Sunday, April 27, 2014

The Obligation of Truth

The social media being what it is, I tend to see a lot of political emails, Facebook posts etc go by. A lot of them make claims that certain politicians or groups do or say horrific things that every decent person should be disgusted by.

I don't pass them on without investigating them first. I may, for example, find Obama's policies reprehensible while seeking to live in accordance with what I believe.  However that does not allow me to pass on false information as a means of opposing those things he does that I must call evil.

There are some issues that we must be aware of:
■ We may never knowingly choose to do an evil act so good may come of it.
■ To pass on statements without investigating whether or not it is true is negligence.
■ We must understand the context of words and actions that seem so shocking before using them to judge.

These are things that I wish people would apply to the information passed on about the Catholic Church. There is a lot of outright lies being passed on concerning what the Church has allegedly taught or done that horrify people.   There is also a lot of stories going on about individuals who are Catholic and did terrible things... and these things are portrayed as if they were part of Church teaching instead of as the aberrations they are.

Here's the problem. To pass on statements you know are false is to be guilty of slander/libel. To pass on false statements you could investigate but don't makes you guilty of libel/slander through negligence.  The same applies to knowing or negligent passing on of out of context information.

This is not something theoretical. It's not relegated to the crude and cartoonish libel of Jack Chick. Today, we have people who make false statements about what we believe and our motivation for holding our beliefs. We're homophobic in our teaching about marriage, we're anti-woman about our beliefs on contraception and abortion.  False history and out of context examples are given as "proof."

It's funny how people will immediately look to when a politician they favor is maligned but can't be bothered to try and find out the truth behind anti-Catholic statements. Or, if they "research," they look at sites they ideologically agree with -- which is like asking the Tea Party for objective information on Obamacare or NARAL about Operation Rescue.

Regardless of who is the target, whether or not we like them, the obligation is to learn what is true, and only pass on what is true.

Think about it...

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