Liberal technique of personal slander and character destruction

This controversy about Rush Limbaugh reminds me of something.

Someone wrote a book attributing to Rush things he never said.

But now these things are quoted by others as if the quotes were true.

Suddenly the false quotes have a life of their own.

Similarly, Pius XII was slandered in books with unsubstantiated accusations.

Then other people quote those slanderous books as if they were accurate sources.

This is a common technique.

I am sure you can cite your own examples.

Tell a lie loudly and often.  People assume it’s true.

Stay alert.

UPDATE 16 Oct 1619:

Yep… it finally happened.  Look in the comments.

About Fr. John Zuhlsdorf

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  1. Jonathan says:

    “I am sure you can cite your own examples. Tell a lie loudly and often. People assume it’s true.”

  2. JillOfTheAmazingWolverineTribe says:

    And “they” never learn — especially so-called journalists who don’t have the brains to pick up a phone and call and ask him if he actually said what they heard the libparrots say. It used to be people actually had to have a source. Professional integrity being too old fashioned I suppose.

    People should have smelled a rat years ago. It’s been that way long before Wally Cronkite lied about Tet — and got away with it for a long time, there being no alternate media.

  3. Konichiwa says:

    An example I remember very well is one where Whoopi falsely calls Glenn Beck a liar (she used much cruder words). I still see a bunch of YouTube videos where the people who uploaded or commented on the The View clip think that he was caught lying.

    Here’s from breitbartTV with a break down of the facts.

  4. ghp95134 says:

    Hmmmmm …. that technique sounds vaguely familiar:

    … Die … gehen nach dem Prinzip vor, wenn du lügst, dann lüge gründlich, und vor allem bleibe bei dem, was du gelogen hast! Sie bleiben also bei ihren Schwindeleien, selbst auf die Gefahr hin, sich damit lächerlich zu machen.
    Dr. Joseph Goebbels, 12 January 1941. Die Zeit ohne Beispiel. Munich: Zentralverlag der NSDAP. 1941, pp. 364-369

    “….[They] follow the principle that when one lies, one should lie big, and stick to it. They keep up their lies, even at the risk of looking ridiculous….”

    And the OSS profile of A. Hitler:

    “…His primary rules were: never allow the public to cool off; never admit a fault or wrong; never concede that there may be some good in your enemy; never leave room for alternatives; never accept blame; concentrate on one enemy at a time and blame him for everything that goes wrong; people will believe a big lie sooner than a little one; and if you repeat it frequently enough people will sooner or later believe it….”


  5. Konichiwa says:

    I’m thinking the pigs from George Orwell’s Animal Farm.

  6. Fr. John Mary says:

    The way so-called Catholics treat one another today is just scandalous. The name-calling, slanders, calumnies, and hatred is just sickening. How can we be in “communion” when we cannot even believe a core belief such as the Creed or even obey the ordinary Magisterium of the Church; how can we justify “killing” others with absolute lies and distortions (such as Rush L.; Pius XII; etc.)?
    I have no answer.
    It must be the “disorientation of Satan” of which Sister Lucia of Fatima spoke.

  7. Fr. John Mary says:

    Holy Mackenolly: What is this all about? I’m too stupid to figure it out. Sorry…

  8. Walker says:

    What is especially “liberal” about this technique? Or Goebbels?

  9. Archicantor says:

    So liberals have finally figured out how to use Rush’s own tricks against him? Bully for them! What’s that old saying about chickens… coming home…?

  10. Gabriella says:

    How right you are, Fr.!
    And slander is a mortal sin – how many Catholics know this? – it’s a form of murder!

    And are American Catholics aware of the lies spread by the Campaign for Human Development?

  11. ljc says:

    A classic example is the anti-Catholics who cite Loraine Boettner’s “Roman Catholicism.” She made up scores of stories about the Church, Catholic teachings and saints, without any citations of course, and now they are freely quoted by anti-Catholic biggots.

  12. ljc says:

    I meant “he” of course

  13. lacrossecath says:

    Rush is right about sports journalists, they are even more liberal than the average mainstream journalist.

  14. TomG says:

    Archicantor: You’re missing the point – I hope not intentionally. The Obamaphiles are making things up *out of whole cloth*. Limbaugh, for all of his faults, would never do that. The burden of proof is on those who claim that he has.

  15. Henry Edwards says:

    TomG, as I understand it, Rush Limbaugh has never actually said any of the allegedly racist remarks that have been attributed to him. You don’t think that real “Obamaphiles” would tell blatant lies, do you? In all fairness, it must be some lower form of life doing all this.

  16. JohnE says:

    “Tell a lie loudly and often. People assume it’s true.”:

    “You’ve heard that this is all going to mean government funding of abortion. Not true.”

  17. NLucas says:

    Yes, it is a technique used by a number of folks on the left. And by a number on the right. The technique (along with the ad hominem) is part and parcel of daily discourse and our culture. While my opinions are generally in accord with the combox discussion, not only do we have to be alert in spotting it in the argments of those with whom we disagree, but we have to hold ourselves and those with whom we agree to at least as high a standard.

    I can only say that I’ve had to work for a long time to recognize the need to discipline myself to try and not pass along unsubstantiated assertions that I’ve heard or read.

    In Christ,

  18. jamie r says:

    How can you compare Pius XII and Rush Limbaugh? [I didn’t. I compared the technique applied to them.] One of these did everything in his power to protect the Church and Jews during World War II. The other has been married three times and is a drug addict. Whether he said every single thing he’s accused of saying, he makes his money by being brash and controversial. Also, Rush did actually make some questionable comments about McNabb and black quarterbacks, which, given his status as a public figure, could’ve been problematic for the Rams (These comments don’t, of themselves, mean he’s racist, but can certainly give that impression). If Pius XII had actually gone out and said “Well, I think the media is just desirous for Jews to do well, but really, they’re not all that good” or something equally ridiculous, you would maybe have a comparison.

    But come on. How do you compare the guy who led the Catholic Church through WWII and saved thousands, if not hundreds of thousands, of Jews to a loud-mouthed, drug-abusing, wife-divorcing disc jockey?

    [EVERYONE: I was just waiting for this to happen. Actually, I thought it would have happened already. I did not compare Rush and Pius XII. I compared the techniques used to smear them.]

  19. dinsdale says:

    jamie r,

    I think you may need to read more carefully. This is not likening Pius XII to Rush Limbaugh – this is a review of the tactics used by their opponents to discredit them. Pius XII was initially attacked using the “big lie” strategy in which quotes and acts were attributed to him that he never said, and then the big lie became a stigma to his reputation. Limbaugh is being attacked in the same manner – the quotes that have been offered as evidence against him appear to be fabricated, and even CNN and the Huffington Post has withdrawn them.

    Again, this is not comparing them as people. It is comparing tactics. Do you see the difference?

  20. jamie r says:

    People didn’t have to fabricate things to criticize Rush. Rush built his career around inviting slander. He’s a bombastic disc jockey. Without inviting slander and controversy, he wouldn’t get the attention that he needs to get the ratings that he needs. Fabrication is accidental to anti-Rush criticism. That he has had three wives, has been addicted to pills, and has said, at the very least, borderline racist comments about black quarterbacks as such that would’ve been problematic to him being part owner of an NFL team.

    Fabrication, on the other hand, is a sine qua non of anti-Pius slander, since, he was in fact, both in his public and clandestine acts, a pretty good guy. He didn’t build his career by inviting controversy and slander. If he had been a bombast, he probably wouldn’t have been as effective a pope.

    People criticize Pius XII by making things up out of whole cloth, and that’s the only real way to criticize him (that, or saying he should have had himself martyred, destroying the Church’s ability to help any one). The criticism of Pius is based entirely on a “Big Lie.” On the other, people criticize Rush for being a bastard. Sure, some fabrication happens, but he’s enough of a bastard, and has said enough racially dodgy things, that the so-called “Big Lie” is, at worst, an exaggeration or a caricature of what Rush ca legitimately be accused. So the techniques aren’t similar, except insomuch as an outright fabrication is similar to the truth mixed with exaggerations.

    In sum, making up bad things about the successor of Peter is not like saying bad things about a thrice-divorced disc jockey.

  21. MichaelJ says:

    I do not think that this in an especially “liberal” technique, but I have noticed that it is most often employed by liberals.

  22. jamie r says:

    At any rate, to borrow Thomistic language, you’re suggesting that Limbaugh and Pius XII are proportionable to each other, which, would only be the case if there were a similitude in their respective proportiones between themselves and their slander. That is, Pius: Slander :: Rush : Slander, just like Man: Smile :: Meadow : Flowers.

    But how can one maintain that a similar proportio exists here? Anti-Pius slander is outright fabrication and forms the core of anti-Pius criticism. Anti-Rush slander is exaggeration and is accidental and superficial to anti-Rush criticism. In order for that proportio to be there, Rush would have to bear a similar relationship to his slander as Pius bears to his, but this is absurd. Therefore, no similitude of proportion exists, and there is no analogy or similarity of techniques.

  23. MichaelJ says:

    jamie r,

    Thank you for putting my mind at ease. I have been losing sleep over the fact that I unjustly punished my son for doing something he, in fact, did not do. Since I know that he has done other things for which he can be legitimately punished, thank you for pointing out that my sin was really his fault.

  24. jamie r says:



    I’m not saying that anti-Rush slander is just. I’m saying that it is not similar to anti-Pius slander, or rather, that since Rush and Pius do not bear a similar relationship to the slander against them, there is no proportionality between Rush and Pius or between the slander they have respectively received.

    That is, punishing your son for a mix of legitimate and illegitimate reasons when he deserved the same punishment for legitimate reasons (e.g., not letting your son buy an NFL team) is very different from illegitimately punishing your son when there’s no legitimate reason to punish him (e.g., if you punished your son for not stopping the holocaust even though he couldn’t have stopped the holocaust but did everything he could to save many victims thereof). In one case, the punishment is legitimate and is based on the truth, rather than on the “Big Lie,” even though there may be smaller, accidental lies also circulating. In the other case, the punishment is based solely on a “Big Lie” developed purely out of malice.

    There’s no proportionality here.

  25. jaime: Breathe deeply and stop thrashing around.

    The technique is similar.

    People simply made up things with which to slander Pius XII.

    People simply made ut things with whihc to slander Rush.

    In both cases those things took on a life of their own and were accepted, and then quoted by others as if they were facts.

  26. MichaelJ says:


    You are also saying that the ends justify the means. In one case, slander (a sin last time I checked) is acceptable because the victim deserved it. In another, it is unacceptable because the victim did not. In other words, the sinfulness of a particular act is based on the personal merits of the individual victim of that sin.

    Ther is a certain logic to your statements, I’ll grant that. It just does not seem very Catholic to me.

  27. Jim of Bowie says:

    jamie r

    What you are doing here is slandering Mr. Limbaugh. I might suggest sacramental confession.

  28. jamie r says:

    Yeah, but it’s also similar to birther conspiracy theories. You could draw the same proportionality. Rush : Slander :: Pius : Slander :: Obama : Slander. In all three cases, the only connection born between the slander and the object thereof is that the slander is an outright fabrication, repeated as true by people who probably ought to know better. Why not draw the same proportionality between all 3 cases? Because to do so would suggest a proportionability between Rush and Obama as well as between Pius and Obama.

    When one makes an analogy of proportionality, you are suggesting similarities of proportionability between the analogates. Come now Fr., surely you studied a little bit of Thomas in seminary, even if mediated by Cajetan’s account of the so-called doctrine of analogy? So, when we predicate being or goodness of God and of us, we’re predicating it of both only analogously. God is to His infinite goodness in a way which is somewhat similar to how we are to our finite goodness, or God : divine goodness :: man : human goodness. There is no proportio between man and God or between our respective goodnesses, but there is a proportionality or proportionability between man and God and between human and divine goodnesses. There could only be a proportio if we predicated goodness of both of us univocally.

    So, unless we predicate “slander” univocally of things said about Rush, about Pius XII and about Obama, then we are predicating it analogously, which would require a proportionability. In order for it be predicated univocally, it would have to predicated in the same way according to the same ratio. Can we predicate it univocally?

    Anti-Pius slander (especially in the context of the holocaust) is based on an enlightenment hatred of the Catholic Church. It is an outright lie based on malice, pure and simple. It is absolutely baseless.

    Anti-Rush slander (in the context of the Rams), on the other hand, as a wall street journal article (, cf. also, linked to by WSJ) linked to by Rush’s website concedes, is based on actual things Rush has said about race.

    Anti-Obama slander (in the context of the birther crazies), is, as near as I can tell, based principally on being crazy.

    So, is there a common ratio, other than the mere fact of these slanders not being true? No. These slanders have nothing in common other than their failing to be an adequation of the mind to the thing. They are no different from any other failure to adequate, like believing pyrite is gold, or that MacDonald’s makes good burgers. Perhaps that is all you meant, in which case, the mistake is mine for inferring you meant to draw some proportionality between Rush and Pius XII, other than a completely trivial one that exists between Pius and anyone about whom someone has mistakenly believed something.

    Jim of Bowie,

    What slander? He has had three wives. Not a champion of virtue.

  29. MichaelJ says:


    lets try this. I think we can both agree that Hitler was an evil man and that Pope John Paul II was a good man. Both of these men survived attempted assasination.

    By your argument, nobody can decry attempted murder by citing both examples. In one case, the vicim deserved death because of his other actions and in another, the victim did noting to deserve it. The two cases, then are not “proportional”

  30. Fr. John Mary says:

    There is an anecdote about Kinsey and the Vatican that might be apropo here.
    Kinsey maintained (supposedly joking, yeah, right) that the Vatican had the largest collection of pornography in the world; his Institute of Sexual Whatever in Bloomington, IN. had the second.
    He said this so often in his speeches that the Library of Congress actually documented it. And yet when E. Michael Jones tried to track down the source of this scurrilous slander, he came back to Kinsey himself as the source.
    So much for reliability and documentation.

  31. ckdexterhaven says:

    I urge you to listen to Rush Limbaugh. I believe you are misinformed about his Donovan McNabb comments. Without going into too much detail (and taking this down a rabbit hole), Rush was talking about the *media’s* treatment of McNabb. I also encourage you to re-read the Wall Street Journal piece. The quote that has been used all week was not ever uttered by Rush. I’ve listened to him for 15 years, and pray for him.

    Yes, Rush is a former drug addict and has been married 3 times. The media uses our own morality as a tool to label *all of us* hypocrites when we do something wrong. Look at all of the Republican Congressmen who have been brought down by their own actions. Liberals in the media and in politics don’t apply these rules to themselves b/c they have no morals. I would hope that the readers of WDTPRS are more moral than the average Congressperson!!, but unfortunately we all sin. The reason liberals in the media attacked Rush Limbaugh this week, is b/c they want all of us to be afraid, to be quiet.

    Jamie, when Pope Benedict XVI came to the US a year ago, Rush was really touched. He was moved by the reception and ceremony President Bush had for Pope Benedict. Before Pope Benedict was chosen, Rush had spot on commentary about how liberals worldwide were calling Cardinal Ratzinger a “conservative”. He had a lot of insight into how the liberals of the Catholic Church work. Rush has given credit many times to Pope John Paul II, Margaret Thatcher and Ronald Reagan for the fall of communist Russia/Eastern Europe.

  32. Fr. John Mary says:

    Just as an aside: from what I remember hearing him say, and I could be wrong, but I believe that Rush’s three wives left HIM; I don’t think he wanted to be divorced.
    And as for drug addiction; let me tell you, this is not the unforgivable sin! I believe he was in chronic pain, and although this does not condone his behavior, it certainly does explain the desire to be pain-free.
    Is it right? No. But how does this impact upon what he says, that is true, and what others say of him, that is NOT true?

  33. Kerry says:

    I have been married four times, (slow learner, thank God for #4), and although never a drug addict, smoked way too much pot a long time ago.
    “Ouch!. Jamie, quit throwing those rocks at me! Ouch!!”

  34. Felicitas says:

    Jamie’s “proportionality” is ridiculous. There is right and there is wrong, and making up outright lies about a person is clearly wrong. Another term for Jamie’s “proportionality” is “fake but accurate”: ‘well he may not have said that exact thing but he probably said something just as bad!’ This is wrong, wrong, wrong.
    As for Mr. Limbaugh being a sinner: as I recall, there have only been two people in this world free of sin, and those were Mary and Jesus. Limbaugh’s problems with sin hardly make him unique. The man does not go around advocating sin.

  35. thereseb says:

    “But now these things are quoted by others as if the quotes were true.”

    How come you sound even remotely surprised, Fr Z?

    It was on this forum that I first heard mention of the Alinsky Rules (Rules for Radicals) – a book dedicated to Lucifer. No “Liberal” posturing could ever deceive me again.

    Number 9:You do what you can with what you have and clothe it with moral garments.

  36. jamie r says:

    It’s not my proportionality argument. It’s Thomas. And the proportionality doesn’t exist between Limbuagh and libel; the proportionality or proportionability would be (but isn’t) between Limbaugh and Pius XII. Proportionality has nothing to do with “fake but accurate.” Rather, proportion is what exists between slander and the object thereof. The criticisms of Limbaugh bear a very different proportio, or relationship, to Limbaugh than the criticisms of Pius XII bear to Pius XII. You should perhaps read the angelic doctor, or even Cajetan or Ralph McInerny.

    The mere fact that Limbaugh sinned, likewise, has nothing to do with it. No doubt Pius XII sinned as well. Rather, it is the public character of certain specific sins, combined with the public character of Limbaugh’s statements on race, combined with the public character of owning an NFL team that is the issue.

  37. Fr. John Mary says:

    jamie r: If Rush didn’t say what he is purported to say, it’s wrong. What people say against Pius XII that is not true, is wrong.
    That’s the point.
    Whether or not the lives of these individuals is “pristine” is beyond the argument.
    If you say somebody said or did something they did not do, that is wrong.

  38. ckdexterhaven says:

    Jamie r, I’m curious. When you say “the public character of Limbaugh’s statements on race,” what statements do you have in mind? Can you please refer us to *actual* statements that Rush Limbaugh has made on race that are offensive? What did *you* hear him say?

  39. ckdexterhaven says:

    Jamie r, sorry, I forgot to put this in my last note. Why in the world did you link to MEDIA MATTERS? A left wing website funded and operated by George Soros? Jamie, I urge you to listen to the man himself for a week or two and then form an opinion. Trusting what a left wing website says about Rush Limbaugh would be like asking Bette Davis what she thinks of Joan Crawford!

  40. jamie r says:


    I linked to media matters because the Wall Street Journal, neither liberal nor funded by Soros, linked to media matters and said that these things were actually said by Limbaugh. So, I think that suffices for a list of actual statements, unless your standard of proof is higher than the WSJ’s.

    Fr. John Mary

    The argument isn’t ‘Rush’s life is less than pristine, therefore, it’s ok to slander him.’ The argument is ‘Slander against Rush is both based on the facts and mixed in with true criticisms of Rush. Therefore, Rush bears a different relationship to slander against him than Pius XII does.’ You do see the distinction, right? I’m arguing against the claim that slander against Rush is like slander against Pius XII, and my argument is that since Rush’s slander is accidental and tangential to anti-Rush criticism, based on facts, and, in the circumstances which prompted this (Rush being dropped from the group bidding to buy the Rams), Rush had rightly earned not being allowed to buy the Rams from things he actually said, then there is no proportionality to Pius XII.

  41. Felicitas says:

    “Slander against Rush is both based on the facts and mixed in with true criticisms of Rush.” – jamie r
    In other words, “fake but accurate”. He didn’t make the quotes in question, but in your opinion, he could have and that is all that matters. Your argument fails to impress, jamie.

  42. Girgadis says:


    I would sooner stick needles in my eyes than listen to the drivel that makes up talk radio, including Limbaugh. I couldn’t care less about his personal life except for the fact that he’s made a living tearing down other people for what for they’ve done in theirs. I used to listen to him and Hannity, and Beck when he was in Philly, but it gets old quickly. The practice of the politics of personal destruction is wrong, no matter who’s hawking the poision. I’m amused at the notion that he’s a hypocrite, but he’s OUR hypocrite, so he gets a pass.

    As for his alleged comments on race, since I don’t listen to him anymore I can’t make a judgment except to say this: Limbaugh is like Ann Coulter in many ways. They say what they do for the reaction it will get. The sooner they’re ignored, the sooner they may think twice about what they spout. There is a way to say things that won’t garner publicity but may actually get people to think about something in a way they haven’t considered before, but from what I know of having listened to Rush in the past, that’s not what he’s after. He’d rather further convince the already-convinced in the most bombastic way he can. You can’t antagonize people and hope to persuade them in the same breath.

    I am now donning my flame-retardant suit.

  43. Jordanes says:

    Jamie R said: You should perhaps read the angelic doctor, or even Cajetan or Ralph McInerny.

    Good advice for you. You’ll certainly not find any excuses or justifications for slander in their writings.

    Slander against Rush is both based on the facts and mixed in with true criticisms of Rush.

    So as long as the slander has false accusations that are at least “based”on the facts, and are accompanied by a few allegedly true criticisms, that proves there is no comparison to the false accusations against Pius XII?

    When you boil it all down, the reason you claim there is no “proportionality” between slandering Limbaugh and slandering Pius XII is because you believe the lies Limbaugh’s enemies are purveying but don’t believe the lies of Pius XII’s enemies. Toss in a few true but irrelevant things such as Limbaugh’s past addiction to painkillers and his three divorces, and cretinous attacks on Limbaugh are easier to stomach than cretinous attacks on Pius XII.

    Stop trying to defend the indefensible, Jamie.

  44. jamie r says:


    I’m not defending it or justifying it. I’m just saying that it’s different. Murder is different from rape, and pointing that out does not involve defending either. Slander against Pius XII is essential to criticism thereof. Slander against Rush is accidental. Pius XII’s job was to lead the Catholic Church; slander hurts him, and he didn’t go out of his way to invite it. Rush Limbaugh’s job is to sell Snapple. Slander helps him, by generating controversy, attention, and ratings.

    Of course, a lie is a lie, but if that were the only issue, then one could draw the same comparison between Obama and Pius, and it’s telling that that’s not the comparison drawn.

    And I don’t “believe the lies Limbaugh’s enemies are purveying.” I grant that they are lies. On the other hand, Limbaugh is, in fact, a bombastic disc jockey who actually has said things on the issue of race that would be problematic were he to own an NFL team. The lies about him are trivial, accidental, and tangential. The technique to discredit Limbaugh can and does consist of pointing to things he’s actually said; a few lies are perhaps mixed in, but he has actually made comments about Black quarterbacks that an NFL owner probably ought not make. Slander is a very minor part of anti-Rush criticism, unless he is secretly a paragon of virtue and not a bombast whose job is to sell Snapple and Oreck vacuum cleaners. On the other hand, slander is the only part of criticism of Pius XII (that, and the moralist argument that he should’ve gotten himself martyred; this is like the argument that the Church should sell her property and give the proceeds to the poor, and is not worth dealing with). As such, the technique used against Pius XII consists solely in making things up. The technique used against Limbaugh happens to include making things up, but centers principally around Limbaugh being a bombast who invites controversy as a way of generating attention and ratings.


    There are false things said about Limbaugh. There are also accurate things. The accurate things of themselves justify having a low opinion of Limbaugh and they also justify dropping him from the group trying to acquire the Rams. The false things don’t justify anything, because they’re false. However, the false things are accidental to anti-Limbaugh opinion.

    Accurate things said about Pius XII do not justify an anti-Pius opinion. False things do not justify such an opinion either, because they’re false. However, in order to believe bad things about Pius, you have to believe false things. The false things are essential to anti-Pius opinion. Thus, the relationship between Pius and false things said about him, and between Rush and false things said about him, is different.

  45. Felicitas says:

    jamie, you don’t have to keep restating your argument. I get it. I just think it’s ridiculous.

  46. ckdexterhaven says:

    Girgadis, you said “You can’t antagonize people and hope to persuade them in the same breath.”

    If only Obama, Rahm Emmanuel and the talking heads at MSNBC believed the same thing you do…..

  47. wmeyer says:

    jamie r,

    It must be wonderful to be so free of sin as to be able to judge others so freely.

    On the other hand, we are taught to hate the sin and love the sinner. We are also taught that we are all sinners, and that we are not to judge others.

    It’s odd how many overlook these clear and direct teachings from the Gospels.

  48. wmeyer says:

    Fr. Z,

    It’s also interesting (well, actually, it’s irritating) how many folks in the media use the word “facts” or “factual” when they are actually offering claims and assertions which have yet to be proved.

    I realize that language is dynamic, and that its changing nature is inevitable, but when such change destroys meaning–or inverts it–we cannot label that progress.

  49. LarryPGH says:

    Jamie R,

    You provide an interesting thought, but I believe that you’re misusing the notion of “proportionable” as it appears in Thomas’ “De Veritate”, Q.2, art. XI (that’s where you’re pulling this from, aren’t you?). Your error lies in the way that you’re combining the elements. You assert that there is no comparison here because Pius: Slander :: Rush : Slander is false.

    However, that’s not what Thomas is trying to do here. His proportion is expressed as 6:3 :: 4:2, that is, 6 and 4 share a proportionality because six is twice three, as four is twice 2.

    Your proportion takes a different form, however: you assert X:Y :: Z:Y … that is, you’re asserting that there’s a direct relationship between X and Z, rather than the indirect relationship that Thomas asserts in his discussion of “proportionality”. In other words, you’re trying to disprove a notion of “proportionality” by asserting that it itself is not a “proportion” (or, to use the language of Thomas, you’re attempting to disprove the second analogy of comparison by asserting that the first analogy of comparison doesn’t hold — which, by the way, is not at all what Thomas is claiming).

    Moreover, your method is somewhat sloppy: shouldn’t you really be attempting to show that slander-perpetrated somehow mitigates slander-suffered? After all, “slander-suffered” is all that’s being asserted here: the slander-suffered by Pius XII is similar to the slander-suffered by Rush. You, on the other hand (if I read you correctly), are asserting that Rush’s slander-perpetrated somehow affects this slander-suffered relationship.

    So, it seems that you’re both misusing the notion of Thomas’ proportionality as well as failing to prove the point that you’re actually attempting to make here. Am I missing something?



  50. jamie r says:


    What? Christ’s exhortation not to judge doesn’t mean that we have to blindly treat all people as being equally virtuous. I’m not interested in stoning Rush Limbaugh. I’m only interested in pointing out that he deserves, invites, and thrives on criticism, even slander, in a way that a Pope does not. The state of Limbaugh’s soul has nothing to do with it. It’s the controversy, scandal even, that he builds up in his public life.

  51. Jordanes says:

    Jamie R said: I’m not defending it or justifying it. I’m just saying that it’s different. Murder is different from rape, and pointing that out does not involve defending either.

    If that’s all you’re doing, then you hardly had to make any comments here at all. Granted that slandering Limbaugh is somewhat different than slandering Pius XII — but those differences are completely unimpotant. If you’re not trying to justify the slander, then your zeroing in on how one case of evil slander is different from another case of evil slander amounts to nothing more than niggling nitpicks for the sake of niggling nitpicks.

    Slander against Pius XII is essential to criticism thereof. Slander against Rush is accidental.

    Oh really?

    Pius XII’s job was to lead the Catholic Church; slander hurts him,

    It hurts Limbaugh, as it hurts every victim of slander, as well as the slanderer and those who hear the slander.

    and he didn’t go out of his way to invite it.

    His being a Christian, and the Pope, is all it took for him to “invite” slander.

    Rush Limbaugh’s job is to sell Snapple.

    Um, that’s one of his jobs, sure.

    Slander helps him, by generating controversy, attention, and ratings.

    So Limbaugh wants people to tell lies about him and blacken his reputation, so people will be more likely to accept his advice that they buy and drink Snapple.

    See what kind of nonsense come out of one’s mouth when one attempts to defend the indefensible?

    Or perhaps you mean Limbaugh is a slanderer, so he deserves to be slandered, because, after all, Jesus tells us to do unto others what they have done unto us.

    Of course, a lie is a lie, but if that were the only issue, then one could draw the same comparison between Obama and Pius, and it’s telling that that’s not the comparison drawn.

    Of course it’s not the only issue. However, while slandering and telling lies about President Obama is just as reprehensible as the lies and slander the Left purveys about Limbaugh, nevertheless Obama’s views on important matters of faith and morals, and the agenda he is pursuing, are diametrically contrary to the Church’s faith and vision for the world, whereas Limbaugh’s views are a good deal closer to the Church’s (though he also holds views and espouses a philosophy incompatible with the Faith). You were offended that Father Zuhlsdorf compared the slandering of Limbaugh to the slandering of Pius XII, jumping to the conclusion that Father Zuhlsdorf was comparing Limbaugh to Pius XII. Thus, you ought to be outraged at the mere thought of comparing the slandering of Obama, who has worked hard to make sure millions of more babies are viciously slaughtered, to the slandering of Pius XII, who worked to save Jews from the Holocaust. Yet you mention such a comparison without a trace of outrage. Says a lot about your way of looking at things.

    And I don’t “believe the lies Limbaugh’s enemies are purveying.” I grant that they are lies. On the other hand, Limbaugh is, in fact, a bombastic disc jockey who actually has said things on the issue of race that would be problematic were he to own an NFL team.

    No, what he has said is not problematic were he to own an NFL team. If they were, his enemies would not have to concoct things he never said to place the things he actually has said in a spurious context.

    The lies about him are trivial,

    A very telling remark. The lies make him out to be a horrendous, racist monster. Trivial? Bah!

    accidental, and tangential.

    Tangential to what? They touch on precisely the notion that his enemies wish others to believe about him.

    The technique to discredit Limbaugh can and does consist of pointing to things he’s actually said;

    Then why do his enemies lie about him?

    a few lies are perhaps mixed in,

    “Perhaps,” eh? So it’s not that you disbelieve the lies; it’s that you are willing to believe that at least some of the lies aren’t lies at all.

    but he has actually made comments about Black quarterbacks that an NFL owner probably ought not make.

    You’re talking about what he said about Donovan McNabb and his opinion that the sports media tended to laud him undeservedly due to their political correctness rather than his actual athletic skill. There’s nothing wrong with an NFL owner criticising the sports media.

    Slander is a very minor part of anti-Rush criticism

    Then how come there is hardly any “anti-Rush criticism” that doesn’t slander him or twist what he says?

    unless he is secretly a paragon of virtue and not a bombast whose job is to sell Snapple and Oreck vacuum cleaners.

    Again you seek to justify the slander by pointing to the fact that Limbaugh is a fallen man and a sinner. You really don’t know what slander is and what is wrong with it, do you? Or perhaps your blatant animus and disdain for Limbaugh is preventing you from reasoning correctly.

    As such, the technique used against Pius XII consists solely in making things up.

    No, it doesn’t. It also consists in putting undue emphasis on certain facets of his life and reign while ignoring or downplaying other facets, and asking why he didn’t speak or act more forcefully and clearly about the Nazis and the Holocaust, with the purpose of suggesting the reason was he was an anti-Semite and that Catholicism is anti-Semitic..

    The technique used against Limbaugh happens to include making things up, but centers principally around Limbaugh being a bombast who invites controversy as a way of generating attention and ratings.

    Slander is slander. There is no qualitative difference between the slandering of Pius XII and the slandering of Limbaugh. You’re simply wrong about this, Jamie.

  52. robtbrown says:

    jamie r,

    It is good to see your interest in analogy, but I disagree with your application of analogy to this situation. Not all analogy predicates a likeness between the primary analogates, as does the analogy of proportionality: God:goodness::man:goodness.

    Some analogy is of extrinsic relation, i.e., a ratio (in the English sense, not the Latin). For example, we can say that 8:2::16:4 or 10:7::4:3. Or green:blue::orange:red. In these cases the similarity is extrinsic.

    Such is, I think, the case with Limbaugh, PXII, and slander. There the comparison isn’t between Limbaugh and PXII but rather in the relation of each with slander.

    Two other points:

    First, whatever Limbaugh’s vices, the addiction of anyone to prescription pain medication because of legitimate physical problems is not to be confused with recreational drug addiction.

    Second, those of us who were in seminaries or religious orders in the 70’s and 80’s are particularly sensitive about slander. It was often the strategy used by liberals to push out candidates whose only sins were favoring Latin liturgy and celibacy or opposing women’s ordination

  53. robtbrown says:

    Should be:


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