BACKBITING

Thomas Aquinas

I recently discovered a book published in France in 1870 called the Sins of the Tongue.

It was written by a certain Father Belet of the Diocese of Basle and a translation appears through an organization known as The Catholic Apologist.

Citing folks like Aquinas and Palladius and St. Bernard, this 19th century Roman Catholic discusses back biting or sins of the tongue.

We are to believe that there are eight specific ways you can backbite your neighbor, and I would like to go through this list demonstrating a modern context for each act.

1. When he gets carried away by vanity and imputes things against his neighbor that never happened, or when he adds to the truth imaginary circumstances that constitute either a lie or detraction.

EXAMPLE:

WorldNetDaily writer Jerome Corsi really needs to get a new hobby. As you may know, Corsi has an unhealthy obsession with proving that President Obama is not really a U.S. citizen, but rather born in Kenya. (Remember in 2008 when he got detained in Kenya while sniffing around to find proof that Obama was ineligible to run for president and then tried to suggest that Obama himself had him detained? Or when he claimed that Obama has “stolen the identity of a natural-born citizen” and is “using someone else’s Social Security number”? Good times.) Well now, Corsi is claiming that Hawaii Gov. Neil Abercrombie’s categorical statement that the state has records of Obama’s birth translates to “Hawaii governor can’t find Obama birth certificate,” which was all he needed for some Drudge love.

http://mediamatters.org/blog/201101190007

2. When he brings a hidden or unknown fault to light. What he says is true, but he should not say it. He backbites, not by saying something untrue, but by wounding his neighbor’s reputation. This is a very common sin among us.

EXAMPLE:

Limbaugh has called Obama a ‘halfrican American’ has said that Obama was not Black but Arab because Kenya is an Arab region, even though Arabs are less than one percent of Kenya. Since mainstream America has become more accepting of African-Americans, Limbaugh has decided to play against its new racial fears, Arabs and Muslims. Despite the fact Obama graduated magna cum laude from Harvard Law school, Limbaugh has called him an ‘affirmative action candidate.’ Limbaugh even has repeatedly played a song on his radio show ‘Barack the Magic Negro’ using an antiquated Jim Crow era term for Black a man who many Americans are supporting for president. Way to go Rush.

3. When he exaggerates a crime, be it true, or false. This is a danger to which we readily expose ourselves when we talk about the vices of others.

EXAMPLE:

A prominent surrogate for John McCain on Thursday raised Barack Obama’s admitted cocaine use as a teenager and said the Illinois senator should speak candidly about it to the American people.

Speaking to Dennis Miller, a comedian and conservative radio talk show host, former Oklahoma Gov. Frank Keating said Obama should be more forthright about his background and what he called his “very extreme” record.

“He ought to admit, ‘You know, I’ve got to be honest with you. I was a guy of the street. I was way to the left. I used cocaine. I voted liberally, but I’m back at the center,'” Keating, a co-chair of McCain’s campaign, said Obama should tell voters. “I mean, I understand the big picture of America. But he hasn’t done that.

http://politicalticker.blogs.cnn.com/2008/10/09/mccain-surrogate-raises-obamas-past-drug-use/

4. When he relates something about another person that is not evil in any way, but speaks as though his neighbor had done it for evil reasons and adds various explanations such as, “Yes, he did that, but not with God in mind… He’s not so pious as all that; he seeks to please men, he wants to stand out… You should know him, he’s a hypocrite.”

EXAMPLE:

It was totally about race the Powell endorsement of Barack Obama for President was and is about race. He is voting for Obama because Obama is Black! http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=f0w_w7qG-C8

Limbaugh’s wrath and bitterness apparently know no bounds. Just ask John McCain. If ever there were a disloyal figure in American politics, it is Rush Limbaugh. In February he had this to say about McCain: “He’s just playing the American card or the patriot card, the prisoner of war story or whatever, and that happens to appeal to some people… Senator McCain successfully targeted the weak, the mushy, the squishy, the Jell-Os, some of the left, the Drive-By Media…Here’s the dirty little secret. The maverick is not a maverick… Maverick my rear end.”   http://www.blackstarnews.com/?c=135&a=5017

5. When a backbiter declares nothing but is happy to say, “I’ve heard it said that…” or, “There’s a rumor going around…” or when he relates something as if it were doubtful: “So-and-so might not be exactly what you think, I don’t think he is deserving of confidence. His neighbors never heard anything about his holiness, except that only since yesterday has he been rated among the devout.” Or again, when he praises with coldness and reticence. Aulu-Gelle says, “It is more shameful to be coldly and reservedly praised than harshly and bitterly accused.” All these ways of acting must be avoided with the greatest care, for people always seek evil more than good.

EXAMPLE:

Yesterday President Obama responded to my statement that Democratic health care proposals would lead to rationed care; that the sick, the elderly and the disabled would suffer the most under such rationing; and that under such a system, these ‘unproductive’ members of society could face the prospect of government bureaucrats determining whether they deserve health care,” Palin wrote in a note on her Facebook page.

“The provision that President Obama refers to is Section 1233 of HR 3200, entitled ‘Advance Care Planning Consultation.’ With all due respect, it’s misleading for the president to describe this section as an entirely voluntary provision that simply increases the information offered to Medicare recipients,” she continued.

http://news.yahoo.com/s/politico/20090813/pl_politico/26078

In a post called “Obama to sell America to China,” Phillips asks about Chinese President Hu Jintao: “The question is, did he come simply as a head of state or as the leader of the country that is going to buy the United States?” He continues: “Both Obama and Hu have the same vision for the future of America. They both want to see America as a weakened, impotent power, incapable of doing anything without international assistance.”

http://tpmmuckraker.talkingpointsmemo.com/2011/01/tea_party_nation_founder_obama_wants_china_to_fund.php?ref=fpb

6. Backbiting is so subtle that anyone can defame another person with a simple gesture. He hears someone being praised for his integrity, piety or generosity, and he says, “Oh. you don’t know that fellow? I see right through him. Ask me anything about him, I know him inside out.” Or he raises an eyebrow and remains silent; he shakes his head; he turns his eyes so as to have it understood that the person being praised does not deserve it Sometimes a backbiter may keep his mouth shut and just turn his hand two or three times to indicate that the person in question is lightheaded and changes from hour to hour.

EXAMPLE:

Former Rep. Tim Walberg (R-Mich.), who is running to oust Rep. Mark Schauer (D) this fall, was asked on a local radio show Thursday whether he believed President Obama was born in the United States and whether the president is Muslim.

“I don’t know, I really don’t know,” Walberg responded. “We don’t have enough information about this president. He was never given a job interview that was complete.”

http://thehill.com/blogs/ballot-box/house-races/120741-ex-rep-walberg-i-dont-know-if-obama-was-born-in-the-us

7. He can backbite not only with body language but also with silence. He may wickedly say nothing about the integrity or morals of his neighbor, especially when he is questioned about them or when his neighbor is accused of some crime.

EXAMPLE:

WASHINGTON — President Bush fended off questions Thursday about White House links to convicted lobbyist Jack Abramoff and refused to release photos that show the two men together. “I don’t know him,” Bush said.

http://www.usatoday.com/news/washington/2006-01-26-bush_x.htm

8. Finally, a person is guilty of backbiting if he is publicly blamed for something he did, and he denies his guilt, thereby making his accuser pass for a liar. It is surely not an obligation to publicly admit a fault committed in secret. However, one should justify himself in some other way, saying, for instance, “Those are only words, they don’t prove anything. Whoever heard them may have been mistaken. Don’t believe everything you hear.” This way of speaking is far more acceptable than the first.

EXAMPLE:

Former House Republican leader Tom DeLay says his conviction on money laundering charges was a politically-inspired case brought by prosecutors in “the most liberal county in Texas.” DeLay tells NBC’s “Today” show that prosecutors “never proved” their case against him. DeLay is free on bond after being sentenced to three years in prison and 10 years’ probation on a conviction of scheming to illegally influence Texas elections. On Thursday, he again denied the charges. “I was tried in the most liberal county in the state of Texas, and indeed in the United States,” http://digg.com/news/politics/tom_delay_liberals_sentenced_me_to_jail_video

http://www.catholicapologetics.info/morality/general/btongue.htm

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12 thoughts on “BACKBITING

  1. cmaukonen

    I don’t know Dickon. Kind of out on a limb here. Not so sure about this. But I heard it another way.

    {shakes head and cocks eye brow}

  2. My head hurts. This reminds me too much of parochial school, where I was physically reprimanded if I could not recite such apocryphal knowledge as the 17 dances that angels can perform on the head of a pin.

    Can’t we just stipulate that we know back-biting when we see it? Like knowing when a politician is lying (her lipstick moves), isn’t it enough to know the source?

    Please tell me the only pop quizzes are the ones on Fox.

  3. Excellent piece here DD …

    I’m sure you’ll remember this little post I did back at our old folks home at TPM…

    From a teaching from the 19th Century…

    “For the tongue is a smoldering fire, and excess of speech a deadly poison. Material fire consumeth the body, whereas the fire of the tongue devoureth both heart and soul. The force of the former lasteth but for a time, whilst the effects of the latter endureth a century.” ~Bahá’u’lláh~

    A life-long friend of ours who was suffering from the slow and painful debilitating effects of Huntington’s disease turned me onto that quote shortly before his passing at the comparatively young age of 50. All his life he was a true “seeker.” I will never forget this quote and never forget our friend.

    Nice reading ya’ Dick…

    ~OGD~

    1. Material fire consumeth the body, whereas the fire of the tongue devoureth both heart and soul

      That says it all for sure! I began this lark because no one examines the lie, the rumor and the motive anymore. MSM just covers all this as misstatements. ha

      Thanks for the quote and the kind words Ducky.

      1. Dick, thanks for the effort invested to examine “the lie, the rumor and the motive.”

        You’re right that the MSM is the great whitewasher where all is reduced to misstatement and rebuttal. Thanks for putting reality back on the record.

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