Wednesday, April 06, 2005

Here's some crap from Hugh Hewitt published in the Weekly Standard. I must say Hewitt is not one of my favorite conservative commentators, but he really should have thought at least four times before writing this.

Non-Catholics are best advised to keep silent on matters of doctrine within the Church. It is, after all, no more the business of a non-Catholic what the Church commands on the celibacy of its priests than it is a non-Muslim to opine on the proper keeping of Ramadan.

This reminds me of an argument I once had in college with a black friend of mine named Frank, who was in sort of a militant phase, and he had a list of resolutions the Black Student Union had made, almost all of which I disagreed with (they did want the university to recruit more heavily among Kansas black students, and I thought that was a good idea, especially if they started early in high school). His response to my criticisms was "You don't know what it's like to be black."

Boom. It's kind of hard to respond to a blatant play of the race card like that. I shoulda said "You don't know what it's like to be white, so does this mean nobody has the right to have opinions?" but of course I didn't think of it then. He got over the militant stuff pretty soon, but not all his friends did. Frank and I continued getting along--we were partners on the final project in a Spanish class the next semester--but we never talked about the subject of race very much again, not that I was ever going to bring it up in the first place anyway. I haven't seen him for almost fifteen years now.*

My reaction to Hugh Hewitt is kind of similar. Non-Catholics and non-Muslims have every right to opine about both Catholicism and Islam and their internal doctrines. If nothing else, because what the Catholics and the Muslims do affects all the rest of us, and so if a bunch of extremist Catholics start a campaign to bomb abortion clinics or if a bunch of extremist Muslims decide to bomb commuter trains or if a bunch of Irish morons have spent the last god knows how many years killing one another over whether their kids should get buggered by single Catholic priests or married Protestant scoutmasters, then the rest of us have got something to say. If Islam in certain countries includes clitoridectomy as one of its matters of doctrine, or if in certain countries it countenances slavery, or if it won't let women visit doctors or drive cars, or if it promotes blowing up Jews, I think the rest of us have a right to complain, just as when we complained about suttee and thuggee and untouchability and the caste system in Hindu India. Or does Mr. Hewitt think sharia, integral to Islam, is something we all ought to live under? Or that anybody ought to have to live under?

I'm a hardline agnostic who is not prejudiced, as I think all religions are equally dumb. I think anybody who fasts for religious reasons is a dope, so that should take in both the Muslims and the Catholics. I think anyone who imagines that saying magic words somehow means anything is a dope, so that includes the Catholics and the Muslims. I think anyone who believes that food or drink can be sanctified is a dope, so that includes them both. Being such a dopey man that you won't let dopey women officially intercede with God as part of your magic rituals, too, is ridiculous, and that takes them both in, too. Now, I have no problem with honest dopes who interpret their magic beliefs to mean they have to help and love others, be kind to people's grandmas, don't steal anyone else's stuff, and the like. I actually admire them greatly if they live up to the standards their beliefs set for them, which in some individuals are very high standards. It's damned hard not to covet, for example, or not to be proud. And, of course, lots of people who are dopes on this particular question are very non-dopey on most other issues.

So I leave it open: Who's right, me or Hugh?

*Nice guy. Hell of an athlete--he had a football scholarship. He was the first person I actually saw dunk a basketball. He liked to party, and I was more laid-back, but I actually don't distinctly remember a couple of bashes he threw. Good-looking chicks, that I do remember. A surprising amount of the football jocks at KU back then were smart--a lot of them were history majors for some reason, and I was in several upper-division history classes with 300-pound defensive ends asking smarter questions than me. They lost all their games, though--Sports Illustrated called KU, K-State, and MU "the Bermuda Triangle of college football" one of those years when the three teams all went 1-10, with each team's only victory against one of the others. (Can't be a dope and play football unless you only do one thing, which is why the special teams units in the NFL tend to contain several real dopes who are good at running real fast and smashing into people and not much else. They played positions in college but couldn't remember any plays and their natural talent got them through, but that don't work in the No Fun League.)

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