Back in August, James O’Keefe was invited to give what amounted to the keynote address at the American Chesterton Society Conference in Emmitsburg, Maryland. O’Keefe electrified the crowd by telling us that he was inspired by G. K. Chesterton (he did not mention his other role model, quasi-Satanist Saul Alinksky) and that he, James O’Keefe, was willing to live a monk –like existence harassed by leftists and lawyers as he struggled to serve “Veritas”, Truth, in his undercover videos.
During the Q & A, O’Keefe was asked point-blank, “How do you justify lying to others in your videos – leading them to believe you’re someone you’re not?” O’Keefe replied bluntly, “The end justifies the means. We are lying to serve truth.”
I realized immediately that this was a terrible answer. [...]
My involvement in this latest and more bloody round began when James O’Keefe emailed me to ask how I would respond to Christopher Tollefsen of the University of South Carolina, who had criticized Live Action here. James copied in two others into our correspondence, one of whom took offense when I replied, “You really can’t respond effectively to this, for Tollefsen is making excellent points. Your only hope is to claim the undercover videos involved role-playing and not lying. You can fall back upon my original defense that I offered at the Chesterton Conference, the Undercover Journalist as Guerilla Theater Actor defense, which is not a very strong defense, but you can’t really rebut what Tollefsen is saying. The problem with the Role-playing defense is it only applies to actors who are speaking literal falsehoods but not doing so in order to deceive anyone, who are performing for people who are in on the fiction; once you tell a falsehood with the intent to victimize or to deceive someone who’s not in on it – even to achieve a good ultimate end - you are simply lying.” The cc’d correspondent took umbrage with this, and when I quoted the Catechism to support the Church’s position that lying is inherently sinful and may never be done under any circumstances, not even to achieve a greater good, he replied, to my astonishment, “We are not bound by what the Catechism teaches.”
This surprised and disturbed me.
Then, naively, I began to post on this issue on Facebook. At one point I simply cut and pasted CCC 1753, “A good intention (for example, that of helping one’s neighbor) does not make behavior that is intrinsically disordered, such as lying and calumny, good or just. The end does not justify the means” – and to my utter consternation, this became my most controversial post in my two years on Facebook. Within twenty-four hours, this post attracted 150 comments from my conservative Catholic friends, one of whom said, “If this is what the Church teaches, I will gladly die a heretic.” What on earth is going on here? I wondered.
Go and read the whole thing, here.
I think Kevin O'Brien's post is the most valuable thing written on this controversy so far. Whether you think Lila Rose and Live Action's tactics are moral or not, you owe it to yourself to read this.