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What should a stigma on illegitimacy mean?

The recent situation with Sarah Palin's family has brought up within the conservative community the question of whether there should be a stigma on illegitimacy and what that might mean. I believe that some of my (and others') disagreement with Lawrence Auster on Palin's situation springs from a disagreement over what it should mean to disapprove of illegitimacy.

My impression is that Auster definitely believes that there should be a stigma upon pregnancy out of wedlock per se, as opposed to there being only a stigma on sex outside of wedlock per se. I may be misunderstanding him here, but this seems to me to be the best way of understanding his insistence that Sarah Palin, by continuing to be John McCain's running mate with a pregnant teenage daughter, is requiring conservatives to abandon a condemnation of illegitimacy. It also helps to explain what seems to me to be the oddity of the following exchange:

Me: You state that I am the one who wishes to get into a discussion of Palin's personal virtue. But I, in making my point about whether Palin was neglectful and the like, was thinking of comments of yours like this:
Yes, Mr. and Mrs. Palin raised their children with so much love and discipline that their 17 year old daughter went and got herself knocked up. Maybe if the family had actually been spending time together, and if the parents had exercised real discipline, as Laura W. powerfully argues, this would not have happened.

See? This isn't just saying she's got too much on her plate or even that we should not approve of illegitimacy. It's a lot more than that.

Auster:Yes, I was expressing diapproval of their daughter's illegitimate pregnancy, AS ANY NORMAL MIDDLE CLASS AMERICAN WOULD HAVE DONE 50 YEARS AGO, and I was making the larger point that regardless of whether their situation is ok or not, regardless of whether Bristol is "ok" and her baby is "ok," the larger social impact of this situation is to legitimate illegitimacy for the whole country

This seems to mean that, to show genuine disapproval of illegitimate pregnancy, we should express scorn for the opinion that the parents of a pregnant teenaged daughter raised her with love and discipline. We should conjecture about just how they were neglectful parents, and we should demand that the entire family be disgraced to the point that the parents (or is it just the mother?) cannot run for a new major public office as a result of the disgrace.

So, what should it really mean for us, as social conservatives and moral traditionalists, to disapprove of illegitimacy?

The severe stigma on a girl's being pregnant outside of wedlock in former years served to emphasize two important truths. 1) Sex outside of marriage is morally wrong. 2) Children need a father. But let's face it: Heaping severe social disgrace (not to mention worse penalties) upon an unwed pregnant girl was a clumsy and in some ways a cruel and unjust way of expressing and upholding these important truths. Nineteenth century novels (The Heart of Midlothian, Adam Bede, and Tess come to mind) are full of legitimate, implicit criticism of the severity of the penalties enacted upon girls for turning up pregnant, the almost inevitable sexual double standard whereby male seducers got off scot free while the entire life of the young woman was ruined, and the lack of concern for the horrific consequence of infanticide that often resulted.

It was always the case that the argument from silence--"Jody hasn't turned up pregnant, so she must be a good girl"--was highly fallible. Plenty of young women who were outright promiscuous managed one way or another to get away with it without getting caught, and plenty of basically "good girls" who sinned one time ended up pregnant. In our own day and age such an inference is so unjustified as to be nearly a joke, to the point that a special stigma on unwed pregnancy as opposed to a stigma on unwed sex is very nearly an advertisement for the liberal value of safe sex. Who is doing the greater wrong, the young thirty-something woman living in flagrant and unreprentant sin with her boyfriend who doesn't get pregnant or the 17-year-old Christian teenager who gets pregnant with her boyfriend? What did the Clintons probably teach Chelsea about sex outside of marriage? Were they doing her more harm than the Palins are doing to their daughter by supporting her through her crisis pregnancy?

What we want, then, is a way of affirming the two above truths without, as conservatives especially, treating babies as a punishment, condemning getting caught rather than doing wrong, and getting our priorities upside down.

Here are several ways that I think we can do that. First, we can simply state, to our children, on blogs, and in conversation with friends, that what this young girl and her boyfriend have done is wrong. I don't quite understand why why the question, "What do we tell our children?" should even come up. Assuming that your children know the facts of life, you tell them that this young lady now in the national spotlight and her boyfriend had sexual intercourse outside of marriage, that this is contrary to God's plan for sex, but that they are now to all appearances trying to go on and do the right next thing. Is this so hard? As far as I know, in her first public announcement of this matter Mrs. Palin did not say anything negative about the behavior that led to the pregnancy. Unlike some, I'm not going to make a huge deal about it, but I am willing to say that there probably would have been some gentle and graceful way of saying that the young people, when they came and told the parents what was going on, realized that they had fallen into sin, had not followed God's plan, or something to that effect. And that might well have been better and might have avoided some of the criticism from the right. On the other hand, perhaps she thought we could take that as read.

Whether we can "take it as read" that people in such a situation know that sex outside of marriage is wrong and are not asking us to think anything else depends heavily on the context. I would say that it is not only charitable but also justified to assume this about a devout Christian family, where it would not be justified to assume it about a secular "hot" movie star, and all the less so if she continues living with her boyfriend. Context is everything. Which leads me to number 2: We can speak out especially loudly about situations where the sex outside of marriage itself is absolutely clearly not being repented of. This would include both celebrity unwed pregnancies sans husband for the sake of having a cute baby and inner-city serial pregnancies with multiple fathers.

Third, we can speak out clearly in support of the need of children for a father when we see that need being flouted, and we can promote adoption. Of the three options that even are options (killing the child being not an option)--placing the child for adoption, marrying the father and keeping the child, and keeping the child and raising him without a married father--the last is the most problematic from the perspective of the second important truth above. Ironically, in our own otherwise less life-affirming day and age it is easier than it was in the supposed "good old days" for an unwed mother to avoid this situation. Adoption was not widely facilitated for newborns a hundred years ago, and there were even some people who thought that a woman pregnant out of wedlock should not place the child for adoption because she literally "deserved" to raise the child herself as a punishment for her fornication. The difficulties of adoption and the extreme stigma for the child on bastardy led to all manner of strange situations in which children were silently adopted by relatives or friends who then lied to the child about his parentage. Dorothy Sayers had an illegitimate child like this who was raised for part of his life believing her to be his aunt. Whether such a situation promotes family values I (don't really) leave it to the reader to decide for himself.

So we should speak out about all those happy and fancy-free women on the covers of the magazines in the checkout lanes having and raising babies with either no man in sight or with only a boyfriend in sight whom they apparently have no intention of marrying and no intention of ceasing to sleep with. We should tell our kids that they should place the child for adoption by a married couple instead. And we should speak out still more loudly against situations where women deliberately undergo fertility treatments such as artificial insemination in order to have a baby when they are not married. All of this is flouting the truth that kids need fathers in a way that Bristol Palin certainly is not.

Fourth, we should promote chastity as opposed to promoting non-pregnancy. Is this so difficult a distinction to draw? It does not seem so to me. I'm not, myself, attracted to the whole "silver ring" and chastity oath scene, but some families do promote pre-marital purity with their children in this way, and I sympathize with them. We should certainly teach our children and the young people with whom we have influence the beauty and nature of sexual purity, we should shield them from "comprehensive" sex education, and we should loudly oppose such sex education. We should make it so clear where we stand that no one could possibly accuse us of "Oprah-izing" or sentimentally approving of sex outside of marriage.

Fifth and finally, we should make distinctions among sins and understand the profound importance of redemption and forgiveness. Why are so many conservatives saying the things that seem to be outraging Auster so much? I think one reason should be brought out frankly: Fornication between two teenagers presumably in love is a sin, but there are many worse sins, including sexual sins. The seduction of a young girl by an older man is worse. The seduction of a girl by a young man who cares nothing for her and would never even consider marrying her is worse. Recreational sex between two hard-hearted young people who care nothing for each other and who have bought the liberal line on the meaning of sex is worse. Adultery is worse. Leaving your wife is worse. It would be more justifiable on the basis of traditional morality to call for John McCain to resign from the race because he, himself, had an affair, divorced his wife, and married the woman with whom he was having the affair, than to call for Sarah Palin to drop out because her daughter is pregnant.

And for Christians, the necessity of repenting and moving on to pick up the pieces of our lives and protect the innocent in this broken and fallen world is one of the most important truths we can affirm. That is what it is all about, and that is what Bristol Palin and Levi Johnston appear to be trying to do, while the Palin family helps them to do it. Have many sappy, sin-excusing sermons been written on this subject? To be sure, they have. But that doesn't make the truth that the preachers distort any less a truth: Life is messy, we sin, we need forgiveness, and we need help to put things back together and go on as best we can after we sin. God loves us. God forgives us. God helps us. We need to do the same for one another, and broken-hearted parents who do so are truly living their faith.

I will close with a recommendation that you read this article over at First Things. No, I do not agree with the woman's conclusion that she should vote for John McCain (which is what she is saying she will do). Everyone knows by now where I stand on John McCain. But the article is eloquent and puts this final point I have been making very well, especially here:

I will vote for Sarah Palin because she has guts. We’ve never met, but I suspect I know something about her life, and so do a great many other women. I know what it means to have a son with Down syndrome. I know what it means to talk a good line about religious faith and then be asked to prove it. I know what it means to have a daughter pregnant and unmarried.

In fact, while we’re on the subject, I also know what it means to have two grandchildren born out of wedlock, a son struggling with alcohol, two grandchildren with serious disabilities, putting myself through graduate school while simultaneously caring for a husband and children and teaching full time—and a whole lot more. This is the stuff of real human love; this is the raw material of family life. And those who think that Palin’s beliefs and family struggles are funny or worth jeering at, simply reveal the venality of their own hearts.

Comments (75)

I think you miss fundamentally the reason behind the condemnation on women specifically. A girl with child and no husband is a burden upon her family, typically for a long time. What can't be assumed by the family was a burden placed upon the greater community. In the absensce of social security, learning at age 40 or 50 that you would be needing to provide significant assistance to your daughter and grandchild would be quite a burden. Material realities certainly don't make exposure or abortion right, but this fiction of autonomy does a real disservice. It is ultimately unsustainable. I find it shocking that the same conservatives that can say the 80% illegitimacy rate in some urban communities causes social destabilization, but then when they look at a knocked up middle class girl, the only real social destabilization they can conceive is from abortion.

Additionally, this particular situation would have been better if the man was 25 and she was 16 getting pregnant. With a shotgun wedding, there could at least be some expectation that he would be able to support his family. The idea of letting 16 years old court, let alone fornicate, is one of the most irresponsible things I can contemplate in the current social context.

M.Z. Forrest,

The idea of letting 16 years old court, let alone fornicate, is one of the most irresponsible things I can contemplate in the current social context.

I'm sorry, but I happen to think if she had actually undergone an abortion, this to me would be one of the most irresponsible things by far.

Sure, her having committed fornication was, indeed, a sin; however, to what extent will we be administering this national stoning of her?

I contend that if it were anybody in the Obaman camp, such an event would not have been pursued so visciously.

Where are the same protestors that vehemently shouted "How Dare You!" to the EXTRA quagmire that they considered an offensive attack on Obama's children?

Where exactly are the feminists that once spoke up for Hillary?

Notice the profound silence of those who once spoke up for the rights of those in the liberal camp who perceived so incredible an offense when it came to these!

It would be more justifiable on the basis of traditional morality to call for John McCain to resign from the race because he, himself, had an affair, divorced his wife, and married the woman with whom he was having the affair, than to call for Sarah Palin to drop out because her daughter is pregnant.
Is that a smoking crater I see where some folks once thought there was an argument?

First of all, I hereby call for a moratorium on the phrase "knocked up" in this thread. I realize it is not considered a swear word, but I consider it vulgar and demeaning and, in fact, very much the sort of "babies are bad" kind of coarseness that, among other things, I'm criticizing here. I've objected to Lawrence Auster's using it, and I object to my commentators' using it.

Second, who says the Palin family "let" their daughter fornicate? For heavens' sake! Are you implying they deliberately provided their basement for the purpose? Let's get real. Nobody is happy about what the girl and her boyfriend did, and we shouldn't pretend otherwise.

Third, the whole question of teenage boyfriend-girlfriend relationships is too big a one for me to get into right now, but let's admit that for a 17-year-old girl to have a boyfriend is entirely normal even among nice Christian families and, while that norm should perhaps be challenged in a day when it's hard for an 18-year-old boy to support a family, it's hardly fair to ask one family to challenge it all by themselves or to imply some sort of heavy neglect if they let their near-adult-age daughter date a boy!

Fourth, as far as destabilization is concerned, it is one thing to talk about destabilization when _whole communities_ consist girls having serial illegitimate children with no intention of stopping and no admission that they should be waiting for marriage, with nearly all the children being raised without a father, and so forth. While, yes, this is by no means the best situation for the child, the child is here now, and we have to do the best thing we can for him, and neither the Palins' community nor the country is going to be destabilized by one 17-year-old's premarital pregnancy followed by marriage. I myself am so great an advocate of adoption that I do wonder in passing whether adoption by a somewhat older couple might have been the better option, but I'm willing to remember that I don't know the people involved and therefore should give _some_ deference to their judgement. As I say above, marrying the father and raising the child, unlike raising a child without a father, does show an understanding of the child's need for a father. This is hardly going on in the urban communities you mention.

Fifth, what, exactly, do you recommend, MZ, in the way of "condemnation on women specifically"? I will try to refrain from sarcasm here, but since you seem to be explicitly defending a double standard of punishment one wonders what you are looking for. And how would it apply to the situation of loving Christian parents whose teenage daughter gets pregnant? What could they, and what should we, do to visit this society-stabilizing condemnation upon her, and would that be the right thing to do?

This conversation won't get far if you desire to set up a hypocrisy charge. You have presumptions about my base views that are simply wrong. For example, if feminists are offended I could care less.

If she would have jumped off a bridge that would have been terrible too. That doesn't mean we condone something that is so destructive.

I was address artistocles, not Lydia. Lydia, I apologize for using the term "knocked up".

I'm not setting up a hypocrisy charge. And I'm not condoning anything. Good grief, how much clearer could I be? Do I need to go count the number of times I used words like 'wrong' 'sin' and 'fornication'? Do you think wussy moral liberals would like this post?

What I'm challenging, MZ, is your odd appearance of defense for the "condemnation on women specifically" which you say I "miss the point of."

Ah, sorry, MZ. I'm still confused about where you are going. But this seems to be such a cookin' thread that perhaps we shd. all make a habit of using names in direct address so we know whom we are talking to.

Some things I would look for in the case of unwed mothers:
1) Not offering and not attending baby showers for them, at least prior to a wedding.*
2) Not pinning medals on their chests for not aborting their children.

* In cases of poverty relief, which is source for many a church sponsered baby shower, I have nothing against offering diapers and clothes and what not. I still think a formal party is inappropriate.

In regards to a double standard, feel free to refer to the men as cads and scads. It used to be good luck getting money out to them. The moral expectation that men would support their children is bellied by the practice of many of them not doing so. Educating women so as to expect the former outside the bounds of marriage is irresponsible. It is the basis of the double standard.

M.Z. Forrest: My remarks weren't aimed at you particularly but the egregious double-standard of certain individuals as those I made mention in my above comments.

That doesn't mean we condone something that is so destructive.

So destructive? What are you proposing here, exactly? We persecute her to such extent that we teach the nation's teenagers that this is exactly what will happen to you if you decide to be Pro-Life and keep your baby; if you do not have an abortion and cover up your sinful fornication?

BRISTOL PALIN: WHY TEENAGERS SHOULD HAVE AN ABORTION!

Lydia, an excellent write up. So, "blackguard" is out, too?

On the whole, I think women suffer disproportionately, and not just in this specific way. Perhaps we can blame it on Eve?

I do notice that you don't include, as a suggestion or recommendation, the actual reaction from most of the Right: a Dresden-like firestorm of adulation for the Palins, sucking up all the oxygen and leaving folks gasping for air.

I also read the article at First Things. I do have sympathy for her sentiments. But am I the only one ignorant of a plan to off McCain in early February, 2009? She keeps saying she's voting for Sarah Palin.

Can somebody confirm the veracity of the following?

Obama ad slams McCain on abortion rights

http://www.politico.com/news/stories/0908/13103.html

EXCERPT:

ST. PAUL, Minn. — Barack Obama has launched a broadside against John McCain’s opposition to abortion rights and moved one of the most divisive issues in modern American politics to the airwaves on a large scale for the first time in this presidential campaign.

Obama’s new radio ad, airing widely in at least seven swing states, tells voters McCain “will make abortion illegal.”

It’s airing as McCain courts female voters with the addition of the staunchly anti-abortion governor of Alaska, Sarah Palin, to his ticket.

You can use 'blackguard', Gintas. 'Cad' is also entirely permissible. :-)

Perhaps I should say, to give some background, that I have no television channels and am very grateful about this. I get all my news from the Internet and occasionally from brief bits of radio on the way here or there. So if the RNC is diabetes-inducingly sweet, I'm lucky enough to be missing it, just as I was lucky enough not to watch Obama give his speech to 38 million people or whatever it was supposed to be.

This has pluses and minuses as far as relating to my blog audience. For example, it may make it harder for me to sympathize with what I can't help viewing as snarky comments about the Palins; my lack of sympathy _partly_ reflects the fact that I'm not being exposed to what such commentators are reacting to. I'm only hearing about it.

On the other hand, I can't help thinking that snarkiness is snarkiness, and Sarah Palin really _does_ seem like a very nice lady from what I've seen and like someone conservatives might even be able to get behind, and I think she should be treated as such--especially by people who called Hillary Clinton, of all people, "Mrs. Clinton" with almost hushed tones of chivalry during the Democrat primary out of anxiety over the possibility of an Obama presidency. In other words, it seems to me that what we're seeing at VFR is an over-reaction out of almost sheer contrarian spirit. It makes me want to say, "Okay, I accept you guys' contarian credentials. Now would ya' lay off the lady? She seems like someone you should like, as conservatives. Why don't you?"

Also, isn't it possible that the firestorm of adulation is over a whole package of things, some of them _legitimate_ reasons for liking her a lot, such as the fact that she doesn't seem like a cynical politician and so forth? In other words, not per se because her daughter is pregnant. People were exceedingly positive about her before hearing that. As I said to a person on another blog, American conservatives are ready for a _Mr. Smith Goes to Washington_ moment. I don't think this _is_ that moment, because of the, er, McCain complication (!). But it looks rather like one, and I understand and sympathize with the fact that Sarah Palin is the recipient of this idealistic spirit. To me this says something _good_ about American conservatives, not something _bad_. This says that hope, idealism, chivalry, and an ability to recognize genuineness have not entirely died among conservatives. It's just the devil of a thing that John McCain should be using these good qualities for his own political ends.

BTW, Lydia, the site is looking much better with proper articles on the front page again.

You do realize, I hope, Gintas, that I'm only one contributor among others around here.

You do realize, I hope, Gintas, that I'm only one contributor among others around here.

'fess up, Lydia -- it was you, and not Dr. Beckwith, who actually put up that Star Trek Tuvok picture of Obama!

Can somebody confirm the veracity of the following?

I can do better than that. I heard the ad itself several times on the radio in a rental car I was driving today.

Zippy,

According to the below article, it said:

An announcer then claims that “as president, John McCain will make abortion illegal,” before playing an exchange on "Meet the Press" in which McCain told moderator Tim Russert that he favors “a constitutional amendment to ban all abortions.”

Article:
OBAMA AD SLAM McCAIN ON ABORTION RIGHTS
http://www.politico.com/news/stories/0908/13103.html

Beckwith got a little frothy. It was full steam ahead for "my contributors" to bury Beckwith-Pavel-Burt.

"Okay, I accept you guys' contarian credentials. Now would ya' lay off the lady? She seems like someone you should like, as conservatives. Why don't you?"

Part of what may be going on in the dynamic is relative priorities, though I'm just speculating.

Immigration and the preservation of an ethnically european-descended American majority is a high priority at VFR, as at other interesting sites like VDARE. One might argue that it is the top priority at those sites.

There is also an odd occasional recurring (counterfactual) theme at VFR, in some ways mirroring leftist critique of social conservatism, that social conservatives only care about abortion. I think what that really reflects is that social conservatism generally is in fact more univocal on abortion than on immigration. Obviously social conservatism doesn't only care about abortion, any more than VFR only cares about immigration; but there are few if any things that social conservatism cares about more than abortion, it is true.

We know nothing about Sarah Palin - at least I know nothing about her - with respect to immigration. We know quite a bit about her with respect to abortion. That may explain to some extent the ambivalence at VFR to her, an ambivalence which resists more positive views and latches on to the bizarre notion that because Palin's daughter is pregnant out of wedlock social conservatism is being led by the nose into approving of fornication.

Maybe it isn't all that bizarre though. 'Main street' social conservatism has been boondoggled into accepting contraception, adultery, and divorce, after all. Lydia's comment about McCain himself aptly demonstrates the latter two. There are other 'signs' -- the movie Juno, which I have not seen but which many pro-lifers celebrated, may be another one.

My view, like Lydia's, suffers from the fact that I only read what I read and see what I see. So it is quite possible, likely even, that people are reacting to things I haven't read or seen.

Still, like Lydia I've been and continue to be staunchly against McCain. Palin is the only one of the four candidates in the race that I am even interested in finding out more about.

I stopped watching Star Trek so long ago that I don't know who Tuvok is.

Interesting analysis, Zippy. I tend to think that whatever softness there is in evangelical conservatism on fornication, it was there already and is not in fact being fomented by the fact of the Palins's family situation. And since it _need not_ be, I don't think Sarah Palin had a responsibility to decline the nomination _in case_ it would be. As one VFR commentator said in a thread I was reading, what's all this about people's being "forced" to approve of illegitimacy? Commentators, et al, have free will like anyone else. And I think it's entirely possible to over-interpret the Palins's own kindness to their daughter in public statements as arm-twisting on everybody else to pretend nobody did anything wrong. But, again, it needn't be. Here it's relevant, as someone pointed out in e-mail to me today, that the family and friends themselves _already_ knew about the situation before the nomination was even announced, so we are not somehow sitting in on their own immediate family reaction to the pregnancy.

As for immigration vs. abortion, I think your analysis there, Zippy, is quite shrewd. I'm hawkish on immigration, but it is not my #1 priority issue, and as I said over on your blog, I don't know how it's even possible to care "too much" about the abortion issue. Moreover, there is a whole suite of _definitely pro-life issues_, terribly important ones, besides abortion that don't even seem to be on the _radar_ at VFR and on which we can fairly reliably conjecture Palin's position--euthanasia, assisted suicide, Euro-style infanticide, just to name a few. I am mulling a post on just the subject of this last paragraph.

Lydia,

It seems to me that there is something just not right here. For instance, don't you think think that it is rather a strange coincidence that this girl became pregnant at the same time her mother was pregnant with her brother?

Um, no, why? What's your point? The girl was 17. She had a boyfriend for whom she evidently had a lot of affection (since she's planning to marry him). Girls at 17 with boyfriends are often susceptible to the temptations of the flesh. I can't think what you are getting at. Are you saying the mother didn't spend enough time with her because she was pregnant? Well, heck, that has _nothing_ to do with the campaign. And what would the moral be? "Don't get pregnant in your forties. Your teenaged daughter might feel neglected and get pregnant, too." Weird. George, I just don't know where you're going with this.

Isn't it true that daughters sometimes see their mothers as rivals?

I can't blame anyone for not reading the things I read. This is one dialogue I recently had.

Me: Only in recent times have pro-lifers decided that it was wrong to be upset about a pregnancy occuring outside marriage. Other: And this is bad why?

Only in recent times has "Pro-choice" been considered, much less promoted, as a legitimate position by ANYONE of ANY worldview!

Which change is more enlightened?

Another example would be from Feddie at Southern Appeal

The bottom line is this: Gov. Palin’s daughter made a choice for life. And she did so because her mother has lived out her faith and prolife values in the most beautiful way–by choosing to give birth to a precious child, who just happens to have Down Syndrome. I have nothing but the utmost respect for the way the Palins are handling this situation, and I am confident that this revelation will do nothing to dampen the enthusiasm for her among the social-conservative wing of the Republican Party. If anything, it only reinforces what we already know to be true: Gov. Palin lives what she believes when it comes to life issues.

I started noticing a complete absence of outrage about a 3 years ago hearing debates about holding baby showers for unwed mothers at churches.

George R., I think that's the sort of oddball unsubstantiated conjecture that is, as I said in the other post, pointless and deplorable. And it's hard to make it tie up with some sort of blame to the parents without a lot more deplorable conjecture.

MZ, I see that quotation from Southern Appeal as focusing most of all on what this means about the mother. And truth to tell, I find it pretty annoying when people insist that this means there is something wrong with the girl's mother. The only sentence in it that seems to me to indicate a possible "going soft" on sex outside of marriage is the very first sentence, and then by silence: It just says something positive about the girl and nothing negative. I gather this is what you mean about pinning medals on people for not having abortions. That's fair enough as far as it goes, but I have to say that I don't see the sort of growling and growing disdain for Palin I have been alluding to among the VFR folks being mitigated even if a few more pundits had thrown in comments to the effect that, yes, what the kids did was morally wrong. It would never be enough, since supposedly just Palin's candidacy is some sort of tacit legitimation of sex outside of marriage.

On the subject of baby showers, I can see both sides of it. I remember a baby shower at a private home, but involving all church people, for an unwed mother that I attended fifteen years ago. The young woman knew quite well that what she had done was wrong. She had broken off the relationship with her non-Christian boyfriend. She had repented. She had come close to choosing to abort the child but had pulled up short and not done so. I got no sense from anybody of condoning anything, and I knew her fairly well thereafter. I think everyone understood where she was coming from, and nobody saw it as a value-free celebration of unmarried sex or something. The women all knelt down with her and prayed with her for blessings on the child and a safe delivery at the end of the shower. It was clearly an expression of support _for her in her situation_, not for what she had done. On the other hand, I can see how repeated baby showers on church grounds could become or could be such a celebration. I would especially say that they definitely should not be done if the young couple is simply complacently living in sin. And I think too that adoption should be strongly promoted, and the assumption that the woman will keep her child and raise it without a father, reinforced by the baby shower, could be a sort of de=promotion of adoption and of the importance of fathers. I would think that people who work with crisis pregnancy centers might have some insight on these matters.

I for one agree with Lydia that whatever social disgrace should attach to bearing an illegitimate child, it has NOTHING to do with Palin's campaign. Palin did not make the bad choices, someone else did. The fact that the someone else was her daughter MIGHT, possibly, mean that Sarah Palin was not as effective a mother as she might have been. Other the other hand, given the sexual depravity of the culture, even an absolute saint's daughter may make evil choices that result in an illegitimate pregnancy. So that dog don't have much bite. But even if it did mean that we could readily conclude that Sarah Palin was less than ideal as a mother, that still wouldn't say anything much about her as a candidate.

Whatever social disgrace rightly accrues to illegitimacy is, at root, based on the reality that the person who is pregnant outside of marriage committed a sin, a sin that harms others intimately. This disgrace was not in the past culturally applied always in equal measure for fornication, for 2 reasons: (1) its proof was not visible, and thus that the act took place was usually doubted, and (2) it did not result in community dislocation of resources. Since as a culture we no longer believe in sin, it is understandable that we no longer make anything of social disgrace. But just to that extent, we are a defective culture.

I don't think much of the claimed concern of an illegitimate child (and its mother) being a drain on the community. What is really problematic is that the child generally is deprived of a father as a living relationship, and is perforce psychologically stunted (unless grace supply for what is lacking). This is a grave injustice to the child. It is so grave, that I would like to entertain the proposition that all children born out of wedlock be made available (by state mandate, if necessary) to adopting 2-parent families.

I think that one of the gravest damages we have incurred to our social fabric by having no social disgrace fall on an out-of-wedlock mother is that there is no longer any social pressure, or even social notion, that putting the baby up for adoption is almost always THE right thing to do. But in reality it is more often the case that the child's mother (and often her parents) are being blind and foolish in not even asking the right questions about whether to keep the child. By definition, a mother who is now bearing an out-of-wedlock child (through her own voluntary actions) has made gravely selfish choice, and can not readily be considered to be a good judge of the best interests of the child she has gravely wronged.

A beautiful post, Lydia, both this and the previous.

Thanks, Bill. I noticed your comment in the other thread that maybe the girl's parents have already taken care of the disgrace. But as you see, some people mean by "social disgrace" something bigger, more society-wide, perhaps much more drastic. There I disagree.

Bobby Dee, I'm glad you and I agree on the relevance to the Palin campaign. I can't agree with your policy prescription. I'm pro-adoption, but parental rights are natural and God-ordained and must come first. Conceiving a child out of wedlock, though a wrong to the child, does not in my opinion _by itself_ justify the termination of parental rights on the part of the mother. I have decided over time that the father who is not married to the mother at the birth of the child should not have legal parental _rights_ merely in virtue of biological fatherhood. This is my own, and I believe legitimate, "double standard" based on the God-ordained literal connection between mother and child and the fact that the father has not married the mother, thus taking visible and legal responsibility for the child. Moreover, there are too many varying degrees of responsibility even for the woman's pregnancy, ranging all the way to her being a victim of rape, for it even to be true across the board that every woman pregnant out of wedlock has chosen her state.

I do think that adoption should be promoted more strongly, especially among Christians, than it sometimes now is. And it's worth pointing out that adoption by a two-parent family would help to deal with the "drain on the community" argument, as the adopting parents would be taking on the "drain" of the child eagerly and willingly, just as they would of a child they conceived themselves, while the biological mother would be returned to whatever capacity she had or was going to have for self-support before the pregnancy. But other than urging adoption to the mothers persuasively, I don't have a lot of ideas. There might be some legal difference for teenage daughters and their parents, where the girl's parents might have some stronger say in her placing the child for adoption, but it's very difficult to see a wise and just way to make that work legally. In any event, if the baby's mother and father were already considering marriage, it does not seem to me necessarily wrong or a bad idea to move the wedding up in view of pregnancy, and I think it is understandable that a couple that was considering marriage, much less actually engaged, before the woman became pregnant should be unwilling to place the child for adoption.


If the couple follow through and marry, don't let anyone call the child a bastard.

By tradition and, I believe, in law, the child was not a bastard if the parents were married by the day of its birth, even if they married the day before. Indeed, even if it were widely known that the man married to the mother was not the child's father, in law the child was not a bastard if his mother was married at the time of his birth. Hence the phrase in movies, literature, etc., "The baby needs a father," where the parents are trying to find _someone_ to marry the girl who claims to be pregnant. (This comes up rather amusingly in the movie _Oscar_.)

By tradition and, I believe, in law, the child was not a bastard if the parents were married by the day of its birth, even if they married the day before.

Yeah, and Jesus, humanly-speaking, was actually a bastard!

My goodness!

To what extent, exactly, are people going to pursue this?

Teenagers, I hope you're paying attention -- if you don't want to suffer the same persecution; remember, abortion is the answer! Unless you want to end up like the infamous Bristol Palin who was stupid enough to embrace her mother's Pro-Life rubbish!

aristocles,

One's message to teenagers cannot be do stupid behavior but don't do really stupid behavior. One can certainly appreciate that abortion is worse than out-of-wedlock birth. I would tend to place the former a lot closer to the latter than a lot of people. From where I sit, a lot of people seem to see out-of-wedlock birth as closer to dropping out of high school: not evil, but not the most intelligent thing in the world to do. I happen to see out-of-wedlock birth as one of the evilest and most selfish things a person could do.

In regards to the younger Palin, I think it is good that the couple will wed. It is a second best solution, but that is a regular feature of life. We should recognize it for what it is though.

Lydia:

Here is a little additional evidence for my take from a post at VFR today:

And for all you Sarah Palin fans out there, who see her as such a wonderful breath of fresh air and great representative of the "real" America, please understand that your gal Palin will be using her formidable political gifts, including her charisma, her striking female good looks, and her self-advertised pit bull aggressiveness, to help her boss legalize all illegal aliens in the U.S. Is that what you really want?
I'm not saying that entirely as a criticism of the view: I think the assessment of McCain in that post is spot on, and the assessment of the role Palin is going to play is also, if not spot on, at least the most likely outcome given how little we know of her political philosophy.

That is partly why in my own post I made the point that the best thing for Sarah Palin, and for us, might be a McCain loss. A McCain loss puts her in the bird dog seat for the next presidential election, as an independent actor. Being saddled with the role of second fiddle to McCain may well ruin her -- both in the personal sense, and in the sense that it may ruin her for us as the most promising, charismatic pro-life leader I've seen in a long time.

Zippy,

That is partly why in my own post I made the point that the best thing for Sarah Palin, and for us, might be a McCain loss.

And how do you suppose the subsequent administration (after 4 or even 8 years) is supposed to undo the Pro-Abort havoc that an Obaman administration would have wreaked over the nation as in FOCA but, in particular, on the Supreme Court?

As I've mentioned, Obama establishing a Pro-Abort majority on the Supreme Court would essentially permanently seal its fate for the next generation!

Aristocles: We understand your ... argument (mantra?), that McCain simply must be elected at all costs. You seem to feel a compulsion to repeat the assertion over, and over, and over again to make sure it is the last post in every thread. Do us all (including yourself) a favor and show some restraint in that compulsion.

MZ, surely you mean "out-of-wedlock conception." Yes, that sounds like nit-picking. But these days, it's best to be very precise. And I bring it up partly because some liberal, pro-abort organizations actually do count things this way: "Hey look, one way or another, we lowered the rate of out-of-wedlock births! Aren't we cool?"

Actually, Aristocles, Jesus wasn't humanly speaking a bastard, if the Jewish law of the time was similar to the English common law I was citing. Joseph took unto him Mary his wife when she was found with child. They were legally regarded as married by the time of the birth, at least as I understand it. For what this trivial point is worth. Of course, the people of Nazareth believed him to be Joseph's child conceived out of wedlock, and no doubt this was held against him to some extent.

Zippy, perhaps more response to what you are pointing out later. My brief reaction is that it's not necessary for them to make negative comments about "Sarah Palin fans" _just because_ of the truth of the comment about her helping McCain. That is, the reasons to like her are independent of the unfortunate fact that her present fortunes have been linked with his. And ironically,if she'd turned down the nomination, she wouldn't be on the political map for 2012. I still am sorry she's being used for his ends, though. Second, I think there can be such a thing as an overemphasis on immigration, esp. when it comes with an implicit dismissal *to any degree* of life issues (plural).

Zippy,

And, yet, you fail to give any real answer to such questions.

Answer, at least, this:

Will there be more or less abortions committed under an Obaman administration?

It seems to me that you are merely glossing over the heightened increase in deaths of additional infants that would occur under such an administration, as if something that should be conveniently overlooked.

Lydia:

I wouldn't want to leave the impression that I am endorsing the position expressed in that post at VFR tout court. I'm just saying that as with a great many things there are some truths in it, which I think you are expressing rather better.

In fact on the other side of it I frankly tend to agree with Steve Burton that at least stylistically the sort of vitriolic attacks on her at VFR are shameful, or at least embarrassing viewed from outside the hothouse, coming from self-described traditionalist conservatives. Where is the chivalry? Where is the class? Attacking her in that manner seems self-defeating. One can make the substantive points - as you in fact have - without acting a boor in one's treatment of a lady. Traditional men treat women differently from men.

Perhaps another underlying theme is that as a tactical matter many trads don't want McCain to win, because McCain (like Bush before him) will drag the country further left and the 'conservative' base will play along, becoming more liberal itself in the process, whereas the conservative base would fight Obama tooth and nail. IOW a McCain win perpetuates the Hegelian Mambo in a way that an Obama win cannot. Indeed an Obama win may well be the harbinger of a conservative backlash, and may at the same time eviscerate Bushian right-liberalism rather than perpetuating it; again, all as tactical/strategic assessment layered on top of a whole lotta assumptions.

And whatever else may be said, I think it is clear that Sarah Palin definitely makes McCain much more likely to win.

Aristocles:

You've been answered so many times that if I tried to go back and read all the answers I'd go blind. Give it a rest.

I agree with you, Zippy, on the McCain win, the Mambo, and the way that the Palin nomination is helping him. I think we are very much on a wavelength on the issues in this neighborhood. It was a smart, smart move on his part and has succeeded probably beyond his wildest expectations. I still expect that he will lose, but she has helped him tremendously. This seems to me, as it does to you, an unfortunate use of her gifts and advantages.

The trouble with shaming, shunning and/or ostracizing the pregnant unwed girl is that, while illegitimacy is in certain circles the chief societal woe, they must be very carefully calibrated so as not to encourage the greater sins involved in not getting caught: various sodomite (infecund) acts, contraception (which magnifies the culpability in fornication by having planned for it), and abortion, which is, of course, murder. It's like teen pregnancy is the most serious problem except for all the others. Ideally, we'ld like unmarried young men and women to abstain from sex. The next best thing is their having sex and accepting the natural consequences.

Isn't it true that daughters sometimes see their mothers as rivals?

It's not entirely implausible in regards to fertility (among other things I guess). It may well have been studied. I have supporting anecdotal evidence about sisters, but cannot state details because I'm using my real name.

Zippy:

Aristocles: You've been answered so many times that if I tried to go back and read all the answers I'd go blind. Give it a rest.

You never provided an answer to the SCOTUS question, Zippy; you distinctly evaded it (although I don't blame you because such damage would then be irreparable until a subsequent generation later or unless in a new administration -- assuming there'll even be one, member(s) of the Justices happen to croak and the new Pres. is just as likely to appoint Pro-Life Justices as McCain is). Just like you evaded the question above where I had asked specifically if whether there would be more or less abortions committed under an Obaman administration.

There are some things that I would think that catholic traditionalists should agree on, but obviously don't.

1. fornication is a sin.
2. fornication with contraception is a worse evil than fornication alone because the natural integrity of the act is corrupted as well as its moral dimension.
3. it is a horrible evil for a father to abandon his child.
4. it is more horrible for a mother to abandon her child.
5. Adoptive parents do a great good in caring for abandoned children, and should be lauded for their work, but we should at the same time expect that all parents will care for all of ther children.

Of course I'm personally too close to a situation like this one to be objective in my analysis, but I wouldn't be the only one here who has a personal bias.

However, I do think the above principles are sound.

The next best thing is their having sex and accepting the natural consequences.

continuing... And that's something you'll never hear in any sex "education" class. Nanny State Liberals want sex to be "safe", meaning, of course, infecund, whereas really the exchange of bodily fluids is really the safest thing about sex. That Bristol Palin's situation is an erect middle digit to the Nanny State Establishment is a major plus I think.

Aristocles, lay off Zippy, and please don't push every thread to a discussion of your own particular election-season concern.

I just noticed that VFR is referencing a National Enquirer story as part of the attack from the right on Palin. Surreal.

Lydia, I agree that natural parental rights are extremely strong, and should not be abrogated lightly. However, society as such has always had a certain role in identifying how and upon who such "natural" rights are exercised. The mere fact of bastardy, which is of itself solely a social designation, affecting property rights etc back in medieval times shows this.

Or, to put it another way, biology is NOT trumps in all facets of the question. For example (and to quell the ridiculous comments about Christ) in Jewish law when a man left a widow without a child, his brother married her and the first child was considered the first man's child. They did not distinguish between "biological" child versus "legal" child quite the way we do. As for Joseph & Mary, the process of marriage was a bit attenuated compared to what we understand: a "betrothed" couple was in some ways considered actually married, though not in all ways. The at some time after the betrothal the man would come to take the woman into her home, and this would complete the process, but process it was. So long as the betrothal was in place before the pregnancy, there was NO QUESTION of illegitimacy, unless the man refused to take the woman into his home (a virtual declaration that the child was not his) - i.e. "he "put her away", which was their equivalent to divorce. But of course a divorce is for those married, and so Joseph considering "putting Mary away" implies (in their "betrothal") a degree of binding together above what we mean by mere betrothal. In Jewish society Jesus IS Joseph's son. Not merely "considered to be" for legal purposes.

Given that biology is not trumps, one could posit that "natural" parental rights do not even exist when the child is conceived in a manner contrary to natural law, in a manner whereby the "parents" place his and her personal goods so much above the good of the child so conceived. Or that they do not exist in equal degree. In modern parlance, one could modify the language and say that the fact of voluntary out-of-wedlock conception shows child-abuse grave enough for society to take away the baby.

Gintas called my attention to Zippy's comment about VFR re the sexual morality issue and the immigration issue on Sept 4 at 8:03 p.m. Gintas said that I was being taken to task task for not having things on my radar. I read Zippy's comment, but I don't follow Zippy's point, and am not even sure if I'm being criticized.

I think maybe Gintas was thinking of this comment of mine:

http://www.whatswrongwiththeworld.net/2008/09/what_should_a_stigma_on_illegi.html#comment-31783

I'm not exactly sure I'm criticizing you for it, LA, but I do think it wd. be a _good_ thing if the breadth of the pro-life cause were something you were made explicitly aware of, and if some of these other issues were on the table more. And please note that here I'm _not_ talking about the anti-war and anti-death penalty stuff that some people mean when they use phrases like "breadth of the pro-life cause." (I'm a death penalty hawk, for example.) I'm talking about other direct and deliberate killing of the innocent that has started already and is coming down the pike (as in my infanticide post at the top of the blog now). I think when people think of someone like Sarah Palin (or any other candidate) and look at the person's abortion credentials and think, "Hey, this person is really pro-life" that at least some aware pro-lifers have a lot of other implicit issues in mind on which they have (from the person's abortion stance) good reason to think the person is sound.

Lydia: "As far as I know, in her first public announcement of this matter Mrs. Palin did not say anything negative about the behavior that led to the pregnancy."

I think it is ludicrous to expect a mother to disapprove of her daughter in public when her disapproval has likely already been communicated in private.

The strange thing is all the conservatives falling over themselves to congratulate the girl on her pregnancy and only speaking of her and the boy's error in vague circumlocutions.

I saw congratulations to the daughter voiced by several pro-life groups.

Is "Congratulations" really the best response to a pre-marital pregnancy?

The phrase is always awkward in these situations and it appears very strange to people who are in the confused position of having a stigma either against fornication or against teen pregnancy, but not teen abortion.

You're right that we should remember that implicit standards need explicit acknowledgment sometimes. People's understandable reservations about talking about various forms of deviance have left children helpless before both shameless advocates and well-meaning relativists.

But this is somewhat contrary to your 5:54 statement that "neither the Palins' community nor the country is going to be destabilized by one 17-year-old's premarital pregnancy followed by marriage."

It's pretty likely that the exposure of Bill Clinton's shenanigans helped undermine the chastity of a culture in decline. Prominent people are influential, and Ms. Palin is now a prominent person.

I don't know if I picked up the phrase from Auster, who has been far too vituperative in his denunciations. But teen pregnancy is an "alternative lifestyle," and we've just seen it mainstreamed a bit more by the Republican Party VP pick.

We're in an age when salutary prejudices have been destroyed or coopted on the grounds that other real or perceived negative prejudices were unjust. I think the collapse of yet another stigma (standard?) is being greeted by cries of "Oh no, not another one gone!"

Further, I haven't seen anybody address the validity of a 'shotgun wedding.' Whether in ecclesiastical or secular law, the required free consent of the betrothed teens has great potential to be impaired by duress. Mrs. Palin's political career in some ways depends on the announcement of the engagement.

Some claim that the "Red States" have higher divorce rates because they have more shotgun weddings. Doesn't this use of marriage put the lie to much 'sanctity of marriage' rhetoric?

Mr. Kevin J Jones:

I saw congratulations to the daughter voiced by several pro-life groups.

Is "Congratulations" really the best response to a pre-marital pregnancy?


How about 'Congratulations' for having the guts to keep the child, not have an abortion, and assume the responsibility for your error instead of avoiding it?

Kevin, I agree with you somewhat about whether it wd. or wd.n't have been better for Mrs. Palin to say something about their realizing their behavior was wrong. In other words, I don't think it overwhelmingly important for her to have done so, because as I said I think in the context we can take it as read. ON the other hand, I don't think one can have it both ways: That is, _if_ you want to say that the VP "mainstreams" a "lifestyle" of teen pregnancy, then you _should_ say that it would have been an improvement for Palin to try to ward off such an effect by saying that the teens acknowledged the wrongness of pre-marital sex.

For myself, I have said repeatedly that I do not think there was any _necessity_ that this should "mainstream" teen pregnancy at all, and I certainly reject any notion that Palin was obligated to turn down the nomination for this reason.

I agree somewhat about the oddity of issuing some sort of formal "congratulations" statement. This post and the previous one are the nearest I come to a "statement" (I being just an individual and not a pro-life group), and my own take on it is all that stuff about sinning, being forgiven, and moving on as best one can. It is, indeed, _good_ to try to do this, and in that sense it is _good_ for the Palin girl to do this.

As for shotgun weddings, I think there is far too much assumption going on here, specifically that the girl was or is being forced (almost literally) to marry the boy for the sake of her mother's political career. The term "shotgun wedding" is ambiguous between a wedding that has been moved up to an earlier time than was previously thought of because of a pregnancy and a wedding that would never have been considered otherwise and is being forced, to one extent or another, on the boy, especially, or on both by family because of the pregnancy. The family and friends, from what I understand, already knew both about the pregnancy and about the planned wedding prior to the VP announcement, which hung in the balance (as far as the Palins knew) until well after the girl's decision was made. It seems to me not only unjustified but also uncharitable to put the worst interpretation on the wedding intentions.

Finally, my statement about destabilizing was meant specifically to concern matters of the financial or material drain or of the increase of fatherlessness that MZ Forrest had raised. I was contrasting this situation with the situation in the inner cities that he had brought up.

The fact that we are reaching for a definition of "shotgun-wedding" puts me in the mind of H. L. Mencken (of all people) whose brilliant and entertaining scholarly book The American Language ought to be read by everyone.

“American thus shows its character,” pronounces Mencken at one point, “in a constant experimentation, a wide hospitality to novelty, a steady reaching out for new and vivid forms. No other tongue of modern times admits foreign words and phrases more readily; none is more careless of precedents; none shows a greater fecundity and originality of fancy.”

Mencken would love the term "shotgun-wedding."

Anyway, my definition would be simple: "A wedding caused by a pregnancy." There is no implication of coercion.

"America thus shows its character in a constant experimentation, a wide hospitality to novelty, a steady reaching out for new and vivid forms."

Not exactly the picture of health.

Whenever I think of the phrase 'shotgun wedding' I think of Seven Brides for Seven Brothers, the final scene. Each of the unmarried girls pretends that the newborn baby, who actually belongs to the only married woman among them, belongs to her, to get the fathers' consent to the marriages. There's the preacher, then there are the six couples all lined up, and behind each couple is a father with a shotgun. When the preacher gets to asking the men if they take the women to be their wedded wives, they all turn around and look at the fathers, and the fathers all step forward and cock the guns. The men all say, "I do" in unison. But of course it's all a sham. The couples all want to get married.

Listening to some of the condemnations, you'd almost think Mrs. Palin had done the fornicating, when she is only a Christian mother trying to do the right thing.

Maybe Zippy can help me out with this, but there is another possibility. I believe it is Catholic teaching that the sacramentality of marriage is conferred by the consent of the parties, a sacramentality the Church would extend to any baptized Christians capable of giving such consent. So it might be that Bristol and her boy made a promise of fidelity before indulging themselves. This is a possibility, as unlikely as the cynics might think it, and in which case there would be no sin. None of us know the truth of the matter, but let us proceed with the condemnations and the ostracization; let us universalize and institutionalize it. Perhaps the manufacture of scarlet letters will return to its former fashion, and found a profitable new industry to boot. If we're very good at it, we might even see the abortion rate regain its full ferocity. Even as none of us know the truth.

Bill, AFAIK (a qualifier which attaches heavily to everything I say here) it could in theory be true, if they made a promise intending it to be a promise of marriage and if that is how they understand marriage to be actually effected under God. Since they are not Catholics (I assume the young man is not) but are presumably baptized Christians the validity and sacramentality of the marriage - separate attributes, since pagan marriages are valid but not sacramental - would not depend on canonical form. Even an adult confirmed Catholic can validly marry without observing the canonical form in a case where it is literally impossible or dangerous to use the canonical form, e.g. when no priest is available or is going to be available for a very long time or where Catholics or Christians are persecuted. (Baptized Catholics who have not formally defected from the Church, and who attempt marriage outside the canonical form in circumstances where a priest is available and there is no persecution, do not validly marry).

Intending betrothal would not be sufficient, AFAIK, because betrothal is dissoluable. (That doing so breaks a promise may not be sufficient to render it a de facto marriage -- I'm in territory I don't know well on the specific point). Other criteria which always apply to a valid marriage would also have to be met, which is to say that the thing they intend and promise would have to actually objectively be marriage and not just something they label marriage: that is, the thing they promise must consist of monogamy, indissolubility, fidelity, (openness to) fecundity, etc; they must obviously be man and woman; they must not be brother and sister; the marriage must be consummated after the promise; the marriage must be entered into with free consent; there must not be any prior impediment, e.g. having murdered a previous spouse in order to marry this one; etc etc.

I've occasionally wondered how many (if any) young people objectively do marry in secret in this way, especially in a context where parents would keep them apart, etc. People at the age of reason do actually have a right to marry the person they (mutually) choose. So it is always possible, subject to correction on my understanding of the theology and canon law, and even though it honestly does strike me as very unlikely, that what we see on the surface as a shotgun wedding may in effect be the opposite.

The requirement of canonical form for Catholics is in reality a protection against making rash exercise of the right to marry. How frequently valid 'secret marriages' occur in reality outside of the formal confession of the fullness of the Faith is an interesting question.


Kevin, you have neglected a very important n. When Mencken says that “American thus shows its character in a constant experimentation, a wide hospitality to novelty, a steady reaching out for new and vivid forms" -- he is referring to the American language, which he is at pains to distinguish from English. His book is a treatise on language.

I would agree that experimentation, wide hospitality to novelty, etc, do not suggest great health if used to refer to people. But language is a different thing.

Paul,
I knew the quote was about language, but isolated it from that context as it seemed appropriate to a discussion about illegitimacy. Just another vivid anti-form that we seem anxious to make normative.

You know, I almost traded you from my Fantasy Softball Team, but held out, knowing you'd return to hitting clean-up. Welcome back.

Well, my season is over. Our team went down in flames last week in the playoffs.

Thanks for the welcome, Kevin, but in fact I haven't gone anywhere; and don't plan to. But I am obliged to say that, due to circumstances beyond my control, my blogging will be more limited for the time being.

These conjectures about young people who may be married though they don't realize it, through having made private commitments to one another, are not going to go down well with the annullment tribunals. But the proclamations of annullment tribunals, I gather, are not de fide for good Catholics. :-)

At least one good thing can be said about shotgun weddings: their very existence gives evidence of a social conscience about what has transpired.

Does the NRA have an official position on shotgun weddings? Just curious.

It would be more justifiable on the basis of traditional morality to call for John McCain to resign from the race because he, himself, had an affair, divorced his wife, and married the woman with whom he was having the affair, than to call for Sarah Palin to drop out because her daughter is pregnant.

Very true.

I was born outside marriage and I am offended that my birth, and therefore my very existence, is considered by some to be "outside God's plan". How do you think that makes someone feel.

I was born outside marriage and I am offended that my birth, and therefore my very existence, is considered by some to be "outside God's plan". How do you think that makes someone feel.

I was born outside marriage and I am offended that some people consider my birth, and therefore my very existence, to be "outside God's plan". How do you think that makes someone feel.

You clearly have no idea of the pain of adoption, for either mother or child. This is a one sided debate.

Bobby dee your comments re. Adoption are OFFENSIVE. are you adopted? Have you been forced to give up a child for adoption? If not, then BUTT OUT.

Bobby dee HOW DARE YOU compare a child being born out of wedlock to child abuse. You are appalling.

Sid, Lydia is an adopted child.

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