Wednesday, April 07, 2010

Film Critics should stick to film....

There's a blog I've been meaning to plug for a while: It's written by a guy called Stephen Greydanus, and it's full of the most insightful film reviews you'll ever see on the internet. This guy runs rings around Roger Ebert, trust me. 

Sadly, Mr. Greydanus chose to get off the subject of films and onto the subject of interrogation of terrorists. And even more sadly, he seems to be an avid reader of Mark Shea. (for more info on Shea and what I think of him, see here.)

Mr. Greydanus posted this and I replied with this (see below). Read it and you decide who's right. Anyway, he's still an absolutely awesome film critic.

Mr. Greydanus,
I have little to say regarding the subject of torture here. I'm not an expert on it. Neither are you, and neither (obviously) is Mark Shea.
I would rather talk about how Catholics conduct themselves on the subject of torture. Or, if you prefer, on the subject on the interrogation and detention of fanatical terrorists. I personally think this is a more accurate description of the subject, but it doesn't really matter to me.

First of all, I think this issue is not simple in terms of morality. I think it's an issue on which (unlike, say, abortion) reasonable people can disagree. I think this because reasonable people have disagreed on it - reasonable Catholics. 
In a complicated subject like this, I would hope that the level of discussion would last for two or three minutes without devolving into vicious insults on both sides, but, sadly, that is what always happens. And I think this is primarily the fault of bloggers like Mark Shea. 
I think this because (a) Mark Shea will call you a hypocrite, a war criminal and an evil person if you cross him and (b) Mark Shea, by his own admission, hasn't really given much thought on what the moral thing is to do when you have a terrorist in your possession who may have information on upcoming terrorist thoughts. In my opinion, the polemical, slanderous and cruel style that Mark Shea uses is both immoral and stupid, and I wouldn't trust a word he says on the subject. He makes no effort to understand the thoughts or the views of those he disagrees with - he simply insults them. He gets away with this because he's a good writer with a knack for witty phrases like "Conservative Catholic (TM)" and "the rubber hose right" (chortle!) but that doesn't change the fact that he's insulting and demeaning people. This is a sin, by the way. 

In your post above, you objected to the "torture opponents" being caricatured as "Meanwhile, torture opponents are painted as terrorist-hugging wackos." I disagree with your word "torture opponents" because it implies that those of use who disagree with you are torture proponents - but in any case, I think this is a bit whiny after listening to the venom spewed by Mark Shea against the late Robert Novak, George Weigal, Dennis Prager and innumerable other human beings whom I respect. 
One final word - it's not very convincing when all your posts above are from or from the inherently unreliable Mark Shea. In a reply above you linked to the "CIA-sanctioned waterboarding of terrorists." I clicked on it, expecting to see a PDF or something from a government file. No. It's another article that doesn't quote anything directly. Everything is through the filter of biased sources. Not really convincing. 
Thanks for all your great reviews over the years, and I sincerely hope you stick with films in the future (no sarcasm intended - I don't enjoy talking about politics either).


  1. Yes, well. God bless you, John. Thanks for that model exercise in civility.

    Meantime: are you the "John" on my blog who is now defending Obama's right to declare any American citizen he chooses an Enemy of the State without arrest, trial, or evidence and then order his or her murder?

  2. Nope. Wasn't me. I always sign my posts "John Doman." I have, admittedly, posted anonymously a few times. However, I haven't posted anything on your blog since around January of this year. (I tell the story here).
    If this other "John" did say what you said he did, I would condemn his views most strenuously, because I'm not an idiot. However, I need to see exactly what he said before I pass judgement. Frankly, I don't consider you a reliable interpreter.

    Looking over my post above, I admit that I shouldn't have described you as a "master of slander." That was a bit too flippant. Also, I shouldn't have said you called someone a bastard - I couldn't find an instance of this in your blog. I could find the others, but not that one. So I'll edit my words.
    However, I will not deny -- I cannot deny - that (a) you sometimes slander people, and (b) you do it masterfully. Nor am I going to rescind anything else I said above. I believe that it's true.