This will be the part of a series on the subject of truth. Speaking of truth, Jeffrey Epstein did not kill himself.

Last time, we talked about the problem with experts. They know what they are talking about. But they only know about their own field. Their opinion on any other area of endeavor may be no better than anyone else’s.

Under the influence of infectious disease specialists, governments around the world are requiring extreme “social distancing” measures.

I’ve heard some heartbreaking stories the costs of these mandates. Elderly people living in nursing homes cannot have their loved ones come and see them. One elderly mother was inside the nursing home, with her son looking inside the window. She was crying for him to come in and hug her. She couldn’t understand why he wouldn’t come in. Some elderly people in this situation become depressed and stop eating. They are not allowed to hug their grandchildren.

I bet we can find a geriatrics specialist who will explain that this is not a healthy situation for the elderly.

Speaking of hugs: Babies need to be held. Babies need to bond, preferably with their own parents. We could easily find child development specialists who can explain to us that the failure to thrive syndrome is a real thing. These are babies who have no identifiable illness, who are fed, clothed, and properly medicated. But they do not grow or thrive and sometimes even die.

In fact, what child development experts now call “failure to thrive” was originally called “hospitalism.” The failure to thrive syndrome was discovered in hospitals in the early twentieth century. The staff was trying to keep the children free of germs.

The child development experts will tell you that keeping a baby free of germs by no one ever touching the baby is a “cure” far worse than most diseases.

What do the elderly and the new-born babies have in common? They are unavoidably dependent on others. In our modern age, we tend to think there is something wrong with people being dependent. We think independence is the natural state of human life. But the fact that babies can die without human contact shows us that human contact is not optional.

It is a basic fact: absolutely every single person comes into life as a helpless baby. Everyone is dependent on others, at some point in their lives. It is the only truly universal human experience.

In fact, I would go further and say this: the human person is meant for love. As Pope St. John Paul II once said, “Man cannot live without love. He remains a being that is incomprehensible for himself, his life is senseless, if love is not revealed to him, if he does not encounter love, if he does not experience it and make it his own.”  As far as I know, every branch of Christianity agrees with this.

That is why we cannot blindly accept the absolute priority of avoiding the spread of germs. We can’t go on like this. We are social creatures, meant to love and be loved.

We need some way of balancing our competing needs, and the competing forms of expertise. I will tell you more about that next time.

By the way, guys like Jeffrey Epstein know nothing of love. And he did not kill himself.

See you next time.

Why Experts aren’t enough.

Dr. J’s Chats, Episode 3: Why Experts aren’t enough.  

I made this short video posted on the Ruth Institute Facebook page on April 29. Here is the text.

 When a new infectious disease is discovered, our information about it is necessarily incomplete. We have to collect the important data. We have to analyze it accurately, which includes classifying cases in a sensible manner. The average person has no expertise at all in this area. Neither does the average politician or journalist. All of us must rely on experts to do their jobs competently and honestly.

We need accurate information. Yet what we actually have is expert opinion, as filtered through the news media and political jockeying. No wonder people are upset. We don’t know what to believe. We are facing unknowable risks. We are being asked to make unprecedented sacrifices and disruptions. Continue reading “Why Experts aren’t enough.”

Wuhan Virus Intimately Connected with the Sexual Revolution

Educate Icon(Originally published at the National Catholic Register, April 27, 2020.) 

COMMENTARY: The pandemic raises serious questions about our modern approach to marriage, family and human sexuality.

When the COVID-19 crisis first hit the news, I thought to myself, “Oh boy, nobody is going to want to talk about the family anymore. It is going to be all COVID, all the time.”

I was wrong. The issues the Ruth Institute deals with are just as important as ever. That’s because pandemics don’t exist in a vacuum. We can easily see that the political and economic system in which a new disease takes hold plays a part in how that country copes with that pandemic. We can now see that the culture surrounding the family makes a difference in how the United States and other developed countries are dealing with the new coronavirus. And the pandemic raises serious questions about our modern approach to marriage, family and human sexuality.

Top of the list: The pandemic highlights the absurdity of the hyper-sexualized society in which we live. At the opening of the crisis, a pornography industry lobbying group called on those who make so-called adult entertainment to voluntarily cease operations for two weeks. (This was before it was obvious that everyone was going to shut down.) The industry congratulated itself, for its undying love of humanity. Really? A two-week hiatus by a $16.9 billion industry is a great sacrifice?

In fact, the move was a public relations gimmick by an industry that daily wrecks people’s lives. Pornography is strongly correlated with infidelity, divorce and marital dissatisfaction. It’s also an affront to human dignity. This harm will barely be impacted by a two-week break. And the consumption of porn has increased during the near-global lockdown. Just Google “lockdown on pornography” and you’ll see what I mean.

Meanwhile, New York City’s Department of Public Health issued guidelines which helpfully note that “masturbation will not spread COVID-19, especially if you wash your hands (and any sex toys) for at least 20 seconds before and after.” Beyond that, it recommends avoiding intimate relations with strangers and group sex.

Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, couldn’t bring himself to tell people to avoid sex with strangers. In response to a question about people using casual sex/dating apps like Tinder or Grinder, Fauci said, “If you’re willing to take a risk — and you know, everybody has their own tolerance for risks — you could figure out if you want to meet somebody. And it depends on the level of the interaction that you want to have. If you’re looking for a friend, sit in a room and put a mask on, and you know, chat a bit. If you want to go a little bit more intimate, well, then that’s your choice regarding a risk.”

Sensible people don’t need to be told to abstain from risky conduct, like casual sex and orgies, even without a pandemic. The public health establishment appears to assume that sex with strangers is so natural that we can’t ask people to give it up. If you think you’ll die by abstaining from sex, you’re probably a sex addict. All of which raises the question: Are we ruled by sex addicts?

Both the U.S. surgeon general and the Centers for Disease Control have advised health care facilities to reschedule non-urgent appointments and elective procedures. A number of pro-life and pro-family groups, including the Ruth Institute, have asked state attorneys general to enforce CDC guidelines by ordering abortion businesses to close down for the duration. For decades, abortion proponents have told us that a woman has a “right to choose.” That makes abortion elective, by definition.

But Planned Parenthood says abortion is a time-sensitive essential service. Abortion facilities use masks, gloves and other personal protection equipment. (At least, I hope they do.) Why are these scarce medical resources not being reallocated for coronavirus patients?

Likewise, so-called sex-change operations or “gender affirmation” surgeries are elective surgeries. These procedures alter the physical appearance, not the sex, of the subject. The biological sex they had at the beginning of their life they will have throughout their life.

The Ruth Institute has partnered with Life Petitions on a petition calling on governors to stop these procedures, for at least the duration of the shutdown. No one will be harmed by this, and it will give the gender-confused time to rethink what could be a life-altering decision.

The petition also asks governors to lift bans on counseling to help the gender-confused embrace reality. These bans are currently so broadly written that therapists often fear speaking frankly to their clients. “Your surgery cannot be scheduled for the foreseeable future. You will be okay. Let’s talk about how you can live comfortably in your body, as it is right now.” Is that forbidden speech? Right now, therapists in some states are unsure.

Finally, the coronavirus pandemic highlights the role of declining birth rates. In mid-March, Italy had the second-highest number of confirmed COVID cases. Not coincidentally, it also has one of the lowest fertility rates in Europe: 1.33 children per woman, far below the replacement level of 2.1.

That has given the nation a rapidly aging population and pension costs that dominate public-sector budgets. Both have put a strain on Italy’s health care system, making it unable to respond effectively to a medical crisis like the coronavirus pandemic. Some of us in the pro-family movement have been predicting this sort of problem for a long time. Perhaps now, people will be inclined to listen.

The sexual revolutionary establishment thinks the answer to lots of people dying (i.e., the pandemic) is to kill people (i.e., abortion.) In the face of the spread of a novel contagious disease, the sexual revolutionary establishment cannot manage to advise people to keep their pants on. I guess there is still plenty of work for the pro-family movement!

Continue reading “Wuhan Virus Intimately Connected with the Sexual Revolution”

Moral Relativism is Not True. And we all know it.

JRM Blue jacket Mary SweetenedI just made a short video, posted on the Ruth Institute Facebook page on April 28. Here is the text.

Our reaction to the new virus makes one thing truly clear: there is such a thing as truth that exists outside our personal beliefs and desires. And we all know it. 

We don’t have time for pseudo-sophisticated intellectuals who try to convince us that there is no truth, only “truth” in scare quotes. You know the sort of philosophy I mean. Truth is nothing but a socially constructed myth. You shouldn’t trust anyone who claims to know the truth. That person is just out to control you.

This philosophy of non-truth goes by a number of names. Moral relativism. Proportionalism. Critical studies, including critical legal studies and critical gender studies. Consequentialism. And probably some others I don’t know about.

There is “your truth” and “my truth” and possibly “our truth.” But truth without modifiers? Nope. No self-respecting modern person believes that.

Until now. Continue reading “Moral Relativism is Not True. And we all know it.”

We Need Truth

I just made a short video, posted on the Ruth Institute Facebook page. Here is the text. This will be the first in a series on the subject of truth. Speaking of truth, Jeffrey Epstein did not kill himself.JRM Blue jacket Mary Sweetened

Episode 1: We need truth.

Dealing with the new virus and the global shutdown has clearly taught us one point: we need truth.  Lives depend on determining the truth. How contagious and deadly is the virus really? Are the mass quarantines and lockdowns really necessary?  Some uncertainty is unavoidable. We are facing a new disease. We Continue reading “We Need Truth”

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