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by James Kalb  

daniel-in-the-lions-den-briton-riviereTo follow the news today is to get the impression that public life, in the sense of rational discussion oriented toward some reasonable understanding of the common good, has come to an end. Everyone notices the partisanship, the bad faith, the indifference to truth, and the substitution of entertainment for hard news. Catholics in particular notice the disappearance of natural law reasoning, even in the informal everyday form that had always upheld principles such as the natural family and the protection of unborn children.

The dominant view seems to be that things mean whatever those with position and power can get people to accept, and claims to the contrary are rhetorical attempts to put something over on people. Such views are held not only by cynics, flacks, and operatives, but by many who hold positions of intellectual authority.

In some respects the disappearance of rational public life is not surprising, although the willingness to deny the reality and intrinsic authority of truth does seem odd. Continues…