George Pell. “These people.” Language. Yet Again.

28 May

This admission may not make me popular, however, as I watched Cardinal George Pell front the Victorian government inquiry into child sexual abuse yesterday, I felt an increasing pity for the man.

Pell can be found seriously wanting on any number of his attitudes and statements. It’s clear he has a minimum understanding of, or empathy with, those who’ve endured sexual abuse. The most that can be said for him is that he tries to the best of his extraordinarily limited ability, and that is damning him with very weak praise indeed. One would hope for more humanity, imagination and sincere regret from the country’s most senior member of the Catholic church.

However, it was a very simple phrase Pell used that provoked my deepest and most contemptuous reaction to the man. When speaking of survivors of rape and molestation by his priests, he more than once referred to them as “These people…” He even, at one particularly low point, suggested that “these people” were not always innocent of blame in the situation.

“These people” means people who are not like me, or us. Once again, as I pointed out in this piece on Clementine Ford’s use of “we” and “our” when discussing survivors of sexual and domestic abuse, language is (unconsciously) employed to manufacture a divide between those who have suffered and those who have not, casting the former as “other” who are, because of our experiences, linguistically excluded from the discourse of power and belonging, except as objects of sympathy or, in some instances, derision.

This attitude, widely held I believe towards victims and survivors of all kinds of situations, is what I think of as a vertical system of human relations, rather than a horizontal, or side by side system. Simply by virtue of finding oneself a victim of another, one is in some way made less equal to those who are without that experience. One is assumed to be weakened, and therefore lessened, by the experience of being injured.

Being injured is among many other things, a humiliating experience. It brings into stark relief our vulnerability and powerlessness. It makes obvious how easily our will can be overwhelmed by the will of another, leaving us impotent, weakened and ashamed, whether we’re adults or children when the injuries occur.

It occurs to me that one of the reasons some of the uninjured need to distance themselves from the injured, is that we frighten them. We confront them with the awful reality of the human vulnerability we share. This could have been, could still be,   you. The only way to avoid that reality is to make the injured different. Certain kinds of injuries only happen to “these people.”  Not to “we” or “ours.”

We also see this manifest in our treatment of asylum seekers.

It’s interesting, and rather disheartening, that two people with such disparate views as Clementine Ford and George Pell choose vertical language when speaking of victims/survivors of sexual assaults.

I felt surprisingly little anger as I watched George Pell deliver his inadequate responses to the Victorian government inquiry. I felt extremely weary. I thought I could see, not for the first time, the entire dysfunctional hierarchical system that allows this man, and others like him, to construct a narrative that is corrupt to its core. I don’t only refer to the Catholic church. I’m talking about the corrupt system of human relations that is based on the othering  of one group of human beings to separate them from another, no matter what the grounds. As is demonstrated in our language, this othering is endemic, even in the most apparently well-intentioned.

I’ll have to leave it to others to rage against Pell. I see a crippling, piteous ignorance that will imprison this man for the rest of his life. That this should be so publicly displayed is, to my mind, only to the good. We need to see the characters of men and women who wield power over us, of those who control our discourse and construct our realities. Victims and survivors, most of all, need to see that these emperors have no clothes.

 

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179 Responses to “George Pell. “These people.” Language. Yet Again.”

  1. helvityni May 28, 2013 at 11:33 am #

    Same here, Pell calling rape victims ‘these people’ made me angry, there was that Pell hardness again…

    The lovely gay priest on Q&A last night was so charming I almost wanted to join the Catholic Church 🙂

    Like

    • Poirot May 28, 2013 at 2:52 pm #

      Pell’s “hardness”…..I wonder or deliberate obfuscation?

      This man does appear to be particularly limited, considering the lofty position he holds.

      Here he is spruiking the scripted climate denial line.

      http://www.crikey.com.au/2011/10/28/climate-scientists-slam-george-pells-utter-rubbish-claims/

      Like

    • Christine Says Hi May 28, 2013 at 4:05 pm #

      Oh, don’t do that … he’s an anglican (episcopalian as they say in the US)! He’s also a supporter of women’s rights, yay. But he’ll be retiring later this year:

      http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gene_Robinson

      Like

      • hudsongodfrey May 28, 2013 at 4:20 pm #

        I did have a ROFL moment when he said god made some of us fabulous though 🙂

        Like

    • Jennifer Wilson May 30, 2013 at 7:09 am #

      This is a response to everyone – this is such an interesting and open discussion that’s happening here. Thank you all for your imaginations and thoughtfulness.

      Like

      • paul walter May 30, 2013 at 12:36 pm #

        Heaven forbid things should turn out even worse, because we were too lazy to even think about these things, particularly when we have an idea of how serious the issue is and the experiences it imposes, from some sense of the worst of our own experiences, which are not as dark as for victims.
        Personally, I only wish I could have added something less ill-defined as an impression- no doubt the consequences of a misspent youth and incomplete education.
        As Hudson said, it is our responsibility also.
        If some good comes of this conversation, it will be of consolation.
        Thanks for providing us with the opportunity, I don’t think any of us would wilfully do harm and if we had our way, the need for this conversation would not arise in the first place.

        Like

  2. gerard oosterman May 28, 2013 at 11:37 am #

    ‘These people’ is not only used by Pell but by a majority of the anti- boat people brigade as well as scores of people responding on the Drum. Pell should know better and perhaps does, but alas, having been brought up by pub owning parents in a small town. Rough country this was born out of well entrenched insensitivity to others. Not all, but many. The Pells are not unique.

    Like

  3. Mindy May 28, 2013 at 11:52 am #

    Unfortunately I suspect that Pell’s littleness is seen as a good thing by many, especially the hierarchy of his institution. No doubt he will be rewarded with a plum post in the Vatican, although probably after the present incumbent has finished.

    Like

    • hudsongodfrey May 28, 2013 at 12:18 pm #

      I think the opposite is true. It may not be overtly stated anywhere but the last pope stood down for what no doubt may be a number of reasons, but one was that the taint of these cover ups hung heavily upon him.

      Like

  4. hudsongodfrey May 28, 2013 at 12:15 pm #

    I think that all I want now is to know that this can and will be brought out and dealt with and that the stranglehold that’s been held over it by covering things up will truly be ended once and for all. Is that too much to ask?

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  5. Forrest Gumpp (@ForrestGumpp) May 28, 2013 at 12:33 pm #

    In a way, this seems an appropriate place to advise that Jennifer, Commander Dr Wilson HMF, has become one of these people:

    All due apologies to ‘Sheep’ userID ‘Elizabeth’, but she (Commander Wilson) is SIXTH IN LINE in that list!

    Like

    • paul walter May 28, 2013 at 3:43 pm #

      It’s a fearful list. I quailed at the reading thereof.

      Like

  6. doug quixote May 28, 2013 at 1:48 pm #

    “Not One Of Us”

    It’s only water
    In a stranger’s tear
    Looks are deceptive
    But distinctions are clear
    A foreign body
    And a foreign mind
    Never welcome
    In the land of the blind
    You may look like we do
    Talk like we do
    But you know how it is

    You’re not one of us
    Not one of us
    No you’re not one of us
    Not one of us
    Not one of us
    No you’re not one of us

    There’s safety in numbers
    When you learn to divide
    How can we be in
    If there is no outside
    All shades of opinion
    Feed an open mind
    But your values are twisted
    Let us help you unwind
    You may look like we do
    Talk like we do
    -But you know how it is

    You’re not one of us
    Not one of us
    No you’re not one of us

    Peter Gabriel

    How can we be “in” if there is no outside : that is the question.

    Certainly Pell has gotten used to being in the Us and Them way of thinking, mired in his defence of priests.

    And there may be some priests falsely accused – it is easy to make allegations against someone, and hard for them to refute them, even if unfounded.

    No I am not defending him! I detest him and all he stands for; but I want him criticised for what he has actually done and can be proven rather than anything he can refute.

    Like

    • Jennifer Wilson May 28, 2013 at 6:20 pm #

      They are great lyrics. And as Derrida would have it, there is no fixed centre, therefore no margins either.

      Like

      • samjandwich May 29, 2013 at 2:12 pm #

        These these these are the words
        The words that maketh murder.

        (that’s PJ Harvey)

        Very interesting thoughts Jennifer. that you could feel nothing but pity for this man is a true demonstration of just how big your heart is. No fixed centre, therefore no margins either!

        I’m trying to find the time to watch his full testimony. Tonight perhaps…

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  7. Anndra May 28, 2013 at 2:50 pm #

    Reality is cruel. So are people. A life of carrying around around dysfunctional ideas about the world wears us down, eventually.

    Piteous as Pell is, it seems like you have begun to dismiss him as irrelevant, Jennifer, despite your caveat that he is ‘the’ Holy See in Australia. I believe this is a mistake. Pell is the head of many things, and one of those things is a organisational system that allows adults to prey on small children and young adults. But he is not the whole snake. Nor is his the only ‘nest’ in which vipers lay. He does need to be held accountable, to pay, to discover the wellspring of his humanity and bleed like a stuck pig from it. Pity is the last thing I have for the man, because he wants us to pity him, the church, the Vatican. It makes them seem less culpable. Well it will never happen from me.

    Yes, there will be some moves or other to ‘shuffle the deck chairs’, but the Catholic Church isn’t the only Titanic out there. If we abolished the Catholic Church tomorrow, tore down all its buildings, ripped up all its holy writs, nothing would change. Why not? Because reality is cruel. The reality is that we will never be rid of organisational systems that allow this culture of depravity to exist and to flourish. It exists inside the biggest organisational structure there is; society.

    This enquiry won’t change a thing that will prevent systemic abuse. Paedophiles are many things, but stupid is not one of them. They will continue to exist and operate in this world. They are a permutation of our humanity, of our sexuality; this is a horrifyingly, gut-wrenchingly indisputable fact of life. They exist at every level, in every place, rich/poor, male/female beggarman/judge. It won’t even end it in the church, Catholic or other; their actions take place in schools, hospitals, the private homes of our friends, family and strangers, parks, playgrounds, cars, even in our own homes.

    All social systems are built. Most are built with checks and balances. All human systems are built with input from human beings. We build these systems to adapt and survive. There are systems within systems. Humans being humans, we find ways to get around or work under the system, even while being a part of it.

    Unless any of you who read this are prepared to tear apart, totally destroy the tropes and schemas of our existences and replace it it with a totalitarian unit that controls every aspect of our lives in an unprecedented way, then there is nothing we can do to prevent paedophilia, or other acts of ‘humanity’ against humanity. Why? Because they are, and always will be, the act of one individual against another. Think about that for a moment, the previous sentence in particular.

    Like some of you who read and post here, I too am a survivor of this form of abuse. It doesn’t mean that everything I say is tainted by my experience, though it is. What it means for me is that I have had 46 years of living with how to function in a world that allowed me to become broken in this manner. We are all, by-and-large, broken; some by similar things, some by other things less traumatic and complex, but nevertheless real and damaging to each of us.

    What I feel is not pity, but weary. Not of Pell and the Spiders ‘his’, and all institutions harbour. I am weary of the dysfunctional belief that ‘it’ will end. There is no end. So long as we have humanity, there will never be an end.

    I had been going to start this reply by saying, “Not pity for Pell, nail him anally to a cross!” Yet, he is what he is, as am I, as are you, and I don’t hate the man. I’m tired of hating.

    e.e. cummings wrote, “To be nobody-but-yourself — in a world which is doing its best, night and day, to make you everybody else — means to fight the hardest battle which any human being can fight; and never stop fighting.” That is our system.

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    • Marilyn May 28, 2013 at 3:48 pm #

      The BBC has made a three series expose of the Borgias, the Pope family we love to hate.

      I think the rot set in then in the man made catholic church and simply never ended.

      Pell is not a pitiful man, he enrages me much as Hollingworth did with his utter lack of empathy for the abused and tortured.

      They remind me of the merciless coward Anglican priest who told me at the age of 14 that my father couldn’t possibly be sexually abusing and beating me because he played golf with him.

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      • hudsongodfrey May 28, 2013 at 7:17 pm #

        Oh I think the rot set in a fair bit earlier than that. Probably as far back as the council of Nicea, which seems to be about the first time anyone realised that this religion could be used as a tool of the powerful over the generally powerless.

        And despite any words we might have had in the past I am as sorry to hear you suffered at the hands of such a monster as I am glad to see that today we’re actually speaking on the same topic 🙂

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    • paul walter May 28, 2013 at 3:51 pm #

      Yours is a good post, but I think the resentment is still fair, it falls within the terms you outline not just because it happened but with the obfuscation and insensitivity that has followed. Recalcitrance is on trial, many feel that they not only haven’t understood the problem, but not tried and to the contrary, tried to cover things over.
      How can people not see it as arrogance?
      “Those people- it’s their butts, why should we care”.

      Like

      • paul walter May 28, 2013 at 4:00 pm #

        Sorry, Marilyn’s is a good post too,
        I meant anndra in reply, as Marilyn had posted simultaneously so was’nt aware of it so was referring specifically to anndras post.

        Like

    • Jennifer Wilson May 28, 2013 at 6:18 pm #

      I don’t dismiss him, Anndra, not at all. I am extraordinarily pleased he is being called to account in such a public manner, and may it continue with the Royal Commission. I love your post. Thank you.

      Like

      • Anndra May 28, 2013 at 6:36 pm #

        Thank you all.

        Like

        • samjandwich May 29, 2013 at 5:28 pm #

          This article looks at what Pell might be in for when he fronts the Royal Commission: https://theconversation.com/cardinal-pell-and-the-inquiries-into-child-sex-abuse-14697

          Sounds like it could be an interesting session!

          Like

          • samjandwich May 29, 2013 at 5:46 pm #

            Whoops that was meant to be a reply to Jennifer.

            Anndra, I really liked your very intelligent and thought-provoking post as well, and I’m very sorry to hear of your experiences.

            In some sense I think you are right – there will always be paedophiles who keep finding new ways to do what they do, and we will never be able to stop “it”.

            But I’d really like to believe that we can at least prevent some of it, and that we can get better at recognising when it happens and bring it to an end. And lastly we can keep learning how to support people who have been harmed.

            I think the importance of this Royal Commission, and the State-level processes that are also going in, is that they sensitise people not just to the fact that child sexual abuse happens, but also to exactly what it is, how it occurs, how much damage it causes, and in a limited way, how it feels to be affected by it. I think it can build up a critical mass of understanding, whereby it becomes something that people think about as a matter of course, so that instead of, like Pell, feeling as though it’s just too sordid to take seriously and refuse to engage with it, people will learn to look actively for any opportunities that might exist for people who would take advantage of them – and shut the loophole.

            Either way, it is a continuous grind with no end in site, but I think it’s worth it.

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      • Di Pearton May 29, 2013 at 9:31 am #

        Jennifer, you always seem to hit the nail so sweetly on the head! We ‘other’ people so that we can be sure that we will not be one of them. If we can blame the rape victim because of her skimpy clothes, we can be sure we won’t be victims too. Yes, it’s bullshit, but it makes us less afraid.
        But Pell is doing more than that, because he is asking us over to his side, with his ‘these people’. He is a dangerous man, and so is his mate Tony Abbott, because they cannot empathise, and they believe their bullshit. They have the strongest of convictions, the covenant.
        It is dangerous because the hatred produced by provoking ‘otherness’ thought patterns, cannot be put back into it’s box, and gives rise to violence, either physical or attitudinal.

        Like

    • hudsongodfrey May 28, 2013 at 7:34 pm #

      Anndra,

      I hear your cynicism. It is probably borne of a history of broken promises and cynicism. And who wouldn’t remain cynical what with Pell conveniently scapegoating a dead man…..

      Yet I think there has to be a glimmer of hope in all this because I find it impossible to countenance the view that these enquiries will not produce at the very least a requirement to report the crime of abuse to police in all cases including within the church. Whether they bust open the confessional to get to them I don’t much know or care. The thing is that this was enabled by more than one or two priests in the church there have been nuns and even parents who either failed in their duty or were prevailed upon to cooperate with the concealment.

      So though you’re weary as we all are, and though we agree you can’t cut out the hearts of all the pederasts in the world to cleanse it of this stain in perpetuity, there is a tomorrow we can look to where the freedoms to commit those monstrous acts and the calumny of those who enable them will be severely curtailed. Maybe we can at least muster the sheer gumption to insist that changes are ramrodded through out State and federal parliaments so the duty to protect all children is enforceable without the exceptions that religious institutions have hitherto defended. If we can’t see now that their claim to self regulation is indefensible then we truly never will.

      As I posted earlier. It’s not too much to ask….

      Like

      • Anndra May 28, 2013 at 8:15 pm #

        Thanks for your reply 🙂

        I have hope, otherwise I would have given up long ago. The enquiries and commissions will produce results. No doubt about it. New systems. New checks and balances. New work-arounds. Countenance or no, the Catholic Church and its miscreant priests (I concede that they’re not all bad) are but the tip of a much, much, much bigger iceberg.

        We (our governments, ourselves) can only monitor those pederasts identified (the tip of the iceberg). What we (society) has never been able to do is to predict or identify individuals who are pederasts until they are exposed, and often many, many years down the track.

        How do you legislate/ramrod/enforce/regulate against the unknown human whose sexuality presents in the form that paedophilia takes? It is impossible. That’s the cruel reality again. Find one, and there are how many undiscovered? How much can we legislate or control without becoming an Orwellian society?

        I do share your hope, Godson Hudfrey (O: I just know that it has to exist alongside the wretched hopelessness as well.

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        • hudsongodfrey May 28, 2013 at 10:57 pm #

          I don’t think we’re going to be able to reinforce against any of the fears that seem to have been the blight of the early part of the 21st century. We can’t stop terrorism even by fighting wars against the abstract noun, and we can’t really stop child molesters from existing in some sort of preemptive action against them. We lose our freedoms entirely if we permit ourselves to live in fear, so we have to restore our trust in the good within human nature and learn to encourage the ideas that are our best chance of enhancing a morally more self regulating society. And I think we have to do all that in a way that cuts across religious and cultural boundaries, because we know those old cultural tropes have not only failed but demonstrably been part of what lead to the point where we’re asking those questions.

          So I know that sounds like a bunch of words that don’t add up to much, but the meat on the bones of this is a combination of the power of positive culture along with things like education and some necessary things like doing the best we can to end disadvantage wherever we can. I really don’t believe that it needs to be any harder to adopt better ideas than it has been to adopt the new technologies that we’ve done time and again because we saw the manifest benefit to us in everything from having a car to a smartphone.

          Taking the case of kids at risk of abuse the idea of how we come to trust and continue to trust adults around them probably does need to be challenged. Maybe that’ll come in the form of more openness to accountability from other responsible adults on the basis that if you’re interested in children’s welfare then the responsible thing to do is not to demand that trust but to earn it. And of course as I’ve said, we’ll certainly extend those provisions to churchmen.

          Then maybe another part of it comes in the form of a realisation that in part we’ve blown the whole idea of wrapping kids in cotton wool out of proportion and need to balance the interests of their development as independent beings in the world against the desire to assiduously protect them beyond reasonable levels. And by that I simply mean that I think we’re stunting their emotional growth by projecting too many of our fears onto them.

          But I really think the last and possibly most important element of this would have to be not necessarily even understanding but just helping potential pederasts to help themselves not to offend in some truly progressive initiative that has only to succeed insofar as to break down the secrecy around this crime that teaches them to be such sneaky bastards that they too often actually manage to learn how to get away with it. I don’t know that we should have too much hope for this one, but I firmly believe that if being akin to psychopaths they don’t properly feel guilt about their behaviour then that doesn’t by a very long stretch mean that they don’t know that it is wrong.

          And for the record looking at Pell in the inquiry he really doesn’t show in his carriage or demeanour the least shred of anything that even remotely speaks of real genuine guilt to me. Draw your own conclusions about what one parent before the inquiry describes as a sociopathic lack of empathy, but I know I deeply resent it if only because a catholic upbringing I’ve struggled to reconcile with my adult self left me riddled with guilt about the smallest of things. He seems to me like someone who very much has been part of the problem when even a novice like myself can see his way clear to thinking of a few humble ideas that might go some way towards helping. What a complete failure that truly is.

          Like

          • Anndra May 28, 2013 at 11:47 pm #

            I’ve not much more to add to this but to go a little further, and this further will be huge. I’ve just finished having part of this conversation with my closest friend. Let’s stop allowing space for the secrecy.

            Do you know what I think the true answer is to drastically reducing the incidents of child sexual abuse? Acceptance of and openness about all of the permutations of human sexuality, including pederasts. Let’s stop demonising the presentation and focus, as you say, on the understanding of the person and the education of us all in to helping paedophiles to find a place in the same way as the GLBTG (or acronyms of that ilk) have as well. Ignominy, outrage, horror, disgust ensues. Sick of the whole ‘normal sexuality’ argument as well. Another day.

            I will never tolerate or condone pederastry (paedophiles being a slightly different kettle of fish). However, it’s about time we sought a different solution. Let’s be grown up enough as a society to take an action that has never been taken at large, to my knowledge. It is this reluctance to remove the barriers to understanding those of our human kind who are sexual attracted to children.

            Clearly, the current system isn’t going to expose the remainder of the iceberg; maybe acceptance can. Is that a radical enough initiative?

            Like

            • hudsongodfrey May 29, 2013 at 12:29 am #

              I think if we can further our understanding by withholding condemnation, and that the same time stop short of having to condone abuse then the idea that we extend the ability to admit of alcoholism, drug dependency, mental illness or even being a reformed criminal has a ring of empowerment to it that we may well extend to somebody who said it the right way. And I think the right way would be something like, “I felt attracted but I saw the need to stop myself from acting on that impulse because harm would ensure and/or this was something that could ruin my life and standing in the community.”

              If somebody did say that then I’d have to say that any community would be remiss to deny them that help that they so obviously needed.

              Now like you I don’t know if that’s ever going to happen because those words I put in the mouth of a repentant pederast seem a little far fetched if only because we’ve taken such permission to hate this group that we probably don’t know how to hear that sentence. And I think taking what appears to be that one last piece of permission to hate away from hot blooded human beings is something that a good many of us don’t even want to embrace.

              The almost weird thing is that the Catholic Church almost does embrace that in terms of the extent to which they’re willing to forgive and ostensibly let a god that I don’t even believe exists to mete out some unseen punishment after they’re dead. And obviously I don’t think that’s right either. It’s just too much like conveniently dodging the responsibility that exists for wrongdoing to be met with some form of recourse for the victims.

              So I do worry that the only time we’re going to hear the repentant sentence is when the cornered perpetrator knowing he’s in a bind chooses to utter it out of a desire to manipulate a less punitive outcome for himself. So I much as I eschew the temptation to judge others it seems pretty obvious to me that we’ll be looking very hard at the context in which we’re willing to try anything radical because we do fear and distrust the whole situation so enormously.. And yet I think we have to try mainly because of the alternative that I mentioned earlier is to live in fear!

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              • Anndra May 29, 2013 at 12:31 am #

                Aye.

                Like

            • doug quixote May 29, 2013 at 3:06 pm #

              I think you go too far. Acceptance of paedophilia?

              It can never be acceptable because any sexual acts require consent. By definition a child cannot give consent.

              Therefore any sexual acts involving a child are non-consensual and must be unacceptable.

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              • Anndra May 29, 2013 at 3:21 pm #

                Agreed, but you misread what I said; I will never condone sexual acts against children. Paedophilia is the attraction to children in the sexual sense, not the act of sex with children. That is pederastry which, as I stated is not acceptable. Understanding and acceptance of the desire is quite different from condoning the act.

                Like

                • doug quixote May 29, 2013 at 4:15 pm #

                  The definitions are the thing.

                  If by “paedophilia” you mean only the attraction and not the act, it may be possible to understand the paedophile.

                  Acceptance however is a bridge too far.

                  “Pederasty” is a male-only thing, between an adult male and a male child or juvenile.

                  The crime is widely referred to as “child sexual abuse” these days. Many terms can and have be used for it over millenia and all societies.

                  Like

                  • Anndra May 29, 2013 at 4:27 pm #

                    That is what I meant by the definition.

                    Pederastry ‘used’ to be seen as a “male-only thing” but it is no longer considered so in moderen usage unless you know of a word that describes sexual acts involving minors perpetrated by the multiplicity of genders.

                    I can accept that a person’s sexuality is orienteered toward members of the same gender, or other species. I can accept that this is how they are from birth. I can do the same for those who are sexually orienteered with an attraction to children.

                    It does not mean I have to like it, but it equally doesn’t mean I have to hate them for it or to exclude them from participating in society. I don’t think it’s a bridge any further than accepting any of the other permutations of human sexuality.

                    Like

                    • doug quixote May 29, 2013 at 7:07 pm #

                      It is : A child cannot – cannot – consent.

                      It is not acceptable.

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                    • doug quixote May 29, 2013 at 7:12 pm #

                      “Child sexual abuse. ”

                      Read the fucking post before commenting.

                      Are you a paedophile, Anndra?

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                    • doug quixote May 29, 2013 at 11:22 pm #

                      “it is no longer considered so in moderen usage” – bullshit.

                      It means sexual relations between a man and a boy. nothing else and never has.

                      No vitriol whatsoever.

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                    • hudsongodfrey May 29, 2013 at 11:37 pm #

                      I’m just going to fess up and say the term pederast is both completely appropriate to what we were discussing and significantly easier to spell 🙂

                      Like

                    • doug quixote May 30, 2013 at 2:01 pm #

                      Please see my reply at 1.58pm 30 May.

                      I may have misjudged you.

                      Like

                  • paul walter May 29, 2013 at 4:48 pm #

                    Yes, that adds to it also.
                    I would say both forms have been around since the species climbed down from trees- think of the rich and varied sexual behaviours of Bonobo chimps, for example.
                    The ancient hunters and then soldiers away from home, or at sea or a long time were obviously familiar with these things through human history.
                    I think Marilyn’s insight as to the Borgias is correct, a bit of buggery on the long trail mutated into something complex and a bit cynical, although until recent times early sexual activity and an early death were the norm rather than what occurs now.
                    Much of medieval times can be set against the situation described in the foundational “modern” city of Athens.
                    In some of his discourses Plato talks of older male role models and teachers sexual interest toward boys (and girls?) as a practice, but advocates against it for ethical reasons, being uneasy as to the underlying issue of exploitation, I guess.
                    It’s the conflict between example setting and leadership on one hand and the urge to tend the flock more than is perhaps functionally necessary for selfish reasons that seems to be at the bottom, so to speak, of the current problems.
                    It has morphed so completely that homosexuality between consenting adults can be regarded by the church as taboo, yet paedophilia is regarded indulgently, as seems to be the case also with a Facebook excerpt I read on an American cardinal’s crusade against homosexuality.
                    I’d have though with all the quite traumatic rapes of choirboys and exploitation of women and girls also, that the Church was in no position to moralise on others predilections, whatsoever.
                    I tend to agree with some feminists that the thing is more about emotionally immature males (and nuns,in some cases) overcompensating from an artificial location of unthought through promotion to power over others that they consequently can’t handle.
                    Helvi is quite right in the end. Replace refugees on Manus Island with some of these other miscreants.

                    Like

              • hudsongodfrey May 29, 2013 at 8:29 pm #

                I didn’t interpret Andra’s post as meaning acceptance of paedophillia in the sense that we’d no longer view it as a crime, but in the sense that we’d like to work towards treating it as a condition that even if it is ultimately incurable isn’t beyond being helped. Or at least that this seems preferable to vilifying it so thoroughly that help will rarely be sought because of the stigma associated with it. Because sitting pederasts in a corner and saying don’t no matter how firmly we pronounce it, just doesn’t work.

                Like

                • doug quixote May 29, 2013 at 9:11 pm #

                  I have asked him (?) a question. I await the answer.

                  Like

                  • hudsongodfrey May 29, 2013 at 9:35 pm #

                    What? “Are you a paedophile?”

                    Would you dignify that sort of question with an answer. I’d expect either to be ignored or told where to go if I asked somebody that!

                    Like

                  • Anndra May 29, 2013 at 9:40 pm #

                    I’ll respond more generously than you have, though both ‘statements’ in the second of your two post are inaccurate and contemptible given the forum.

                    I still haven’t seen evidence that you discern the difference between the two definitions. I asked you for a definition of an alternative to the noun ‘pederast’ in the modern context. I am still waiting, as your response shows you are clearly guilty of the vey thing you say I haven’t done, i.e. ‘read the fucking post’.

                    ‘Child Sexual Abuse’ describes the phenomena carried out by pederasts. Paedophiles are not guilty of child sexual abuse until they commit the act, at which time they become pederasts.

                    As for your ‘question’, no, I am not a paedophile, nor am I a pederast. I am a survivor of Child Sexual Abuse perpetrated on me by a man who is a pederast.

                    I understand, full well, that a child cannot give consent. Save the vitriol for something more poignant than your self-centred grandstanding.

                    Like

                    • doug quixote May 29, 2013 at 11:12 pm #

                      Pederasty has a clear meaning : sexual relations between a man and a boy.

                      It has never meant anything else.

                      And there is no vitriol : I asked a question.

                      You have answered.

                      End of thread.

                      Like

                    • Anndra May 30, 2013 at 2:21 am #

                      So DQ, you are now the arbiter of this online ‘forum’ that Jennifer provides and when you say the the ‘thread’ is ended, that’s meant to carry some sort of weight? I’d actually like my right of reply, thanks, to your continued base argumentative viewpoint. I have said all that I have said in an open debate and attempted to be fair and balanced in what I say. On this subject I am particularly well-versed. I wear it in my body, mind, memory and soul everyday.

                      Have you any more right than me to argue my points or to say that my desire to reduce the incidents of Child Sexual Abuse, Child Abuse, Child Trauma or any other action is based on me being a hidden paedophile? I am acting only out of academic interest? I can’t “fucking … read”? Why so angry, DQ?

                      Having provided everyone with some context and background from which I say these things, let me also give some experience to add to your narrow horizon, DQ. I see a psychologist and have done so for many years. We have discussed me being a survivor of ‘child sexual abuse’ which, to clarify, again, as I obviously haven’t made it plain enough, is a term used to described those acts or events that children have perpetrated on them by adults or significantly aged-differentiated minors.

                      What it does not do is define the term/word that we use to describe the perpetrator. Historically we have used pederast, paedophile and child molesterer interchangeably as it was convenient. What is clear from all manner of research and trials by psychologists, behavioural experts and so on is that in our modern day and age these definitions do not stack up in face of the evidence. What evidence? Here is one (of a plethora, but I’ll keep it simple) reason.

                      One of the World’s leading references on disorders, The American Psychologist Association’s “Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, Fifth Edition (DSM-V)” recently redefined the term ‘paedophilia’ to ‘paedophilia disorder’. Why?

                      For the simple truth that not all people who are moved to sexual feelings/fantasies with regard to their attraction to children act on them. Some do act on their sexual orientation disorder and commit acts of child sexual abuse. So why should someone who is born with or who ‘develops a disorder’ that presents as paedophilia, but commits no crime against children (including the viewing or purchase of child exploitation material
                      So DQ, you are now the arbiter of this online ‘forum’ that Jennifer provides and when you say the the ‘thread’ is ended, that’s meant to carry some sort of weight? I’d actually like my right of reply, thanks, to your continued base argumentative viewpoint and vitriol*. I have said all that I have said in an open debate and attempted to be fair and balanced in what I say. On this subject I am particularly well-versed. I wear it in my body, mind, memory and soul everyday.

                      Have you any more right than me to argue my points or to say that my desire to reduce the incidents of Child Sexual Abuse, Child Abuse, Child Trauma or any other action is based on me being a hidden paedophile*? I am acting only out of academic interest*? I can’t “fucking … read”*? Why so angry, DQ? Are you a troll, DQ?

                      Having provided everyone with some context and background from which I say these things, let me also give some experience to add to your narrow horizon, DQ. I see a psychologist and have done so for many years. We have discussed me being a survivor of ‘child sexual abuse’ which, to clarify, again, as I obviously haven’t made it plain enough, is a term used to described those acts or events that children have perpetrated on them by adults or significantly aged-differentiated minors.

                      What it does not do is define the term/word that we use to describe the perpetrator. Historically we have used pederast, paedophile and child molesterer interchangeably as it was convenient. What is clear from all manner of research and trials by psychologists, behavioural experts and so on is that in our modern day and age these definitions do not stack up in face of the evidence. What evidence? Here are three (of a plethora, but I’ll keep it simple) reasons.

                      One of the World’s leading references on disorders, The American Psychologist Association’s “Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, Fifth Edition (DSM-V)” recently redefined the term ‘paedophilia’ to ‘paedophilia disorder’. Why?

                      For the simple truth that not all people who are moved to sexual feelings/fantasies with regard to their attraction to children act on them. Some do act on their sexual orientation disorder and commit acts of child sexual abuse, but many don’t. Many of them will have been abused themselves, but the overwhelming evidence demonstrates that the majority of them do not go on to become the new offenders.

                      So why should someone who is born with or who ‘develops a disorder’ that presents as paedophilia (stemming from the aforementioned CSA), but commits no crime against children (including the viewing or purchase of child exploitation material) be lumbered with the same name/stigma/vitriol as those who do act upon children?

                      Then you have those who are clinically defined as child molesters who have no sexual attraction to children in the slightest, but nevertheless act out on children in a sexual way. They are not paedophiles in the older psychological model, but they commit acts of child sexual abuse. Clearly, the terms are outmoded and need updating.

                      Exactly the same applies to the term pederast. What do you call a female who engages in sexual relations with young pre-adolescent girls because she is genuinely sexually attracted to them? A Lesbian? (Hardly!) A child molester? (No, because she is genuinely attracted to them and isn’t acting out of some other disorder). A paedophile? (In the old terms of reference, in the new, no?) Here is where my telling you I see a psychologist is relevant. When I asked her what word her and her colleagues use, both here and overseas, she replied, “Although the old form of the word means homosexual relations between males of a particular differentiation, we also use the term pederast for women”. That would be a modernised-context (‘bullshit’*) for the term pederast, but as you have so eloquently pointed out,

                      “Pederasty has a clear meaning : sexual relations between a man and a boy.
                      It has never meant anything else.”
                      Awful, egregious, gay, guy! Ever heard of semantic change?
                      I know what pederast means, thanks. No need to supply me with a Wikipedia terms of reference or definition. Reread the last sentence of my first paragraph if you have any doubts about my understanding of the term. The perpetrator in my case was neither a paedophile or a child molester, though he did commit acts of incredible abuse against me.

                      He was a pederast; a young, repressed gay man living in a tiny backwater of a tiny town on a tiny island. My cousin. There was never a hope in Hades of him meeting an ‘out’ gay man in Tasmania, where it was still illegal to be gay until 1992. What hope did he have in the socially repressive and ultra-conservative of Tasmania in 1972. He abused me, and at least 3 of my cousins that I am aware of (now) over an undisclosed period of time. To our collective knowledge I was the youngest at 5 years of age. Five, DQ. I was 5.

                      Now, that does put him into the paedophile catergory on the previous measures, but ‘modern’ measures/research/studies now also factor in that he was likely abused himself by an older member of my family who in-turn abused how many unfortunates, including possibly my own father. He was likely abused for his emerging homosexual tendencies. He was likely stigmatised in the way that only small minds and small communities can. All of this back up by anecdotal evidence. He never stood a chance.

                      Let me posit a second possibility, one that may have resulted in a different outcome for at least 5 lives. Had my cousin not been abused, had he been recognised and celebrated for his uniqueness and his difference, as well as his sameness, had he been allowed to explore his sexuality, to understand that his permutation is one but many, had he been understood and accepted, then I believe in his case, he may never have offended and committed acts of child sexual abuse. Had he been loved and enfranchised (free), treated as one of many and given the life that we want all of us to have, free of fear, tyranny and hate, he may have grown up whole, as may have I and my cousins. That’s my reasoning behind understanding and acceptance. All you have are the same tired old arguments and hate-filled responses to an issue that needs a radical change in approach.

                      Are you getting the picture yet, DQ? Is it getting into that melon of yours how complex this issue is, from the inside alone? I ask genuinely, “Have you been on the inside?” – Yet I digress from my mere ‘academic’* ramblings. Don’t ever ask me if I am a paedophile again, thanks*.

                      I think I’ve made my position abundantly clear; unless your going to reply to me like a thinking, rational and enlightened adult, don’t bother replying at all. I don’t have any more time to waste on lost causes.

                      Then you have those who are clinically defined as child molesterers who have no sexual attraction to children in the slightest, but nevertheless act ou on children in a sexual way. They are not paedophiles in the older psychological model, but they commit acts of child sexual abuse.

                      Like

                    • Anndra May 30, 2013 at 2:29 am #

                      So DQ, you are now the arbiter of this online ‘forum’ that Jennifer provides and when you say the the ‘thread’ is ended, that’s meant to carry some sort of weight? I’d actually like my right of reply, thanks, to your continued base argumentative viewpoint and vitriol*. I have said all that I have said in an open debate and attempted to be fair and balanced in what I say. On this subject I am particularly well-versed. I wear it in my body, mind, memory and soul everyday.

                      Have you any more right than me to argue my points or to say that my desire to reduce the incidents of Child Sexual Abuse, Child Abuse, Child Trauma or any other action is based on me being a hidden paedophile*? I am acting only out of academic interest*? I can’t “fucking … read”*? Why so angry, DQ? Are you a troll, DQ?

                      Having provided everyone with some context and background from which I say these things, let me also give some experience to add to your narrow horizon, DQ. I see a psychologist and have done so for many years. We have discussed me being a survivor of ‘child sexual abuse’ which, to clarify, again, as I obviously haven’t made it plain enough, is a term used to described those acts or events that children have perpetrated on them by adults or significantly aged-differentiated minors.

                      What it does not do is define the term/word that we use to describe the perpetrator. Historically we have used pederast, paedophile and child molesterer interchangeably as it was convenient. What is clear from all manner of research and trials by psychologists, behavioural experts and so on is that in our modern day and age these definitions do not stack up in face of the evidence. What evidence? Here are three (of a plethora, but I’ll keep it simple) reasons.

                      One of the World’s leading references on disorders, The American Psychologist Association’s “Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, Fifth Edition (DSM-V)” recently redefined the term ‘paedophilia’ to ‘paedophilia disorder’. Why?

                      For the simple truth that not all people who are moved to sexual feelings/fantasies with regard to their attraction to children act on them. Some do act on their sexual orientation disorder and commit acts of child sexual abuse, but many don’t. Many of them will have been abused themselves, but the overwhelming evidence demonstrates that the majority of them do not go on to become the new offenders.

                      So why should someone who is born with or who ‘develops a disorder’ that presents as paedophilia (stemming from the aforementioned CSA), but commits no crime against children (including the viewing or purchase of child exploitation material) be lumbered with the same name/stigma/vitriol as those who do act upon children?

                      Then you have those who are clinically defined as child molesters who have no sexual attraction to children in the slightest, but nevertheless act out on children in a sexual way. They are not paedophiles in the older psychological model, but they commit acts of child sexual abuse. Clearly, the terms are outmoded and need updating.

                      Exactly the same applies to the term pederast. What do you call a female who engages in sexual relations with young pre-adolescent girls because she is genuinely sexually attracted to them? A Lesbian? (Hardly!) A child molester? (No, because she is genuinely attracted to them and isn’t acting out of some other disorder). A paedophile? (In the old terms of reference, in the new, no?) Here is where my telling you I see a psychologist is relevant. When I asked her what word her and her colleagues use, both here and overseas, she replied, “Although the old form of the word means homosexual relations between males of a particular differentiation, we also use the term pederast for women”. That would be a modernised-context (‘bullshit’*) for the term pederast, but as you have so eloquently pointed out,

                      “Pederasty has a clear meaning : sexual relations between a man and a boy.
                      It has never meant anything else.”
                      Awful, egregious, gay, guy! Ever heard of semantic change?
                      I know what pederast means, thanks. No need to supply me with a Wikipedia terms of reference or definition. Reread the last sentence of my first paragraph if you have any doubts about my understanding of the term. The perpetrator in my case was neither a paedophile or a child molester, though he did commit acts of incredible abuse against me.

                      He was a pederast; a young, repressed gay man living in a tiny backwater of a tiny town on a tiny island. My cousin. There was never a hope in Hades of him meeting an ‘out’ gay man in Tasmania, where it was still illegal to be gay until 1992. What hope did he have in the socially repressive and ultra-conservative of Tasmania in 1972. He abused me, and at least 3 of my cousins that I am aware of (now) over an undisclosed period of time. To our collective knowledge I was the youngest at 5 years of age. Five, DQ. I was 5.

                      Now, that does put him into the paedophile catergory on the previous measures, but ‘modern’ measures/research/studies now also factor in that he was likely abused himself by an older member of my family who in-turn abused how many unfortunates, including possibly my own father. He was likely abused for his emerging homosexual tendencies. He was likely stigmatised in the way that only small minds and small communities can. All of this back up by anecdotal evidence. He never stood a chance.

                      Let me posit a second possibility, one that may have resulted in a different outcome for at least 5 lives. Had my cousin not been abused, had he been recognised and celebrated for his uniqueness and his difference, as well as his sameness, had he been allowed to explore his sexuality, to understand that his permutation is one but many, had he been understood and accepted, then I believe in his case, he may never have offended and committed acts of child sexual abuse. Had he been loved and enfranchised (free), treated as one of many and given the life that we want all of us to have, free of fear, tyranny and hate, he may have grown up whole, as may have I and my cousins. That’s my reasoning behind understanding and acceptance. All you have are the same tired old arguments and hate-filled responses to an issue that needs a radical change in approach.

                      Are you getting the picture yet, DQ? Is it getting into that melon of yours how complex this issue is, from the inside alone? I ask genuinely, “Have you been on the inside?” – Yet I digress from my mere ‘academic’* ramblings. Don’t ever ask me if I am a paedophile again, thanks*.

                      I think I’ve made my position abundantly clear; unless your going to reply to me like a thinking, rational and enlightened adult, don’t bother replying at all. I don’t have any more time to waste on lost causes.

                      Like

                • paul walter May 29, 2013 at 9:45 pm #

                  Is there a conflation problem here?
                  The issue of given institutions brought to task for long-term and deliberate, conscious fudging of responsibilities has little or no relation to concepts of rehabilitation for paedophiles.
                  I think- separate issues except for the intersection that proposes that the Catholic church failed in removing and treating its offending priests and worse still, put the stoats back in the chicken coop.
                  By the way, diverging for a moment, I agree that the Catholic church and other churches, are not the only institution to fail the guardianship test: Today’s Adelaide Advertiser reports on a $million claim against a government department for neglect over the abuse of foster children, for example.
                  With the issue of treatment we are badly in need of a clinician’s opinion at this moment.
                  As for organisations involved with children, I tend to agree that the kids must be the first priority.
                  If individuals can’t “get” that they keep their mitts of kids, some form rehabilitation is required.
                  Preferably something scientific and rational, but if a cattle-prod is what it takes to introduce a serial offender to a sense of what the experience maybe like for a child victim, when all else has failed, to persuade them to cease and desist in the future, then am tempted to wonder if this is not eventually fair enough too.
                  The kids must be the first priority- give me an alternative that ensures their safety.

                  Like

                  • paul walter May 29, 2013 at 9:49 pm #

                    btw anndra’s post was posted while I was still putting down my thoughts, it should not be taken that I am responding to his most recent post which would logically have been impossible.

                    Like

                    • Anndra May 29, 2013 at 10:15 pm #

                      Yes, there is some conflation, but it is hard to separate the two: Church being allowed to have pederasts acting freely on their sexual delinquency, while neither acknowledging that they (the Church) were responsible for their ‘staff’ and the utter lack of duty-of-care towards the children placed in its ‘care’.

                      Many of these pederasts were ‘guilty’ of paedophilia and I know it isn’t as simple as ‘had they been able to discern the difference between the act and it’s consequences’ before they crossed over, then it would be easy to say they are separate.

                      I think a place exists for both sides of the argument being discussed together, as their interrelatedness is, to my mind, symbiotic.

                      Like

                    • paul walter May 29, 2013 at 10:43 pm #

                      DQ, I know you are an honest man, but anndra’s series of posts in no way indicated even the slightest interest in or approval of the practices he was subjected to.
                      Quite the opposite.
                      He is clearly interested in getting to the root underlying causes of what happens with this, rather than applying lazy and ineffective nostrums that satisfy an urge for vengeance that I understand and even share.
                      He can’t turn back the clock, is more pitying of his tormentors than vindictive (amazingly) but is obviously genuinely concerned that solutions to the problem are found quickly so that others aren’t subjected to what he had to endure. He ought to be congratulated for moving thread on from acrimony to objectivity and rational goal oriented investigation.
                      He’s taken the higher road in acknowledging complexity in seeking
                      effective treatment for those less well
                      equipped than he is psychically.
                      Lack of empathy doesn’t help here, DQ.

                      Like

                    • doug quixote May 29, 2013 at 11:14 pm #

                      To Paul : I asked a question, a reasonable one given some of anndra’s statements.

                      He answered : apparently an academic interest only.

                      Like

                  • hudsongodfrey May 29, 2013 at 10:45 pm #

                    Paul,

                    Since you asked, we’re not off topic we just meandered here by way of asking what can be expected to come of these inquiries, To which the answer to this from my point of view was that when we finally realise that we can’t trust the churches to deal with it then we still need to be sure that we’re prepared to shoulder the burden of somehow making it stop.

                    Strangely enough there are those who when pressed to find the most utilitarian solution that science can imagine for us point to the low recidivism rates that apparently there’s evidence for in countries where the cane is used. For the most part we find that kind of punishment abhorrent, though I think it has to be understood in terms of the psychological damage a beating so severe as to “break” somebody’s spirit must involve.

                    The problem with either cane or cattle prod would simply be that it only works after an offender is caught. Whereas what we tried to broach in terms of the efficacy of stepping outside the abhorrence we have of that crime might be to perhaps credit the bravery of anyone who given the right opportunity might like to declare themselves tempted and seek help. Or at least the way that I put it was basically that if we slam all the doors we can in the faces of people who need some kind of help we can’t really expect to prevent them going on to offend.

                    Like

                    • paul walter May 30, 2013 at 12:26 am #

                      DQ, annandra did mention fairly early that he was a victim himself and he gave not the slightest sense of being inclined in such a direction himself.
                      Hudsongodfrey, you remind me of the SBS doco on Monday night about Pavlov, Skinner and others and conditioned reflexes. Grim stuff and fearful if developed for the wrong purposes, like discouraging political debate or moralisingly misapplied to sexuality as it was so often forty or fifty years ago.
                      It’s true that in past threads the issue has been raised and the consensus is that that treatment for offenders is not particularly effective just now.
                      I suppose stuff is being collated, of the sort Garpal Gumnut presented about offences more likely committed by rellies and other near-outsiders rather than parents themselves, although she has the curious notion that it is objectivists who are not interested in these sorts of things rather than punitive conservatives.
                      I can go along with the notion that many offenders are a bit pitiful and the thread-starter was quite correct to sheet home blame to (cynical?) authorities motivated by concerns outside of duty of care and thus not doing their bit to deal with the real problem on their watch.

                      Like

                  • Anonymous May 29, 2013 at 10:59 pm #

                    This.

                    Like

                • Anonymous May 29, 2013 at 10:37 pm #

                  This.

                  Like

                  • paul walter May 29, 2013 at 10:44 pm #

                    Brilliant contribution, Anonymous

                    Like

                  • hudsongodfrey May 29, 2013 at 10:46 pm #

                    Someone says “this”

                    Is that kinda like Simon says “that”?

                    Like

                    • Anndra May 29, 2013 at 11:14 pm #

                      What’s funny is that ‘this’ was me from my smartphone – except it crashed the browser. Twice. I’ll wait till I am home address the mini missives. 🙂

                      Like

  8. paul walter May 28, 2013 at 3:25 pm #

    At the moment, Conservatism in Australia has two Bishops, an Abbott, and a Pope, if you consider Sen. Don Farrell.
    However, the Cardinal is clearly a liability, all the finesse of a Papal Bull in achina shop.
    Bit of a log, the old George.
    Still hasn’t quite “got it”.
    Fortunately for him, a hide like a rhinoceros.
    His performance yesterday had tweeters to ABC news in a frenzy- no compromise!
    Funny thing, had the church played fair twenty years ago, it might have been able to limit damage in the sense of monetary terms as to claims.
    But instead of holding to their word they abused trust twice, this time by using the assessment process as a delaying tactic.
    The Australian today followed Pell in trying to shrug the thing off, but I think the wider public has run out of patience.

    Like

  9. Garpal Gumnut May 28, 2013 at 6:26 pm #

    Excellent comments Jennifer. Agree totally. Pell is a product of 2000 years of celibate reproduction.

    Like

    • hudsongodfrey May 28, 2013 at 7:41 pm #

      It’s a handy thought but I’ve read that even in the catholic church celibacy wasn’t instituted until the early part of the 12th century. Proof positive in my book that they made the whole thing up!

      Like

  10. Mannie De Saxe May 28, 2013 at 6:35 pm #

    For those who have not yet read it you might find this book very interesting in relation to the Victorian Parliamentary Inquiry into child sexual abuse :

    “Hell on the Way to Heaven by Chrissie Foster with Paul Kennedy – published by Bantam, 2010”.
    Mannie De Saxe

    Like

  11. zerograv1 May 29, 2013 at 10:57 am #

    Pell is entrenched in and a product of a system that eulogizes celibacy. By any measure, this is a skewed form of sexuality and so that allegations and admissions didn’t surprise me at all. Nor was I surprised at Pell’s performance, he has always been wooden in public discourse with little emotion or empathy …he is a mouthpiece for the official church line. I’m guessing also that the Catholic Churches legal advisers have decided this type of confession is the best way to dilute anger from Church members after such a long period of denial. Having been a contributor of evidence to brokenrites on behalf of two (then) 12 year old male victims, I am not in any position to have any sympathy at all for the “we are all human and make mistakes” argument the church is preaching. Most people know where the behavioral line is drawn…clearly members of the various orders allowed the inherent secrecy of the (mainly) boarding schools to be taken advantage of. It’s inexcusable but has happened, revenge has limited usefulness unless perhaps a large financial punishment sends a very hard message to Rome its not on and never ever going to be condoned or pardoned. Any other outcome is just words. I was gladdened to hear some talk of allowing priests to marry, not before time if it happens

    Like

    • hudsongodfrey May 29, 2013 at 11:25 am #

      Yes I agree Celibacy has always been problematic in this. I think it has attracted a number of people into the clergy who have had conflicted relationships with their own sexuality and therefore did not desire marriage for what may have been all the wrong reasons. The exceptions and compartmentalised thinking we indulge in when it comes to thinking about and dealing respectfully with religion have done us too few favours. We may have to say that many of these people do good works and deserve our respect in a way that stops short of assuming that all of them are equally meritorious.

      Like

      • gerard oosterman May 29, 2013 at 12:40 pm #

        Yes, quite right. Celibacy isn’t the domain of the catholics only. If that is held up as some lame excuse for abuse of children take comfort from a study in Holland that the use of sex workers is mainly the domain of the married and not so much of the sex-starved solitary bachelor or (not so)celibate priest.

        Like

        • helvityni May 29, 2013 at 1:47 pm #

          …and thank the Lord for Luther; the Finn-kids and Finn-sheep avoided ‘churchy’ abuse…

          Like

        • hudsongodfrey May 29, 2013 at 6:35 pm #

          Yes but I’m not quite sure how to interpret that one Gerard. It could mean that singles and clergy are by and large successfully abstaining, but it could equally just mean they’re getting what they need elsewhere, or even that they don’t always require the kinds of services that prostitutes provide.

          Like

          • gerard oosterman May 29, 2013 at 6:50 pm #

            Yes, it reads a bit ambiguous. I meant that sexual abuse of children is not just done by priests who are supposed to be celibate and that if only they were married they would abstain from that.
            The stats don’t support this. Over 68% of sexual abuse of children are perpetrated by family members or close family friends.
            http://www.victimsofcrime.org/media/reporting-on-child-sexual-abuse/child-sexual-abuse-statistics

            Like

            • hudsongodfrey May 29, 2013 at 8:17 pm #

              Okay so I see how the argument goes and I’ve heard similar statistics that I’ve no reason to doubt. The meaning behind my earlier post however was that some of the young men who enter the priesthood might perhaps do so with the notion in mind that they want to be free of their troublesome sexuality. Something that is espeacially potent for anyone experiencing the guilt that a religious upbringing holds for anyone whose sexuality isn’t condoned by its dogma. Or more specifically I suspect homosexuals and young men with pederast leanings might be attracted to that life for different reasons. Whereas young men for whom the lure of the opposite sex directly conflicts with the churches’ entreatment to celibacy would almost certainly choose otherwise.

              All of which is just a more careful way of explaining that if allowing clergy to marry didn’t entirely militate against cases of child abuse then at least it does seem reasonable to say that it might in fact then be happening for altogther different reasons, such as the ones you questioned. The evidence is also that while abuse occurs within the Anglican ranks it does so at reduced level comparared with the Catholic church. Maybe the explanation in part for that would be that if most other preists are married then when one is discovered in their abuse then the man best placed to cover it up won’t be another celibate with possible sympathies. He might instead be a father of children who is as such far less inclined to simply forgive, forget and tolerate the likelihood of ongoing recurrences.

              Like

      • Garpal Gumnut May 29, 2013 at 10:39 pm #

        An interesting problem, hg. Akin to the many off topic remarks by committed feminists in arguments about paedophilia. Good is good. And bad is bad. A good person doing “bad” things is bad. Celibacy encourages a distancy from others for some clergy, as does feminism for some feminists. This distance can instil a righteousness which in the mind of a disordered personality can lead to harm. I still strongly feel that celibacy is a bad doctrine for the Catholic Church, for the reasons enunciated by others on this thread.

        Like

        • hudsongodfrey May 29, 2013 at 11:33 pm #

          I with you on the view that celibacy is a policy whose downsides far outweigh any benefits that the sacrifice seems to accrue for practitioners, but I do so for what are probably different reasons. Because the need to repress sexual urges if it was ever desirable has precious little left to recommend it in this day and age.

          Yet while I do know what you mean by distancing celibates from others, I don’t know that it is necessarily useful generalisation. In the case of feminism I think feminists come in all shapes and sizes, some of them even male, yet you’d be right to say that some feminists have shown a real disdain for the testicularly enhanced among us. “Some” being the operative word. Just as some priests are pederasts, most pederasts are also sociopathic and that psychology also accounts for being distant and lacking in empathy. So you wind up with a pattern whereby celibacy fits with some peadophile preists mentality but fails completely to explain the fact that the majority of priests like the majority of feminists are completely otherwise.

          What I said earlier by the way was something quite different. It was simply a view that celibacy may for the very reasons I just outlined attract a disproportionate number of like minded deviants.

          Whereas I think what you’re saying might be construed so as to suggest that celibacy causes pederasty though this distancing process. Which is just to say that I’ve heard sexual orientation can be fluid but I find it hard to believe it would be that fluid. Nor should we entertain suggestions that being subjected to the unnatural state of celibacy messes that much with one’s sense of right and wrong so much as to explain them claiming righteousness. I’m far more strongly inclined to the view that the Cardinal’s righteousness is a symptom of being in denial! It is after all not his only delusion.

          Like

    • paul walter May 29, 2013 at 3:52 pm #

      Zerograv1 , I think most would concur you have described it perfectly. We could call the “Whited Sepulchre” school of Christianity.
      It is a very dark antithesis to original Christianity in its current form.
      It is possible that the line about the church being bankrupted is the most cynical ploy of all, it plays on the motives and aspirations of good Catholics who see the money spent on the poor being used for compensation, but those spinning the line are actually covering their own backsides, using this emotional blackmailing form as a shield for saving their own miserable hides.

      Like

  12. gerard oosterman May 29, 2013 at 2:41 pm #

    A Bit of rough justice!
    A former teacher has avoided a jail term for the sexual assault of a 14-year-old girl 28 years ago.
    Yolanda Lyons, 58, pleaded guilty in the Victorian County Court to four charges relating to a two-year illicit relationship she had with a year 9 female student in the 1980s.
    The court heard Lyons resigned from teaching when she was charged and is now leading the life of a recluse.
    The judge said she was not a lesbian by sexual orientation and showed no signs of obsessive of sexual thoughts.
    Lyons was sentenced to a wholly-suspended three year jail term and will be a registered sex offender for life.
    ABC “Just in news”.
    “A sex offender for LIFE, after a two year relationship? The judge said ,” she showed no signs of obsessive sexual thoughts”. Yes, the judge would know, would he not!

    Like

    • helvityni May 29, 2013 at 3:11 pm #

      How harsh, a registered sex offender for life, how come the judge did not send her to Manus island…( did anyone watch Dateline last night?)

      Like

      • Marilyn May 29, 2013 at 3:30 pm #

        Yes Helvi, are you proud still of your racist ridiculous heroine.

        Like

  13. doug quixote May 29, 2013 at 4:02 pm #

    I think the original idea with celibacy was that priests (and monks and nuns) were wedded to the Church and that their sexual energies be sublimated and dedicated to their god and his Church.

    The problem arose when it was prescribed as required for all priests etc. Some of them found that too tough a burden.

    The problem goes wider :

    The trouble with proscribing things people want to do – gambling, drinking, taking drugs, sexual activities etc – is that it can never work. And the by-product of failed proscriptions is that it brings the law and the regulator into disrepute. It does so because people can say “law x is never enforced and cannot be enforced why should we abide by law y?” Not only that but the regulator and its enforcers can be corrupted by the very fact that activities are forbidden and illegal, and those who stand to profit can treat bribery and corruption as an expense of doing business.

    The only “answer” to the problem is to decriminalise and regulate the activities so that the health of the community can be protected, and the proceeds of the fees gathered by regulation can be used for the benefit of the whole community and not just in lining the pockets of the criminals and the corrupt.

    Like

  14. gerard oosterman May 29, 2013 at 6:26 pm #

    In a survey of approximately 9,000 15-year olds in Finland, about 6-8% of girls and 1-3% of boys reported sexual abuse experiences. Force had been used against 2% and violence against 1% of the girls. Significant regional differences could be interpreted as supporting a “subculture theory” of sorts.

    http://www.eric.ed.gov/ERICWebPortal/search/detailmini.jsp?_nfpb=true&_&ERICExtSearch_SearchValue_0=EJ491155&ERICExtSearch_SearchType_0=no&accno=EJ491155

    According to studies by the Dutch centre for Child and Family studies, Australia rates as having the world’s highest percentage of child sexual abuse (CSA) against girls. (215/1000) over 20%

    http://www.eric.ed.gov/ERICWebPortal/search/detailmini.jsp?_nfpb=true&_&ERICExtSearch_SearchValue_0=EJ491155&ERICExtSearch_SearchType_0=no&accno=EJ491155

    Looking at the stats generally. The more repressed a society is sexually, the higher it seems CSA occurs. So, to conclude, the saying “Don’t mention sex, we are British” does seem to relate to a higher increase in sexual abuse against children in that country and it might also justify relating this to Australia’s CSA world’s highest ratings together with the high percentage of unwanted teen pregnancies.

    Like

  15. sarah toa May 29, 2013 at 9:11 pm #

    I use to want to burn Pell’s house down whenever I saw him complaining of media beatups but these days I agree, Jennifer … what a sad man.

    My sister has been fixing an old bloke’s car over the last week. He keeps showing her his certificates, endorsements and gold watches to indicate his ‘good man’ status. His sons were all terribly abused and the inquiry is ongoing in the small town/state I live in.
    He’s completely closed down. He can’t admit that he could have saved his boys from their abuser and didn’t. He’s dying of a broken heart, literally.
    He reminds me of Pell.

    Like

  16. Garpal Gumnut May 29, 2013 at 11:22 pm #

    One of the few evidential facts that progressives are unwilling to address is that abuse is less common where a father or mother has a direct genetic interest in the child. Thus natural fathers and mothers are less likely to be culprits as opposed to grandfathers/mothers, uncles/aunts, step parents, surrogates and outsiders with intimate contact such as carers, fosterers and clergy. I do fear for the children of the future with the intricacies of relationships encouraged by “modern theory” of what is a family.

    Like

    • Marilyn May 30, 2013 at 6:45 am #

      There is simply no evidence for that. Almost all child sexual abuse is done by dads.

      Like

      • hudsongodfrey May 30, 2013 at 9:40 am #

        Well Wikipedia using US figures has familial abuse at 30% so most might be a stretch.

        https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Child_abuse

        Nor would I say that the real argument should concentrate on the figures but rather on the other manifest problems with the argument.

        Like

      • Garpal Gumnut May 30, 2013 at 7:13 pm #

        Marilyn it is wrong, plain wrong, and not borne out by any data or experience of people dealing with abuse professionally, that “almost all sexual abuse is done by dads “. I would say though that step-fathers figure significantly in the number of perpetrators. After that family friends.

        Like

    • hudsongodfrey May 30, 2013 at 12:24 pm #

      Unless you have evidence and analysis to back these kinds of statements what one most often finds is that statements like these rely upon the meeting of hypotheses that seem attractive with selective or incomplete research. So I’d be more than a little sceptical of any claim that represented anything less than the general clinical consensus on this.

      Quoting the same figures from Wikipedia that I’ve directed Marilyn’s attention to there’s this 30% of abuse that occurs within the home. Yet the 70% that doesn’t is widely fragmented perhaps to the extent that we’re still left with the largest single source of risk being parental. So you’re taking something that is widely believed to be underreported, hiving off a 30% slice, further splitting that into homes where there is genetic and non-genetic interest in the child who was nonetheless abused, and trying to draw a specific conclusion.

      I see a real problem with making links to genetic interest in a way that is able to credibly discount explanations from other cultural factors, histories of abuse and sexual attractedness to minors (how accurately is that even able to be surveyed when almost nobody is inclined to admit to it) in ways that rank it highly enough to even rate a mention.

      If we even deign to ask whether one kind of family is higher risk than others then the question going in would have to be that if we find instead that the nuclear family is the most dysfunctional and at risk environment for children then what are we prepared to do about that? Ban nuclear families? If not then I don’t even think we can ban a class of step parents whose eyes are too close set. And I really don’t know that assuming that right to treat gays and single mothers with undue suspicion provides the kind of response that guarantees we’d be able to make ground on the problem at all.

      And as questions go it’s a very passive one. It assumes that some combination of nature and nurture produce circumstances that are more or less conducive to incidence of abuse in some non random fashion that we can be mindful of but probably still lack means to intercept.

      In other words what are we going to do? Under what preventative circumstances short of evidence of abuse can we take kids away, and give then to someone who is geneticlly more closely related yet might not even want these kids, and in what proportion of cases.

      Or are we simply saying that people other than nuclear families shouldn’t breed?

      What happened to saying child abuse is just plain wrong? Something which we know regardless of the circumstances is what we expect people to honour when it comes to asking how we might prevent this. I simply don’t think we foist childlessness on “modern families” against their will without doing them a disservice that amounts to arguing that two wrongs make a right.

      Like

      • Anndra May 30, 2013 at 1:06 pm #

        I too would be sceptical of blanket statements. Unless there is evidence to qualify said statements, backed-up by solid research, I could just as easily say that in my experience almost all sexual abuse is done by cousins.

        I want to add to this that the number of child sexual abuse cases identifying women as perpetrators is on the rise with further disclosure of previously unreported cases. Yet without proof I could say the same of Martians.

        http://www.secasa.com.au/pages/breaking-the-last-taboo-sexual-abuse-by-female-perpetrators/

        http://www.guardian.co.uk/society/2009/oct/04/uk-female-child-sex-offenders

        http://www.dailymail.co.uk/femail/article-1228366/I-abused-woman-haunts-day.html

        http://jezebel.com/5335061/sexual-abuse-by-women-the-crime-no-one-wants-to-investigate

        Most of these articles contain references to reliable research and resources.

        The issue with statements like yours Marilyn, and to a degree Garpal, is that it doesn’t include to reality of the situation. They’re just a statement or a figure we throw around.

        It focuses community sentiment on just one group, “Dads” and Child Sexual Abuse is again homocentric with all of the associated stigmas and complexities. It doesn’t even begin to tell the whole story, nor to discuss it in a way that really gets to the core of an incredibly complex range of issues in an attempt to find solutions.

        What it does most of all is to place the child on the periphery, in the shadows, in between the cracks and that is precisely right where we do not need them to be, because that is where they are most vulnerable. They can be so easily put there and still be in plain view. How? By using a blanket statement, “Don’t be silly child, grandma would never do anything like that”. Nullified, ignored, hidden in plain sight and told they are wrong. Imagine that at any age, but particularly imagine that at age 5.

        ‘You’ have just created an instance in which that child becomes one of Pell’s ‘these people’.

        Like

        • hudsongodfrey May 30, 2013 at 3:38 pm #

          I have a friend who emails on the subject of several memes. Things that he notices cropping up repeatedly without getting a great deal of attention. How many people fall from balconies or drown in their own dams, and female child molesters. So I could find a longish list of cases to evidence the fact that males aren’t the only gender doing this, but the real point is that it’s inspired by just not wanting to be made to feel dirty by the sideways glance of a mother if you so much as smile at the sight of a child in the playground. I’ve even had kids run up to me and felt a tinge of expectation that much as I knew I wasn’t a risk to the child maybe the kid didn’t, so the mother ought to be recalling her little bundle sooner rather than later.

          I think the other problem is the “other” problem. Trying to reduce it to having the ability to identify “these people” probably isn’t going to provide much of a solution if our attitude to the situation doesn’t include remedies that are any better that the sort of vaguely prophylactic solutions we currently apply and are happy to forget about a long as somebody else has to do the dirty work. It does seem like we’re in a bit of denial towards this problem, and the more often it comes up the more I find myself asking how many problems we ever really solved by treating the criminal justice system as the first resort rather than the last.

          Like

  17. Anndra May 30, 2013 at 1:13 pm #

    Jennifer, can you contact me please? I’d like to remove the double posting reply and tidy it up so that it takes up less space, as obviously I had an operator error at 2 or 3 am this morning. Thanks.

    Like

  18. doug quixote May 30, 2013 at 1:58 pm #

    To Anndra : Thank you for your response.

    I have learned not to take anonymous commenters at face value; there are plenty of sock puppets and trolls lurking on the internet. I do not know you, so I think I was entitled to ask what I did of you.

    Your reply seems genuine to me, and I thank you for sharing your experiences.

    My “end of thread” comment was only to that particular set of comments, for as you may have noticed there is no “reply” button in the “cyclists only” lane on the right edge. 🙂

    You have my sympathies for your experiences.

    As regards pederast, it seems there is no convenient one word term for women so inclined; perhaps like Queen Victoria people thought such a thing could not exist. It is certainly far more rare than the male version.

    But don’t take a psychologist’s word for anything to do with language; you may as well ask a plumber about neurosurgery.

    Like

    • Anndra May 30, 2013 at 7:39 pm #

      Thank you for your reply, and your sympathies. I will state, in a cheeky manner, that one called ‘Doug Quixote’ is not really in a position to comment about the status of anonymity, or anonymous posters, that you seem to be intimating that I am. Guilt by mis-association.

      Anndra is my name (Gaelic for Andrew), and I have posted on Jennifer’s blog for a few years now, so Jennifer and long-term visitors to this site will know that I am no fly-by-nighter. You still don’t ‘know’ me. I might just be a really good story teller; so could you be. None of us here really knows each other. Yet, here we are.

      My reply seems genuine because it is genuine. Whether or not you believe me is irrelevant. What is more important than my ego or your belief is that we continue to find ways to discuss these things free of acrimony, and respect our different points of view and avoid ad hom attacks – they are pointless and waste of time. We need to be part of solutions for our society. Clearly, the current system is not working to prevent Child Sexual Abuse/Child Abuse.

      What is most important is that the needs of children are met, both before and most certainly after they are abused. The place of children should be the pinnacle of our society, for so many reasons that I would run out of space for the words required to convey why. Instead, much our society focuses on money, trinkets and baubles, me-me-me, and what we need to do to stay ahead, afloat, in front. We (some of we) treat children like commodities or fashion accessories and pass on this disorder in another ‘soft’ form of child abuse. We disavow our duty toward the nurture of children with due respect and care, and replace it with supplication and pacification through ‘things’.

      We continue to process children through educational institutions based on what Sir Ken Robinson calls ‘the factory model’, a model based on early industrial era schooling. If you can, watch this RSA Talk by Sir Ken http://www.ted.com/talks/ken_robinson_changing_education_paradigms.html and it is this attitude, embedded in our society, that encapsulates what is wrong with our attitudes toward the value/meaning of children.

      While this may seem off-topic, it isn’t. One of the reasons that CSA or any abuse is visited upon children, is because we still don’t get it. We don’t get that they are future (though it pains me to have to use a MJ reference), that the world we want for ourselves is already here, but there world is yet to emerge. Perhaps we need to stop investing wealth in more things for ‘us’ and invest it in them, with their input. Place them front and centre in all we do. Bring them in from the margins, out of the shadows into the full light of day.

      I’ll go check with my ‘plumber’ to see if there’s a word for my delusion.

      Like

      • doug quixote May 31, 2013 at 3:25 pm #

        There was a word for it, but it got hijacked in a meaning shift. The word was “philanthropy” : a love of humanity.

        The closest these days might be altruism.

        Has your ‘plumber’ any suggestions?

        Like

        • hudsongodfrey May 31, 2013 at 6:01 pm #

          Humanism?

          Like

        • Anndra May 31, 2013 at 7:22 pm #

          The plumber isn’t available until next week 🙂

          Philanthropy requires cash in addition to humanism – in the modern sense and usage – but the both are close. The closest I have to describe what motivates this thing/thinking of mine are the Buddhist terms “mindfulness” and “loving compassion” to all.

          Like

          • hudsongodfrey May 31, 2013 at 7:55 pm #

            I look forward to the day when humanists are so well known for their positive contributions that all of these terms are interchangeable 🙂

            Like

            • Anndra May 31, 2013 at 10:38 pm #

              Homogenic Philonuminism 😛

              Like

              • hudsongodfrey June 1, 2013 at 12:52 am #

                Otherwise known as wishful thinking?

                Like

                • Anndra June 1, 2013 at 12:55 am #

                  No, I think that would be dismissive of the need and the desire for more of humanity to understand that we all have power and to stop giving it away along with our rights and responsibilities to each other.

                  Like

                  • hudsongodfrey June 1, 2013 at 9:36 am #

                    Okay but I meant wishful, as in perhaps more hopeful than we’re entitled to be, not wish-thinking as in superstition or fatalism.

                    Like

                    • Anndra June 1, 2013 at 3:15 pm #

                      Ah, yes, understood.

                      Like

  19. paul walter May 31, 2013 at 2:47 pm #

    Blow! Lost another post.
    anndra’s posts have been long and complex. Will say it’s true that treatment became preferable to self righteousness as we moved out of the Puritan nineteen fifties, but neoliberalism will mean less is spent on things like counselling.
    Instead we will have the BACWAS up, emotions will be up, and it may well be so that troubled people will avoid seeking help in understanding and controlling drives that society considers aberrant if these cross from fantasy to action, involving others like kids.
    Must of us have “kinks”, mine don’t traject down a paedophilliac/pederast path and would only present me andothers with problems if I acted out my less rational fantasies. I seem to have an “off” button, like most people, otherwise there would be a pathological problem and society would feel justified in removing me to some extent, lest the worst of the subsequent behaviours led to others harm.
    The Church and other institutions have failed when incidents of acting out have been detected and if you are saying we don’t blame the dog that bites because the owners were too idiot to have it behind a fence, I’d go along with that.
    Certainly your cousins sounds a loose cannon, sociopathic and let loose on an unsuspecting world. but like someone with TB forced to continue for want of treatment and at a certain level a victim himself.
    You say you have had to spend time talking out the worst of the consequence from your misfortunes, maybe had your poor silly cousin had treatment in time he might have had some healing also, instead of having to continue like a mad dog.
    It will be a shame if society gives up on help and treatment and returns to medieval and lazy thinking that refuses the effort of working to a deeper understanding of underlying causes that eventually treats the problem, not its symptoms.

    Like

    • Anndra May 31, 2013 at 6:44 pm #

      Apologies for ‘long and complex’ – pithiness has never been a particular strong suit of mine, but I do attempt to curtail ramblings. I expanded as much as I did here to satisfy, well, me if I’m honest. Some times the story requires lots of words. Which is my way of saying, thanks for your understanding and I agree with much of what you have said.

      Like

    • hudsongodfrey May 31, 2013 at 7:53 pm #

      I read these thinks and the first thing I wonder is whether this just means somebody didn’t bother or wasn’t well resourced enough to take the time to check. But then I also suspect that sometimes public servants are using the worse possible cases to argue for more big brother like powers. Am I allowed to favour more resources without the big brother stuff? Or maybe even just doing their jobs properly. Not that I’d want that job or make the assumption that they didn’t care, but how the hell does that level of abuse go completely unnocticed?

      Like

      • Anndra May 31, 2013 at 10:34 pm #

        It does boggle the mind. Another example of systems within systems that fail and the most vulnerable pay.

        Like

      • samjandwich May 31, 2013 at 10:50 pm #

        It really is extraordinary how inflexible government agencies are. They simply aren’t geared to do anything that is not already in their remit, and when a particular operating style or practice is entrenched it is extremely difficult to change it, because it essentially involved training every single individual in the agency how to perform a new function, convincing them that it’s important to do it, and then sustaining the message until that function itself becomes entrenched. Public servants are people too, and the usual machinations of ego, political manoevering, overwork, varying competence levels, the general working environment and staff morale etc all come into play.

        Also the numbers they deal with are enormous… and I find this scarecely believable, but in NSW for example there are over 18,000 people under the age of 18 in state care – of over 1% of the population in that age bracket!! and this figure becomes more stark when you consider that in recent years over 60,000 kids are reported to child protection authorities as being at risk of significant harm and of these, only about 25% receive a visit from a case worker, the rest being “triaged out” due to a combination of a lack of resources and a decision that a visit was not necessary.

        Added to that are the jurisdictional limitations (ie state boundaries. If a child known to be at risk in a particular state is moved to another state, then there’s very little the authority in the original state can do for them), and the fact that the child protection systems in each jurisdiction operate quite differently from each other.

        You can imagine that in this particular instance in SA how blatantly obvious it would have been to anyone who was in a position to see it that things were going very wrong in that household, It’s absolutely tragic that this wasn’t picked up, but for me the message is that government agencies really need to be told to be actively put themselves in a position where they can see what is going on in a case like this – ie these circumstances need to be anticipated before they actually happen, before governments can do anything about it.

        And here I agree with the closing comment in that article, about how the whole of the comunity needs to be involved, and I would add, needs to see itself as responsible.

        Like

        • Anndra May 31, 2013 at 11:18 pm #

          Well said. It is a cliché, but, it really does take a village/community to raise a child. My short-term experience of working for a significant government agency is exactly as you describe – inflexibly intractable.

          Like

        • hudsongodfrey June 1, 2013 at 12:56 am #

          I think what you’re describing though is a system that may just make it easier on occasions for some people to do their job in a compartmentalised fashion that allows them to look the other way.

          Like

          • Anndra June 1, 2013 at 5:33 am #

            Isn’t that the problem – to quote Douglas Adams, it becomes “an SEP” – clearly this is what happened in S.A. and happens everywhere, everyday. Have discovered a great Canadian singer who goes by the name City and Colour. He’s written a song called, “The Hurry and the Harm” and gets to the core of what I have been saying (what we’ve been saying too):

            “Everyone wants everything.
            No matter the cost, we’re longing to live in a dream.
            But we can’t let go to all that we think we know –
            this great escape until we give up the ghost.

            But why are we so worried more about the hurry
            and less about the harm?

            Always trying to conquer
            that which does not offer
            anything more than a broken heart.

            Oh, what a cost for love.

            I only want of simple things –
            mourning the lost and what could have been.

            When did I let go to all that I used to know?
            This grave mistake has left the absence of hope.

            And why are we so worried more about the hurry
            and less about the harm?

            Always trying to conquer
            that which does not offer
            anything more than a broken heart.

            Oh, what a cost for love.
            Oh, what a cost for love –
            a cost for love.

            I’m going back to the start;
            I’m going back to the start.”

            Like

            • hudsongodfrey June 1, 2013 at 9:46 am #

              Resonant of Neil Young I would have said, not that that’s a bad thing, quite the contrary in fact.

              And yes “an SEP” was what I was getting at. Douglas Adams is missed. Who knows what might have been…

              Like

              • Anndra June 1, 2013 at 3:13 pm #

                Indeed, he is an impressive young man, and what a forum it would have been to have watched Adams, Hitchens, Dawkins and Fry in full flight…

                Like

                • hudsongodfrey June 1, 2013 at 5:03 pm #

                  A fifth and possible sixth horseman no less 🙂

                  Like

                  • samjandwich June 1, 2013 at 6:49 pm #

                    Hudson, just to answer your query a few posts ago.

                    If I have any pathology it is to reject cynicism absolutely… but from what I’ve seen the people who work in child protection do so out of a deep sense of passion, but also a deep sense of inevitibility. One does what one can, but what one can is not necessarily enough.

                    And now a song, which Anndra might like. Almost 20 years old, but still one of my favourite bands:

                    Like

                    • hudsongodfrey June 1, 2013 at 7:13 pm #

                      I don’t believe you can reject cynicism absolutely 🙂

                      Like

                    • doug quixote June 2, 2013 at 12:02 am #

                      I’m cynical about anyone rejecting cynicism absolutely. 🙂

                      Like

                    • Anndra June 2, 2013 at 1:16 am #

                      Brilliant!!! I’m sure I’ve heard lush before, just not that song. Thank you, thank you 🙂

                      Like

        • Marilyn June 2, 2013 at 6:22 pm #

          They were only there for 3 months, Victoria knew about them and didn’t notify anyone at all.

          But you expect people in Salisbury to notify anyone? Bogansville is it’s other name.

          Like

    • doug quixote June 1, 2013 at 7:40 am #

      Thank you for the link.

      Six adults and 21 children lived together in a rather peculiar arrangement. The result was (non-sexual) abuse and neglect for three children in particular.

      It may be seen as a systemic failure, but the facts of the case suggest to me that unless we want to allow an Orwellian Big Brother to oversee all of our lives, this sort of abuse will happen from time to time.

      Are we to say that no-one is allowed to live in this way, or not allowed to discipline their children as they wish? When does discipline become abuse?

      For example, sending a child to stand in the corner for a few hours is probably acceptable as discipline. Getting them to remain there without food, with only water to drink for several days is abuse.

      At what point is a government agency required to step in? After 2 hours? Six hours? After one day? Two days?

      Jump too early and take the children away and the Agency is the worst in the world for interfering, “bureaucracy gone mad.”

      Go in too late, after substantial abuse has occurred – “why didn’t they go in earlier!” is the cry.

      (The upshot of the case was that all the adults were sentenced to gaol terms, with non-parole periods of six years in most cases; it appears the mother of 8 of the children gave evidence against the others and got three years)

      How much government interference is enough? Who decides?

      Like

      • Anndra June 1, 2013 at 8:39 am #

        I think that it would have been reasonable for the neighbours of those adults and children to play their part in protecting these children by reporting what they later admitted to investigators and along with a woeful lack of due procedure on the part of the various agencies, I do not buy or believe that any time in a corner is acceptable. It is the ‘soft’ side of child abuse and should be seen as a reprehensible act regardless of duration. It is an attack on the psyche of the child and is lazy parenting.

        Like

        • doug quixote June 2, 2013 at 12:06 am #

          No-one doubts it is lazy parenting. The question is, what degree of laziness becomes culpable? At what point does the State get to step in?

          There are no absolutes; absolutely!

          Like

          • Anndra June 2, 2013 at 12:59 am #

            🙂 I reckon death might disagree with you on there being no absolutes. Sure, death is still a phase, but one you’re deid, you’re deid, mon.

            We are the ‘state’. That’s the reality. We are what we allow ‘it’ to be. We allow the possibility of these things happening because we are part of the system called the state. Abrogating our responsibility to another ‘benevolent third party’ is what makes it possible for children to slip through the cracks.

            Samjandwich, I hear what you are saying. I too have friends that work for the federal Child Support Agency and interact with various other agencies, and a few who are police officers. I hear what they are asked to deal with. I often ask them why they keep doing what they do in the face of everything, and to a tee they all more or or less say, “Imagine what it would be like if we weren’t about?” They too are striving for better.

            Like

            • hudsongodfrey June 2, 2013 at 12:28 pm #

              Well it is evidently difficult to know what to do or say when you get the case of what seems to be the diametrical opposite of the case we were just discussing….

              http://www.3aw.com.au/blogs/blog-with-derryn-hinch/help-hinch-fight-dhs-pinheads/20120209-1rrp1.html?page=0

              The sort of thing that lead one commenter to recall:

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              Systemic failure indeed!

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              • Anndra June 2, 2013 at 12:37 pm #

                Wonder why they were removed in the first place? Doesn’t say in the article. Certainly, it doesn’t read at all well for the DHS in that respect.

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                • hudsongodfrey June 2, 2013 at 12:57 pm #

                  No it doesn’t and I probably don’t have to make it clear that this is talkback radio, so the point would be about the potential for systemic failure to lead to situations where on one occasion you’re damned if you do while other times you’re damned because you don’t.

                  Notably however, and perhaps 20/20 hindsight has a bit to do with it, the commentariat generally seem to be able to exercise precisely the kind of judgement that bureaucracies desperately lack for. Why I wonder is that?

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                  • Anndra June 2, 2013 at 6:12 pm #

                    ‘Cos bureaucracies are not allowed to have opinions or points of view, only mission statements and visions… Sigh…

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                    • hudsongodfrey June 2, 2013 at 10:02 pm #

                      Oh I think their allowed to have points of view, or at least I’m not stopping them, but I think they’re discouraged from expressing them from the people we discussed before who have the an SEP propensity.

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                  • Anndra June 2, 2013 at 6:17 pm #

                    The sigh isn’t aimed at you, just at the reminder of how people are asked to dehumanise while working, and I sometimes think these constraints are what eventually leads to the SEP development.

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                    • hudsongodfrey June 2, 2013 at 10:03 pm #

                      See now I have read this and realised I needed have posted that last reply 🙂

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                    • hudsongodfrey June 2, 2013 at 11:38 pm #

                      Not Not have posted the last reply.

                      Doug could be right. The world’s short a couple of bottles of red tonight 🙂

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                  • doug quixote June 2, 2013 at 10:13 pm #

                    HG, have you been drinking? 🙂

                    Or is it your proofreader on the turps?

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