Fishwrap’s venomous MSW

When liberals run out of ideas, they resort to personal attacks.   This is the SOP of the venomous* Sean Michael Winters.  Today’s example is HERE.

Winters didn’t like Ed Peters’ examination of a suggestion made by Card. Scola about slimming down the annulment process.  HERE

Winters, therefore, resorts to ad hominem attacks aimed at both Peters and Card. Burke (whom he is incapable of leaving alone).

What a surprise.  Winters calls for “niceness” from conservatives and, as usual, shows none of his own.  HERE

*More on venom HERE

About Fr. John Zuhlsdorf

Fr. Z is the guy who runs this blog. o{]:¬)
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  1. Frank H says:

    And the combox folks make MSW sound positively charitable!

  2. NoraLee9 says:

    I have a Fishwrap headache.

  3. bposullivan says:

    It’s nice that Winters praises Scola for “clearly seeking a way forward, a bridge between the two sides, which is a good thing for a bishop to be doing.”

    If Winters was saying that we should rejects Peters’ and Burke’s arguments because they are canonists, I’d call that an example of the ad hominem fallacy; he’d be rejecting the arguments on the basis of rejecting the men (specifically, rejecting their profession).

    But he (citing an unnamed “priest friend”) says that the problem with Peters and Burke is “not that they are canonists but that they are only canonists.” I read this as an interpretation of their actual arguments; he calls them “only canonists” because he thinks they’re only considering canon law and ignoring other important considerations. Whether this is true or not, I don’t think it’s really the ad homninem fallacy; as far as I can tell, he’s criticizing the writers for making arguments that are not (from his perspective) well informed in matters beyond canon law, rather than dismissing the arguments as the products by bad people. On the other hand, Winters’ claim is certainly not well supported (and in fact, it’s barely supported at all) in this short piece; he doesn’t explain [u]why[/u] he and his friend think that Burke’s and Peters’ writings show them to be “only canonists.”

    “Only canonists,” though, doesn’t seem as venomous as “sunk in cowardice,” which what Regis Martin, in the other piece, says about the world’s bishops (other than a few in “pockets of resistance.”)

  4. LarryW2LJ says:

    This is SOP for “Progressive Liberals”. I know this from personal expereince. Disagree with their dogma and in their minds you must either be 1) physically ill, 2) having a nervous breakdown, or 3) insane.

    No one is allowed to have an opinion or belief that differs from theirs. And they will harangue you to death until they feel they have converted you. Barring that, you are dropped like a hot potato and you become dead to them.

  5. LarryW2LJ says:

    Now we’re “Zed-heads” – Fr., I sense a t-shirt idea!

  6. Re MSW’s and his priest friend’s claim about Peters and Burke is “not that they are canonists but that they are only canonists.”

    Peters: Husband and father (which I doubt either MSW or the priest are), who has raised a daughter who is deaf and has helped a son who is partially paralyzed from an accident and who teaches in a seminary. Nope. No life experience there.

    Card. Burke: Has been a parish priest, and a bishop of two dioceses in addition to the head of the Church’s “Supreme Court” and member of multiple congregations. Nope. No life experience there.

  7. lh says:

    It is better to be Zed-heads than dead fish heads.

  8. . . . “Winters calls for “niceness” from conservatives and, as usual, shows none of his own.”

    These types of people insidiously depend on the goodwill of those they see as obstacles to their hideous agendas, not just calling for, but demanding “tolerance” . . . “niceness”, etc. so they can slither into position like the snakes that they are and strike at the soonest opportunity, then intolerantly swinging wild at anybody and anything that even hints at an opposing view.

  9. bposullivan says:

    It would have been better (though maybe less pithy) if Winters had said Peters and Cardinal Burke “argue as if they were only canonists,” which is, I think, what he meant. I don’t know what MSW knows about Peters’ life experiences, but I’m pretty sure that he knows Burke has done other things and that he expects his readers to know this too, so I don’t think he means literally that Burke “is” nothing but a canonist.

    In other words, “it depends on what the meaning of the word “is” is.” :)

  10. wmeyer says:

    I think once you have said Fishwrap, venomous is redundant.

    They are without ideas, and they are threatened by the possibility of changes which likely would be not to their liking. I expect this to become even more venomous.

  11. Dr. Edward Peters says:

    Oh, my. Thanks, Pater.

  12. dotKomo says:

    The comments after MSW diatribe are even worse – his sycophants unfailingly pull out the old, tired, canards – big, bad, bishops; corruption; the Inquisition; power; hypocrisy’ blah-blah-blah. You all know the drill.

  13. dans0622 says:

    Rather juvenile commentary, it seems to me, but given the prudent and wise remarks made by Dr. Peters, I doubt Mr. Winters could offer any substantial criticism based on the merits of the issues at hand.

  14. Mike says:

    If the composite experience of Dr. Peters and Cardinal Burke had been taken into account, then their canon-law credentials might have been attacked as being too small a portion of their respective composite experience, rather than too large. It’s how “liberals” (or “progressives,” or “communitarians,” or whatever label that branch of nominalism has arrogated to itself these days) work.

  15. jacobi says:

    The debate in the Church grows ever more vituperative.

    I have noted recently the growing number of religious terms of abuse terms, let’s say religious “swear words” particularly on the part of liberal factions.
    The most obvious examples are “Sede Vacantist” and “Pelagian”, both of which I, an ordinary orthodox Catholic who consults the CCC on all controversial matters, have been accused of recently. Fortunately, further consultation of Wikipedia, not to mention the Catholic Encyclopaedia reassures me that whatever faults I may be guilty of, and there are many, it’s not those two.

    By the way, as a Brit myself, I am pleased to remind everyone that Pelagius actually denied he was a “Pelagian”.

    Now I suppose the term “heretic” is too loosely used by the Traditional Catholics, although it is increasingly used now, interestingly, by liberals. So it is very important to distinguish between objective and formal heresy. Having said that, let’s not kid ourselves, heresy is as alive and well in the Church today as it always has been in the two thousand years of the Church’s history.

    Incidentally, I think I may actually have been accused of another emerging religious term of abuse, “Neo Pelagian” and self absorbed and Promethean at that, whatever that confused and variable latter term means?

    Now, I hear lots of swear words at lunchtime on Tuesdays/ Wednesdays when I gather with my pals, all non-Catholics by the way, in our shared hobby interest, but by Jove, if I may use that pagan term, they are mild in comparison!

  16. The Cobbler says:

    The truly bizarre thing about the claim that Dr. Peters is only or is only arguing as a canonist is that the article by Dr. Peters says pretty much nothing about canon law and quite a few things worthy of note outside of canon law. I’m not really convinced that anyone who levels such a non-criticism at Dr. Peters has read that particular article.

  17. Dialogos says:

    I still cannot grasp why the fishwrap crowd–which so manifestly hates what the Church actually teaches–would want to remain, you know, Catholic. What is it about liberals that if they cannot have something their way then they must destroy it? Whatever happened to the old Protestant (and very American) spirit of “this is too high church for me so we are outta here”?

  18. Johnny Domer says:

    Darn that mean old Ed Peters, criticizing all our fun ideas with his obnoxious facts and knowledge and expertise.

    Notice that MSW doesn’t actually criticize any of Dr. Peter’s ideas, which make a lot of sense and reveal a very detailed knowledge of and experience with the issues at hand: the difficulties bishops face, the understaffing of the Cong. for Bishops, and the rights of all parties seeking the annulment, both petitioners and respondents.

    Dr. Peters reminds me a lot of the Ratzingerians, like Cdl. Muller–these guys are pros. They know their stuff, and they know it really well. They think clearly and make distinctions. They appeal logically to reliable authorities. Meanwhile, the followers of pseudo-mercy justify what they want to do with a lot of “yadda-yadda” or hand-wave justifications. “Why should we allow remarried divorcees to receive Communion when JP2 says that the Church’s practice denying it is based in Scripture?” “Well, Jesus calls us to be merciful yadda yadda yadda, so they should receive Holy Communion.”

    The real problem MSW has is that Peters and other canonists ACTUALLY UNDERSTAND this stuff, and he doesn’t, and he’s frustrated that there are actual, real obstacles to the goals he wants. Thus, like a child who doesn’t understand why he can’t do something, he just gets mad and calls people names. And misuses/misspells Latin phrases.

    As a normal, not-canon lawyer, sometimes you have the experience of needing to listen to indignant non-lawyers (clients, witnesses, whoever) angrily attempt to dissect or argue about genuinely complicated legal issues related to their case, in a way that obviously results in their side winning. You try to be polite, to smile, to nod, but you groan interiorly because this person does not even know how much he doesn’t know. I have a feeling that Dr. Peters has had this experience A LOT over the course of the last year. It isn’t very egalitarian to say, but a lot of us canon law “lay” folk (a group that, unfortunately, includes more than a few bishops, and definitely includes MSW) should understand when we’re out of our depth.

  19. george says:

    Dialogos said: “What is it about liberals that if they cannot have something their way then they must destroy it?”

    I think they don’t leave the Church because they do not just want their way, they want their way imposed on others. So if they trans- (mal-?) form the Church, then they are “right” and they are conforming all the “stupid little people” to their view. IM(ns)HO, this attitude is diabolic, as it insists on its way for everyone. “I will not serve! (But you will all serve me!)”

  20. makreitzer says:

    It’s hard not to notice that liberals have a difficult time arguing in the Socratic sense. They generally make a statement (true or false). If you believe the statement to be false and give an objective argument against it, they generally disagree and restate their original argument without addressing your points. If you again ask them to address your points and give data backing up their original point they start with the name calling. I think they are all stuck in early adolescence although I know a lot of smart young adolescents who could out argue Sean Winters every day of the week.

  21. Iacobus M says:

    I don’t think the statement “not that they are canonists but that they are only canonists” is at all intended as a commentary on their experience, knowledge, or anything of that sort. It seems to be the old liberal complaint that they are “thinking with their heads and not with their hearts”, i.e. they are big old meanies who stick to the letter of the law as opposed to being nice, kind, generous, etc. Most liberals, certainly, will take it as an indictment of their character, which is to say, an ad hominem attack.

  22. mcdawson says:

    There is no surer sign that you’re doing something right than when it upsets liberals. Congrats Dr. Peters. :)

  23. iamlucky13 says:

    “It would have been better (though maybe less pithy) if Winters had said Peters and Cardinal Burke “argue as if they were only canonists,” which is, I think, what he meant.”

    I’m willing to not only give Mr. Winters benefit of a doubt, but to go ahead and assume that is what he meant.

    It still doesn’t fix his argument, because he still only addresses the form of the argument and not its content, and because if you actually read Dr. Peters’ response, you see that the first three criticisms he presents have nothing to do with canon law and instead bring up (1) whether the bishops actually want to and feel qualified to rule over annulments themselves, (2) that shifting from a tribunal to an individual bishop or delegate may lead to perceptions of fickleness in the process, and (3) the alternative to single judges of multiple delegates is essentially the current form.

    However, despite my above point, I’m not sure I actually should have done anything more than laugh at the suggestion that someone should be ignored because they examine Canon law from a canonical perspective.

    That Mr. Winters presumably believes more should be considered than only the contents and intent of Canon law is not a reason for ignoring the canonical aspects of the question, especially since Dr. Peters closes his argument by admitting a reform may legitimately be sought, but must be done carefully.

  24. The Astronomer says:

    I attended Catholic Univ of America with MSW in the early 1980s. He always carried himself with an air of flamboyant smugness, and espoused the same views back then. I wrote an article in the school paper defending President Reagan’s deployment of Pershing missiles in Europe in response to the Soviet deployment of SS-20s and he came after me with similar ad hominem attacks.
    The only difference was that his audience back then was limited to his fellow drama majors and fawning devotees.


  25. Chris Garton-Zavesky says:

    Isn’t the old lawyer’s adage: “If the facts are against you, argue the law. If the law is against you, argue the facts. If both are against you, argue for precedent”?

    Someone at NCRonline recently complimented me as one of the few “conservatives” who comments civilly and thoughtfully at the site. Shortly thereafter (but I don’t know post hoc ergo propter hoc) I tried to log on, only to discover that I had to confirm my e-mail address (which was, for some reason, unconfirmable because the data I was asked to confirm was inaccurate).

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