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Archive for October 10th, 2006

…on the birth last Friday of their seventh child, Johannes Jakob Meinrad Zehnder. Now there’s a name for you! Christopher mentioned this in a comment last Friday, and I’ve been meaning to put up a more visible announcement. At that time the newborn was in ICU for what was thought to be merely precautionary reasons, but a later note indicates that mother and son are at home now, so presumably all is well. Thanks be to God!

Maclin Horton

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Let me preface this by saying that, as I hope is clear from my Sunday Night Journal entry of yesterday, I am not asking this question as a way of trying to somehow give the Bush administration or anyone else permission to torture suspected terrorists. But I do keep wondering, just as a question in moral theology, about that ticking-bomb scenario: is forcing somebody to reveal information in that sort of situation intrinsically wrong? Obviously (I think) it’s wrong in almost all circumstances, but what about that one?

Christopher Blosser has this second roundup of opinions on the whole question, with a lot of valuable links and a particularly interesting historical perspective from a Fr. Brian Harrison. I don’t know how many people here also read Mark Shea’s blog, where there’s been a huge amount of discussion over several weeks. Blosser is annoyed–with some justification, I think–by a lot of Shea’s rhetoric. I think Shea is basically correct, as I think Blosser also does, but he likes to throw verbal bombs which in my opinion obscure and inflame rather than illuminate.

On this thread here, there’s an exchange between Franklin Salazar and Christopher Zehnder on the question. I personally lean toward agreement with Franklin (not totally unheard of, but not the norm, either!) that the bomb-planter has forfeited some of his normal rights. I can sum up the question that keeps presenting itself to me: if it’s legitimate to kill an assailant to prevent a murder, why would it not be legitimate to inflict pain? Assuming, for the sake of argument, that the guilt is incontrovertible, etc. Also, a commenter on my blog has a slightly different but plausible take.

And let me repeat that I do not think we should write our laws or implement policies based on that rare scenario. But as I have heard of at least two real-life cases which come pretty close to it, the question continues to bother me. Maybe those of you with serious theological knowledge can sort it out.

Maclin Horton

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