Tag Archives: paedophiles

Even the powerful deserve justice

Around Christmas 2018 Australian news sources were full of articles about the suppression of news about a ‘high profile Australian’ who had been involved in a court case. Since the news was only suppressed in Australia, it didn’t take much investigation to come up with the name Cardinal George Pell.

For my non-Australian readers, Pell is Australia’s most powerful Catholic. He was recruited by Pope Francis to work in Rome, looking at the Vatican’s finances. In effect, he was the world’s third highest ranking Catholic.He has long been the target of campainers against clerical sexual abuse. Pell was a one-time friend of convicted child molester, Gerald Ridsdale, and he has often been accused of covering up such behaviour.

The news of Pell’s trial was suppressed here because he was due to face other charges of a similar nature and knowledge of the verdict in the earlier case could have prejudiced the jury in the second case. That was right and proper, even if suppression in these days of the internet is almost impossible.

As it happens, the second case was withdrawn, so now we (formally) know. Cardinal Pell was convicted of child sexual abuse.

I’ve spoken in the past about justice. I wrote a blog post entitled Who Deserves Justice? In 2017. Here’s a little of what I said back then.

“My mind kept returning to the cover-up of child abuse in institutions set up to care for children. Bishops, Archbishops, Cardinals covered up for paedophile clerics, moving these predatory monsters from parish to parish to PROTECT THE CHURCH. Never mind the kids. I can imagine one of these bastards rubbing his hands with glee as he took up his post in a new parish. Ahahahaha new blood. The hypocrisy of the leadership of these organisations beggars belief. Never mind the men whose lives were ruined because, as eight-year-old boys, they were routinely buggered by a pervert. If they complained to the hierarchy (as some did) they were called liars, making things up. We must protect the good name of the Church.”

Based on the reports I’ve seen in the press, I have no doubt that Cardinal Pell, as a bishop and archbishop, helped to cover up the actions of evil clerics who preyed on kids. From that perspective, he deserves everything he gets.

But that was not the charge he faced.

He was found guilty of the rape of two boys in St Patrick’s cathedral when he was Archbishop of Melbourne. Immediately after the conviction became public, the doubters came forward with (to me) compelling arguments. Here’s what Andrew Bolt had to say.  And from a link in Bolt’s article, please read ‘famed church historian’ George Weigel’s timetable of improbabilities. Having served on a jury, I know the press reports do not cover everything disclosed in the court room and that twelve people came to the conclusion, based on the evidence presented, that the man was guilty as charged beyond reasonable doubt. But plenty of people have been convicted of crimes they did not commit.

Justice must be just.

There will be much more said about this case. It will go to appeal. If everybody deserves justice, then so does George Pell.

The vexed question of censorship

Book-burning Berlin 1933

Book-burning Berlin 1933

Censorship The very word conjures up visions of Big Brother, of somebody leaning over your shoulder, ready to snatch the latest book or movie or song or whatever out of your hands. The mind turns to dictatorships or communism or any other form of totalitarian state and I, for one, shudder.

That interpretation is far too shallow, though. Forms of censorship have been around forever in all societies. When I was about to attend university (a few years ago, yes, but well within living memory) the Kama Sutra was banned, as was D.H. Lawrence’s “Lady Chatterley’s Lover” and “Portnoy’s Complaint”. To mention just three rather innocuous titles. Perth in those times and later was noted for the prudishness of the city fathers. You couldn’t get a drink on a Sunday less than thirty kilometres from town. The women in a Zulu group from South Africa performing their native dances were required to wear brassieres on stage; a performer – I can’t remember if it was Billy Connolly, Kevin Bloody Wilson or Rodney Rude – was arrested, or banned for using the F word on stage. Maybe all three – use of the F word is a trade mark for all of them. Rodney Rude was actually charged with obscenity.

They’re all forms of censorship, somebody else telling us what we can and cannot see or hear. So often the arbiter is the church, or an appointee of Government. The very notion raises my hackles. What right does anybody else have to determine what I, as an adult, can and cannot see? What makes them better, purer, less likely to be stained than me? I will decide for myself if I wish to see gratuitous sex or violence or horror or hear a comedian say a swear word or watch dancers perform nude.

That’s the self-righteous bit over with. It’s never so simple though, is it? Now we get into the murkier waters of when is it censorship and when is it not? I don’t object in any way to the grading system for movies and other material (R, M, MA PGR etc). That’s to advise and inform. I do have to wonder why sex between consenting adults is seen as so much more prurient than graphic violence, but that’s another story. I’m a supporter of freedom of speech – within reason (is reason not a form of censorship)? I don’t have the right to denigrate another person or their belief systems in public and that’s fine by me. People are also not allowed to say the Holocaust didn’t happen. Personally, I think there is plenty of hard evidence to prove it did; I put Holocaust nay-sayers in the same box as the idiots who say we didn’t land on the Moon – yet one group is permitted to spruik its stuff while the other is not.

Recently we had a case where Kobo withdrew ALL the indie titles sourced from Draft 2 Digital, a knee-jerk reaction to erotic material being made available for children. It was Dinosaur erotica, you see, and everyone knows kids love dinosaurs. (rolls eyes) Plenty of people remarked on the hypocrisy of the table thumpers, pointing out that Fifty Shades of Grey was not withdrawn. It seemed erotica from large publishers was acceptable.

One of the most interesting cases of censorship I’ve seen is the battle a couple of years ago over a book available on Amazon which was a sort of ‘how to’ manual for paedophiles. Some of you may remember it. Under the weight of outraged public opinion, Amazon was forced to withdraw the book. I was one of those who was horrified that such a book could be bought. Pull it off the virtual shelves! It’s wrong! Paedophilia is disgusting – and I don’t say that lightly, believe me.

Then I noticed a discussion on a writer’s group I belong to. One woman decried the writer of the book and Amazon for allowing people to buy it, very much a mother defending her children (and others) from monstrous acts. Another person, a man, presented a different argument. Note that the discussion was conducted strenuously but amicably and the two people actually knew each other. I lurked, reading both sides of the discussion with interest. The man pointed out that there are books available on how to build a bomb, mix poisons, carry out terrorist attacks and that such books can be purchased by people like writers for no other purpose than research. Yes, paedophilia is disgusting and depraved and such people should not be encouraged, he said. But is there not some value in knowing what techniques these people use to lure their prey? Moreover (said the correspondent) where does it end? This censorship? If the weight of public opinion rails against the koran or the bible, should these be withdrawn?

At the end I was convinced the male person in this discussion was right. “Censorship” is another word for removal of freedoms. Apple at this time has its own form of silent censorship because you cannot buy items it deems as unsuitable (such as erotica) from its online store. You might say it has the right to limit what it has available to the public – but can you then say Amazon does not have the right to sell what it wants?

Judgement is based on knowledge. Censorship ultimately leads to ignorance. I’ll end with Voltaire.

I do not agree with what you have to say, but I’ll defend to the death your right to say it.”