Jewish World Review June 20, 2002 / 10 Tamuz 5762

Thomas Sowell

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Will the Catholic Church try to restore its credibility?

http://www.NewsAndOpinion.com | The appalling story of the pedophile priests deserves all the negative press it has been getting. But is the press critical of them because they are pedophiles or because they are priests? After all, there are many other pedophiles, some of them with their own organization, and they are welcomed on our leading academic campuses, as well as getting a free pass in the mainstream media.

Even as regards the pedophile priests, the media shy away from the plain fact that these cases are primarily cases of homosexual abuse of children. Fear of the homosexual lobby always seems to immobilize our crusading journalists, despite their brave talk about "the public's right to know" in other contexts. That same fear also immunizes the North American Man/Boy Love Association from criticism.

The blaming of celibacy in the priesthood for the sexual exploitation of children has been a red herring. Most of these pedophile priests did not go after females. They wanted boys.

With all the justifiable criticism of the Catholic hierarchy for covering up priests' pedophilia -- and, worse yet, sending offending priests off to other parishes to prey on more unsuspecting children -- no one seems to want to reconsider the widespread denunciation of the Boy Scouts for refusing to hire homosexual adults to be in charge of boys.

No one has to believe that every homosexual is a pedophile to believe that there is such a thing as a "fail-safe" policy in favor of children, such as the Boy Scouts maintain. In the current climate of opinion, anyone who even sought to do an honest study of the incidence of pedophilia among homosexuals would be jeopardizing his career. We have reached the point where the truth dare not be forthright, but politically correct dogmas speak with intimidating boldness.

Even worse than the confusion, cowardice and hypocrisy on this particular issue is the mindless granting of immunity from either criticism or even an accurate reporting of the facts to a wide range of groups. Behind this is the notion that if you say anything that some particular group doesn't like, that proves that you are biased against that group. The group could be homosexuals, blacks, feminists, Moslems, or whomever.

Hannah Arendt said that the great achievement of 20th-century totalitarians was to turn questions of fact into questions of motive. But that tactic has outlived totalitarianism. You don't need to answer facts with facts when you can call someone racist, homophobic, or whatever the epithet du jour might be.

With various vocal groups having their own special reporters through whom news about that group must be filtered before it is published or broadcast, many in the media have developed an internal censorship mechanism worse than anything the government could get away with. Indeed, those in the media who are quickest to cry "censorship" when they are not allowed to get underfoot during military operations and jeopardize the lives of troops with their thoughtless reporting of sensitive information, think nothing of giving racial, sexual or other special interests veto power over what the public can be allowed to know.

This self-censorship creates one of the most dangerous situations any society can have -- sealing ourselves off from inconvenient facts. No nation can turn a blind eye to reality, and make its laws and policies as if things were wholly different from what they are, without paying a high price, sooner or later, in one way or another.

The "non-judgmental" dogmas of our schools have already produced people incapable of exercising judgment and ready to follow any pied piper who plays a fashionable tune. When gay activists have come into schools to propagandize children, in the name of "AIDS education" or "diversity," and left cards with addresses of local homosexual hangouts, supposedly "responsible" officials have been more concerned with keeping these facts from the children's parents than with protecting the children themselves.

How the Catholic Church will try to restore its credibility after having concealed pedophiles and spent millions to pay off accusers is a huge problem that its hierarchy will have to wrestle with. A much bigger problem for our whole society is how we have become unwilling to protect ourselves in a thousand ways from a thousand dangers -- ranging from pedophiles to weapons of mass destruction -- because we are so easily intimidated by epithets.

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JWR contributor Thomas Sowell, a fellow at the Hoover Institution, is author of several books, including his latest, The Einstein Syndrome: Bright Children Who Talk Late.

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© 2002, Creators Syndicate