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November 23, 2011


"So you see, it's totally not Gertrude's fault! She's obviously worthy to go to Heaven with Claudius -- because after all, how could she possibly imagine that her husband would target other little boys after she'd sent him away from her son?!? And it's not like she was *seeing* the boys all the time..."

A pretty much perfect description of what JoePa's supporters are saying about him. There are people who really do think like this, I have heard them in other similar situations — we can twist our minds around to justify anything if the situation demands it from us.

Since many child sexual abusers were once victims, I wonder who taught Sandusky.

'Just as at Penn State, abuse by someone at the top of the hierarchy will be covered up, ignored, and excused by everyone who might have the authority to stop it -- because they love the hierarchy more than their own children.'

Is this to be taken as a statement of universal truth? If so, why is such the case? If not, how would it be qualified?

"just like the janitor at Penn State, who saw Sandusky having sex with a boy but felt too far down the food chain to report it."

If what they saw were people "having sex" there would be no reason to report it.
That is not what they saw.
The words matter.
When you, or the corporate media, call it "having sex" you are using the perps language to describe the incident.

Rape, the word we're looking for is rape.


I'm so ashamed that I made that mistake -- that's what comes of reading too much mealy-mouthed coverage, I guess. I've corrected it in the post. Thank you for bringing it up.


I was too vague. I meant that in both these cases, the hierarchy is more important than protecting children from abuse. Clearly, this isn't the case in *every* hierarchy -- but also clearly, it happens in *many* hierarchies.

If so, why is such the case? If not, how would it be qualified?

"Why" -- because humans are, in general, not as fond of children as they are of themselves, and they *really* aren't as fond of other people's children as they are of themselves.

Qualifications: although it can probably occur anywhere, we seem to see this pattern more:

- where the hierarchy is very strong and, well, hierarchical

- where the hierarchy is single-sex -- so in this sense "Hamlet's Father" is atypical. I don't think this is because women are "naturally better people" or even "naturally more protective of children", I suspect it's that (straight) men and women monitor each other's sexual behavior. As in the US Constitution, men and women act as checks and balances on each other.

- for both the Catholic Church and big-time sports (whether "amateur", like Penn State, or pro, like the Red Sox), there's a connection between the all-male hierarchy and masculinity itself. Men can become invested in the hierarchy not just because it gives them power, authority, or wealth, but because it makes them feel *manly*. This is an extremely strong emotional attachment, which means it's especially hard for them to see that someone is being hurt.

I'm kind of thinking as I type, here -- what do you think?

Having witnessed close-hand the effects of multiple child rapes over a period of fifteen years in a small city, I have three things to say:

We do not have an adequate language for this. I hate calling this predatory behaviour a "scandal", but crime doesn't entirely fit, because it doesn't address the failures that allow predators to thrive.

Before you condemn people for not responding to gut instincts about a predator (as opposed to evidence of abuse), please bear two things in mind: successful predators often have considerable talents, or at least the ability to appear talented; they almost always have tremendous ability to manipulate people, including professionals. Anyone with actual evidence of child rape has an obligation to act on it, and make sure the authorities act on it. I saw the perpetrator in the case I experienced as manipulative, at the center of social turmoil. I had no other information. I don't blame myself for not connecting the conflicts, the ego and the manipulation to rape. And therefore, I can't blame people who didn't know what went on at Penn State for not figuring it out.

I can't speak to generalities, but the case of multiple rape I saw at first hand, the perpetrator cultivated a sense not of hierarchy but of specialness. He gravitated to an institution (in the medium sized Ontario city where I lived) that many of us saw as special, as one of few claims to real distinction our city had. In other words, this man successfully exploited the same vulnerabilities in the adults around him that he exploited in the children he preyed on.

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