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Thursday, August 22, 2013

Let's Talk About it, Part II

There was some good feed back from a few people. Thanks. Please keep it coming.

So far, my opinion in a big fat 'Nay.' What has really moved me was the sudden implication that I have 'reason' for defending Bishop Wingle in the comments section of Sylvia's Site.

Yesterday I had written this in her comments section:

I find this entry a little disturbing. Very Stalin-esque. I hope I don’t actually have anything in common with someone who did something bad – like eat at the same fast-food restaurant!
Sure, we are all curious about Bishop Wingle’s sudden disappearance, but that gives us no right to make the kind of suggestion you seem to be making. What if he had a nervous breakdown? Is this helping him any?

Sylvia, gracious as always, responded:

I assure you there is nothing sinister in posting this information and asking a few questions. For the past three years many Catholics throughout Ontario have been wondering where Bishop Wingle is and why his sudden and mysterious disappearance. In this day and age that is not the way to deal with a resignation of this nature. He is a public figure. While many people in the Pembroke area may know exactly why the bishop resigned and where he has been and what he has been doing for the past three years, many more in the Pembroke area and beyond do not.

And then a little later a third party wrote:

Further to my previous statement, why are you so concerned about helping him, Colin? What about the victims down in the St. Catherines/Hamilton way. Do they not need help first? (Emphasis added by me) 

To which I then responded:

Invent your own reason for my ‘why.’ I guess I have something to hide. Maybe I too have done some shameful things…
Or, I just think it’s wrong to assume the worst about people.
And what about you, Mike, are you trying to divert attention away from yourself by attacking Wingle? Come to think about it, where were you the night of… I am starting to wonder about you.

Not good, my friends. It is not relevant why I am 'defending' Bishop Wingle, is it? Every Canadian has a moral obligation to presume innocence so long as it is remotely reasonable to do so. I know several people - even people I would consider friends - who have been hurt by abuse, clerical abuse. That too is irrelevant. Also, against many requests urging me to remove Sylvia from the blog roll, I kept her on for about two years. Even still my motives are suspect to some. How dare I defend a priest! I have friends who are victims of clerical abuse. I also have friends, dear friends, who are clergy. I do not have friends who are Muslim, but, even still, I certainly would not paint all Muslim with the jihad brush. 

In sum, people have all sorts of reasons for wanting to preserve their privacy. It is unethical to publicly provide the worst interpretation of this. 

Unless someone can really change my thinking at this point, Sylvia will be removed shortly.

All of this reminds me of a corny, but nevertheless poignant, episode of Star Trek: The Next Generation:

The clip makes more sense if you've seen the whole episode.


  1. I just hope you are willing to take the same stance with other blogs if the topic is not clerical sex abuse but trolling if other kinds.

    1. I had to look up the definition of trolling. My example was an instance of trolling, perhaps, but my point was about slander. One could troll without slandering. But I am not a blog policeman. I give very wide latitude on the SCCB. Sylvia came onto my radar only after having received several complaints. I like free speech, and relative to most define the limits of speech very loosely.

    2. I, too, like free speech and I think your intervention in the comments section and here is the appropriate way to deal with bad or questionable speech----to shed the light of day on it and to make people think. There could come a time with some commentators or blogs where you have the pull the plug and there is no obligation on your part to host anyone on the blog roll or in your comments section who repeatedly says things that are out of line.

      As for Bishop Wingle, I remember him with fondness as a loving, fatherly bishop and I was most sorry to see him suddenly step down. Though I have no more inside information than anyone else, I suspect the nervous breakdown or extreme depression explanation for his unexplained departure. And if that's the case, I'm glad he is feeling well enough to come back to parishes near where he grew up to celebrate Mass from time to time. As for his time as a probation officer, like you, Colin, I reject guilt by association implications. I happen to know someone, an elderly holy priest from another denomination, who knew the young James Wingle when he was a probation officer---in fact they were both probation officers if I recall correctly, and he has nothing but good to say about him.

  2. My few, fleeting encounters with him would lead me to describe him as you have. Thanks, Deborah. And thanks all who have commented both here and to my email.