The Courage to Have a Face

Insert Face Here

“He that hideth hatred with lying lips, and he that uttereth a slander, is a fool.-Proverbs 10:18

To elaborate briefly on the post immediately preceding this one, it is hard to overstate the role that anonymity played in the damage inflicted by Being anonymous allowed the writers at OCA Truth to receive information without revealing who they were, and to launch attacks with impunity against whomever they chose. The domain name was registered with a proxy, shielding the true registrant-owners of the domain from public visibility, likely requiring a court order to lift the veil of secrecy. Further, disabled comments, even though the site is a blog. Thus, for anyone to counterattack required any critic either a) to have his own site, or b) to post in other venues. Both options forced respondents to stick their heads up out of the foxhole, becoming ready targets for more attacks from The shill names used at sites like enabled them to lure others into revealing their objections.

In short, was a nest of snipers drawing out their prey with a steady stream of half-truths, innuendo, unsupported accusations, taunts (“C’mon Fr. Bieberdorff [sic]“), and invective. Worse, having been flushed out, OCA Truth has withdrawn two damaging posts with the excuse that the information disclosed falls under the seal of the confessional.

What kind of leadership is that? Cowardly leadership (whether misguided or malicious), facilitated by anonymity.

But it must be observed that, with regard to anonymity, Jesse Cone (“Parishioner” at OCA Truth) held a different position as recently as December [emphasis mine]:

I fail to see how any of us can responsibly say whether or not Fr. Fester is trying to gloss over anything, and I fail to see how Fr. Fester’s assignment to DC has received any credible objections. Suspicions? Sure. But if you’re not in a place to know, you don’t know. And if you do know for sure, what would give just reason to accuse a member of the priesthood? If you cannot even sign your name to such an accusation, is it really responsible to publically denounce a fellow Christian and stir up suspicion and distrust in others?

Rod Dreher (“Muzhik” at OCA Truth) likewise had a different opinion, back in April 2009 [emphasis and notes mine]:

I would also like to add, for the sake of clarification, that the question of Syosset and the old days is a separate issue. My objection stated here is solely about the gross impropriety, cowardice and destructiveness of the [anonymous] “Humble and Obedient” post. If someone had posted a similar anonymous attack on Fr. John, and had called on the cathedral parish to rise up against him, I promise you I would be equally disgusted.

One of the things that so impressed me about the way many priests and laymen of the OCA handled the mess with Met. Herman is how they were bold enough to sign their names to their criticism. When I was a Catholic, and a journalist writing about the sex abuse scandal, I heard from priests and laymen all the time who had truly shocking and terrible things to report. I believed then, and believe now, that they were telling me the truth. But I couldn’t report any of it unless they were willing to put their name to the criticism of particular bishops, priests, et al. Their views and information, however passionately held and grounded in fact, were useless gossip. And for all I know, they had it wrong. That they wouldn’t say what they felt needed saying in public, with their names attached to it, said a lot about the credibility of their accusations. It is perhaps understandable, to an extent, when a priest or layman whose income depends on not crossing church leaders is hesitant to stand up. But that didn’t stop many OCA priests during the Herman mess. What’s stopping this anonymous attacker of Fr. Joseph from identifying himself or herself now, and letting all of us at the cathedral be the judge of his or her credibility?

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