Sunday, February 17, 2019

Lent is coming: let's make it the best ever! (Sunday homily)

Lent begins in three weeks. 

For the next three Sundays, 
you and I will hear from Saint Paul’s first letter to the Corinthians, 
from chapter 15, where he talks about resurrection.
This is a great transition to Lent.

Let’s recall what we believe as Catholics.
At the moment our life in this world comes to an end, 
you and I will immediately face Christ as our judge.
We call this the “particular judgment.”

And in that moment, Christ will weigh our faith: 
did we respond to his grace? Did we obey his commands? 
Did we repent of our sins and turn to him for mercy?

And one of two things will happen.
If we die without God’s friendship, having rejected his grace; 
refusing to change, or, perhaps giving mere lip service, then what? 
Remember what he said: “Not everyone who cries, ‘Lord, Lord!’ 
will enter the Kingdom.” 

And they will say, “but look what we did in your name!” 
And Jesus will say, ‘Depart from me! I never knew you!’”
So if that’s where we are in that moment before Christ, 
then we will go to hell, precisely because we refused the grace 
and the conversion of our lives that would prepare us for heaven. 

On the other hand, if we “die in God’s grace and friendship” 
(Catechism of the Catholic Church 1030),
Then we enter into heaven. 

But at that point, you and I may need some further brushing-up, 
so that we are truly ready for heaven. 
This is purgatory.

That said, if we made this life a time of conversion, 
of breaking bad habits, of self-denial, 
purgatory will have little or even nothing to offer us.
Here’s a prayer that you may want to pray each day:
“Lord, send me here my purgatory.” 

The point Saint Paul wants to make is simple:
Do not make the mistake of thinking this life is all there is.
You and I are meant to live forever.
Moreover, our bodies are not just something 
we throw away or leave behind. 
We will have our bodies back in the resurrection.

And in the Gospel, Jesus warned us not to put too much confidence 
in the usual measures of success: 
Having lots of stuff, being comfortable, 
and having the praise of others.
None of these things will matter in the long run.

Someday, when Christ chooses to draw this phase of history to an end,
 this world will be remade: a new heavens and a new earth.
All people – redeemed or damned – will have their bodies back.
If we are among those who submitted to the Kingship of Jesus Christ, 
then it is a resurrection to life. Otherwise, it is a terrible fate.
Scripture refers to the fate of the damned as a “second death.”

We don’t talk about hell very often. But Jesus talked about it a lot! 
He wants us to take it seriously when he says, 
“Repent, and believe in the Gospel. The Kingdom of God is at hand.”

So Lent is coming, and we have three weeks to gear up.
Since I mentioned purgatory, that’s a good way to understand Lent: 
You and I are seeking our purgatory here and now.
Our sacrifices, penances and extra prayers are tools, 
in service of what Lent truly is about:
Conversion. Change of heart. Change of life. Getting ready for heaven.

The origin of Lent is that it was a time of intense preparation 
for those who were going to be baptized at Easter – 
and that is why they fasted, and prayed intensely, 
and examined their lives so closely.

And for those of us who have been baptized,
Lent is our time to re-embrace our baptism.
So notice: at Easter you will be asked to renew those vows.
It's not a mere ritual; it’s a very solemn moment we take weeks to prepare for.
Those of you who are married -- do you remember the day you made your vows?
Was that a powerful moment? Of course it was!
And I remember the day I was ordained, 
and especially the hour before as I prayed very intensely.
Well, our baptism is far more solemn and important than those events.
And that preparation for renewing our baptism 
parallels what our life on earth is about:
Preparing very seriously and intentionally for heaven.

So, Lent is near. It’s time to get ready.

I want to issue everyone in the parish a challenge:
Let’s make this the best Lent you’ve ever had.
I’m asking that we all unite in that desire – 
and help each other make it happen.

So I want to ask you – every single person here – 
to do two special things.

First: now is the time to think about what your plan for Lent will be.

And, second, I ask everyone to begin praying that this Lent 
will indeed be a powerful time of conversion for our parish. 
Pray for yourself, your family, and for each other. 
Let’s pray for our parish to experience conversion. 

Sunday, February 03, 2019

Speak -- or be silent -- but only out of love (Sunday homily)

Prophet Jeremiah in the cistern (Jeremiah 38). Picture links to where I got it.

Jeremiah had to do it; and so did Jesus.
That is, they had to say things that upset people.

Pretty obviously, of course – 
there is a difference between the “have to do” and the “want to do.” 
That’s where so many of us get messed up.

So let’s get this straight right off the bat:
What happened in the Gospel is not permission to be a jerk.
Let me say that again:
Don’t point to Jesus, or Jeremiah, 
or for that matter, any part of the Bible, as an excuse to be a jerk.

Because that is not what happened in the Gospel.
Yes, Jesus sure did provoke them. They wanted to kill him!
But why did he provoke them? What would justify it?

Jesus was trying to make them think – 
to see something they weren’t seeing, and weren’t going to see, 
unless someone really shocked them out of a kind of mental sleep-walk. 
To get them to say, “wait, what?!?”

A lot of us go online, and maybe we post comments here and there.
Or maybe we get into family discussions and maybe they get heated.

So maybe you’re thinking, 
“yeah, it’s good to stir things up.”
Someone was hurt? “Don’t be a snowflake!”

Well, here’s the test.
Before you say – or post – anything that is going to set people off, 
ask yourself this question: 
Where is the love?

How is what I am saying or doing grounded in love?

And maybe you’ll say, well, I’m saying this because I love God – 
or because I love the truth. So far, so good.

But then take it one more step:
How is what I want to say about loving this person, right here?
Can you answer that question, first?

And more than that, maybe make that the first thing you say?
Instead of leading off with, “Here’s why you’re wrong!”
Try, “Because I care about you, I want to say thus-and-so…” 
and explain why what you’re saying is really about love.

You may not have thought about it this way, 
but everything you and I stand for, as Catholics – 
everything we get beat up for believing – is about love.
Love for real, flesh-and-blood people.

So, for example, we take a stand about what marriage is. 
That, in turn, is directly related to what a man is, what a woman is.
There is a love properly shared between a husband and wife; 
another love, proper for two men, and for two women.
Likewise, yet another love proper being parents and children,
And between brothers and sisters. 

So what are we doing today? Mashing all that up, saying “love is love.”
No, that is a lie.
And encouraging people to live a lie is never the loving thing to do.

Yes, it’s true, Jesus would hit a subject pretty hard.
But never forget: at the very moment he said and did those things, 
he was planning to die on the Cross for those very people!

So that’s the test: how much is what we’re doing and saying 
really about love in a concrete way, for real, living human beings?
And if not, maybe hold our tongue?

Look: some people never speak up. 
So some people listening right now, the message you need to hear 
isn’t to hold back; because that’s what you always do.

The message for you is, speak up! 
Ask the Holy Spirit to give you the courage and the inspiration. 

But some of us – I include myself here – speak up ALL THE TIME.

Before I was in the seminary, there was this girl, and this date.
We were in Virginia, and our plan was an early breakfast, 
and then to drive down to Kings Dominion – like Kings Island here – 
and ride roller coasters all day.

When I woke up that morning I could not talk.
I felt fine otherwise; but no voice. Nothing.
So we went to the park, and for that whole day, 
she had 100% of the conversation. For about 15 hours.
If you knew my friend Mary, you’d know this did not intimidate her!

But here was the great revelation for me:
The world did not stop spinning because it was deprived of my opinions!

More important is to absorb what we hear St. Paul say:
If what you are saying and doing isn’t first and last about love – 
not abstract love, but concrete love of flesh-and-blood people – 
then what is it worth?
Nothing, says Saint Paul.

It’s not the greatest segue, but let’s recall the opportunity 
you and I have for practical, concrete acts of love, right here, 
in the form of the Catholic Ministries Appeal. 

Two weeks ago I talked about the good works this is making possible: 
assisting the poor with food and utilities;
Keeping faith alive for college students, people in prisons and hospitals;
Supporting more priestly vocations, and St. Rita School for the Deaf, 
and the retirement fund for our elderly priests.

Talk about showing love: this isn’t abstract; it isn’t pie-in-the-sky; 
it’s here and now, flesh and blood. 

I spent most of my time today talking about ways our words hurt;
Or we don’t speak at all, when there really is a need.
But let me give you an opportunity, right now, 
To use words in a loving way.
There are envelopes with pledge forms, and pencils, in your pews.
They look like this. If you want to do this now, 
someone will pass it down.

Your words – your name and contact information – 
on this form are an act of love. 
So are the numbers you write on there: 
the amount of financial support for this cause.
You can include a check right now; 
or you can write in your credit information.

I make my check payable to the seminary, 
so that I can direct my gift there.
Without saying how much, I will say my gift is a lot for me.
That doesn’t mean you have to do the same; 
But I want you to know I’m serious about this.

Saturday, February 02, 2019

Chicken report

Let's pick up the thread of my last post. In my account of the Pot Roast, I provided commercial interludes of my chicken preparation. I did not forget the advice given me by my readers after my last quest for chickeny excellence. (By the way, is "chickeny" really the best adjectival form of chicken? Suggestions?) And so, after letting the chicken dry itself in the fridge the past few days, I drew it out today for final preparations.

I ran my fingers carefully between the skin and the flesh, on both sides of the chicken, separating the skin. If you do this, be careful, especially on the breast side, or else you may tear the skin. Then I took some butter and some fresh rosemary, and mashed it all together. I kept some of the rosemary to insert in the cavity, along with a cut up lemon. The rosemary-butter combination I jammed up under the skin. I did tear the skin a bit, but a toothpick works well to hold it together:


After this, I sprinkled a bit of baking powder on both sides, but much less than before. Then I coated everything with generous amounts of olive oil; then generous amounts of coarse salt and freshly ground pepper:


You will notice the chicken is now breast-side down. My usual method is to cook it back up for most of the time, and then flip it breast-up for the last 30 minutes or so. I am going to try this one more time. My goal is to get reasonably good skin on all sides, and I want the breast side on the gravity side of the drippings. But what I don't know is whether I can achieve the excellent skin that I want. We'll see.

And, yes, it would look better if it were trussed, but I figure that the skin gets crispier in more places if it isn't. In the end, I care less about how it looks when it comes out, and more about how it looks and tastes on my plate -- and in my belly!

In a few minutes, I'm going to pop it in the oven at 450 degrees for about a half hour, then turn it way down, as low as possible, because I must leave it unattended while I hear confessions and offer Mass. I'll be back around 6 pm or so.

UPDATE, 8:06 PM...

Here is the chicken, right out of the oven...


And here is the spinach, being sauteed...


So, the chicken was really, really good. Very juicy, just right in every way, except...

The skin wasn't crispy enough. Really good! But, not quite there. The quest continues...

Thursday, January 31, 2019

Cuisine au presbytère de Saint Rémy

Here's what's cooking this week...

Tuesday (I ought to have done this Monday), I began the preparation of a chicken, thus:
 

This is a regular Perdue chicken -- the fattest one in the case -- brined with water, lots of coarse salt, red pepper, and dry rosemary. How much of each? "A lot." Sorry my measurements aren't precise. (If this bothers you, google brine for chicken, and you'll get an idea of the sorts of quantities. The only ingredient I'd worry about not getting right would be the salt, and I don't worry much about that in any case. Also, in case you're wondering, just visible is the package of chicken innards. Those went in the freezer for another day.)

Sometime on Wednesday, the bird came out of its bath, and was placed on a beer-can stand in the fridge, to dry out. We'll check on that in a moment...

Meanwhile, Tuesday's dinner was out. Last night I had a steak. Sorry, no pics, but it was a ribeye, sliced 1-1/2" thick. It ended up being a huge steak; I should have cut it in half, but...it was pretty good. I overcooked it, alas. I'll just have to try again. 

Thankfully, my excellent staff gave me this for Christmas:



Alas, I haven't yet figured out how to use it! After last night's misfire, I am motivated to put it to use. I am sure you are wondering, what's the holdup? I am kind of a klutz at times, and without ample preparation, there's just that chance I'll actually manage to ruin this fine tool the first time out. So I've learned: read the instructions first!

Now to today, around noon. 

I prepared these...


Meanwhile I started melting some bacon fat in a dutch oven ...



Meanwhile, I prepared a portion of Chuck roast, with plenty of ground pepper and coarse salt, and then dredged in flour. Don't be cautious about the seasoning! Go big or go home! Here, I haven't yet floured both sides. But when I did, this went into the sizzling fat.


I tried to get a picture of the meat browning, but it was too dark and steamy. But what you want is to give the meat really good color. Color = flavor. After browning it all around -- even on the edges -- In went the vegetables. Then a container of beef stock, and about a cup or so of dry Vermouth. But any wine will do; but if you use a sweet wine, the sweetness will be concentrated. For whatever reason, I like white wine better for this, but I use anything leftover. This is especially a good use for dry Vermouth, unless you make lots of Martinis, because Vermouth is a wine, and once it's opened, it will slowly degrade. Excellent Martinis demand fresh Vermouth.



So here is the resulting combination, which will soon be Pot Roast.


Also with this went a bunch of dried garlic. I mean, LOTS. Plus a generous amount of red pepper flakes, some Thyme, and some bay leaves. I might have put some Rosemary, but I didn't this time.

This went into the oven at about 250 degrees. I don't really care about the temp, other than not too high, so it doesn't dry out. I've had this cooking about 5 hours now. We'll check it soon...

Remember Smell-O-Vision? No, I don't either, but I didn't make this up. Anyway, I wish I had Smell-O-blogging, because the aroma of this dish has been absolutely wonderful. Better than I remember; I think I haven't used Thyme before. If this ends up tasting even half as good as it smells, I'm keeping Thyme with this recipe.

Meanwhile, I checked on el pollo, which will be dinner either Friday or Saturday:


The goal is to get the skin dry. I think Saturday. At which time, I will resume my pursuit of chickeny excellence. (Should that be "chickenish"? "Chickenlike"? Discuss in comments.) As before, the prep will involve Rosemary, lemon, salt and black pepper, and either butter or oil. I'll try some of the ideas discussed and suggested the last time (see link in last sentence).

By the way, does any of this seem fancy, or luxurious? All these ingredients (well, not the unpictured steak) are reasonably priced and readily available. And all this is really pretty simple, although it does involve some planning. 

Oh, in case you didn't guess at it: the mushrooms were also used with the steak, last night. Here's how I prepared them. I washed them (very important!) and sliced them, not so thin. I prepared a wide fry pan with olive oil and butter; got that bubbling. The temp was medium -- you don't want to cook these too fast or too high, or you'll burn them. The goal is to get some of the moisture out of the mushrooms, and make them the texture you like. Once those go in, I apply generous amounts of garlic. I use garlic powder, because it adds no more moisture. We want less of that. Also some black pepper and salt, and sometimes just a touch of cayenne pepper. 

All that simmers; I turn them over and stir them around, till they look right to me. About ten minutes, which you can easily do while your steak is cooking (another reason to keep the heat not so high, so you don't ruin them by being distracted too long), or even after, while you rest the steak. A delicious side with the steak!

So, the pot roast is nearly finished. I just checked it -- oh, you're going to lick the screen when you scroll down to the picture I'm about to post! Be patient! Meanwhile, you may be thinking, couldn't I make pot roast in a crock pot? Certainly; but I don't own a crock pot, and to be honest, I don't really want one. I have too much stuff on my counter as it is (admittedly, several items I use rather less than I thought I would, such as the ice-cream maker; but oh, how nice that is when I do use it!). Even so, I don't need a crock. My dutch oven in the, er, oven, works just fine. What's more, most of the meals I make involve either the stove top or the grill outside. For example, had it not been so very cold, I'd have grilled my steak. Instead I cooked it in the oven, finishing it on the stove top. And in case you're wondering, the reason I didn't cook outside isn't what you think. It wasn't because I would be cold -- because there is zero need to stand over a steak on the grill. Much better to leave it alone.  Rather, the problem was getting the grill hot enough. The last time I tried to grill in bitter cold weather -- combined with sharp winds -- the grill didn't reach the temp I wanted; worse, once I opened it, it lost about 200 degrees instantly and couldn't climb back up. 

Meanwhile, guess what I did to pass the time? Work? No, silly:



When I first powered it up, it started acting crazy, as if the meat it thought it was measuring the temperature of was being incinerated. Turns out the little plug in the side wasn't all the way in, creating a short.  I also discovered it doesn't approve of me cooking pork medium rare, and so refuses to give me the suitable temperature. Don't impose your morality on me, Digital Food Thermometer!

OK, well, I was just passing time while the pot roast finishes. It's time to unveil the results of today's cooking:


Stop licking the screen! That's disgusting!

What you can't tell from this picture is how tender the meat is. If I wanted to, I could further thicken this gravy, but that means carbs, and I'm trying to avoid those. As it is, this has some flour, and the vegetables have some carbs -- so does wine -- but, overall, this isn't too bad, Adkins Diet-wise.

Here is my plate:



And here is best part: leftovers!


If I were having wine, I'd want something dry, maybe Chianti, or a Cabernet? Really, I'm not good at that sort of thing; especially as I usually just make do with whatever I have on hand. I like wine, and I'm always glad when the server at the restaurant can suggest the right one; but I'm not particularly good at doing that. 

Verdict?

My best Pot Roast yet! I really did want wine with this, but all things considered, I decided to hold off. I have confessions and Benediction yet tonight. As it was, it still needed a little salt -- to my taste, anyway. More flour to make thicker gravy -- and maybe some bread and butter, or hot rolls or biscuits? Hmm. And since I used the Dutch oven, I easily could have tripled this recipe, and served this for a dinner party. Now that I have it just the way I like it, I think I'll do that. (I would probably back off the red pepper a bit; it's at the upper end of what I like, so it would be too much for some.) I may tweak it a bit, but I think this is where I want it.


Sunday, January 27, 2019

Are you ready to be liberated? To help liberate others? (Sunday homily)

Jesus chose this passage to announce: he is the Messiah.
That’s what he did in that synagogue that day.
People were waiting for something like this.
It must have been an electric moment.

Notice what Jesus identifies as the heart of the Gospel:
Liberation. Redemption. Freedom.
But what does that mean?

We know he’s not talking about political freedom.
Jesus never organized a demonstration or circulated a petition.
Not that political freedom isn’t worthwhile – 
but it was not Jesus’s starting point. 

Jesus focused on changing lives.
If you are poor, what counts as good news?
Maybe having that threat of no heat, no water, no home, go away?
A week’s groceries is good news.
Even better news is that you aren’t treated as “less than”; 
that you are treated with dignity; you matter.

Would it shock you to hear that there are people 
who don’t come to St. Remy – 
and the same could be said of Holy Angels, or St. Michael, 
or St. Boniface or St. Mary in Piqua – 
because they think they won’t fit in?

They don’t have nice enough clothes.
They aren’t sure they know anyone who is here.

So if you want to bear “good tidings,” think about people 
who may not feel welcome in “our” circle – and change that.

Who are the “captives” to set free? Lots of people.
What about folks who need alcohol – too much?
Or people hooked on food? Or sports, or work? 

How about addiction to the Internet? 
Either to the latest news, the latest gossip or outrage 
on Facebook and Twitter;
or to dark materials on websites
you don’t want anyone else to know you look at.

How do we get free from these addictions?
Only Jesus Christ can set us free.
Only he can give you and me the strong enough “want to,” 
to be willing to change what needs to be changed, 
to confess our sins without holding back,
and be willing to ask another human being to help.

Alcoholics Anonymous originated something called the Twelve Steps. 
And the first step goes like this:
“We admitted to ourselves that we were powerless over alcohol – 
that our lives had become unmanageable.”

People in AA recite that, and the rest of the Twelve Steps, 
to one another in regular meetings.

A lot of people are captive precisely because 
they aren’t ready to take that first step. 
How does this work?
The obvious starting place is the Sacrament of Confession.
After that is looking for people we trust who we can talk to.

Jesus wants to set people free. 
He asks you and me to be the face of that liberation;
To be the hands that help lift people out of the prisons of their shame.

I am convinced that lots of people – here, listening to me right now –
could experience that freedom, 
if only they are willing to open up to another human being and say,
“I need help. I’m addicted to…” fill in the blank.
“And I need a partner to hold me accountable and help me get free.”

How does this work?

Well, I’m in the confessional about six hours each week.
I’d be thrilled to be forced to add more hours. Keep me busy?

But after that, then all of us – all 1,600 parishioners of St. Remy – 
it’s on all of us. 

Are you ready for a friend or family member to come to you?
To trust you?
Ready to say, I’ll listen; I won’t judge or reject you?
I’ll keep my ears wide open and mouth tight shut?

Twelve-step groups are all around for alcohol.
For people dealing with drug addiction, 
there are meetings in Piqua, Greeneville and Sidney.
For people wrestling with porn and similar addictions, 
meetings are harder to come by, but there some, 
along with online resources.

I prepared a blue sheet that looks exactly like this.
This has websites for Alcoholics Anonymous, 
Gamblers Anonymous, Narcotics Anonymous and Sex Addicts Anonymous.
These will be in the confessional. Help yourself.

These Twelve Step resources are one tool to help,
Along with prayer, confession and Christian fellowship.
There are things we can do to be set free – if you are ready.

In the first reading, when Ezra was reading God’s Word to his People, they were crying! 
Why did they cry?
Because they realized how far they were, in their lives, 
from what God had for them.

But remember what Nehemiah said:
“Do not be saddened: 
because rejoicing in the Lord must be your strength.”

Jesus coming to be with us, to bring us complete forgiveness, 
and to give us the Holy Spirit to strengthen us –
That is our joy. 
Sadness? Because we’ve missed out? 
Because of what enslaves us and others? Absolutely.
But replace that sorrow for sin with rejoicing for mercy!
Christ forgives! Christ liberates! Christ is with us to set us free!

Wednesday, January 23, 2019

About the Covington Catholic Boys

This article in Reason looks like the most balanced and dispassionate account of this now infamous event. Based on this, I think everyone who vilified these boys should be ashamed of themselves and apologize. It looks like they face libel suits if they do not.

Here's a key quote by the author:

It would be impossible to definitively state that none of the young men did anything wrong, offensive, or problematic, at some point, and maybe the smiling student was attempting to intimidate Phillips. But there's shockingly little evidence of wrongdoing, unless donning a Trump hat and standing in a group of other people doing the same is now an act of harassment or violence. Phillips' account, meanwhile, is at best flawed, and arguably deliberately misleading.

I might point out that Reason.com is really neither right-wing or left-wing; the folks there are libertarian and line up either conservative or liberal, depending on the issue.

And, I might further point out that since this article, Mr. Phillips has been caught in some lies and shifting stories, so his credibility is, I think, shot. On the other hand, the statements made by the boys in the situation seem to line up with the video, so their credibility looks pretty good.

Let me also add that elsewhere, Glenn Beck laid out a minute-by-minute account. And he makes an additional point: the crazy-vile-vicious "Black Israelites," who are the real bigots and haters in this story, were initially directing their vile attacks on the Native American group -- not the high school boys, who were just a handful at the beginning. In his account, the boys' cheers were intended to drown out the hate; meaning, they were trying to be helpful to the "Indigenous Peoples" group. You may not like Beck; I don't necessarily like or agree with him. But you are welcome to refute him.

Also: at least one of the high school boys in the group was African-American, and the "Black Israelites" singled him out, calling him the n-word and saying his so-called friends were going to kill him. His friends -- who have been libeled before the world as racists, stood by him, hugged him and can be heard saying on the tape, "but we love you!"

There are a lot of people who have backed away from their initial attacks, but rather than apologize, pure and simple, they hemming and hedging, while they latch onto whatever the latest rumor or innuendo is that might discredit the Covington Catholic boys, even by the loosest association, all in order to avoid the right thing, which is a clean, full, unambiguous apology.

I was really sorry to see the bishop of Covington and the administrators of Covington Catholic High School react so rashly and throw their students under the bus. That decision is nearly impossible to defend. Again, all they had to do was say, we take this very seriously and we want to know what happened. We are going to find out. After their first, rash statement, they did issue a second statement that was more measured. I'm hopeful that after a full investigation, they will -- if the facts bear it out -- give a genuine apology.

Folks on the left better wise up. This sort of thing isn't going to be forgotten. Lots and lots of parents, who aren't particularly political, are watching this and saying, "that could have been my son." The scary and sad thing is that all this plays precisely into the hands of "white nationalist" nutballs. Think their recruiting is going well this week?

Oh, and by the way, anyone notice what I did? I waited. Lots of (self-) important people couldn't move fast enough to share their hot takes with the whole world. Do they imagine that if they don't, something terrible will happen? What egos they must have! I'm beginning to think the most dangerous place to be is in the path between Father James Martin and a microphone or his ability to send a tweet.

But it isn't just celebrities and professional opinionators who are guilty of this. Lots of people, including friends of mine and relatives, are awfully quick to share a sensational video or news item or whatever on Facebook or Twitter or wherever else. You might want to learn to forebear. First, as a matter of conscience. If I had helped smear these high school boys, I would not sleep well and I would be racked with thoughts of what I needed to do to put it right. As President Calvin Coolidge said, no one ever got in trouble for what he didn't say. Hyperbole, but it makes the point. Sometimes the right thing to do is to keep your yap tightly shut. The world will get along just fine without your immediate contribution.

But if not for conscience, then for your own well-being. The pendulum is going to swing on this, and sooner or later, there will be consequences for those who thoughtlessly or recklessly participate in these pile-ons. I'm not an attorney, but I'm guessing that you don't have to be anyone famous to be sued. If you post something online, I'm betting you can be held responsible.