24 May 2011

Cheap shot? You decide.

There was a debate the other day over at Fr. Z's about altar girls and the EF and Universae Ecclesiae 28.  The debate morphed around and grew to include the question of why boys were not queuing up to be altar servers.  My wife, Puff, chimed in to point out that, among other reasons, boys were no longer volunteering to be altar boys due to The Scandal. Z came and commented on her remark that it was "a cheap shot."

Was it?

A few observations:

Very often, mention of the scandal is a cheap shot.  It is often used as a Tu Quoque rebuttal to an argument- which is not a rebuttal at all, but a logical fallacy and a formal error.  We often see the Tu Quoque used among children on the playground:  One child says something to another, and the other responds with"Well, what about you?   Last week you...." Of course, what happened last week, and the fact that the first child was wrong a week ago does not mean they are wrong now.  So the constant reply of "Yeah, but what about the scandal?" is a Tu Quoque, and a cheap shot.

Sometimes, it goes to credibility.  If one is trying to using the empathic proof to an argument ("trust me, for I am someone who knows") then evidence that the person is not someone who knows is usually valid, as long as it addresses the issue.. Here it may or may not be raised as a cheap shot. 

In this case, it was raised as an explanation and answer to a question.  Why aren't boys becoming altar servers?  Among other reasons, The Scandal.   Was that a cheap shot?


Baron Korf said...

I think part of the problem is that The Scandal is overused to the point of cliché. Also the presentation of the comment could be construed as mean spirited, the "...ahem..." in particular could be taken badly.

I also think it is inaccurate since the steep decline of altar boys pre-dates the media circus surrounding The Scandal.

Puff the Magic Dragon said...

Apparently if you have a google account and yo can't post use the name/URL function not Google Account tab

Bear-i-tone said...

I'll grant you the "...ahem..." The Scandal is overused, as I have said elsewhere on the blog.

"I also think it is inaccurate since the steep decline of altar boys pre-dates the media circus surrounding The Scandal."

This portion of the debate began with the assertion that altar girls cause a decline in altar boys. Your argument would nullify that thesis, as altar girls also did not appear until after the steep decline in altar boys. The argument is not that these and other factors started the decline, but that they exacerbated the situation.

Puff the Magic Dragaon said...

Still messed up.

When commenting do NOT use the Google account tab.

Use the name/URL tab instead.

I don't know about those who comment that have other accounts

Baron Korf said...

Be that as it may, that was just my addition to the argument.

But to the immediate question of cheap shot, I think it was mostly in presentation. I say that because of where he put the comment. He didn't object to the reasoning, just the phrasing. I can see how a priest might be defensive about any reference to The Scandal since they take a lot of heat for it from different quarters.

David Anthony Domet said...

It is not the "scandal."

Other than the reduced number of families attending Holy Mass and it is a MORTAL SIN not to do so, there are in my view two reasons.

1. The very existence of Serviettes prevent boys from coming forward. At the age boys would come to serve at the Altar, girls are "yucky" and they are "bossy!" Altar girls mean no Altar Boys.

2. The Novus Ordo liturgy is essentially horizontal and feminised. Boys don't wish to wear white albs jsut as little girls and we don't dress girls in surplus and soutaine as these are clerical garb. There are no shortage of Altar Boys for the Traditional Latin Mass and this is because it is masculine and verically addressed to God. There is also a military precision which appeals to boys and there is actually something significant to do.

bear-i-tone said...

The question of the post was whether or not invoking the scandal was a cheap shot. You seem to be answering that the scandal itself is irrelevant to the current situation. I disagree, but that is neither here nor there.

As to the wording of your first point: female altar servers are permitted by papal indult, and are left to the discretion of diocesan bishops and priests. The desire of girls to serve the Lord is honourable and commendable, and, while I agree it should be channelled into other areas, calling them 'serviettes' is demeaning to them, their just desire, and the altar they serve. It proves no point, furthers no argument. It is nothing but an ad hominem attack disguised as a clever remark. In short, it is nothing but a cheap shot.

Dim Bulb said...

My experience is that most boys do not find girl's "yucky" or "bossy". They go to school together, participate in phys ed. together (at the elementary level, at least), eat together, participate together in many of the same after school activities, etc. My parish didn't see a decrease in altar boys as a result of altar girls suddenly being allowed by our new priest.

And if the yucky/bossy attitude is at work-which I seriously doubt-is it an attitude that should be capitalized on or endorsed?

David said...

Altar girls should never have been approved. The Pope's decision in this regard was an error and it was not "infallible." Funny how "girls" managed to serve the church for 1985 years before this one and did fine. Think of a few.


David said...

And an indult can be removed at the stroke of a pen and in good time, this silly aberation will be!

Puff the Magic Dragon said...

Back to the original subject of this post. My comment on Fr.Z's blog was not a cheap shot but a valid concern.

My comment was meant to suggest that the scandal was responsible not for BOYS NOT WANTING to serve the Mass, but PARENTS NOT PERMITTING their sons to serve the mass, even if they continued going to mass, because as, David pointed out NOT GOING TO MASS is a mortal sin, but NOT PERMITTING YOU SON TO SERVE MASS is NOT a mortal sin. (Your Parish may not have many of such parents- then you are indeed lucky)

It was a fair comment and in my defence NOT a cheap shot, though I should not have coughed(you know typed, "ahem")

I know growing up my parents had no problem with me spending time helping at the church, cleaning or singing or whatever, because the idea that the priest might harm me was inconcievable. NOw, the idea that a child might be harmed by a priest is NOT inconcievable.

I will state that in my archidiocese the procedures for dealing with this kind of abuse is very good, but what good is all the punishments and censures, and even lengthy prison terms AFTER my son has been raped by the priest. I don't trust ANY priest because of the scandal, I am sure I am NOT alone in this. Hence my comment on Fr. Z's Post.

David, I will assume from the initial comment that, since you think the Scandal is irrelevant to the decline in boys serving the mass, that you believe my comment was a "cheap shot" Okay duly noted, let's move on.

Bear said...


We do not get to decide if a Pope was right or wrong. The people who have that luxury are Protestants.

Part of the debate over at Fr. Z's was about how can girls serve, and how most of the methods that existed in the previous 1985 years of Church history are now gone.