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I try to ignore Bill Donohue and the Catholic League, trolls extraordinaire. As a general rule, it’s not a good idea to feed trolls. Donohue is a professional bully with a completely unwarranted persecution complex who can spin anything into supposed “anti-Catholic” bias/”hate speech“/discrimination. He viciously bullies while simultaneously playing the victim. His arrogance and bigotry are galling and disturbing.
Far more dangerous, though, is his absolute conviction that the Church can do no wrong. It is this unwavering commitment to the Church and its leadership that gives rise to his cruel and shockingly callous victim-blaming rhetoric, a tactic that he employs when discussing the Catholic Church’s sexual abuse crisis and the Church’s subsequent coverup and institutionally-sanctioned protection of child molesters and rapists. Donohue has shown time and time again that he will do anything, no matter how cruel or hateful, to avoid acknowledging that the Church, and only the Church, is to blame.
There’s always a scapegoat. Always an excuse. Someone is always out to get him. And there’s always a red herring, a diversion, an attempt to focus attention on anything other than the Church itself. One of Donohue’s favorite red herrings is his claim that the “liberal” “anti-Catholic” media focuses on the actions (and inaction) of the Church while deliberately ignoring the transgressions of other institutions. This diversion fails for two reasons: 1) in general, media coverage of occurrences of molestation and rape is proportional to both the scale and the shock value of the story, traits that the Catholic sex abuse scandal has in droves, and 2) no other institution has engaged in such a prolonged and widespread institutionally-sanctioned coverup of the horrendous actions of its members.
So, try as I might to ignore Donohue and the Catholic League, I’m sometimes so thoroughly disgusted by Donohue’s callousness and cruelty (particularly when it’s directed towards children) that I feel compelled to draw attention to his arguments and to the ridiculous and hateful rhetoric that he uses to defend them.
This is one of those times.
Yesterday, Donohue used the “liberal anti-Catholic media” red herring in a manner that would be laughably ridiculous if his accompanying argument and attitude weren’t so vile, cruel, and disingenuous. In a Catholic League press release (“Penn State Analogies Evince a Bias“) about the horrifying acts of sexual abuse and subsequent coverup at Penn State, Donohue barely discusses the Penn State issue; instead, he throws around red herrings, uses false analogies and homophobic insults, distorts facts, and makes unsubstantiated accusations against organizations and groups he despises, all in an attempt to support his argument that Catholics and the Vatican are the true victims of the sex abuse scandal at Penn State. No, really. That’s his thesis. Really. I can’t even wrap my head around the staggering amount of arrogance and callousness on display in Donohue’s argument. He will use anything, even a situation in which children have been victimized in unspeakably horrific ways, as an excuse to claim that society, particularly the media, are out to get Catholics. In Donohue’s mind, the Church is always the victim. That’s nothing new. What’s especially shocking here is his disgustingly cruel appropriation of a situation in which children have been victimized.
Some excerpts from that press release:
In the case of the Catholic Church, most of the problem took place between the mid-1960s and the mid-1980s; almost all of the allegations being reported today extend back decades. Therefore, the popular Penn State-Catholic Church analogy seems a bit dated. Why not discuss Penn State’s most salient rival, namely, the public schools? That’s where “passing the trash”—moving molesting teachers to new school districts—is still a major problem.
Two issues: 1) the support for his claim that most of the Church’s “problem” (in this context, his use of that word makes me cringe, as he’s discussing child molestation and rape and the coverup of these activities, a situation that is far more than a mere “problem”) occurred between the mid-1960s and the mid-1980s comes from self-reported data provided by various Catholic dioceses. This data is limited, flawed, and inherently untrustworthy. 2) Donohue provides zero evidence to back up his assertion that American public schools are in the habit of protecting child molesters or are engaged in a widespread and institutionally-sanctioned coverup of the sexual abuse of children. This is both a baseless smear and a blatant red herring.
Planned Parenthood is notorious for covering up cases of statutory rape, yet no one is fingering them. That’s because they have the support of many in the media, most of whom are pro-abortion.
Huh? What does this have to do with the situation at Penn State? How is this relevant in the least? If Planned Parenthood indeed does cover up cases of statutory rape, where’s the evidence? And where’s the evidence for his claim that the media ignores this supposed cover-up of statutory rape cases, and that they supposedly do this because they are “pro-abortion”? Donohue’s arrogance is on full display here: he obviously believes that, no matter how outrageous the claim, we should just unquestioningly accept what he says. Facts? Evidence? Donohue doesn’t see the need for such things.
He goes on to claim that “‘Occupy Wall Street’ gatherings are rife with sexual assault” and that the media are ignoring that “fact”, but, yet again, he provides no evidence to support these assertions.
Perhaps there is some truth to one or more of Donohue’s claims. I don’t know, and, you know what? It’s not my job to find out. If he wants us to take him seriously and to accept his arguments, then the onus is on him to present the evidence. Until he starts to do that, his claims can be dismissed out of hand.
Donohue ends on a very disturbing note:
Similarly, why isn’t anyone talking about the Penn State issue, and the one at the Citadel, as involving homosexuality? Male-on-male sex, involving mostly postpubescent guys, constitutes most of the abuse on both campuses.
I’m not exactly sure what he’s getting at here (partly because it’s so awkwardly phrased), but, based on his track record, I have a pretty good idea, and it’s very disturbing indeed:
- The Citadel situation, like the situation at Penn State, involves an adult male authority figure sexually abusing boys.
- Donohue has repeatedly claimed that priests who prey on children are homosexuals, not pedophiles.
- Donohue also agrees with the USCCB/John Jay study’s arbitrary and self-serving redefinition of “pedophilia”. The John Jay researchers, for no apparent reason, decided to define pedophilia as the sexual abuse of a child aged ten or younger, despite the fact that the almost-universally accepted DSM definition of pedophilia is the sexual abuse of a child aged thirteen or younger.
- The victims in the Citadel case were between 13 and 15 years old when they were sexually abused. And, according to a grand jury statement, all but one of the victims in the Penn State case were over ten years old (you can read the grand jury statement here (.pdf), but keep in mind that it’s very graphic and horrifyingly disturbing. I just read it in its entirety and I feel ill now).
Taking all of this into account, I think it’s fair to presume that 1) Donohue believes that the perpetrators in each of these cases are gay men, not pedophiles, and 2) the victims are, according to Donohue’s skewed logic, “mostly postpubescent guys” who engaged in “male-on-male sex”, not innocent children who were raped by men they trusted. Thus, in Donohue’s mind, both of these situations can and should be blamed on “the homosexual lifestyle”, as he often puts it (it’s one of Donohue’s (and the Catholic League’s) favorite phrases).
This is vile. It is disgustingly homophobic and is yet another example of the vicious victim-blaming rhetoric Donohue is so fond of.
To cap it all of, Donohue says (immediately following the above-quoted excerpt):
But everyone is afraid to mention the obvious [that this is supposedly an issue of homosexual "deviancy", not pedophilia]. Better to blame the Vatican.
Yes, you read that right: according to Donohue, 1) homosexuality, not pedophilia, is to blame for the abuse that occurred at Penn State, 2) as such, considering that it’s a homosexual issue, the children who were molested and/or raped aren’t really victims. Remember, their abuse was just “male-on-male sex”, after all, and 3) ultimately, the Church and its leaders are the real victims of the Penn State sexual abuse scandal.
As I said, I usually do my best to just ignore Donohue and the Catholic League. But sometimes I can’t and I won’t.
Donohue certainly has (and should continue to have) the right to make these arguments and to use whatever type of rhetoric he likes. But when he sinks this low, someone needs to call attention to it, to bring it to light, to feed the troll, if only just to point out that the Catholic League and its supporters will use any excuse (even if it means co-opting a situation in which children have been sexually violated) to play the victim and to garner support and sympathy for the Church.
I wish that, for once, someone in the mainstream media would call attention to Donohue’s hateful victim-blaming rhetoric. Someone with a real platform, someone who has a much bigger audience than I do. But, for whatever reason, it never happens.
It needs to happen, though. It really, really does.