What Fresh Hell Is This?

April 12, 2011

Fact Checking Bill Donohue

Bill Donohue of the Catholic League defends the indefensible:
When the New York Times published a series of stories last year on child sexual abuse within the Catholic Church, one of the Church's chief exorcists charged that the paper was possessed by the Devil himself, working diligently to smear the Vatican and tear the Church down. So perhaps it stands to reason that the Catholic League would choose to run a full-page ad in defense of its clergy in the paper's pages--a shot essentially fired from the belly of the beast, if the whole demonic possession thing is to be believed.

In a fiery letter titled "Straight Talk on the Catholic Church," Catholic League President Bill Donohue charges that the spread of homosexuality, not pedophilia, is the problem within the Church. He insists that the scores of victims to come forward in recent years were not children but young men when they were abused, nor were they always unwilling participants.

"The refrain that child rape is a reality in the Church is twice wrong: let's get it straight—they weren't children and they weren't raped," Donahue writes. "The Boston Globe correctly said of the John Jay report that 'more than three-quarters of the victims were post pubescent, meaning the abuse did not meet the clinical definition of pedophilia.' In other words, the issue is homosexuality, not pedophilia."
Since the full page ad is called "Straight Talk..." I'm guessing Donohue is making a pun. He defends the indefensible by saying a number of things:
  • The allegations aren't new.
  • The abuse wasn't rape.
  • The abused weren't children.
  • Everyone else does it.
While all these points may be true - in the strictest sense, what difference does that make? The allegations of sexual abuse date back decades. That's still sexual abuse, right? The abused weren't pre-adolescents (ie "children") so it's not technically "child rape". But it's still sexual abuse of a minor, right?

Nice to know the Catholic League still understands the use of a straw man argument. Too bad they don't understand how useless it is.

As a rebuttal of sorts, I wanted to focus on one paragraphs of Bill's. The one the news article quoted:
The refrain that child rape is a reality in the Church is twice wrong: let’s get it straight—they weren’t children and they weren’t raped. We know from the John Jay study that most of the victims have been adolescents, and that the most common abuse has been inappropriate touching (inexcusable though this is, it is not rape). The Boston Globe correctly said of the John Jay report that “more than three-quarters of the victims were post pubescent, meaning the abuse did not meet the clinical definition of pedophilia.” In other words, the issue is homosexuality, not pedophilia.
Oo, again with the pun ("let's get it straight - the problem's with teh gays") Looking at the numbers from the John Jay report one easily sees Donohue's strawman. In the executive summary we find:
The largest group of alleged victims (50.9%) was between the ages of 11 and 14, 27.3% were 15-17, 16% were 8-10 and nearly 6% were under age 7. Overall, 81% of victims were male and 19% female. Male victims tended to be older than female victims. Over 40% of all victims were males between the ages of 11 and 14.
Priests allegedly committed acts which were classified into more than 20 categories. The most frequent acts allegedly committed were: touching over the victim’s clothing (52.6%), touching under the victim's clothes (44.9%), cleric performing oral sex (26%), victim disrobed (25.7%), and penile penetration or attempted penile penetration (22.4%). Many of the abusers were alleged to have committed multiple types of abuse against individual victims, and relatively few priests committed only the most minor acts. Of the 90% of the reported incidents for which we had specific offense details, 141 incidents, or one and one half percent, were reported that included only verbal abuse and/or the use of pornography.
See what Donohue did? 72% of the victims were 14 and under and yet because most adolescents the sexual abuse didn't involve children - to Donohue.

Then there's the abuse itself. Since most was "touching over the victim's clothing" the sexual abuse wasn't rape - to Donohue. He, of course, fails to mention the rate of the cleric performing oral sex (26%)or the rate of "penile penetration" - attempted or otherwise - (22.4%).

Of course it's not child rape. Of course it's not sexual abuse. The Catholic Church is a victim of teh gay!

To quote Christopher Hitchens, "I think it's a pity there isn't a hell for him to go to."


Robert said...

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Robert said...

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Robert said...

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Its super effective!

Heir to the Throne said...

Abusive social workers vs pedophile priests
Note that in the United States, 10,667 people made allegations of child sexual abuse between 1950 and 2002 against 4,392 priests. This represented around 4 percent of the 109,694 priests who were ordained and active during that time. Given that there were 13,000 allegations of abuse in one state representing one-fifteenth of the U.S. population in 2009 alone, this indicates that state social workers are 951 times more likely to abuse a disabled person under their supervision than a Catholic priest was to sexually abuse a child.

rich10e said...

any way ya paint it...it was still wrong!!!