Pro-Life Catholics Deserve Better Than These Writers
Last month, blogger John Paul Shimek published a piece at the National Catholic Register in which he roundly insulted and dismissed conservative Catholics. The piece was removed* and replaced with a note telling readers the blog had bypassed editorial review and “did not reflect the Register’s editorial views.”
I was glad the Register took Shimek’s piece down, but Shimek isn’t the only Register writer who seems to lack impulse control when it comes to insulting pro-lifers and conservative Catholics. This is perplexing precisely because the Register is one of the more reliably orthodox Catholic publications.
Consider the views of Mark Shea and Simcha Fisher, two of the Register’s most prominent writers. Shea and Fisher are very active on Facebook and Twitter, where they share their work and interact publicly with their readers. All of the quotations below are taken either from their blogs on Catholic websites, or from their public social media feeds.
Shea is hostile to conservatives, but especially to pro-lifers. Lately he has found a new way to insult them: lumping them in with the most unscrupulous supporters of Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump:
A man who will not answer the question of whether he paid for abortions for his sexual conquests. An adulterer with credible rape charges against him, including one from a thirteen year old girl. That is what the prolife movement now stands for and is committed to defend. [emphasis added]
Of course there are countless godly men and women still working tirelessly within the GOP, and many of them are stern critics of Mr. Trump themselves. But Shea is no mere Trump critic. Consider what he writes about pro-life conservatives in general:
- “What the GOP — and above all conservative “prolife” Christians both Protestant and Catholics — still orgasmically [sic] support. They *love* torture! Love it! And they wonder why the prolife movement is dying in the US.”
- “And once again, we see the continuous message of American Movement Conservatism: Poor people are scum. Nothing is more important here than that poor people be punished. Nothing. *This* is one of the *real* core values of the right. And if the families they long to throw out of their jobs are thereby placed under intense pressure to abort their children by the poverty the “prolife” conservative *longs* to afflict them with, well too bad. Money, not unborn human life, is the *real* treasure.”
- “The popularity of Ted Cruz is Reason #92943792837 I call for the surgical removal of the parasite called American Conservatism that has attached itself like a lamprey to a large percentage of American Catholicism.”
- “Very rarely do I encounter conservative prolife Christians who actually believe that human life is sacred from conception to natural death. The overwhelming majority support unjust war, torture, maintenance of our gun violence regime, the death penalty (and fighting the Church to maintain even though it guarantees that innocents will be executed), xenophobia, apologetics for the nuking of Hiroshima and Nagasaki (which the Church calls a “crime against man and God”), grinding the faces of the poor, denial of health care to the poor, and (as the popularity of Donald Trump illustrates) overt racism. The habit of “prolife” people is to battle the Church on some or all of these issues and to appeal to abortion as the rationale for doing so. “We should be focusing on abortion!” they say. But in reality, they spend all their time and energy fighting the Church, not focusing on abortion.” (Emphasis added)
Shea even relishes the prospect of Donald Trump destroying conservatism and discrediting the pro-life movement altogether.
- “It will be exquisite if the prolife movement succeed in electing the first president to have personally paid for an abortion for one of his mistresses. Crowning glory for the Wrong About Everything Party.”
- “My Republican chum here in Washington is already declaring it the end of the GOP.”
- “May [Trump] destroy the whole party and leave it in smoldering ruin.”
On a near-daily basis, Shea campaigns for gun control by sharing stories about black shooting-victims and adding: “Today’s human sacrifice to the gun cult.”
He recently went so far as to express anger that while blacks die at the hands of police, some “crazy gun-toting white ‘patriots’ are still breathing despite posing an obvious menace.” This was in the main body of a blog post addressed to Shea’s colleague Simcha Fisher. As seen below, Shea and Fisher seem to bring out the worst in each other.
Childish Bullying, Revolting Language
On Facebook, Fisher recently joked about the design of a Trump campaign logo: “It’s like, half swastika, half b*** j**.” (Asterisks added.)
When a reader took issue with Fisher’s language, she replied, “What the h**l are you even doing on my wall….? If you don’t like this kind of joke, fine. Move along.” She later accused her critics of only “pretending” to be upset that she “said b*** j**….” The real reason they were upset was “because they like Trump” or because they were in “a tizzy about Hillary.” (Asterisks added.)
For his part, Mark Shea simply replied with another childish gag. “Oh Simcha, live forever. Thank you for your penetrating analysis.” He then shared a slightly censored version of Fisher’s joke on his blog: “Most Freudian/Nietzschean Campaign Logo Evah! … Half Swastika/Half Love That Dare Not Speak its Name.”
This was not an isolated incident with Fisher. This is generally how she presents herself. Last time I looked at her (public) Facebook, she was joking about “making America pen** again,” (“Sorry,” she scoffed, “did I say ‘pen**?’ I meant ‘pen**.’”) and telling readers to “vote for my left butt cheek … at least when my butt talks, it knows what it’s talking about.” (Asterisks added.)
She went on to say that she plans to either vote for Hillary Clinton, or for a third party candidate. When a woman objected that she would never vote for a Leftist, Fisher retorted, “You can write in my right butt cheek, then … I only advise against taking a centrist position, if you know what I mean.”
“Thrilled to learn that republican candidate isn’t prolife.”
As in the case of Shea, Fisher is no conservative Trump critic either. Her frequent anti-conservative rhetoric seems partly motivated by the fact that she and her family have resorted to various forms of welfare:
- “We’re way, way past the era of Republicans merely opposing the expansion of welfare. They are now openly encouraging people to despise the weak. It is very, very hard to call them pro-life.”
- “… [W]e may soon have health insurance for the first time in, like, twelve years … thanks, Obamacare. … Thank you taxpayers.”
- “… [W]e’re still comfortably below the poverty line. Tax money going to get keep the Fishers healthy – not seeing the problem there.”
- Fisher tells her readers about buying steaks with her food stamps, and reminisces with her husband that they were “good steaks, too.” “I especially liked that gravy we made out of the blood of hard working Americans. That was delcious [sic].”
- Again on Facebook, Fisher complains about “the cold hearted monstrous conservative right. …”
- “Thrilled to learn that republican candidate isn’t prolife. Now I can vote for the dem, who is also not pro-life but hates poor slightly less”
Fisher seems to agree with Shea that conservative policies “pressure” the poor “to abort their children,” and conversely that the big government policies of the Left can be considered “pro-life” because they reduce that pressure. When a reader points out statements from Catholic authorities who condemn voting for pro-abortion candidates, Fisher objects:
You can’t vote for someone who says he’s pro-abortion *because* he says he’s pro-abortion and because you hope he will keep abortion legal, but you can vote for someone (that same person) who says he’s pro-abortion if you think that, on balance, his actual policies are, *in effect,* pro-life.
After all this rhetoric, it should come as no surprise that Shea is now actively encouraging his readers to vote for Hillary Clinton, and even strongly suggesting that a vote for Clinton is a Catholic’s duty:
Indeed, if I lived in a swing state, I would not only feel free to vote for Hillary with a clear conscience in order to stop Trump, I would actually feel bound by my conscience to do so, precisely *because* of my Catholic–prolife–faith. [His emphasis.]
Pro-Life Conservative Catholics are Tired of the Insults
One can grant that, for all their vitriol against conservatives, Fisher and Shea have also criticized the far Left. One could even grant that Fisher and Shea are sincerely pro-life, and merely think — as Planned Parenthood itself has argued — the best way to “reduce” abortions is to empower the Democratic Party’s agenda of growing the State’s tax-funded support (and control) of the vulnerable and the poor, and thus — as Shea puts in — reduce the “pressure to abort.”
What cannot be denied, however, is that Shea and Fisher use vulgar and insulting language online, often directed toward pro-life conservative Catholics, which at some point must prove embarrassing to the National Catholic Register. As Fisher once publicly stated in her own style — almost as if daring those who publish her work to try and stop her disrespectful behavior:
People do reflect on their employers, though, so I think there’s something to be said for understanding that your public image isn’t entirely your own. For instance, since I started working for Aleteia, I stopped saying “f***” on Facebook. [Asterisks added]
*This article originally indicated that Shimek’s post was removed “after a social media outcry.” That suggestion has been removed in keeping with the following correction from the Register‘s editor:
It was taken down because I read it and was shocked that it was on our site. I checked in with the team and no one had given him permission to post. We did not become aware of the “outcry” until later. The reason for the decision to take it down was as Jeanette stated.