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Thursday, August 5, 2021

The Loaded Language Church Militant Uses Against the SSPX

Do you read the dictionary? Look up calumny and slander!

My mom loved words. She loved words so much she used to read the dictionary. I absorbed a large vocabulary and impeccable grammar at my mother's knee. When I took the SATs in high school I scored high on English, not because I knew all the rules, but because I knew what "sounded right." I also learned to use words properly -- the right word at the right time in the right context. My mom never used loaded language to manipulate others; she was too honest. Words were too important not to treat them with respect and use them with integrity.

Sad to say, Church Militant are experts at using loaded language to manipulate viewers to adopt whatever their goal of the moment happens to be. (In my discussion below I've highlighted the loaded language including my own.)

What is loaded language and how can you tell when it's being used? First, the definition: loaded language is rhetoric that goes beyond the literal meaning of words to evoke a strong emotional response based on positive or negative connotations. It is often used deliberately to manipulate the opinions of the viewer or reader. 

How can you recognize its use? Sometimes it's more than obvious. Think of Joe Biden, Anthony Faucci, et al claiming the unvaccinated are "killing people." It's patently false, but it supports their goal of pushing the jab. It encourages those who think everyone should vaccinate to attack "the killers." 

What do you do with killers? You put them in jail and a number of journalists and man-in-the-street Americans are now calling for that. As our cities see increasing homicides, the real "killers," according to Democrats, are those who refuse an experimental drug that has actually killed and harmed tens of thousands. They also label all Trump supporters as "insurrectionsts" and "domestic terrorists" many of whom simply wandered around the Capitol on January 6th while government agents urged them to commit crimes.

The unvaccinated are "killing people," Man!

Using loaded language can certainly be a sin against the 8th Commandment. It's often used to magnify an argument that lacks solid evidence to support it. Christine Niles of Church Militant has depended on loaded language throughout her "investigation" of the SSPX to imply things for which she has little, if any, proof. (I could have used the words "witch hunt" instead of "investigation" which would be an example of loaded language. Frankly, I think that's what Church Militant is doing, but I'm trying to minimize using loaded language myself in this post.) 

One of the most egregious examples of Niles' manipulation occurred in her Spotlight video/transcript,  SSPX: ‘SYMPATHETIC TO PERVERTS.’ The title itself is a perfect example of loaded language. What is your emotional response as you read it? Consider the difference if the title was simply: Sex Abuse Claims against the SSPX. Not the same emotional response at all! 

One of the most egregious and shameful examples in the piece is when Niles says that Archbishop Marcel Lefebvre was so "enamored" by a seminarian, that he flew to the U.S. to ordain him. Wow! Talk about locked and loaded to manipulate her readers! 

What does the word enamored mean? "Inflamed with love, charmed, and captivated." What is the connotation? Obviously, Niles was implying that the founder of the SSPX, a society described throughout her series as a "sect," a "cult," a "breakaway group," a "bastion of corruption," etc. was also one of the "perverts" she describes in her series.  Where is her proof from the saintly founder's life? There is none, but she plants the seeds of doubt. If you only knew....

What Niles neglected to say, while she implied that the archbishop had a perverted relationship with the priest (dirty snicker here) was that the archbishop was the only one who could ordain the young man since he was the only SSPX bishop at the time. But providing that crucial piece of information wouldn't support the picture of the SSPX as a bunch of perverts planning their next orgy of sex abuse. (Sorry, I know that's a loaded phrase, but that's exactly what Voris and Niles seem to be going for in their "investigation" of the SSPX.) 

"Enamored" was just the right word to plant in readers' minds the despicable idea that Archbishop Lefebvre was a sexual predator founding a corrupt order of predators. CM edited their article on April 29, 2020 following the Mike Church show interviewing Matt Gaspers. They removed the word "enamored" from the transcript along with the statement about the bishop flying to the U.S. to ordain him. They also corrected an error of fact that Gaspers discussed. That's the convenient thing about electronic reporting; it's easy to change to eliminate embarrassing mistakes or errors in judgment. 

Here's what CM wrote: "Editor's Note, 4/29/2020: A prior version of this transcript included the erroneous statement that Fr. Douglas Laudenschlager was the first U.S. priest to be ordained by Abp. Lefebvre. We have since learned he was among the first and have revised the transcript to reflect that." Nothing said about removing the statement that the archbishop was so enamored by the priest that he flew to the U.S. to ordain him.  Convenient transcript editing. Just drop it down the memory hole. Unfortunately, it's still in the video which I downloaded. Sorry, Christine, you should have edited the video like you've done with others!]

The sad thing is that there are some facts in the article about SSPX sex abusers who are, in fact, abusers, and were criminally charged. Straightforward reporting would identify the real abusers and include solid evidence to support the accusations. But facts with evidence and suppositions with no evidence are so mixed up in CM's reporting, it becomes almost impossible to separate what's fact-based from what is nothing but accusations with little or no substance. Is this just sloppy journalism or a deliberate and malicious strategy to smear every priest in the SSPX? 

I found this section of the piece interesting in my exploration of loaded language. I've interrupted the paragraphs with my comments in red:

But eyewitnesses are now coming forward and cooperating with investigators, who are knocking loudly on the SSPX's doors. [Okay..who are these "eyewitnesses?" Are they credible? Do they have solid evidence? Let's just consider Jassy Jacas, whom Niles has put front and center to support a wide range of accusations about which Jacas knows nothing. Jacas says a lot of things that are highly improbable. She claims the Kansas Bureau of Investigation (KBI) is investigating eight Society priests. How would she know? Does the KBI discuss on-going investigations with young girls? Her reporting of conversations with the Society leadership is also implausible. Would these Society priests really engage in the kinds of conversations she claims? Niles lets Jacas go on and on without asking for proof: emails, text messages, photos, telephone recordings, etc. Nope, just takes her word for it all. With regard to Fr. Duverger, the only priest Jacas has first hand information about, he is only accused of "grooming" her, an opinion she came to long after her association with him a decade ago. She has stated publicly that he did nothing criminal, only made her uncomfortable by asking explicit questions about her sexuality. She also told Niles that he urged her to confront her abusing cousin and ask that he seek her forgiveness and also to talk to her parents. What kind of abuser grooms a potential victim by telling her to talk to her parents? Unless, of course, Jacas wants to accuse her parents of being accessories to the grooming.

The Society is scrambling, doing damage control, engaged in a charm offensive with supporters and donors, using whatever Catholic social media personalities they can dupe into carrying their water — all while hiding a crisis in its ranks. [This sentence is a prime example of loaded language. Is there really a "crisis" that the Society is "scrambling" to cover up? Are they really engaging in a "charm offensive" whatever that is? The SSPX is suffering the same challenges as the rest of the Church and have taken steps to assure stronger protections are put in place for the future. They have about 600 priests. How many alleged priest abusers is CM talking about? They mention nine in this article from around the world, and three layman. a whopping 1.5% of SSPX priests. A few of those mentioned have been convicted and jailed; others are simply accused. Keep in mind that most of what CM is reporting happened 20-30 years ago. That doesn't make abuse less egregious and the story of Michael Gonzales' suicide opening the article is heart-wrenching. As someone who lost a loved one to suicide who was the same age, I want whoever abused that boy brought to justice! But to take a handful of cases and use them to discredit hundreds of priests and tens of thousands of laity is irresponsible. The St. Mary's Police Department, also implicated by CM, published a press release a few days after the "Sympathetic to Perverts" article was posted disputing CM's claims that they "mishandled" the investigations. While they don't name CM, it's clear they are talking about this Spotlight.]

The SSPX survives by appealing to largely innocent, tradition-minded Catholics who have a love for the ancient rites of the Church, in contrast to the often outrageous scenes in more modern parishes.... Many SSPX followers, while perhaps viewing themselves as very different from, even superior to, more modern-minded Catholics do sadly share a very common bond: They are victims, on many different levels. [Sorry, CM, I don't consider myself a "victim." Talk about loaded language to create a false impression - that all the laity involved with the SSPX are naive and ignorant "victims" of the nefarious and corrupt SSPX. Besides, we are all holier than thou hypocrites who consider ourselves "superior" to everyone else. That is nothing but calumny, "a false statement made to injure another's reputation."]

An organization that depends on loaded language to tell their stories is like the grocery store tabloid with headlines about aliens. You cannot accept what they say without verification and validation. Catholics need to be critical thinkers. I urge you to be a critical thinker when you read this blog. If I write something you believe is factually wrong, tell me. If you can demonstrate that I have my facts wrong I'll correct them and apologize. Obviously you can disagree with my opinions, but that's a different story. Be sure you know the difference!  

My first title for this piece was "The Loaded Language Church Militant Uses to Spin Their Web Against the SSPX." That, friends, is loaded language, so I changed it. We all use loaded language at times. But when we do it in a way that damages reputations and instills false impressions about people, it's time to get in the confession line to accuse ourselves of calumny and detraction. We all have a right to our good name.

Before closing I want to mention a Vortex piece CM did about a month after the "pervert" Spotlight. "Why the Silence, Trads?" was its title and Michael Voris outdid himself using loaded language, contempt, and self-righteous posturing as he raked the "Trads" over the coals. He took one particularly nasty swipe at Michael Matt and The Remnant:

This brings us to the so-called "traditional" Catholic websites, publications and personalities —you know, the ones always chest-thumping to "unite the clans." That's a load of self-serving, self-promoting garbage.


All dressed up for the transfer of Fulton
Sheen's remains from NYC to Peoria
If anyone is self-serving and dishing up "self-promoting garbage" it's Michael Voris and the CM organization. I'm not going to go into any detail about this particular Vortex except to say that their accusation of silence was untrue. Although at this point why would any tradition-loving Catholic respond to CM? We aren't masochists after all. 

But still, the accusation was untrue. It was only a few days after the Sympathy for Perverts Spotlight ran that Matt Gaspers of Catholic Family News addressed the accusations on the Mike Church Show. He pointed out an error in the piece and criticized the despicable implication that Archbishop Lefebvre was same-sex attracted - two things that were almost immediately corrected/removed from the transcript. It's pretty obvious CM was aware of Gaspers' critique. But his response doesn't count, I guess, because he didn't give high fives and two thumbs up to Voris, Niles, and their crew. 

Mike Voris talks in this Vortex about integrity. It's hard to find much at Church Militant these days especially when they discuss the SSPX. If you can stomach listening to the piece, make a note of all the loaded language, contempt, insults, and just plain nastiness Voris vomits out against fellow Catholics. (Yes, that's loaded language!) And remember, when Voris talks about cover-ups and transparency, that he hid his own 20 year active homosexuality until the Archdiocese of New York was about to expose him. He doesn't have a lot of credibility in the transparency department. As my mom often said, "People in glass houses shouldn't throw stones."


Unknown said...

Thanks for this insightful article. It is a shame that people use words to manipulate but they do. I think that is what disturbs me the most: that reason has gone from most discussion, memes have replaced argument, and we are being deadened so that we will believe what our senses tell us is impossible. Talk about chastisement! What could be worse than whole populations losing their ability to reason?

Phinnpoy said...

I supported Voris and CM a decade ago, but he lost me when he started to attack critics of Pope Francis as "spiritual pornographers". That's a good example of loaded language right there.

Sharon Lee said...


Mary Ann Kreitzer said...

Thanks for pointing out the typo, Sharon Lee. I fixed it.

Mick Jagger Gathers No Mosque said...

And remember, when Voris talks about cover-ups and transparency, that he hid his own 20 year active homosexuality until the Archdiocese of New York was about to expose him.

Who knows how many naive folks thought this was a legitimate fear of his rather than a manipulation of the emotions of his supporters and even his opponents?

There were few men who suspected this was emotional manipulation intended to cast him in the light of victimhood - a puissant political category in America.

Well, it has been a number of years and we have never been given the name of the person who allegedly was going to do this..

No name = Fake news.

MmeScherzo said...

Sharon Lee...calimony...a more perfect word, perhaps

Marina said...

Excellent article. I had wondered about Michael Voris' repeated attacks on SSPX and pushed back when I could. His attacks on Michael Matt have also been obvious.
In the interest of unity, Voris should practice a basic element of our faith - truth and charity.

AMalek said...

Someone needs to do an investigation of Voris, Inc.