Who is ‘Diogenes’?
Now that dotCommonweal has been humming along for couple months, we’ve had time to get our bearings in the wider blogosphere—Catholic and otherwise. There’s a lot going on out there. You’ve seen links to Amy Welborn’s blog, Rocco Palmo’s, Andrew Sullivan’s, Josh Marshall’s, Mirror of Justice, First Things, and several others. One blog the dotCom hasn’t linked to is Off the Record (though Richard John Neuhaus does). Hosted by the conservative site Catholic World News, OTR is written primarily by someone who calls himself “Diogenes.”
Diogenes has been blogging for about three years. He frequently goes after targets like the L.A. Religious Education Congress, those who support inclusive language, those who suggest that homosexuality is not the cause of the sexual-abuse crisis, the Society of Jesus (apparently en masse, and especially their work at America magazine), and several other such agents of destruction. He’s provocative, biting, given to rhetorical excess, and, yes, a talented writer. Which makes sense, given that the name he’s chosen for himself is that of the fourth-century (B.C.) Greek Cynic philosopher known for his cleverness and his contempt for his contemporaries. (He’s the guy who carried a lantern in daylight because he was searching for an honest man.)
That the writer employs this particular pseudonym–or, as he’d say, perhaps more accurately, cryptonym–involves a smidge of irony. And plenty of self-confidence. Diogenes’ provocations have inspired fevered speculation about his true identity. That an outfit billing itself as a news organization allows one of its most popular contributors–especially so conservative a scold as “Uncle Di,” as he sometimes calls himself–to remain anonymous strains credibility. He holds some serious sway in certain quarters. His identity deserves airing.
Some time ago, the Catholic blogosphere entertained a few attempts to unmask Diogenes. Rocco Palmo reported that the buzz indicated Fr. Joseph Fessio, SJ, was the man behind the curtain. A few years ago, Bill Cork aired the same suspicion (for some reason, the post is no longer on his blog). Later that day, Diogenes replied. The post’s headline was “Confidential to Bill C.” And the entry read, in its entirety: “Nope, try again.”
Bill Cork never took up Diogenes’ invitation to try again. So let’s have at it ourselves, shall we? Seems there are a few breadcrumbs he’s left for us. Clearly he’s a priest. Clearly he’s got a lot to say about the Jesuits. Clearly he’s heavily invested in the language wars. And clearly he’s disturbed by the recent news about condoms and HIV.
(I mean really disturbed. That link takes you to a post in which he dramatizes an imagined conversation between two residents of Soweto, whom he dubs Amos and Andy–really–with none-too-subtle hints that they may be not entirely heterosexual.)
So, do you have any theories? My request to Catholic World News brought the following reply: “We do not discuss the identity of Diogenes!” Why don’t we, then? Comments are open. Fire away.