Pseudoknowledge is not Fact

Over at the Register, comboxers are writing stuff like:

Just the fact that the accuser stated that she was going to “destroy” Fr. Corapi should make all her allegations against him questionable and any attack a mere exaggeration, since she is acting out of revenge. Poor soul. It is a good thing though to have put him on leave so as to give room for the Church to do its work and the accusations to be disproved. Then Fr. Corapi will be able to go back to his ministry with peace of mind once all is resolved and this lady is proven wrong.

Um, we don’t know it’s a “fact” that the accuser vowed to destroy anybody. What we *know* is that the Veep of a company who a) lists Fr. Corapi as her CEO and b) stands to lose a lot of money *tells* us the accuser did all this–on Fr. Corapi’s website. (And please, spare me the absurdity of claiming that it is somehow preposterous to take it for granted that the Veep of a for-profit company has no financial stake in the fortunes of that company and is just doing all this for her health.) We also know that this Veep is urging us to take it to the bank that this is all caused by the “hatred of the devil”, that Fr. Corapi’s investigation is somehow violating justice, and that they will not be refraining from promoting him (as EWTN is very sensibly refraining from doing till the dust settles).

In essence, then, what we have is this: an accuser (about whom we know nothing. at. all except that she used to work for SCM) went through proper channels to level a charge and has remained silent since. She has not made a media spectacle of Fr. Corapi. She has said nothing in public but asked the Church to look into it and Fr. Corapi’s superiors apparently think there is enough merit to what she claims to do so. That does not, as they make clear, imply guilt. But it’s what we would do in any other circumstances with credible charges.

So why is there a media spectacle? Because Fr. Corapi has made a media spectacle by, not once, but twice (the second time through a surrogate publishing on his site), leveled completely unsubstantiated charges against his accuser, which devotees of Fr. Corapi are taking as gospel. His and Ruffatto’s charges *may* turn out to be true. But it is stealing three bases and home plate to turn these claims against his accuser, made through a sock puppet, into “fact”, just as it is to assume his accuser’s claims are “fact”.

The *fact* is we know no more about the details of the case than we did two weeks ago. What we know is that one side of the argument controls the media microphone and has done a masterful job, so far, of rallying the troops to presume the accuser is evil, motivated by the “hatred of the devil”, a “she devil” (as one comboxer memorable called her), etc. That fact is this side of the conflict has also done a fine job of rallying the troops to denounce the process of investigation of the facts as somehow prejudicial to him, even though the overwhelming majority of people responding to the controversy have not denounced him as guilty but have, instead, denounced his accuser and declared him innocent, based solely on his claim to be so.

All this may be true. But we do not *know* it to be true. What we know with respect to the accuser is that she is a former employee who has made a charge that Fr. Corapi’s superiors find credible enough to investigate. All the stuff we “know” about her motivations is pure unadulterated pseudoknowledge fed to us by Fr. Corapi and those in his employ, and then magnified in the echo chamber of a blogospheric fanbase that very much wants to transform this pseudoknowledge into “fact”.

Why not just mind our own business, let the Church do the investigation and let the chips fall where they may? If he’s innocent, the facts will bear him out. If not, well, he’s not our Savior and turns out to be another mortal and sinner like the rest of us. That’s not exactly a shock.

If we take the mind our own business route, then whatever the investigation turns up, we can be happy. If he turns out to be innocent, then we can be happy about that. If it turns out his accuser is telling the truth, then we can be happy that we did not allow ourselves to become part of a mob of pitchfork wavers who were manipulated into ignorantly denouncing an innocent person who told the truth. As former ardent supporters of Maciel can tell you, that’s something you don’t want to have on your conscience. At present, the combox Star Chamber proceeding against this woman (fueled by “information” from the Corapi website) have all the forensic rigor of these proceedings:

So: wait for the investigation to finish–or even start. You and I don’t know anything about the merits of the case. Period.

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