Words that get misused: DISCRIMINATION

Same-sex ‘marriage’ proponents usage

If you don’t let us get married then you’re DISCRIMINATING against us. This is basically the same as racism, and you’re treating us like second-class citizens, inferior human beings. This is one of The Worst Crimes.

To discriminate: make an unjust or prejudicial distinction in the treatment of different categories of people, especially on the grounds of race, sex, or age.

Marriage proponents usage

Yes, we are discriminating in this instance, what of it? Let’s revisit the definition:

To discriminate: to recognize a distinction; differentiate.

It is not in itself a negative thing, it simply means to treat different things differently. This is something we do all the time. I don’t prepare for a swim the same way that I prepare for a run, because they’re different things.

Somehow, the negative meaning of discrimination has become conflated with the neutral one. Somehow, even any reasonable distinctions can be classed as “unjust or prejudicial distinctions in the treatment of different categories of people”.

Now, it is certainly possible that there is no significant difference between heterosexual and homosexual relationships, and that treating them differently is therefore an example of an unjust distinction. However, those who shout “Discrimination!” are not just positing the possibility.

The mere fact that people are suggesting that there might be a difference between relationships between two people of the same sex and between a man and a woman is enough to warrant this cry of prejudice. 

Instead of seeing rational debate around whether this is a case of a just or an unjust distinction, we are seeing people outrage at the mere fact that a distinction is even being made. This is not a good place to be.

Words that get misused: EQUALITY

I have been brought out of a long hiatus by the desire to have some way of railing against the overwhelming feeling of helplessness in the face of the widespread embrace of pro-SSM arguments, as well as to clarify my own thoughts.

To start off with, I’m going to rant for a bit about the fact that the different camps use the same words, though in different ways, and this has contributed to some confusion.

First word up for discussion: equality.

Same-sex ‘marriage’ proponents usage

The general gist of many people’s arguments runs thusly:

1. Everyone who is equal with respect to a particular characteristic should be treated as such (both by individuals and by law).
2. Everyone’s love is equal.
3. Therefore everyone should be treated equally with respect to who they love.

This often gets to reduced to simply stating that “everyone is equal”, or “everyone has equal rights”.

I don’t think that they mean to say that every human being is equal in every single way, but because they leave exactly in what way they are equal vague, the matter is open to interpretation, and it often ends up meaning that we’re all equal in every way, which is another way of saying that we’re all exactly the same.

Anyone who thinks about that last statement for half a second realises that this is obviously false. However, because it’s left unspecified, people fill in the blank with whatever their vague notion of equality is.

Thus, instead of the sophisticated debate this issue deserves, we are left with people asserting merely “But Equality! It’s good!” And well-meaning folk feeling there is no other option but to agree. “Well yes, I actually can’t see anything wrong with that statement… I guess I’m joining their team.”

Marriage proponents usage*

These would agree that equality under the law is important, and should be respected. The problem arises when we consider in what way are human beings actually equal?

I would suggest that the only sensible claim to make is that we are equal in dignity, as human persons, in light of our possessing an intellect and will, giving rise to our capacity to reason, discern the good, and to make choices based upon this discernment.

It is in the interests of the preservation of the inherent dignity of every human being that the notion of fundamental human rights comes into play. I’ll go into these in more depth later, but essentially, we have the right only to those things which uphold our dignity as human persons. For example, we have the right to having our basic needs for survival being met, but we do not universally have the right to a sumptuous feast for every meal.


*NB: I refrain from using “traditional marriage” because it caters to the idea that there are two equally valid ways of understanding marriage, whereas I think that same-sex ‘marriage’ is an impossibility, hence the inverted commas, and the so-called “traditional” kind is the only kind of marriage.

RE in Australia: where is the Christ-centred Pedagogy?

From my teaching blog:

Fully Integrated

Musings on how one ought to approach the teaching of Religion in Catholic Schools will be frequent on this blog, as it is a particular interest of mine. Today I would like to point out what I think has been a major flaw in the entire history of RE in Australia: getting the focus wrong.

Essentially, there have been a number of pedagogical shifts over the last century or so, with respect to the consensus on how the Catholic Faith is best handed on to students. At the turn of the century, a doctrinal approach dominated, in which the focus was to make sure children had memorised all the doctrines of the Church. In reaction to this, the so-called kerygmatic approach was developed, which emphasised one’s personal, subjective experience of the Gospel, often without regard for what the Church actually taught. This in turn gave way to the life-centred approach, which…

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The Gospel of Math


Neal Obstat Theological Opining

[As I am still recovering from an intensive retreat I recently gave, I am thin on words. But here’s a fun and fleeting thought for today.]

As I once collapsed under the weight of advanced calculus in college, this Blog post title strikes terror in my soul.

I used to have a t-shirt back in college (that I took off on the spot and gave to a complete stranger who said she thought it was ‘so cool’ — something you do when you’re an undergrad) that had this on the back:

I wish I had it again.

I recall my physics professor in a lecture back in 1988 at Florida State said,

If there is a God, his first language is math.

Thank God my own theological work does not require this language, though if I were a real theologian like Augustine, I would be more committed to learning:


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Virtue is a vivid and separate thing

I came across a superb quote from Chesterton regarding virtue the other day, in Christopher West’s At the Heart of the Gospel- Reclaiming the body for the New Evangelisation. (Which is knocking my socks off, by the way.) I sought the original essay in which it appeared, and found some other things I rather liked. The highlights I reproduce below:

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Technology distances us from reality, and therefore from ourselves

I began some time ago to write up a tentative theology of books, bookish theonerd that I am. I hit a rut, however, because things weren’t satisfactorily coming together for me. The post was sparked by a debate I had with someone over whether real books were superior to e-books, but I realised that my dislike of e-books had less to do with e-books themselves, than with the broader question of the place of technology in the lives of human beings, and my intensely realist philosophical outlook. Hence, it is these thoughts that I will present to you today, before I narrow in on books specifically.

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How Catholics Read Scripture

Strange Notions (the place to be online for Catholic-Atheist dialogue) is running a super series on how Catholics approach Sacred Scripture. I’ve written on this briefly before, but if you want more detail but not a whole book, Mark Shea is your man.  Continue reading

Being sanctified in the very ordinariness of life

Hellooooo, my dearest readers!!! I have missed the blogging world very much. We have just finished moving house, and moving eight people’s worth of stuff in two weeks is no mean feat, let me tell you. However, exhausted as I am, we are home, and I am once again at leisure to write down a thought or two.

First of all, I must share with you this gem from Neal Obstat. It is one of the most beautiful encapsulations of seeking holiness in everyday life, the very heart and soul of what Opus Dei is all about. Continue reading