A double negative from a Cardinal

Laurence Horn laurence.horn at YALE.EDU
Sat Feb 2 15:30:58 UTC 2013

On Feb 2, 2013, at 10:12 AM, Joel S. Berson wrote:

> Former Archbishop of Los Angeles and retired Catholic Cardinal Roger
> Mahony's actions in managing sexual abuse cases is being revealed in
> recently released church documents.
> "In [one] case, Mahony resisted turning over a list of altar boys to
> police who were investigating claims against a visiting Mexican
> priest who was later determined to have molested 26 boys during a
> 10-month stint in Los Angeles."  [Gillian Flaccus, AP; Yahoo News.]
> Mahony wrote on a memo, "We cannot give such a list for no cause whatsoever."
> I surmise that he was thinking "no cause" asserted by civil
> authorities would be sufficient to release the list of possible victims.
This strikes me as a perfectly natural logical double negation (i.e. each negative having its own force, not negative concord); he's saying that given the absence of any cause or necessity requiring the archibishopric (that's the word, right?) to hand over the list of molestees, he would be against their doing so.  The morality and ethics aside, the ex-arch's sentence seems fine to me.  Recall another fine worthy, ex-Illinois governor Ron Blagojevich, caught on tape in late 2008 declaring about the Obama senate seat he might or might not have been planning to auction off, "I’ve got this thing and it’s [bleep]in’ golden and uh, uh, I’m just not giving it up for [bleep]in’ nothing."  That is, "I will not give such a position for no kickback whatsoever."


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