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Tuesday, January 10, 2023

You are Entering a Free Speech Zone Where All Kinds of Ideas Can be Cordially Discussed and Debated!

Yes, indeed, this blog is free speech zone. I enjoy discussing and debating ideas (in the classical sense). It helps us all grow in wisdom and truth and also helps develop the skills of critical thinking, research, and analysis. You may wonder, then, (or maybe you don't) why I moderate all the comments.

The answer is simple. I moderate comments because, today, too many people have no filter. Free speech doesn't mean a no-holds-barred free for all! Some people think an ad hominem attack is a legitimate form of debate. Two commenters who continuously engaged in ad hominem attacks and regularly judged the state of Susan's and my souls are permanently banned. No matter how civil their current remarks, I will never offer them a platform again. I'm not interested in being used as a punching bag or channelling readers to their sites.

Having said that, however, anyone who wants to discuss with courtesy and reason is welcome. 

Socrates searched for truth by engaging in conversation and asking questions. Just as today, people reveal their own ignorance and illogic by answering questions with non-answers and illogic, so did the people of Athens who confronted Socrates. They exposed themselves in an unflattering light. That's what made him such a threat. Their own words made them look foolish. But Socrates did it without rancor or unkindness. Pursuit of truth seemed to be his sole objective, not humiliating others. They did a good job of doing that all by themselves.

Those who control with lies and manipulation hate unrestricted thought and speech which is why we now have concerted efforts to silence both speech and thoughts. Most readers have probably heard about the woman in Birmingham, England arrested for praying silently outside an abortion business. Not only is speech criminalized these days if it threatens the elites' agenda, but crimethink as well. And what is the worst crime and threat to the demagogues in power? Prayer, of course, which elicits the question...

If they don't believe in God, and many say they don't, why are they so threatened by those who invoke Him and beg for his help? Why did the emperors demand that pinch of incense?

If you want to know how to argue with charity and civility read Socrates. His apologia (defense) at his trial begins in a way that stirs the heart:

How you have felt, O men of Athens, at hearing the speeches of my accusers, I cannot tell; but I know that their persuasive words almost made me forget who I was—such was the effect of them; and yet they have hardly spoken a word of truth [alēthēs]. But many as their falsehoods were, there was one of them which quite amazed me—I mean when they told you to be upon your guard, and not to let yourselves be deceived by the force of my eloquence. They ought to have been ashamed of saying this, because they were sure to be detected as soon as I opened my lips and displayed my deficiency; they certainly did appear to be most shameless in saying this, unless by the force of eloquence they mean the force of truth; for then I do indeed admit that I am eloquent. But in how different a way from theirs! Well, as I was saying, they have hardly uttered a word, or not more than a word, of truth; but you shall hear from me the whole truth: not, however, delivered after their manner, in a set oration duly ornamented with words and phrases.No indeed! but I shall use the words and arguments which occur to me at the moment; for I am certain that this is right, and that at my time of life I ought not to be appearing before you, O men of Athens, in the character of a juvenile orator—let no one expect this of me. 
And I must beg of you to grant me one favor, which is this—if you hear me using the same words in my defense which I have been in the habit of using, and which most of you may have heard in the agora, and at the tables of the money-changers, or anywhere else, I would ask you not to be surprised at this, and not to interrupt me. For I am more than seventy years of age, and this is the first time that I have ever appeared in a court of law, and I am quite a stranger to the ways of the place; and therefore I would have you regard me as if I were really a stranger, whom you would excuse if he spoke in his native tongue, and after the fashion of his country—that I think is not an unfair request. Never mind the manner, which may or may not be good; but think only of the justice [dikē] of my cause, and give heed to that: let the jury decide with their virtue [aretē] and the speaker speak truly.
Socrates reminds me of St. Stephen whose eloquence inflamed those who were about to stone him to death. Clearly, the pagan Socrates, who spent his life searching for truth, was searching for the source of all truth, God. We would do well, as Catholics, to imitate his style by asking our adversaries questions with kindness and cheerfulness. 

And that, friends, reminds me of a man I consider a Catholic Socrates, G. K. Chesterton. He could heartily disagree with atheists and eugenicists, like H.G. Wells and George Bernard Shaw, and then share a pint with them at the local pub. Wells once said, “If I ever get to Heaven, presuming there is a Heaven, it will be by the intervention of Gilbert Chesterton.”

What a grace and blessing if we have friends with whom we heartily disagree who say the same thing about us. You can't bring people to God if you have nothing to do with them. But that advice is for adults who are well-formed and committed in their faith and persistent in praying for spiritual protection. If a friendship becomes a danger to one's soul, it clearly must be ended as a "near occasion of sin." And children should always be steered away from friends who lead them into temptation.

In this new year, I hope the blog will be a blessing to both its authors and its readers and I'm especially grateful for so many intelligent contributors who leave insightful and interesting comments. We pray for you and hope you will pray for us as well. 

Meanwhile, let the debates continue with civility and good cheer. And if you are ever passing through Shenandoah County on I 81 be sure to stop in Woodstock at Camp Kreitzer for a pint or a glass of wine along with a sweet treat made with our chickies' eggs and our bees' honey. And if you have enough time, we'll happily join with you in praying the rosary.

Hospitality is a Christian virtue that we love to practice. And remember -- 
"Wherever the Catholic sun doth shine, there's always laughter and good red wine! At least I've always found it so. Benedicamus Domino!"Hilaire Belloc


  1. I count among my friends, some very close, an agnostic liberal socialist, an ex-Catholic Democrat, a couple of very liberal priests, and a Missouri Synod Lutheran pastor. If nothing else, they receive prayers every morning. The Lutheran and I are closest in belief.

  2. What lovely peace your blog post filled me with this morning. I had almost forgotten about this thoughtful rational behavior of speaking with such true kindness and respect which was much more common in days past. Deo Gratias.

  3. I have, within the past year, discovered the works of GKC. The more I read of his works, the more enamored I become of him. He is brilliant and witty and respectfully tolerant of others. An example of true Christian charity.

  4. On the topic of Truth and being able to discern it I thought I would share this video about the 87,000 armed IRS agents . I really like this gentleman because he is so well informed and I hope this has some value for anyone who has been worried about that and thinks that the House of Representatives has halted a law that was already passed . So in the spirit of easing unnecessary worry and concern because I read something in an earlier blog about concern on this issue . Peace to all♡

  5. I watched the video, Susie, but found it somewhat dishonest. The fact is, despite his statement that the IRS focuses on the rich, poorer people are audited at a much higher rate than the rich. Syracuse University did a study showing that lower income people are audited at 5X the rate of the rich. We're talking about people making less than $25,000.

    Daddy used to say that they could take all the income of the rich and it would be a small fraction of government spending. They have to go after the numbers. Most people aren't rich. So they must be targeted to fund the voracious federal thieves.

  6. I recently heard that the most audited are those people who take the child tax credit.