Thursday, November 24, 2011

Now that it's sports, the tables have turned

I was driving home not long ago when I heard Jian Gomeshi on his program Q on CBC Radio speaking with journalist Jane Leavy, from the Washington Post. She wrote an article in which she tries to sympathize with Mike McQueary, a wide receiver for the team, who witnessed Jerry Sandusky allegedly rape a 10-year-old boy. Mike told two school officials and Joe Paterno about the incident but did not contact the police or any other law enforcement agent.

Jane Leavy then wrote an article exploring all the possible psychological issues a person faces in these situations and says he is perhaps not all that blameworthy.

Her article takes the form of a letter to Mike McQueary, beginning with the following:

Dear Mike,

We don't know each other and I doubt we will ever meet, though I'm available if you want to talk.

She goes on to explain away the action or inaction of this man.

The reason I am writing this is not to say she wasn't hard enough on Mike. I'm writing to show the hypocrisy in the world of journalism. No one ever wrote a letter saying they understand the actions of the handful of bishops who did not report the activities of a small number of priests to the authorities. These bishops were lambasted for not going to the police. In fact, people have condemned the entire church, and have tried to implicate the Holy Father himself.

I have seen no attempt in all the years since the Catholic sex abuse story broke to try to explain the actions of the bishops from everyday journalists. This is an amazing double standard.

And this is not the only case of childhood sexual assault to be found in the sports sector. More and more cases emerge all the time of sexual abuse of minors by hockey coaches. So it's not an isolated incident.

But even though these abuse cases seem widespread in sports, just as much or more than in the Catholic Church, I don't hear anyone say the entire NCAA or NFL or NHL are guilty of these crimes. I don't see multi-million or billion dollar lawsuits emerging. I certainly don't hear anyone say marriage must be the cause for the actions of this minority of sports leaders.

One thing about all these stories is that it is emerging that sexual abuse does not only happen in the Catholic Church, it happens anywhere where there are children. That is becoming very clear, and in some areas it's far worse than in the Church. Nowadays the Church is the safest place for kids anywhere. For example, out of 40,000 priests in the US in 2008, there were only 6 accusations of sexual impropriety. That's accusations, not convictions.

If this lady wants to write an article which attempts to understand the actions or inactions of this sports player, that's fine, I don't have a problem with that. My main problem is that the Catholic Church is portrayed as uniquely bad, and cut absolutely no slack. Rather the entire Church is implicated and hardly a journalist anywhere tries to correct that misperception. How about less bias?

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