Error Has No Rights

Medievals deeply believed this formula. It fired any number of bonfires that consumed the bodies of heretics. It gave strength to the arms of men who racked people for teachings contrary to the Faith or dangerous to civil peace.

Because of this, postmoderns tend to look back on the notion that Error Has No Rights with the serene assumption that arrogance and nothing but arrogance fueled it. They pride themselves on their tolerance.

Or they have until recently. But now they find themselves confronted by legions of people saying things like this:

or this:

or this:

or this:

or this:

or this:

or this:

or this:

Result: postmoderns suddenly discover that medievals were perfectly right: Error has no rights. Morons and liars who prattle, “I’m entitled to my opinion” as their all-excusing way of asserting the validity of their stupid claims, ignorant views, ill-informed blather, and murderous lies are, very simply, wrong. They may feel entitled. Indeed, fools feel nothing but entitled. But we are, in fact, not entitled to a counter-factual opinion–particularly when such opinions are deadly and dangerous. In such cases, fools are simply wrong. They may be ignorant, stupid, liars, barking nuts, or a mixture of the four. But the one thing they are not is entitled to their opinion if their opinion is contradicted by reality and fact.

What medievals had not worked out was the idea, “Though error has no rights, persons in error do have rights.” It would take centuries of bloodshed for the incredibly slow learner who is homo sapiens to work that out. Eventually, at least some of us would and the Church finally worked it out doctrinally in the Decree on Religious Liberty.

But, as the incredible folly of postmodern MAGA commitment to lies, deceit, ignorance, stupidity, and folly is now making clear, that does not mean the Church has repudiated (or can repudiate without catastrophe), the ancient truth that error has no rights. Precisely what the imbeciles braying, “I am entitled to my truth about vaccines being part of the Great Microchip Conspiracy” are demonstrating is that such lies have no right to equal standing with truth. Nobody has an obligation to platform them. Nobody has an obligation to listen to them. Everybody has an obligation to denounce, refute, ignore, and scotch the spread of them. And the state, depending on the gravity of the lie in question, has an obligation to penalize and punish those responsible for creating and spreading them.

That does not mean auto-de-fe’s and the rack.

But it does absolutely mean that you don’t get to “Teach the Controversy” about the Flat Earth in science class as though the sphericity of the earth is one valid view among many.

It means that if you spread idiocy about windmill cancer, you don’t get to be an oncologist no matter how entitled you feel.

It means that if you spread Pandemic or misinformation about it, you should be punished and and penalized and made to suffer for your crimes against the common good, whether by expulsion from social media, or fines, or jail, or crushing insurance costs, or other penalties–no matter how entitled you feel.

It means that if you harass gun massacre victims, you should lose your job and your media platform and be bled white financially to compensate for your crime against them–no matter how entitled you feel.

It means that if you commit a treasonous insurrection or act as accomplice to it, you should go to prison–no matter how entitled you feel.

It means that if you lie about Dominion voting systems corrupting the election without a shred of evidence–they can and should sue you for a billion dollars–no matter how entitled you feel.

Reality does not care about your sense of entitlement to an opinion. You have no right to a lie. Error has no rights.


28 Responses

  1. “Every man has the right to an opinion but no man has a right to be wrong in his facts. Nor, above all, to persist in errors as to facts.” (Bernard Baruch)

  2. “Reality does not care about your sense of entitlement to an opinion. You have no right to a lie. Error has no rights.”

    So: What should we do about Jimmy Akin’s podcasts about the Exodus?

    – joel

    1. *eyeroll* Yesterday you were refusing to even listen lest the purity of your ears be sullied. Today, without the slightest evidence presented, you are calling him a liar? Sheesh.

      1. I listened to snatches of it here and there, and it was clear what he was doing: arguing for the historicity of the Exodus largely as described in the Bible. To his credit he acknowledges that the number of Israelites could not have been anywhere close to the figures given in the text, but apart from that he defends the story as written, including the plagues. He pays far more attention to the Bible than to archeology, which is a grave mistake because, as regards the Exodus, the two narratives point in completely opposite directions. In short: the Exodus didn’t happen.

        (One fact, out of many I could cite: Kadesh-Barnea, where the Israelites supposedly spent 38 of their 40 years in the desert, shows no sign of human occupation prior to the mid-1st millennium BC.)

        “refusing to even listen lest the purity of your ears be sullied”. Guilty as charged! I used to be able to tolerate propaganda pretty well, but that ability burned out during the Trump years. I can’t stand BS anymore. I actively avoid it now.

        – joel

      2. @ Mark Shea

        Somehow the notion that the Exodus ABSOLUTELY DID NOT HAPPEN is hugely important to militant secularists. It’s right up there with cries of theocracy and dominionism, or whatever they can come up with the moment their prescription for inquisition anxiety expires.

      3. I listened to the point where he spent a couple minutes defending the plagues, and that’s when I bailed. I am weak.

        – joel

    2. @Joel, @Mark:

      At one of the blogs I frequent, “A Tippling Philosopher” over at Patheos Non-Religious, the author, Jonathan has written several articles that argue against the idea that the Exodus narrative is historical. I think he’s in the process of compiling a book on the subject.

      Of course, it didn’t help matters for the other side that Dave Armstrong decided to weigh in and for the most part, just make a fool of himself. To me, the worst part wasn’t just that his arguments were awful and his sources questionable at best, its that he was attacking Jonathan for positions that were both in line with the expert consensus and within the range of what is considered acceptable within Catholic doctrine. He even went as far as to trash a prominent Catholic scholar (I believe he was a priest) whose work is widely acknowledged in academic circles and had been approved by the Vatican, just because it didn’t fit his narrow view of Catholicism.

      As for Jimmy Atkin, I haven’t checked out the video because honestly, I’m not that invested in the subject, but from what I’ve seen from him before, he genuinely tries to represent the Catholic view accurately and within its proper context, so even if he expresses a preferred position in regards to the Exodus narrative, I don’t think he’ll do it to the exclusion of opposing viewpoints that nevertheless fit within what’s acceptable for Catholics.

      1. @ evilstriker

        I haven’t looked into this, so I might be very wrong here, but as far as I know, there is no actual offical teaching on the historicity of Exodus. The existence of Moses is de Fide for NT reasons, though.

  3. There is a historic site in Estero Florida, which was the home of a turn of the 20th century religious group called the Koreshans. Their cult leader, Cyrus Teed believed himself to be the second coming of Christ and that the earth was a hollow sphere. Outside of the sphere was “nothingness” . The Koreshans were true pioneers in the area which is why there was a State Park there, however, there have always been strange beliefs and theories. Most of the holdings of that archive are now at Florida Gulf Coast University, but previous to that there was (and is) a website devoted to deconstructing some of those oddball beliefs. Here is one of their blog posts.

  4. My understanding of the Church’s use of “error has no rights” was in relation to Church teaching. This became problematic for a number of reasons. However it’s interesting to think of this in context of the law. The law basically codifies “error has no rights” from a moral standpoint: murder is immoral, or an error on morals and so it is illegal and punishable.

    One of the problems of our times is that our laws don’t keep up with the times and when something important emerges, we cannot enact laws due to our divided politics. If it’s important enough the Supreme Court rules on it according to its ideological breakdown. SO…….error has no rights but since we’re so divided, we can’t even define emerging issues as in error or not. Guns? A 9/11 body count each day due to a global pandemic that bad actors are actively working for? Don’t tread on me.

    Finally, it’s these same actors in bad faith, who are often evangelicals and MAGA Catholics who crow about “absolute truth,” the Ten Commandments and God’s law. They are prohibiting society from identifying and codifying emerging errors. This failure is killing people—a 9/11 every day—and for what?

  5. Joel’s fundamentalist is showing as usual.

    I’d frankly be relieved if we could settle for the fac that it didn’t happen exactly as the story goes. In fact I’d actually already come to that conclusion. If there was a murderer of firstborns he was probably some crazy fundamentalist.

    I’ve always wondered about the vengeful embellishments. Can’t you just picture the old codger that came up with the new twist to scare the bejeebies out of poor little Jewish kids sitting around the campfire? It doesn’t ring true that God would ever keep angels on hand to act as hitmen in case he needs to kill some people to teach them a good lesson.

    Herod would kill babies (and there is archeological evidence of that massacre) but OF COURSE God wouldn’t. Terrible plagues yes. Murderous angels no. I could see God warning Moses about lethally unclean food and water, just like he warned Lot about a meteor about to collide with the city he lived in.

    Fundamentalists seem to suffer from a kind of spiritual Aspergers. They are also guilty of bibleolatry.

    1. If by “fundamentalist” you mean someone who places facts and evidence above all else then I take that as a compliment. Evidence for the Exodus is nearly nonexistent, and evidence against it is plentiful, though I see you rejecting the Exodus for reasons of your own. I’ll take what I can get. Maybe we can clink glasses over that someday.

      – joel

      1. First and foremost, I have to say that all of your different names make my day a little bit better. Thank you for that.

        Nah, I’m not rejecting Exodus. I just think “spin”has existed with us since the beginning of time. I think we’re all guilty of it now and then. The real story should be enough. I’m not saying there wasn’t a bunch of slavery drama, there’s just this temptation to put extra words in God’s “mouth” to prove a point, –only you end up with a “God” that seems to act more like Zeus from time to time– which I guess the Jewish people were pining after a little bit. Typical underdog fantasy.

        I guess I don’t honestly care how Exodus went down. The question is, can we change? It’s another story about how a “stiff necked People” can screw it up right and left. God, the good parent patiently lets us do all kinds of miserable things to harm each other, everyone pays for the wages of greed, avarice, pride etc. and as if that wasn’t bad enough we turn to gold and debauchery when get some kind of reprieve. We should have had a little gratitude and learned our lesson. It sounds like my Catholic/Protestant/atheist/ agnostic family. The Jews and the Egyptians don’t have anything on us. If anything we’re worse because we should know better. Tale as old as time.

  6. It is sort of funny, you dont understand Donald Trump is kidding in that clip. The truth is no energy source, except nuclear, is feasible. He knows that. I am registered as nothing, unaffiliated because I think both Republicans and Democrats are delusional. The R people think being asked to get a vaccine makes Biden Hitler. The D people have no sense of humor and see a racist behind every rock. A perfect example of delusion extends to the church where Trads think not being able to have Latin mass is persecution. Pope Francis seems to love folk art, like the Abruzzo nativity set, and the Pachamama statue. Francis lacks taste. He is not bad, he is just a bull in a china shop and doesn’t know it. The other side thinks folk art is an idol.

    1. “ The R people think being asked to get a vaccine makes Biden Hitler. The D people have no sense of humor and see a racist behind every rock.”

      This is why we can!t have nice things.

    2. The eternal struggle of Christian conservatives to create moral equivalence between the deadly, insurrectionist, racist, plague-spreading MAGA freak show and the Normals in the Democratic party is one of the biggest displays of stupidity on earth.

      1. I would say that anyone who thinks that a man can lop off his genitals and, in doing so, become a woman (the official stance of the Democratic Party) has forfeited his right to be considered “Normal.” I agree that much of the GOP is a “Freak Show” in a metaphorical sense. But the literal Freak Show – the circus sideshow with the bearded lady – is within the Democratic Party.

        You can think the Democrats are better if you wish, but that party is still a collection of ghouls, perverts, and lunatics.

  7. What do you propose as the punishment for Anthony Fauci for his admitted lies about mask effectiveness and herd immunity? Or for the other lies told by the government that Slate – no bastion of stupid selfish MAGA racist Qatholics – has identifed here: ?

  8. @morty

    I would say that you have displayed a remarkable lack of compassion, a monumental lack of knowledge, and the very typical aura of despite towards people that you don’t know, know nothing about, and who have done you and intend you not harm.

    If all of those women would just do what you told them to, and give up the silly idea that they control their own bodies, and that their families are theirs and not yours, what a wonderful world it wouldbe.

    If all of those brown people would just act less brown, and all of those Black people just act less black, what a wonderful world it would be.

    If all of those gay people would just do what you tell them to, and give up the silly idea that they control their own bodies in their own lives, and they know their own truth, what a wonderful world it would be.

    Lop off his genitals, indeed.

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