Ross Douthat Has Some Predictably Asinine Opinions About the Catholic Church + Contraception

(cross-posted from Verities and Vagaries

Naturally, Pope Benedict’s pronouncement that condom use is morally acceptable in certain situations has gotten people talking.  To be honest, my general skepticism toward the Church makes it hard for me to evaluate the news objectively– I’m too caught up inbut isn’t it absurd for the Pope to be dictating anyone’s sexual morality when his church still hasn’t dealt with the unequivocally awful sexual sins within the church itself? andhowever they cloak it in moral arguments, isn’t the conservative Christian stance against birth control really, at heart, about keeping women barefoot and pregnant and subservient? and so on.  So I think the Pope’s new comments are a good thing, but it’s hard for me to get too excited about them.

In perusing the blogosphere, it occurred to me to wonder what Ross Douthat has to say on the subject.  Ross always seems eager (like, weirdly eager) to opine on women’s sexual choices and the inevitable deviance of those choices.  Sure enough, here he is opining, using his big words (“Condoms, Catholicism, and Casuistry” is the title).  Oh Ross, you’ve become almost too predictable.  High-minded rhetoric?  Check.  Combined with sneering dismay at the morals of contemporary Americans?  Check.  Okay, onward with some quotes then.  At the heart of Douthat’s treatise is his own view on contraception.  Like usual, he’s reluctant to come right out and say that he thinks that birth control is only for bad, bad women, but that seems to be the bottom line.

True, he says, many Catholics dissent from the Church when it comes to birth control.  But “the fact that the Church’s moral reasoning seems unpersuasive may just reflect the distorting impact of a contraceptive culture on the individual conscience.”  Oh may it, Ross?  Tell me more.

The Church was right to prophecy that a contraceptive-friendly culture would become increasingly hostile to traditional Christian sexual ethics across the board…Likewise, the Church’s assumption that the widespread use of artificial birth control would lead to more divorces and moreabortions (rather than fewer of both, as many voices argued in the ’60s) was largely vindicated by subsequent trends. [emphasis added]

[I tried to think of an appropriate sentence to express my emotions on reading the second sentence, but all of them began with profanity, so I’ll just leave you to fill in the *&%%$!!!!??! blank]

Okay, let me get this straight.  What this man (who gets the NYT editorial page as his soapbox) is saying is that birth control use caused an increase in both divorces and abortionsReally?  Where is the data to back this up?  Didn’t you ever take a stats class in college, Ross?  Where they teach you on the first day that “correlation does not equal causation”?

As per usual in a Douthat piece, this absurd claim is stuck in the middle of a dense paragraph, just one of another long list of “facts” because hey, if they’re all bunched together like this, he must be making a lot persuasive points!  Here’s another:

[The Church] was right to suspect that the advance of artificial reproductive technologies wouldn’t stop with ortho-trycyclen, and that the quest for technological “solutions” to intimate problems would lead to the commodification of human life on a grand scale.

Only, wait, none of these are facts at all!  It’s all ideological bullshit masquerading as truth!  Did I accidentally stumble onto the Vatican’s newsletter, or Fox news?

I planned to write more about condoms, but I’m a little distracted because why the hell does this guy still have a platform at the NYT for his lies?

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  • goatini

    was the (very, very poor) replacement for William Safire, a conservative from the days when “reaching across the aisle” was actually a real part of our political culture.   And may I add that although I did not agree with him politically, his “On Language” column was a gem, and I miss it dearly.


    I know, younger RHRC readers, the very idea seems improbable… but believe it or not, back in the day, common ground was sometimes attainable, thanks to this little piece of legislation called The Fairness Doctrine that was peed on, then shredded, by the Reagan Administration.  


    Once upon a time, the likes of Limbaugh, Beck and Levin (the vilest of them all) would not have been seen or heard on the public airwaves of the United States of America, and asshats like Douthat would have never attained the lofty heights of the NYT Opinion Page.  We used to believe that reporting on one political viewpoint should ALWAYS be balanced by equal reporting on the opposite viewpoint.  Scurrilous flat-out LYING was only seen in right-wing-extremist (aka John Birch Society) pamphlets and leaflets.  


    Ironically (or, as I would put it, sadistically), one of the main beneficiaries of the destruction of The Fairness Doctrine has the brazen brass ones to call their broadcasting “Fair And Balanced”.