Thursday, April 14, 2011

The light of day

This just in from the National Catholic Reporter:
Censorship is Bad - Always
by Michael Sean Winters on Apr. 13, 2011

The Diocese of Scranton and Marywood University recently cancelled a speech planned by Michael Voris, an obnoxious rightwing personality who runs the outfit "RealCatholicTV." Earlier this year, a bishop told me, "Funny thing is that his show is not real and it isn't Catholic."

Now, it is puzzling to me why anyone would invite the spewer of right-wing agitprop to rant on campus in the first place. But, censorship is not the answer. Let people hear Mr. Voris's paranoid fantasies about unorthodox bishops and the USCCB's supposed collusion with the Culture of Death. There is nothing attractive about his rants. The best way to expose a scoundrel is to shine the light of day on him.

Actually, the headline is incorrect. Censorship isn't alwasy wrong. Sometimes it's a necessity and there are several legitimate reasons to curtail the freedom of people to say whatever they want. In the civil order, these might include restrictions on giving away state secrets, "Loose lips sink ships". In the religious realm, this might include the Church having a right to sack a religion teacher who taught the kids errors and tried to pass it off as Catholic teaching.

I really don't have much objection to the bishop of Scranton telling someone like Michael Voris that he can't speak on Church property. He's the bishop, and it's his house. Frankly, there really isn't any such thing as "freedom of speech" in the Church. Civil realm yes, Church no.

And Michael's view, no doubt, is much the same. Mr. Winters says that the best way to expose scoundrels is to shine a light on them and let people see for themselves. Michael's verbal style may not be to everyone's liking, but the point isn't the manner in which he expresses himself.

As with any whistleblower, whether you like him personally is utterly immaterial. Whether you think he's a rightwing nutter or a leftie traitor, you take his evidence and you examine it for yourself and see if he's telling the truth.