A Royal Commission worth its salt

7 Mar

royal_commissionFormer headmaster of Knox Grammar, Ian Paterson OA, has over the last few days experienced a most spectacular fall from grace as he attempted, before the Royal Commission into Child Sexual Abuse in Institutions, to ‘rewrite’ the history of his mismanagement of the sexual abuse of students under his care, by what appears to be a nest of pedophiles employed by the school as teachers.

Stripped of all his considerable power, Paterson was confronted by the realities of his alleged failures and their consequences, while arrangements were made at Knox to rename the Paterson Centre for Ethics and Business as part of an eradication plan that includes calls for him to be stripped of his Order of Australia.

If ever a Royal Commission was worth its salt, this one is. I understand there have been some five hundred referrals by the Commission to police for further investigation.

However, what the Commission demonstrates more powerfully than anything else is the complex web of secrecy and denial that allows the sexual abuse of children, both in institutions and the home, to continue at unthinkable levels for many, many decades. Only with the enabling silence of others can crimes such as these flourish.

We have witnessed, heartbreakingly, since the Commission shone its light on the Catholic and Anglican churches and the Salvation Army, as well as other institutions, that their common practices were designed not to protect the children in their care, but the pedophiles who filled young lives with confusion, fear, and long-lasting trauma.

It is worth remembering that our Prime Minister and Minister for Women, Tony Abbott, himself provided support and a reference for convicted pedophile John Nestor, describing him as “a beacon of humanity.” (This link is a thorough and interesting read, by the way.)

It is also worth remembering that Cardinal George Pell, compassionately challenged towards the victims of his pedophile priests, was a moral and spiritual advisor to both John Howard during his term as Prime Minister, and Tony Abbott. Pell was Abbott’s personal confessor, and Abbott is a staunch Pell defender. The Cardinal’s recent hasty removal by the Vatican from the Commission’s inquiry into sexual depravities in the Catholic church, to take on fiscal responsibilities in Rome, was convenient for both men.

The conspiracy of silence perpetrated by those with power and authority such as Paterson, Pell, Abbott and many, many others has caused the misery and ruination of untold young lives. If the Royal Commission achieves nothing else, it has exposed this conspiracy and some of the powerful names who supported it. Most will not, of course, suffer the same fate as Paterson, though they undoubtedly deserve to.

We can thank our lucky stars this Royal Commission was instigated by the previous government, because the likelihood of the Abbott government allowing these atrocities against children to be exposed and interrogated is less than none.

We are witnessing, and not just in Australia, the overthrow of a cruelly silencing and mendacious narrative, and in its place, the narrative of experiential truth. This is a global shift of extraordinary proportions, and I think we can take heart from it, even in these dark times.






20 Responses to “A Royal Commission worth its salt”

  1. Michaela Tschudi March 7, 2015 at 9:56 am #

    Reblogged this on Wishful Thinking and commented:
    Bear witness and take heart: this Royal Commission is already changing the way we think and speak about the sexual abuse of children. The lies that bound the past are being pulled apart. The journey towards healing is only beginning.

    Liked by 3 people

  2. paul walter March 7, 2015 at 12:51 pm #

    You gotta hope so, Michaela Tschudi.

    Not so many comments here, there is not much a reader can add to Jennifer Wilson’s incisive summary.

    It is going to be a slow process,but starting from rock bottom, every attitude changed and every person spared more misery, will be a win.

    Liked by 3 people

  3. hudsongodfrey March 7, 2015 at 3:27 pm #

    The only thing worse than the awful truth that has been exposed by the RC would be an insipid response from the authorities.

    Yet, sadly it seems that’s exactly what they’re prepared to deliver.

    Religion is seldom damned by feint praise, but frequently by feint condemnation in the face of overwhelming evidence of its abject hypocrisy.

    It disgusts me that a fiend like Pell is protected by deference to the robes of office he has utterly defiled by his actions, and most pointedly his inaction when called upon to defend the innocent.

    His grace is a disgrace in no uncertain terms. But perhaps, since we are told religion is a private matter, this will be privately judged and found wanting in terms of the ill-concealed disdain of many former Catholics like myself. Surely no benevolent deity worth it’s salt would deign to fall silent in the face of such vile calumny in his name.

    So though ranks may close and penalties for individuals be cursory at best nor will these nest of vipers be afforded any opportunity to defend or redeem their soiled record. One more creeping jesus ensconced in a papal palace more or less makes no difference in a litany extending back at least as far as the Borgias. Perhaps history will rightfully record that tradition remaining unbroken even by the reformation and the enlightenment, concluding to finally dispense with these last vestiges of obsequiousness to it once a for all!

    In the meantime let’s hope and work to have the victims afforded some modicum of overdue restitution. The church may not redeem itself, but that doesn’t mean the community can’t…..

    Liked by 1 person

    • paul walter March 7, 2015 at 11:37 pm #

      Speaking of hypocrisy, how about the mealy mouthed crap on telly tonight from Hockey and Morrison re pension “changes”?

      Liked by 1 person

      • Jennifer Wilson March 8, 2015 at 3:44 am #

        I didn’t see, but why the hell do they allow wealthy retirees access to aged pensions and benefits? That would be a good place to start reform IMHO


        • hudsongodfrey March 8, 2015 at 12:45 pm #

          I sympathise with your intentions, but I kind of disagree on the basis that I think it creates less of a them and us when people in the middle are allowed to partake of a social safety net.

          The problem will always be than if you means test then you know the government is going to set the bar too low cutting off some people who’re going to be seriously stressed by the uncertainty that creates for them. I don’t see why that HAS to happen just because the budget is tight given the current relatively meagre level of contribution we make to the public purse. Older people feel like they’re being taken advantage of having been told in their youth that the social contract worked one way and now being left more or less to fend for themselves.


      • hudsongodfrey March 8, 2015 at 1:19 pm #

        The problem in my view goes back to the fact that Gillard royally screwed Abbott over the Carbon Tax. Not the tax itself, but the fact that she compensated people by reducing the amount of income tax the government collected in lieu of drawing upon this new source of revenue that the emissions tax created.

        So, once Abbott got in and for ideological (cum quid pro quo with his backers), reasons dropped the tax (ludicrously in my view unopposed by the need to replace it with anything), then he was equally ideologically hamstrung by his party’s inability to return the income tax to its rightful level. Which is, like it or not, very much what we need to do if we expect to live in a first world nation.

        Sure, you can fiddle the GST to get more or less the same results, but they’ll go further, bordering on too far in order to secure the States’ buy in. Meanwhile it is more important to understand that as a replacement for sales tax the GST hasn’t been a bad thing, but its ultimately a more regressive impost than the income tax. It impacts the social sector unnecessarily and after a brief spurt of last minute buying will hit business and retail really hard and with likely destructive consequences.

        And this government being less capable of comprehending these consequences than a rank amateur pundits like myself seems entirely likely to once again ignore the interests of the Australian people. Why? Lack of leadership is why….. How to fix it is the real question.


  4. doug quixote March 7, 2015 at 9:04 pm #

    Excellent article Guinevere.

    Abbott would have closed this one down if only he could. But a Royal Commission has a life of its own once commissioned. The worst these would-be totalitarians can do is try to strangle its funding and pay lip service to its findings.

    The government’s political capital is so eroded that they can’t afford any more fuck ups; quite a challenge with Abbott as PM, Sloppy Joe as Treasurer, Bishop as FM, Dutton at Immigration, Pyne at Education, Andrews at Defence . . .

    On a positive note, we can see the culture changing already, with attitudes palpably different from what was normal 30 years ago. I know my own attitudes have changed, and always for the better.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Jennifer Wilson March 8, 2015 at 3:46 am #

      Thank you DQ.
      That list of front benchers sounds like the cast of a C-grade shock horror movie
      Only trouble is the blood is real and its ours.


  5. Di Pearton March 7, 2015 at 9:16 pm #

    “Only with the enabling silence of others can crimes such as these flourish.”
    This is so true, and I think that it is what distresses me most (although it has plenty of competition) about the Royal Commission revelations. Obviously the actual pedophiles are very sick individuals, but those that allowed and enabled their behaviour cannot hide behind that excuse. What the fuck was wrong with these gutless worms of people?

    Often with arrogance that is normally restricted to the stupid, they refuse to even comprehend that they themselves have committed morally abhorrent and gross acts of aiding and abetting these awful crimes.

    Liked by 1 person

    • paul walter March 7, 2015 at 11:43 pm #

      Money, power, prestige, authority..

      Watching the white collar worms from Knox, you get a sort of legalised version of the Abbott wall-punch.

      I think this is the wall Jennifer Wilson bangs her head up against, which is a cultural and ideological wall with disastrous consequences for millions, but the price paid for terms of hierarchical social relations reproduced. Overt reinforces covert, covert overt.

      Liked by 1 person

      • Jennifer Wilson March 8, 2015 at 3:51 am #

        Yes, I bang my head against this wall every day but I still haven’t fractured my skull.

        Striking how the sexual abuse ranges across all demographics, from the poor kids to the wealthy, orphanages to Knox. The RC has brought that to everyone’s attention.


    • Jennifer Wilson March 8, 2015 at 3:48 am #

      I’ve long thought the combination of ignorance and arrogance is a lethal and dominant force in the world, Di.

      These people are possessed of a wilful blindness and overwhelming self-importance.

      Liked by 1 person

  6. doug quixote March 8, 2015 at 7:26 pm #

    A combination of ignorance and arrogance describes the religious fundamentalists to a tee. How can they be wrong if God is on their side?

    Liked by 1 person

    • Jennifer Wilson March 9, 2015 at 5:34 am #

      Reminded of that Bob Dylan song, God on their side.

      Or the more cynical one,

      I asked her for salvation
      She gave me a lethal dose.

      Always been a favourite of mine, that line.


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