Thursday, November 20, 2008

Revisiting "Reactions: The U.K.'s Horrendous Human Fertilisation and Embryology Act"

A comment on yesterday's Vital Signs post Reactions: The U.K.'s Horrendous Human Fertilisation and Embryology Act came from pg:

Re your piece on Josephine Quintavalle's Mercator article:

I fear you have misunderstood: The loss of Glasgow East by Labour was a welcome result for the pro-life cause. The successful SNP candidate, John Mason, was the only one who opposed the HFE Bill. I feel you are a little harsh in your observations. Speaking out without fear or favour is the right thing at times. At others, more subtlety may be required. It is not about compromising principles, being deceitful or behaving improperly. It is about using resources and opportunities intelligently within a principled framework.

Denny responds -- Thank you for your comments, especially for correcting my impression that Quintavalle was criticizing Cardinal O'Brien. I understand now that her use of his example was, in fact, a positive illustration of the use of plain language -- just earlier she had been emphasizing that pro-lifers not use "complicated terminology." Good for her. And I apologize for passing along my false impression.

My mistake, as most readers will sympathize, came from connecting Quintavalle's use of the Cardinal's words to her earlier criticisms: "being heroic is simply not enough;" arguing that pro-lifers need to learn "the value of self-effacement, pragmatic game play, and sheer cunning;" criticizing "islands of pro-life rhetoric" and "predictable pro-life profiles;" and insisting we must "move beyond repetition of absolutes regarding human life."

Therefore, regarding the basic observations of the Vital Signs post, they stand.

And even though I honestly do appreciate pg's comments, especially her correction of my mistake, I must say her defense of Quintavalle seems just more of the same. For instance, speaking out without fear or desire to court favor isn't "the right thing at times." It's the right thing all the time!

And so, while I'm sure Quintavalle, pg and Denny Hartford all use the same words in this debate (i.e. subtlety, wisdom, intelligence, winsomeness, not creating unnecessary barriers, and so on), I fear our understanding of their interpretation and application may be quite different.

And most directly, the difference is this -- I do not blame the plain-speaking social conservatives in America for John McCain's loss. I do not blame the 2nd Century Christians of Rome for not being subtle, pragmatic or cunning enough in their stand against Nero. And I do not blame the prayerful, principled British pro-life advocates for the passage of Human Fertilisation and Embryology Act.

No, let's let the blame fall on those who deserve it rather than deflate, distract and divide our own community with unfair, counter-productive criticism.