Sunday, February 02, 2003

Finding one's facts, checking them twice

I bumped into another foul strange attitude over this weekend.

Friday's big news was that three "trespassers and disturbers of the peace" at a D.C. hotel during the USCCB conference got extremely blessed in their draw of judge, getting a Catholic who actually comprehended the awfulness of their entire situation. She dispensed with sentence after conviction (meaning, in fact, time served, $50 each fee for having showed up in court, and the conviction record....) and told them to go in peace to love and serve the Lord.

All the usual suspects were blogging all the usual things, mostly about how or why a Catholic judge would behave that way ---
but some of them, including Rod Dreher, who blogs at The Corner and is a friend of St. Blog's, had their facts calumniously wrong. When Mr. Dreher's comments at The Corner with the calumny were linked at Mark Shea's and at Amy's, I piped up in the comments boxes that Mr. Dreher's argument would be stronger if he'd had his facts straight, and I corrected his incorrect statement about supposed, non-existent, sacriligious activity.

The reactions in the boxes [from others, _not_ from Mr. Dreher] can be summed up thus: "Karen, why does that matter? These are the bad guys. Look at their website. What does it matter that it's not true? After all, these are the bad guys."

So what if they're the bad guys! Making absolutely sure that the negative things about somebody else are true before publishing them actually is doubly important when the somebody else is the "enemy", and one might be tempted to skimp on the fact-checking, it being so easy to believe anything about the people one doesn't agree with.

The outline version of the story:
Three Catholic believers go to Mass at the Basilica of the National Shrine. They are going to assist there along with the rest of the crowds, worshipping and praying and receiving the precious Body and Blood of the Lord.

But, there is a rumor among the Basilica staff that an Australian-based church disruption group known as the Rainbow Sash might show up to make trouble. The Basilica staff are looking all over, trying to find the Rainbow Sash people.

Instead, they find our three Catholics, who have nothing to do with the Rainbow Sash, although they all, if asked, would admit that they are not heterosexual.

When our three Catholics went up for Communion, properly disposed and comported like any Catholic does, they were publicly refused. All parties, including the Archdiocese of Washington and the USCCB, admit they were refused wrongfully.

They quietly returned to their place in the pews, went home after the final blessing, had a good cry, then figured they had to find out why this happened to them and make sure it didn't happen again to anybody else.

So the next morning, they went to a hotel where a lot of the bishops were staying, begging any bishops who passed for some answers. Eventually they were literally begging, on their knees with their hands out. The press people who were hanging out in that same public lobby got to noticing.... and hotel security came and told them to go away. They didn't, the police came, end of story.

Yes, this story is bad enough, and unique enough, to be interesting for the pundits and newsbloggers to blog about. Especially on Friday, after our three Catholics won the lottery with a Catholic judge who knew just how bad it is for a Catholic to be publicly refused Communion.

But, to turn the story from "disobeyed a hotel lobby rent-a-cop" [which is true] to the [blatantly false] "sacriligiously disrupted the Holy Eucharist at the Basilica" is unconscionable. Even if our three Catholics _are_ non-heterosexual people who belong to SoulForce.

After all, would the story had gotten turned around this way if it had been three long-skirted doily-wearing Catholics from Wanderer Forum mistaken for a rad-trad or sedevacantist disruption group? Think about it.

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