How about "objectively disordered"?

Lawrence Downes, who recently wrote a comment-catching "Editorial Observer" column about the return of the Old Rite, is back with a column in today's New York Times titled "What Part of 'Illegal' Don't You Understand?". Amid the freeway pile-up of commentary about immigration reform, I found this an eloquent appeal for a return to first principles, and to human dignity--and a reminder of the power of language to wound people. Indeed, the piece resonates with a Catholic ethos:

"Since the word ["illegal"] modifies not the crime but the whole person," Downes writes, "it goes too far. It spreads, like a stain that cannot wash out. It leaves its target diminished as a human, a lifetime member of a presumptive criminal class. People are often surprised to learn that illegal immigrants have rights. Really? Constitutional rights? But arent they illegal? Of course they have rights: they have the presumption of innocence and the civil liberties that the Constitution wisely bestows on all people, not just citizens."

It should also be noted that Pat Zapor of Catholic News Service (which is serially under-appreciated, and under-funded) had a similarly-themed story back in March. Zapor noted how the term "illegal" as regards immigrants is a recent coinage, and her lede says it all:

"WASHINGTON (CNS) -- Here's a little-understood fact about immigration law: Until well into the 20th century, pretty much anyone who showed up at a port of entry or walked across a border got to stay in the United States."

David Gibson is the director of Fordham’s Center on Religion & Culture.

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