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Catholic Church Going Hard? It’s About Time! April 13, 2010

Posted by Amir Roth in crime, religion, sex, society.
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A few weeks ago, I posted an entry with the title “Catholic Church Going Soft?” in which I wrote about A-West (the Archbishop of Westminster) talking about softening the church’s stance of contraception and family planning as a temporary measure to deal with the overpopulation crisis in Africa. Someone actually made a long comment on that post—yes, there have been comments, 9 of them to be precise—about the church and its sex scandals. I wasn’t even going to go there, but I will after the Vatican announced today that it is instituting “sex abuse reform.” Reformation 2.0!

The church hasn’t provided any details about this reform. Although presumably, it is going to take a harder stance on sex abuse by its own rank and file. Hence, the inter-post punny title. I’m nothing if not punny. Actually, this is a serious topic and so let me get all of the puns out of the way now. When I first read the words “sex abuse reform”, I thought of things like “the church will institute a sex abuse mandate which will kick in in 2014”, “priests will be able to abuse their parishioners, but there will also be a public option”, “starting in 90 days priests will no longer be able to deny abuse to children with pre-existing conditions”, and so on. If you think that’s not funny, I apologize. I personally don’t think it’s funny either. Nor do I think it is funny when someone compares the “persecution” the church is receiving over this scandal to anti-semitism. Really. I hadn’t realized that bad press is roughly equal to the Holocaust. Or that Jewish clergy molested young children.

Anyways, I am Jewish and I don’t go to church. I don’t even go to synagogue much. And so I don’t care whether abusive priests are defrocked or remain frocked. What I do care about is that they go to prison. Correct me if I am wrong, but isn’t child molestation a felony? For god’s sakes, even consensual sex with a minor is a felony. Just ask Stephanie Ragusa. By the way, here’s a good MTV top 50 countdown—Stephanie is number 7. Steph is going to do 10 years—well, probably 5—for consensual sex with two 14 year old boys. Why is the church hemming and hawing about defrocking? Forget church internal matters. The first call should be to the local police. The church can deal with the offending priest when he gets out of prison, where presumably he can have as much male sex as he wants. Maybe even more than he wants. Okay, I promised I won’t pun and that was the last one. Really, I don’t understand why the church doesn’t take the hardest line possible against this. Isn’t moral high ground essentially their only currency? How can they continue to devalue it like this? Even the NFL, lenient as it is (see Stallworth, Donte) is not this lenient (see Jones, Adam “Pacman”). By the way, would Adam Jones’ wife go by “Mrs. Pacman”? Would his son go by “Pacman Jr.”? Ooops, I did it again!

Speaking of sex-abuse reform, statutory rape, and Stephanie Ragusa. I don’t know, but the fact that male-by-female statutory rape is treated symmetrically to female-by-male statutory rape (forget male-by-male and female-by-female for now) seems a little disingenuous to me. I understand that there is gender-based double-standard for non-statutory rape. People tend to look at male-by-female rape as a novelty or curiosity more than as a crime. And that may not be right, but it’s understandable given the fact that male-by-female rape is rare—or maybe it’s common but even more under-reported than female-by-male rape, although I doubt it given that it’s probably much more difficult to pull off given usual ratios of strength and the mechanics of intercourse—and given common understanding of the roles played by males and females during sex.

But why isn’t there a similar double standard for statutory rape? I understand the whole adult taking advantage of child argument, but the same sexual mechanics argument still applies, the strength ratio argument also largely applies, and the fact is that sex to men is not the same thing as it is to women. Did you know that the area of the brain devoted to thinking about sex is three times larger in men than it is in women? Maybe not in Stephanie Ragusa, but in general? I don’t know anything about this, but I would venture to guess that male victims of statutory rape are psychologically wounded to a lesser degree than female victims (I tried Googling, but couldn’t find anything). And if that is the case, then male-by-female statutory rape should be downgraded to something less than it is. Not to nothing. Stephanie Ragusa, Mary Kay LeTourneau, and their ilk are predators. And they should not be allowed near children. But on the ground, the harm they cause is probably less than people think, and this means that the punishment is probably disproportionate.

Maybe I am completely off-base on this. This is just stuff that came to me as I was scanning today’s NYT, CNN, and BBC. And if it comes to me, it’s probably coming to PhillyBluejay. Either way, it’s posts like these that make me happy that I have a readership of five.

P.S. Whatever sentence Stephanie deserves, this lady deserves a longer one.

P.P.S. And still on the subject of sex-abuse reform … Thanks for sparing us, Hef. And way to play the sympathetic figure, Kate. Really, ever since the last episode of Jon and Kate plus eight plus Jon’s girlfriend plus Kate’s lawyer minus Jon, it’s hard to tell who has become the biggest loser. Kate, you are currently in the “lead.”

P.P.P.S. Climate change denial, evolution denial, quantum mechanics denial, 2nd law of thermodynamics denial, and gravity denial are all just micro-symptoms of a more general science denial.

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