Thursday, March 16, 2006

Francoism And Man At Yale (Pt. I)

You know what they say: J'ai toujours fait une prière à Dieu, qui est fort courte. La voici: Mon Dieu, rendez nos ennemis bien ridicules! Dieu m'a exaucé.

I knew I was doing something right when the peasant in charge of agitprops for the Catholic League manifested her bilious quiddity in an angry attack on me published as a letter in the YDN.

Now, it may be true that God has unfortunately allowed it to pass that intellectual peasants are admitted to Yale for He-knows-what reasons, but He has been good enough to make my feelings towards them at least somewhat known (to them). Case in point, the incomparably named Stephen Alois Schmalhofer, whom you might remember from such exercises in ring-kissing, abnegating prostration before the ghoulish hierarchs of the Roman Catholic church as this one. Meine Damen und Herren, starren sie bitte nach den Grundsatz des Blogs des Herrn Obersturmpanzerführerkatholischerfußballspielern Schmalhofers:
A Catholic Yale football player attempts to stay afloat amidst a sea of liberalism.
So you know it's going to be good stuff.

Last night, my roommate brought it to my attention that Herr Ospfkfs. S.A.S. once again pointed that piercing analytical gaze of his my way a few weeks ago. He took exception, you see, to a half a paragraph in my most recent YDN column but one:
The most disgraceful reaction [to the Intoonfada] of all came -- try to act surprised -- from the Vatican, which claimed that "the right to freedom of expression does not imply the right to offend religious beliefs." Thus does Cardinal Ratzinger's church put us on notice, yet again, that it is positively opposed to individual and civil rights.
Now, had I been writing about Cardinal Ratzinger's fascism and its various implications (inasmuch as he's an object of delusional mass-veneration) for non-Catholics, lay Catholics, and Catholic clergy, I would have given a more systematic account of said fascism. Instead, I was writing about craven Western responses to the Intoonfada, the limiting case of such cravenness of course being endorsement of the Islamo-fascists' programmatic goals: you're not a cowardly defender of freedom of conscience if you're against freedom of conscience. (Or as Ratzinger apparently believes, "Das Gewissen der Menschheit bin Ich." [You're not supposed to capitalize the 'i' in 'ich', but you're also supposed to have learnt the lessons of the Second World War--ed.]) So space constraints did not permit me to do a proper conceptual analysis of Ratzinger, though I did lay the groundwork previously. In any case, a book project accurately codenamed Awful Things You Should Know About Josef Ratzinger faces a similar problem to expressing a googolplex in decimal notation, namely that the number of character spaces in an unabridged edition would exceed the number of fundamental particles in the universe; hence it is nomically impossible to complete such a project. Nevertheless, even incomplete accounts of, e.g., Ratzinger's love of war criminals and hatred of people with healthier sex lives than himself, are sure to be illuminating.

Fortunately, there are no nomic barriers to getting a comprehensive handle on the ideology of Ratzinger's sycophantic flock. Ratzinger is to outright Christo-fascism (in its broadest connotation of a cluster of distinct, related concepts), roughly, as sheep like Ospfkfs. S.A.S. are to Falangism (in its narrow connotation of an autocratic personality cult stripped of all but the last vestiges of substantive content, too banal to be radically evil but frightfully zealous nonetheless). Don't take my word for it; take Schmalhofer's:
First of all his name is Pope Benedict XVI. I understand that you might have had a midterm or something but there were a few things in the news about Joseph Ratzinger being elected the new Pope. But since you’re a little out of touch with the news (and reality), let me fill you in. You have a variety of titles to choose from, so pick one or more:

His Holiness The Pope
Bishop of Rome
Vicar of Jesus Christ
Successor of the Prince of the Apostles
Supreme Pontiff of the Universal Church (Pontifex Maximus)
Patriarch of the West
Primate of Italy
Archbishop and Metropolitan of the Roman Province
Sovereign of the State of the Vatican City
Servant of the Servants of God

I know you don’t call Presidents Bush or Clinton, “Governors”. So try to afford the Pope his due respect.
If you stare hard enough, you can just about watch the dicksucking as it unfolds. (By the way, I do sort of make an effort to keep up with these things.) In any case, multiple-time readers of this site are probably aware of how much bad semantics annoys me on its own, let alone in the service of foul politics; his name is not 'Pope Benedict XVI'; his name is 'Josef Ratzinger'. 'Pope Benedict XVI' is the unearned honorofic that Ratzinger demanded the world use to denote him, to which bullying pomposity the world outside his ossified curia shamefully acquiesced. It is quite correct that I don't refer to Presidents Bush or Clinton as "Governor"; but S.A.S. helpfully provides a necessary condition on such a referential convention, namely that a certain quantity of respect is due the individuals falling under that convention. As for the catechism of fellatial homages, what is significant about the list is that all its members are definite descriptions. And as Schmalhofer doesn't know, definite descriptions are non-rigid designators; hence they pick out the unique individual at any given world who satisfies them; hence, if zero or two or more individuals satisfy them, the descriptions pick out no one.

No one satisfies the description 'His Holiness the Pope', since the occupant of the papal office is not holy on any precisification of 'holiness'; no one satisfies the description 'Vicar of Jesus Christ' because Jesus of Nazareth was a nutty Jewish cult leader and not a messiah; no one satisfies the description 'Successor of the Prince of the Apostles' because there are no apostles such that there is any principate coextensive with them; no one satisfies the description 'Supreme Pontiff of the Universal Church' because there is no universal church; no one satisfies the description 'Patriarch of the West' because the West is a collection of constitutional states at least nominally governed by elected public servants; no one satisfies the description 'Primate of Italy' because Italy is a republic and their last experiment in a polity of primacy ended with the primate being hung upside down; no one satisfies the description 'Archbishop and Metropolitan of the Roman Province' because the only legitimate government in the Latium region of which Rome is a constituent province is the government headed by regional president Piero Marrazzo; no one satisfies the description 'Sovereign of the State of the Vatican City' because sovereignty resides in the consent of the governed and not the hallucinated divine right of a geriatric celibate wierdo; and no one satisfies the description 'Servant of the Servants of God' because it's (a) indefinite and therefore ill-formed as a singular referring term and (b) serving God is quite different from serving the demiurge; hence for commonsensical folks like me who want our idiolects to include a maximal set of meaningful expressions without countenancing any logical incoherence or literally meaningless expressions, S.A.S.'s litany of terms is useless if not semantically harmful.

So why do I choose to call Ratzinger 'Ratzinger'? Isn't it obvious? It's not, I promise, because I dislike him; I dislike Mother Teresa about as much and will celebrate his acquaintance with the fact that there is no Maker for him to meet with similar enthusiasm as I did for hers, yet I generally don't refer to the old witch as 'Agnes Bojaxhiu'. My first rule for choosing a referring term is that the term's successful nomination of its intended referent is possible, not the case for 'PBXVI', and certainly not the case for all but one of S.A.S.'s oaths of serfdom. As far as I can tell, my only choices are 'Ratzinger' and variants thereof, versus 'the Bishop of Rome.' And here the consideration is simply pragmatic; everybody knows whom 'Ratzinger' refers to, not so for 'BoR'. Etc. etc., here endeth the lesson.


Post a Comment

<< Home

  • E-mail me: Dan Koffler
  • My YDN Column: Smashing Idols
  • The Reasonsphere
  • Hit & Run
  • Matt Welch
  • Julian Sanchez
  • Jesse Walker
  • Virginia Postrel
  • Tim Cavanaugh
  • Ringers
  • Andrew Sullivan
  • Josh Marshall
  • Crooked Timber
  • Matthew Yglesias
  • Kevin Drum
  • John Cole
  • Leiter Reports
  • Pharyngula
  • Gregory Djerjian
  • Atrios
  • Mickey Kaus
  • Jim Henley
  • Radley Balko
  • TNR's Plank
  • Balkinization
  • Glenn Greenwald
  • Thomas Knapp
  • Justin Logan
  • Laura Rozen
  • Mark Kleiman
  • Print Culture
  • Arthur Silber
  • Tom Tomorrow
  • James Wolcott
  • OxBlog
  • Eric Muller
  • Majikthise
  • Pandagon
  • The American Scene
  • Daniel Drezner
  • Will Wilkinson
  • The Volokh Conspiracy
  • Intel Dump
  • Prequels
  • Johan Ugander
  • Dan Munz
  • Josh Eidelson
  • Future Less Vivid
  • Sequels
  • (not)Delino Deshields
  • Actual God
  • Hidden Hand
  • I am justice
  • Death/Media Incarnate
  • (not)Marquis Grissom
  • Yanqui At Cambridge
  • Beneficent Allah
  • Mr. Wrongway
  • The Hippolytic
  • Discourse Decision
  • Tight Toy Night
  • Mulatto Jesus
  • Sago Boulevard
  • Immortalized Stillicide
  • Nick's Corner
  • Dead Trees
  • Reason
  • Dissent
  • The New Republic
  • The New Yorker
  • The Atlantic Monthly
  • The American Prospect
  • Arts & Letters Daily
  • The Economist
  • The Nation
  • Yale Daily News
  • Virtual Reality
  • Wikipedia
  • Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy
  • Symbolic Logic into HTML
  • Slate
  • Salon
  • The Huffington Post
  • Crooks and Liars
  • The Smoking Gun
  • The Smoking Gun: Bill O'Reilly
  • Romenesko
  • The Christopher Hitchens Web
  • Draft Russ
  •'s Library
  • Urban Dictionary
  • Homestar Runner
  • Planet Rugby
  • Flex Online
  • Card Player Magazine
  • Gawker & Such
  • News
  • Politics
  • Gambling
  • Gossip (NY edition)
  • Gossip (LA edition)
  • Cool Shit
  • Cars
  • Video Games
  • Photoshop Fun &c.
  • Travel
  • MacGuyver Yourself
  • Porn
  • Prepare For The Worst
  • Bull Moose Blog
  • The Corner
  • Instapundit
  • Reel Blogs
  • BathTubYoga
  • More TK
  • R.I.P.
  • Jamie Kirchick
  • That Girl