The Corner

What Would Dagger John Do? Part III

I’ve written about Bishop John J. Hughes, the first Archbishop of New York, here and here, advocating that both the Catholic clergy and its laymen take a page from that tough mick’s book and deal with the Obama administration’s unconstitutional attack on religious conscience and the First Amendment the way Dagger John would have: by defying it.

Civil disobedience was all the rage on the left when I was a lad during the Vietnam War era. Refuse to register for the draft; declare your conscientious objector status if called; refuse to pay that portion of your taxes that went to support the Pentagon, etc. The liberals couldn’t wrap themselves in enough moral goodness as they cursed and spat upon the returning soldiers in their customarily peaceful and tolerant fashion. 

So it’s good to see that the pro-life, anti-abortion Catholic group Priests for Life has announced its intention to ignore the HHS mandate: 

The pro-life Catholic group Priests for Life is the first to announce it will openly defy the new pro-abortion mandate the HHS department put in force today under the Obamacare health care law.

The new mandate compels religious employers to pay for and refer employees for birth control, abortion-causing drugs and contraception in violation of employers’ religious beliefs.

Father Frank Pavone told LifeNews his pro-life group doesn’t qualify for the narrowly-drawn exemptions in the mandate, so his organization will not comply with it and will run the risk of fines and other possible punishment.

“The unjust and unconstitutional HHS mandate, against which Priests for Life and 57 other plaintiffs have sued the federal government, takes effect today. We at Priests for Life do not qualify for the year that the government has offered certain groups to “adapt” to the mandate. And we are not “religious” enough for this Administration,” he explained. “But regardless of all that, we do not adapt to injustice; we oppose it.”

Father Pavone has sent a letter to his staff announcing the group’s intention to ignore the objectionable requirements when its health-insurance policy comes up for renewal in a few months:

In order to avoid the slightest semblance of scandal, or compromise of our principles, and lest any employee should imagine that we would ever consent to provide coverage for actions that destroy human life, I want to make it clear to you today that we will disobey this mandate.

Neither Priests for Life as an organization, nor any one of our administrative team or Board of Directors, nor I personally, consent to provide, pay for, advocate, counsel, refer, or in any way tolerate or cooperate with any process, plan, exchange of money or services, or any other activity that would enable a person to engage in the use of abortion-inducing drugs, contraception, or sterilization.

#more#What the Left grokked in the 1960s was that they could Cloward-Piven the legal system by, in true Alinsky fashion, making it live up to its own book of rules. “They can’t arrest us all,” was the motto back then and so they threw themselves into the teeth of the legal system, confident that it, in fact, couldn’t arrest them all — and that once the principle of selective prosecution was thereby established, the system became (again, in their words) a “pitiful, helpless giant.”

Time to turn the tables by using their own weapons and tactics against them. The Supreme Court, after all, is not the final arbiter of the Constitution — the American people are. That’s certainly what the high-dudgeon Left used to claim before it began its sustained campaign of lawfare against our country and its institutions. So why not take them at their word?

This book was oft cited and quoted in my college years, both by professors and radical students alike, particularly such apothegms as:

  • Under a government which imprisons any unjustly, the true place for a just man is also a prison.

But we might also want to consider this one:

  • For eighteen hundred years, though perchance I have no right to say it, the New Testament has been written; yet where is the legislator who has wisdom and practical talent enough to avail himself of the light which it sheds on the science of legislation?

It was said of Dagger John that he was “more a Roman gladiator than a devout follower of the meek founder of Christianity.” To face the secular threat of the modern Left, we’re going to need a lot more gladiators. As Thoreau observed:

Must the citizen ever for a moment, or in the least degree, resign his conscience to the legislator? Why has every man a conscience, then? I think that we should be men first, and subjects afterward. 

Subject or citizen? The American Revolution hangs in the balance.

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