Saturday, January 13, 2007

SEX OFFENSIVE
In a recent Post it was noted that like the imperial adventure it helped spawn, the sex-offense Advocacy – or that division of it that administers the priest-abuse campaign against the Kathliks - was seeking to declare its "war" extended to the entire world, nor would it go out of business until "healing" is fulfilled all over the world. In short, the Advocacy is declaring its war to be permanent. That was last weekend.

In a curious coincidence, a Federal judge in Kentucky has allowed some self-reported victims to sue the Vatican in the American courts. The Soviet-style reader is always intrigued by "coincidences". It is the unstated conceit of so many of our domestic Revolutions that they are just the spontaneous result of grassroots, honest folk standing up for themselves; this is mirrored in news photography that now seems often to be a sub-division of commercial modeling photos or those old clealrly-posed ‘candid’ shots of stars in the old Hollywood fan magazines. Industrial-strength Advocacies over here find it in their interest to hide behind the image of what used to be known as "Mr. & Mrs. John Q. Public". Just folks, y’know, doin’ the right thing. So similar to the government, curiously, and to the JAGs and their little system that presides over Guantanamo and other such places here, there, and everywhere. There really are fewer than ‘six degrees of separation’ in our modern American reality.

So this Southron venue has allowed the Vatican to be sued. One alleged case took place "in the 1970s", a rather vague reportage, given that not only typewriters but even computers were available at the time. 1970? 1979? Memories are perhaps dim. Which is not surprising, since it was between 28 and 37 years ago. But when it’s the "Boston Globe" doing the ‘reporting’ and the Advocacy pressing the release, then one must tap one’s nose. Just procedure, ma’am. Just the facts, please. The accused priest is already doing time for other abuse convictions; granted the questions that lurk in the ‘conviction’, he’s already done for: even a bleeding shark will be turned upon in a frenzy like this.

There are two other plaintiffs, only one of whose cases is discussed. The abuse – vividly and life-shatteringly invasive, as we ‘know’ – was allegedly perpetrated in 1928. It was the Presidency of Coolidge (or was it Hoover?); the Great Depression had not yet begun; Weimar Germany was doing quite well, thank you, and some whackjob agitator named Hitler was trying to finagle his way to dictatorship without success; the tremendously successful Italian dictator Mussolini was draining the Pontine marshes and had turned Italy into such a model of efficiency that even the trains ran on time, while simultaneously giving her an invincible army of "8 million bayonets".

The plaintiff’s age is not given. It would have to be somewhere north of 79, and 90-plus would not be a surprise. We are expected to sigh in thanksgiving that the long nightmare is now over for him and he can begin to "heal". If his plaint be true, then may he find peace.

But while we can watch daytime TV, make up our own minds, and get on with our daily chores – perhaps fortified by his example, things cannot work that way in the process of administering Justice. If the awefull power – and though non-physical, it is still a form of violence to a life and a self – is to be deployed against someone, then those responsible for so deploying it, and those in whose name it is thus deployed, must make damn sure that it is rightly deployed. Because in the non-flat Universe, the action will be Noted, and there will be Consequences. We can say that the flattening of our concepts of the Universe have hugely enabled some monstrous undertakings in recent decades; and the concept of Consequences is poised to make a come-back, as the reality of Consequences begins to assert itself at long last. Thus Iraq. Thus too, though less noted, the sex-offense frenzy.

The accused priest has been dead for more than half a century. While it is possible to imagine that the plaintiff had with-held coming forward because the temper of times was adverse, that has not been true now for quite a few years. Even before we get to the massive problems of evidence and witnesses still surviving, we have to wonder about the ability of the plaintiff to recall anything: not that his memory might be ‘repressed’ but rather that at this point it may not be sufficiently intact. He remembers only a "Father Lawrence" at a parish church 79 years ago; there was a priest at that parish with that first name at that time, a matter of historical record hardly inaccessible. Beyond that, what do we have to go on?

The process of rendering Justice is one of the most vital functions of a government. In the old ‘social compact’ theory, citizens yielded their right to wreak personal vengeance to the ‘government’ (whatever type it might be), and the government undertook – although not in so many words – to wreak vengeance on their behalf. Perhaps the purpose was to satisfy the aggrieved, if their complaint was found to be true; perhaps the purpose was to demonstrate to other citizens that the government was on the job and such behavior would not be tolerated. Probably a mixture of both.

And in the Western culture of early centuries, such sifting to find as much truth as could be found in the matter, and deciding formally, and imposing some suitable punishment – all that laborious work of ‘due process’ was carried on under the awareness that there was a God, or at least some force, that enforced Justice and avenged not only crime but the willful mis-deployment of Justice. That spackled up their sense of what we would now call ‘professional responsibility and integrity’, although – human nature being what it is – never perfectly. And even beyond that awareness was the sure hope that even if a malefactor escaped punishment in this world, s/he would most certainly encounter it in the Next.

In a way, the multi-dimensionality of their concept of Existence helped keep the process of rendering justice both conscientious and modest. There was a Vertical and there was also a Beyond. Space and time as it was known were not the only dimensions of Existence or of the Universe or of Life; Lincoln knew whereof he spoke in referring to "our poor power to add or detract". And we might add: to find out, to figure out, to determine.

But the collapsing, the flattening of our postmodern concepts of Existence and the Universe and Life, created a tremendous vacuum, and that implosion created a tremendous heat as human affairs were – as if swallowed in a black hole – rapidly compressed into the flat surfaces and appearances of Existence. It is a volatile heat. It melts accuracy and agitates modesty – for now government must (and not unwillingly) assume an Ultimate role to which no earlier mortal arrangements had ever pretended. Or dared to pretend.

If this development is inimical to a great deal in Western culture and civilization, it is even more lethal to that form of carefully-modulated governmental authority suitable for this Constitutional Republic.

Eerily, both the ‘secularist’ Advocacies and the Fundamentalist ‘believers’ have been hard at work, inflating the government to dimensions far beyond that of mortal beings. The ‘secularists’ effect this by removing any usable public (and often even private) Beyond; the Fundamentalists effect it by claiming that they – though mere mortals – are now Deputized by the Beyond through the process of declaring themselves "saved". Either way, the awefull result is the same.
Other elements come into play, human nature being what it is. If the Church in the United States is a deep-ladened if inattentively-captained treasure ship, the world-wide Church is a splendorous argosy, even a treasure fleet. That such treasure-laden holds might be opened doubtless constitutes – for certain types – a dream beyond imagination. But no longer beyond possibility, our modern American reality being what it is.

That the Kathliks might be taken down many pegs – not only through the potential loss of untold riches but through the loss of social authority – no doubt sweetens the fervent incantations of others.

And calculations can be made, and plans implemented.

Thus the Kentucky gambit. We are to accept as given that an adult can be horribly invaded, wait almost 80 years, and then come forward in a marvelous coincidence to demand the acceptance of his admittedly sketchy memory. Or perhaps not horribly invaded, but still abused or molested, whatever content those terms might bear.

It is possible. But how on earth are we ever to know? This is not meant to infer that it didn’t happen, but only to reassert the awareness of our notable human limitations in the determination of Truth and – ultimately – in our ability to realize our own Ideals. Whether that "Father Lawrence" failed his own Ideals 80 years ago, and to what extent he did so, is no longer a matter within range of our poor equipment to discover. Statutes of Limitations were evolved to reflect that humble but hugely accurate awareness, that knowledge of ourselves and of our communities.

To acquiesce in the demands of this Advocacy that we – We – take upon ourselves and upon the machinery of our delicately-balanced Republic and our truly fragile Experiment in self-government the heavy burden of omniscience is dangerous folly. As dangerous as asserting that we "make the history" and that we can control Outcomes stretching back deep in Time.
As expected, the business of Advocacy now seeks to keep in play a game that has already caused very significant damage to the structure and integrity of our legal system, our media, our own societal ethos.

Eerily, it does so just as the government in its foreign affairs now seeks to expand a grossly-misconceived war into further war. And in an barely-hidden demonstration of its awareness of our debauchery, the government – the President himself – said in his most recent national address that he cannot stand by and not come to the aid of "a young democracy that is fighting for its life"; he’s doing it for the children. As Janet Reno sent her troops into Waco, to save the children who were maybe in danger of abuse.

It won’t be long before some preacher says of the Iranians what one preacher in the war’s heady run-up said of Saddam: that they’re child molesters. How any man or nation – short of making child-molestation part of a religious or civic ritual – can wreak more harm on children than an invasive and assaultive war escapes me. Does the Scriptural imprecation against those who scandalize little children enter into this picture? If so, will Consequences be enforced?
What once might have been slouching toward us to be born is no longer. It has arrived in our midst. It is here. There is not much time; we may yet find ourselves uttering the awed cry of the Japanese generals and admirals in late Spring of 1945: Hell is upon us.

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