Tuesday, 4 September 2012

The breathtaking hypocrisy of Cath News' Christine Hogan!

Over at Cath Blog today, another of those whingeing, breathtakingly hypocritical posts from Cath News' publisher Christine Hogan about the horrors of social media.

Fingers burnt?!

There have been a  number of cases recently of organizations attempting to use the social media to advance their own agendas and being badly burnt in the process by virtue of people power - Qantas and Target spring to mind.

Based on Ms Hogan's rant, seems something similar has happened to Cath News. 

Now personally I've pretty much given up on facebook, but a few people have emailed me offline to tell me about the posting by Cath News over there of a picture of the muppets mocking da Vinci's famous Last Supper.

So yes Christine, strangely enough people do expect that an organization listed in the Official Directory of the Catholic Church in Australia might actually defend the faith rather than publish arguably blasphemous attacks on it under the guise of 'humour'.

And no surprise that people will rise up in outrage when they see something like this.

No surprise that attempts of 'citizen-journalists' to hold Cath News accountable, however, continue to be rejected by a publisher who appears to be mired in the world of yesterday's media and yesterday's flawed theology.

You're not anonymous if I know who you are?!

But quite the most breathtaking line of argument she takes in her latest piece is on the horrors of anonymous commenters.

In the context of the debate over a recent twitter battle, Ms Hogan criticises twitter's refusal to make people disclose their identity publicly, and then tries to claim that Cath News is superior in this regard:

"...all our posters are required to be known at least to the moderator of the board."


But Cath News doesn't actually require commenters to publish full names and addresses on the board itself. 

So in fact it is just like Twitter and Facebook who, as publishers know who is commenting -  but who do not in fact disclose to those actually being attacked just who is speaking...

Now personally I don't have a problem with anonymous commenters - those who publish under their own name seem to be just as vicious in some cases (and I reference the Cath News post under discussion in this regard!) as those who adopt a pen name for one reason or another. 

But please, spare us the self-righteousness!

Comments and corrections...

Equally breathtaking, frankly, is this attack on (I presume, based on her previous pieces on this subject) me:

"But the part which I find most difficult to get my head around is the unwillingness of social media sites and blog spots to take down comments which are, in fact, manifestly wrong. According to one apparently unhinged zealot I wrote to, pointing out various inaccuracies in a comment and providing proof of the inaccuracies, the offensive post would not be removed. It was up to people on social media to comment to correct, according to this person."

Well that's an ad hominem if ever I heard one!

For the record, if someone points out an error in one of my own posts and I agree it really is an error, I will correct it.

But comments are different. 

First, those who log in using a blogger identity can, if they wish, remove comments themselves.  Provided they meet my basic tests (not defamatory, not hominem attacks, etc), the commenter is responsible for what they say, not me.

Secondly, those who comment anonymously can, if they wish, ask me to remove them, and I generally will if I am convinced it really is the author of the comment speaking, and there is a good reason to do so.

But there is an important distinction that has to be kept in mind between a post providing serious content, and a comment on it, which may be little more than a top of the head reaction to it. 

The post itself is the equivalent of a newspaper article.  Comments on it are typically the water cooler discussion.  They are part of a conversation, stages in a discussion, where people work through an issue in order to arrive at an understanding of an issue. 

And just as in a conversation, our initial assumptions are tested and corrected.  Unless someone is outright libellous or otherwise problematic, I don't see why we should hide that working through process.

Indeed, Cath News itself adopts just this approach - it regularly allows comments making erroneous and assertions about Church teaching and actions to be published.  No deleting that I've ever noticed going on when corrections have been provided!

The right to comment?

Ms Hogan complains that some people seem to feel they have a right to have their comments published.

Maybe some do, but my complaint about Cath News is not that.

My complaint, backed up by numerous readers, is that Cath News regularly publishes those who make erroneous claims about Church teaching and regularly promotes dissent through its editorial processes, while refusing to publish the comments of anyone who challenges these positions.

What we actually want, Christine, is some actual Catholicism on Cath News.

Nothing in the least bit 'unhinged' about that in my view.


Dom Carroll said...

Kate, you referred to Christine Hogan at Cath News by name as "breathtakingly hypcritical" yet she didn't use your name. You assume she means you when she refers to an "unhinged zealot". I have got no idea of what has gone on between you and Cath News. You accused Christine of engaging in an ad hominem attack on you, but I find it difficult not to regard the headline of your Blog, as the same sort of thing that you accuse her of.
Dom Carroll

A Canberra Observer said...

In this diversity empathetic world, all comments are equal but some are more equal than others ...

I noted the statement of devotion to truth and accuracy.

I am still left wondering how it squares with what I see as a discernible 'editorial line' which favours republication of stories and opinion pieces of 'the Church needs reforming to bring it into the 21st century' (the recent stories and comments on Arbp Marini RIP and the endless supply of "poor Fr Peter Kennedy", "poor Bp Morris" and "poor LCWR" are classic examples). These actually serve to obscure and erode Catholic teaching.

And while on Arbp Marini and those who opined about "what if he were pope" - thankfully the Holy Spirit apparently had other ideas.

Kate Edwards said...

Dom - Her comments on my reflect her last blog piece on the subject, I should have included the link for those who haven't been following the controversy:


And my headline and comments reflect directly on what she has said in her post and previously.

Martin S. said...

The poor woman is rattled. And really it is not her fault, though she may have put her hand up to do the job - those hiring her are ultimately responsible. e.g " Abortion is more abhorrent than any crimes of the Borgia Popes. This modern age is the age of Church Corruption. Now is the time when the Protestants who call us the Whore of Babylon are correct." http://www.scifiwright.com/2011/02/the-abomination-of-desolation/