Simcha Fisher, author of The Sinner’s Guide to Natural Family Planning writes for several publications and blogs daily at Aleteia. She lives in New Hampshire with her husband and ten children. Without supernatural aid, she would hardly be a human being.
When my daughter was about three, she went into the bathroom and locked the door. Then I heard a shriek. She burst through the door and yelled, "Somebody bite me!" Sure enough, there on her arm were two perfect semi-circles of teeth marks where someone had bitten her.
But no one else was in the bathroom. She had bitten herself. And she was mad about it.
This is more or less what happens every day in the Catholic blogosphere. The latest example of self-inflicted bite wounds: The Lepanto "Institute" reported the other day that the World Meeting of Families was being infiltrated with a gay agenda. The evidence? The contact person for Talley Management, which is the third party company responsible for managing the logistics for vendors at the event, is a lesbian. The Lepanto Institute noticed some fine print in the vendor form that says:
Show management reserves the right to determine the eligibility of any Company or Product to exhibit in the show and further reserves the right to reject any application and/or limit space to any one Company.
The Lepanto Institute read this bit of standard legalese and sounded the alarm:
[T]o place an individual whose very lifestyle is the complete antithesis of the most basic tenets of Catholic moral teaching in such a position is to pose a great danger to the integrity of the event. A shepherd may as well make a wolf responsible for guarding the gate of a sheepfold.
What kind of wolfish behavior could a lesbian event manager engage in? Would she refuse any vendor who makes reference to the Holy Family, and give pride of place to things with rainbows on them? That would definitely be a bad thing. But is it actually happening?
One way to find out would be to pick up the phone and call either the management company, or someone at the World Meeting of Families and ask, "So, is Teresa Matozzo really in charge of choosing who will and won't be allowed to have a display at WMoF?" You could even call Matozzo herself and ask her what her job actually is.
That's what you do when you're a reporter trying to get the facts straight: you get in touch with the people you're reporting on. Sometimes you find out that your hunch was right: there really is something fishy going on, and then you write a story about it, so the public is well informed. But sometimes, you get some clarification, and you realize that there really is no story here, and you have nothing to write about.
Or, if you're a self-biter, you assume the worst and run with it, without bothering to gather any information, because that would slow you down. You even encourage your readers to do what you didn't do, and actually contact the diocese. This is what the Lepanto Institute did.
And thus poor Kenneth Gavin, the Director of Communications from the Archdiocese of Philadelphia, is tasked with politely explaining that there is, in fact, no story here. In a statement provided to the Catholic News Agency, Gavin said:
“[Tulley Management has] been contracted for logistical support and nothing else. All exhibits are vetted by our content team which is thoroughly Catholic, and we've turned away a variety of potential exhibitors on both right and left that don't fit the tone of the event."
“In fact they don’t have any influence on WMOF content,” he stressed.
The CNA article points out:
In the terms and conditions page for prospective exhibitors, it states that the show manager is working under the advisement of the Archdiocese of Philadelphia and the World Meeting of Families.
“In keeping with the Catholic mission of this event, all materials and products being promoted, distributed or sold at the World Meeting of Families must be in conformity with the Magisterial teaching of the Catholic Church,” the terms and conditions state.
There is simply no story. The scary, hijacking, infiltrating, agenda-driven lesbian wolf is the person who answers the phone, maybe handles legal contracts, maybe figures out where to rent all those folding tables and who's responsible if someone steps on a carelessly dropped push pin. The World Meeting of Families is the one who decides who gets to have a spot at the World Meeting of Families. Period.
When I first stumbled across this bogus controversy, my inclination was to ignore it. But here's the thing: To the public, how an event gets reported is a thousand times more important than the event itself. If you read through the list of speakers (inclduding, to my amazement, me. It's an honor to speak, and I'm not getting paid) and topics at the WMoF, if you read the special catechism prepared for it, there is zero reason to imagine that there is a pro-gay agenda at the event. But if I were a homosexual activist who wanted some attention, I could easily make the general public believe that there is an anti-gay agenda at WMoF. I could twist every speech title, dig up old social media photos, cherry pick phrases and take comments out of context. If my goal were to make WMoF primarily about gay issues, I could make that happen. It's all about how you report it.
This is exactly what the Lepanto Institute is doing. It's reporting on WMoF in such a way that it appears that there is a gay agenda -- and voila, there is. The amount of gayness at WMoF becomes the story, even though there is zero evidence of any gay agenda, and a plethora of evidence that the WMoF is just what it says it is: a "faithful celebration of the family—the sanctuary of love and life." But folks like the one-man band at the Lepanto Institute are introducing a gay agenda into the World Meeting of Families. They're the infiltrators, the hijackers. They're the wolf at the gate, eager to lay waste to something wholesome and good.
Enough. Enough with the self-inflicted bite wounds. I understand that it really hurts when those teeth sink into your flesh, but the best way to avoid this pain is to stop biting yourself.