DON'T SWALLOW SNAKE OIL
A Response to David Stolinsky

May 1997By James G. Hanink

James G. Hanink is Professor of Philosophy at Loyola Marymount University in Los Angeles.

Dr. Stolinsky’s “house calls” are always welcome. But it’s a mixed bag he’s carrying.

Make no mistake, he’s right about the patient being sick. There’s a moral silliness in the land about the use of force, and it’s compounded with a “double-standarditis.” Some folks have an acute case of it, and the bug’s contagious.

Take a closer look, though, at the medicines our friend’s toting in that bag of his. The best of them are generic. The worst are snake oil. Swallowed together, they might cure some problems, but they’ll exacerbate others. The truth is, well, we

need stronger medicine.

What’s behind my caveat? OK, cards on the table. First, I’m an aspiring pacifist, so I don’t like pacifist-bashing. Second, Stolinsky’s stingy in citing Exodus. (Besides, St. Thomas does a better job getting at what’s at issue there.) Maybe that’s why the good doctor goes wrong with many of his domestic and foreign prescriptions.


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