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#4472: Aristide the priest: Chamberlain comments (fwd)
From: Greg Chamberlain <GregChamberlain@compuserve.com>
A few weeks ago, Fr Michael Graves scolded people (especially journalists)
for calling Aristide "a former priest" and explained that technically he
was still one in the eyes of the Church.
He's right on the last point, but we're dealing with public perceptions
here. People think of a priest as someone who conducts religious
ceremonies, wears all the gear and lives in and around churches. People
haven't much heard of priests who don't do any of that.
Is an adult "a former child" ? Yes, but you wouldn't call them that.
Is Manigat still president because he was illegally overthrown by the army
after being officially elected president (however "badly") ? No.
Is Cedras still a general even though the army he "served" in has been
legally (almost) abolished? No.
Is Henry Kissinger (remember him?) a German rather than an American because
Germany's ius sanguinis (as opposed to ius solis) says you get nationality
from who you were born to (sanguinis) rather than where you were born
(solis) ? No.
Are many Haitian public figures Americans because they've got bolt-hole
American passports in their closets or are they the Haitians they appear to
be 24 hours a day? No.
Then there's "the phrase." Haiti is demonstrably "the poorest country in
Latin America," yet some Corbetteers want to hide that.
Is Hipolito Mejia, the Dominican Republic's president-elect, really
president-elect even though he didn't win the 50% of votes legally required
to be prez (he was 0.13% short) ? Yes, because his rivals and everyone
else agreed to consider him elected anyway.
Are the May 21 official election results in Haiti valid even though the
counting method violated the electoral law? No, because there's not a big
enough consensus (national and international) to accept them regardless.
Was Aristide still president when he was in exile, even though he didn't
control any territory? Yes, because there was a big enough consensus
(national and international) that he was still president in spite of that.
So whether Aristide is a priest or an ex-priest is a perceptual problem, in
which present activity has the priority, whatever the technical truth.
This means he's an ex-priest because that's what his activity is and
because most people believe he's no longer a priest.
Quite reasonably you won't get any news organisation to bend to the
"technical" fans, as an explanatory paragraph would have to be inserted
after each mention (to point out the real state of affairs). And which
would only be done if it was a crucial enough detail, which it isn't in the
case of Aristide.
Uncle Joe Stalin at one point renamed the Soviet party newspaper Pravda so
it was called For a Lasting Peace! For a People's Democracy! because he
wanted to get that message across and to try to make people say it whenever
they bought a paper. But people still knew it as Pravda -- which of course