Tag Archives: crime

The Atheist Sex Scandal Part 1


I’ve talked a lot more about the Catholic Church here than I had intended to, so I’ve decided to break this part of the discussion up into two parts. I will discuss atheism in the next post. In this post, I will be looking at the accusations made against both Catholic clergy (and certain lay-members who used their position within the church to commit abuse). I will also look at lawsuits connected to the accusations. I will not discuss every accusation, but I will provide links for anyone interested in finding out more about these issues.
What is the sex abuse scandal within the Church? According to Wikipedia, “The Catholic sex abuse cases are a series of allegations, investigations, trials and convictions of child sexual abuse crimes committed by Catholic priests, nuns and members of Roman Catholic orders against children as young as three years old with the majority between the ages of 11 and 14. The accusations first started to receive wide publicity in the late 1980s; many span several decades and were brought forward years after the abuse occurred. Cases have also been brought against members of the Catholic hierarchy who did not report sex abuse allegations to the legal authorities. It was shown that they deliberately moved sexually abusive priests to other parishes, where the abuse sometimes continued. This led to a number of fraud cases where the Church was accused of misleading victims by deliberately relocating priests accused of abuse instead of removing them from their positions” http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Catholic_Church_sexual_abuse_cases#Lawsuits_and_their_effects. So what accusations have actually been made against the Church? Well, according to the BBC,“The National Catholic Safeguarding Commission (NCSC)…said 465 sexual assault claims were made against clergy members between 2003 and 2012” in England and Wales alone http://www.bbc.com/news/uk-28466874. The UK isn’t the only place with such large numbers: “In February 2004, a report commissioned by the Church said more than 4,000 Roman Catholic priests in the US had faced sexual abuse allegations in the last 50 years” http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/americas/6232947.stm. The Canadian Encyclopedia mentions a number of specific cases from across Canada, http://www.thecanadianencyclopedia.ca/en/article/catholic-church-sex-abuse-scandals/. Some of the priests mentioned by the encyclopedia include Hugh Vincent MacDonald, Martin Houston, and Joseph Lang. MacDonald “now faces multiple allegations of sexual abuse dating back to the early 1970s.” Houston “resigned from his parish in June after media reports about his abusive past as a teacher at an Oblate-run residential school in the 1960s.” And Lang “faces allegations of sexual activity with a minor dating back to his time as a parish priest in Cleveland, Ohio in the 1980s.” In many of the cases that I have looked at, the accused priests were either removed from their positions or they resigned. However, this is not always the case. As a result of negligently moving priests to different parishes when accusations arose, the Catholic Church has been forced to pay a lot of money in damages.
There has been a growing number of lawsuits against the Catholic Church. People who were abused by their priests as children who feel that the Church did not do enough to protect the children within the Church are now taking matters into their own hands. As a result, the Catholic Church has had to pay out a lot of money. In one case, “552 plaintiffs in Boston received a record US$85 million (euro64 million)” http://www.cbsnews.com/news/calif-diocese-settles-abuse-cases/. In another case, “the largest Roman Catholic diocese in the US agreed to pay $60m (£30m) to settle dozens of lawsuits alleging sexual abuse by priests” http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/americas/6232947.stm. One woman, Elizabeth McKenna “spent 20 days on the witness stand in a Toronto courtroom in the spring of 2000, before the diocese of Sault Ste. Marie and their insurers finally agreed to settle a $3-million lawsuit she had pursued for a decade” http://www.thecanadianencyclopedia.ca/en/article/catholic-church-sex-abuse-scandals/. She said of her case “‘They really put the gloves on,” says McKenna. ‘I’ll never forget one of the lawyer’s questions: ‘Do you have an orgasm when you masturbate?”” Even Australia has been affected by the sex scandal. Apparently, “Child sex abuse by priests cost the Catholic Church in Melbourne more than $34 million” http://www.skynews.com.au/news/national/2014/08/18/response-to-child-sex-abuse—insufficient-.html. As you can see, the Catholic Church has lost a lot of money as a result of the scandal. However, I cannot feel sorry for them since all of this could have been avoided by handling the cases properly when they first came up.
There are many theories as to why there is so much sex abuse within the Catholic Church. Many people have said that it wouldn’t be an issue if it weren’t for the fact that clerics must take a vow of chastity. I don’t know how true that is. However, “Pope Francis was quoted as saying data indicated ‘about 2%’ of clergy in the Catholic Church were paedophiles” http://www.bbc.com/news/uk-28466874. That may not seem like a very large number, but, when you think about how many clergy members there are, it indicates a large number of people.
If you would like to look more into sexual assault accusations and lawsuits against the Catholic Church, here are some links:
http://www.heraldsun.com.au/news/victoria/sex-abuse-victims-paid-17-million-by-catholic-church-royal-commission-hears/story-fn27027933319?nk=f66f2aaa81811aceae30be2f50fdce9bi0fit3-12
http://www.abc.net.au/news/2014-02-05/scathing-un-report-demands-vatican-act-against-child-sex-abuse/5241300
http://www.cnn.com/2014/02/05/world/europe/un-vatican-report/
http://www.catholicworldreport.com/Blog/2910/un_blasts_vatican_response_to_sex_abuse_updated.aspx
http://topics.nytimes.com/top/reference/timestopics/organizations/r/roman_catholic_church_sex_abuse_cases/index.html
http://www.vaticancrimes.us/
http://minnesota.publicradio.org/collections/catholic-church/2014/02/19/investigation-more-priests-accused-of-sexual-abuse-in-twin-cities-catholic-church/
http://bishop-accountability.org/priestdb/PriestDBbylastName-A.html

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Settlements_and_bankruptcies_in_Catholic_sex_abuse_cases

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The Atheist Sex Scandal


Humans are tribal creatures. Let’s face it, we don’t like it when our “group” is accused of things, even if those accusations are accurate. For the last few years, I have been disappointed to see people who identify as atheists, agnostics, skeptics, and secular humanists defending members of “our group” who have been accused of sexual assault to a ridiculous degree. Many people seem to be so unwilling to accept that such a crime could happen at conferences that they attend, and could be perpetrated by people that they idolize. I can understand this reaction to a certain degree: who wants to find out that their hero could so casually hurt another human being? But at the same time, these are people who claim to hold rationality above all else and yet they are reacting on pure instinct.
So I’ve decided to put together this little project. Okay, so it’s not so little, but here it goes. Everybody knows about the Catholic Church sex abuse scandal, and atheists are particularly quick to lay judgement on the Catholic Church as a result. I think this judgement is completely justified. So lets look at this scandal and compare it to the more recent scandal in atheism. More importantly, lets look at how both groups have generally reacted towards the scandals in their communities.
Obviously this project is a bit too much to handle in one post, so I’ll break it up into a few posts. In the first post I’ll look at the facts. I’ll talk about the accusations and the lawsuits within the Catholic Church, and then I’ll do the same for the atheist community to the best of my ability (since the latter is more modern, it’s going to be made up more of accusations than of lawsuits). In the second post, I will look at how Catholics have responded to the sex abuse scandal. I will look mostly at the Vatican and the pope, but I will also look at certain lay-Catholics. They will be both positive and negative responses and I will respond to them with my own interpretation when I feel it is necessary. I will do the same for atheism in my third post. I will look at some of the big names in atheism, but I will also look at some relatively unknown names. In my fourth post I will compare the reactions of Catholics and atheists, and I will also look at how atheists and Catholics have reacted to the scandal in the other’s movement. And in my fifth and final post I will discuss whether or not I think atheists are reacting rationally towards the current scandal and why. I will also discuss how I feel we can best resolve these issues.


A reply to Why I Don’t Identify as a Feminist. Part One.


This is a reply to Godless Cranium’s post in reply to me, found here, on the topic of being uncomfortable with the term “feminism.” My initial post can be found here.

This is a monster of a reply, and it took a while to write. Then the editing was delayed for a few days. However, I am now done and will be posting the entirety of the post over the next few days in five parts (I suggest waiting until all 5 posts are published before finalizing a reply).

This is not by any means a conclusive article on the topic of feminism and why you should take up the mantel, but I did do my best to reply to each of Godless Cranium’s questions and concerns he brought up so far with Feminism. So let’s get started:

Also please recognize that I’m not in the business of clear cut answers, and neither is reality. These are complicated issues and, if you cherry pick, you can come to just about any conclusion, so, to those reading, make sure to look at the sources I link to critically. Ask questions to me or others if you’re not sure what’s being talked about

The first point brought up by Godless Cranium is a big one. The idea that not only is feminism a restrictive term in and of itself, limiting the movement to only the feminine, and that the restrictions are seen in the movement in the form of feminists only helping women. In doing so, he quoted a line from my original post: “For one, men don’t have as many serious life affecting issues facing them as women do.”

Now let me make myself as clear as possible, particularly since that sentence was very poorly worded: as a man, and as a feminist and humanist, I’m not meaning to say that men don’t face much of the same problems that women do, including the serious issues of abuse, harassment, and rape, I’m saying men don’t receive the brunt of these issues. I talking about the things the average man faces verse the average woman, not the absolute number of different types of bad things that that can happen to a given person.

Bad things happen to people, and how those thing effect people is not something that is easy to quantify, and is certainly not something to ignore. Ever. Doesn’t matter your gender, regardless what that gender might be.

But with that said, I think Godless Cranium should be in full agreement that women do face the brunt of many of these issues, as almost immediately after quoting me he pulled up these statistics from the National (USA) Crime Victimization Survey, which I will quote here”

“Last year the National Crime Victimization Survey turned up a remarkable statistic. In asking 40,000 households about rape and sexual violence, the survey uncovered that 38 percent of incidents were against men. The number seemed so high that it prompted researcher Lara Stemple to call the Bureau of Justice Statistics to see if it maybe it had made a mistake, or changed its terminology. After all, in years past men had accounted for somewhere between 5 and 14 percent of rape and sexual violence victims.”

And:

“Men and boys are often the victims of the crimes of sexual assault, sexual abuse, and rape. In fact, in the U.S., about 10% of all victims are male.” Godless Cranium

Since I was never arguing that men don’t get raped (society makes joke about don’t drop the soap all the time, and there have been many case of boys being sexually assaulted by teachers, priests, and, coaches. Plus domestic abuse effects all demographics to some degree). What I see in this post is that somewhere between 62% and 95% of people sexually assaulted, including those raped, are women. That is a clear and unambiguous majority (I should note we and, more worryingly: the stats, are completely ignoring people who do not fit in the gender categories of men or women, it is important that we do not ignore them).

Why is this important to point out? Because, if we are treating the cases of men overall equally, that is showing equal deference to both sides of the issue, then we are indeed showing undue preference to men since they are overall less impacted. I’m saying we should give proportional aid, equal roughly to the need.

And we do need to attend to both sexes (and those gender non-conforming and genderless people). Godless Cranium helps me illustrate this point by explaining how, when he was repeatedly assaulted by a women, the authorities did absolutely nothing and, in fact, laughed at him rather than doing their job. This a utterly deplorable and I thank Godless Cranium for being so open about his experiences. Openly discussing these issues are one of the best ways for us to make changes.

Now, let me point you, dear readers, to some of what commonly happens to women who are raped. Trigger warning: rape.

Understand that these are difficult to read. I’ll be giving a sort of detailed free-run through them below for those who want to know, but don’t have the stomach or the necessary feels to get through the following onslaught. No shame if you can’t get though some of these: this is a hard topic to face head on.

http://thecurvature.com/2010/06/04/rape-victims-tell-of-mistreatmet-by-the-nypd/

http://www.nytimes.com/2010/06/03/nyregion/03rape.html?pagewanted=1&ref=nyregion&_r=0

http://everydayfeminism.com/2012/11/how-i-became-a-rape-victim/

http://thinkprogress.org/health/2013/10/14/2777431/maryville-missouri-rape/

http://freethoughtblogs.com/almostdiamonds/2013/08/23/i-am-a-false-rape-allegation-statistic/

http://www.nytimes.com/2014/07/13/us/how-one-college-handled-a-sexual-assault-complaint.html

http://blog.al.com/wire/2014/05/lawyer_claims_7th_grade_sexual.html

Here’s that short form based on the personal accounts from above, recognize that these are not exclusive to women, though, that said, these sorts of events are far, far too common:

A women is raped, generally by a friend or acquaintance, sometimes by force, sometimes via drugs or alcohol, and other times by emotional or social (power dynamics of one form or another) manipulation. The victim, if they choose to go to the authorities, which many avoid (for often very sensible reasons), are generally forced to wait for a long time to speak with an officer (police will often ignore their duties, it doesn’t matter who you are. My grandfather was a police officer for decades and he’d agree with me), they may need to ask repeatedly for access to a rape kit, which then has a good chance of never being processed in the US.

http://www.newrepublic.com/article/116945/rape-kits-backlog-joe-biden-announces-35-million-reopen-cases

http://www.cbsnews.com/news/thousands-of-rape-kits-wait-to-be-tested/

If the woman is not knowledgeable about the process, or has a support person come along with them, then she will often be bullied away or ignored all together until she leaves. Thankfully there are rape victim advocate programs in existence. Should you or someone you know need help, such as to go to the authorities about rape or recovering from an attack, contacting one of the below groups is in their best interest. This isn’t an all inclusive list, make sure to look for local help if you can:

http://www.victimsfirst.gc.ca/index.html

http://www.rvap.org/home/

http://www.rapevictimadvocates.org/

http://www.uiowa.edu/~rvap/

https://app.volunteer2.com/Public/Organization/19b375b9-5141-45a8-98b5-4148d6546922

When questioned, women are often blamed by police officers for being raped (not always, but victim blaming is perpetrated by people with badges too). Often being asked questions, which lead the victim from the lines of “what happened” to “what did you fail to do that lead to you getting yourself raped?” or “what did you do the egg on the perpetrator?”

Aside:

Rape is sexual intercourse forced upon one or more people against their consent. You can never want to be raped: that is an oxymoron.

Then, if cops do end up investigating the case, the woman will often then face death threats, victim blaming, community shaming (for being raped, or for talking about it), and face character assassination, often losing their job, dropping out of school, and, sadly, friends and sometimes family will take the word of the perpetrator over the victim to the point of pushing the victim away all together. And hope you’re not the victim of a college football player:

http://thinkprogress.org/health/2013/03/20/1751831/rape-football-victim/

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2014/08/11/malik-richmond_n_5669903.html

I could link to dozens more, but this sort of research get depressing fast, and I’m sure if you look you’ll have no difficulty finding more yourself.

Now, to be fair, the USA is a strange place and, because of the rampant amount of rapes in prison, there is more reported male rape in the USA then reported female. This statistic is solely found in the US prison system, but it is very real, and, fortunately, there is some work being done to curb it. Though certainly not enough:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=knXHUQ2A1J4

http://www.google.ca/url?sa=t&rct=j&q=&esrc=s&source=web&cd=3&ved=0CCwQFjAC&url=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.justice.gov%2Fcrt%2Fabout%2Fspl%2Fdocuments%2Ftutwiler_findings_1-17-14.pdf&ei=XDfxU57oIoPioASuvIHQBg&usg=AFQjCNH3LsNybfiL_gY1K5PxSf108OIXvQ&sig2=r7beYnyZ182w6A3oOAqhSA&bvm=bv.73231344,d.cGU&cad=rja

Though back to my earlier point. Women, overall, receive the brunt of assault in the world. As well, if we work on fixing the negative conceptions surrounding female rape victims, by fixing the way in which rape is dealt with by authorizes, then it will be easier to help men, since then you’ll (ideally) only be fighting against the false notions that men can’t be raped, and that only weak men can get raped, (Begin Sarcasm) because, in regards to rape, power dynamics other than brute strength can’t exist, and women can’t possibly be physically stronger than men (End Sarcasm).

These are all false, but so are converse myths that women are always weaker than men, that rape can only happen when a man forces himself (emotional, economic, and social manipulation are not deemed “real” rape by many) on a woman, and that men are not allowed to have emotions and are never allowed to be weak.

The interesting thing is when you tackle these issues, particularly about the basically non-existent physical and mental differences between men and women (a video with a shit ton of citations here) you see many of the fundamental problem leading to rape break down. When society no longer thinks that women are weak, and meant to serve men and their children (above all else and always), and when we recognize men as emotional beings which are more that the social narratives would have us believe.

When we start breaking down those false but powerful narratives then we can really take care of the problems.

Part 2.


Modern Day Witch Hunts


I just watched an interesting documentary called Cropsey. I found it very interesting. It talked about Andre Rand and the children that he is thought to have murdered. 

This documentary is far different from many documentaries that talk about serial killers. For one, the film makers never once make the assumption that Rand is guilty. Instead, they listen to the opinions of the people they interview and discuss the lack of evidence available. It’s not about making accusations or spreading fear, it’s about trying to find the truth.

But the very method they used to try and find that truth shows a lot of the problems with how we as humans try to find justice. Andre Rand may or may not be a murderer, but we do not have the evidence to say one way or the other. However, it no longer matters if Rand is innocent or not. Someone could find conclusive evidence that he’s innocent and people would still believe that he’s guilty. They would assume that the evidence was fake, or that it was somehow irrelevant or simply misleading. These kinds of witch hunts happen all the time. Once someone is arrested for a crime, they remain a criminal in the minds of people who have heard the story even when they are proven to be innocent.

Our society holds up the mantra “innocent until proven guilty,” but it hardly ever works out that way for the person accused. It’s often guilty until proven innocent in society’s eyes, but even proof of innocents won’t always convince society of the person’s innocence. I can’t help but find this concerning. If people are being victimized, then I want the police to find whoever is doing the victimizing. But I don’t want to just see a trial. I’m not going to feel safe because someone was put in prison based on eye witness testimony alone. I want to know who actually committed the crime. I want the police to make sure that they arrest the right person so that the crime stops. And I want them to fix their mistakes when they make them. I don’t want them to bury their mistakes and allow some innocent person to pay for someone else’s crime while the criminal is able to keep committing the crime.

But I don’t think that that will happen in our current system. I think the justice system needs to be reformed for justice to actually occur. Prison isn’t about rehabilitation or punishment. All it does is keep people away from their victims for a time. Prison just allows people to become worse. Especially if that person is incarcerated for something small like drug possession. I want to see the people who can become rehabilitated, getting the help they need. We’d save a lot of money if we concentrated on creating valuable members of society.

The justice system requires a lot to fix it, but I think it would be worth it if it would put an end to the single minded witch hunts that lead to innocent people in prison and criminals going free.


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