Yesterday, New York Times columnist Maureen Dowd went after Archbishop Dolan’s efforts to protect marriage in New York — and also snuck in a drive-by sniping of my father’s recent comments about (Catholic) New York Governor Andrew Cuomo’s manifest concubinage, just for good measure.
Governor Cuomo is for gay marriage, so you can guess who Dowd is writing to protect and abet in her column (entitled “Gay Sera, Sera“). My father has responded to Ms. Dowd’s feeble attempts to warp his argument here.
Now why do I title my post “Vintage Deja Vu Dowd”? Because Maureen Dowd has only one argument against the Catholic Church, or any Catholic figure who speaks in the public square. And every time it’s the same. It goes like this: “Pedophile!”
Time and time again, Dowd’s disagreement with (and mocking of) the Church’s teaching on sexual morality has no argument except to bring up the clergy sexual abuse scandal. Take, for instance:
Dolan snidely dismissed the notion that gay marriage is a civil right. “We acknowledge that not every desire, urge, want, or chic cause is automatically a ‘right,’ ” he wrote.
“And, what about other rights, like that of a child to be raised in a family with a mom and a dad?”
And how about the right of a child not to be molested by the parish priest?
That last line, of course, is Dowd’s. Never mind the fact that that the Church unequivocally condemns the abuse of minors. Never mind the fact that even the most heinous sinner could still speak the truth (and Archbishop Dolan is by no means such a person). Never mind the fact that even I could (and by reason ought to) acknowledge that Dowd is right about some things even though sometimes she has been wrong about other things (I’m offering the possibility purely as a speculation).
But for Dowd, because the Church abuse scandal happened, nothing the Church teaches or any (faithful) Catholic says could ever be right. But this way of debating the Church and Church teaching is clearly wrong.
By Dowd’s own logic and style of argumentation, after all, if she once received a DUI, I could and would never have to listen to a single point she ever made about transportation. By the same (absurd) logic, if she ever burnt a batch of cookies, I would never have to acknowledge her opinions on baking, home management, or thermodynamics.
These comparisons may seem absurd, but so is Dowd’s style of writing. In fact, it seems to be her only method of argumentation. Combing her latest column, you will find no substantive argument for why the state of New York ought to redefine the definition of marriage. You’ll simply find a lot of mean barbs aimed at Archbishop Dolan and Catholic teaching (and my dad, see here). Ad hominem attacks, for Dowd, are more a rule than a careless exception.
One line of Dowd’s got me in particular:
“Dolan and other church leaders are worried about the exodus of young Catholics who no longer relate to the intolerances of church teaching.”
Ms. Dowd, I’m right here. And frankly, your intolerances to church teaching and towards church teachers is something I don’t relate to (seriously, calling Archbishop Dolan “Starchbishop?” – even I know that’s immature).
But again, if I were to bring this up to Ms. Dowd, because I’m a Catholic who firmly believes in the teachings of the Church, I’m sure she’d fall back on her classic argument for people like me: “Pedophile!”
Nonetheless, because I’m getting into the habit of issuing challenges to people who never take them up, I’ll challenge Ms. Dowd to argue the merits of gay marriage against the teachings of the Church without taking recourse to her favorite “Pedophile!!” argument. In fact, I’ll challenge Ms. Dowd to debate the Church on any issue without bringing up the clergy sexual abuse scandal. I don’t think she can.
In the meantime, I’ll pledge to declare I don’t have to believe that what Ms. Dowd publishes is her own original writing because Wikipedia tells me she may have plagiarized in one of her columns once. For that reason, I have the “right” to refuse to acknowledge that Dowd is the author of any future column she rights, to treat her according to the same unfair and disingenuous standard she chooses to constantly apply to the Church.
I just turned twenty-six, so whenever Ms. Dowd wants to debate according to reasonable standards –and not ones of her own convenience and contriving– I’ll be ready, and eager. Que sera, deja vu.