Thursday, April 26, 2007

Chez Odysseus


Let me make something clear: It has never been my intention to flog the same subject. And my first interest has always been the war and Our relation to the government. But that’s exactly how I got interested in this ongoing sex-offense mania: In trying to figure out how the hell We could have gotten bamboozled not only into Bush but into this war – and how many of Us even came to feel it was a Good Thing, I was profoundly rattled when I noticed that the same bamboozlement had been thoroughly field-tested in the sex-offense mania of a decade or so before. And, it appears, is still going on – so that the same capacity for (self-)bamboozlement that was first exercised in the sex-offense mania is still going strong, even as the war-mania which is its offspring starts to pass (which is not at all to say that the consequences of our binge while in the war-manic mode are going to pass).

It’s hard to get one’s heart around: since the fall of the USSR in 1991, sixteen years following the Moment when a massive surviving chunk of the awfulness of the 20th century suddenly melted into thin air, presenting a world-wide opportunity of almost miraculous proportions, and the United States allowed itself to become consumed in the assorted Outrageous Emergencies of the various Identities, not only thereby missing the chance to exercise a truly nation-mature role in the reformulation of the planet’s political and social being, but also so deeply deforming its own ethos and praxis that when at last a belated U.S. effort to engage the new world situation was made, it was – almost prophetically – monstrously deformed into a violent, invasive, military thrusting that even in its death throes destroys the lives and souls of all who come into any contact with it.

Meanwhile, the planet – true to History’s dynamic nature – has refused to simply play the backdrop either to the assorted Advocacies’ set-piece melodramas or to the military’s set-piece warfare. The planet’s ecology is starting to tank, and that danger is so stupendously awefull that even the warning signs of a fading U.S. economic hegemony (or even security) must accept second-place in the claim for Our attentions.

So why keep coming back to this sex-offense thing? Because it was here that Our debauchery was set in place. And almost any of Us who can read were sentient during the past 10 or so years that this thing has metastasized, AND probably thought that the sex-offense thing was a Good Thing even as We enjoyed the brief giddy thrill as matters – like a roller-coaster car starting the down-phase – began to gather speed in their race to the bottom. And perhaps, like the proverbial schmuck falling off a tall building – We won’t feel anything but exhilaration until the very last couple of stories. ‘So far, so good!’.

In which case, the last stories coming up pretty quickly in all of the various stories in which We now play a part, then a more than cursory consideration of this sex-offense stuff might help Us understand how We were debauched, are debauched, and have helped to debauch Ourselves. Thus soberly fortified, We might better take such corrective action as are still open to Us.

So, to today’s article in Salon “Churches slam doors on sex offenders” by Eilene Zimmerman (, and it’s a very useful piece of reporting indeed. I’ll just tick off points as I go through.

One preacher reports that he gets calls “every day now about this”, the ‘this’ being so-called Christian congregations greatly put out by the presence of sex-offenders who want to worship. This particular preacher runs “Keeping Kids Safe Ministries” in Tennessee. And I think that’s part of the problem. First, there is only one Christian ‘Ministry’, and that is the Ministry to proclaim and live-out the Gospel. All good things flow from that or they won’t flow at all. This tendency, seen more on the Protestant rather than the Catholic side of the aisle, is a not-unnatural result of the Protestant tendency – untrellised and unfenced by strong, thick doctrinal and sacramental wood – to grow like kudzu in all sorts of directions. Which, in the American setting means ‘marketing’ of ‘services’, and ‘marketing’ means offering stuff relevant to whatever is the rage, craze, or preference of the moment.

Second, there is a queasy theological problem evinced in the thing: The Christian’s job is to be faithful to the Gospel, and then God is trusted to work things out in history – and if those results are not to the faithful’s liking, then faith still requires them to accept His will. Now this is not an either-or sort of thing: Faith does not preclude Works or actions. But it’s ever an American weakness to emphasize the Works/Actions over the Faith and to market either as effectively as possible.

The preacher goes on to say that “we train about 50 churches a week”. Something of an overstatement, surely – as is so much related to sex-offense stuff. Unless mailing out a couple-three brochures and pamphlets qualifies as ‘training’, then this ministry must be more complex than the Department of Defense. Or maybe a tad of ‘sharing’ or ‘venting’ or ‘testimony’ counts as such ‘training’. In any case, the self-attributed ‘train’ is too generous, and more than a tad misleading.

A rabbi defends his sending a legal letter to a convicted and released child molester refusing the man (as always) permission to worship: congregants had come to him, “in pain” and what else could he do? The trumpery of “pain” – the expectation and the demand that one’s feelings take precedence over any other considerations, rational or legal or moral or spiritual – is a development of recent decades that has created havoc with the very foundations of our society and culture and the very foundations of Law and Justice. Nor have any of the moral, spiritual, political, or legal guardians stood against it. Indeed, there are schools of ethical, spiritual, political and even legal thought that think ‘feelings’ should trump. Yah. We felt so bad after 9-11; naturally, we felt it was OK to launch a pre-emptive invasive war based on falsehoods. Our ‘pain’ was so great; surely the world would understand; surely nobody would have the insensitivity to complain. Surely.

“A congregation is a very big family”, the rabbi goes on. Well, no it isn’t. A family is a family. A congregation is a bunch of people – individuals come together, called together by God, on their journey through Time, in order to deepen and share their Faith and their faithfulness. Once again, the American myopia is to Flatten matters into the realm of Action and Appearance, of the Familiar: thus the congregation is a ‘family’ and the preacher/rabbi/priest is ‘Daddy’ (or – feel free – ‘Mommy’). No. If people have come into a worshipping community expecting to find a ‘family’ or having been led to believe that ‘being a family’ is the great, beating heart of Faith then the horses have already come out the wrong end of the gate. ‘Family’ is a genetic bond that unites its members on levels far far deeper than our poor power to fully comprehend; consequently it is naturally and by definition ‘exclusive’. This is not quite the case with a worshipping community that has come together because of God’s call, and not because of any secondary or tertiary or quarternary considerations: I had a bad family life myself and want to make up for it, we all drive expensive cars and have nice houses, I like the glass windows in this church.

A professor of Islamic Studies at Duke University (you remember Duke) “says that the ingtegration of sex offenders is simply not discussed in mosque communities”, but if it were he “says it’s likely it would be difficult to allay the fears of parents”. Once again, the loose and dangerously inaccurate use of terminology: a ‘sex offender’ – legally – could have committed or not-committed a vast range of acts, of which acts against children are only one possible subset. But, as noted elsewhere on this site, I think that this conflation indicates far more than sloppy mental discipline; it also reflects the awesomely unsettling fact that the sex-offender mania has fed off the same poisoned roots as the old soviet ideological lust for erecting a class of “objective enemies”, any one of whom can be made to ‘stand in for’ all the rest as an object of the ‘anger of the masses’.

Another preacher, trying to get his congregation to agree to accept a repentant and time-served “convicted sex offender”, is surprised “that so many members of his congregation had been sexually abused as children”. Hmmm. How would he know? He proposes an unconventional plan, and suddenly scads of folks raise their hands and say they had been abused … nor will any of them expect to have to prove that assertion. Is that wise? To accept these claims at face value in a situation where the sudden-revealer has something to gain? And as ever, what constitutes the ‘abuse’? Not only is the definition monstrously elastic but the diagnostic criteria in the extant self-diagnosis, self-help books are so broad – not to say universal – that almost anybody would qualify. Are you uncomfortable in the presence of hot coffee and you don’t know why? … Well, it’s because you were abused (Daddys drink coffee … See? It’s science!).

But the preacher then goes from being a victim to being part of the problem: he “estimates” that a quarter of his female congregants and a tenth of his male congregants were sexually abused as children. These sex-offense numbers always raise more questions than they purport to answer. How does one ‘estimate’? If the definition of one of the prime variables (‘sexual abuse’) is so elastic and variable itself, how can you do any extrapolation?

Of course, if this preacher were to ask any of the foregoing questions – either as to proof of or even the nature of any individual claimant’s “abuse”, or if the preacher were to put up a blackboard and start trying to crunch some numbers, that preacher would be instantly cut off as being ‘inappropriate’ and ‘insensitive’; lawsuits might well follow.

Just where the soul-searing demands of the Gospel end and congregants’ far less spiritual motivations take over, is a question crying out for answer. The inability of nominally Christian faithful to extend forgiveness to a sex-offender indicates both a besotment with soviet scape-goating and a less-than-deep appreciation for and commitment to the Gospel of Christ. Now when you think on this, you get an inkling of why some – and not a few – folks thought that Jesus being killed might not be such a bad thing. (No, I don’t mean because the crowds are Jewish; the Gospel crowds are ‘Everyman’ (or woman … to borrow a phrase.)

And, as the article wonderfully points out, the chances are excellent that the congregation already harbors numerous sex-offenders in its midst (just about equal to the number of men in the congregation, some feminists would insist); it’s just that most of the sex-offenders haven’t been caught yet (another assertion with which feminist wisdom would entirely agree). After all, even on their own report, the purportedly victimized congregants must be sharing a lot of space and time with such offenders if so large a proportion of them have been abused/molested. Either that or their town is fuller of wandering zombiefied Strangers than a 1950s sci-fi horror flick. But of course, it is always Politically Incorrect to do the math, even of the victims’ or advocacies’ own claims. When Hitler claimed that he was invading Poland because a couple-three ‘Polish soldiers’ had invaded Germany and tried to take over a radio station, no Good German was expected to pull out a map and ask how such purported Poles got there. And can We wonder how We all got diddled by the run-up to the Iraq war?

One preacher, struggling to persuade his congregation to let in a registered sex-offender, claims “After all, he’s human just like everyone else”. The shocking thing about this comment is that it needs to be made at all; are there congregants who think that he isn’t? But of course. And we can thank demonization and the soviet class-objectification for that. Such strategies, rooted in primal human darknesses, have succeeded monstrously well among Us.

And finally, as one congregant and mother of an 8-year-old girl gasps: “Evil has already touched our lives”. This declaimed upon her discovery that “this individual had been worshipping among us and we had been unaware of it”. Surely the gentleman would not leap upon somebody in the middle of a hymn? Where is the actual danger here? Or is it rather the primal pleasure in defining oneself as being not-Evil?

If so, then who among Us, especially today, can stand at that Latter Day? Or even next Sunday?

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Monday, April 23, 2007


I’d like to move beyond this matter, but things keep developing, and the whole thing is important not only for itself but as a template for other and even larger national policies – foreign as well as domestic – and as a source of reflection as to how We came to be infected in the first place .

In “Commonweal” magazine, Mark Sargent has a piece entitled “When Abuse Victims Squander Their Moral Authority”, which tells us so very much more than it intended to (

Apparently there are now flying squads of members of an organization called SNAP (Survivors Network of Those Abused by Priests). These units have taken it upon themselves to target those “about whom the diocese [of Wilmington, Delaware] found ‘credible or substantial complaints of sexual abuse of minors”. That diocese had contributed to the tribulation by releasing the names of twenty or so former priests in that category. Most of them were ‘former’ by means of having died (thus facing a Court without SNAP input and quite possibly therefore the self-declared victimery would not accept Its findings).

At least one of the twenty was still above-ground, although he had ceased serving as a priest 20 years ago or so, and lived now in another state. Apprised of his residence within their ‘jurisdiction’, that local chapter of SNAP “went door to door in his neighborhood distributing a file of documents with the title ‘Community Notification Project: Protect your children from a credibly accused sex offender’”. This last despite the fact that the gentleman has never been charged with, let alone convicted of, a sexual-abuse crime. A similar deployment in another state resulted in a priest whom the FBI and local police had investigated and declined to charge being “hounded” into resigning his pastoral duties and leaving the state.

There’s as much to say about the magazine as there is about the SNAP-squads. But first it has to be noted that nobody who lived through the era of Mao’s Cultural Revolution (the immediate progenitor of Our own unruly brood) can be surprised except by the queasy realization that “it” is most definitely happening here.

The magazine is to be commended for sticking its head up out of the media formation and actually addressing (however delicately) the heretofore sacrosanct and unask-able question of the behavior of some of these groups. Still and all, no reader aware of our modern American reality can read the article without making the necessary mental bracketing: Who has declared any member of these groups a “survivor”? On what demonstrable authority is the privilege claimed? For, after all, to ask such a question is not merely to be flint-hearted in the distribution of sympathy; these ‘victims’ apparently consider themselves above the law or beyond it – perhaps because the ‘emergency’ of priestly sexual-abuse has over-ridden the rule of law for quite a few years now.

The SNAP-pers apparently feel that ‘sexual abuse’ is such a pressing and outrageous emergency that any scruples about slander or libel are irrelevant, that concerns for ‘accuracy’ are indications of “sympathy for a devil” (to borrow a phrase), and that no DA in his/her right mind would dare to bring charges against them anyway. No doubt behind this thinking lies the old soviet presumption that members of the class of oppressors and ‘objective enemies’ by definition cannot be ‘victims’, and conversely that no class of ‘victims’ can victimize. You can’t say that the soviet system really had an appreciation of the unsleeping duality of human nature. Now the Catholic Church did and – buried beneath a few decades of smiley-faced goo-goo fluff – still does.

And of course, what is the definition of ‘sexual abuse’? This question does not represent a ploy of ‘denial’ or ‘minimization’, such as would get you a sound verbal and emotional thrashing if you raised it in group-therapy. This is the urgent and grave question of what precisely is it that is being targeted by the criminal law and its penalties, in order to assure a just and accurate conviction and a punishment proportionate to the act(s) proven to have been committed. Thoughts? Words? Deeds? What sort of deeds? How old is the ‘child’? (The ‘child’ could be a day or two from starting military recruit training).

There is a price to be paid for a lascivious use of the criminal power. For one thing, society is deprived of whatever contribution the convicted might have made or might make (especially nowadays, when having paid one’s debt to society or even having been adjudged as not having a debt to pay is no guarantee that a flying-squad of ‘victims’ will not appear to wreak a ‘service’ that in an earlier and more candid time was called ‘vigilante justice’. Further, society creates enemies for itself if it becomes lascivious in its deployment of the violence of criminal justice; and if in addition that society were to dispense with Truth, with accuracy, with Justice itself, then such Enemies thus raised up would be formidable and relentless indeed. Has that not become rather clear from Our experience on the Eastern front?

The magazine has also failed – though it is hardly alone in this – by accepting the essential premises of the Maoist script: when a bunch of Red Guards/Victims show up on its doorstep muttering and wailing, the magazine instantly adopts the submissive posture of the ‘discovered’ or ‘uncovered’ (so to speak) counter-revolutionary or ‘revisionist’ who is respectful of his heroic discoverers and now wishes only to be allowed to apologize to ‘the people’ for his errors of (fill-in-the-blank) and will gratefully accept any re-education that the heroic vanguard of the suffering masses might choose to impose.

Or – at least – the magazine is willing to accept that ‘the priests’ are guilty and join the baying chorus. Which is not quite so courageous.

This is a trahison, no matter how thickly cloaked in ‘sensitivity’, ‘contrition’ (justified or not), and ‘open-ness’. Certainly, a priest who has been proven to have had sexual relations with a child is responsible for great criminal and moral and – let’s not mince words - supernatural consequences. But in the criminal law there is no legally usable ‘class’ of such priests whose ‘members’ are instantly and indubitably certifiable by their very nature as criminally guilty. Perhaps this is why the victimists harbor a barely-hidden resentment toward any of those keepers of the criminal law who still insist on the traditional stringencies of evidence and proof to determine guilt in each individual case.

For the victimists, the civil law is an easier nut to crack in theory and has proven hugely useful in practice. Once they permitted actions to be presented as a ‘class’ action, then the courts instantly created two ‘classes’ in the public mind: the class of ‘victims’-before-the-proof and the class of perpetrators-before-the-proof. With such a boundary crossed, the conceptual possibilities of monetary remuneration increase exponentially, and if somehow the ‘class’ can be determined to have a common and large asset, then attorneys of a certain sub-specialty will join the cause.

Once the media have joined in, responding to your PR spin of an ‘outrage’, an ‘emergency’ and ‘a hidden conspiracy unmasked among us’, and with sex thrown in on top of all that … once you’ve got those conditions going, then a good old southern California wildfire and firestorm are inevitable. Nobody who has seen those tornado funnels of dark hot fire up close rising up hundreds of feet in a spiral of ferocious destructiveness can fail to appreciate the tremendous energies unleashed by the properly nurtured combination of elements properly set alight.

If then the courts yield their ancient trust and loosen up rules of evidence, statutes of limitation, and the presumption of innocence until proven guilty, if indeed the courts or – worse – the legislators, grant an initial characterization of a claimant as a ‘victim’ or a ‘survivor’ before any adjudication or verification of such a claim has taken place, then several more of society’s defensive firebreaks are overrun – abandoned, actually.

And by the time all of that is ‘going good’, then only the hardiest bishop would want to risk the monstrous and dubious expense of defending each civil claim. But each such acceptance of a ‘class settlement’, though well-advised from a purely legal point of view, reinforces the completely undemonstrable assumption that each ‘claim’ thus settled was real and accurate. And it is that intensifying public misperception which thus toxifies the atmosphere for the (relatively very few) cases that come to the probing test of a criminal trial.

Not surprisingly, numbers given out by media – based on numbers given to the media by advocates and ‘experts’ – don’t seem to add up or don’t add up to percentages that stand out from the norm. This point, of course, is countered by the dual claims that a) in a church that claims its priests are so ‘good’ then any deviation at all is ‘horrific’ and b) if we base our expectations on ‘zero tolerance’ then it’s worth it if ‘only just one’ potential victim is saved. But should we invade a foreign country because the government has declared ‘zero tolerance’ for (fill in the blank)? Should we invade a foreign country in order to ‘save only one’ victim of (fill in the blank)?

And while the Church has high expectations of its priests, the Church has never lost sight of the fact that human beings can fail to live up to their calling.

Indeed, it is precisely the Church’s patience and tolerance of weakness that have been seized upon voraciously by the victimists as proof that there is a ‘cover-up’ massive in proportion and sacralegious in nature.

The bishops have not responded well, indicating that John Paul II’s great purge of the episcopacy that brought in dozens of ‘doctrinally strong’ prelates did not bring in particularly strong men. The Maoist ballet – the performance of which requires two – was greatly abetted by the cravenness of the American episcopacy, the ecclesiatchiki who yielded their priests to the victimist furor as easily as they betrayed their pope to the war-mongering of the Bushist Imperium.

The heavy burden of the Church, that She bears through the ages and will ever continue to do so, is to bear witness to Sin and Grace, sinfulness and redemption, the crooked lines with which God writes the history of humankind. For every one bishop who ‘covered up’ a monster, there were a half-a-dozen who tried – ineptly as often as not – to maintain some decent connection to a struggling soul.

Certainly, priests who err must accept the consequences. But those consequences must be proportional to the crime that has been proven to be committed. The Church owes that to Herself – to betray that is to betray Herself and Her mission. And if it is the instant retort of the victimists that the Church has clearly betrayed Her nature and mission in these sex scandals, then the Church would be the first to admit the imperfectness of Her efforts.

But in the modern Moment in which Americans consider the failures of the Church (whatever their actual proportions), We can hardly ignore the monstrous betrayals of nature and mission, of character and of integrity, that have gut-shot the whole Iraq effort, undermined the economy, and de-centered the government’s administration of Justice and Law and its adherence to Truth and Integrity of Character. We must soon face up to the fact that enacting mass-media autos-da-fe does not build the moral strength and integrity – individually or societally – that enables Us better to People the Republic and its government. In fact, the indulgence of such sustained demonstrations may well have contributed to the massive erosion of Our seriousness and competence, Our ‘gravitas’, as a People.

In the matter of all of these accused priests I would propose the following questions? Was his guilt determined by a trial and finding by a jury? What specifically was the act with which he was charged? (‘Abuse’ or ‘molestation’, those revolutionary buzzwords, therefore are not sufficient). If he was simply lumped together in some sort of civil ‘settlement’, then I would refrain from coming to any conclusion until fact was clearly established If I saw ‘numbers’ I’d pull out a pencil and do a little math for myself.

And if I found out that my priest was indeed ‘guilty’, I’d want to know whether it was of child-rape or something else altogether. On the basis of a laudable and visceral public rejection of sex with children it seems that a lot of other things have been tossed into the net to fatten up the final figures touted to the press.

It was the old soviet ploy to recoil from the foregoing type of proposal like a vampire from holy water, effecting a pose of righteous indignance and braying that such requirements would interfere with the administration of ‘justice’ against these class enemies of the people. That ploy cannot be indulged. We cannot afford it: legally, culturally, morally.

The Catholic Church in this country, it seems to me, has been the target of a Cultural Revolution masquerading as A Hundred Flowers Blooming. Its hierarchy has not performed well, its ‘elites’ are divided and fractious, and – so American – none of those involved are able to take the Long View (‘Long’ in Catholic time, not Bush-Pentagon time). Nor for that matter – again, so American – are those involved able to take the High, the Wide, and the Deep View. And there are other forces in contemporary society that do not favor a robust Catholic presence.

And yet the world and even We are in great need of a wisdom that can sustain through times of genuine mass privation and horror. The biblical lean years are coming, and will no doubt arrive long before the far more adolescent-friendly End Times. As adults or adults-to-be, each American needs all the help s/he can get to sustain a mature and robust humanity and civic competence.

The search – relentless and squinty – for ‘purity’ is, historically, not a ‘Catholic’ obsession at all, but rather a Protestant one. Just as the Catholic Inquisition was begun as an intellectual inquiry into heresy, and it was only at the time of the Reformation that witchcraft became an overriding subject of inquiry (not improbably because the Protestant Reformers simultaneously needed to maintain a usable ‘enemy’ to bolster religious fervor while avoiding too deep a concern for ‘heresy’ since they were all, pretty much by definition, liable to that charge). The Catholic ethos became the ‘primitive’ earth-besotted, emotionally and materially besotted archaic miasm out of the darkness of which the pure and dedicated Reformers and their flocks created themselves from an act of focused will in response to a new Exodus and a refined Covenant.

The Church, though male-dominated, remained committed to and rooted in a Vision of human existence that is robustly Incarnational, respecting the blending of Spirit and Matter that reflects the human reality as Created, that is patient with the human instability that etches those myriad crooked lines – some so stunningly bloody and deep – that mark our history as a species. I will not reduce matters to the current specious conundrum of ‘masculine’ or ‘feminine’; the Church’s Vision seems profoundly human. The world as We know it, the world as it will or might or must become, cannot afford to lose It.

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Wednesday, April 18, 2007


Who wants to harp on anything? But the Duke and Imus matters are bringing a lot of usually in-house advocacy thinking out into the open. The fact that April is national sex-assault awareness month, or something to that effect, looks increasingly to not-be a coincidence.

The invaluable Truthout site reprints an article by Caryl Rivers that originally appeared on ‘Women’s eNews’ (‘Shock Jocks Wield Dangerous “Stereotype Threat”';

As best I can make it, the author is not pleased that the Duke bhoys “acted like victims” during a press conference with Imus on April 10. This to her is the equivalent, it would seem, of claim-jumping, and we sense clearly that some vital part of our national culture has indeed been regressed these past few years to the Old and Wild (I dassn’t say Wooly) West.

At first glance, it would seem that the boyos, unlovely as they and their ilk might be, do indeed – willy or nilly – occupy the ‘victim position’ in the matter at hand. In the case of their being accused of rape, it now appears clear that they were inaccurately and improperly targeted by both the media and – of vastly more import – the criminal law enforcement agencies.

But it is precisely this actual reality – the situation on the ground, as it were – that the author and this advocacy’s mindset and gameplan want us to ignore. As in the old Soviet revolutionary scheme of things, it is not the truth of the claims in any particular incident that is of primary importance. Rather, it is the usefulness of the particular incident – especially with the assistance of shrewd and relentless propagandizing – to ‘symbolize’ the plight and outrage and vengeance of ‘the people’ or ‘the masses’. An insistence upon factuality and accuracy constitutes a ‘bourgeois’ refusal to accept the verdict of ‘History’ and of the aforesaid ‘masses’, and brands one as an obstructionist and right-deviationist and a host of other arcane (but in their time deadly) monikers.

Thus, the politically correct way that matters should be presented is as follows: The male is an enemy class, unalterably boorish and sex-addled and sex-assaultive; the female is none of those things and is also thus inevitably the victim of this boorishness and assaultiveness. This is the fundamental class/group conflict, and thus in any particular incident it is this and only this aspect of the situation which deserves to be noted. It makes no difference whether in this particular instance, this particular member of the oppressor-class is ‘technically’ guilty or innocent, because by virtue of being a member of an oppressor-class each member of the class is always essentially guilty.

Any concerns not shaped by this reality are incorrect and counter-revolutionary (the modern term is ‘backlash’). And for a male-oppressor to dare to deem himself a member of the oppressed class, of the ‘victim’ class (to which all women by nature belong), is a monstrous perversion of the revolutionary order of being: men-oppressors/women-oppressed victims.

This is the web of assumptions hidden ‘under the table’ here. This web of assumptions is deeply similar to Soviet revolutionary praxis of 90 years ago. It is profoundly anti-Western and it is hell-and-gone from the Western concept of Justice. It is also – it has to be admitted – the guiding and grounding matrix for huge swaths of contemporary feminist thought and praxis, and insofar as the relevant advocacies have successfully insinuated this matrix into American jurisprudence and jurispraxis, this matrix is one of the more significant causes of the corrosion and corruption of our Law and the rule of Law.

My concern here is not that the boyos be considered angels; they are not – and no human is. My concern here is not that the boyos be recognized as the victims of this attempted miscarriage of justice; although they were the victims insofar as criminal charges were attempted to be brought against them for an act of which they were innocent. My concern is that We realize just what sort of monstrous thing We have welcomed into Our midst.

When feminist and advocacy commentators try to focus attention on the general and overall boorish unloveliness of the boyos, they are not simply trying to deploy the best available PR gambit to salvage the situation as best may be done. They are manipulatively trying to prioritize the conception that the boyos are members of a naturally-criminal class, and precisely not that they are individual and specific citizen-defendants in a criminal case based upon their individual and specific actions at a specific place and time against a specific claimant/complainant.

This Sovietish gambit results in the most virulent and lethal consequence of the Advocacies’ and the Identities’ long march: it reduces criminal law to the subordinate status of being ‘the teeth of the revolution’; to the status of being merely the Good Housekeeping seal of dis-approval on an already presumptively rotten product (i.e. the class called ‘men’).

In the Western and the American Constitutional system the deployment of the monopolized violence of the criminal law against a citizen is considered the most dangerous capacity of the State, and the one that must be most carefully circumscribed through due process, independent adversarial proceedings, and rules of evidence. The advocacies’ essentially Soviet conception of the role of criminal law is not only different from Western and American Constitutional Justice; it is not only divergent from Western and American Constitutional Justice; rather, the advocacies’ essentially Soviet conception of the role of the criminal law is utterly antithetical to Western and American Constitutional Justice.

The Soviet conception (regardless of whatever name with which it is re-badged) cannot in any way co-exist with the Founders’ conception of the role of criminal justice. The two approaches – the Soviet and the Founders’ – are mutually exclusive. No amount of PR spin or elite manipulation or coercion can make them otherwise.

Thus We can see the root cause of the monstrous derangement of Law over the past four decades. What was touted in the 1970s as ‘revolutionary’ in the sense of ‘new’ and thus packaged attractively for a youth-besotted American society obsessed with ‘newness’, was actually revolutionary in a very old sense, the Soviet sense.

And on top of that fundamental disconnect, it was not permitted to consider the ‘revolution’ from that perspective; to do so, to try to question, to kick some tire, to look more closely, to think things through, was considered ‘backlash’ and a sure sign that the skeptic ‘just doesn’t get it’ – the old Soviet-era equivalent terminology being ‘counter-revolutionary activity’ and ‘intransigent bourgeois’ (and they constituted, inevitably, a death sentence).

From a Western point of view, the unlovely boyos are indeed the victims in the Duke matter; from a feminist/advocacy/Soviet point of view, the boyos could never be victims because their class is by definition the oppressor, regardless of ‘facts’ or ‘specifics’ or other ‘mere technicalities’.

Before the fundamentalistic patrioteering of the Bushist Imperium and the profoundly cynical kabuki pretensions of military-style jurisprudence, American Constitutional law and jurisprudence had been consistently under attack for decades by the (domestically-camouflaged) revolutionary-soviet manipulation of Law. And nobody was supposed to notice it; and nobody who was anybody (or wanted to be anybody) was allowed to really talk about it.

It is the rock-solid wisdom of the Founders that no societal change, no matter how desirable, possesses in virtue of its virtues the authority to subvert the careful and precise fencing of the monstrous power of the State to deploy the criminal law. Weimar was not the first subsequent republic to find itself undermined when an ‘emergency’ and ‘outrage’ and ‘the need for protection’ were allowed to override its constitutional ethos; but it is the most vivid example of what happens when such stampedes are permitted.

In recent decades, the American ethos has suffered both civic and a legal corruption. Public discourse was not permitted to deliberate about huge, multivalent and numerous societal changes, and the criminal law was deployed as a mere adjunct to impress upon the citizenry this and that particular ‘revolutionary’ (they called themselves that, loudly and proudly) agenda.

We were well on the way to becoming a banana republic long before the Bushist Imperium. Worse, We had actually been under the impression – to listen to elite opinion – that We were on the cutting edge of a world revolution in ‘rights’. And that was true, actually. But it was not an ‘American-style’ 1776 revolution; it was that ‘other’ style of revolution, born of the fiery pure abstractions of France in 1789 and of the bloody-minded and remorseless determination of Russia in 1917 – both fortified by the purest of intentions and purpose. *

Ms. Rivers would like us to focus on that recent demonic evil: stereotypes. They have the power “to get in people’s head without their knowing it”; they are “insidious”, and can infect us “like microbes” and “powerful germs”. Stereotypes can victimize people (although oppressors by definition cannot be victims). Thus ‘stereotypes’ can exist unrealized, unperceived, “in the back” of our mind. (And this starts to sound like the now-standard boilerplate definition of the arch-evil 'Sex Offender'.)

One shudders to imagine what solution the Advocacy will propose on the basis of this diagnosis. Mind-probes enforced by the power of the criminal law? Security checks for thought-crimes? Some form of ‘Precog’ identification that will enable ‘pre-emptive arrest’ for sexually assaultive thoughts? Or ‘potentially’ sexually assaultive thoughts? We are well on the way to worse than a banana republic. A banana republic is grossly unjust, but there is a practicality to its purposes; a revolutionary paranoia-dise is impractical, indeed impossible, in its very essence, and can only wind up consuming its own citizens, as did both the French and Russian revolutions.

So it seems to me that in this month of national awareness, and under the helpful – if not totally coincidental – impetus of the Duke and the Imus affairs, We most certainly do need to look at this whole sexual-offensive thing.

Raise consciousness? Certainly. Educate? Certainly. Exhort? Certainly. But the subordination of the criminal law and Justice to any ‘agenda’ or programme, especially one that has not been widely deliberated by The People, is utterly and absolutely to be rejected. And when all of such hijacking’s attendant evils are considered – the erosion of Truth and honesty and integrity, the subversion of language, the suppression of civic discourse and the weakening of civic bonds among the citizenry, the derangement of the media’s indispensable role as reporters of fact – then such subornation of the criminal law must be resisted with all the vigor that a free society (however weakened) can muster.

We are not primarily victims or oppressors; Our identity is that We are Americans; that We are a free People, and that the world and the future are greatly in need of the legacy that We have been entrusted to preserve. Against this rock may neither the Bushist Imperium nor the Viktimist revolution prevail. Allons, enfants de la patrie …

* - I can't help but noticing the many similiarities between early Soviet practices and 'Advocacy' praxis. Beyond the Emergencyism and Overriding Justification of Good Intentions and the designation of a class of 'objective enemies' who are effectively both eternally and absolutely 'guilty' and interchangeable for the purposes of 'show trials' and other propaganda uses, there is also, inter alia: the profoundly paranoiac dynamic exemplified by Vyshinsky as the show trials of the later 1930s consumed the old Bolsheviks themselves. "The masks have been ripped away" he crowed, and those accused have been forced to show their "real faces". This abiding suspicion that even among 'us' there are those who although they appear to be among our 'best', are really enemies of the revolution seeking (the monsters!) to destroy the revolution ... seems precisely echoed not only in the "paranoid style" of American politics noted by Richard Hofstadter in the 1950s but also in the strategies and scenarios deployed by the several domestic Advocacies here since the 1970s, most especially the 'raping Man' and the 'sex offender' and the evil evil subset of the 'sex offender': the Stranger (though as we now know, well over half of all these cases involve familiar persons, not 'strangers'). Surely the eerie attractiveness of the Roman Catholic priest sex-abuse scandals of recent years has been not so much the description of what the accused were purported to have done (there is oddly and suspiciously little prurient revelation, suggesting that the purported 'horrors' were actually considered too thin to sustain the stampede) but rather this ur-theme of 'unmasking the hidden enemy in our midst', which consumed the attentions of the Soviet state from its birth almost to its end. The revolutionary 'theatre' surrounding the act of 'denunciation' - especially when it is a child who denounces an adult, such as the 'hero-child' Pavlik Marozov - figures largely in early Soviet praxis and also in Mao's Cultural Revolution of the 1960s and 1970s (eerily contemporaneous with the rise of the Advocacies here) and the antics of the Red Guard youths who lustily denounced adults who had been 'hiding' their 'counter-revolutionary' 'true natures'.


Stuff keeps coming out. Today up in Boston, Wendy Murphy the lawyer/law school prof/victimiste advocate goes on record in the "Boston Herald" as opposing a $700,000 incease in state funding for public defenders at the expense of the hugely tangled sex-offender registry board and district attorneys.

The money, she wails, "should hardly go to give even more money to the people causing some of the problems." Here, I say again, is an example of the Soviet-era roots of this particularly American lawlessness: An attorney and law professor shows no appreciation for, maybe no awareness of, the overriding Constitutional concern for ensuring the individual citizen some level of protection from the arbitrary imposition of the criminal law and the government power.

For Murphy and her ilk (and their name may be not simply Legion but Official Legion) the 'defendant' - being a 'man' and a 'sex-offender' - is a member of an objective-enemy class and is thus guilty as well as beyond redemption even before the trial that - with whatever integrity is left to trials in these matters - will declare his guilt or innocence. This is a soviet attitude; it is not an American attitude; it is an un-American attitude; it is an anti-American, anti-Constitutional attitude. And it is a firebell in the night warning us of just how profound and pervasive (from the Left as well as the Right) is the damage done to Our sense of the rule of law.

And again: who can be suprised that Cheney and Rove, ever alert to possibilities and far far more vigilant than the children of light, saw their way clear to embarking on the war in Iraq? The USSR went away in 1991. Eerily, its praxis and its philosophy had by then just reached the point of breaking into the bigtime in American legislation ... We are not haunted by the spirit of sovietism. We are infected by it.

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Tuesday, April 17, 2007


Just when you think it's all been discovered ... Cathy Young (of the estimable "Reason" magazine) had an Op-Ed in the "Boston Globe" over the weekend (April 16, page A11) in the matter of the Duke case.

She reinforces the impression - and I think it's hugely accurate, and ominous for Us all - that (a) from the very outset (b) a synergy of academics, the media, and feminst rape advocates (c) "were quick to tailor the still-unfolding case to a narrative of sexual abuse of a downtrodden black woman at the hands of privileged white males". Young then marvelously quotes one of these academics, a Duke literature professor (!), who characterized the accused players as "the politically dominant race and ethnicity [and] the dominant gender". Y'know, reading this type of stuff - just its style - is like plowing through tomes of Soviet 'thought'; but the similarities, alas for The Republic, do not end there.

As you can see from (a), (b), and (c) above, and as the feminists themselves have been trying to say for decades, a gang-bang is an ugly thing. And dangerous. And as I mentioned in the preceding Post about this case, it is the hugely insidious and destructive and dishonest paradox of this aspect of the feminist revolution that such gang-banging has to be instituted AND called a Good Thing in order to reach the desired broad, sunlit uplands of a crimeless, non-violent, tasteful, refined, but sexually vibrant and satisfying world.

The self-abasing and professionally 'trahisant' complicity of academics and the mainstream media in all of this stuff is now well-established. But Young also draws back the curtain on lawyers, and I think that this element of the revolting synergy is still not fully illuminated.

She quotes one Wendy Murphy, "a Boston-based, former sex-crimes prosecutor" AND "an adjunct professor at the New England School of Law". (They have special prosecutors for these shows now? I know they want to have 'special' courts for them - hardly out of keeping with a Western anti-tradition that includes Star Chamber and special Gestapo and SS courts.)

Sez Lawyer Murphy (on MSNBC): "I have never, ever met a false rape claim ... My own statistics speak to the truth." Wahllllll ... she says so much here. That she has never met a false claim - of anything - indicates either a very unwide experience or a very inadequate perception; that she reinforces her lack of knowledge with "never ever" indicates a penchant for confident exaggeration that does not speak well for a Member of the Bar or for a Professor - and in a law school to boot! And that she assumes that her own (grossly limited) experience or the perception thereof is - as the lawyers say - 'dispositive' and definitive and conclusive ... she's either not well or not competent or she is being very untruthful toward Us.

But of course, it would all be for the Cause, and in that Cause - or in any 'revolution' - the public are merely the bit-player extras, the anonymous heads of cattle in the herd that the vanguard trail-bosses of the Cause must whip along to the desired objective (so often in the 20th century, to an actual slaughter-house).

They are teaching this sort of stuff in law schools? It is considered worthwhile professional preparation for attorneys? And so there are now attorneys 'out there' who actually believe this stuff and that Murphy's way is the Way to proceed? The Way to practice law? And for how long has this been going on? May we now fear that there are judges out there who were professionally 'formed' by this sort of stuff and are now on the bench?

And - why not take all the bad news in one gulp? - have a number of these attorneys gone into the JAG corps? And if you haven't had any nightmares recently, imagine that they are now JAG prosecutors, where their deformed sex-0ffensive training is blended with the fundamental deformity of military 'justice' itself? And - if your pacemaker is up to it - imagine that one of these attorneys is assigned to defend a male service-member accused of a sex offense ... And we wonder where the treacherous and reprehensible Unitarium got the idea that the Law and Justice were up for grabs and could be twisted to any purpose that Power might choose?

Flaks like Murphy and her academic collaborators (and their name is Legion) and the likes of Jesse Jackson and Al Sharpton are presently trying to spin the Duke case as usefully as they can. Jackson prays that we can just all move on and give thanks that more damage wasn't done - as if butter wouldn't melt in his mouth. Others are going to try to focus on the Duke lads as the unlovely fratboy lumps that they surely do seem to be (but that's not a crime). Others are going to try to defend the whole sex-offense approach as 'revolutionary justice', wherein - if we recall our Soviet Thought and Praxis 101 course - the purpose of 'justice' is to embody and symbolize the outrage of the victimized masses against a particular class (any of whose members will do for the day's target, and the specifics of their guilt or innoncence be damned). So while the bhoys may indeed be "louts", the revolutionistas have made them kulaks as well. And that's - not to put too fine a point on it - not only 'unAmerican but anti-American and anti-Western.

Yes, yes - the aforementioned Rev Jackson said Western Civ had to go (the same Western Civ that grounded the gravitas portrayed in the film "Judgment at Nuremberg"). But by the Year of Grace 2007 We see that letting Western Civ go like an old and expensive employee has led to a moral chaos that has undermined not only Our domestic societal and cultural life and Our 'character' as a People but has also undermined Our Constitutional ethos and morally deranged Our government and - the bloody top-off on it all - the military that that government controls in Our name.

In emergency room parlance, a patient with this many interacting, synergistic problems is on the way to becoming a 'train wreck'.

As if to reinforce the alarm, Dr. Trudy Bond has an article on the Counterpunch site ( limning how senior Army psychologists and the governing level of the American Psychological Association are collaborating in the infliction of torture while simultaneously denying it and spinning it as professionally meritorious behavior.

Military chaplains flag-waving and exhorting like old-time Soviet 'political officers' while claiming to do it for Jeezuzz, military lawyers railroading doomed defendants while claiming it's all on the up-and-up, miiltary doctors under-diagnosing wounded vets in order to duck having to care for them while claiming to 'do no harm', military psychologists advising how best to torture while claiming that it's a good thing they've been hired to 'advise' ... and do We think that We are not accountable? What is happening to Us? How have We lost so much so quickly? Our decency, Our honor, Our integrity? Our ability to value the foregoing? Our ability to recognize - to admit - what We have lost? What We have allowed to be done?

However all that has happened, the brazen and disreputable imbecilities perpetrated by assorted synergistic revolutionaries in the sex-offense mania have certainly paved the road. Whether that road will lead Us all the way to hell is still within Our power to determine. But the road itself already reaches that far.


Stuff keeps coming out. Today up in Boston, Wendy Murphy the lawyer/law school prof/victimiste advocate goes on record in the "Boston Herald" as opposing a $700,000 incease in state funding for public defenders at the expense of the hugely tangled sex-offender registry board and district attorneys.

The money, she wails, "should hardly go to give even more money to the people causing some of the problems." Here, I say again, is an example of the Soviet-era roots of this particularly American lawlessness: An attorney and law professor shows no appreciation for, maybe no awareness of, the overriding Constitutional concern for ensuring the individual citizen some level of protection from the arbitrary imposition of the criminal law and the government power.

For Murphy and her ilk (and their name may be not simply Legion but Official Legion) the 'defendant' - being a 'man' and a 'sex-offender' - is a member of an objective-enemy class and is thus guilty as well as beyond redemption even before the trial that - with whatever integrity is left to trials in these matters - will declare his guilt or innocence. This is a soviet attitude; it is not an American attitude; it is an un-American attitude; it is an anti-American, anti-Constitutional attitude. And it is a firebell in the night warning us of just how profound and pervasive (from the Left as well as the Right) is the damage done to Our sense of the rule of law.

And again: who can be suprised that Cheney and Rove, ever alert to possibilities and far far more vigilant than the children of light, saw their way clear to embarking on the war in Iraq? The USSR went away in 1991. Eerily, its praxis and its philosophy had by then just reached the point of breaking into the bigtime in American legislation ... We are not haunted by the spirit of sovietism. We are infected by it.

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Sunday, April 15, 2007


The Duke rape case has been tossed. I Posted previously on this and I’m going to reprint most of the Post I wrote when it first came up. Then I’ll add my current comments after that.

(1st Post: Put Up Your Dukes)

Michael Donnelly outlines the Duke lacrosse (non-)rape case in “Injustice in Black and White” ( What he describes is a classic example of very bad things, done in a very worthwhile cause, solidifying into a Standard Operating Procedure, and indeed erected into a Plan. And thus taking us into the dark territory (yes, Mr. Cheney’s “dark side”) of things Soviet, which decent folks figured had been buried in 1991 along with the Soviet state itself. And this is the key reason why it’s commented upon here: we’re dealing with something very clearly representing Soviet praxis, and – as noted elsewhere on this site – it was present at the creation of the Iraq invasion (a mission, the White House asserts, whose success has simply not yet actualized).

The DA in the case had said to the newspapers early on “One would wonder why one needs an attorney if one was not charged and had not done anything wrong”. The answer of course, is that by the Year of Grace 2006 it had become clear to any number of defense-attorneys that any male even distantly associated with a ‘sex-offense’ already had one extremity in the sausage machine that has become sex-offense ‘justice’. No defense-attorney in his or her right mind, even before formally being retained and simply asked for advice, could advise any one in such a position to just go down to the station and have a chat with the folks down there.

Nor – as Donnelly accurately notes – were the defendants mediagenically ‘sympathetic’; indeed they were rather unlovely in a 1930s sort of way: macho frat-boys, many from well-heeled families, attending a powerhouse school with no small connection to the gummint and as close to an Ivy as one is going to find in the Carolinas.

The DA himself was up for election in a heavily black ‘town’, and going after such ‘gowns’ was a shrewd re-election gambit. That such political consideration would of itself be largely incompatible with the careful administration of criminal justice is so contrary to historic political praxis as to seem, like adherence to the authentic vision of Christ (or Gandhi), both ‘quaint’ and hopelessly ‘idealistic’.

But among the fuels for this fire the unholy mix of politics and criminal justiciaring was merely wood compared to the magnesium effect of the sex-offense phenomenon as it has now metastasized under the nurturance of advanced-level Advocacies and a media that has – to its own great profit – turned pretty much ‘yellow’. And the whole concoction has been distilled to the point where it has become a Script: it has its own roles, its own plot, and – worst of all – its own set of reactions and opinions which are to be assumed by the public, to be delivered on cue. Any deviation from whole-hearted support for the approved opinions bids fair to land the opiner in some modern-day, ‘democratic’ form of gulag.

There were few trees not flattened so as to smooth and clear the path for the winds that were generated to fan the flames; firestorms like the one that blitzed London on December 29, 1940 are now a common development. Courts and legislatures, media, even the free and full expression of the voice of the citizenry were all flattened, watertight-doors jammed open to make it easier for ‘justice’ against these ‘monsters’ to be efficiently wreaked.

The professionalism of our modern (and militarized) police and investigators – so brightly, brassily, and proudly limned in numerous current and recent TV series – was clearly compromised, the only real question being: was that professionalism eroded by the effects of this thing or was that professionalism itself purposely skewed to become part of the problem before the fact? The philosophy of Muldoon of the Strong Arm Squad seems not to have really been buried, and it is quite possible that beneath the SWAT chic and learned discourse on the varieties of hi-tech weaponry by starry-shouldered, crew-cut paragons, the rough peasant justice of the 1890s has been brought back from its grave.

Muldoon's philosophy of 'justice' and police work, from William Marshall's novel "New York City Detective", was that a good copper in need of a guilty party for a crime that had to be solved, merely went out and collared somebody he knew in his gut to be guilty of something and framed that bum for the crime, secure in the knowledge that justce was being done all around: this crime would be solved, his superiors would be satisfied, the framed would get what was comign to him, and someday somewhere some other decent copper in need of a guilty party would most likely come across the actual perpetrator, frame your actual perpetrator for his own unsolved crime, and that bum too would go away. Why waste a good copper's time thinking about things any more deeply than that?

A Duke law professor noted that the self-proclaimed victim was helpfully prodded by police in a line-up, to the point that they removed any speed-bumps – embedded in lawful procedure precisely for the purpose of discerning truth – that might deflect her from identifying, or at least choosing, a couple-three defendants. The rough peasant Southern justice of the 1950s has been brought back from its grave, if indeed it was ever truly staked through its heart in the first place.

Duke’s role is tortured. It pretends to the aura of the Ivy, but is actually deeply connected to the aforementioned gummint (and, at the risk of repeating myself, particularly to the JAG racket). Yet an echt Ivy nowadays must be ‘sensitive’ and ‘responsive’ (nor are those concepts in themselves at all undesirable). So the Duke honchos had to keep the ‘town’ happy, and not appear to be out of step with the Script, while at the same time not giving their alumni the impression that their fair-haired bhoys would be exposed to the crassery of criminal prosecution for frat-boy pranks from which great preparation for high-ranking or deep-connected government and business careers is irreplaceably derived. The battles of Democracy are won on the playing-fields and in the frat-houses, and we shall never surrender, and all that. Like a military now very Southron and evangelical – when not blatantly Fundamentalist and Dominionist – Duke wants to draw increased devotion from the quick-burning fuels of self-assurance and undisputed authority, leading to a clarity based not on deep, patient, sometimes tortured, always serious thought but rather based on having pushed all the troublesome pieces off the board. And yet simultaneously it wants to be seen as a major University in … some … sense. And, given our modern American reality, it most likely qualifies.

Prosecutor Nifong pulled some moves that could be called ‘sailing close to the wind’ but which are now securely ensconced within the Script: giving out inflammatory and skewed comments to the media, selectively releasing such facts as he chose, the thinness of the case cloaked by the lubricating miasm of ‘outrage’ and ‘sensitivity’ so that the public might not be given the uneasy impression that it was jumping the gun in concluding that the defendants were true ‘perps’, deserving of all the honors thereto appertaining in our prison-happy, perfect-security society. But then he went and outright lied to the court that there was no DNA evidence one way or the other, when indeed he had two sets of it that not only did not implicate the three selectees, but also did not implicate the other 40-plus members of the lacrosse team, and actually did indicate the ‘contributions’ (ah, the ever tasteful CSI!) of 7 other unidentified males.

This invites serious reflection on the effect that long-term (the Tawana Brawley episode took place about 20 years ago now) Emergency-ism and Outrage-ism is having on our domestic, civilian law enforcement personnel. Their sense of immunity to prosecution seems to be climbing toward that enjoyed by the JAGs and their investigative ‘organs’, who carry on that thing they do shielded and fortified by concentric rings of defenses: national security, special military concerns that ‘civilians’ wouldn’t understand, the gauzy, muzzy golden aura of the military as the embodiment of all things good and true as resurrected by the Reagan era, and now the even more useful waves of Advocacy-stoked ‘outrage’ that forgive without investigating any of their mis- or mal-feasances that inconveniently do manage to blunder out onto the stage. And all of this insurance on top of the foursquare organizational dogma that JAGs and military investigators are almost as free from Original Sin as generals and admirals. In the Southron theology, virginity seems to be enjoyed not only ,by the Mother of God, but also by the authority figures of the gummint (the aforementioned frat-boy forays and perhaps preacherly prayer-trips into gay sex and crystal meth not excepted).

A reflexive public response according to a Script – any Script – is hugely toxic to law enforcement and to society. Once a public response loses the vitality and unpredictability of serious sifting for the truth and becomes an almost completely predictable element, then the sad effects of Original Sin – especially when working within a so powerful and privileged an entity as a law enforcement organization – can figure a way around, just as water – however polluted – will still find its way in through any opening afforded to it through inadvertence or design. The hard job of Peopling means having to demand careful sifting for Truth, so that Our authority is not deployed in the service of un-Truth.

Nor let us be sidetracked by the pious bray that Nifong was ‘an isolated instance’, a ‘rogue’ individual: he had the bad karma to get caught doing the dirty, but he’s a full-fledged member of the fraternity. This very powerful fraternity.

Surely we’re seeing the problem in the Iraq war now. Other turkeys may be roosting over here already. Something other than concrete and steel structures has been seriously hit in this country, and not by furriners. This calls not for a tool as simple as the musket over the fireplace but rather for the inhabiting of those superior aspects of ourselves upon which the Framers and the beleagured (yet ever cagey) Lincoln pinned their deepest hope.

Nor can the role of the media in all of this be discounted. If it weren’t for the media re-embracing a form of ‘yellow journalism’, even when claiming that it was only the old Progressive ‘muckraking’ in a fresh Good Cause, then the scope and duration of the sex-offense mania – with all its truly dangerous consequences – could not have thrived as long as has been the case. And perhaps the entire run-up to the Iraq war might have been baffled, had the media hewed to Truth first, rather than down-playing slowly-brewed and expensive Truth for the cheap, fast red-white-blue lightnin’ of reflexive Outrage and patrioteering.

Now dozens of thousands of Our young remain obedient to Our word in the bloody wrack of the Eastern front, thousands of them are dead, and they have caused – willy or nilly – the deaths of further multiple thousands. We have much to do.

In his excellent little book “Postscript to Yesterday: American Life and Thought 1896-1946”, published in 1947, the eminently readable and insightful Lloyd Morris devotes a chapter, “The Uses of News”, to the development of the news-gathering trade in those eventful 50 years. Joseph Pulitzer determined that the best way to uncover wrongdoing was “to create by destroying, to affirm by attacking” [the quotations are from Morris], insisting always upon the truth of his facts but never failing to deploy them in the most sensational fashion possible, until it was finally observed back then that “trial by newspaper was becoming an increasing threat to judicial processes; the invasion of private rights was often without redress for the injured”.

William Randolph Hearst competed with Pulitzer for pre-eminence. He “was known far and wide for his opinions, not his standards” and “his editorial world was a world of sharp focus, lacking the light and shadow of profound moral conviction”. There is a texture to existence; it – like much of the desert – is not simply flat, lifeless, and predictable (as the Italian armored columns chasing Omar Muktar found out to their great damage and discomfiture). An inaccurate ‘clarity’, based not on a strenuously formulated awareness but rather on a juvenile ignoring of any complications, is bound to set one up for a world of hurt. And take maybe a lot of others into the blood and mire along with one. In the Cause of enhancing “democracy" Hearst poured gallons of garishly colored ink down the throats of the public, insisting that his hyped-up stories would make it easier for folks to grasp them, which as citizens they needed to do. About which the great Progressive muckraker Lincoln Steffens observed: “to give us a better government he would make us a worse people”. The thought cannot be avoided that some of our modern day ‘media’ honchos are channeling Mr. Hearst far more effectively than anyone in the White House used to draw upon astrological charts.

To the “New York Times” came Joseph Ochs, back in the 1890s. As he went on, observing the operating styles and philosophies of Pulitzer and Hearst, he decided that his newspaper would carry only “all the news that’s fit to print”. In other words, as against Hearst and even the truth-respecting but sensational Pulitzer, he would treat the intelligent American citizen to a wide and full and accurate record of all the important developments in all the relevant issues of the day, carefully presented. A ray of light, a light-house that – we would have to admit – has not been as well-tended of late; nor can the ship of the Republic any longer rely on it solely.

In an ever-spiraling cycle, the news media seem to be drawn down to frothy sensationalism rather than upward to serious deliberation. That it is in a good Cause – and toward increased profits – cannot justify it: Truth is being sacrificed. And if the rejoinder comes in the question “And what is Truth?” then a fundamental mistake has been made that, at the very least, should be clear to any who profess a working familiarity with the Old or the New Testament.

Whether Our own decreasing sensitivity to Truth and our own failing capabilities to determine it, and to demand It in our society – is a cause or an effect, is one of those questions that can indeed go on forever. The task immediately before Us is to take a more sober and serious road than heretofore, and thus to face full-on the massive and now monstrous issues that beset us and – through us – the world and its peoples. Whether the American thumb remains heavy enough to hold the world in place is a question of secondary concern; whether the American soul is still capable of being a Beacon and a Modell to the world’s peoples is the question of the day. How We answer it “shall mark us down in honor or dishonor to the latest generation.”

The New Year waits with eager groaning the revelation of the children of the Republic. What say We?

(Current Comments)

The first thing that stuck me was discovering that April was Sexual Assault Awareness Month. Of course, in its eagerness to keep everybody ‘happy’, the government has been dedicating assorted days, weeks, and months to this or that Good Cause or Fine Thought for quite a while. But it certainly struck me as a coincidence that the decision in Duke and the Imus dust-up all took place as Sexual Assault Awareness Month was just kicking off. If I were a PR firm for this Advocacy I would be considering re-affirming the existence of a benevolent God. No doubt, the PR forces assigned to capitalize on this Month were already assembled and on deck when Duke was decided; the Imus thing might be a bit more of a manufactured product than a coincidence, but in these things you never know for sure. Synergies abound.

The psychologist Carol Norris wrote an article on April 3 over on Counterpunch ( It’s essentially a rah-rah exhortation to the troops to kick off the Month. But there are some worthwhile points to note. First, she points out what is probably one of the strongest points in the conceptual foundation of sex-assault awareness: it’s about “respecting boundaries”. And ‘respecting boundaries’ is one of the most essential skills for communal living and citizenship. It presumes that each person knows his/her own identity, in order to perform the maturational task of defining what is me/mine and what is not-me/not-mine. And it provides the field upon which each individual might struggle with the ancient and crucial challenge of respecting that Self sufficiently to refrain from degrading It or degrading somebody else’s Self. In the ever-fluid shimmy of erotic arousal and attraction, young individuals need all the communal and cultural and societal support that We can muster to assist them in taking on and conducting that challenge.

Norris also notes that “2/3s of sexual assaults are committed by someone the survivor knows”. This certainly calls attention to the fact that the stranger-danger variant of the ‘sex offender’ mania – the most telegenic of the variants – is, perversely (if I may), the least likely. Still, it is a sad but essential duty these days to view with some skepticism any advocacy claims as to the number of ‘sexual assaults’: not only are numbers unreliable and not truly ‘scientifically’ obtained, but the definition of ‘sexual assault’ is so elastic that much more clarity must be ascertained before coming to any conclusions. (And yet we have made monstrous changes to law and public policy already, based on the dubious numbers and the dubious ‘science’.)

Equally so, it is utterly unjustified to automatically endow any claimant with the title of “survivor” as Norris does. First of all, the validity of the claims and charges and assertions have not been proven in whatever’s left of the criminal justice process. Second, it’s more than a little presumptuous and also manipulative to endow the subjects of one’s own advocacy with the title usually reserved for persons who have emerged from a situation that held the possibility of physical death. (And no – you can’t use ‘death’ metaphorically in this case; especially if you’re going to involve the criminal law.)

And this, it has to be said, is a direct result of the fundamental logical conundrum at the heart of this Advocacy: mobilized ostensibly to re-establish (or establish in the first place) a “respect for boundaries”, yet in order to quickly make its place in the sun the Advocacy has had to overrun the boundaries of Reason and Truth, Law and Justice, and has had to dis-respect the capacities of the public for crucial deliberation and discourse. Thus, as I noted in the earlier Post, Prosecutor Nifong was not a ‘rogue’ who ‘went too far’, but rather had the bad luck and poor judgment to get caught red-handed doing what had become the standard procedure in the stampede-inducing Woman-Assaulted Script and Scenario.

And it is this deeply-embedded disrespect for boundaries in the sex-assault/sex-offense Advocacy that corrupted and debauched law and public consciousness so much that when the quintessential unboundaried frat-boy Administration of the Unitariat took the country out of its centuries-old aversion to pre-emptive and invasive war, nary a media or public outcry was raised. It was, I think, seen as just another ‘revolutionary’ change made necessary and justified by the Goodness and Urgency of the Cause. The ‘creative destruction’ wrought in the service of liberating the world from Patriarchy paved the way for the ‘creative destruction’ that would liberate the world from ‘Islamofascist terrorism’.

But who can deny that it would be a good thing to have less frat-boy, boyo, macho, weapon and machinery-happy Rambos or gunslingers out there or up there on our behalf? The Duke case blended the assaultive and unboundaried unripeness of the frat-boy with the arrogance of youth and with the arrogance of privilege and a sense of one’s ‘right’ to be ‘alpha’ by forcing one’s will … so even if the rape didn’t exactly take place, issues of power and – helllloooo Democrats! – of Class and entrenched Power were clearly illuminated.

But rape didn’t take place, and THAT has to be understood for the hugely significant and alarming message it bears. There was indeed a ‘rush to justice’ (although I’d not dignify this thing with the word ‘justice’). The Scenario and the Script now as entrenched as Socialist Realism in this country nowadays was precisely designed to move everyone beyond ‘facts’ to the symbolic results that were ‘demanded’ by the general evil of Men and Sexual Assault; whether this particular set of ‘Men’ (again, not the word I’d use for this bunch of frat-boys) actually did this particular rape is not the primary consideration for the symbolism of the Cause.

Well, that’s as may be. But whether this rape was committed in this instance by this/these Defendant(s) IS INDEED a primary consideration for the criminal law, for those instances when the awesome and frankly awefull power of the State is deployed in a criminal case against an individual. While symbolic events are allowed their own latitude, criminal prosecutions are hugely boundaried by letter and the spirit of the Constitution precisely to ensure that the State’s terrible power is deployed – not symbolically but – accurately. And THIS, surely, is the confusion (hardly unintentional) that has debauched and corrupted Law and Justice and the People’s very conception of Law and Justice to the point where We find ourselves now, not only in domestic affairs but in foreign affairs.

Kathleen Bergin posts most revealingly to Alternet; the article first appeared in ‘Feminist Law Professors’ … which should give all of them pause ( She refers to the “disconnect between legal culpability and social responsibility”.

A news commentator, Howard Kurz on CNN, had enumerated the evidence that would be introduced by the defense if the case went to trial, evidence that strongly indicated the untruthfulness of the accuser’s charges. It would seem, opined the commentator, that what happened here was a ‘seduction’ whereby reporters took charges at face value, fitting them into a “familiar historical narrative” and distracted themselves with no further questions or investigation or – we can assume – serious thought. That’s about as succinct while still job-preservingly tactful statement of the situation as one is likely to find in the media these days.

But it is gall and wormwood to Bergin (a Professor of Law at South Texas College of Law … and what is it that’s familiar about Texas these days … ????). She characterizes Kurz’s painfully careful and delicate attempts to limn the truth as “demonizing” the “victim”. This is itself a classic advocacy ploy: if you question me, then you are totally against me (and we wonder where Republican and Fox-Newsian and right-wing-bloggian illogic comes from?). And of course, it hasn’t at been established that the accuser was indeed a “victim” .

But Bergin is going to play the entire Advocacy coda: to question the claimant/accuser is not only to “demonize the victim” but “through her, all Black women” (the capitalization is Bergin’s). Once again, in its need to bring as much fuel to its revolutionary fire as possible (the quicker to burn out the toxic infection of Patriarchy, of course), the Advocacy’s Script seeks to raise up as many ‘instances’ of ‘outrage’ as it possibly can. It’s not only that the stakes of the Cause are high, but that the stakes in every incident must be as high as possible in order to intensify the heat. Somehow Kurtz’s careful and painfully precise commentary on the particular case has been transmogrified into a demonic assault on all Black women (and after the audience has burned through its attention span trying to digest that monstrousness, they probably won’t have any energy left to chew through that assertion itself).

She then goes on to quote some actual facts: the accused and other frat-boys made some revoltingly immature and callow but violent remarks. The remarks were indeed that. And this country has a long damned way to go toward societal maturity. But the remarks, Professor Bergin does not care to emphasize, were precisely that: remarks. Granted that they were reprehensible, granted that she correctly concludes that the remarks “highlight the sick and wretched depravity of this racialized episode”, yet they were still only remarks and do not rise to the level of criminal prosecution (for sexual assault, at least).

This of course is just where the Advocacy has gone over the line and helped debauch the country and the People. Something so repugnant to the Advocacy’s programme and vision of how life should be, something so grossly unpleasant … well if it isn’t criminal it should be. And on the basis of that impatient and presumptuous presumption the Advocacy, including lawyers and law professors as well as prosecutors and law enforcement personnel and politicians, have rampantly overflowed the boundaries set by Western and Constitutional jurispraxis precisely to prevent the lascivious deployment of the State’s criminal prosecutorial power against the citizenry. With the impatience of the revolutionary and the ‘young’, the Advocacy has ‘creatively destroyed’ the framework and bulwarks patiently and wisely wrought by all those Dead White European Males; as a replacement it has ‘created’ the “familiar historical narrative” that Kurtz took such pains to describe. Such a deal.

In the ‘Boston Herald’ for April 12, duty feminist-advocate Margery Egan passes quickly over the disreputable focus on ‘facts’ in order to declare that “suspicions still linger against the Duke team” – although she shrewdly doesn’t get into describing what those suspicions might be, or who “still” holds these suspicions. And, in a comradely effort at bailing out another comrade’s bacon, she quotes “victims rights attorney” Wendy Murpy who had supported the accuser all along: “She either lied and should be prosecuted (Murphy must know there’s a squat chance of that ever happening) or she was paid off, presumably by the rich Duke families.” Neat. Even if the accuser accepted a payoff, then that just shows that on top of being a victim of sexual assault, she was also victimized by being a poor Black female who was bethumped by the greatest insult of all: being offered – and accepting – a payoff.

It’s a scentfully sinister scenario and saves much bacon. Except that it was the State, not the accuser, that backed off the case. But what’s a few facts among comrades? Only the Cause is important. As the dying Emperor Septimius Severus said to his sons: Pay the troops – the rest don’t matter. “The rest” comprised the citizens of Rome and the empire. To the revolutionaries of this Advocacy, We are that “rest”, and our Republic and Constitution and polity and culture don’t matter, next to The Cause.

The next day the ‘Boston Globe’ tries to have it all ways. The paper has been at the forefront of all things sex-offensual, and indeed initiated the massive “creative destruction” called the priest-sex-offenses scandal, although while it is keeping the Pulitzer it would rather not recall. In an editorial (entitled “Short Fuse’, and only 3 sentences long) it declares that the Duke players were “louts” (who can deny it?) but that “all the evidence suggests that they were not rapists”.

“The three came from affluent families that hired skilled lawyers.” But the State backed off the case not because of the efforts of those purported high-priced attorneys but because the accuser and the prosecutor were unsupportable and had tried to surf a “rush to condemn”, as the State’s Attorney General put it. Maybe the Globe is just pissed that these boyos and their affluent parents had the temerity to oppose the Script of the Revolution at all; and perhaps, as class criminals, they should have accepted their conviction as the righteous judgment of History on their class, if not on any acts they may or may not have committed on the night in question, which question is from the point of view of History of piddling inconsequence anyway.

“The case took 13 months to unfold, but the students have the resources to get on with their lives.” Oh, so that makes it OK then. Sorta like we invaded Iraq but they had the resources to become a democracy anyway so it’s OK. Our recent history is becoming a hall of mirrors as well as a house of horrors.

“The three were able to contest a stereotype: that Duke lacrosse players are capable of raping the stripper they had hired for a night of drunken excess.” The sentence makes no sense, but then again, the Globe is trying to save some bacon – its own – here, not trying to make sense. There is no ‘stereotype’ that Duke lacrosse players are capable of raping; when one mentioned Duke lacrosse (at least before this case) there was no immediate connection to ‘rape’; yes, when one mentioned ‘men’ any time in the past few decades there is an immediate connection to ‘rape’, but that’s the work of the Advocacy itself. And tossing in the stripper and the drunken excess is accurate, but kinda sleazy here.

But the conclusion confounds: “Prosecutors need to be wary of other stereotypes – about race and poverty – in cases where suspects lack wealth or connections.” But wealth and connections didn’t have anything to do with their exoneration; it was the Advocacy’s own evil fruits that did contributed to that. And what “stereotypes about race and poverty” did the prosecutor (or future imagined prosecutors) draw upon? That a woman is most likely telling the truth when she claims to be raped? That a Black woman is telling the truth when she claims she was raped by White boys? That poverty will forgive any efforts to extort money from rich people? I don’t know – I can’t make heads or tails of the conclusion. But then again, maybe that’s the best the ‘Globe’ and the Advocacy can hope for.

But on a brighter side, Jo-Ann Armao in the ‘Washington Post’ ( considers the whole matter of publishing ‘”victim’s names”. But of course, it should be “accuser’s” or “claimant’s” name; one isn’t a “victim” or a ‘survivor’ until after the decision of the court, and to use the term before that point is to unfairly if implicitly characterize both of the parties, one too positively and one too negatively.

The most interesting point in the article is one that is tossed off: it’s been “16 years” and “rape is still in that dark corner” (i.e., where the public doesn’t want to … do whatever it is that the Advocacy wants it to do about the whle thing). If after this long a period of time, and given the huge chunks of law and jurispraxis ripped out in order to allow ‘emergency’ access to ‘justice’, and given the massive knee-jerk support given by the media and the unseen support of politicians, the initial problem is still there … well, shouldn’t We be asking if the whole thing needs to be rethought? Or are we going to do this the Iraq way and just keep surgin’? Or is the Iraq surge debacle a foreign-policy deployment of the domestic anti-rape strategy?

And are We considered by the Advocates as no better than Iraqis? We have been offered the liberation of enlightenment and have chosen to remain mired in our dark and bloody humanity and try to cling to our antiquated (constitutional) modes of handling things. Are We any more worthy of this particular gift of feminism than the Iraqis purportedly are of America’s beneficent offer of Democracy?

Well, as with Iraq so too with the Advocacy: there is the distraction of other emergencies (Imus comes to mind), and the insistence that what has failed until now will work if we just do more of it, and doubt is treason, and up is down and down is up and … We have Us a job of work to do, at home as well as abroad.

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It occurs to me that one way We can get beyond the miasm of quotidian ‘reality’ and see what has actually happened in the country is to go back to the film “Judgment at Nuremberg”. I had seen it on PBS recently (for the umpteenth time in my life) and I’ve been trying to come to grips with “what it is” about the film that tugs insistently.

Yes, the phenomenon of Fascism offers much food for thought – and not simply (any longer) as an historical exercise. Yes, the psychology of crowds and mobs and ‘masses’ offers much food for thought – and not simply (any longer) as an historical exercise. Yes, the awefullness that humans are capable of inflicting upon each other offers much food for thought – and not simply (any longer) as an historical exercise. Back then in 1961 it seemed as if the world, and most surely this country, had emerged from the blood-dark tunnel of such primitivism, and that – Soviet rocketry notwithstanding – the world and We had entered some palpable sunlit upland of species-maturity.

But what is most painful today, watching that film, is to realize that the America and the Americans portrayed in it no longer exist. It’s not only that - as they say in LaLaLand – you can’t make a movie like that anymore. It’s that We haven’t got a country like that anymore, and We may not even be able to en-office the types of public adults portrayed by Tracy and Widmark … and what does that say about Us?

It’s the seriousness with which they execute their duties, and – consequently – with which they conduct their lives and the seriousness which seems a constituent part of their very selves. That seriousness is gone now, certainly in public life but increasingly – I think – among the citizenry itself. That ‘gravitas’ I’d like to say, except that I’m afraid it would be too easily co-opted by somebody who’s figured out – with the help of PR consultants – how to ‘do’ gravitas for the cameras and the sound-bites.

Does it take a World War and a Holocaust to muster that seriousness? Isn’t the daily task of conducting one’s adult life enough to muster that seriousness? Isn’t the daily task of confronting the pains and powers of this world enough to muster that seriousness?

How did We get here? How did We come to this? The Boomers have to take some of the blame: they were only youths when the film came out, and somehow its message was effectively eclipsed by the Kennedy Camelot: you could be ‘serious’ and yet ‘young’ (Kennedy’s ploy to neutralize the glaring discrepancy between his own age and inexperience compared to Nixon and the outgoing Eisenhower). To be ‘young’ – and to imagine the mid-40s as ‘young’! – enchanted, intoxicated everyone from 15 to 50. That youth is not an age renowned for its ‘seriousness’, that youth as an age might not be able to really ‘platform’ seriousness … that possibility was eclipsed in the enthusiasm. By the time it became a possibility that required consideration Political Correctness had set in and such consideration would be labeled ‘ageist’.

Within a few years after that, Kennedy’s version of ‘youth’ – which still drew heat and light from the accomplished adulthood of Eisenhower – had slipped from public consciousness. The ‘youth’ of the Summer of Love (1967) was ‘groovy’ and ‘authentic’ when not making hay in the summer grasses in a pleasant pot-induced haze. The ‘youth’ of the Spring of ’68 were rioting not only against the war but against ‘authority’ and ‘the Man’, taking over university campuses for great causes, for small causes, and finally for laughs.

‘Seriousness’ got in the way of everything. So maybe it had to be an excuse too – an excuse to ruin a good time, to obstruct a Good Cause, to get in the way of all the Fun and the Good Work. It was a bummer; it was a downer. Never trust anybody over 30 – they ‘lose it’ and start to get in the way. And then those who were dragged beyond that magic boundary of ‘30’ made every effort to neutralize any possible effects; university faculty, ministers, even (since 18 year-olds could now vote) politicians.

By the time the Revolutions of the Identities got rolling in the early ‘70s, the erosion of ‘seriousness’ as a desirable characteristic and skill among the citizenry had already been set in motion. The reactivity and passionateness of youth was far more useful to a ‘revolutionary’ agenda than any ‘seriousness’; when ‘seriousness’ was on the field inconvenient questions might be asked. The revolutions needed doers, not thinkers – and certainly did not need questioners and tire-kickers. After all, it was in the ‘old’ days – when people were ‘serious’ – that the outrages of ‘oppression’ by whites, by the ‘patriarchy’, by ‘straights’, by (fill in the blank) had been held rigidly in place. And since any Southern preacher or politician or ‘grown up’ could give you half-a-dozen ‘reasons’ why segregation was good, well then ‘reason’ had to be a bad thing, right?

So infatuated were the adults of the day, so eager to ‘get with it’, so – how American! – ignorant of the prior experiences of other countries, that nobody considered the effect of gunning the societal engine on the hot fuels of enthusiasm, idealism, unthinking and unhesitating action, while simultaneously reducing the ‘control elements’ of reflection, critical and skeptical thought, and substantive deliberation. Racing along far too fast to penetrate deeply, the ‘youthful’ spirit was incapable of serious ‘farming’, of the arduous and methodical and slow process of plowing deep, orderly furrows and planting the seeds. That the Nazis themselves had had more youthful Party members than older, that many of the Nazi leaders – Himmler himself, for one – had come to the Party still in their 20s or hardly beyond them, were facts that in the 1970s did not find purchase in the temper of the times.

The ‘seriousness’ of the characters in “Judgment At Nuremberg” cannot be found today. Even in Our present circumstances – where We not only face formidable economic and societal and international challenges but are now saddled with a pre-emptive war that is failing to accomplish anything except bloodshed and the incitement of wide hostility against Us – even so, no comfort can be drawn from the realization that at least ‘serious’ adults are in leadership positions. That ‘gravitas’ is gone – from out schools, from our churches, from our politics, and from our government. And perhaps from our culture.

Contrary to the current thrust of American society and culture, I’d propose a variation of Mark Twain’s comments about his religious affiliations once he’d arrived in Dodge City: it was no place for a child … and I did not remain one very long.

Nor do I for a moment suggest that ‘growing up’ in my proposed scenario means coming to a Rambo-like ‘conversion’ moment of decision and go grab a mess of hi-tech weapons and ammo, find a really cool ride, and go blow the crap out of something big. Nor do I propose the appearance of seriousness such as Eastwood gave us in the character of Will Munny, as much of an improvement as that excellent characterization was. Lone gunmen and revolutionaries – dressed in the trends of this or that decade – have done enough these past fifty years, and it’s going to take Us a hell of a long time to recover. If We have that kind of time.

Our youth-obsession, given such a boost in the later 1950s and 1960s, swept away the respect for – and eventually the capacity for – the type of ‘gravitas’ that shaped all of the great civilizations and societies and cultures. And having played first as tragedy, it plays now as farce in a society where parents with more resources than medieval barons had at their disposal spend their time and treasure trying to cram Einstein into their infants, while treacherous and blood-soaked public guardians claim they must not be held accountable for their crimes because they are ‘doing it for the children’.

Can it do a child any good to have a nodding acquaintance with Einsteinian thought if there is no effective model of genuine adulthood to which s/he can aspire? Upon which s/he can trellis a Self?

Was it Bakunin who gloried in the revolutionary first phase, ‘creative destruction’? Yet that is the easiest phase, that destruction-in-hopes-of-creation. But either one assumes that by destroying what is ‘there’, then an already-existing, previously hidden, fully formed ‘creation’ is freed to come forward or else one assumes that once the work of destruction is completed then somebody is going to have to do a heck of lot of ‘creation’, and quickly. And in fact, if you haven’t already got a clear plan of ‘creation’ ready for deployment before you begin the destruction, then you’re probably not going to get a chance to put creation together in the chaos that will follow the destruction.

It would be childish to ‘destroy’ with no working and workable plan to ‘create’. We see that now in the bleeding ferocious monstrosity that Iraq has become. But what We are seeing, and what is now ‘old’ enough to turn toward us with furious rage, is itself a reflection and a product of Our own childishness, a childishness that has – ala Orwell – been taken for ‘maturity’ and for ‘seriousness’ these several decades past.

It is time to put away the things of a child. It is time to walk steadily and maturely, as in the day. And if there is any armor to be put on, let us recall that it must be the armor of Light, of a maturity formed by thought and by reason, and informed by spirit (and – what the hey? – Spirit).

Too many – and many of them stained with blood and deceit – are now saying that they never thought it would come to this. But Tracy’s final judgment rings like a church-bell: it came to ‘this’ the first time We abandoned genuine maturity. That bell now tolls for many who have died because of Our immaturity. And it tolls for Us. Hear it.

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Thursday, April 12, 2007


It has fallen to Neela Banerjee to report on something that anybody with even a moiety of marbles could have predicted: trendish congregations of Christians are now bethumped by the problem of what to do with sex-offenders returning to the fold. (

This, as noted above, is a problem whose arrival was even more ‘foretold’ than the arrival of the revered Jesus Himself. And the least of the reasons for such certainty is the increasingly-classic American societal dilemma of the Returning Prisoner: society – especially after its Twelve-Year binge on Olde Lock-em-up – is suddenly finding itself confronted with the presence of a man (almost always a ‘man’, and many many of them) who has paid his ‘debt’ (presuming he was rightly convicted in the first place) and now returns. This can be awkward.

But it is especially true of the soooo vividly highlighted subset of the Returning Prisoner: The Returning Sex Offender. Because if the sex-offense binge was fueled by the hot, volatile sorta primitive furies that feed on the sacrifice or expulsion of the Black Sheep, it was sublimely lubricated by the dark, viscous pleasures of demonizing some ‘other’, raising him (again and again) up, and therefrom deriving – pathetically and cheaply – an increased sense of one’s own self-worth and righteousness.

It was a great party. But now – who knew? – he’s back. And that’s awkward. After all, having defined him in his very essence as a demon (wasn’t that part of the thrill – triumphing over the ‘demonic’ and thus not needing to feel guilty about whatever necessary means it took to do so?) as part of the plan, how now to encounter the gentleman socially? What does one say to a demon at whom one can no longer with impunity take an immediate whack with torch or pitchfork? What does one say to a man upon whom, after sober (if very private) reflection, one might perhaps in the event have heaped rather too much retributive opprobrium?

And all of this dense complexity prescinds from a further and even more unsettling pair of variants on the Theme: The Angry Returned Prisoner or – so profound a development as to be almost intolerable to the immature believer – The Spiritually Evolved Returning Prisoner. One here approaches ‘challenges’ that reach the sublime perplexities experienced – at least for a soul-stopping moment – by those burghers who had gone home that afternoon after the events of Calvary and figured that, whether a good job or a bad, the thing was over with and life could go on … only to receive intimations of a resurgent Eternity by Monday morning.

All of which sounds like legitimate ground for Tolstoy or Dostoevsky or half-a-dozen other classic authors, should anyone have the time for a night-course or an internet university adventure. But this is now – shades of 1950s television dramas and horror-flicks! – and somewhat the same situation is facing more and more ‘average Americans’ and their ‘communities’, Mr. and Mrs. John Q. Public and friends, blearily peering out the window at Main Street the morning after their binge.

If the situation constitutes a conundrum in fundamental civics as well as good manners and etiquette for the members of ‘his’ society, it constitutes – sadly, surprisingly – a profound challenge to fundamental beliefs for far too many of ‘his’ fellow Christians.

You wouldn’t think it would have to be like that. After all, the aforesaid Jesus of Nazareth famously placed great store in the company of sinners and – not to put too fine a point on it – apparently felt that the two great and interconnected unifiers of humanity were Grace and Sin, the former being largely occasioned by the robust persistence of the latter. The ‘saved’ and the ‘sex offenders’ are sisters (brothers, more accurately) under the skin and – if we might indulge a moment’s quaintness – ‘in the eyes of God’.

None of which would be news to them Kathliks. Ever mindful – even if sometimes absently – of the fundamental unity of humankind through Grace and Sinfulness, that Church could never and never did presume to usurp the ultimate authority to separate the sheep from the goats in this life. Such hubris was one of the abysses that the Church avoided (although she hit a hefty share of potholes on History’s road).

When the assorted Protestantisms of the Reformation broke up the orchestra and the several ‘instruments’ tried to play the Great Symphony’s entire score themselves, it was conceptually inevitable that in the urgent effort to be not-the-Roman-Church each group would select what it liked and drop what it didn’t like. It was psychologically inevitable that in so doing, each grouping would allow this or that less-evolved and primal human tendency to influence its ‘choices’. Indeed, having freed themselves from the ‘trellis’, the vines spread out every old which way. Such marvelous diversity.

What would become the ‘mainstream’ Churches under the Protestant umbrella retained a shape sufficiently similar in doctrine to the old Christendom or at least sufficiently compatible with the congregation’s host nation that some of the advantages of a ‘trellis’ remained to them. But the less mainstream – almost by definition more radical – groups became prey to oddness and extremes not only in doctrine but in emotional and psychological functioning.

Thus the tendency of these groups especially – among all the various religious subcommunities – to indulge and embody the primitive human emotions and strategies associated with defining themselves through selecting, demonizing, and warring-upon ‘others’. Indeed, looking at very recent American history, it cannot seem illogical – seems almost logically inevitable – that the Roman Catholic ‘big tent’ approach to salvation would have to be attacked as the ‘fundamentalist’ Ascendancy clawed its way to national prominence and influence. And so it came to pass, especially when an alliance of opportunity, a synergy, developed between the ‘conservative’ fundies and the ‘liberal’ secularists and – the trump! - the anti-hierarchical or anti-‘male’ elements within the Catholic community itself.

It has ever been one of the least mature and least impressive human tendencies, that our species – an uneasy, unstable, unfinished marriage of soul and body, spirit and mind and emotions and passions, presided over by a ‘self’ that has to learn Mastery and Command as best s/he may – finds it far simpler and in some deeply limbic sense actually pleasureable, to short-cut the Long Maturing and its attendant pains of uncertainty and frustration by achieving ‘identity’ defined not by what one has become but rather by what one is n-o-t: an ‘other’, a ‘sinner’, an ‘unbeliever’, an ‘enemy’, a ‘sex offender’ (or a ‘communist’, or an ‘injun’, or … fill in the blank).

Thus to some extent the sex-offense mania. And, like its nephew the Iraq War, what a ride it has been! But the binge is over, and the light of the morning-after is revealing the consequences of the night’s festivities. Thus the perplexity of many of the ‘saints’ among the Protestant fold. Having long ago cut loose from the ‘judgment’ and the guiding ‘canons’ of the Roman Catholic vision, having in compensation raised up the familiarity of a particular ‘present’ and a particular ‘way of life’ as clear evidence of salvation-achieved, having disowned their sinfulness as surely as the descendants of the robber barons in their assertion of respectability have disowned their forebears’ ferocious rapacity, having raised up this or that ‘idol’ as a rock of comfort and self-assurance against the fluid and stormy uncertainties of human life, the assorted Protestantries are baffled by the return of sex-offenders claiming a place at their spiritual table.

God’s grace was long ago taken for granted through the self-declaration of having been ‘saved’. Spiritual maturity was long ago replaced by the demanding, divisive insistence of ‘victimhood’, in favor of which the clarion and profound fact of our common creation was suppressed and abandoned.

So now, what to do? The sex-offender having pretty much been substituted for the devil, how now let him (again, and again) back into church? Does one allow ‘the Devil’ into church? Does one remonstrate with the ‘outrage’ of a sex-abuse claimant that God’s grace and the Christian responsibility to adapt to the uncontrollable wideness of God’s mercy and the common sinfulness of us all do thus utterly outweigh ‘pain’ and ‘outrage’, ‘revenge’ and ‘closure’? Worse, can one afford to admit that in simply raising such questions the spectre is raised that the congregation has debauched itself in a certain feral and this-worldly primitiveness, to the great detriment of its own integrity before God?

One such sex-offender, having served his time and now seeking to worship in a California congregation, is apparently supposed to dialogue with several members of the congregation who were abused as children. He did not commit a sex-offense against any of them, indeed was not a resident of the State or the region when they were abused. So what has he to do with the purported acts committed against them? The only answer can be that he is somehow a ‘symbol’, or a ‘group representative’ … like, say, a ‘bourgeois’ or a ‘kulak’ or an ‘imperialist running dog lackey of capitalism’. Any one of them will do for venting the people’s outrage against the whole class. This sort of thing is surely familiar, although not only un-Christian but – oh my! – un-American. This is what has happened to Us. This is how far We have fallen.

Several ministers – apparently Unitarian (UCC) and mostly female – admit themselves perplexed, but not in need of guidance. One opines that “you can’t be all things to all people”, that serving the spiritual needs of sex-offenders and ‘survivors’ of sexual abuse are “two conflicting ministries”. Apparently Jesus was not supposed to have spoken with Romans and Jews simultaneously, or perhaps He should have assigned the Romans to one of the disciples. Perhaps He was not to have eaten with sinners and tax-collectors and those sexual-service providers who were that era’s ‘sex offenders’.

“Can an offender who accepts Christ truly change?” asks the article, faithfully echoing a question posed by one of the interviewed divines. It’s a question, alright. Who can define what ‘accepting Christ’ means in the present fundamentalist bazaar? It would seem that if gays can be prayed into being straight, then sex-offenders finding a more appropriate way of finding satisfaction wouldn’t be such an impossible project. Perhaps while visiting the imprisoned is some sort of a work of mercy, a mitzvah even, actually praying with ex-prisoners is an abomination (the scriptural basis for that claim might be a stretch, but the fundamentalistic mind is nothing if not elastic).

Opine other pastoral persons: we are trying to create a “safe” church, and “people think of the church as an idyllic paradise and now we’ve lost something”. “Safe” – safer than it was when the Soviets were daily expected over major and minor US cities with their incinerating radiation? Safer than it is with the prospect of regional or world war breaking out in the Middle East even as we speak? Safe from sin? If this last, then where can one be safe and who, except a desert-island hermit, is safe from the evil that humans do?

It is an ancient Roman Catholic belief – deeply in sync with the Framers, come to think of it – that the dignity of the individual human being and his (and her) liberty requires that the community must live with a certain risk that that liberty will be misused. While the Church and the Framers may have differed as to the source of human dignity and rights, the result was much the same: the price we all pay for our common freedom and dignity is the risk that some of us will misuse it. And while we may civilly punish actions, we are not free to make determinations as to the state of any individual’s soul now or in the future, nor are we permitted to pre-emptively punish putative possible and potential malfeasance. We are not even allowed to do such things to errant human beings in order to satisfy our ‘peace of mind’ or our sense of ‘safety’ or our conception of ‘closure’ or our personal definition of ‘justice’.

Back in the day, it was assumed that one’s vibrant faith in God and God’s Grace would help ease our misgivings and spackle up our faith and our fortitude as we made our pilgrim way toward Salvation. But of course, God and Grace and faith and fortitude have taken quite a beating of late. It is not a stretch to imagine that fundamentalists and victim-advocates have made this world far more morally unsafe for believers than sex-offenders have made the world physically and emotionally unsafe for children. And any sex-offender who has harmed more children than the Deciderer has harmed Iraqi children … should certainly be behind bars at the earliest practicable moment.

The fundies and the advocate-revolutionaries cannot have it both ways: they cannot declare their this-worldly concerns, no matter how urgent or well-intentioned, either trump or are totally congruent with God's will, and at the same time claim that they are in contact with an otherworldly or superworldly 'authority' that has deputized their efforts. We are all liable for Judgment, reagardless of our presence or absence on this or that 'registry'. And we all deserve it. Pray.

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