Jay Anderson at Pro Ecclesia recently proposed a Catholic variant on Godwin’s Law. For those of you who don’t know, Godwin’s Law states that “As an online discussion grows longer, the probability of a comparison involving Nazis or Hitler approaches one.”
Jay’s version says:
As a debate involving the Catholic Church (either a discussion about the Church specifically, or a discussion in which the Church is taking a position) grows longer, the probability of someone mentioning the sex scandal approaches one.
And then there’s it’s corollary: Once such reference to the Scandal is made, whoever mentioned the Scandal has automatically “lost” whatever debate was in progress.
Finally, let’s not forget the codicil known as the “Time Better Spent Fallacy”: The Church has enough things to worry about and can better spend its time on cleaning up its own messes rather than on [fill in the blank].
Boy, isn’t that true. You see it so often not just in news reports, but in letters to the editor, in liberal Catholic dissents from Church teaching, and of course in blog comments. And it’s all just as big a rhetorical fallacy as the original Godwin’s Law.