Friday, November 17, 2017

Pauli Theorem 3

I'm working on something new called Pauli Theorem 3. Don't worry about what theorems 1 and 2 are. They are not germane to the discussion.

By the way, there are many more than two Pauli Theorems, but as the theorem formerly known as theorem 3 has been disproved I thought it would be good to recycle the number. It's like when you are at the deli and you have to use the bathroom so you give your take-a-number slip to a French guy who is jonesing for cheese.

The topic of the theorem is the seemingly permanent, ever-growing news story of famous men behaving badly. There is absolutely no way for the media to ignore it because FacebookTwitterDrudgeInternetSexyGirlHits and—barring a mass castration of the male population—information is being collected and incubated even now which will be hatched later to derail careers at the proper time, or to attempt to blackmail people, or simply for revenge.

Depressing? Yes; but here's my theory:

Famous men who have publicly attacked the Catholic Church or Christian beliefs are more likely to be caught in sexual scandals.

Obviously this is a theorem and the converse does not have to be true to be a valid theorem. Roy Moore is almost assuredly a serial power-abuser and he seems to at least have the veneer of Christian piety. And of course you have the many televangelists which you can add to the list of bad male actors, along with high profile priest scandals like Thomas Euteneuer and John Corapi, although the main scandal for these priests was the violation of a vow of chastity and seemingly not unwanted advances or rape.

I have several reasons to propose this theorem, and the first of them is theoretical yet fairly obvious. The Catholic Church teaches the highest standards of sexual morality in the world, and most of the traditional Protestant churches agree with 95% of the its teachings. People mad at the church are usually mad because of these teachings—along with the prohibition against abortion, many times related to fornication and infidelity—and not because the church condemns stealing, bearing false witness, or monophysitism.

Back in the late nineties I was working in an office which coincidentally employed a lot of other Catholics. I had a conversation with an atheist colleague that went like this:

Pauli: You say you are an atheist in the tradition of the famous philosopher John Hume, so what do you think of all the Catholics you are working with now?
Friend: I actually like religious people, and I'll even say they are much easier to get along with than other atheists.
Pauli: Well, you're a really honest atheist. But you were raised Catholic; why have you left the Church?
Friend: The reason I left the Church is because I don't want to follow the rules about premarital sex.
Pauli: You are the most honest atheist I ever met.

Moses came down the mountain and said "I have good news and bad news. Good news: I talked Him down to Ten. Bad news: Adultery still stands."

The empirical reason I am proposing this theory is because of my familiarity with William Donohue and the Catholic League for Religious and Civil Rights. Long time readers of this blog know that I am a big fan of Bill Donohue and have rare disagreements with his take on political and cultural matters. I began noticing several weeks ago that many of the names of Hollywood men being accused of sexual misconduct were former subjects of Catholic League press releases. Here is a list for starters:
  1. Louis C. K.
  2. Harvey Weinstein
  3. Bob Weinstein (yes, he's Harvey's brother)
  4. Al Franken (Donohue has also praised Franken when he was deserving of it.)
  5. Leon Wieseltier
  6. Michael Oreskes
  7. Ben Affleck
  8. Oliver Stone
  9. Kevin Hart
  10. Kevin Spacey
  11. John Edwards
Another person I thought had been taken on by the Catholic League but who did not show up in my search on their site is Joss Whedon. Donohue has not taken on Whedon whose ex-wife recently penned an excoriating account of his serial affairs while married. What I might have been remembering was Bishop Robert Barron's criticism. Bishop Barron did take on Whedon's philosophical atheism and noted his penchant for "on many occasions, signal[ing] his particular dissatisfaction with the Catholic Church."

A lot of religious people reading this might roll their eyes and say "Oh, this is so obvious... everyone knows that Hollywood is decadent and doesn't particularly like Christianity or religion in general." Decadence is sleeping around a bunch, cheating on your wife, etc. You know, partying too much. This is something else; it's powerful men taking advantage of the less powerful. It is beyond decadence and in Weinstein's case, it is way beyond decadence. Just like the molesting priests are predators, theses men are preying on those in weaker positions.

On the other hand, a lot of non-religious people might say "Nice try, but correlation doesn't prove causation. Some of the people on these lists match up. So what?" True, this evidence is anecdotal yet still curious. Many people were criticizing the Catholic Church's response to priestly abuse and even making strong condemnations of bishops' mishandling and they did not show up on the Catholic League's radar. The line these actors and comedians crossed was stating in many ways, comedic and non-comedic, that these people were bad because they were Catholic priests and bishops not in spite of that fact. To them, the Catholic Church is just an institution perpetuated to give creepy guys access to sexual abuse victims. When these showbiz people are not focusing on the creepiness of the crimes of pedophile priests, they are going on about "hypocrisy". How can the Catholic Church teach its members to be pure and chaste when these priests and bishops are screwing little boys? And then arrange hush money payoffs?

This can be seen as effort to shut the Catholic Church up. Quit preaching these standards if you are not able to live up to them. Well, does Hollywood ever preach? on topics like feminism, to name one? Uh, yeah, and with much greater ferocity, consistency and volume than the average parish priest addresses homosexuality or adultery. So behold these scandals, and realize that the "hypocrisy" is just as foul at the highest levels of power in Hollywood as it is within any religious denomination. And my prediction is that we are going to hear even more sermonizing after these revelations since these people are in the wordsmith business and know little else about how to deal with issues. Don't expect any real repentance or self-examination, however. Possibly uncomfortable joking about serious matters, but little more.

This all illustrates a spiritual principle which is that those who exhibit the same faults as our own become our biggest irritants. I forget what spiritual writer or saint pointed this out, but it was after hearing many confessions at a convent or monastery. Imagine how this irritation translates into the world of nonspiritual persons without the self-control or self-examination of nuns or monks, yet possessing commanding media pulpits. It becomes uncontrolled rage.

I do not wish to suggest that there has not been any self-examination or introspection in some circles over this rash of scandals. Matthew Yglesias has gone on record regretting the cultural left's dismissiveness of President Clinton's* sexual predation. David Brooks broke the topic of Clinton/Lewinsky as a starting point for all this last weekend and, of course, we conservatives have been quoting Brooks more than usual as a result.

But we have been talking about this for so long it really makes these people look late to the game, and I mean fourth-quarter, two-minute warning late. Here's Donohue again from 14 years ago. Excerpt:

There’s something else going on here as well. The New York-Hollywood axis of smut, and those who support it, want the Catholic Church to fail. What it comes down to is that these people do not want to be told that their promiscuous lifestyle is sinful.

Sadly, this represents the Clintonization of our culture. In other words, shamelessness has been mainstreamed. Because it is nothing if not shameless that the same men and women who rush to put a medal around the neck of celebrities for sexually abusing children rush just as fast to put a millstone around the neck of priests who do so.

* - I love the fact that I can write President Clinton and everyone knows I mean Bill Clinton.


  1. Thank you so much for reviving the blog. I have sorely missed it. Now to actually read your entries....

  2. Agree. Been waiting for someone other than me to put up the content. Glad to see EQE hasn't gone dark.

  3. You're welcome. I really feel like I'm back and ready to start up this rodeo again.

  4. 'Sup, y'all? I'm also glad to see activity here again. It was good for me to take a break from reading and pondering the output of you-know-who -- hope all is well with everyone.

    On the Pauli Theorem 3, the data certainly bear out the validity of the theorem. When we're confronted by moral truth, we have to either change our actions (which we don't want to) or knowingly do evil (which we can't abide). So we try to kill the truth, as it pertains to our own particular sins.

    And in the case of Hollywood, virtually every piece of its product has a sexual angle if it doesn't depict an act -- sex is the coin of the realm in that business. So little wonder that sex is also the coin in off-screen activities (and negotiations), and that this is their battleground with the Church.

    1. Right. Isn't it interesting that they have their own sexual ethics? Nature abhors a vacuum. So they have an overlapping set of rules, but they are absolutists, "fundamentalists" about their morality system.

  5. What ho, Pauli!

    Let me hone in on this: "it's powerful men taking advantage of the less powerful."

    That, of course, is how many people on the left would characterize the goal of Republican policy, or even just capitalism generally. I suspect most of the people who share political opinions with the Hollywood predators and creeps see the predation and creepiness as unrelated to the political opinions (empirically, after all, one can exist without the other). It's the natural human tendency to believe that *our* theories are perfect, people just sometimes fail to apply them properly, while *their* theories are rotten, just look at how people apply them.

    1. I'll add that powerful people sure do seem to like morality based on consent, so that someone saying, "Okay," makes it okay. (This is true of economic arrangements as well as sexual arrangements.) That power is inherently coercive is a startling realization, according to several of the creeps. (Trump, on the other hand, sees coercion as a positive feature of power.)

    2. Shoot, I meant to mention that it's in part because power is inherently coercive that meekness is such an important virtue. St. Thomas defines it precisely as the virtue that tempers anger; I use "meekness" to fill the lack of a more general term for the virtue that tempers the exercise of power, to leave room for others to exercise their own virtues.

      With great power comes great responsibility to be meek, or else you squash the freedom of those around you. That's what makes Jesus so meek, His birth in a manger prefiguring His leniency in dealing with the people He met (no Son of Thunder He), culminating in His passion and death (He calls down His Father's forgiveness, not an army of angels), and continuing to this day under the appearance of bread.

      Little wonder neither our culture nor our politics values meekness, except as a personality quirk to be discarded in the final act as the audience cheers.

    3. The stingiest company I ever worked for was owned and operated by a Democrat environmentalist, and a Catholic. The most generous company I ever worked for was run by a man who was a libertarian and a nominal protestant. YMMV

  6. Meh. My Sicilian Nonna said it best: "All men... animals!" 🤣🤣

  7. So glad to see your blog is back in action. Missed it.