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Don’t threaten non-conformists

Anna Nussbaum | Tuesday, December 2, 2003

I’m writing in response to Lauren Galgano’s Nov. 24 article against gay marriages, “Preserving Church and U.S. law.” I’m tired of being threatened with eternal damnation by writers who claim to speak on behalf of Rome whenever I read the Viewpoint section. These writers are seemingly incapable of making valid arguments without threatening the immortal soul of the reader. Galgano writes, “In conclusion, please consider that Dante’s ‘Inferno’ reserves the hottest places in Hell for those who in a time of crisis maintain a position of neutrality.” The “Inferno” is a poem, not a precious pearl of dogma, and anyway, couldn’t Galgano have made the same point about neutrality and moral courage in a “culture war” only stronger by not referencing a punishment for cowardice as severe as never-ending torment? There are lots of things I miss about going to an ideologically diverse inner city public high school; one is that this sort of fear tactic simply wouldn’t fly. In a pluralistic society, one has to defend one’s claims and cannot merely assume, as Galgano ignorantly did, that her readership is Catholic and therefore will agree with whatever the Church supposedly has said on an issue: “If you are Catholic and most of you reading this are, you ought to be in accordance with this statement.” Catholics can never disobey or disagree about Church teaching? That seems strange. As capitalists we rarely follows the Church’s economic teachings. What’s more, Galgano is in good company. Peter Quaranto’s recent Viewpoint column began, “The 83 percent of us voting Catholics and maybe even the other 17 percent not represented by this study are going to Hell.” Quaranto both began and ended his article, which admonished Catholics to seriously rethink their support for political parties and presidential candidates who do not subscribe to all facets of Catholic social teaching, with the friendly threat of eternal damnation. Aren’t we capable of a more sophisticated level of discourse? I think so. Convince me. Don’t threaten me.

Anna NussbaumsophomoreFarley HallNov. 25