"It profits me but little that a vigilant authority always protects the tranquillity of my pleasures and constantly averts all dangers from my path, without my care or concern, if this same authority is the absolute master of my liberty and my life."

--Alexis de Tocqueville, Democracy in America

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Dirty Little Secrets

This story about pedophilia in Hollywood is horrifying.   It's not surprising though from a community that still lionizes Roman Polanski, the child rapist.   But it got me to thinking.   We've now had three high profile stories in the past few weeks about pedophilia -- one in college football (Penn State), one in college basketball (Syracuse), and now one in Hollywood.   But no one to my knowledge has drawn the conclusion that all college football coaches are pedophiles, or all college basketball coaches are pedophiles, or all Hollywood casting directors or producers are pedophiles.   Why is it then that for twenty years we've had the mantra that all Catholic priests are pedophiles?  

The reality, of course, is that pedophiles are sick individuals, with the dual emphasis on "sick" and "individual."   There is no connection to any one walk of life, other than, perhaps, jobs where there is access to other people's children.   (The examples of child sexual abuse among teachers are legion, and yet, again, no one suggests that all teachers are pedophiles.)   It is only when the observer has a preexisting bias or bigotry against a particular group, and only when the larger society condones that bigotry, that the connection between the sick individual and the group is made.   Hence the slander against Catholic priests, the overwhelmingly vast majority of whom are wonderful, decent, holy men doing God's work.

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