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Roe v. Wade: The Banality of Evil in Mr. Justice Blackmun Comments

When the case of Roe v. Wade, which started at the U.S. District Court in Texas, reached the "end of the line," Justice Blackmun wrote the majority (7-2) opinion.  The decision he made was wrong, not wrong in any banal sense, but deadly and horrendously wrong.  And from the terrible "end of the line," we have endured the terrible beginning of, and so-far have seen nothing but, unending lines of death.  Endless women have lined up ... Continue Reading

11 - 20 of 29 Comments

  1. Kevin
    1 year ago

    Powerful article.

  2. Paul-Emile Leray
    1 year ago

    The following comment, I hope, will elicit reflection to future good action. It will not be popular, but I can't resist putting it forth. My conscience compels me to put it forth. We are told, by our Catholic leaders, to be Christians first and somewhere afterwards whatever our nationalities are. I agree. And yet, look at all the wars in western Europe and millions of deaths right in America each year due to a cult-ure of death. These numbers far outweigh those killed from Islamic terrorists. Hitler alone, with his thugs, killed millions. The French, British, and Spanish killed many in the name of colonization. How often do devout Muslims pray and gather daily? Many actually seem (although unfortunately there are too many radicals) on some levels, to be more devout in placing their religion first; (even though I disagree with their main beliefs, since I do believe in faith and with reason that Jesus Christ was God Incarnate); with the nation state down the line. How many Christians and Catholics defend their faith with such zeal these days? In our very own democracies, we have in western Europe and N.America, laws being passed and Catholics voting into power politicians who do many things going directly against the teachings of the Church. And what is more, some Catholic leaders seem to be half asleep! I mean many seem to be more politically correct and accomodating than showing true leadership. I am afraid many western countries are very guilty of putting state and politics, in their hearts and minds, above Christianity and Catholicism. As one briliant Jesuit once told me, Hitler did win the war in many ways. Look at his many atrocities, then now let us look at the fact that many of those social ideologies are now law in many western countries. On some level, while this post is certainly not a complete analysis, I wish to state that Christians and Catholics have the right script; yet, many Muslims seem to show more disciplined zeal to defend their faith. If our federal politicians and law-makers in the west aren't going to align themselves more with truth, then who will? Who will? And then, when I look at the reality of a democracy knowing full well the majority is often wrong (due, in large part, to cult-ure and the mob effect of doing whatever the neighbor is doing in a herd mentality group behavior non-critcal thinking sort of way); is democracy the answer? Hitler was democratically elected. I'm not so certain that spreading democracy by force is such a great idea. Winston Churchill criticized democratic systems. Plato had some issues with it. Let us be careful with globalization, because it seems quite obvious who it is benefitting most. It's a form of colonization, under corporatism or nationalism, with many not benefitting to degrees they should be. If more Christians had some of the devout discipline some Muslims have, my goodness, Christianity would spread like wild fire! While we are all guilty of ignorance, since nobody is all knowing, the fact is that many are half asleep and don't even bother questionning that much anymore. Other than pray, I really don't know what to do that much anymore. Let us even consider this website. It's a little bit like preaching to the choir. The fact that anyone would come to this site on a regular basis with some degree of sincerity is likely proof enough that they aren't the type of person about to go out and ram a plane through a building or detonate a bomb. Plato doesn't need another book on philosophy. Einstein doesn't need another lesson in physics. Miles Davis has had enough trumpet lessons. Are these articles and is this website being accessed, for example, by people in Africa, the middle east, and many other places where there is thuggery? Do the Catholics in Washington bother reading this website? If the NY Times, Oprah, or some Hollywood disco disney lunatic says something; it practically gets assimilated into cult-ure as half Gospel truth. Meanwhile, 30 minutes after the Mass has ended, the homilies are sometimes forgotten by the time the first cup of coffee and 2nd cigarette has been consumed in the little get together session by the ash-tray. With faith, most things make sense. Without faith, the world would appear as one great big chaotic mess with the most selfish and powerful at the top of the food chain. Come to think of it, even with faith the world appears as one great big chaotic mess with the most selfish and powerful at the top of the food chain. And the more one gives, the more people expect, to the point of at times being accused of being so giving that one is naively stupid! Therefore, the world seems to applaud many who are selfish and laugh at those who are giving and altruistic. And? Well, while being reasonable, one might as well laugh. (or cry) Either way, it simply changes how the person himself feels inside. Perhaps the answer is to both laugh and cry; the full spectrum of being human. If nothing else, it proves we aren't robots or too hard of heart. If we are to promote democracy, there is one thing I am absolutely certain of; cult-ure matters a lot. That, I am 100% sure of. And media, television, pop culture, etc, can be assessed properly with proper faith and reason; both. Awareness. Therefore, the Catholic Church and the leaders do have a major role to play in all this. At any rate, I wish to state in writing that even though there are many horrific news stories on this website; the articles written and many of the people posting are truly uplifting and encouraging. Therefore, it is helping. Now, increasing accessibility and influence is perhaps necessary. It would be interesting to see priests and missionaries write articles, on this website, from every country on the planet. It sounds grandiose, but I think it would be a great thing for added perspective and something to work towards in this age of fast communication and realistic when viewed in perspectives of long timelines.
    Paul-Emile Leray

  3. Andrew M. Greenwell
    1 year ago

    @Mark holder. Thanks for your comments. I cannot address your comment in the space of the comment, except to note that, depending upon the level of virtue of the citizenry, some moral evils have to be tolerated, though by being tolerated, they certainly are never to be accorded a "rights" status. St. Thomas gives prostitution as one such example. It may, in our unvirtuous and unchaste population, non-abortifacient contraception is such a thing. (At least such a position can be argued, it seems.)

    The notion behind this principle is that an evil must be tolerated, even though against the common good, because to enforce a law against it would be even more injurious to the common good. Politics is the art of the possible, and, like the Romans were slowly weaned away from their practices of divorce by progressively more restrictive laws by the Christian emperors, so would a law of gradualism have to apply. A people who are virtuous can take more virtuous laws. A people who are not virtuous must progressively be made to be virtuous. An example of this would by our civil rights laws. You would never have been able to enforce civil rights laws against the South in 1880; however, by the 1960s, though these were resisted, it was generally perceived that enforcement of such civil rights laws were necessary for the common good, even though they provoked protests, violence, and so forth.

    However, abortion (and this includes those contraceptive techniques that are in reality abortifacients or abortion-causing) is so absolutely against the common good, so great a violation of a fundamental human life, that it seems that it can never be against the common good to enforce laws to restrict it and, indeed, to prohibit altogether. If a nation is in such a state that an evil such as abortion has to be tolerated because it would cause even greater evil against the common good to enforce such a law, you pretty much have no society, no civilization at all. Not to prevent abortion on the grounds we must tolerate other's ideas of morality seems to me to be analogous to someone saying that we should tolerate the murder of, say, homosexual persons or Sikhs or Muslims, because to enforce a law prohibiting such clear violations of human rights would be against the common good. Defending the right to life of an innocent from unjust violence is perhaps THE most fundamental role of government.

    The "product" of rape is not a "potential life." It is, by any reasonable measure (including and especially biological and scientific) a life already, a human life. The 13 year old victim or incest is a victim of rape and/or incest. I really do not see how committing another great evil (killing a child in the victim's womb, and thus having two victims of injustice instead of one) can be said to bring good out of the matter. Don't do evil so that good make come.

    One need not apologize that one is imposing one's morality on others in insisting that the State protect the life of the unborn in all circumstances. All we are saying is the laws have to have human values, and that laws can never be inhumane. A law that allows abortion under the guise of being supposedly human is based upon a lie. A law that allows the killing of an innocent human being with impunity is, in each and every instance, by definition inhumane. I will not apologize for insisting that our laws be humane. The fact that a portion of our population believes they should have the right to engage in intrinsically immoral actions and that the law ought to protect that right is not imposing morality on anyone. It is imposing humanity on everyone.

    As to Copernicus and the Church, I presume you are talking about the case of Giordano Bruno. I don't think you have the facts quite right on that one, but that's perhaps an article for another day, or perhaps a matter for private correspondence.

    The Church has a social doctrine which is based upon human values, the natural moral law, and is not based upon Revelation. It rejects all ideology, including the ideology of liberalism. It is my deeply felt belief that the United States, and indeed any nation in the world, would be happier and more virtuous and better if these principles were followed and were reflected in a country's law modified by the unique particularities of the customs and culture of that nation's culture. It certainly would offer a better recipe for living in common and the common good than the unworkable secular liberalism of today which is ushering a Godless society and one which is quickly becoming more and more violent and more and more tyrannical. Men and women of good will would do well to read the Catholic Church's social doctrine (e.g., the Compendium of the Social Doctrine of the Church) to get a feel of how life would be under a Catholic social vision than a Godless, secular, liberal one.

    For one, I know that if a Catholic social vision had governed this country since 1973, we would have 50 million additional Americans with children and now perhaps even grandchildren all contributing to the common good of this great nation. Because of Mr. Justice Blackmun, these Americans never saw the light of day, and never enjoyed the right to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness which Mr. Justice Blackmun, among many others, have denied them. Not only has a horrendous injustice been perpetrated, but we have injured ourselves perhaps even irreparably.

  4. Andrew M. Greenwell
    1 year ago

    @basco: The rule is generally sound: De mortuis nihil nisi bonum (of the dead say only good things). It is not, however, a rule without exceptions. We must call good, good and evil, evil or run afoul of the Isaiahan woes (Isaiah 5:20). There must also be an exception for those who have participated in horrendous evils, such as Hitler, Mussolini, Pol Pot, Stalin, Mao and so forth. Additionally, as a public figure, Justice Blackmun is outside the pale of the rule especially for his public acts.

  5. LRT
    1 year ago


    I sometimes enjoy reading Andrew`s commentaries, they are very powerful, and remind me of something Simon the Zealot would write! I had posted a comment on Justice Blackmun "condemning him won`t convert him", because I missed the part that he died in 1999...either way, I`m not being lukewarm, but trust that Jesus, through His Divine Mercy that we don`t deserve, can melt the iciest of hearts, and convert the most hardened sinners (Saint Faustina's diary #949). I think what happened in the case of Joshua De Shaney is extremely heartbreaking. I saw that the case was determined on February 22, 1989. February 22 has always placed a rainbow in my heart because February 22, 1931 is when Jesus appeared to Saint Faustina with the rays of light coming out of his heart, and He told her to have the image painted, with the signature "Jesus, I Trust in You". Also on this date He told her: "I promise that the soul that will venerate this image will not perish. I also promise victory over its enemies already here on earth, especially at the hour of death. I myself will defend it as My own glory." (St. Faustina`s Diary, #47). When we pray the Chaplet of Divine Mercy, especially at 3:00 p.m., the Hour of Great Mercy, an ocean of mercy opens up for the whole world, and God distributes this mercy to those souls who need it the most: to every human soul, all around the earth, above the earth, and under the earth...so that His will will be done on earth, as it is in Heaven!

  6. Louis Barta
    1 year ago

    Mr. Andrew M. Greenwell, Esq. is a consistently brilliant and perceptive commentator, a gentleman and a credit to the human race.

  7. DLL
    1 year ago

    It has taken not only one poor lukewarm judge but many misguided lukewarm individuals to make the wrong decision,that being abortion,the now politically correct choice. Banality equals lukewarmness,St Faustina describes lukewarmness,but this article scares me as I see it as the practical pinpoint that is a right between the eyes description of banality/lukewarm. This is the age we live in,one as whole groups of individuals,myself included,and their governments will be condemned to everlasting hell. We are banality in its fullest sense of the meaning of the word today. My advise is to pray,never miss Mass,hope Roe vs Wade is reversed,become a culture of life and no longer one of death. Moral and righteous indignation can never be hate speech but in the name of banality it has become that. I say humbug to the new lukewarm culture of death and yes to God. I want God not human opinion to mold my character so that in Christ I stand corrected through the power of the Holy Spirit! The Catholic Church has it right. I for one am a lukewarm sinner but there is hope as in Christ that all can be taught,as God is loving and merciful and so I/we must also be. It is an act of love and mercy to end abortion. Thank you Mr. Greenwell,if I were the President this article would scare me into reversing Roe vs Wade and certainly if I were a Supreme Court judge. To refuse is to make government the supreme judge on life/death matters is correct and certainly there is no justice in any of that,as it is the job of government to be merciful,just and pure,especially on matters of life and death as it must protect all life. Abortion is the abomination of our times as is the current attempt to secure the destruction of the concept lf family. Banality is the adequate word that defines why all is not as it should be. Toleration must never equal banality. Great article! If only the Huffington Post would publish it! Unfortunately! Fat chance of that ever happening!

  8. Edward Q. Guerrero
    1 year ago

    Mr. Greenwell, your latest article sums up my understanding as to how Satan, a subordinate evil spirit at enmity with God, and having power to afflict humans both with bodily disease and with spiritual corruption to do Its works here on earth. Satan seeks both humans who are highly intelligent and/or those who are challenged mentally, i.e afflicted say with Downs Syndrome as an example. Satan, it seems, recruits those that easily become Its proxy. After reading your article; I further value the passages found in Ephesians 6, especially verse 12, whose written words makes it known where the source of evil emanates from. Thanking our God Almighty for delegating those for writing the Epistle to the Ephesians, where it tells us about the metaphor of the Armor of God, as our protection against evil, to use during one's life Spiritual Warfare(s). (Ephesian 6:10-24)

  9. bglm
    1 year ago

    Attorney Greenwell, this article, though lengthy, is so well worth the read. It is purely EXHAUSTING in its EXHAUSTIVE litany of clear, spot-on, no stone unturned, scorched earth approach to listing the banal Mr. Blackmun's lifelong list of transgressions. I'm left dumb-struck and shaking my head. You, sir, nailed it and I just want to say thank you. One thing is certain, on my judgement day, I certainly don't want to be sentenced to the banal man's heaven, full of banal souls.

  10. mom210
    1 year ago

    What a brave and true description of not just a few archtects of evil in our history, but most frighteningly, of our society today. Thank you for your perspective and perhaps the renewed incentive for us all to do our best, to "be perfect as our Heavenly Father is perfect," and not settle for "I'm ok."


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