Wednesday, December 13, 2017

The Matter Of Truthfulness

In his recent blog post, Dcn Bengry refers to me as
. . . a certain blogger. . . . [who] claims he’s happy to be corrected, but that’s not really the case and I know this because I tried to do so early on. (According to his many uncorrected claims, for example, Father Hodgins was apparently retired months ago.) He ignored the corrections he couldn’t dispute and used the rest to fuel further waves of calumnious speculation.
"Calumnious speculation" is a serious charge, since calumny is a mortal sin. According to catechsim 2482, "A lie consists in speaking a falsehood with the intention of deceiving." The one example Dcn Bengry gives of calumny I may have committed, though, is puzzling. He says,
According to his many uncorrected claims, for example, Father Hodgins was apparently retired months ago.
But in the post that mentions Fr Hodgins, I didn't say anything about Fr Hodgins at all -- I quoted my regular correspondent, who said,
Fr Hodgins wishes to retire from STM, Toronto.
My correspondent confirmed this just now, saying,
Regarding Fr Hodgins, whom he mentioned in passing as an example of your misinformation: Fr Hodgins announced that he wished to retire as of 2017. As no replacement has been located, he continues to celebrate mass at STM.
So let's go through this. I quoted my regular correspondent, who said Fr Hodgins "wishes to retire", which as far as anyone can determine was then, and is now, accurate. But I didn't say it, my correspondent did. But Dcn Bengry said I claimed Fr Hodgins was apparently retired. I never said any such thing. Beyond that, Dcn Bengry implies he tried to correct this misinformation, which I never gave, but I didn't correct it. I have no record of this in my e-mails from Bengry.

Out of those who read this post -- which contains no link to anything I may have said about Fr Hodgins, and indeed no link to my blog at all -- I can't imagine anyone would try to search my blog for Fr Hodgins's name to double-check Dcn Bengry's claim.

So let me get this straight. He becomes guilty of calumny who, by remarks contrary to the truth, harms the reputation of others and gives occasion for false judgments concerning them. Dcn Bengry cites the false example above as his only support for using terms like calumny, libel, one who is "set upon sowing seeds of discord", and so forth.

At minimum, Dcn Bengry's reaction to my posts verges on being unhinged, but that he himself should resort to making false accusations is troubling. As a true crime fan and sometime juror, I would note that a standard US jury instruction is that if a witness is shown to have lied on one matter, his credibility can be called into question on any other matter.