Tuesday, January 10, 2012

America not a big college town

It's bizarre that not only does Rick Santorum keep saying abrasive and offensive things, but that there's a pool of willing defenders available when he gets criticized for it. Here we have National Review's Patrick Brennan doubling down on Santorum's explanation of why the Catholic Church child sex abuse scandals happened in Boston:

[Santorum] On the Catholic Church’s abuse scandals: ‘Priests, like all of us, are affected by culture. When the culture is sick, every element in it becomes infected. While it is no excuse for this scandal, it is no surprise that Boston, a seat of academic, political, and cultural liberalism in America, lies at the center of the storm.’

[Brennan] It is hardly “terrible” to say that a culture that produces pedophiles, and the priests who themselves become pedophiles, must be somehow “infected.” That explanation does not provide, as Santorum notes, any excuse for the horrific crimes committed, but his statement isn’t only unobjectionable, the best evidence suggests that it’s actually accurate. Though Santorum’s comment on Boston is unsubstantiated, it isn’t offensive, and the only significant study of the causes of the Catholic Church’s sexual-abuse crisis so far, released in May 2011 by the John Jay College of Criminal Justice, indicates that he was roughly correct otherwise. To quote:

Social and cultural changes in the 1960s and 1970s manifested in increased levels of deviant behavior in the general society and also among priests of the Catholic Church in the United States. Organizational, psychological, and situational factors contributed to the vulnerability of individual priests in this period of normative change.

So Brennan refudiates Santorum's specific reference to Boston's culture with a quote that makes no reference whatsoever to Boston; the issue is not Brennan's acknowledgement that the Boston segment is unsubstantiated: it was Santorum's core thesis about why the abuse happened  --proof that liberal culture corrupts: the scandal is centered in the most liberal city..

The fact is, the Santorum quote is an embarrassment left over from an already abandoned battlefield, as the evidence has mounted over the years that cases of abuse long pre-date the 1960s.  And regarding culture, it was the hierarchical and insular culture of the Church, and codes of silence in  the urban Irish and Italian neighbourhoods that were once its base, which formed the toxic brew of the scandals. But if you want to talk about Boston culture, how about a mention for Harvard Law's Mary Ann Glendon, who defended the Mexican child abusing priest and fraudster Marcial Maciel Degollado when scandals surfaced around him in 2002?

Of course, one way to avoid the contaminating effects of an academic culture like Boston is to go to university in a small rural college town with real American steel and mining community values, e.g. State College, Pa. Nothing bad could ever happen there, right?

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