Observer Viewpoint | Monday, August 30, 2004
Although I agree with many of the points that Michael Poffenberger makes in his August 30 commentary, as well as with his general argument, I am bothered terribly by some of the things that he audaciously said. In some respects, I would have to argue that Poffenberger sacrifices his own credibility in order to criticize those either whom he dislikes or with whose policies he disagrees.
In criticizing the “right-wing ideologues” he makes statements that rely both on unconfirmed accusations and a blatant disregard for recent public speeches. Jack Ryan, so far as Mr. Poffenberger knows, never forced his wife to commit sex acts in public. Rather, Jeri Ryan accused her then-husband of this misdeed. He denies this. Whether or not the speech for sincere or simply a politically charged attempt at appeasing moderates and liberals within the Republican party, Vice President Cheney recently publicly broke rank with the administration on the subject of gay marriage.
The point that Mr. Poffenberger makes about Church in its current state may hold some truth, but besides verging on clichÃ©d by now, it is a dangerous point, one that easily could lead to dramatic upheaval. Yes, the Church has been, in many cases, lax in its responsibilities regarding sex abuse scandals. Yes, the Church was wrong on slavery, and may be wrong about homosexuality. However, that the Church is right on this one is possible, too. Arguing that the Church may not have the authority to lecture on sexual responsibility because of its own problems sets a dangerous precedent: Would Mr. Poffenberger argue that because of various faults of the federal government, it is not fit to exercise any authority with regards to these particular matters? Such an argument easily could call for disorganized anarchy as the only remaining solution.
In short, Mr. Poffenberger argues an important point on the whole; however, some of the statements that he makes threaten his credibility and cast a shadow of doubt on his integrity.