Friday, November 27, 2009

Another Fifth Estate Journalist beats a dead horse

I wrote a letter a couple of years ago to Hana Gartner on the Fifth Estate bemoaning her lack of creativity when she did a story on priestly sexual abuse in the Catholic Church. I said the Fifth Estate should uncover news, not beat dead horses and rehash old canards. She wrote me back, to my surprised, saying she knew it was a dead horse and that she will be doing an article on teacher sexual assault. In my letter I told her teachers abuse children 4 to 10 times more than priests. That article never surfaced from her.

Now another Fifth Estater has written about priestly abuse. His groundbreaking, original story has uncovered new facts and details which no one could have ever imagined... NOT. Lyndon MacIntyre continues to harp on a worn out issue that's well past its expiry date. Why not do something original? If I were a journalist, I would feel bad if the only thing I could do was rehash old canards. The fiction written by MacIntyre called The Bishop's Man talks about a priest who does the dirty work of a cold-hearted bishop. The bishop (of course) is moving around pedophile priests in order to protect the church and allow them to abuse again. The priest is in charge of keeping things hushed up for the Bishop. I guess MacIntyre felt the media hadn't covered this issue quite enough and felt compelled to offer his two cents worth.

Did priests abuse children? Yes. And it's very very terrible and ought to be condemned. But journalists like MacIntyre want people to think priests are far more likely to abuse people than others in society, which is simply untrue. The stereotype of pedophile priest is completely unjustified. Teachers, for example, are 4 to 10 times more likely to abuse children. In order to avoid this criticism, people like MacIntyre say they are not just talking about the abuse, they are talking about the leadership moving priests around. This is usually where people go when you point out that priests are no more likely to commit pedophile acts than anyone else. To respond to that accusation, we must look at some things. Nearly all of the accusation against priests emerged relatively recently, but actually occurred prior to the 80s. In those times, there was a different societal opinion of what should be done with sex offenders.

It was the prevailing professional opinion of psychologists and others at the time that people who committed these acts could be reformed and their behaviors changed and then they could be relocated. Most priests who were not taken away from their active roles or persecuted were sent for rehabilitation for a year or more then reintroduced, ostensibly cured from their psychological issues. It was not a nefarious plot by the hierarchy to abuse more children. The suggestion of this is absurd. A good point to make is that a parallel example occured in the education system. Teachers abused many more children than priests by a factor of at least 4 and perhaps higher than 10. In a whopping 98% of cases, teachers accused of abusing children were put back into their teaching position after a period of time, often in the same school. People would never claim a malicious plot by school administrators to abuse kids.

The point is there have been a million books, movies, documentaries, novels, etc. written on this topic and it's about time authors looked to other, more original topics. This is especially so when two of the fifth estates' top journalists cover the exact same issue. Perhaps "originality" should be added to the hard hitting reports of these journalists.

1 comment:

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