Friday, 12 May 2017

Schrödinger's funding

In their email accompanying the new resource, Made in God's Image: Challenging homophobic and biphobic bullying in Catholic Schools, that has been the subject of so much controversy (see all my posts on the CES Scandal here and follow links in those posts for more coverage), the Catholic Education Service said they had "received funding to cover the printing and distribution of a hard copy for each school."

Now we read in the Catholic Herald that a spokesman (sic, good for the Herald!) says: “The document is a collaboration between the CES and St Mary’s and no external funding has been received for it.”

I find those two statements hard to reconcile; but in a spirit of inquiry, I will do my best. I can come up with four possible ways of making sense of them (and am open to suggestions about others, of course).

One is that the CES has received internal funding. But that seems a very odd usage. To receive something implies that it comes from outside. 

The second is that the 'it' in the second quotation refers not to 'the document' but to 'the collaboration.'  Thus they could have received funding for the printing and distribution, but not for the collaboration. That would also be a very odd usage, and would suggest a degree of obfuscation (deliberate or not). If deliberate it seems to me to fall under the heading of suggestio falsi et suppressio veri.

The third is that the right hand doesn't know what the left hand is doing. In my experience or organisational life, that is at least as plausible as any other explanation.

The fourth is that we are being lied to. 

In any event, the questions about the funding have not been answered by the latest pronouncement, and they remain both urgent and important.

Likewise, the questions about Stonewall's involvement, and that of LGBTYouth Scotland, will not go away. A cursory glance at the relevant documents suggests that one page of Made in God's Image (page 3) is lifted verbatim from Stonewall's document (page 6) and no fewer than seven (pp 12, 14, 20, 23, 24, 25 and 26) are lifted verbatim or (in a few cases) in large part from the LGBTYouth Scotland document (pp 7,8,9,10, 19, 20, 25, 26, 28, 29, 30 and 31).

We have been assured that there has been no plagiarism, so we have to conclude that these have been quoted with permission.

The Herald reports: 
A spokesman for Stonewall denied the group had any specific involvement with the production of the document, but did say: “Our resources on bullying and many other issues are public, and we welcome other organisations using our work to help inform their own.” 
The group also praised the guidance, calling it a “positive and welcome step from the Catholic Education Service”.
Again, the ambiguity of 'specific involvement with the production of the document' does not answer the question of what involvement or discussion there was, in fact. There must have been some, or the plagiarism charge stands. And the same applies to LGBTYouth Soctland  whose contribution is approximately 7/25ths (or 28%) of the whole document (if one excludes the cover and the appendices).

As well as the questions of collaboration (or apparent plagiarism, though I am happy to accept the assurance that is not the issue), the larger questions remain unanswered:

1 Why were these sources not credited? The document as a whole gives the appearance of being well-referenced; and the appendix includes an example of Barnardo's material, correctly credited. Could it be that even the CES realised that lifting large chunks of LGBT propaganda and presenting them as Catholic teaching might prompt some parents to query their approach? If so, I think their tactics are deplorable.

2 Why is LGBT propaganda thought by the CES to be appropriate to present to Catholic children? The philosophy and anthropology of the LGBT movement is fundamentally hostile to Catholic teaching.

These questions, along with the question: Who paid? will not go away.

There is some good news, however. Cardinal Nichols is reported as saying that Catholics will continue to be awkward about sexual morality, and '“still stand for” a definition of marriage as “between a man and a woman” which is open to new life.

No comments: