The Pope, Conscience, and 9/11 Censorship
Ignorance is said to be voluntary, when it regards that which one can and ought to know...And ignorance of this kind happens, either when one does not actually consider what one can and ought to consider; this is called “ignorance of evil choice,” and arises from some passion or habit: or when one does not take the trouble to acquire the knowledge which one ought to have.
– St. Thomas Aquinas
The quote above comes from a reference called to my attention by my friend, Hugh Turley, and it appears along with others at the heading of my “columns” page on my web site.
Turley is a graduate of the College (now University) of St. Thomas in St. Paul, Minnesota, where he majored in philosophy. For seven years he wrote a column for the free monthly newspaper of the town where he has lived for a long time, the Hyattsville (MD) Life and Times.
The article that effectively ended that relationship grew out of a philosophical question that he and I first bruited about in a telephone conversation almost exactly two years ago. Pope Francis had been quoted as implying that following one’s conscience was a sufficient guide for doing good as opposed to doing evil. Following your conscience means, in so many words, doing what you think is right. But you make such decisions based upon the facts as you know them, or think you know them. What if those “facts” are wrong? Worse for you, what if you choose to believe untruths because it is more comfortable for you to do so than to believe unsettling truth? Aquinas would call your situation “ignorance of evil choice.” You could end up choosing evil, but doing so with what you take to be a clear conscience.
Turley noted to me that he had written several articles for the Hyattsville Life and Times that demonstrated that much of the official story of what happened on 9/11 was either internally inconsistent or, for other reasons, could simply not be true. He also noted that several of the people in key positions at the newspaper were fellow Catholics. “Why don’t I tie this all together, using the Pope’s remarks about conscience as a sort of catalyst?” he suggested to me.
I thought it was a splendid idea, but it proved to be his undoing. Not only did the article not get published, but it also caused the governing board of the newspaper to institute a new policy that all future articles in the paper had to be directly related to the town of Hyattsville. That policy effectively ended Turley’s print journalism career.
Now, here, for the first time in public, with added links, is the forbidden article:
Truth Versus Conscience
Jiminy Cricket advised Pinocchio, "Let your conscience be your guide." It is an axiom of the moral life that we are obliged to follow our conscience. In September, Pope Francis seemed to echo the advice of Disney's character.
According to the Vatican Information Service, in a written interview with the magazine La Repubblica, Francis wrote, “Sin, also in those who are without faith, exists when it goes against our conscience. Listening to and obeying one's conscience means, indeed, to make decisions in relation to what is perceived as good and bad. And on this decision rests the goodness or evil of our actions.”
It must be said, though, that although necessary, following one’s conscience alone is not sufficient. In his encyclical Veritas Splendor, Pope John Paul II rightly stated, "Conscience is not an independent and exclusive capacity to decide what is good and what is evil."
An official with the Southern Baptist Convention took the unusual step of criticizing Pope Francis, calling his statements "a theological wreck,” and he might have a point. My fellow Catholics have defended the Pope's comments by arguing that he did not mean what he said, he was misunderstood, or that he was only speaking informally and not infallibly.
In June, the Pontiff said, "Conscience is the interior space in which we can listen to and hear the truth, the good, the voice of God." The imagery is poor. The conscience is not a space. It is an act of the intellect. It is a moral judgment. Aquinas called the conscience an act of reason. The etymology of the word con + scientia means “with knowledge.”
Just as apple trees naturally produce apples rather than pears, humans by nature seek good and avoid evil. The problem for man is the error of perceiving evil for good. Philosophy professor D.Q. McInerny has observed, “It is psychologically impossible for us to choose evil as evil, we must rationalize it as ‘good’."
Augustine wrote, “...truth is loved in such a way that those who love some other thing want it to be the truth, and, precisely because they do not wish to be deceived, are unwilling to be convinced that they are deceived.”
In order for the conscience to determine what is truly good from what is truly evil, knowledge is necessary, not just any information, but information that is true.
People using their free will as intended by nature want the truth. Truth is defined as the conforming of our intellect to reality. Only by conforming the mind, what we know, to reality, can we conform our actions to what is true.
If a child falls into a group of pickpockets, as Oliver Twist did in the novel by Charles Dickens, he may develop an evil conscience. A person with a corrupt conscience can make bad judgments, sometimes with serious consequences. The same is true for a society where knowledge is not rooted in truth. Knowledge that is not conformed to reality forms a society unable to distinguish what is good from what is evil.
In the past four years I have written four columns with evidence that the official 9-11 Commission Report is a gigantic lie. If even one of my reports is true then the public has not been told the truth.
Marcel Barnard, head instructor at the Bowie airport who flew with Hani Hanjour, said the alleged hijacker who flew a passenger jet into the Pentagon, “with extraordinary skill,” was incapable of flying a Cessna single engine plane. USAF pilot Lt. Anthony Kuczynski and the official Air Force history of 9-11 state they were tracking United Flight 93 before it crashed. Kuczynski said he was ordered to shoot it down. The 9-11 Commission Report did not mention Kuczynski and flatly states the military did not know about the plane until after it crashed.
Over 2,000 Architects and Engineers for 9-11 Truth maintain the destruction of Building 7 and the two trade towers was by controlled demolition and that the official story is scientifically impossible. And Washington Post writer Steve Hendrix admitted to me he made up part of his story about the events of 9-11 published on the 10th anniversary. The official 19-hijacker conspiracy theory rests on the voice of the authorities alone.
Now let us fast forward to August of 2015. The newspaper’s editor had written a column lamenting the demise of another local free newspaper, the Prince George’s County Gazette. Turley shared with me a letter he was planning to send to the Life and Times that said we should celebrate, not cry, over the folding up of another print propaganda organ. Here is the letter’s strong conclusion:
What Americans know and don’t know is carefully controlled. Americans may be the most uninformed and misinformed people in the world, thanks to newspapers like the [Washington] Post and Gazette.
I wrote a column for the Hyattsville Life & Times for seven years and tried to bring forward news that had been suppressed. I occasionally wrestled with the editors over my column. Sometimes they would censor things, like the identity of a certain Associated Press reporter that I named.
My final column concerned the importance of knowledge that is true. That column was rejected and it prompted the board of directors to adopt a self-censorship policy. Nothing would be published that was not about Hyattsville or a neighboring community.
A newspaper should serve as the eyes and ears of the people and not as the mouthpiece of the authorities. Censorship, including self-censorship is not in the public interest. Fortunately we live in the Internet age where information is free, including some information the old news media model would prefer to suppress.
I liked it, but told Turley that I thought there was no chance that it would be published. I was wrong, or at least partially so. They didn’t publish it in their print edition, but now with a web site and its unlimited space they put it up there. But right under it they put this up:
Response from Chris Currie, Hyattsville Community Newspaper Inc. (HCN) board member: HCN, publisher of the Hyattsville Life & Times, has as its explicit policy to cover the news in our community and reflect the spectrum of its members’ viewpoints. The column cited by Hugh Turley above accused the U.S. government of propounding [sic] the events of Sept. 11, 2001, as a hoax on the American people, and was withheld as non-germane to the mission of our newspaper. Subsequently, the HCN board formulated a policy that all columns published in the Life & Times should have a local angle. That was simply an extension of the board’s original mission to publish a community newspaper. The editorial decisions made in light of the newspaper’s mission are not censorship or self-censorship, but merely exercises in sound editorial judgement.
Turley was pleased to see his letter printed, if only online, but he was not pleased at the rebuttal by Currie and what he considered to be a mischaracterization of his article that they did not and apparently would never print. He responded with the following email to the editor:
Thank you for printing my alternative opinion in the online edition. You are very fair to allow a different point of view.
At the same time, Chris Currie is very unfair to mischaracterize my unpublished article. What he says the article he blocked “was about” is not at all what it was about.
The forbidden column titled Truth Versus Conscience was about how important it is that what we think we know actually be true. The column was not about accusing “the U.S. government of propounding the events of Sept. 11, 2001, as a hoax on the American people…” as Mr. Currie stated, whatever that might mean (I think he means fomenting or causing the events.).
When I first submitted the column in 2013, Currie was critical, saying, “The biggest problem: Without having made a prima facie case, it's not legitimate to impugn your readers' consciences if they have not acted as you wish in response to the events of 9/11.” I did not impugn the reader’s consciences (again, whatever that might mean) and Currie apparently did not know about my writings in previous columns about the official contradictions and misstatements concerning 9/11, columns that had been vetted and published by the editors of the Hyattsville Life and Times.
After Currie’s criticism I added a summary of four previous articles concerning 9/11. One article told the story of Air Force Lt. Anthony Kuczynski who was ordered to shoot down United Flight 93. His story was supported by the official Air Force history of 9/11, yet he was not mentioned in the Official Report or in the press. I wrote, “…without Kuczynski’s story America’s true history is suppressed.” Another column reported that Washington Post reporter Steve Hendrix admitted to me that he made up parts of his 10th anniversary story about 9/11.
It is more accurate to say that I was accusing the American press of suppressing the truth about 9/11 than to say I was accusing the government. When community newspapers voluntarily censor news that is being suppressed they keep the public ignorant of the truth.
Over a period of seven years I wrote about a variety of topics including the Vietnam War, Hepatitis C, President Truman, the first Americans to enter Japan after World War II, human experiments by the CIA, the Wilmington race riots, Dr. Seuss, the origin of Easter, Martin Luther King, composer Leroy Shield, Vincent Foster, Ernest Hemingway, animal cruelty, war poetry, and James Forrestal. Many of these articles contained significant news that had never been published before.
I also wrote columns about Hyattsville. I don't believe I ever wrote anything that was not true. Under the new policy--which I regard as censorship--most of my previous columns could not have been published.
If readers are permitted to read my banned column online, with links to my previous columns about 9/11, they can decide for themselves if they agree with Mr. Currie that the new policy banning everything not directly related to Hyattsville is “not censorship."
[I understand space limitations prevented my editorial comment from being published in the print edition. There are no space limitations online and space was given for Mr. Currie to criticize me. In the interest of truth and fairness would you add my response under his, along with the article in question?]
The HCN board met just last night and was supposed to consider Turley’s request that his article be published along with his rebuttal, but as of today he has heard nothing. Should anything change, we shall alert readers with an addendum to this article.
September 18, 2015