Monday, January 23, 2012
As reported on the very useful site ‘Congress-Courts-Legislation’, Rep. Sensenbrenner (R-WI), ace enabler of SO Mania legislation, has just introduced H.R. 3796, entitled ‘The Adam Walsh Reauthorization Act of 2012’. The text of the Bill is here .
This is an interesting Bill if for no other reason than it is only one page in length.
But let that not deceive.
In Sec. 2 the Bill calls for 20 million tax-dollars per year for each year 2013-2017 for ‘Sex Offender Management Assistance’ program (Sec. 126 of the original AWA) which helps States offset the costs of complying with AWA’s requirements and for the Jessica Lunsford (et al) Grant program that helps States monitor SO’s electronically (Sec. 621 of the original AWA). The text of the original AWA is here.
In Sec. 3 the Bill calls for 46,200,000 tax-dollars per year for each year 2013-2017 for federal assistance to States and Tribes (and other jurisdictions) in helping States and jurisdictions deal with violations of AWA’s registration requirements (AWA Sec 142 (b)).
This is what used to be called in the bad old days of Cold War weaponry a MIRV’ed Bill: it has multiple warheads that are independently targeted (to satisfy multiple independent constituencies, client groups, and god-knows what parasitical cottage-industries and secretly-remunerated groups have managed to get their names on Sensenbrenner’s master list) and solve various problems with prior Mania legislation.
In my estimation, this would include first: the problem of States’ objections to the cost of maintaining AWA, let alone tracking down all of those instant ‘fugitives’ created overnight by AWA’s sweeping simplification of the classification system (AWA Sec. 111) and the declaration that any AWA-eligible person who “travels in interstate commerce” must also register or face hefty fines and up to ten years imprisonment (AWA Sec. 141).*
States that comply with AWA (and almost a year after the last ultimate final deadline date to do so, only 15 States – and a larger number of Tribes and US Possessions – have done so) don’t lose 10 percent of their Byrne law-enforcement assistance grant monies and they get to divvy up the 10 percent that non-compliant States forfeit. Nicely, as of this writing, Sensenbrenner's own Wisconsin is not listed as one of those 'compliant' States and so this Bill serves to seduce his own State.
No doubt the States did their own math and realized that it was going to cost a bundle (of money they don’t really have any more) to administer AWA and deal with the very probable court-challenges and so on. And they also figured that a measly 10 percent of monies forfeited by other States wasn’t going to come near covering the costs either. So now Sensenbrenner is fattening and sweetening the pot. Whether it turns out to be enough of a sweetener is an interesting question.
Second, there are all sorts of non-governmental organizations - termed “private entities” – that are slyly included in AWA as eligible for funding (AWA Sec. 519). Among these are various organizations, named after this or that victim and often headed up by relatives of the deceased (upon whom be peace), that now – and as a result of their own deliberate and strategically calculated actions – constitute part of the underlying web of groups hooked on government tax money to continue pushing their concerns and – far more lethally – their ill-considered agenda and legislative and policy demands.
Third, there are all manner of persons who have been hired to carry out the AWA vision. From persons who will go out and annually verify SO address information to highly-paid attorneys and assorted ‘experts’, this is an employment angle – and in an election year.
Fourth, there are the advanced-level established ‘advocacies’ themselves, which now constitute a network of connections with the assorted gender and victim ‘bases’ – nobody knows how big (or small) they really are – which automatically count for a great deal in a difficult election year.
As the Congress-Courts site observes, there are no reports or evidence that any of this machinery works at all. Indeed, there is a new Study – not by a government agency – that indicates almost none of this stuff works at all.
I would add that AWA (Secs. 631, 634, 636, 637, and 638) specifically mandated Reports by the Attorney-General’s office as to the effectiveness of the AWA program and the whole SORNA scheme. One of them – Sec 634 – required in 2006 a major AG Report by 2011 at the latest that was not only to be made to Congress but was to be made “through the Internet available to the public”.
Granted that the entire Beltway apparatus is now so soused and indentured to political ‘bases’ that it would be hard to accept pro-Mania findings at face value without further analysis, yet it would still be something to see such a Report. I can’t find it – although I am no computer genius – and yet the deadline was “not later than” 5 years after the passage of the AWA, which would have been July of 2011.
Curiously, too, Sensenbrenner’s Bill here makes no effort to ‘justify’ itself with ‘Findings’ or with information from any of those Reports made either to the Congress or to the public or both.
The Bill has been referred to the House Judiciary Committee for consideration. By amazing coincidence, Sensenbrenner sits on that Committee. An associate who also should be familiar to the SO anti-Mania community is Rep. Peter King (R-NY) who chairs the Homeland Security Committee (which got last year’s Sensenbrenner funding Bill). King had in earlier years before his Chairmanship been trying to get public money for NY/NJ-based advocacy groups and get them access to the NCIC as well.
All in all, I’d say that what’s going on here is – predictably – the effort to both pander to bases in an election year and also reassure those bases that you, the indentured politician, are going to keep ‘producing’ according to the terms of the deal you struck with them.
It is for this reason, I think it can now be said with great confidence, that the SO Mania was never interested in actual realities about the problem it sought to address and the problematic-group it pretty much created (The Sex-Offender) to help justify the deals made.
Thus too, even if the amount of funds requested are ultimately reduced (I doubt they will be denied altogether) the pol can go to his/her clients and say that he/she did his/her best and is still very much committed to the original deal.
The SO Mania police state as pork – but when ever was it not?
*This Congressional use of the Commerce Clause (Article 1, Sec. 8, Clause 3) of the Constitution to justify all manner of interference in interstate activity (it also covers commerce “with the Indian tribes”) has been used over the years as a Congressional pretext or excuse for regulating all sorts of State and private and Citizen activities: the key is how you define ‘commerce’, which in Congress’s view is as expandable a term as ‘sex offense’, ‘harm’ and so on and so forth.
Apparently, SO’s or putative SO’s who travel across State lines for any reason whatsoever will ‘discourage’ potential victims (women and children, mostly) from conducting their own interstate ‘commerce’ and thus the AWA is, they would like you to agree, justified ‘in the Constitution’.
You can see here for a short but professional discussion of the overall Commerce Clause problem.
Interestingly, in light of points I have been making on my other site but also on this site, this increasing use of the Clause was the grounding of the major civil-rights legislation of the early 1960s. But, I would say, you can thus quickly see how the expansion of that first Phase of the Civil Rights movement to include – after 1970 or so – all manner of victimization of all manner of persons not on the basis of Race but rather Gender or ‘victimhood’ has wound up not so much ‘extending civil rights’ but rather creating the precedent for police-state type regimes (the SO Mania Regime being the first major effort along these lines) and also for getting the feds into the baaad habit of imposing themselves very deeply, especially with the Sovereign police power, in numerous ways.
Which, by the by, is a mirror image of the government’s approach to foreign policy, where it has also become rather ‘invasive’ and ‘impositional’ on the most slender and dubious grounds, including later-proved-nonexistent ‘outrages’ and ‘crimes’ (think of Saddam’s nonexistent WMD and ‘child-molesting’ and Libya’s nonexistent Viagra-crazed troops raping numberless opponents of Quadaffi’s government as a matter of policy).
I can see two other points relevant here.
First – and I’ve mentioned it many times before – is that there are now large numbers of people in a matrix of assorted advanced-level advocacy groups and cottage industries that are hooked on this Mania for either cash or status or a sense of some ‘meaning’ and ‘purpose’ (and this last is a good thing, if wisely and intelligently sought). None of these types are going to want to ‘let go’ and all of them may well be concerned that the Mania – and the government cash that fuels it – is starting to fade in the national attention.
Second, and more ominous: once the ‘aura’ of this Mania fades then all sorts of things are going to start coming to light. Specifically, things that were done – ‘in a good cause’ – that were not legitimate or were dishonestly spun and done. Neither the ‘advocates’ nor their political enablers want this to happen, and thus the ‘press’ has to be kept up so that there is much less chance of this Tire being Kicked. One thinks of that member of the Central Committee who blurted out in Lenin’s day: What happens if the masses find out what we’ve really done?
Given the nature of human dynamics, and especially given the fact that it has become axiomatic in the Advocacy Age that either a) untruth in a good cause is Good or b) there is no truth anyway … then you can presume some skullduggery. And given the large amounts of cash involved, you can presume a whole lot of skullduggery. Perhaps even rising to the level of criminal actions.
So Sensenbrenner may well now be trapped into continuing to feed this thing with tax money or else the lid will come off a whole lot of stuff neither he nor his colleagues would like to have exposed.
Wednesday, January 18, 2012
For those who follow these things, there have been some interesting developments just recently in the American Catholic priest-abuse matter.
The premier American organization claiming to work on behalf of all the victims – or allegants – came under the legal knife itself in December when (it had appealed all the way up to the Missouri Supreme Court and been turned down) it was considered by the cognizant Court to have possibly violated or caused to be violated that Court’s Order to seal all the materials in a pending case against a Catholic bishop for allegedly having ‘covered up’ the matter of an allegedly sex-abusive priest in his Diocese.
The head of SNAP, one Mr. Clohessy, was required to submit to deposition. In the course of which he asserted in his defense that he has always considered his organization, fighting an “evil pedophile Church” to be held to a lesser standard of truthfulness and ‘transparency’ than the Church itself. Something along the lines of If you’re doing it in a Good cause, then you are Good and by definition cannot do Evil; whereas the Evil cannot do Good but must be held to account for that.
If that sounds remarkably similar to George Bush’s summary thoughts on the morality and justice of invading Iraq and any other place that seemed to him ‘the thing to do at the time’, then you could hardly be considered irrational or obsessive.
As if to demonstrate that History (or perhaps Divine Providence) has a sense of Irony, if not also Humor, shortly after that, on the first weekend of January of this year, SNAP hosted a victory-lap world Conference marking the 10th anniversary of the opening of Phase 3 (by my count) of the ‘crisis’. On January 2, 2002, you may recall, the ‘Boston Globe’ inaugurated the new Phase with a series of long ‘reports’ (basically stenographizing the ‘stories’ of allegants (many of whom were made available by SNAP).
The dynamics of Phase 3 were rather ingeniously sly. Whereas Phase 1 (the mid-1980s) and Phase 2 (the early 1990s) both concentrated on the offending priest, Phase 3 sought to ‘bundle’ large numbers of Plaintiffs and myriad specific charges against numerous priests (living and dead, most cases being decades in the past) into one huge lawsuit. Further, it was the Bishop or Diocese that was the named Party-Defendant; which, by amazing coincidence and in contrast to the often poor-as-churchmice individual priests, had deep-pockets Insurers.
The outcome, hardly unpredictable to those familiar with the dynamics of tort cases in modern America, was that the Bishop – under the advice of both legal counsel and the Insurers – chose to settle out of court for huge sums rather than face the massive task and expense of defending against each individual charge.
Much much money was made through this type of legal piñata arrangement. None of the ‘stories’ that formed the gravamen of the specific charges were ever put to the test of proven veracity; an outcome that no doubt made an impression on numerous other persons who then ‘came forth’, either with a ‘recovered memory’ or – when that particular bit was discredited as a usable theory – simply because it had taken this long to work up the ‘courage’ to sign up on the piñata list.
The media, of course, got an ongoing melodrama of classic proportions, with a powerful organizational villain, employing numerous leering, sexually perverse underlings who carried out their depredations, against purely good and utterly innocent persons in their hundreds and thousands (with additional hundreds of thousands, it was claimed, still ‘out there’, not yet having worked up the courage to ‘come forward’ and sign up).
Within the Church, the indirect beneficiaries of all this were the assorted ‘liberals’ seeking Democracy (meaning election of bishops and perhaps even priests), Diversity (code for ‘women priests and bishops’), and Regime Change (meaning the Pope and the Vatican had to go, preferably by being criminally indicted and convicted).
Anyhoo, only 75 people from around the world (or perhaps a lot closer to home) showed up in Boston for the Conference, a third of whom were officials and speakers. Most visibly not in attendance or leaping before the attending ‘Globe’ photographers and stenographers were any of the hugely enriched tort attorneys who had put the lawsuits together and conducted the horse-trading with the Insurers, for a hefty cut of the resulting Big Check.
A few days ago, the ‘National Catholic Reporter’ – a major American press organization specializing in things Catholic from somewhere in left infield (or outfield) – published an editorial which, to nobody’s general surprise, supported SNAP in general, even if – the editors piously sniffed – they didn’t always agree with SNAP’s tactics.
That editorial may be read here. If you take a moment to read it, then the following thoughts should fall into place clearly enough.
The Polish suicide case: Had it been proven by police investigation to be suicide or is it a cover-up for murder, and if murder then by whom and for what purpose? Has the allegation made in the purported suicide note been determined to be true? I don’t have the answers, but unless the editors have information they haven’t seen fit to share, then who does know the answers?
No investigator could rule out the possibility that either a) a shrewd murderer might well take advantage of a thoroughly-predictable public ‘spin’ (i.e. clerical sex abuse) to kill, and perhaps add a note to direct the ‘response’ neatly away from the actual perpetrator. Or, psychologically, has some unbalanced person found it impossible to go on and finds the monster-du-jour as a handy psychological scapegoat?
I don’t have the answers, but they are all quite real possibilities that would occur to investigators if not to bloggers. Nor do I deny the possibility that the suicide is precisely what it appears to be. But that’s only one possibility out of several to be checked out.
I don’t know why the priest involved in the case does not wish to testify in court. Is he being asked matters that are under the seal of the confessional? Is he simply an observant adult who can see just what happens to accused priests in a time of Mania? At any rate, if the Polish courts wanted him to testify (except in matters of the confessional), then why have they not compelled him? Absent some provision in Polish law that does not permit non-canonical courts from compelling a priest’s testimony, then there is some missing element or elements in the report.
Did the editors not notice any of this?
In a world as full of ‘horrors’ as this present one (upon all of whose victims be peace), I find it a bit too much of a muchness that the editors of a putatively world-class press organization have confessed themselves ‘groping’ for a response.
Despite all of the reforms and strictures (which probably place the Church in the front ranks of protective organizations on the planet, and certainly in the Western world), yet the editors report as if in amazement that “the clergy abuse scandal continues”. Is it not a hardly improbable possibility that the ‘crisis’ goes on precisely because the editors and organizations like SNAP need it to do so? By all extant measurements the crisis – such as it has ever been – is subsiding.
The public uproar is still being stoked, but that is a different matter altogether.
The work of SNAP – and SNAP alone – is “under threat” because a cognizant Court – supported by all relevant levels of superior appeals courts – has considered that there is reasonable cause to suspect that SNAP has violated the Court’s Order placing materials in a lawsuit under seal. If SNAP’s own actions have per se constituted a breach of law by violating that Order or causing it to be violated, then SNAP has brought its present legal travails upon itself and, I would add, upon the credibility of all similar organizations.
Whence do the editors derive their assertion that communications and records of SNAP are confidential? That SNAP “believes itself to be” a legally protected organization? Surely it had access to sufficient legal talent to determine that as definitively Yes or No long ago; numerous highly-rewarded tort attorneys have benefitted from SNAP and could hardly have been unavailable over the past many years to offer Advice of Counsel on that matter.
If SNAP is indeed so protected, then it will be easy enough to legally turn back the requests for information. If SNAP is not so protected, then it and it alone will be required to turn over records (for which individual names and identifying information can easily be kept confidential by the cognizant Court). So this editorial claim is a tissue of words camouflaging a non-issue.
The fact that SNAP has been turned back at all levels of appeal, presuming that it made this utterly vital assertion of its purported legal privilege to those various courts, indicates that those higher levels agree that it is not so privileged in that State’s law. How could the editorial overlook this rather basic point in making its analysis?
And to try to tie in SNAP’s predicament not only to all victim-counseling organizations that actually do enjoy such legal privilege, and then beyond those organizations to any whistleblower anywhere in regard to any matter about any organization whatsoever … is a reach that can only be characterizable as either hysterical or histrionic. Neither of which possibilities contributes to confidence in the competence and/or integrity of those who try to make the connection.
The “breadth” of the demanded documents is too wide. For what? To make that determination one would have to know the gravamen of the issue at hand.
SNAP is under a legal cloud not through the action of the original lawsuit (to which it was not a Party) but rather because it somehow broke or caused to be broken a Court Order putting a seal on the proceedings. If SNAP is a press organization – which to the best of my knowledge it is not and has never claimed to be – then its travails would justify the concern of press organizations. If SNAP is under the impression that in that State it is a protected organization, then its travails would pose a threat to all such privileged organizations, but in the eyes – apparently – of all the cognizant courts in the system it is not so privileged. (Although whether it has represented itself as being thus privileged to persons approaching it is another question entirely – and not a small one.)
So why the local Press Organization felt inclined to – or had the relevant need to – file an Amicus Brief is a mystery that no doubt harbors some interesting answers.
Ditto the assorted victim’s advocacy groups (presuming that they are themselves legally privileged – although if the signatory Amicus groups are not so privileged, then most certainly Yes, they have a great deal at stake in the outcome of SNAP’s travails).
The public may very well and hardly unreasonably harbor the impression that a significant element in SNAP’s organizational plan is to be a collection-point and conduit between potential tort clients and assorted tort-attorneys. The editorial says this is not at all so … on the basis of Mr. Clohessy’s assertion that it is not so. Passing over without remark the fact that this is mighty thin gruel to constitute conclusive evidence by a putatively world-class press organization, there is the fact that Mr. Clohessy recently claimed that he has always operated on the assumption that the levels of truthfulness and honesty that apply to the Church do not apply to him or his organization. How then believe a man who sincerely believes in dishonesty?
Nor has his organization demonstrated transparency in the matter of making public the records of where it gets its money – to refute clearly the abiding suspicion that SNAP received kickbacks from the tort attorneys for whom the victim-stories and cases have been (you should pardon the expression) manna from heaven.
I am not sure why the various attorneys are interested in ‘repressed memory’, that always-dubious and now discredited theory that fueled so much of the victim movement’s agitations since at least the early 1980s.
The idea that a memory a) was like a snapshot and b) was like a computer file and thus c) could be suddenly returned to consciousness with all the clarity of a photo or a pristine computer file suddenly recalled from ‘Documents’ was always hugely dubious. There is no neural architecture to provide pathways for such processes; the memory does not function like a camera but is far more dynamic and complex in what it selects; the emotional pressures present in a traumatic situation would act to further confuse what is an already fluid dynamic; and it flies in the face of everything we know about evolution that human beings would be prompted and equipped to ‘forget’ grave dangers – rather, those are precisely the experiences it is most necessary to recall if the species is to survive.
And all of that presumes the sincerity and integrity of the person claiming to have such a ‘memory’.
Do the editors know none of this?
But at any rate, it is well within the Court’s purview to maintain the confidentiality of the individuals who did claim repressed memory to SNAP staff. (Although if there should prove to be discrepancies between communications with SNAP and later claims, say for example, made in a court case under pains and penalties of perjury … well, yes, that would create some problems in the perjury department. But are the editors intent on preventing the righting of such perjurious miscarriages of justice? Or are such miscarriages merely ‘acceptable losses’ and ‘forgivable exaggerations’ in the Great and Good Cause?)
If a number of attorneys for various priests (or Dioceses) were granted the Standing to participate actively in Mr. Clohessy’s deposition, then they were granted that authority by the cognizant Court or applicable law. The Church could not – as some seem to believe – simply order a pig-pile (to use a childhood phrase). Given the rather significant numbers of Dioceses and priests Mr. Clohessy and his organization have brought under their attentions, it would hardly be surprising if perhaps some common practice(s) engaged in by Mr. Clohessy and/or his organization were found to have somehow tainted a large number of past and present legal cases and lawsuits and such.
And in that regard there is his own recent assertion of a double-standard by which he and his organization should not be held strictly. And his assistant Ms. Dorritt’s that accused priests have no legal rights anyone is bound to respect. It would hardly be surprising if attorneys for a large number of accused individuals and sued Dioceses weren’t interested – they would be remiss in their responsibilities if they didn’t take a most serious interest.
But how do the editors assert that in the course of the deposition Mr. Clohessy was largely questioned on irrelevant matters? Did the interrogating attorneys confess that to them? Were their own attorneys present as observers or did they have access to the deposition transcript? Or did they merely take the word of Mr. Clohessy and/or his counsel? And if the latter, then what sort of confidence can be placed now in their thoughts?
The editors piously intone that “we don’t agree with all of SNAP’s tactics”. Aside from what I have discussed above, I have no idea just how much they know that they are now trying to distance themselves from, but the statement certainly raises more questions than it answers or tries to preclude.
Yet they then go on to make the assertion – for all practical purposes – that whatever its dishonesties, SNAP is just too good and too “unique” to fail. I haven’t been keeping a strict tally of the number of Impossible Things to be Believed Before Breakfast, but they must by this point in the editorial have gotten beyond the Red Queen’s Six.
Apparently dishonesty in a good cause is OK. And if you trying to take the Church down several or a dozen notches then that qualifies as ‘good’. And if you are a) a legally privileged organization that actually isn’t one; and b) an organization crusading for justice that doesn’t consider itself bound by truth or law; and c) a press organization that actually isn’t one; and d) a therapeutic aid organization that offers a verrrry speshull type of therapy-by-lawyer with (up until the recent developments) almost no risk of being challenged as to the veracity of your ‘memories’ or your ‘stories’ … well, yes, I would agree with the editors that SNAP is unique.
But then, “unique” is rather too mild a term indeed, and the editors do not do the real SNAP justice.
The editors point out that SNAP is not a Party to the original lawsuit, but that is irrelevant to its problem in this matter. The editors characterize the presence of so many attorneys across the table from SNAP as signs of a “fishing expedition”. But surely, if SNAP has been engaged in widespread and long-sustained skullduggery, then it is hardly unusual in such a case for attorneys from the long-ago or the far-away to want to find out if anything had been done which prejudiced their own clients’ cases or – more ominously – constituted or contributed to a Fraud Upon the Court in one or a number of cases.
The editors then point to the value of “well-informed media”. Although, as I said above, the point has no relevance to SNAP … unless, of course, the case is to be made that SNAP did indeed violate a Court Order in disseminating sealed information but only because it was privileged as a ‘whistleblower’ or as a rape-crisis and counseling center or as a press organization itself. Or all of the above – one gets the idea that SNAP is trying to throw anything up in the air to see if it flies, and the editors are doing their best to assist.
At any rate, the 2002 ‘Boston Globe’ reference is very interesting. First, it marked Phase 3 of a sustained campaign that – like a tornado controlled by forces unknown – blew through, turned around, blew through again, turned around, and then came back for a third trip down Main Street. Phase 1 came and went in the mid-80s, Phase 2 in the early 1990s, and both of them focused on individual accused priests.
But in 2002 a far more complex and hydra-headed strategy was developed: a) it was the Bishop or Diocese named as Party-Defendant; b) numerous allegations were ‘bundled’ into a single civil lawsuit (so few of any of these cases ever went to criminal trial); thus c) the Party-Defendant (and the deep-pockets Insurer) had to decide whether to contest or simply ‘settle’ – which, given the huge number of allegations and stories (almost all of which have never had to or have been corroborated or verified formally) would have been a hugely expensive proposition.
The Insurers, who would have had great say in the matter, would almost as a matter of sound financial practice insist upon a settlement (and it would have been the same in a train wreck or a plane crash or any other type of large and multiple-Plaintiff lawsuit).
This served many interests: tort-attorneys, persons with stories who saw (or were shown, perhaps by SNAP or perhaps by attorneys to whom it referred ‘victims’) the possibility of closure and/or cash; SNAP itself which fed off the intensifying dynamic as a hurricane feeds off ocean water; and a media that was economically interested in any good scandal story, especially if it could be guaranteed to have ‘legs’ and go on and on.
(I leave out the possibility of ideological motivations such as, say, a generally acknowledge ‘liberal’ paper or a secularist and anti-religious agenda. And I also leave out the possibilities useful to persons within the Church seeking Democracy, Diversity, and/or Regime Change in one form or another.)
But what has this to do with “a well informed press”? The ‘Globe’ essentially merely pasted together a whole lotta unsupported allegations and accusatory ‘stories’. Very little investigative reporting went into it. But THEN it comes to me: the unspoken middle in the editorial is that SNAP not only fed its victims to tort attorneys (for a kickback?) but also fed their ‘stories’ to the ‘Boston Globe’ (which, alas, garnered a Pulitzer for its ‘reporting’). So SNAP has been doing a whole lot more than counseling anybody who came to it. It has - “uniquely” is indeed accurate here – set itself up as a very active and not overly principled middleman between victims, tort attorneys, and media – and all have made out rather well.
So much so that you wonder if they’d really rather not see it all end. And thus have some perhaps subsurface desire (or strategy) to ‘keep the ball rolling’ and to that end, to do ‘whatever it takes’.
Anyway, at least a third of the seventy-five people who showed up for SNAP’s 10th anniversary world conference in Boston were officials and speakers. And not a single one of the tort attorneys who made so much off these cases even wanted his/her name mentioned in conjunction with so world-historical an event. What are we to make of that? What did the editors think of it? They must have known. Did they send of their reporters to this event? If not, why not?
The editorial then asserts that “it has been the partnership of advocates and media that has moved responses to sexual abuse out of backrooms and into courtrooms”. But such a ‘partnership’ should not exist in the first place: the press is supposed to be ‘independent’ precisely so that it can conduct its own analysis independent of alliance or partnership with any interested party. Otherwise, the press becomes – to use the military term – ‘embedded’ with the advocacy and that creates lethal problems in credibility and integrity. Surely the editors were not unaware of all that.
The editorial then asserts – versus “opponents” who claim that the same standard of organizational transparency applies to both the Church and to SNAP – that SNAP and the Church are not “equivalent structures” – which is a rather novel bit of philosophy and law. As an assertion of morality it is insupportable, and as an assertion of legal principle it is positively lethal: if all persons and entities are not equally responsible for being truthful, then on what basis does the accuracy and legitimacy of legal process and Law stand?
SNAP’s only “uniqueness” in this regard (clearly the editors have already forgotten about or ignored SNAP’s purported already-existing legal privilege) is that it even dares to make such a claim. Of what use is a whistleblower who is not truthful in his/her revelations; or a press agency that is not truthful with the public; or a therapeutic organization that is not truthful with its clients or patients?
SNAP, the editors say, is “unusual” because it is an organization that arose in response to a crisis “that nobody could have foreseen”. What is the point? What is the relevance of this assertion? This is a duplicitous way, as far as I can see, of making Clohessy’s own claim that when you are trying to do good in fighting “an evil pedophile Church” then you shouldn’t have to be required to tell the truth … but the evil pedophile Church should be.
This principle makes any and all advocacy suspect. How much advocacy in regard to anything in the past 40-plus years of Identity-Advocacy Politics has considered this to be a valid operational philosophy? How many press agencies that engage in so-called ‘advocacy journalism’ have been engaging in ‘partnership’ with such philosophy?
The editorial then quotes an Amicus Brief that makes the creative argument that if SNAP has to deliver all these documents, then all sorts of folks who communicated with SNAP will be put in danger of death or retaliation like members of the NAACP in the Jim Crow South in the 1950s if their names were made public to the Klan.
All of the courts in this SNAP matter rejected that argument and how could they not? The cognizant court could keep the personal identifying information confidential (unless a case might be made that this or that individual allegant could be reasonably demonstrated to have committed Perjury or a Fraud Upon the Court in some case – but that is not the Church getting an allegant in trouble; that is the allegant committing Perjury or a Fraud Upon the Court, which – not to put too fine a point on it – constitute crimes in just about every State).
If anybody, it is the accused that stand to suffer precisely from such dangers – “economic reprisal, loss of employment, threat of physical coercion, and other manifestations of public hostility”, to use the list the Amicus Brief uses – through the Mania that SNAP has committed itself – with self-admittedly no responsibility to truthfulness as it is commonly understood – to fostering and continuing. As in any other aspect of the Sex Offense Mania, the dangers to any accused in terms of permanently losing reputation, livelihood, the ability to raise a family, maintain a residence, or even to live in physical safety are multiple, interlocking, substantial, and almost inevitable.
And if Mr. Clohessy’s remarks – which are a certainty – and SNAP’s organizational methods and operation strategies – which are far more than merely ‘possible’ – are any gauge, then if “survivors and witnesses of sexual abuse will no longer feel comfortable in approaching SNAP with confidence” that perhaps may not be such a bad thing for them in any event.
I can’t imagine on what grounds any experienced attorney – let alone law professor – can claim, as does the editors’ chosen source on this matter – that these subpoenas are somehow the most “ugly” tactics she has ever seen.
An illegal act reasonably suspected by a cognizant Court to have been committed by SNAP – an organization that has been deliberately involved for years in numerous acts of supporting legal action against many individuals and entities – suddenly gives reasonable cause to suspect that SNAP may well have engaged in untruthfulness in any number of ways during some of those prior or present cases. Attorneys of all the persons and entities involved as Parties-Defendant in those cases or otherwise indirectly were harmed by any such dishonesty AND any other Courts that might have reason to suspect that a Fraud was committed upon them … well, if you have committed untruthfulness to the point where so many lives may have been harmed and so many formal legal proceedings fundamentally and fatally tainted by Perjury or Fraud, then Yes, you are on the cusp of a whole lotta trouble.
And really, so few of these abuse cases have ever reached “the courtroom”, contrary to the editors’ pithy but ultimately empty characterization. Most of these were civil cases, and most were ‘settled’. Rarely did ‘Perry Mason’ enter into it. And even in the cases where trials were held, the taint of impropriety, especially now that the emotions of the moment have faded and with them their protecting aura of ‘rightness’, becomes more clearly palpable.
Thus I don’t see how the depth and breadth and width of the subpoenas are disproportionate to the depth and breadth and width of the possible perpetrations effected by SNAP over the almost quarter-century of its very busy organizational existence. Rather, I think there are strong grounds to suspect that SNAP and its ‘partners’ – press and tort attorneys and others in on the game – have every reason to fear that even a single glimpse of what has really been going on is going to subject them to serious legal problems that will indeed be proportional to what they have done and what they have been doing for all these years.
How can the editors characterize this as “hardball” as if SNAP hasn’t been playing “hardball”? Careers wrecked, professional lives destroyed, and no extant evidence demonstrates that all or even most cases were demonstrably true.
And if Frauds were committed upon Courts, then it is not the Church that SNAP has to fear but a whole lotta verrrry angry Courts. And that, I think, is why all the ‘partner’ tort attorneys who made a mint off this Phase and have always been so camera-ready, suddenly disappeared off the radar two weeks ago in Boston and ever since. They know in their professional bones that Courts that realize they have been en-Frauded are verrrrry dangerous creatures, besides which a Vatican ruminating or a bishop scratching his embroidered cone-cap is child’s-play.
Lastly, the editors mention that SNAP is only “modestly funded”. And yet they neglect to consider that SNAP has been partnered with some of the slyest (and now rather wealthy) tort attorneys in the country. Where are all these folks with checkbook or lawbook when their erstwhile “unique” ‘partner’ stands on the cusp of a genuine legal (if not also moral) abyss? And why have they allowed their ‘unique partner’ to languish in this unjust and unwarranted hell?
The editors apparently don’t think to ask.
It appears, at the most charitable, a habitual failing of theirs.
Thus the significance of all this for the SO community is substantial: the SO Mania itself was one of the government’s first efforts at using the advanced techniques of manipulating public opinion – already reduced to cartoonish caricaturing and emotion-laden posturing instead of deliberative and tire-kicking analysis – and then combining that with the vastly enhanced technological ability to ‘track’ any targeted Citizens (the Nazis had to rely on file cards and constantly updated book-sized master-lists in a society riddled with ‘checkpoints’), in order to construct an ‘outrage’ of putative horrific proportions, that thus generated an ‘emergency’, to which the government could then respond by (what was in the early 1990s) draconian legislation.
A baaaaad thing even at its inception, this gambit was quickly adapted after 9/11 to go after just about anybody as a ‘terrorist’ or ‘terrorist-enabler’ without regard to civil rights or liberties (since, as the odious Lindsey Graham has recently said, ‘we are at war’ – just as the government was at with Sex Offenders 20-plus years ago).
The Catholic priest abuse ‘crisis’ was a subset of the SO Mania, specifically designed to weaken the authority of the Catholic Church (no other organizations have been subjected to such sustained attention in the matter of sexual-abuse for a quarter-century and counting) to impede the secularist agendas of the Nanny State Left and the war-making and rights-reducing agenda of the Security State Right. The Church had in the 1980s made powerful oppositional statements to major dampdreams of both Left and Right; and both extremes saw a handy way of making sure that wasn’t ever repeated again.
Within the Church, Lefty ‘liberals’ also sought Democracy (election of bishops and priests by the Faithful), Diversity (women priests and bishops), and Regime-Change (breaking up the American Church’s bond with the Vatican) in order to make the American Catholic polity more like a ‘liberal’ Protestant American church polity (which has led that gaggle into a massive irrelevance and a profound metaphysical aimlessness).
Neatly, the civilian-public aspect of the SO Mania begins to wane: one indicator is that the SMART office, charged with administering AWA after that whackulent Thing was erected into law in 2006, no longer dates its press releases; the last time I checked a week or so ago, the second most recent press release was advertising funding opportunities for Fiscal Year 2011 – which makes it over a year old since we are now almost halfway through FY 2012 (the federal Fiscal Year begins on October 1st of the year before).
So too the Catholic abuse-mania begins to wane, although still dangerous in its dying throes.
But I hope the SO Community remains aware that a) all those noxious Mania Regime laws are still on the books; b) their guiding principles are migrating now into the military law, but may well use that last refuge as a springboard to try a comeback into civilian law; and c) the entire mindset of the Beltway is now infected with police-state conceptions that have been given increasing play since 9/11 but that were originally embraced in the run-up to the Sex Offense Mania Regime two decades and more ago.
So much remains to be done.*
*So, for example, this article clearly recognizes the police-state and totalitarian consequences of the National Defense Authorization Act. But it urges ‘progressive’ action against it. Yet not only does it make any reference to the clear steps taken toward this police-state with the construction of the SO Mania Regime, but how can it not be clear that at the time of its inception the SO Mania Regime was itself considered to be ‘progressive’?
Wednesday, January 4, 2012
I have always recommended that if you read an SO/SA/SV article online, you also pay attention to the comments as well. The comments, I have said, give you an idea of how people (at least those who make comments online) are thinking as well as what they are thinking, and what the general themes and threads are and what the general level of discourse is.
What I have been doing in the past week is actually paying more attention to the comments than to the articles (and even making a few comments of my own where it looks like they might do some bit of good).
Thus I came across this article just yesterday.
I am not going to review the article here as is my usual habit. It’s a good one by a good author (a doctor who once worked in a prison in the UK) and you can read it for yourself if you wish.
Instead I am going to look at the comments. As you can see if you scroll down, I made several under the name of Pertinax.
I was responding on a thread where one commenter, good-hearted and concerned, couldn’t see the problem with intensifying State laws (in this case in New Jersey, originator and home of Megan’s Law and the infamous 1995 Poritz decision that moved Bill Clinton to erect a ‘national Megan’s Law’ in 1996) seeking to curb the specific type of ‘abuse’ that goes under the term ‘bullying’ (although who knows what the legal definition is, or what it will be tomorrow or next month?).
I was reminded that there are sincere and decent people who support all of the Mania laws, as they expand and intensify and expand some more.
It seems to me that there are two basic types of folks who support these things. Type G (for Goodie) is sincerely concerned, wants to see something done, and is closely focused on the problem itself – without any larger frame of reference, such as questions like: What sort of consequences will there be? What possible unintended consequences that might be foreseen with some forethought? What sort of impact will such a law have on the government that has to enforce it? What sort of effect beyond the best-case scenario of simply achieving what its supporters hope it will achieve might or will this law have?
Then there is Type O (for Opportunity). This Type sees some advantage to be gained for him/herself. Perhaps there is an ‘angle’ to it in terms of making some money. Perhaps there is some status or just celebrity to be acquired. Perhaps, if one is a professional or paraprofessional, there are business or funding possibilities.
As I just discovered today, for example, the (in-)famous S.N.A.P. organization (which has kept the decades-long and seemingly sempiternal Catholic priest-abuse-victim ball rolling on and on, reputedly funded by kickbacks from the very tort attorneys who have made millions in fees representing the allegants – or allegators, I suppose ) is now in a tight spot. It is apparently suspected of leaking information in a case that is under court-seal. Its boss is now claiming that – waitttt forrrrr ittttt! – there should be two standards of justice: one for evil organizations that promote “pedophilia” and another one for good organizations that are trying to stop all that (the similarities to current US government claims in foreign policy are blatantly obvious).
The bottom line being – it would seem – that ‘good’ organizations that lie or do bad things in a good cause against ‘evil’ organizations shouldn’t have to be held responsible for breaking the law. And the SO/SA/SV Community is verrrry familiar with this line of thinking, since it was deployed against the Sex Offender from Day One, although not with such outright clarity (but then, S.N.A.P. is now in a rather tight legal spot).
More on this is a separate Post. Apparently there is a gathering-conference up in Boston this weekend to celebrate – if that’s the word – the opening of Phase 3 (by my count) of the Catholic Priest Abuse crisis: the Phase initiated on January 2, 2002 (where does the time go?) when strategy shifted to bringing civil lawsuits against the bishops (and their deep-pockets insurers) rather than against the more or less poor-as-churchmice individual accused priests. Which the ‘Boston Globe’ reported as if it were all brand-new (in 2002!) and – O the times! O the customs! – got a Pulitzer Prize for.
Back to the advocacy thoughts.
Both the Type G and the Type O supporters (and these are conceptual categories, with many individuals blending elements of both within themselves) form a base for an ‘advocacy’. On that basis organizers go to some politician and make one of those ‘Godfather’ offers that a modern pol can’t refuse: if you give us the status and funding for our stuff, we will then use that status and funding to say really nice things about you with all the public access that your support has given us. On the other hand, if you don’t, we’ll hold a tearful and outraged press conference-cum-vigil outside your offices.
And thus a ‘deal’ is struck and the ball starts rolling. And who then can stop it? Who among the ‘players’ would want to?
On the basis of that rather narrow vision of what’s at stake (the advocates’ funding and the pol’s public image) any Larger Questions and Concerns are crowded out and ignored.
Blending thus with the larger advocacies and all their schemes, visions, and deals.*
So for example, in my Comments on one site I explain to one decent and concerned commenter who can’t see any problem with all these laws that you can’t use the criminal law as a substitute for a family and parents raising a child to live according to principles; you can’t deconstruct the family and parental authority and even any sense of morality and then expect that as those many many kiddies grow up with no control over their urges and desires and emotions and behaviors, that you can simply control them through the criminal law – making everything they haven’t learned not-to-do illegal and chasing all of them throughout their lives with the Sovereign police-power.
Nor can you simply use the criminal law for ‘shaming’ people who should be ashamed of themselves. A government that has the power to go after every shameful thing that individual members of a fallen humanity may perpetrate will have no bounds on it whatsoever (as we well know from the SO Mania Regime and the Registration laws).
And it would take a government exponentially more powerful and invasive than even the East German Stasi or the old Soviet NVKD and KGB to achieve this.
Which, as you probably have noticed, is precisely where this government of America is heading, both domestically (the Mania Regimes) and in foreign policy (invading Libya, for example, because that government’s troops were allegedly on Viagra and raping women with abandon).
At this point in time, the SO Mania seems to be dying down (this gathering in Boston is probably not only more of the same-old, same-old from a decade and more ago, but is also more of a Last Hurrah) in the civil world, it is migrating – as I said in prior Posts – to the military law system.
But as I also suggested, such awful inroads as the Mania is making there might – if the money holds out – make a comeback into the civilian world to further intensify the SO Mania laws.
Much remains to be done and the stakes are very very high.
As you might see in my Posts on the other site, the entire Framing Vision and Constitutional Vision have been quietly abandoned, replaced by what are essentially Marxist-Leninist principles. (Making, in the process, this country not so much the victor over Marxist-Leninist Communism but rather the heir to it.)
Indeed, it was precisely this quiet but lethal (and it still may turn out to be a fatal one) shift within the Beltway with all its deal-making pols and professional ‘advocates’ and their wagon-train of assorted cottage-industry Mania entrepreneurs and law professors who think the shift has been the cutting-edge of world-historical reform and progress, that enabled the SO Mania Regime to get started in the first place.
You had to have convinced yourself that a totalitarian state (in so ‘good’ a cause) was a good idea before you could set up such a police-state regime as the SO Mania with its laws.
This New Year is going to be very important.
Let us so bear ourselves that it will be our finest hour.
*You are invited to look at two longish Posts up on my other site, where I examine some of the basic elements of the long term radical-feminist strategies. Here and here. And if you hadn't already seen it, you might also want to see my Post on Supreme Court Justice William Brennan, who made so much bad look like such a good thing.
These Posts trace how the radical-feminists deployed Marxist-Leninist strategies to deconstruct the ‘hegemonic’ culture of ‘white, male, oppression’. This includes attacking any elements of that culture – including the Constitutional principles, democratic process, and – but of course – ‘males’. And this is where things become SO/SA/SV-relevant, since ‘sex’ is considered to be the basis of the entire ‘male hegemony’ and any way that one can attack males through the use of sex-charges contributes greatly to the overall Plan.
And that Plan is not merely to make life unconstitutionally hell for any SO or accused SO, but in a much larger focus to get rid of the patriarchy and the Constitution which – in the cadres’ view – supports and embodies it.
In case you want to put some substance behind what you might have been suspecting for decades now, I can humbly recommend reading the Posts and perhaps following up with your own research.
In that regard, let me take this opportunity to wish much peace upon SO’s and their families. I know that my approach is somewhat different from other SO sites in that I don’t focus on the travails of individual accused or convicted SO’s or their families. Please be assured that this is not out of any lack of concern.
Rather, it stems from my desire to a) demonstrate to the SO community that we are all engaged in much more profound work than the average bear would give us credit for – work which is vitally important not only to SO’s and their families but to all Citizens; and from my desire b) to somehow help the SO community gain the confidence of a Larger vision of what the stakes are, which perhaps c) might be of some use when those SO folks who meet with those in government power are trying to make their case on behalf of the SO mission.
I am including here a pair of the Comments I made on one of the site threads.
They are sequential, the second one responding to a reply-comment to the first one.
It's not what might be changed about the law. It goes much deeper than that.
The problem is using the criminal law against children. If they haven't reached the age of reason then the criminal law is (or should be) inapplicable as a means of dealing with them. This stems from the principle that to commit a crime you must a) provably commit the proscribed act and b) provably have the fully comprehended intention of committing the proscribed act.
Certain 'progressive' elements now want the law to pooh-pooh the 'principles' approach and just deploy the criminal law, like putting an automatic weapon on 'burst' mode and simply spraying the crowd.
This stems, I think, from the 'progressive' dilemma: having deconstructed the family and marriage and parental authority and largely the entire realm of pre-existing principles, while simultaneously having 'valorized' so-called 'total autonomy' for kids, they now have to deal with cohorts of kids who have been raised with no real sense of right or wrong or the ability to master their own urges and drives, let alone Shape them constructively.
The progressive-liberals’ solution - and it's not a good one - is simply to use the criminal law to replace the missing competences that should have been instilled by family and parental authority and education into the principled-life. Thus whatever 'actions' shouldn't be done, should simply be 'criminalized'.
But this dangerously engorges the police power of the State, already invited into the hearths and bedrooms of the Citizenry by the domestic-violence advocacy and persuaded to enact the eerily Stasi-like sex offense registration laws - and those are only the most obvious examples of the engorgement of the sovereign police power at the insistence of the Left (we had always thought that only the Right's law-and-order folk would invite the dangerous return to Leviathan, but over the past 25 years it has been the Left even more so).
I think this whole issue offers the chance to reflect on the larger and deeper concerns: there is a grave risk in all this use of the criminal-law as a substitute for 'raising children in principles' and as a 'teaching' tool and 'to send a message': the careful balance of the Constitutional machinery will be deranged and the tilt toward an invasive police state will begin.
And that tilt will also be assisted by a civil society already weakened by the weakness of its core source of vitality, which is not the government at all, but rather the vital social links that start with parenting and the family and extend out horizontally to others similarly engaged.
Progressive victimism - while perhaps well-intentioned - is as great a danger to the Constitutional balance as the old law-and-order Right of yore.
And the second:
The point about shame is well-taken. The world would be a lot better place if people didn't do things they would be ashamed of.
But what I am talking about is the criminal-law and in short order that takes us right to the profound matter of Constitutional balance and first principles.
And it is there that I would say we have to insist that you can't use the criminal law as a shaming device. There is too much at stake in terms of Leviathan and the engorgement of the police-power of the government. The Framers used the Constitutional machinery to limit the government.
They did this both because a) they didn't trust an expansive police-power in human hands and b) because they realized that government is not the core of a nation's or a polity's or a society's or a culture's life: that vital primary life is carried on by the people in their daily lives.
What has happened in the past 25 or 30 years is that under the mantra of 'the personal is political' the government has been invited into the most personal areas of every Citizen's life, and precisely with its police-power.
I can think of no greater danger to the Framing Vision.
Also, it would take a government with the knowledge and wisdom formerly ascribed to God to effect this type of authority wisely and without ill-consequence. And the Framers knew that no humans and no human government could be relied upon to exercise such omniscience as well as omnipotence.
If this sounds like a whole lot of 'basic stuff' and 'old stuff' then I can only say that this is precisely the level on which so much of the past 30 years' worth of laws were NOT examined and thus it is precisely here that we must look for why there seem to be so many problems with not only the specific laws but with the entire Constitutional machinery now.
And, since baaaad ideas tend to migrate in the Beltway, you can even see the results in foreign policy now, where the government claimed the right to invade Libya because women were reportedly being raped by Viagra-crazed troops and it is the right of any government to invade to stop such pain and outrage. On that basis, any government can claim the right to invade any other country.
It's funny how the constitutional night moves, but there you have it.