An Admirable Apology from Mark Shea

And one that I have to say I identify with.

It works this way:

If I am arguing with somebody who seems to me to merely be in intellectual error (like somebody getting their sums wrong or having an honestly mistake idea) I will treat that one with respect. But when I feel as though I am engaged with somebody who is wilfully refusing to get the point, I will generally reach a point where I decide “Okay, you refuse to listen honestly or reply honestly, so I will henceforth respond to you only for the sake of those third party bystanders watching the conversation who will listen. You have just been reduced to a Thing: a means to the end of talking to them.”

In addition, my attitude toward Public Figures is much the same. I tend not to see them as human beings, but as sort of semi-fictional characters. People who don’t fully exist but who are In the News and therefore symbols or representatives of ideas.

The upshot is this: Irony of ironies, a friend asked me today if I had contacted Lila Rose. I said that I had contacted her organization–recently. He said, “Why didn’t you contact her at the start of the contretemps?” I had no answer. It had never occurred to me. Those familiar with the history of the controversy will recall that when it erupted, I basically was of the school that saw no big issue and said pretty much what most LA defenders say. It wasn’t till various readers, Dawn Eden among them, challenged me and I could not find a way to argue with them that I changed me mind. Honest, you can go back to the Register blog archives and watch the progression of my change of mind in February 2011. Anyway, as the conversation moved along, I was basically thinking on the fly and in public and as opposition to the change of mind increased, it never occurred to me to contact Lila Rose because, well, my argument was primarily with people talking about her and she was a public figure acting publicly like, say, a movie star or politician or philanthopist in the headlines. And so, instead of doing what Matthew 18 says and going privately and speaking in love, I simply treated her as though she wasn’t so much a person as a thing–a Figure in the Headlines and therefore a means to an end wherein I made some points about things I wanted to say to third parties I wanted to convince.

If you are noticing a certain irony (the more accurate term is “sinful hypocrisy”) in that, so have I. Because it has been right at the heart of my complaint about Live Action’s tactics. Physician, heal thyself.

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