Why Satirical Catholic Blogs Fail

Wednesday, August 18, AD 2010

I finally returned to internet connectivity this week, which has meant catching up on news & blogs I have neglected. Part of this “reconnecting” included denying a facebook friend request from someone I never heard of-only to find out that this someone was a fake online persona created in the Catholic Fascist’s attempt at satire. Having looked over all of the posts there, I was struck by how eerily similar the site was to another parody group blog-The Spirit of Vatican II.

Both blogs employed a host of satirical characters with enough resemblance to real life to make laugh (I think whoever thought of danmclockinload deserves a guest post on TAC) at first, both got roaring laughter from their own partisans-and neither blog was funny after a few days.

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16 Responses to Why Satirical Catholic Blogs Fail

  • Two other problems with Satire:
    1. Unless it’s obvious, it really confuses those of us with autistic-spectrum personalities. I’ve seen the “Spirit of Vatican II” blog before, and I thought it was sincere.

    2. Satire and parody are only good when a) they have some level of respect for their targets and b) they don’t take themselves too seriously.

  • The amazing thing about the CF blog for me is the sheer output. There are more posts there than there have been at AC since it started, *and* whoever is doing it is writing most of the comments.

  • I agree the output is impressive. It may be that others are assisting Mr. Iafrate. Certainly one of his erstwhile co-bloggers has penned excellent satire on occasion.

  • I think it functions rather like primal scream therapy for the Catholic Anarchist, which means it might have one useful function.

  • Maybe its a manic phase. Lithium anyone?

  • This was not meant to be a thread bashing Catholic Fascist and/or Vox Nova and/or Catholic Anarchist. If anything, the post was meant to discourage such bashing.

  • It’s projection and status posturing by a clever but tormented fellow.

    Much political satire is like that, but I think you need at least a few drops of real disdain and even hatred to do it in a religious context on a sustained basis.

  • Michael Denton,

    I appreciate your heroic efforts to be super charitable to one of the most nasty, unreasonable, uncharitable fellows these blogs have ever known.

    I do question how many times you are to turn your cheek before you finally dust off your feet per Mark 6:11.

    Frankly, if this is the “bashing” Iafrate gets for his behavior, he will have gotten less than a tap on the cheek. I don’t think you need to worry about it. He is putting himself out there to be criticized, ridiculed, and bashed – and he secretly loves it, because he does fancy himself a prophet. If people aren’t bashing him, then he doesn’t feel as if he’s doing his job anyway.

    I might say nothing about him at all for that reason, but false prophets should be denounced.

  • I personally don’t mind satire or even strong opinions strongly argued. To argue strongly back does not bother me either as one can walk away and have that Abita (which I had for the first time this weekend) with you opponent. That’s the hard part.

    Unfortunately, sometimes there are real problems with others. Pointing them out is also not off-limits either, even if jokingly, as long as one recognizes that also. Part of running with the big dogs.

    I think the author of Catholic Fascist is truly having some problems. Though I would be happy to be wrong.

  • Good satirical blogs (Iowahawk, Scrappleface) take aim at everything. The former in particular is still going strong because there’s a wide variety of topics to skewer. Plus I don’t think he writes more than a post a day. A satirical blog that takes aim at either just one blog or one type of subject matter isn’t going to last – partly for the reasons Michael mentions, but mainly because it just gets old that much faster,

  • The Spirit of Vatican II is satirical? You must be thinking of a different blog. Or a different meaning of satirical.
    It is very much a woman’s blog. Satirical perhaps in the sense that women think men are pretty dense.

  • In one of my first encounters with Michael, I found my self quoting Matthew 18:

    If your brother sins against you, go and show him his fault, just between the two of you. If he listens to you, you have won your brother over. But if he will not listen, take one or two others along, so that ‘every matter may be established by the testimony of two or three witnesses.’ If he refuses to listen to them, tell it to the church; and if he refuses to listen even to the church, treat him as you would a pagan or a tax collector.

    I think it’s very difficult to make a quiet approach on the internet; maybe through email if the person’s address is known to you. Anyway, by this point, I don’t feel any obligation to respond to Michael’s postings, although I’d gladly help him change a flat tire. It’s not my job to rebuke him.

  • I should also note that his tantrum won’t be seen by more than a half-dozen people whom he hasn’t already alienated elsewhere. He may equal other sites in output, but he’s never going to get 1% of their hits. So he isn’t really scandalizing the faithful.

  • I don’t know. Certainly big boys can take the heat. For example a slam of TAC here:


    This combined with comments at the Western Confucian that find that TAC as a greater threat to the common good than Vox Nova. Not that its clear that one ever found Vox Nova to be a threat to the common good here. The bizarre thought ironically comes from two people who claim they don’t read TAC.

    But again, being big boys, most here can take such comments.

  • Mark Shea is, apparently, not much of a fan of TAC, either:

    “I agree with you that the bellicose messianic Americanism at TAC is far more dangerous and deadly than the nose-pulling of CF. However, as I virtually never read TAC and as CF (being the New Hotness) was more prominent on my monitor, I wasn’t attempting a full review of TAC.”


    Good thing Shea “virtually never read[s] TAC” or he might have to actually form an opinion based in fact rather than pulling things completely out of his ass like he usually does.

  • “The bizarre thought ironically comes from two people who claim they don’t read TAC.”

    Judging from Mark popping in on my Victory Over Japan post, I’d say he sneaks a peak every now and then. However, considering the way Mark has of scanning articles, based upon some of his posts, rather than reading articles to actually understand them, perhaps his statement is at least partially correct. 🙂

Almost Chosen People

Thursday, November 19, AD 2009

Mr. President and Gentlemen of the Senate of the State of New-Jersey: I am very grateful to you for the honorable reception of which I have been the object. I cannot but remember the place that New-Jersey holds in our early history. In the early Revolutionary struggle, few of the States among the old Thirteen had more of the battle-fields of the country within their limits than old New-Jersey. May I be pardoned if, upon this occasion, I mention that away back in my childhood, the earliest days of my being able to read, I got hold of a small book, such a one as few of the younger members have ever seen, “Weem’s Life of Washington.” I remember all the accounts there given of the battle fields and struggles for the liberties of the country, and none fixed themselves upon my imagination so deeply as the struggle here at Trenton, New-Jersey. The crossing of the river; the contest with the Hessians; the great hardships endured at that time, all fixed themselves on my memory more than any single revolutionary event; and you all know, for you have all been boys, how these early impressions last longer than any others. I recollect thinking then, boy even though I was, that there must have been something more than common that those men struggled for; that something even more than National Independence; that something that held out a great promise to all the people of the world to all time to come; I am exceedingly anxious that this Union, the Constitution, and the liberties of the people shall be perpetuated in accordance with the original idea for which that struggle was made, and I shall be most happy indeed if I shall be an humble instrument in the hands of the Almighty, and of this, his almost chosen people, for perpetuating the object of that great struggle. You give me this reception, as I understand, without distinction of party. I learn that this body is composed of a majority of gentlemen who, in the exercise of their best judgment in the choice of a Chief Magistrate, did not think I was the man. I understand, nevertheless, that they came forward here to greet me as the constitutional President of the United States — as citizens of the United States, to meet the man who, for the time being, is the representative man of the nation, united by a purpose to perpetuate the Union and liberties of the people. As such, I accept this reception more gratefully than I could do did I believe it was tendered to me as an individual.

Abraham Lincoln, February 21, 1861

Announcing a new blog, Almost Chosen People.  It is a blog dedicated to American history up through Reconstruction.  I am one of the contributors.  A fair amount of my initial posts at this blog will be reposts of material first posted at The American Catholic, but they will be interspersed with new material.  My fellow contributors, including Paul Zummo of the Cranky Conservative, and Dale Price of Dyspeptic Mutterings,  will be providing posts that will be well worth reading, so please stop by.  Needless to say, although I’ll say it anyway, this new blog will not lessen my posting frequency here at The American Catholic.

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4 Responses to Almost Chosen People

First Things-First Thoughts

Monday, June 15, AD 2009

Bloggers are Dangerous

I have been a First Things subscriber for years and therefore I was quite interested when I noticed their First Thoughts section where they have assembled some of best bloggers from Saint Blogs in a group blog.  Our own Christopher Blosser is there, along with Jay Anderson from Pro Ecclesia, Paul Zummo, The Cranky Conservative and Steve Dillard of Southern Appeal, just to name a few.  I have added First Thoughts to my daily blog browsing list and, after you have read The American Catholic each day (We must keep our priorities straight!) I would encourage you to check them out each day.

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3 Responses to First Things-First Thoughts

  • Behold how good and pleasant it is when bloggers type as one. The maturing of Orthodox Catholic writing outside of dead tree journals is wonderous site to behold. Mad props to our brethren for popping up elsewhere and spouting off. Mindful that the convulsions of post-election Iran- devote your prayer time to these poor oppressed folk- is being chronicled by Twitter, cell phones, et al. Saw real cool video shown on Fox News over the weekend- protestors flooding a Teheran street, clearing taken by cell phone. Thus the weapons of the laity- attention reverend clergy it is largely a lay phenomenon so get with the program- are utilized to disseminate current events in the flashlight of Holy Mama Church. Yay technology. Deo Gratias.

  • Yes, and Vox-Nova’s Jonathan Jones at Postmodern Conservative too.

  • Yes, Jonathan should probably have been mentioned in the post (although he joined Postmodern Conservative about six weeks ago, and Jay, Chris, Steve and Paul just started last week at First Thoughts, I believe).

Outing Bloggers

Monday, June 8, AD 2009

Blogging in Disguise

Considerable controversy erupted over the weekend in the blogosphere as to the outing of bloggers who blog using a pseudonym.  The details of what initiated this controversy are discussed in detail here at Southern Appeal, Ed Morrissey at Hot Air comments here, Jay Anderson has a thoughtful post here at Pro Ecclesia, as does Paul Zummo here at the Cranky Conservative.  My observations are as follows:

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33 Responses to Outing Bloggers

  • Donald,

    Did you just out the Cranky Con?


  • Paul is rather like the Human Torch of the Fantastic Four Tito, everyone knows his secret identity! 🙂

  • Donald, if you do not take this post down, I will be forced to bring litigation against you. You will owe me at least one soda pop when I’m through with you.

  • Soda pop, article, soda pop, article—hmmm.

  • people usually are more reluctant to act like total jerks when they are using their real names.

    I don’t think this is right. People do tend to be more rude on the Internet than in real life, but from what I’ve found, this tendency is no more pronounced in the case of people who blog under pseudonyms than for people who do not. The chances of ever encountering someone in “real life” that you’ve badly treated on the Internet are vanishingly small, whereas the Internet reputational effects of boorish behavior are the same for someone who uses a consistent pseudonym as for someone using their real name.

    I also don’t think doing something that could potentially destroy a man’s livelihood should be described as “merely a matter of good manners” but I suppose our perspectives differ on this.

  • “I also don’t think doing something that could potentially destroy a man’s livelihood should be described as “merely a matter of good manners” but I suppose our perspectives differ on this.”

    They do indeed BA. No one drafts people to comment on the internet, and there is no “Code of the Internet” that guarantees anonymity. If a man or woman’s livelihood is truly threatened by what they post on the internet, I am not entirely unsympathetic to their plight, but perhaps it would be time for them to take up another hobby or to restrict themselves to non-controversial topics.

    As to bad behavior being fostered by anonymity, I would merely point to anonymous comments and compare and contrast them with comments where people attach their real names to them. I believe, in general, there is a significant difference.

  • I”m kind of torn on this one. I believe wholeheartedly in always being civil while blogging and I do not say anything on a blog that I feel would be indefensible or insulting. However, I also prefer not to use my full real name either.

    On this blog (and this one alone) I use my maiden name, partly because my married name is extremely common and I would prefer not to be mistaken for someone else. Also, I used to be a journalist, and it is common in media circles for women who become well-known or establish a following under their maiden names to keep using their maiden names professionally after marriage. It also provides a measure of privacy for their husbands and children since the general public may not connect their last name with hers.

    Personally I prefer the use of a consistent pseudonym that gives you a specific identity. I have used the pseudonyms “Bookworm” and “Secret Square” on other blogs, mostly local newspaper blogs, regional/national political blogs, and some Catholic blogs. I didn’t go with a pseudonym here because most of you use your real names, also, I did want readers to know that AC was not an exclusively all-male preserve 🙂

  • I hope Elaine we can make it even less of an all-male preserve in the future. 🙂

    I have no particular problem with people using consistent pseudonyms on a blog, but I just do not think that it entitles them to an expectation of privacy as to their true identity when they do. I will honor their implicit request to keep their identity a secret as a matter of manners, but I cannot get too upset when others do not follow my course of action.

  • As to bad behavior being fostered by anonymity, I would merely point to anonymous comments and compare and contrast them with comments where people attach their real names to them. I believe, in general, there is a significant difference.

    There is a significant difference, this is true. But there is also a significant difference between anonymous comments and comments by people who use a consistent pseudonym. If you compare people who use pseudonyms to people who use real names, I don’t see much of a difference.

    No one drafts people to comment on the internet, and there is no “Code of the Internet” that guarantees anonymity.

    Morality isn’t a matter of subscribing to some “Code of the Internet.” If revealing a blogger’s identity could cost them their job, then one shouldn’t do so absent a compelling reason. That’s not a matter of etiquette; it is matter of basic decency. The fact that they wouldn’t be vulnerable to such action if they didn’t blog at all is not much of an excuse here (I happen to think that the Internet would be a much poorer place if everyone who knows blogs under a pseudonym were to leave, but regardless of how one comes down on that question, the fact is that people who choose to blog under a pseudonym).

  • As someone who has remained more-or-less pseudonymous for the last four years, this strikes me as fairly spiteful, but I do have a certain sympathy for this “if it’s so essential people don’t know who you are, don’t blog” argument.

    Several years ago, I did delete comments from someone who had done the research to out my name and parish on my blog — though as much because I found it disturbing someone would do the fifteen minutes research necessary to connect me with name and parish as because I was horrified to have my identity revealed. (At this point, it’s a pretty open secret, since it’s right on our contributors page.)

    The smallest offense can be an evil if done strictly with the intent to hurt, and in that regard this sounds to me like it was done in anger and out of spite. However, at the same time, if you really believe that being “outed” could result in the destruction of your livelihood, it strikes me as seriously irresponsible to run a well known blog.

  • BA, in regard to those who consistently use the same pseudonym I would concede that there is less of a difference between them and people who blog under their own name as to blog behavior as compared to people who post anonymously and those who post under their real name. People who have been using the same pseudonym for years generally do not wish, I assume, to have it tarnished by bad behavior.

    As to the job loss of a blogger whose identity is revealed being a question of morality rather than manners, I just don’t see it. All of us in our “real” life are constantly held accountable for our words and our actions. Someone blogging under a pseudonym is asking for an exemption from this general rule of life. As a matter of manners and good sportsmanship, I am personally willing to grant this exemption, but I do not see it as a question of morality when the general rule of life as to acccountability is applied to a blogger or a commenter.

  • Since most everyone works in an at-will State, I think it is prudent to not allow people to make casual associations. I would never, ever, want to have a boss tell me I was fired for writing on a blog.

    I have gone full circle. I used my first and last name originally, but found my namesake had a reputation. At that point I adopted my first two initials and my last name. That is the name most of you have known me under. I dropped my last name this past year, since I didn’t want people making casual associations. Today, I write comments under a psuedonym at most places. If that lowers my blog rep, then good bye blog rep. I never blogged for money, finding that distasteful, so it ain’t like the blog rep is worth anything.

    As far as nastiness, I have had plenty from people using their own names. I have given plenty of it under my own name.

  • If someone becomes abusive with their comments, I think it fair to make the person responsible. A person whould be. Also goes for those who grossly misrepresent their expertise and deceive others. Out their lies.

  • That should read “should be” and not whould.

  • I think Ed Whelan first off looks like a first class idiot.

    What was the purpose of this? Also it think it is important to note that JOB SECURITY was just one of the reasons that he wanted to remain private.

    I can veyr much understand why a Law Prof and those ona legal blog would want to be private. THey like to throw stuff out there to get reaction and input. SOrt of like a LAW Class calssroom. The problem is the general public I fear does not understand this distinction. Thus they think every word is the deep hearted beliefs of that person

  • An example of a phony military vet used by one internet site, votevets.org:


  • I abandoned a pseudonym in favor of my real name a long time ago precisely because I wanted to discipline my commentary. The temptation to post intemperate cheap shots is just too great from the perch of anonymnity.

    I also agree with Darwin that if making statements on a blog would jeopardize one’s livelihood or otherwise hurt one’s friends or family, it is irresponsible to rely on anonymity in the case of running a well-known blog. It is one reason it takes a certain amount of charity to accept Plubius’s objections and explanations at face value. Either he rather enjoyed the unaccountabilty of anonymity (and his expressed reasons are pretexts) or he was astonishingly imprudent in operating a well-known blog and expecting his identity to remain unknown.

    None of this excuses Whelan’s actions, of course. But he has been beat up enough and I have nothing to add to that.

  • I’m of the same mind with Donald.

    When I decided to come out with my full name I thought long and hard about this. It certainly makes you think twice before sending a nasty comment, plus it makes you more humble when you think twice about retaliating to someone who may have given it to you good.

    With that said, shouldn’t we as Catholics do our best to not slander, attack someones good name, and be more charitable towards one another?

    Being on the Internet does not absolve us from behaving as Christians towards each other.

  • Consider anonymous “bloggers” of previous times, i.e., pamphleteers: Cardinal Newman wrote many of his Oxford Tracts under a pseudonym. Hamilton, Madison and Jay wrote the Federalist Papers under a common pseudonym. Paine published Common Sense under a pseudonym.

    Should they have found another hobby? Are they cowards for not wanting to be held accountable for their words?

  • Nope. But if they were abusive or lying and they were exposed, good.

  • “Consider anonymous “bloggers” of previous times, i.e., pamphleteers: Cardinal Newman wrote many of his Oxford Tracts under a pseudonym. Hamilton, Madison and Jay wrote the Federalist Papers under a common pseudonym. Paine published Common Sense under a pseudonym.

    Should they have found another hobby? Are they cowards for not wanting to be held accountable for their words?”

    Not at all, but neither was anyone else under any moral duty to protect their identities. As a matter of fact, I believe in each case you cite guessing as to who the author was, was a popular activity.

  • What I have quarrels with is when sock puppets enter into matters. We have our respectable ways and then, someone might say something. We think “I don’t want to address the crudity as “Moi””, so then… hopefully, we can get by the situation. Perhaps, the internet has a lot of nonsense to it to. I shiver to read some things on it. Those dark corners I do not go to but we might have a curiosity to have looked at least once.

  • When I decided to come out with my full name I thought long and hard about this.

    I am the only one who finds it humorous to read stories about Catholic bloggers like Tito “coming out.” 😉

    I put my real name to try to curtail my own actions, but honestly I wish I had used a pseudonym now. In fact, I’m strongly considering deleting my blog and starting s fresh one under a pseudonym for when I go to law school, as I’d rather not my full views be all that Google accessible.

  • Cajun Catholic,

    Yep, I came out alright! 😉

    That might not be a bad idea to go incognito Miguel.

  • UGGG Michael. If you delete your blog I think I will scream. 🙂

    I hate when I want to go back and see soemthing interesting that someone said and I find (BLOG DELETED) which is one reason why I often block quote passages

    Anyway you blog would still show up in google cache or something

  • I think there are two questions here

    One is there some profound moral duty that was violated here. Well maybe not. But maybe just basic decency and a part of the social contract was in a way.

    This goes way beyond slandering people. As we have see via the prop 8 controversy and google maps speech and though can be chilled.

    One can lets say be a worker in a workplace that has an abudnace of gay workers. Should a Catholic be exposed and suffer intimidation because he gives passing mention to the teaching fo the Church. I think it all sets bad precedent

  • Don is right that no one was under any moral obligation to keep the names of the authors of the Federalist Papers under wraps. If Madison, Hamilton, and Jay were afraid of being “found out” for the views they expressed pseudonymously, then, absolutely, they should’ve found a different line of business.

    Fortunately, they weren’t and they didn’t.

  • Also, I believe the Founders used pseudonyms partially because they were so well known. They didn’t want their audience to pre-judge the message by associating it with a certain writer that they had fully formed opinions of, one way or the other. It was a way of divorcing the message from the messenger.

  • While blog anonymity does seem to give some people “permission” to be hateful jerks, it might also give otherwise timid souls or people who don’t express themselves well, or have much of a chance to express themselves at all, a chance to say good things that need to be said. That is the way I look at my pseudonymous blogging.

    You see, I write better than I talk, and I don’t always express myself well in person. Plus, I’m really chicken when it comes to expressing my personal views in front of people who might not agree with them. I may not have the opportunity or the gumption to discuss or launch a defense of Church teaching at work or at family gatherings, but I can do it via blogging, and maybe plant some good arguments or ideas in some reader’s mind.

    It is also my understanding that blogging and e-mail are favored and effective forms of communication for people who have autism spectrum disorders, since it doesn’t require them to worry about eye contact, body language, facial expression and all those other details that are difficult for them to handle.

  • All good points Elaine. I sometimes forget that not everyone is blessed\cursed with the hide of a rhinoceros when it comes to self-expression.

  • It was a way of divorcing the message from the messenger.


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