Tuesday, December 5, 2017
Debate? What debate?
Catholic apologist Dave Armstrong seems to be a well-meaning fellow, but I have to say that I am finding some of his behavior very odd. To my great surprise, I learned this afternoon that he has grandly announced the following on Facebook:
Dr. Feser and I Will be Debating the Biblical Passages Purporting to Support the Death Penalty…
This will no doubt be a vigorous (and possibly voluminous) debate…
I respect Dr. Feser for being willing to vigorously defend his positions. That's as rare as hen's teeth these days. I'm the same way, so I am really looking forward to the discussion.
End quote. I see that some of his readers are expressing interest in this debate, asking when and where it will occur, etc. I am sorry to disappoint them, but I have to say that I have no idea what Armstrong is talking about.
That Armstrong and I are about to engage in a “vigorous” “debate” – and indeed one of “possibly voluminous” length! – is news to me. I was never invited to debate him, would not have agreed to do so had I been asked, and have zero time for or interest in doing so. This is entirely an invention of Armstrong’s.
Yesterday at his blog Armstrong had announced that he is opposed to capital punishment and directed his readers to the critical remarks that Fastiggi, Brugger, Hart, and McClamrock have made about By Man Shall His Blood Be Shed. I posted a comment in his combox to the effect that if he was going to link to those critical reviews, then to be fair he ought also to link to my replies to them. He has since done so, and we exchanged a couple other remarks in his combox. That’s all.
Again, where he got the idea that I had agreed to a “debate” with him of possibly “voluminous” length, I have no idea.
I also have to take exception to another remark Armstrong made in his Facebook announcement. He wrote:
[Feser’s] reply to patristics scholar David Bentley Hart's review of his book was entitled, "Hot Air vs. Capital Punishment: . . ." And he wrote, "Hart’s review in Commonweal is so rhetorically over-the-top and dishonest that the effect is more comical than offensive”…
Low blows such as these poison the well and are unnecessary. I hope Dr. Feser refrains from them if he debates me.
End quote. Since Armstrong had directed his readers to Hart’s review, I assume he knows that Hart compared my co-author Joe Bessette and me to Torquemada and attributed to us “a moral insensibility that is truly repellant,” among other unmerited insults. Why it is OK for Hart to say such things but a “low blow” for me to object to Hart saying them, Armstrong does not explain. In my response to Hart, I also documented several cases where Hart had undeniably and gravely misrepresented what Joe Bessette and I say in the book. That is why I used the word “dishonest.” It was not a gratuitous insult but a conclusion based on evidence – evidence to which Armstrong offers no response.
I would recommend to Armstrong that, if in future he wants someone to take seriously the prospect of debating him, it would be a good idea for him not to make such gratuitous and unfair remarks from the get-go. It would also be a good idea to announce the debate only after an actual invitation and acceptance, not before.