Tuesday, August 17, 2010

How to Explain?

It is so difficult when people crucify others for misspeaking during a public speech.

If you go here, you'll find some particularly difficult people making fun of James O'Keefe. This seems to be an afternoon's pastime for some of them, who have never misspoken themselves.

What I think James meant to say was that people in public office should be monitored, and that this was a good use of one's moral judgment: To keep watch over what those who claim to represent us do and say.

They don't know Belloc (spelled Beloch on the site). They think Mount St. Mary's invited James to speak.


  1. Perhaps they ought to read Chesterton. GKC said much the same thing in his comment on the famous Curran quote, "The price of liberty is eternal vigilance." He said, quite simply, that the requirement of "eternal vigilance" is "only what the theologians say of every other virtue, and is itself only a way of stating the truth of original sin..."
    [GKC The Thing CW3:312]

    Having written monitoring software for critical processes, and being myself a "Juvenal Delinquent", I think it might be a great topic for one of these Thursdays... watch and see!

  2. Anyone who's done much public speaking can probably tell a story or two of some such slip. As I recall, Barack Obama once referred to his "Muslim faith" in response to a question about interfaith dialogue. (He did correct himself a moment later.) A few people on the right pounced gleefully on the gaffe. My own reaction was to cut him on slack.

  3. In his speech, which I just watched online, O'Keefe himself makes joking references to a couple of arguably ill-considered public statements, including Obama's line about about needing to know whose ass to kick and Chris Matthews' line about "a thrill up [his] leg." I don't think O'Keefe was wrong to joke about those remarks--but I don't think getting a little laugh of O'Keefe calling his own work "the nadir of morality" is out of line, either. This comment doesn't show that O'Keefe is actually immoral, and it doesn't show that he's an idiot--but it is just a little bit funny.

  4. Yes, but completely discounting everything he says and labeling and calling him names without engaging the argument, which most of the people did, isn't funny. As long as you can label him a right wing nut, you can dismiss what he's saying. As long as you believe there's some mysterious conservative money behind him, you can dismiss him. Because there's no liberal money behind anything, is there.
    I know both sides can call names. Both sides dismiss others based on labels. But that's what we're trying NOT to do as Chestertonians. We can't be labeled because we're neither left nor right. And there's certainly no money behind anything Chestertonian, from his time till now ;-)

  5. Oh, sure--that thread was full of ad hominem and otherwise bad argumentation. I don't really think it was meant to be taken seriously.

    I wouldn't dismiss him just because of his ideological label or his funding source. As for his ideas--well, this isn't the place, but I'll try picking those apart on the Chesterton forum if anyone wants to argue.

    I really like your Chestertonian aspiration to be "neither left nor right." The sad thing is that some people will probably now know ACS only as "those people who had O'Keefe as their keynoter," and so will think of you as a right-wing group. It may not be fair, but there you are.


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