Monday, December 19, 2005

Why do you feel bad, whore?

Cruel to be kind

Some senior citizens have a special "phone voice" that they use during telephone conversations. Perhaps you know what I mean. My mother's phone voice is sing-songy and punctuated with little giggles; the manner is precious and a bit breathless. I suppose the special phone voice is an artifact of the days when telephone conversations were uncommon and called for more ceremony. Today, of course, cell phones are ubiquitous and telephone conversations are everyday occurrences (and seemingly 24 hours a day for some of our young people).

This is all by way of introducing Barbara McGuigan (pronounced "McWiggin") of EWTN's Open Line call-in program. McGuigan has an old school radio voice that sounds like a parody of my mother's phone voice. She anchors the Tuesday installment of Open Line, which is devoted to attacking abortion and fighting the evil pro-choice minions of Satan. She gushes over her callers, squealing with delight when they phone in to agree with her and affecting a more-in-sorrow-than-in-anger tone if they dare dispute with her. McGuigan laughs at inappropriate moments more often than Julius Hibbert. Her closest real-life counterpart is probably the wacky Pat Robertson, who grins like a loon while denouncing various opponents as damned.

On December 6, 2005, McGuigan set her sights on the Los Angeles Times article Offering Abortion, Rebirth. With the assurance of the true believer, she repeatedly described as a liar the abortion doctor who was profiled in the article. McGuigan denounced him for saying he waived his fee for women with financial hardship, stating that this had to be untrue. It's strange how she calls him as a tool of Satan one moment and in the next moment declares that his only motivation is the money he makes from abortion fees; that's a pretty lame tool of Satan if he doesn't offer the infernal procedure under all circumstances. But logical consistency has never been one of McGuigan's strong suits. Minutes later she vigorously agreed with a caller who denounced the abortion doctor for charging money: "If he really thinks he's providing a service, he should be doing it for free!" "You are so right!" said Barbara, who knew that the doctor didn't waive his fees because she had already decided he was a liar.

The abortion doctor told the Times that during the first two trimesters he completely deferred to the woman in her judgment of her condition: "It's not a baby to me until the mother tells me it's a baby." We could argue whether the doctor's professed lack of a personal opinion is an exercise in sophistry, but McGuigan is ready to deal in certainties. Barbara stumbles, however, when she tries to raise the unassailable standard of life: "Every abortion flattens a heartbeat," observed Barbara, noting that the fetal heart begins to beat within 18 to 24 days of conception. She regarded this as a telling point, yet did not consider the obvious problem that such a criterion for "life" opens the door to birth control medications like Plan B, which prevent implantation in the womb and thus preclude there ever being a beating heart. Surely she did not mean to imply a loophole in the Catholic dogma that life begins at conception. Fortunately, she had a "brilliant" caller on the line who agreed with her.

McGuigan also helpfully embroidered the comments of the abortion doctor's clients. Where one woman was described in the Times article with the sentence "Ending her pregnancy seemed easier, she says," McGuigan smoothly changed that to "Killing her baby seemed easier, she says" as she read excerpts to her radio audience. She did not bother to admit that she had redacted the text, allowing her listeners to assume they were hearing actual quotes.

On this particular Tuesday, Barbara's prize exhibit was a caller named Charlotte, who reported that she had had an abortion as a teenager over twenty years ago, had converted to Catholicism, and was now a basket case. Charlotte was a textbook example of the pro-life approach to women who have had abortions. Now that she was Catholic, she was being made to understand that she was a murderess. Forgiven, naturally, but a murderess just the same. Strangely enough, Charlotte was having trouble gaining comfort from her new insight.

"I am drenched in guilt," Charlotte confessed. "And I think that being in the Catholic Church now has heightened my consciousness and I’ve been Catholic for three years and it’s just been—ever since then—eating and gnawing. And the guilt has grown exponentially every day that I get out of bed until I was not functioning. I had to go into counseling." Barbara was happy to point out to Charlotte that she was now washed in the blood of the lamb and surely she must realize that. Charlotte agreed that she was forgiven, but she was still acutely suffering. McGuigan cheerfully announced that all was well and dispatched her caller with a wish for continued enlightenment. It doesn't seem to me that Charlotte was particularly benefiting from the knowledge of her iniquity.

Open Line is always a happy gabfest on Tuesdays. McGuigan is generous in her praise of agreeable callers, while suffering penitents like Charlotte are jollied along and earnestly told that all is well now (even if it clearly isn't). It smacks a bit of those Protestant healing ministries where the lame and halt rise up and run to and fro in the revival tent; we don't get to see how they scramble to recover their canes and crutches after the cameras are turned off and their adrenaline rushes have faded. McGuigan isn't as skilled as the faith healers in pumping up afflicted callers like Charlotte, but she forges bravely ahead. She knows the truth and it has set her free—free to step sprightly over the shattered souls of those she has helped to understand their evil, evil ways.

4 comments:

Anonymous said...

Today (3/17/09) McGuigan lauded the hairshirt: that old-fashioned Catholic torture device that "saints" wore to remind them of their sin nature, need for penance, etc.

She praised a priest in Australia who always wore a scratchy wool undershirt -- even in the scorching heat. Ugh....

To McGuigan, that priest was a saint. To a sensible person, he was a masochistic nut worshiping a nutcase god.

henry_westin@hotmail.com

Anonymous said...

Zeno
You know nothing about the Catholic Church except your insatiable desire to villify it and any one who attempts to speak the truth. you sound like a typical whining Lib who believes that the world revolves around you.
Abortion is murder my friend, and
has now reached the point in our country of GENOCIDE.WAKE UP.

Zeno said...

Anonymous: You know nothing about the Catholic Church

Well, so much for your insight and credibility.

Anonymous: you sound like a typical whining Lib

Hardly typical. I am significantly more articulate than most. But thanks for spelling "Lib" with an initial uppercase letter, in apparent recognition of the fact that we are in the ascendant. (Look that up in a dictionary if you need to.)

Anonymous said...

Its interesting how you religious freaks quickly assume that anyone who doesnt buy into your fairy tale is a lib. You suck and so does that weird moaner Barbara McWhiggin. Also, Father Pacwa is gay.