Wisconsin State Journal Flunks Journalism Again!
or
What’s Wrong With Gay Marriage?

Two days after getting some praise for their balanced article on Bishop Morlino, the Wisconsin State Journal was back to its old games, misrepresenting the Bishop yet again.
They managed to shoot themselves in the foot quite handsomely this time.

Here’s a cartoon they published, quoting both Pope Francis and Bishop Morlino out of context, in an attempt to make it seem that Bishop Morlino is in disagreement with the Pope:

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How Does This Cartoon Shoot WSJ in the Foot?

How does WSJ shoot itself in the foot with this cartoon?Slide1
Let me count the ways:

  1. It’s unprofessional to nest your references so deep that the original source being quoted can hardly be found.
  2. It’s unprofessional to compare apples and oranges.
  3. It’s unprofessional to quote your sources out of context.
  4. It’s unprofessional to ignore the Bigger Story
  5. It’s unprofessional to contradict yourself.
  6. It’s unprofessional for a journalist to spin the news.  (And it’s triply embarrassing when you spin it badly and get caught.)

This unprofessional behavior would be more suited to the grapevine whispering game, in which messages become unrecognizably altered as they are whispered from person to person in a chain, than to a professional journalist.

 

  •  It’s unprofessional to nest your references so deep that nobody can find the original source being quoted.

So, in his efforts to malign and misrepresent Bishop Morlino, Phil Hands had to dig far and deep, and ended up quoting out of context from a homily given by Bishop Morlino in 2006.
In fact, Phil Hands quoted Doug Erickson’s artilce, who quoted a 2006 Bill Wineke article, who quoted Bishop Morlino’s homily from the 2006 Madison Catholic Herald, out of context.

  • It’s unprofessional to compare apples and oranges.

apple-vs-orangePhil Hands was comparing Pope Francis’ comments about a Catholic homosexual who is following Church teaching on chastity, with Bishop Morlino’s comments on the the legal repercussions of governmental redefinition of marriage.  Those repercussions have already violated the religious freedom rights of Catholics and have already closed Catholic adoption agencies.  More on the legal details in the Appendix below.  But suffice it to say that comparing discussion of chaste Catholic homosexuals with discussion of the legal implications of redefining marriage is not a very professional move on the part of Phil Hands.

  • It’s unprofessional to quote your sources out of context.

Pope Francis’ statement in context:

In these situations, it’s important to distinguish between a gay person and a gay lobby, because having a lobby is never good. If a gay person is a person of good will who seeks God, who am I to judge? The Catechism of the Church explains this very beautifully. It outlines that gays should not be marginalized. The problem is not having this [homosexual] orientation. No, we must be brothers and sisters. The problem is lobbying for this orientation, or lobbies of greed, political lobbies, Masonic lobbies, so many lobbies. This is the most serious problem for me. And thank you so much for this question. Thank you very much!

Slide1Bishop Morlino’s statment in context:

I’m spending time on this today because we’ve got a battle. We’ve got a battle at the federal level in June and we’ve got a battle at the state level in November. And I’m serious about it, I can’t imagine what happens if marriage goes down the tubes. If marriage goes down the tubes, life will become one big custody suit. And who will decide who raises children and how they get raised? The State, more and more and more. Marriage goes down the tubes, the State will be deciding who gets custody and how the kids get taught. And when the State does that, rather than the natural parents, that’s the end of democracy.

In context, both Pope Francis’ comments and Bishop Morlino’s comments mean something quite different than what Phil Hands tried to imply in his cartoon.

  • It’s unprofessional to ignore the Bigger Story

800px-Madison,_WI,_Masonic_Temple

Madison, WI Masonic Temple

Anybody who reads the Pope’s comment above will notice that the Pope made some pretty newsworthy statements.
The Pope’s claim that his most serious problems come from lobbies of greed, political lobbies and Masonic lobbies should raise a few eyebrows.
Apparently Cybercast News Service (CNS) found the Pope’s Freemasonry comment worth reporting. And exploring the reasons for such a comment.
Madison, with it’s giant Masonic Temple one block from the Wisconsin State Capitol building, might be more interested in hearing why Freemasonry might pose a threat to Pope Francis, than hearing old 2006 quotes from Bishop Morlino being compared out of context with the Popes’ comments.
Misquoting Bishop Morlino’s 2006 homily is not news.

 

  • It’s unprofessional to contradict yourself

Jack Russell Terrier SnarlingSloppy reporting has a way of coming back to bite the journalist.
Ironically, the very homily that Phil Hands was  misquoting from, that Bill Wineke misquoted from and Doug ERickson misreported on, that very homily is one in which Bishop Morlino actually does the opposite of what WSJ claims.  In that homily, Bishop Morlino spends two paragraphs emphacising how Catholics must treat the gays with whom we disagree with love and respect, and undescores how Catholics must avoid association with gay-bashing in any shape or form.

  • It’s unprofessional for a journalist to spin the news.  (And it’s triply embarrassing when you do it badly and get caught.)

So there we have it.
Phil Hands’ best effort to spin the comments of Pope Francis and Bishop Morliino, a painful stretch, involving  a 100% reversal of what Bishop Morlino actually said in the homily from which Phil Hands is quoting.
Meager attempt to malign Madison’s Bishop Morlino, and to make him look heartless.

Spin.
Bad spin.
Caught, and (hopefully) embarrassed.
Although with progressives these days, you never know.  Some of them are very proud of their Alinsky (crooked) tactics.

 Slide1

Grading the Wisconsin State Journal on this one:  F-

In fact, WSJ’s journalism license should  be suspended for this one.

 

Appendix- Why Bishop Morlino is Right in His End of Democracy Comment
or
The Legal Repercussions of Government Redefining Marriage

 

What Changing the Definition of Marriage Does

For millennia, marriage has been defined by religion, and government has rarely tried to challenge that definition.
The biggest challenge to date by government was by Henry VIII, who introduced divorce, and how has that worked for our society?
Women and children are no longer guaranteed stability, most women must work, and most children are virtually raised by the State (by the Obama Administration).

The redefinition of marriage  by government to include marriages between persons of the same sex would have, in addition to numerous moral repercussions (on which people disagree), a large number of legal repercussions, which have nothing to do with opinion, but stem from law and from fact, and are inevitable.

Legal Details for Lawyers

For the lawyers among us who want this from the legal “horse’s mouth,” (unlike the WSJ, we make the original sources available), the legal impact of the redefinition of marriage is described at:

 

Layman’s Summary

For the rest of us, I will attempt a layman’s summary of the logic involved:

Legal Definition of Marriage Alters Impacts Many Areas of the Law

The legal definition of marriage does not exist in isolation; changing it alters many areas of the law.
The definition of marriage plays an important role in the laws of :

  • adoption
  • Education
  • Employee benefits
  • Employment discrimination
  • Government contracts and subsidies
  • Taxation
  • Tort law
  • Trusts and estates.

These laws, in turn, impact the ongoing daily operations of religious organizations of all kinds, including:Slide1

  • Parishes
  • Schools
  • Temples
  • Hospitals
  • Orphanages
  • Retreat centers
  • Soup kitchens
  • Universities

Complex Intertwining of State, Federal, and Religious Definitions of Marriage

Current law, particularly law on child custody, provides little room for non-uniform definitions of marriage within a state and across states.

As a result, changes in marriage law impact religious institutions disproportionately because their role is so deeply intertwined with the institution of marriage.
Religious institutions have been regulating marriage since time immemorial, and law has adopted and accommodated religious conventions.

As a result, if the legal definition of marriage is changed to differ dramatically from the religious definition of marriage, all the religious institutions mentioned above will be negatively impacted.

Can Government Compel Religious Institutions to Act Against Their Conscience-  Accomplished

Changing the legal definition of marriage will likely  result in government compulsion of religious institutions to accommodate same-sex couples, something contrary to their beliefs, and public benefits will likely be withdrawn from religious institutions which provide preferential treatment to traditionally married couples.

Already, failure to participate in the HHS “Contraceptive” Mandate, which requires religious employers to provide contraception and abortifacients to employees against the employer’s conscience, is likely to subject all religious individuals to legal penalties for failure to provide HHS Mandated services.

Threats to religious liberty can come both directly and indirectly.  They include court ordered injunctions or fines in retaliation for following one’s religious beliefs, particularly for violating anti-discrimination laws in employment, housing,public accommodations, as well as labeling the statement of religious beliefs as hate speech.

How Christians Become Excluded From Many Professions – Accomplished

It quickly becomes clear how a Christian can no longer become an employer or a pharmacist because they will not dispense abortifacient pills, how a Christian cannot become a doctor because they will not offer abortion services, a Christian cannot rent out half of their duplex because they don’t want the gay lifestyle in close proximity to their family home, a Christian cannot become a public school teacher because they are required to teach acceptance of the gay lifestyle, and so on.

Financial Crippling of Christian Institutions – Accomplished

And the lawsuits, injunctions, penalties and legal bills required to fight these battles are likely to cripple Christians financially, and are likely to bankrupt religious service institutions.  The Catholic Church has already been forced to abandon adoption and foster services in Boston, San Francisco, Washington D.C., and Illinois as a result of their policy to make sure children are placed with a mom and a dad who are married.

When You Force Christians Out of Service in an 80% Christian Country, Who Takes Over Providing Services?

When service institutions have traditionally been operated by volunteer religious institutions, and now religious institutions are forced out of these ministries, there is only one option– for government to take over providing these services.
The history of government performance, in the absence of financial pressure and accountability, in providing essential services has had a very bad track record, both in the United States and abroad.  The U.S. Postal Service, Medicare, and UK Medicine are all examples of services that fail abysmally when operated by government.
The control of everything by government is the definition of totalitarianism.Slide1

Totalitariansim: Of, relating to, being, or imposing a form of government in which the political authority exercises absolute and centralized control over all aspects of life, the individual is subordinated to the state, and opposing political and cultural expression is suppressed.

Bottom Line

  • Religious people (90% of US) can be forced against their conscience
  • Christian (80%) excluded form many professsions
  • Financial crippling of Christian Intitutions
  • Totalitarian control of everything by government

= End of Democracy

And the good Bishop was right.
Wisconsin State Journal, grow up and do your homework!

 

 

Addendum: WSJ Editor Responds to Our Criticism:  Stands His Ground

(For anybody interested in contacting this editor about the Bishop Morlino Cartoon he published:  JSmalley@madison.com)

From: Syte Reitz
Sent: Thursday, August 08, 2013 1:53 PM
To: John Smalley
Subject: Defamatory Cartoon in WSJDear Editor Smalley-Phil Hands’ cartoon published in the WSJ August 1st was a gross misrepresentation of Bishop Morlino.
There was no option provided for discussion or comments, so my comments can be found in a blog article which outlines the reasons why publication of that cartoon was such a poor choice on  your part.

Many Catholics had become hopeful of getting fair treatment in the WSJ following your publication of Doug Erickson’s article on Bishop Morlino’s 10 year anniversary in Madison.
As a Catholic blogger who was first motivated to blog by seeing media misrepresentation of Catholicism, I’m very sorry to see you returning to WSJ misrepresentation of Catholics so soon.

Please share my comments with the cartoonist, Phil Hands.

Syte Reitz
SyteReitz.com

syte

Syte Reitz
Madison Catholic Blogger

From: John Smalley
Date: Thu, 8 Aug 2013 14:45:30 -0500
To: Syte Reitz
Subject: RE: Defamatory Cartoon in WSJSyte,

Thanks for your note, and your comments on the recent cartoon by Phil Hands.

We will have to agree to disagree on this topic, in that I don’t think we’ve misrepresented Catholics in the past, or that we’re doing so now. I’m sure you understand that editorial cartoons are meant by their nature to exaggerate to the extreme. We publish many cartoons on the page that I would personally disagree with, but we think it’s important to represent a full spectrum of thoughts and opinions on the page. In fact, we always give preference to letter writers who disagree with our editorials.

It sounds like you thought Doug’s anniversary story on the Bishop was a worthy effort. I certainly felt that way.

Thanks again for your feedback.

Best wishes,

John Smalley
Editor
Wisconsin State Journal

John Smalley

John Smalley
WSJ Editor

From: Syte Reitz
Date: Sat, 10 Aug 2013 13:54:57 -0500
To: John Smalley
Cc: Reitz Rolf
Subject: Re: Defamatory Cartoon in WSJ

John-

You gave me no substance in your response.
If you “agree to disagree” without supporting your position, you come across as a low-information thinker, something I hope the editor of Wisconsin’s second largest newspaper is not.

You are in a unique position to moderate a serious and important cultural debate, and you should not be pandering to pressure from Madison’s progressives.
A newspaper professional should not show bias.
Your newspaper would benefit by hosting lively cultural debates, and your newspaper only suffers when you diss the leaders of Madison’s and Wisconsin’s leading religion without substance.

Honestly, that was a blatant misrepresentation of Bishop Morlino that you published, and you should retract or apologize for it.
You could also consider publishing arguments from the blog critique of the cartoon, which illustrate why the cartoon was such a bad misrepresentation.

The Wisconsin State Journal purports to serve the entire population of Wisconsin, and Madison claims to champion tolerance, so who better to show some respect for Catholicism and it’s leaders than the State Journal?

God bless,
Syte

syte

Syte Reitz
Madison Catholic Blogger

From: Romulus
Date: Friday, August 09, 2013 9:57 AM
To: John Smalley
Subject: Bishop Morlino Cartoon

Dear Mr. Smalley:   The Phil Hands smear of Bishop Morlino is in no sense an exaggeration.  It is a lie.  If you lack the sense or else the integrity to grasp this distinction, you belong in a different line of work.  Since your heart seems to be in the field of dishonest advocacy, public relations for a really sleazy organization might suit your talents.

Or you could man up and apologize.  Your call.

Romulus

Romulus

Romulus