Friday, March 26, 2010

Suffer the Children: The Church and "Problems of this Sort"

William Donohue, of the so-called Catholic League, on the ever-growing child-abuse scandal:
Employers from every walk of life, in both the U.S. and Europe, have long handled cases of alleged sex abuse by employees as an internal matter. Rarely have employers called the cops, and none was required to do so.
Though this is starting to change, any discussion of employee sexual abuse that took place 30 and 40 years ago must acknowledge this reality....
Is Bill Donohue equating the sexual dymanics of the workplace (screwed up and horrific as it sometimes might be) with child rape? Does he really mean to compare children with subordinate adult employees harassed or molested by their bosses?

In any case, here's the best—indeed, the only—comparison he can come up with:
According to a report by The New York Times in October, the Brooklyn district attorney's office had filed charges in 26 cases of sexual abuse involving members of the ultra-Orthodox Jewish community.
Note the "filed charges" in this sentence—which is notably lacking in stories where the Church is involved.

And then we have the usually sensible E. J. Dionne, writing in the Washington Post (via Atrios) :

Enemies of the church will use this scandal to discredit the institution no matter what the Vatican does. Many in the hierarchy thought they were doing the right thing, however wrong their decisions were. And the church is not alone in facing problems of this sort. [emphasis added]
Really? The church is not alone dealing with the abuse, molestation, and rape of thousands of children? Other than perhaps NAMBLA, can Dionne name another organization dealing with "problems of this sort"?

Is this going to be the new talking point offered by defenders of the Church: "Why pick on us; even though we can't think of anyone, everyone else was raping children and covering it up, too?" 

Update: Does three make a trend? Matt Taibbi discovers Archbishop Timothy Dolan making the same claim:
But he condemned the media for portraying child sexual abuse “as a tragedy unique to the church alone. That, of course, is malarkey.”
Taibbi's reaction is the same one I had to similar statements like Donohue and Dionne:
One expects professional slimeballs like the public relations department of Goldman Sachs to pull out the “Well, we weren’t the only thieves!” argument when accused of financial malfeasance. But I almost couldn’t believe my eyes as I read through Dolan’s retort and it dawned on me that he was actually going to use the “We weren’t the only child molesters!” excuse.