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writing for godot

Our capacity for abuse seems to be endless

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Written by Robert J Gaydos   
Friday, 26 October 2012 22:26
A couple of weeks ago, I wrote about my feelings about the Catholic Church and its continuing inability/unwillingness to come fully and honestly to terms with its scandal of priests sexually abusing young boys.

If only that were the extent of it.

Last week, lawyers in Portland, Ore., won a landmark decision which resulted in a judge granting them access to the Boy Scouts Of America’s confidential “ineligible volunteer list.” It immediately became known as the “perversion list’ and when the lawyers posted it on the Internet, more than 200,000 hits in the first few hours caused it to crash. (It’s up and running today.)

The 14,500 files, organized by state, detail decades of abuse cases -- proven and alleged -- dating from the organization’s founding to today, most of which never became public knowledge. For the Scouts, like the church, the preferred method of dealing with sexual predators, was to fire them, ban them from Scouting, and otherwise ignore them. Out of sight, out of mind, except for the list, which did at least serve to warn some future potential employers who bothered to check references.

And the victims? Well, criminal charges or civil suits would only hurt the image of the Scouts, wouldn’t it? How could the organization continue to berate homosexuals and forbid non-god-fearing youngsters from membership if people knew some Scout leaders were sexually abusing young boys? In many cases, police authorities were apparently complicit in cover-ups, such is the misplaced reverence with which BSA was viewed. It’s beyond appalling.

If only that were the extent of it.

Tuesday’s New York Times carried a story about a top executive at the British Broadcasting Corporation resigning over his decision to kill a story detailing decades of abuse of young girls (about 200 reportedly, aged 12 and 13) by Jimmy Savile, a popular British TV personality and disc jockey, now deceased. The furor over killing the program prompted another BBC program to do a full report on it.

Again, protecting the predators’ reputation -- in addition to being a popular entertainer, Savile also was a well-known philanthropist -- was deemed to be more important than protecting other potential young victims. A wink and a nod and lots of rumors were the norm, just like with the priests and Scout leaders. Like the Scouts case, the Savile case has just gotten started in Britain, so more lurid details are bound to be revealed.

If only that were the extent of it.

The same edition of the Times carried a story about Russian politicians turning suddenly anti-American after years of softening their political rhetoric. The source of the comments was an extraordinary parliamentary hearing: “On Problems in the Observation of Human Rights by the United States of America.” Apparently tired of being criticized by Americans for all sorts of abuses, Russian legislators let loose with a a volley of attacks, pointing to water-boarding of prisoners, Ku Klux Klan lynchings and, the pertinent one here, abuse of adopted Russian children.

Witnesses said such abuse is common because Americans view Russian children as inferior. A telling comment from a jury verdict in the case of a 7-year-old adopted orphan, who died of brain trauma, made the Russians’ point: “The boy was born in Russia, the boy was an orphan who was brought up in an orphanage, he had bad genetics, because, in fact, all Russian orphans are genetically underdeveloped, have an inclination to drug addiction, stealing, self-harm. It turns out the boy beat himself to death on an iron stove.”

If only that were the extent of it.

Several months ago, a German newspaper reported that “bestiality brothels” were spreading across Germany. You read that right. Apparently, posting bestiality on the Internet is illegal in Germany, but actually having sex with animals is not, including in brothels set up for just that purpose. Some referred to it as a “life style” choice. Given that the dogs and other brothel animals are not consenting partners, don’t get paid and are discarded after being defiled, one assumes their life styles were not considered. This is one of the sickest kinds of abuse imaginable, yet Germany is only now working on changing the law to make it illegal.

And no, that’s not the extent of it. Husbands beat wives. Parents shake infants. Boys torture cats. Grown men abuse dogs. Women are sold as sex slaves, or simply treated as non-entities. We used to throw people to the lions.

There are many more examples, but you get the idea and I am weary of the effort. On these specific cases, I can offer only some specific, preferable responses: Report all suspected cases of sexual abuse of children to police; eliminate the statute of limitations for such charges (the victims’ pain lasts a lifetime); file criminal charges against those who cover up such abuse; pursue charges against all cases where still possible; place concern for victims, current and potential, above any desire to protect the reputation of the abuser or his employer; do a proper screening of foreign adoptions and make the general information available publicly; pass a law making bestiality illegal for god’s sake.

Still, I am left, ultimately, feeling unsatisfied and wondering if this need to abuse other, more vulnerable, living things is part of the human condition. Is evil in our wiring? Our rearing? Can we overcome it? How? All I have now are the questions. Perhaps some day we will have the will and wisdom to search for the answers.
 

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