Questionable Motives

April 8, 2010

What does an idiotic argument look like?

George Neumayr is an editor of the Catholic World Report. He writes this brilliant example of what an idiotic argument looks like in The Washington Times. He opens his article with the following:

Since when have secularists and dissenting Catholics been experts on the protection of children? These self-appointed reformers of the Catholic Church preside over a debased culture that abuses, aborts and corrupts children.

This is a classic ad hominum attack called a tu quoque argument: a logical fallacy in which one attempts to defend oneself or another from criticism by turning the critique back against the accuser. In effect, this is exactly the purpose of Neumayr’s thesis and it’s an idiotic defense of the Catholic Church generally and the vicar of christ specifically regarding the handling of sex abuse scandals by priests and clergy.

Most of us learn during our early schooling why this childish argument holds no ethical sway with adult reasoning. Now, with defenders like George calling on idiotic and childish arguments to stop the thinning of its ranks of practicing catholics in western countries, the leadership of the catholic church is in deeper and more dire moral straits than ever. Somehow, and in spite of defenders like George, they must find a way to live up to the Ratzinger’s own advice so generously granted to the Irish bishops to stop the exodus: search their conscience, take responsibility for any sins they have committed, and conceal nothing. Blaming secularists, gays and lesbians, abortionists, liberal elites, and dissenting catholics for the church’s failure to address pedophilia as George attempts and fails to do with his article is just one more impediment to finding meaningful reform.

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