The Loving Touch of Pope Panzerfaust

gaspirtz-01-priest_big

Or: it’s only Ephebophilia if you say it is. Because according to Silvano Toscani, the Vatican’s permanent oberserver to the UN (does that make him a voyeur?):

“available research” showed that only 1.5%-5% of Catholic clergy were involved in child sex abuse.

Wow, that’s so negligible, then. I mean, there are only about 400,000 Catholic priests worldwide. If we split the difference and take at face value the Catholic Church’s confession that about 2.5 percent of them are abusing children then that’s exactly ten thousand sanctified paedophiles. If I were a sick pervert I could keep the mental experiment going and figure out how many kids’ lives those ten thousand sickos might manage to destroy over a lifetime (since the Church never actually deals with their, ahem, problem, but usually just shuffles them around to water down the scandal — or provide them with fresh victims, depending on how you look at it), but I’ll stop right here before it gets too painfully embarrassing.

How morally tone deaf and arrogant must you be if you think this absolves your Church and buries the issue?

But it gets better. Because what the Vatican is really trying to argue is that every other religion has the same problem, so why are we picking on them? Now, for an atheist it’s very tempting to simply argue that all clergy regardless of their flavor of superstition should be made to spend lots of time in a very small padded cell with an unusually well-endowed black man called Bubba who will teach them to squeal proudly in latin, but that’s probably not helpful or fair. But as Kevin Drum points out, how lame is a religion that feels compelled to resort to 2nd grader nyah-nyah-nyah tactics in an attempt at spreading the blame around?

Oh, and it gets better still. Silvano wants us all to be really clear about one thing: Catholic priests aren’t at all into little boys as we all seem to insist. No, not at all. No, they’re into mid-to-late adolescents — they’re ephebophiles — which changes everything, right? Right? Seriously. Who knew there was a name for the particular age of kids you like to molest? Certainly convenient for Silvano; this way he gets to describe with a single word what’s not at all wrong with the Catholic Church.

Silvio’s closing line was epic:

“As the Catholic church has been busy cleaning its own house, it would be good if other institutions and authorities, where the major part of abuses are reported, could do the same and inform the media about it.”

Or, in other words: “While we Catholics finally start mopping the cum stains off our rug, do the rest of you have any good photos you’d care to share?”

(Graphic from here)

Journalism 2.0?

800px-Henry_Wade_1963_press_conference_NYWTSPerhaps there’s hope after all. Dead tree news is dying rapidly, partly because the business model is broken, partly because the (mis)management of the big publishing houses seem hell-bent on doing what they can to further their own demise by defunding and de-emphasizing true journalism (you know, what we, the readers, are paying for) and focusing on punditry and vapid trivia coated with a veneer of current affairs (apparently what they think advertisers want running alongside their purchased space).

It is a little hard to get behind the notion that “real” news will somehow shift online in the guise of bloggers and large “virtual” publishing coops like firedoglake and huffpo. After all, those writers and editors need to eat too. All the same, it’s exciting to see vtblogger.org appear on the stage here in Vermont as a true investigative journalism site, committed to true ideals of old-fashioned news reporting, but in an exclusively online format. I for one wish them all the best, and will be checking and supporting the site on a regular basis.

Down With This Sort of Thing

protestWorld Car Free Day. Wheee. Sorry, I just don’t buy these faux events. It’s right up there with Bike To School Day — all very nice, but really too much of a production/spectacle to carry much weight. I’d much rather see a “Park Your Butt in Front of the Bureaucrat in Charge of Traaffic Calming and Sidewalks Until he Hears You Out” Day, which clearly doesn’t have the same ring to it, but dammit, it’d be so more effective to get in the face of the powers that be than to posture wildly at some random intersection, reinforcing the stereotype of green freaks as largely ineffective people who can’t work a clutch to save their life. An argument could be made that these kinds of “days” are largely opium for the masses: a chance to vent a little, show of your courage, and let the creative juices flow as you craft your latest poignant protest sign. Then you go stomp your feet with fellow campers, embarrass your children a bit, and go home to fume about how much better society could be “if only…”

A few weeks back, I stated in a thread over at tbogg’s that boycotting Whole Foods was largely pointless, in part because any progressive who shopped there had already sold out for the well-packaged illusion that is a commercialized “progressive” supermarket chain. If you’re sincerely about something-other-than-profit, you can’t seriously believe that Whole Foods is the place to shop. I pointed out that their retarded wingnut of a CEO likely wouldn’t get the message that we disagreed with his offensive stance on health care (voiced in an op ed in the WSJ) simply because a couple of “activists” (okay, 37,000 of them have boosted their protest cred by joining theĀ  Facebook group) stopped buying Whole Food’s overpriced organic granola for a little while. I argued that it would be much more meaningful to change shopping habits for long term change: buy local produce, support local, independent stores, etc. etc. I got lots of shit for that stance from people who felt strongly that a boycott of WF would get the message across — provided enough people did so. Maybe I was wrong, but I still feel it would be pretentious posturing to switch from shopping at WF unless the alternative was demonstrably better. Karl Burkart makes a really good argument in favor of the boycott and argues that, while Whole Foods had something to offer a while back (pioneering organic foods and genuine quality), almost all chains now offer the same categories of products.

And while the Car Free Day oragnizers are clearly aware of the fact that only long-term change really will make a difference, I’m hard pressed to fully appreciate the value of this kind of street theater. I’m not sure the more militant Critical Mass approach really does much to further the cause of bikers, but if you’re gonna organize a one-shot “Car Free Day”, then do some real theater: have hundreds of people stand in the middle of an intersection with a steering wheel in their hands, bring toy cars to a big sandbox in front of town hall — something, anything other than just “showing up” and feigning discontent.

Also. WTF is Michael Pollan doing as a guest blogger over at David Frum’s little house of wingnut horrors? Seriously? Pollan thought that was an appropriate place to drop his $0.02s worth on the Whole Foods debacle?