Thursday, September 3, 2015

When you have not actually seen through the matrix

Twitter loves nothing more than the "all it not what it seems" insight, since it flatters the speaker (and the audience) with inside knowledge that the rest of the world just isn't clever or consistent enough to notice.

Unfortunately, that routinely leads to insufferably dour non-insights like this. Even if we grant the rest of Fillipovic's criticism, how is this not a step forward? For example, she appears to have noticed that Catholic doctrine empowers a third-party male to forgive sins. But it turns out that this is true even when the Pope decides not to forgive people who have abortions. This cannot possibly work as criticism of the Pope's Year of Mercy announcement in particular; if anything, it is a criticism of the status quo. This problem afflicts literally every point Fillipovic has to make here.

The very formulation of "a step forward" suggests that progress remains incomplete. Assuming Fillipovitch wants a world in abortion is theologically permissible, the Pope is disinvested of his authority, women who have abortions are welcomed into back into the community after the Year of Mercy, and they're also welcomed back during the Year of Mercy too -- assuming all of this, it follows trivially that accomplishing the last goal is a step forward, even if the other three remain.

Even when there is still work to do, the left has to be able to celebrate minor victories. Trying to nullify them because they fall short of final victory is just a way of demoralizing and disempowering people who desperately need encouragement. Fillipovich's misgivings would be understandable if she limited her point to the observation that there's still work to do; but instead, she has to swing for the fences with a too-clever-by-half contrarian hot take that this is actually not good news. She's not the only one who does this.