The Black Legend and the light of modernity

Here’s a useful FAQ on the Inquisition put together by a PhD student at Cambridge. The reputation and symbolic status of the Inquisition, it seems, has much more to do with the needs of those who appeal to the symbol than with the institution itself.

Leaving the bigotry and darkness of Old Spain for the light of modern tolerance, pluralism and civil rights, I notice that

  • The California Supreme Court has ordered Catholic Charities to pay for contraceptives as part of its employee benefit plan. It’s unimaginable to me why the desire of employees who use contraception to have the employer for whom they have freely chosen to work pay for the prescriptions should outweigh the employer’s desire not to support something it considers morally outrageous. For the particular employee it might be a couple hundred dollars a year as part of an overall compensation package they can compare with that offered by others. For those who run and support the organization it’s the cause to which they have given their lives. What conception of rights could support the former over the latter?
  • Another court has decided that legal protections for a woman’s right to “reproductive health care” doesn’t extend to the right to stop her own abortion once she has fallen into a doctor’s hands. I suppose the theory is that the doctor defines what “health care” is. Still, the doctor’s conduct (refusal to stop a procedure that apparently could have been stopped without injury) ought to be a crime of some sort even if it’s not the federal crime of violating the right to reproductive health care. Or in this area do “rights” simply mean “abortion,” as in the case of forced abortions in China?

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