This post will be deliberately oblique -- I'm adding some thoughts to a discussion, now grown rather old, at another web site. Those who were part of it will know the particulars; those who weren't, need not.
An organization issues a news release that includes some sensational charges of wrongdoing against several members of the clergy, including the bishop. This against a background of wrongdoing, generally acknowledged. The organization issuing the news release has been pressing the case about such wrongdoing for some time.
I read the release, as quoted in a column. It included a horrendous accusation, and it pointed to a report, online, as including this accusation. I wanted to see the cited source for myself.
Sad to say, I feared it would be confirmed. To my surprise, the source cited did not substantiate the charge. Something was wrong.
So, I went back to the website where I read this, and said as much. After all, if the accusation is partly wrong, everyone is entitled to know that.
Well, that wasn't well received. Along the way, one of the posters came to the defense of the originator of the press release: well, the wording was ambiguous, not deliberate misinformation. OK, fair enough.
But here's the thing. If I make charges, then I accept the burden of proving it. You are absolutely right to examine my accusations with a critical glance -- indeed, you are duty-bound to do so.
Most of us don't have time to fact-check everything that comes up in these situations. We learn, over time, who we think is credible, and who we don't. And one of the ways we learn that is when, upon doing some checking, we either find the information is sound . . . or not!
I checked; and in one case, I found a serious flaw, at best explained by sloppy writing. This is serious business, reputations are at stake.
What amazes me -- and why I post this -- is that somehow, my insisting on accuracy somehow represents a harm to this man's cause. I don't get that. I'm told that the fellow means well, and cares deeply. Assume that's true. It's also beside the point. Good intentions plus sloppy work don't equal credibility. Finally, I've been accused of being in cahoots with those covering up the crimes:
Do yourself a favor. Don’t be too quick to answer for the bishops out of some misplaced notion of loyalty to secrecy or something like that. You don’t know the half of it.
I'm still trying to figure out the larger dynamic here. I am not naming the individual who authored the release, or his group, because I'm not interested in causing him any difficulties, nor in picking a fight with him. The issue is the sloppiness -- which I think hurts his cause -- and what appears to be a lack of concern about that. If you're going to go after anyone, accusing them of terrible crimes, this is serious business, and you have to get it right.
In any case, someone explain to me how sloppy press materials about very damaging accusations helps the cause?
I don't know if anyone will even post, but if you do, please leave out names, in light of what I said above.