Liberal, Pro-Choice Amy Sullivan Explains Mourdock

This is a very good piece.

But I heard Sullivan on the radio this morning and she said something curious. (It was the radio, so I quote from memory, but I think I have the essence of her remarks correct.) After explaining Mourdock's theodicy and theology, she said, "Now I think this theology is wrong. But I understand why some people hold it. I don't even think they shouldn't hold it."

Does that last sentence strike you as odd? It looks to me like our modern penchant for tolerance got the best of her there. It's one thing to not condemn someone for believing a bad idea, to still be friends with the person, to not want them vilified... but if we think an idea is bad, doesn't that imply we should think it would be best if people dropped it and moved towards the truth? If you think the square root of 17 is surely less than 4, I won't hate you, or persecute you, and we can still be friends, but I still think it would be better if you stopped believing that. Perhaps Sullivan holds Mourdock's theology is a sort of noble lie?


  1. "Noble lie" has an elitist tinge to it.

    "Useful fiction" may be better. But then again, pretty much everything we believe is useful fiction. I think in this case the utility is strained, but I guess Sullivan might think it's still there.

    1. "But then again, pretty much everything we believe is useful fiction."

      Well, if it is a useful fiction to you to think that is true, who am I to interfere?

  2. It is a bit odd but maybe she means she doesn't see a moral bar to holding it. Especially if you see it as largely an unfalsifiable trigger to responses rather than a logical proposition to be debated. Like "I'm not saying there's anything wrong with the kind of judgement this engenders." Like "Ken is quick to laugh at ... and I'm not saying he shouldn't be."

  3. "If you think the square root of 17 is surely less than 4..."

    Psst... -4.12 is a square root of 17.

  4. I think she means that she believes the theology as a whole is wrong, but if someone holds it they should reject the exception for rape and incest, if they believe life begins at conception.

    If she thought noble lies were something that should continue to hold sway she'd be a little quieter about them.


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