Friday, January 8, 2010

Rhetorical Excess

Rhetoric can be a dangerous thing, especially when it resorts to hyperbole and exaggeration without making it clear that the author knows that he’s exaggerating. When any left-wing ideologue referred to President Bush as the second-coming of Adolph Hitler, it did nothing to strengthen their criticism of his policies. If anything, it revealed that the person employing the comparison didn’t really appreciate just how evil Hitler was. When this tactic was used too often, it diminished the stature not of Bush, but of Hitler. After all, if Bush was just like Hitler, then Hitler couldn’t have been too bad. It’s a false, ridiculous, and repulsive line of argument.

It’s unfortunate that the tactic is resorted to by both enemies and friends.

There is an article today at Catholic Exchange by Colin Mason, the Director for Media Production at the Population Research Institute. In it, he argues that many groups are presenting themselves as Catholic while promoting an agenda that is at odds with what the Catholic Church teaches. He specifically cites Catholics for Choice, Catholics United, and Catholics for Health Care Reform. I whole-heartedly agree with most of what he has written. Where he loses me is when he brings up the reaction of press and of the executive director of Catholics United to criticism by Deal Hudson.

For pointing out the obvious, Hudson was summarily crucified in the press and by Catholics United. Chris Korzen, executive director of Catholics United, shot back that “abortion is legal in the United States, and there’s not much either Catholics United or Deal Hudson can do to change that.” He promptly went on to demolish his own Catholic credibility by insisting that his organization was neither “pro-abortion rights or anti-abortion rights,” but “pro-common ground.”

Deal Hudson was criticized. You could stretch things a little and say that he was attacked. He certainly was not “summarily crucified.” To say as much belittles the reality of crucifixion.

Hudson has a scandalous past. He has rehabilitated himself admirably, and I trust that he has repented. He can defend himself, presumably without suggesting that any criticism of him is comparable to executing God.

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