Dr Evan Harris and Nadine Dorries were interviewed by Sky News yesterday. I watched the clip of it first thing this morning and was so incensed, I made the fatal error of tweeting in haste, calling Dr Harris “the smiling face of evil”. I have not heard the end of it from his supporters. I did apologise to Dr Evan Harris, unfortunately the 140 character medium of Twitter does not allow for nuance, his response was to call me “un-Christian”, retweet my sentiment (which was never directly addressed to him) to all his followers who piled in, and then retweet a selected part of my apology, together with his response of “Yabba, Yabba, Yabba”. Not the most reasoned discourse one would expect from a former Member of Parliament.
As I said, it was not the most judicious of tweets, sometimes in my passion I forget that one needs to be wise as serpents and innocent as doves. I will explain what I mean in very simplistic terms. It is worth bearing in mind, that a basic definition of evil is the opposite of good, or from a Christian perspective, God. The killing of the vulnerable, be they unborn children, the sick, the disabled or the elderly, even when carried out with the best of intentions, still constitutes an evil act, given that it is in opposition to good, or indeed God. Most people, regardless of where they stand on the pro-life spectrum, would not consider the act of abortion or euthanasia a good thing. How may the desperate act of a woman who feels that she has no other option than to prevent her child from being born, be a good thing? How may the act of a person who feels unable to cope with the poor quality of life afforded by a debilitating condition that they have no other option than to kill themselves, be described as good?
Objectively, one might be able to argue that it is “good” that these options exist, however that is not a point of view that I share, nor do I feel that the individual acts of abortion or euthanasia are anything but an occasion of sadness. They are, by my definition, evil both in secular and theological terms. Dr Evan Harris is a pro-abortion and voluntary euthanasia activist. He campaigns to make voluntary euthanasia legal and for looser regulation surrounding abortion, policies which are an absolute anathema as far as I am concerned. Whilst I do not know enough about Dr Evan Harris that warrants describing him as an evil man, I do believe that the policies which he advocates could be described as evil without stretching the imagination too far. By describing him as the “smiling face” of evil, whilst not casting judgement upon his motives which, in the absence of any personal knowledge about him one must assume are sincerely held, or casting judgement upon his personality or his immortal soul, I meant to convey that he is the poster-boy for something that is evil and/or bad. I apologise for any implication that he himself is evil. I am not a moral relativist and cannot hide my abhorrence and repugnance for these acts which derogate humanity.
What rankles hugely is that by describing him in an injudicious fashion, Dr Harris, the avowed atheist, has accused me of being “un-Christian”. Whilst I am undoubtedly sinful and full of imperfection, Christianity requires the identification of those things which are good and those which are bad or evil. Christ himself was not afraid to call things for what they were. Those who talk of Christ as being a hippy figure with nothing but peace and love seem to forget the Christ who overturned the tables of the money lenders in the Temple and drove out them out with whips in furious, but righteous indignation. Of course, by mentioning this, I was informed by someone else that I was “comparing yourself to Christ. Special”. Absolutely not. I aim to be a disciple of Christ and follow His teaching, I don’t try to imagine that I am Christ, but I do try to model my life upon Christ’s in as best a fashion as I can.
I have been besieged by those today who are assuming that my pro-life stance is as irrational as they consider my faith. Once again I reiterate that a pro-life stance is a perfectly logical philosophical stance which requires no recourse to theism. For those who insist that the bible makes no specific mention of abortion, I would note that neither does it mention other issues that are considered wrong or immoral by Christians and atheists alike. There are several passages in the Bible in which God’s love for the unborn child is enunciated, the most famous being Psalm 139, 13-16 and Jeremiah 1, 4-5. Plus there is the not insignficant matter of the fifth commandment.
Whilst blogging, Red Maria found me this interesting quote from Dr Evan Harris, (column 260), during the 2008 debate on the lowering of the abortion limit. When discussing the subject of an aborted fetus being born alive, Dr Harris suggests that the sight might be distressing to some people, implying that most people would not find the sight of a fetus dying at 20 weeks distressing. He very carefully avoids referring to the unborn child as such, not even using the more medical term of fetus, preferring instead the description of an unborn child as “an abortion”. To suggest that the natural response to witnessing the death of a 20-24 week fetus should be one of clinical dispassionate detachment is chilling.
I went to see the controversial speaker Michael Voris last week, who reminded Catholics, that they should be aspiring to sainthood now, in this life, not to become the dusty relics to whom people will pray in 300 years time, for the healing of one’s foot. Like a saint, I aim to be transparent to Christ, meaning that His love may shine through me and lead others to Him. Given the amount of vitriol I’ve faced today, I’ve clearly failed in that task, something which I regret and from which I will learn.
But I will not apologise for either my pro-life stance or my identification of the killing of vulnerable people as being evil – such a stance requiring no religious belief whatsoever. I will also not apologise for or be embarrassed about my faith. Although I do intend to avoid causing undue offence and making personal remarks. I am sure Dr Harris would agree with the notion that liberalism entails freedom of thought and speech, even if those ideas and words have the potential to offend other people.
Dr Harris has finally accepted my apology and jocularly granted me “absolution”. I trust my penance for a hasty tweet was the sheer amount of flamers and trolls I received yesterday. Dr Evans suggested that my response should be to turn the other cheek. He may be right about that but nonetheless, I am not afraid to make a defence for the hope that I have within me.