Friday, December 30, 2011

SPUC: Nothing Doing

Unlike the loftier kind of Kartholick I think the blogosphere and social media is great for Catholicism. The speedy exchange of information, the cleansing disinfectant of sunlight being shone on murky corners, the crackle of commentary zipping through cyberspace, unfiltered and unspun rebalances the scales of power in favour of the ordinary orthodox worshipper at the expense of the superannuated bureaucrat.

That's the positive side of the blogosphere balancesheet accounted for. There is a debit column too to which one is constrained to enter the inevitable wasting time. Vanity publishing at the click of a mousepad is one hell of an easy way to while away the hours one should be spending on more productive activities, hence the twitter and facebook blocks many employers slam on their computer systems. All this brings me neatly to the subject of SPUC, or more specifically John Smeaton since tanto monta, monta tanto, they arguably amount to the same thing.

In January 2008 the John Smeaton SPUC Director blog-of-sorts (it doesn't allow comments so can't be called a real blog) was launched and boy did he take to sort-of-blogging like a duck to water. In fact it's difficult to tell what else he does other than broadcast his views on such diverse issues as homosexuality, homosexuality and er, homosexuality day after remorseless day.

Contrary to the impression given by the description of SPUC as "a leader in the educational and political battle against abortion", there's precious little evidence that Smeaton's SPUC engages in anything so vulgar as parliamentary lobbying and that's without going into the difficult relationship it has with Pro Life parliamentarians. Indeed if one is so bold as to enquire what precisely SPUC Smeaton is doing politically to achieve its aims one is typically met with a variety of dog-ate-my-homework excuses for its doing nothing. As to education, well nothing was done about this particular story. Note this, dear reader, when I say nothing was done, I mean Nothing and that that Do Nothing policy was determined right at the very top of the organisation.

I suppose there's a twisted logic to Smeaton SPUC's Do Nothing policy. Doing something at work would distract from the crucial business of sort-of-blogging and there's no denying how seriously that's taken. Why, it's a veritable team effort as Smeaton makes clear, graciously acknowledging the help of SPUC's staff, supporters and advisers for their help in researching, writing and producing his sort-of blog.

For more on this sorry state of affairs see Caroline Farrow's superb blogpost, Society for the Purgation of Unorthodox Catholicism and her follow up post, Building for Life.


Blogger Frederick Oakeley said...

Hurrah! Absolutely spot on. SPUC is a shadow of it's former self and while Mr Smeaton pontificates he simply increases the number of ardent pro-lifers who are disaffected. Leave alone his views, it is his utter unwillingness to listen to anyone, symbolised by his non blog. He publishes no comments, offers no opportunity for criticism, and provides no platform for any but Smeaton's sayings. Mary Baker Eddy would be proud of him.

12/31/2011 12:57 AM  
Blogger The Bones said...

Funny how the SPUC bashing has suddenly come about just after John Smeaton offended Caroline Farrow.

What a co-incidence!

12/31/2011 6:05 AM  
Blogger The Bones said...

Also, I detect some double standards here.

You're complaining that there is no right of reply on John Smeaton's blog, but that doesn't stop you sticking the knife in while you know he is in Hungary, with, er, no right of reply, while you (and Caroline) start about destroying his reputation.

12/31/2011 8:03 AM  
Blogger Joe said...

Unless I am mistaken, I think John Smeaton has been posting to his blog while in Hungary.

One of the features of blogging is that others are able to take you to task, though demands of charity and of truthfulness should apply. John Smeaton is not exempted from that criticism, and does not do himself, or his reputation, any favours with regard to it.

12/31/2011 10:03 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hmm. A couple of female narcissists don't like SPUC. Not really worth wasting time commenting on. As to accuracy - readers can look at John Smeaton's blog and check for themselves whether he focusses more on abortion than homosexuality. Farrow/Lafferty smear-machine). Not long ago you accused John Smeaton of 'lying' on his blog. Could you please supply EVIDENCE for this claim? (Could you also supply evidence for your claim that J. Quintavalle supported the Dorries bill on abortion counselling??).
Let's see who is a 'liar' - not, note, that I make that reckless asertion of you yet - you may just have not checked your facts. Anyhow - look forward to copper-bottomed evidence of John Smeaton publicly LYING. Thanks.

1/02/2012 9:42 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Write to John Smeaton with your concerns. It's what people used to do. He'll reply (unless you have a history of smearing his organisation/lying to his staff etc. etc.).

1/02/2012 10:17 AM  
Blogger blondpidge said...

Anonymous. I was very supportive of John. Check an entry on my blog supporting him and his comments.

I expressed disquiet that SPUC felt it appropriate to C&P a tweet sent to me by Austen Ivereigh to prove a non existent agenda.

Recently I wrote to John privately and politely to express disquiet and had no response. The same thing happened to a leading lawyer who had been unfairly attacked on his blog, John did not answer or give him right of reply. Same with a columnist.

Furthermore I rang SPUC to discuss a project I could help them with, one I hasten to add for which I am acting voluntarily. No response and neither was there to my polite follow up email. I am now working with another group.

I told John I did not want to be public, he ignored me, then a few weeks later engaged in an ill considered personal attack.

This is quite wrong for the Director of a Lobby Group funded by voluntary contributions.

1/03/2012 6:27 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

THank you blondpidge. The 'lying' accusatuion emanated from dolphinmaria not you.
Did you or the lawyer point out anything factually wrong in what John Smeaton wrote? He didn't attack you personally, he was merely critical of CV on the issue of CP - and whatever one makes of the tone he is quite right on this issue. I believe that reluctance on SPUC part to engage with you goes back to an earlier incident. Do you have an email address you can divulge somewhere - happy to discuss matters with you face-to-face not least because I think so many matters are dealt with privately. Many thanks. And apologies for the tone (but not all the content) of my earlier to email to you and dolphin.

1/03/2012 8:57 AM  
Blogger blondpidge said...

Anonymous. John has my email address. I don't know how to pass it on, but John knew very well that I was in CV and if he didn't want to engage he should have explained why.

From my perspective I sent him a polite email, outlining concerns but saying I did not want to be public.

He ignored me completely then decides to publish a blog calling members of CV "highly compromised establishment mouthpieces" and not "real Catholic voices". Quite hard not to take that personally.

The thing is, had a blogger said it, I would have ignored. But for John to do this in his capacity as Director of SPUC was misjudged. The worst thing was seeing other bloggers pick up on it and gleefully proclaim we were not "real" or had a secret brief. Not true, but even if you agree with John, even if you feel SPUC must defend SSM, how is attacking CV or discussing the Birmingham 3 directly relevant to pro-life.

I woudn't have blogged, had I not spent the whole of Christmas Eve ignoring my phone bleeping with aggressive tweets and hectoring when I expressed my sorrow and my thoughts that John was out of line.

It really scares me that people are still mentioning repercussions for me and my family. The leadership is intimidating, feels unhealthy and akin to the Jehovah's Witnesses. SPUC chooses to shun.

My surname dot my first name at google mail dot com

1/03/2012 2:21 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

John Smeaton is an absolute disgrace. He is a biggot, totally uncharitable and lacking in humility.
He is the last person on God's earth to be representing the unborn...King Herod..Mothercare..spring to mind.
Get rid of the man and allow SPUC to flourish.

3/09/2012 12:38 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

John Smeaton is a good man, unfortunately he lost it some years ago, when he allowed himself to be directed by others, who knew little about the sanctity of life.

7/06/2012 2:03 PM  

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