Blogging and Calumny
Lifesite News has responded to the assault on Hilary White of Lifesite News orchestrated by some Catholic bloggers. Go here to read Paul Zummo’s post on the controversy, and go here to read mine. Here is the post of Steve Jalsevac, one of the two co-founders of Lifesite News:
Now and then various Church officials complain about deeply uncharitable and harmful discussions on some Catholic blogs. Facebook, blogs, Twitter and even email can each far too easily allow angry thoughts that cross people’s minds to be published for all the world to see without the sober second thought that would naturally accompany face-to-face or spoken communication.
There was a recent attack against LifeSiteNews from a very well known Catholic writer and another such writer and her husband. Using these means of unfiltered near-instant communications, they poured calumny and invective on LifeSiteNews and our talented and committed staff.
- “Two sentences that make me turn on my bullshit detector: ones that start, ‘Guess what Pope Francis just did?’ and ones that start, ‘According to LifeSiteNews . . . ‘”
- “lying assholes who attack the Church”
- “lazy, biased, and stupid reporting”
- “no respect for LSN as a whole”
- “an organization with a bad reputation”
- “no news sense and no conscience”
- hang your “head in shame for attempting to bring division in the Church through inaccurate and dishonest reporting”
- “anti-Catholic bias”
- “They have a distorted view of reality, and no conscience when it comes to reporting lies in order to advance the agenda.”
- “sleazier than the National Enquirer”
- “They don’t actually do any reporting. They rewrite a lot of other people’s reporting without checking facts or giving attribution.”
- “The narcissism and pride is epic.”
Criticism naturally comes with the territory of journalism and should always be expected. However, when this kind of crude assault is hurled so recklessly from fellow Catholics or other Christians, it does leave us unsettled. Moreover, when such vile language and character assassination comes from Catholics who are published at influential Catholic publications, it is also a concern for the writers’ own Catholic reputation and that of their employers.
LifeSiteNews does not claim to be a Catholic organization. We have many good and faithful Catholics on staff, but we do not claim to be a Catholic organization and our reporting is intended for people of all faiths and even no faith.
Nothing written by LifeSiteNews ever remotely approaches the level of calumny in the condemnations and criticisms seen in the Facebook posts mentioned. We explicitly forbid our writers from making such comments and are constantly removing similar comments from readers commenting under our reports. That is not free speech. We consider it to be an abuse of freedom. We also have a policy of never responding in kind to such comments.
Go here to read the rest. Blogging is not a sedate activity most of the time, at least when it deals with controversial topics. The expression of strong opinions and the reaction such expression brings about comes with the territory. However, all Catholics need to remember in the hurly burly give and take on blogs the old fashioned virtue of fairness. Even when bloggers think they are defending the Pope from criticism, fairness and accuracy should never go out the window, jobs should not be threatened and personal attacks should not take the place of reasoned debate. Here endeth the lesson.