Minh’s Notes

Human-readable chicken scratch

Minh Nguyễn
November 1st, 2004


Pipe dream

Harrison wanted me to write an entry about the following flyer I got yesterday, so that my blog can be “fair and balanced.” Please note: Minh’s Notes is not in any way owned by or affiliated with News Corp., so why do I have to be neutral? I’ll be as biased as I choose to – downright lopsided, in fact. With that said…

Last weekend, I attended St. Gertrude for Mass and received a slightly slanted flyer on the windshield. One week later (yesterday), a mile away at All Saints, my dad once again got a flyer on his windshield. From the front, it looks like yet another non-partisan publication (rolls eyes):

God is not a Republican. Or a Democrat.

(I should note that this was clearly a compilation of several sources; not the official handout by Sojourn Magazine, for example.)

All right. Fair enough. They don’t want you to be a single-issue voter. I’m glad that they actually bring up several life-relevant topics that Bush and his “surrogates” would never mention at a “pro-life” rally. But turn to the back side, and you get:

2004 Presidential Election and Catholic Social Teaching Report Card

You know what party this flyer’s from when they flunk Bush on the very first count. In my last political commentary, I complained of an oversimplification. In fact, this handout is also oversimplification, masked as a detailed response.

They rated the two on an elementary-style letter grade scale. They somehow back it up by providing the numerical grade that the letter grade was based on. Problem is, the numbers don’t add up – in more ways than one. First of all, the numerical grades aren’t even on the webpage that the flyer cited as a source.

This flyer is a prime example of fuzzy math. Take this category for example:

Kerry   Bush
B (6) Race, Ethnicity, Immigration
Compares positions on civil rights, affirmative action, economic issues affecting minorities, immigration
C+ (6)

(Emphasis mine.) Although the two got the same numeric grade, Kerry fared a little better than Bush in the letter game. Some sort of rounding going on behind our backs?

And are they banking on the fact that most people won’t bother to add up the numeric grades, only to find that the total is just ever-so-slightly inflated for Kerry? Apparently it’s working, because I fell for it until Harrison and Richard pointed it out to me this morning.

(And no, the irony isn’t lost on me: the Democrats used the term “fuzzy math” against Bush four years ago.)

Like I said before, neither side is quite so innocent this election season. Fortunately, though, I can say that the authors of this flyer at least attempted to be reasonable and rational in their arguments – even if their arithmetic is a little shaky. They provided this gem:

To be Pro-Life includes much more than just being anti-abortion. We can do more good by making abortion unnecessary and rare than by changing the law. To make abortion illegal merely means that desperate women will go underground to get abortions. …

The Catholic Church teaches that all life is sacred. A candidate for office much understand that the Church stands against any policy or course of action which diminishes life, dignity, or the rights of the human person: abortion, capital punishment, war, scandalous poverty, denial of healthcare, mistreatment of immigrants and racism, to name but a few. (Pax Christi)

Life Does Not End At Birth

Now, normally I would consider myself at odds with the Pax Christi movement. But they have an important point: you need to go the whole way.

Republicans have been charging Kerry of “flip-flopping”; not being firm on where he stands. But many Bush supporters are guilty of exactly that. If you claim that you vote based on moral decisions, you cannot just pick and choose. True morality requires consistency.

How do you define “pro-life”? If you limit it to abortion and stem-cell research, you’ve missed the point. You’ve fallen for all that propaganda.

I have a problem with politicians who constantly claim morality as their cause for public policy. They claim to hold the moral high ground, but they will always have a weakspot. I could quote Scripture to prove my point, but I don’t need to: you can observe my point in any scandal these days.

We are all learners, students in morality. No one has to be perfect. Our President-elect won’t need to be a perfect person, and for anybody to expect or claim that of him is stuck in a pipe dream.

Well, how do you define pro-life, or pro-choice, or liberal, or conservative for that matter? Answer quickly; you’ll define informed in time for 7:30 tomorrow.

For anyone interested, here’s the entirety of the back side:

Elections and Pro Life: Who Is More Pro-Life?


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