Monday, December 8, 2014

... said the pot to the kettle ...

Our fave Cub Reporter has posted seven (and counting) pieces in recent days regarding the Rolling Stone piece on the University of Virginia fraternity rape story.  Those pieces began with the hook-line-sinker piece entitled "A Fraternity of Rape" but has now closed in on the dangers of shoddy journalism and its defenders.  Fair enough -- many (including yours truly) followed the same path as the story waxed and has now waned.

In one of today's pieces, Dreher offers the following analysis:

If you have a reporter or an editor who believes her own activism and therapy is more important than observing basic journalistic standards of diligent fact-checking and fairness, you have a very big problem. ...

However righteous your cause may be, if you allow your passion for it to turn you into this kind of journalist -- which is to say, a propagandist -- then you are a liability to your employer, your profession, and to yourself. 

Sound advice, if plenty harsh.

But let's hearken back just a few months, tho, (seems like only yesterday) to the dust-up over another shaky piece of journalism, namely the alleged tossing of the bodies of 800 children into a sewer by nuns.  Dreher tosses out McCarthy-like "facts-which-if-true" like this:

If this is true, one concern is that doctors, with the consent of the directors of these homes, allowed illegitimate Irish children to be used as guinea pigs, presumably because in the eyes of the Irish church and Irish society at the time, they lacked full human dignity.

Of course, he followed this up with a bold-type "This has not been proven, but ...".  Meaning that the story is fake but accurate, I guess.  And here's why it was justified, according to Dreher at the time:

I say in this post that I regret being quick to believe the worst, and I have updated the story all along as more counterinformation has come out.  This is a blog.  This is how it works.  I added in this context as to why it's very easy to believe the worst about the behavior of the Irish church -- not to justify it, but to explain how it happens.  It doesn't require "anti-Catholic bias" to expect the worst when it comes to the behavior of the Irish church.  It just requires an awareness of its recent history. -- RD

College fraternities get a better shake from him than does the Catholic Church.  Because .... well .... an awareness of recent history .... uh .... they just do, I guess.

Those who want to read Rod Dreher for the serious substance of his work had better have a short memory.  Remembering too many of his pieces in the past will tangle up your mind in knots pretty quickly -- that is, until you realize that he is merely about whatever style and fashion strikes his fancy on any given day.  Nothing more.


  1. How much would it cost to run ads in the Archdicoese of Washington's paper? I think we should let people know what type of people work at The American Conservative. Jonathan Carpenter

  2. The Texas Catholic has the following add rates.

    Jonathan Carpenter

    1. Jonathan, it's not worth it. People in the general public would say "Rod Dreher -- who?"

      You could write letters to the editors complaining; maybe they'd publish them.

      The best thing to do -- IMHO -- is to send some links to the Catholic League, complaining about his Tuam hoax coverage, his bishop smears, etc. William Donohue knows how to apply the pressure if he decides a situation warrants it.

  3. Let me be succinct: Dreher is "Jackie".

    Much as I love to poke fun at him for getting his "pants pulled down" by "bullies" during his legendary high school field trip, there's simply no evidence that that episode ever actually occurred. No one from his home town has ever signed off on that tale, have they? And yet that was an event attended by scores of locals, many of which are no doubt living there right now and probably went on the same field trip. Who's class? What were the chaperones names, regardless of Dreher's allegations? These would be easily verifiable facts if they in fact occurred.

    In fact, one wonders if this might not be the headwaters of Dreher's fabulism since: he discovers he can write movingly about events he can create or edit himself, so movingly that no one bothers to ask, "Wait a minute, whose field trip were you on?"

    "Well," he might answer, "I don't want to implicate the teacher by name." And the inquiry stops there, when the proper response is "Oh, don't worry, your confirming a field trip led by a real, existing teacher actually occurred won't in itself implicate anyone in in anything." But no one bothers to fact-check that tiny little, completely neutral basis.

    From there, with the heady perfume of one's own farts dilating the nostrils, pathological fabulism comes to be limited only by opportunity, and the liability rarely exceeds 50%, that is, half of its recipients remain so moved by the Scandal, or the Irish children, or whatever that the other half never gain the sort of critical majority that did, say, Stephen Glass in.

    Just being able to verify or falsify that one, seminal but apocryphal tale of a lad bullied in mysteriously undetailed ways on a high school field trip would work wonders on understanding everything he's spun since.

    1. Or particularly with respect to this, maybe Rod Dreher is Lena Dunham.

      For years, Dreher has been claiming there were St.Francisville (or was it that private school?) boy-Dreher molestation-enabling teachers and/or chaperones and giving enough specific detail of the timing of the trip relative to his age to implicate real people employed at the time.

      Where's the proof?

      Anyone having participated in or having any knowledge of Rod Dreher's long-alleged "high school field trip bullying incident", including dates and names of participants and in particular any adults in positions of responsibility, should contact EQE.

    2. This

      "When I think about the bullying I endured in high school, the most indelible image on my mind is being pinned to the floor and tortured in a hotel room on a school trip, and the two adult women chaperones in the room literally stepping over me, lying there screaming for them to help me, as they left the hotel room."

      is the specific incident I'm soliciting details about. Good Lord, the boy was tortured. Surely somewhere there's a torture incident report.

    3. Those composite characters are the worst torturers around. And the worst thing is you can't press charges. Because they don't exist.

    4. Good call, Keith. Dreher has done this before, with his personal 9/11 heroics summarized here and since updated.

      And if the "torture" that Dreher endured wasn't severe enough for adult female chaperones to notice, I'd guess it was more like tickling into submission than it was like pulling fingernails out. Just sayin'.

      And it was sick of him to bring himself into the sad tragic story of the poor girl who was bullied to suicide.

      P.S. Having said that, does it really matter? This is Dreher, after all. It doesn't matter whether what he says is true, it only matters that he said it.

    5. On the morning of the Democrats releasing their report on torture, after having posted these comments I toyed with the idea of converting them into their own post. I may still.

      Here's how serious this really is:

      - Dreher was born in 1967.

      - He attended high school at an actual high school, the Louisiana School for Math, Science, and the Arts

      - If he started first grade at 6, that would have been 1967 + 6 = 1973

      - Starting high school 8 years later would make the opening bracket of the episode 1981

      - Therefore, Rod Dreher is publicly claiming that, between the years 1981 and 1985 (give or take a year on each end), two female chaperones employed or formally engaged by the Louisiana School for Math, Science, and the Arts allowed a student in their care to be tortured

      - Dreher, long a professional writer as of this 2010 Beliefnet article, is using the same word being used to indict the CIA in the report being released today

      - How serious was the liability Dreher has, at least since this 1010 Beliefnet piece, accused the Louisiana School for Math, Science, and the Arts of enabling through its negligent chaperonesa? Why, any thing from being physically burned with cigarettes to being brutally sodomized

      - If the story is true, school records will reveal there were specific real, identifiable women who enabled this torture.

      - If the story is false, Rod Dreher has libeled the Louisiana School for Math, Science, and the Arts

    6. My husband taught history, Latin, and Greek at the Louisiana School for Math, Science & the Arts during the very years Rod was there.

      I was employed there part-time doing public relations.

      Neither of us heard of ANY torture report.

    7. Furthermore...I thought Rod *loved* La School. I seem to remember reading that he welcomed the chance to be among his intellectual equals -- away from the mean old rednecks of Saint Francisville. I thought he found it freeing and healing...?

      La School was Nerd City, so I doubt he would have been picked on there for nerdiness.

      Very strange.

    8. Here's the full post on the topic. I think this is a valid question to ask. The female chaperones were enabling the "torture", sort of like "bishops".

  4. Here's a link to our stuff re: Tuam hoax & Dreher's coverage.