All of the following items inspired me to post, but sometimes inspiration is not enough, and now they’re old. I’m passing them along anyway.
1. When Less Is More. Dahlia Lithwick explains and dissects “[t]he nutty legal syllogism that powers the Bush administration.”
2. Democracy Takes a Village. Joseph Pearce invokes the thought of E.F. Schumacher to ask how big our nation can become without making our democracy impossibly undemocratic. (I now see this particular article from the December 9 edition of The American Conservative is not available online without a subscription, but if you don’t subscribe to The American Conservative, perhaps you should.)
3. What Would Jack Bauer Do? Michael Brendan Dougherty chronicles the disturbing extent to which some treat Fox’s hit show “24” as if it were a model for real life.
4. What Is “Legal”? On Abortion, Democracy, and Catholic Politicians. I’ve long admired Fr. James V. Schall, S.J., not only for the substance of his teaching, but for his theory of grading, which worked to my short-term detriment but longer-term benefit. In this piece, he asks provocative questions about the spiritual costs of abortion on demand, with this twist: Fr. Schall is asking less about the spiritual costs of any given abortion than about the spiritual costs of the political decision to make abortion legal. Part of what makes the argument so provocative is that it does not seem to include anything that would prevent one from extending it to any moral wrong countenanced by the law. (For example, what are the spiritual costs of no-fault divorce laws? Of allowing people to buy their way out of performing certain promises? Of allowing people to work on Sunday?)
5. What Did [Lincoln] Really Think About Race? The contrast between Abraham Lincoln’s quiet, practical effectiveness on racial equality and Frederick Douglass’s uncompromising articulation of moral principle is interesting for its own sake, as history. But in addition, people often draw parallels between the moral argument against slavery and the moral argument against legalized abortion, and this piece lends itself to that comparison as well. If the basic Lincoln/Douglass dichotomy in this piece is accurate, then so far the abortion debate is different from the slavery debate in at least one important particular: With respect to legalized abortion, we have Douglasses everywhere, but we can’t seem to find a Lincoln.