Tuesday, September 21, 2010

RECANTING ABUSE ALLEGATIONS

Just released is a book by a woman who, more than 20 years ago, falsely accused her father of molesting her as a child.

The article-interview is here. It is not too long and very well worth the read.

I’d like to make several comments on what she says in the interview.

The interviewer, Michael Humphrey, says about the authoress, Meredith Maran, “that she came to believe such a thing was possible reveals what can happen when a personal turmoil meets a powerful social movement”. As so often in these Manias (my term for the things) greatly ‘turmoiled’ persons – if I may – are drawn to this new adventure that offers the possibility of redeeming their troubles without too much heavy lifting – if that lifting requires serious, careful, deliberate wielding of whatever power they can bring to bear on their lives and the lives of others.

And, of course, the government eagerly put a great deal of power into the hands of a lot of people who weren’t ready to use it well. The government got the power rather cheaply: by simply twisting back into pretzels the rules of evidence and jurisprudential discipline provided by the long arduous climb of Western Law out of the muck and mire of emotion-driven, whim-driven ‘justice’ into the careful and prudent realm of reality and fact-based evidence that could be assessed soberly by an independent jury of disinterested, un-stampeded peers. Having bent back the bars that kept out the old primitive demons of vengeance, vendetta, and personal revenge, the government allowed the monsters to roam in free-range predation, preying upon whatever citizens became – by whatever means and causes – targets.

And this wasn’t simply a “powerful social movement”; it was a powerful political movement, complete with an agenda and a lethal desire for political power.

Maran acknowledges – with refreshing candor – that “during the 1980s and 1990s, tens of thousands of Americans – most of them middle-class, 30-something women in big cities, like me – became convinced that they’d repressed memories of childhood sexual abuse, and then, decades later, recovered those memories in therapy”. It sounds a bit jarring, to hear it put so clearly, and by one whose credentials put her beyond the reach of Correctness.

While working as a “feminist journalist” she tried for years, she says, to try to convince Americans that incest was “more than a one-in-a-million occurrence”. Which, I gather, it was, all along – all along these past frakkulent decades, when lives have been wrecked, the legal system corroded and its practitioners and officials corrupted, and legal precedents set and laws passed that will indelibly scar the history of these times.

But Maran is a bit shrewd, I think. Having confessed to something awful enough, she slyly mentions that that’s all over now (so it’s not like a clear and present danger any longer): “Then in the early 1990s the culture flipped, and so did I.” Fathers were suing therapists, molesters who had been falsely accused were being released from prison (she uses the less ominous word “jail”), and “I realized that my accusation was false”.

Well, I don’t think the early 1990s were all THAT good: the Domestic Violence regime and the SO Mania regime were set up, under the auspices of what is now pointed to proudly in certain circles as “governance feminism” (meaning: feminists get to have their favorite agendas enshrined in laws and regulations and national policy). And at the bottom of all that Maniacal activity, providing the nutrient loam in which these poisonous trees were planted, were the whackulent assumptions of such groups and movements as the one Maran joined up with. All of those assumptions live on in the laws, regulations, and Findings that structure and sustain the Mania regimes.

Once all the crazy ideas are officially adopted by the national legislature as Findings, then I guess it doesn’t matter what all the sane people think; as the ‘legal positivists’ say, a law passed by a legitimate government cannot be questioned and must be obeyed; there is no such thing as a ‘Higher Law’ nor any sort of ‘principle’ nor ‘Principle’ that can stand in judgment of it.

She claims that she “was one of the lucky ones” – her father was still alive to forgive her. The key point apparently being that she could get forgiveness when she finally wanted it; the wrecked and deceased fathers, many of whom descended into a hell on this earth or have gone to their graves in obloquy … well, maybe some eggs were indeed broken, but it was all in a good cause and everybody meant well.

She had divorced her husband and taken another woman – also a “survivor of incest”- as her lover. It didn’t work out – and that, I think, will be the epitaph of the times: “it didn’t work out”. Oh well.

Clarifying the dynamic that Maran has placed as a framing device in the book, the interviewer parrots the parallelism: as reports of molestations began to increase, Maran began to believe that she was molested by her father; and when reports about ‘repressed and recovered memory’ began to filter into the media a bit, she realized she had made a mistake. She thus now sees “how much influence the external can have on the internal” – yes, for certain types of people it is a great, dangerously great, influence indeed.

We humans are like tuning forks, and there is always a possibility of setting each other off; one tuning fork in a room full of them can set all the others vibrating.

This is why the Framers were really really concerned that folks elect legislators who are serious and deliberate and careful; just like on a ranch full of cattle (humans are social animals, although possessed of the potential for individuality) you have to be careful not to make the type of sudden loud noises that spook the herd; there is a remarkable scene in the 1948 Western movie “Red River” where John Wayne’s entire trail crew is whispering and tip-toeing around at night for fear of spooking the herd – and then somebody drops a cooking pot at the chuck wagon and they’ve got a stampede on their hands, in the middle of the night.

But the entire approach of ‘advocacy’ and Identity Politics – following Saul Alinsky’s “Rule for Radicals” – is to make much noise indeed, and to keep it up. This is what Alinsky called ‘organizing’, but which is for all practical purposes the cocky belief (one of Alinsky’s core illusions) that you can make a ‘controlled stampede’ and keep making it, while other ‘organizers’ can make their own stampedes for their purposes, and keep making them.

The result is a country-full of human beings whose politics are reduced to one continuous circus of stampedes. And you can see where that has taken the country.

Nor can you ever really ‘organize’ a stampede, let alone an ongoing multitude of them. And before long you lose control of the thing, and the stampedes take on a life of their own, and the entire country becomes one big mess.

And THAT is simply the case if you have all the stampedes incited and sustained by the assorted ‘organizers’ and ‘advocacies’ themselves; AND once the government actually encourages stampedes as a matter of national policy, upheld in far too many cases by the courts, and the media jumps on the bandwagon to amplify the ‘noise’ of each stampede … well, here We are today.

And on top of all that Maran observes that “the most intimate emotions and relationships can be so affected by the dominant paradigm”. Ya think? Alinsky, writing in the 1960s, never imagined that the country would simultaneously become infatuated with Youth (all that impatience and cocky self-assurance, un-ballasted by any experiences of complexity and incompleteness) and Feelings rather than Reason (which became a mainstay goal of advocacy-work: Go with your gut and if you ‘feel’ it then that’s as real as if you ‘think’ … which removes any of the control mechanisms that guide the activity of individual humans and of humans in country-sized groups; it’s like stepping on the gas while disconnecting the steering wheel and brakes).

“And of course, the statement of accusation is all it takes to put the wheels in motion. Either legally or in your family”. Yes, very much so. The SO community is very familiar with this frightening fact. And unlike simple tuning forks, humans can ACT ON their ‘vibrations’ and move around creating all sorts of ruckus. Especially when their government finds it useful to allow – even foster – all this mess, and keep the dust cloud going.

Maran’s particular case created no legal charges. So many cases – not only of ‘incest’ but of sex-offenses generally - not only created legal charges but were lured in that direction by a government that cobbled together a comprehensive SO Mania regime – laws, attitudes, registries, and ‘Findings’ and ‘science’ – to make sure that the smallest suspicion would quickly ignite matters in terms of legality, and criminal law.

Weirdly Maran THEN says: “It was very much a social phenomenon. Metaphorically everything we were saying was true. But there was a confusion between a metaphor and a fact. And it was a highly relevant difference”.

Yes, it was a social phenomenon – and still very much is. And also a ‘sociability’ phenomenon: people – so many of them women and all of them ‘victims’ – could find instant status and a sense of belonging and (especially with the help of the media and the rise of the internet) a whole new occupation for their time and energies.

BUT THEN this bit about metaphor and fact. “Metaphorically everything we were saying was true” … meaning, I think, that it was TRUE that fathers ‘rape’ their daughters, only not really: in emotional and psychological ways fathers (‘men’, of course) are rapists anyway – even when they are doing what civilization considers one of their most important chores, raising children. And THIS bit of utterly whackulous belief has been and remains a fundamental mainstay of so much of the whole wrack and wreck.

But Maran then goes on to observe, accurately enough, that “there was a confusion between a metaphor and a fact … [a]nd it was a highly relevant difference”. Oh yes, very much so. BUT that confusion between metaphor and fact, even more than the original choice of the ‘rape’ metaphor itself, has been a mainstay in keeping up the numbers in all of this Mania stampede: how many folks were molested; how many ‘feel’ they were molested; how many think they were ‘molested’ but in non-sexual ways but it’s all the same thing anyway; how many fell for the repressed-memory ‘science’ or used it to their own advantage with the connivance of the legal system … ? All of these questions have gone unasked and the ‘numbers’ kept growing until it seemed like the original insight – that all men are nothing more than rapists by nature – must surely be true. It was a Correct insight, but not at all true.

Notice too how the inability (or purposeful refusal) to distinguish between metaphor and fact spread quickly to other areas of national life: real wealth versus Bubble wealth, real military outcomes rather than fantasied ‘liberation’ scenarios (when Cheney’s dwarfs said “we will be greeted as liberators” you saw the replacement of Thought by Fantasy at the highest levels of national government and policy).

And how many families have been wrecked now even though, as in all good American ‘stories’,  Maran’s story has a happy-ending?

“I felt a little stupid when I started interviewing the neuroscientists about how I could be dreaming something if it never happened. One of the doctors basically said, duh, a dream is a dream. It's not reality. It's not like something had to happen in actuality for you to dream about it, as those of us who like to dream about flying during dry sexual periods have experienced. But when I dreamed over and over about my father's hands, and all around me people were losing their heads and blaming it on incest, I said, oh, see, I'm dreaming about my father's hands. Obviously he molested me. It was just a few links that were a little extreme.”

Here Maran reveals the utterly whackulent ‘science’, practiced by anybody who felt like s/he wanted to ‘help’ (or make a few bucks) and read the one master book “The Courage to Heal”. Maran goes to one of these, says she has been dreaming of her father’s hand, is immediately assured by the ‘therapist’ that this proves ‘scientifically’ that she has been molested as a child by her father. (My own favorite formulation of this is: ‘If you don’t like coffee then you were probably molested by your father because Daddies drink coffee – See? It’s science!’)

Then Maran, a reporter by trade, interviews actual mainline neuroscientists (mainstream science has never accepted the ‘recovered-repressed memory’ baloney) who pull the ‘science’ rug out from under the whole scam.

Ditto when she mentioned to a ‘therapist’ that she dreamed of being on the ceiling looking down at her father, and was instantly assured that this is exactly the dream that all molested little girls dream about. About all of this, Maran says “it was a symptom of mass hysteria” – and how many times has the historical model of the Salem Witchcraft Trials come up? (See my Post on those Trials here.)

Again, I would say that the SO community is one of the most thoroughly well-acquainted and well-organized national communities that has experienced first-hand not only the SO Mania regime but also ‘mania politics’ and – frankly – a lethal national ‘politics of mass hysteria’.

She then goes on to say about her now-ex female lover that “Over time, I had been less and less able to believe her stories, which progressed from incest with a slightly older relative to satanic ritual abuse, to the extent where I thought she was becoming defined as an incest survivor. I knew I couldn't say I don't believe her without examining my own beliefs just because her story is crazier. To my family, my story is pretty crazy too. When she left me, that was the break I needed to realize it was not true.”.

Please note the ‘progression’ dynamic in these stories. It’s built into the whole dynamic of hysteria and hysterical-politics: once cut loose from the tethers, boundaries, and limitations of ‘reality’ and what actually did happen, then these stories of victimization start to effloresce – to grow like Topsy – because as the individual becomes more emotionally aroused, the imagination becomes more active; and without the boundary-ing effect of ‘reality-basing’ the ‘story’ simply takes on a life of its own, feeding off the emotions of the teller, amplified by the sensationalist media, and enabled/empowered by the government’s own ‘Findings’ and the precedents set in court cases by ‘friendly’ jurists and duped juries.

Maran will go on a bit further in the piece to reveal nicely that “It was such an intense experience coming over my body”. This is how the thing grows beyond any rational grounding and control at all.*

Maran’s specific mention of the Satanic Ritual Abuse element is, of course, very apt – recalling those ominous and queasy days of the early 1980s when the Child-Day-Care-Abuse mania stampede got rolling.

She has the ‘feeling’ nowadays that “I don't know if I'll ever be completely sure of anything again". This is a worthy example of a certain humility in the face of complex reality – in the world and family around her but also within her own self, tossed as it was by waves of emotion and fantasy-masquerading-as-memory. BUT taken too far, this humility can become a passive fatalism that nobody can ever be sure of anything, so why try to think, deliberate, or understand? It’s an awful assumption to form the basis for legislators and jurists to do their necessary work.

It’s even worse for a Citizenry to become so nihilistic and fatalistic. Because there will then be no solid basis for any useful and constructive political activity at all, EXCEPT for a shallow and short-sighted ‘politics of quick advantage’, whereby ‘advocates’ merely construct their desired ‘emergencies’, stampede legislators to go along with them in exchange for political support and votes, and The People are left as nothing more than a stampedable herd to run around aimlessly on cue from sensationalist media. Which – alas – is pretty much what American politics has become after decades worth of this sort of thing.

About that book “The Courage To Heal” and its two female authors who helped amplify this whole thing with their ‘handy’ quick-lists of ‘symptoms’ that ‘prove’ you were abused … about them and their book Maran now says “The two women who put the book out are people I know. I have great respect for each of them as human beings and I think their intentions were nothing but the best. I happen to know them well enough to know that no publisher called them up and said, "If you will just make these really deceptive lists of symptoms and if you will write phrases like, 'If you think it happened, it happened,' you will become rich and famous. It's very hard now to understand the context in which that book was published. So if you take it now and say, how did they ever sell 10 copies of this book, it's such nonsense, it's easy to do. The movement that created that book doesn't exist anymore.” [italics mine]

I want to say here and now that while that ‘movement’ is no longer given much elite credit, yet THE LAWS THAT THE MOVEMENT SPAWNED – including much of the Domestic Violence and SO Mania regimes – are still very much in place. Worse, generations of law students, jurists, and legislators are now walking around still thinking that they ‘know’ what they’re talking about because of what that book and those two authors asserted decades ago.

Worse, so are a lot of Citizens.

Worse, so are a lot of individuals who weren’t sent the Memo of Retraction (once these stampedes start, you can’t stop them with a simple Memo, even if you blast-fax it to all the media). And, after all, how many of the many many types of persons and officials who went along with thing this now want to stand up in front of cameras and say ‘I was really really wrong about this’? Maybe they’re hoping it will all just ‘go away’ or hope that ‘it will all work out’ and that meanwhile ‘let’s just declare victory and go home’?

But all of this wrack and ruin was precisely inflicted on the American ‘home’: the home polity, the home politics, and the homes of countless American families themselves.

Maran has now made the acquaintance of Elizabeth Loftus, one of the serious and competent researchers who has been opposing and debunking ‘recovered-repressed memory’ ‘science’ from the beginning. Good for her. She admits that once she began to do some serious looking-into the work Loftus and the False Memory Syndrome Foundation has been doing, “it was so startling to me”.

Even more interesting is her conclusion that she can “never look on crazy-right wingers the same way”. I believe that Maran is NOT making a commercial in support of “crazy right-wingers”, and she is too careful to also then say ‘crazy left-wingers’ – let alone ‘progressives’, but that’s also implied here. And I certainly don’t go for ‘wingers’ of either Left or Right.

BUT BUT BUT the piece concludes with an honest, yet still frightening belief that Maran still holds: if she has to face the possibility that in the efforts to stop child-abuse innocent people have been put in jail and will continue to be put behind bars, and asked if she is willing to allow that to continue to happen, she says, after some hemming and hawing: “I think so”. Yes, it’s still acceptable that innocent people will go to jail because (I infer) the ‘emergency’ and the ‘outrage’ are so great.

And once again the pert, folksy, and clearly 'minimizing' (as the therapists like to say) use of "jail" rather than the more ominous, lethal and accurate "prison".

So I will conclude here with an example I’ve used before. In the last scene of 1961’s film “Judgment at Nuremberg”, having sentenced an otherwise outstanding Nazi-era judge to life imprisonment for sentencing persons he knew in his heart to be innocent, Spencer Tracy’s American judge is called to the cell of the German judge (played by Burt Lancaster). Lancaster’s Nazi judge says (I’m working from memory here): I just what you to know that it was never supposed to turn out like this.

To which Tracy’s American judge says quietly but with grave and sober certainty: But it was guaranteed to turn out like it did, the very first time you sentenced a man you knew to be innocent.

And I can recommend that film for your weekend viewing on DVD.

And urge everybody to keep up the work that so gravely remains to be done.

NOTES

*I’m going to mention here a dynamic that I think has yet to be fully explored: I use as the example the scene in the new HBO series “Boardwalk Empire”, close to the beginning of the first episode of this miniseries (still playing on HBO all this week until the second episode airs on Sunday next).

It is the period just before Prohibition is voted in; the Temperance societies are excitedly meeting to express their urgent desire that alcohol be outlawed. AND that they are absolutely sure that this new Prohibition legislation will usher in a fine new era in American history.

Alas, as the show’s tag-line says, “When alcohol was outlawed, the outlaw became king” – corrupting politicians and police as quickly as it empowered and enabled organized crime to take over the bootleg liquor operations and raise them to stunningly remunerative heights. This was a consequence not so much unforeseen as simply IGNORED by the advocates of Temperance and Prohibition.

I also see a dot to be somehow connected in the fact that just about all the members of the Temperance organizations were either female or ‘progressive’ males. In noting this, I am not making a subtle support-statement about current politics, but rather I am indicating just what can happen when eager and well-intentioned folks decide that immediate and sweeping legislation can usher in a New Era of Marvelousness and that ‘deliberation’ will only serve to ‘continue the outrage’; this brand of Paradise and Emergency Politics is lethal in a democratic polity as well as so often dangerously wrong-headed.

LINKS

Main: http://www.salon.com/books/memoirs/index.html?story=/books/int/2010/09/20/meredith_maran_my_lie_interview

My post:

1 comment:

  1. Excellent analysis. Best blog read in ages.

    ReplyDelete