armstrong, verb. Boldly but casually to insinuate a falsehood in the hope that others will go along with it. “Dave tried to armstrong me into a debate. Can you believe that guy?”
Well, Dave “Stretch” Armstrong is at it again. Apropos of nothing, he posted an article at his blog the other day suggesting that I have claimed that “Pope Francis favors divorce.” That’s a pretty serious charge, but of course I have said no such thing. Like other people, I have said that Amoris Laetitia is problematic insofar as its ambiguities seem to permit divorced Catholics living in adulterous relationships to take Holy Communion under certain circumstances, which would conflict with traditional Catholic teaching. And like others (including Armstrong himself!), I have criticized the pope for not answering the dubia, and thereby making it clear that that is not what Amoris is meant to teach. But that is a far cry from accusing the pope of actually favoring divorce.
I posted a comment at Dave’s blog correcting the record. You might think he would do the decent thing and simply retract his rashly made accusation. That would have been quick and easy, and it would have been the end of it.
But it seems that that is not the Dave Armstrong way. Instead, he posted several logorrheic comments attempting to rationalize his mischaracterization of my views by way of telepathy. That Pope Francis favors divorce is – mind-reader Dave claims to have discerned – what I “really” think even if I have not actually said that, and indeed have denied it.
Dave also complains, by the way, that in replying to him, I didn’t pay him any compliments on his work in apologetics.
Today Dave has doubled down by posting a second long article reiterating his false allegations. He has also deleted the comments of another reader who had respectfully disagreed with his original post. And he has, as of this writing, disabled comments on both posts, apparently so that neither I nor anyone else can challenge him further.
An argument can be made for simply ignoring this sad spectacle. The trouble is that, as I know too well from bitter experience, false claims tend to take on a life of their own. That “Feser accused the pope of favoring divorce” is now bound to become something many people “know” even though it isn’t so. If some of them instead come to know what kind of a person Dave Armstrong is, that is Dave’s fault, not mine.