Tag Archives: bad news

Weekend Update 12/7/2019: So many bad men…

“If kids got raped by clowns as often as they get raped by priests it would be illegal to take your kids to the circus.” —Dan Savage
“If kids got raped by clowns as often as they get raped by priests it would be illegal to take your kids to the circus.” —Dan Savage
This is going to be a slightly different iteration of my semi-regular Weekend Update posts. Usually what I post in these entries is either a news story that I didn’t see until after I finished the weeks’ Friday Five entry, or new developments in a story that I have included in any Friday Five or Weekend Update post. This week, though, all but one of the stories listed below had come across my usual news feed and had been bookmarked before Thursday evening. I considered putting them in as a category in the Friday Five, but as of Thursday it was eight stories, not five, and the idea of choosing a “top five” out of these struck me as wrong.

First, let’s let some of the headlines speak for themselves:

Anti-Gay Bishop Quits In Sexual Abuse Coverup Scandal.

Alabama evangelist Acton Bowen pleads guilty to 28 sex crimes – Televangelist Guilty Of Molesting Multiple Boys.

Christian Bible College President Charged With Sexual Assault Of Teen Male On Flight Returning From Israel – Pastor Cornelius Tilton charged with sexually assaulting student on flight.

Colorado youth pastor sentenced 50 years for sexual exploitation of a child and assault.

Former Midlands youth pastor pleads to lesser charge after sexual assault allegations.

Former volunteer youth pastor at Arkansas church sentenced for sexually assaulting teen.

And this one nearly local to me: Church youth leader from Marysville charged with child molestation.

Youth pastor Conte gets five-year prison sentence on sex charges.

The Dan Savage quote above really sums it up: we have had the means to notice this epidemic for decades, but we continue to turn a blind eye to it. We let religious institutions shame the victims of their leaders. We let them move offenders to new jobs where they still have access to the types of people they victimize. We often give the religious institutions a pass when we discover that they have aided and abetted in these crimes.

Worse than that, we keep acting surprised when a religious leader (or a politician who flaunts their religious beliefs) who has been vehemently anti-gay turns out to be a sexual criminal of one sort or another. Instead of recognizing the pattern and staying on the look out of other telltale signs, we talk about how it’s just an opinion, or hide behind that disingenuous phrase “traditional values.”

We’re starting to get better. One of the previous times I wrote about the specific tendency of sexual predators to seek out jobs as Youth Pastors, I griped about the fact that news organizations often didn’t identify the arrested or convicted person as a pastor. They would often bury the fact that the criminal was a former paster somewhere in the story. Because once the situation gets to an arrest, the church or other religious institution has (sometimes very reluctantly) fired the person. That pissed me off for a couple of reasons. If a doctor is fired by a hospital, we still refer to that person as a doctor. They are currently unemployed, but they are still a doctor.

And it is newsworthy how the sex predator used the culture of religious institutions to commit their crimes. Also, very importantly: the sexual predators were employed as pastors are the time they committed the crimes.

So notice that in several of the stories above the news agency hasn’t just used the religious title in the headline, in more of the cases they didn’t put the word “former.” Though I admit that in two of the stories above, the first version I saw included that designation as a former pastor, and I specifically looked for other stories about the same crimes that didn’t do that. I failed on one, but the fact that I could find those headlines is, I think a little bit of progress.

I have one other story I consider to be in the same category as the others, even though it involves neither a pastor nor any allegations of sexual assault:

Father Abandoned Son on Side of Highway Because He Thought He Might Be Gay. This story as a few more details on the same incident: Father Charged With Abandoning “Gay” Child Outside Closed Police Station For Them To Find Him New Family.

Why do I consider this the same as the others: one of the most galling aspects of the pastor-as-sexual-molester phenomenon, is that the predator is supposed to be looking out for and even protecting the people they victimize. We also know that the reason so many of these predators go into the ministry and spout their homophobic opinions is to deflect from their own sexual proclivities. Society pressures people to be ashamed of their sexual orientation, and one of the symptoms of that toxicity is the homophobia-spouting sexual predator.

The father who abandoned his son on the road was supposed to care for that child. He is supposed to protect him from bad forces in the world around him, including homophobia. He’s not supposed to be one of those bad forces attacking his son. And he feels free to be such a bad force because of that same toxicity that society fosters—the entire homophobic/misogynist/xenophobic stew that people call “traditional values.”

I don’t have any sum-up for this, other than to say that abusive behavior, sexual or otherwise, isn’t a bug in the traditional values system—it’s a feature.

Thoughts & Prayers, again

“My thoughts and prayers are with the Senators that voted down gun control. My thoughts: do your job. My prayer: you're voted out of office.” —Betty White
“My thoughts and prayers are with the Senators that voted down gun control. My thoughts: do your job. My prayer: you’re voted out of office.” —Betty White

I’m on a mini vacation, so I haven’t been paying as much attention to the news as usual since posting last Friday’s round up of links. So one of the first things I looked at when waking up this morning was my blog site, where I saw a whole bunch of hits on one of my posts from June 2016: Why thoughts and prayers are worse than inadequate which filled me with dread. It did not take long to find comments and news articles about the shooting in Vegas: Las Vegas shooting: At least 58 dead, 515 hurt in Mandalay Bay shooting.

I could rant about the usual suspects saying now is not to time to discuss control, and the usual BS about thoughts and prayers.


This cartoon by Kristian Nygard (which can be found at Optipess.com) gets shared a lot. (click to embiggen)
This cartoon by Kristian Nygard (which can be found at Optipess.com) gets shared a lot. (click to embiggen)

I’ve already said so much on the topic of gun violence and our society’s refusal to do anything about it: They used to insist that drunk driving couldn’t be reduced, either and Oh, lord, the leaping! and #TwoMenKissing and why the Orlando Pulse shooting was a punch in my gut

I’m angry. I’ll be calling my congresspeople (even though they’re all progressive Democrats). But I’m not going to write about this yet again. I’m feeling a lot like Alvin McEwen of the Holy Bullies and Headless Monsters news blog: “I can’t preach or talk about anything in my usual critical stance, folks. Nor do I feel like putting out news briefs. God, I feel so very bad over the entire thing. It’s a kind of sadness that takes away all of your purpose and makes you ask why. Nothing else. Just why. But I find that when things like this happen, it helps to let the feeling wash over you. Don’t try to keep them inside. And do something light.”

So, I’m going to go do something light before getting back to work

“Thoughts and prayers do nothing! Maybe it's time to actually do something about it”
“Thoughts and prayers do nothing! Maybe it’s time to actually do something about it”

Weekend Update: 7/11/2015

The folks at Queerty.Com have asked comedian Sam Kalidi to create a new meme each week for Queerty readers. This is this weeks. They want you to share it! (Click to embiggen)
The folks at Queerty.Com have asked comedian Sam Kalidi to create a new meme each week for Queerty readers. This is this weeks. They want you to share it! (Click to embiggen)
Yesterday’s Friday Links was epically longer than usual. There was just so much crazy news this last week!

Among those links were stories about state and local officials defying the Supreme Court ruling declaring bans against marriage equality unconstitutional. Some of those officials are rethinking: Sioux County Clerk reverses course, will issue same-sex marriage licenses. As lots of people have been reported, these individual officers and their counties are getting sued, and they are going to lose those lawsuits to the cost of hundreds of thousands of dollars each since the U.S. Supreme Court has issued a very clear rulling. Any good (not crazy) lawyer will tell them that. And some of them apparently are getting advised by good lawyers after the news stories are reported: Van Buren clerk says she won’t issue marriage licenses: UPDATE: Changes tune. Some are getting better legal advice from their governors: Governor to Casey County clerk: Issue marriage licenses or resign, but digging in their heels anyway: Kentucky Anti-gay County Clerk Remains Defiant After Governor Tells Him to Do His Job or Resign – VIDEO

Alvin McEwan (who runs the excellent Holy Bullies and Headless Monsters blog) sums up the real issue very well in Anti-LGBT Christian organizations are exploiting county clerks and peddling lies about marriage equality:

Individuals like Tony Perkins and Bryan Fischer and organizations such as the National Organization for Marriage, the Family Research Council, or the American Family Association want a resistance against marriage equality… As if they are puppeteers, anti-gay organizations and personalities are pulling the strings, buoying the arrogance and recklessness of clerks and various other government officials and thereby manipulating them to refuse to carry out their duties… Anti-gay groups are attempting to manipulate us all into an unnecessary holy war in which they hope to reap the benefits of pointing and saying “see, we told you so.”

Related, there are a couple of stories making the rounds (particularly on the Facebook pages of your most conservative relatives and former classmates) that are trying to fan the same flames: Gay Man Sues Bible Publisher For $70M For Causing Him Distress, Turns Out He’s Not Crazy. While he isn’t crazy in that there are some big problems with Biblical translations, he filed the suit seven years ago and it was thrown out. The other one is partially true and current, but there is a very important detail being left out: Oregon bakers forced to pay $135,000 after sharing lesbian couple’s home address. So the fine isn’t for refusing to sell the cake, it’s for publishing private information of customers (who they refused) leading to so many death threats to the couple, the social services almost removed foster children from the home for fear that those loving Christians leaving the death threats might actually follow through.

It’s not all crazy people over-reacting to a little civil rights, thank goodness. The Wonkette reported on Vice President Biden’s speech at the Freedom to Marry Victory Gala, Afternoon Nicest Time: The Time Young Handsome Joe Biden Fell In Love With Gay Marriage. If you don’t want to go watch the video clips at Wonkette, The Seattle Lesbian Blog provides a transcript: Transcript: VP Biden at Freedom to Marry Celebration of Victory.

Completely unrelated to all of that: one particular link in yesterday’s post caused one friend to stop reading and send me a message to tell me it stopped him from looking at the rest. It was a story about a particularly awful child abuse incident which I put under the heading “This Week in Heart-wrenching” because like any child abuse case it was heart-wrenching. This is not the first time someone has told me they wish I wouldn’t include bad news in the links.

I don’t want to get into a weird pedantic argument about what constitutes bad news, other than to say that each person who has made that request has also, at other times, commented on other links to things that someone would classify as bad news in ways indicating that they were glad I linked to it.

But I do want to talk a little bit about why I include links like that. One of the other links under the same heading was about efforts to identify the body of a dead child. I believe that as a human being (let alone a citizen), I have an obligation to that murdered child. She deserves to be buried with her name. She deserves to have law enforcement find out how she was murdered and at least attempt to bring her killers to justice. Both of those things require that she be identified. If I can increase the chances, no matter how little, by sharing the link to the artist’s reconstruction of her face, I think I should do it. That one, for me, is a no-brainer.

Also, literally no-brainer in that the reason both of those links ended up in Friday Links was because I saw the headline in my news aggregator, I clicked on it out of emotional reaction. Then I read the stories. They were both heart-wrenching, and I tapped the share link to send to my list for Friday Links as a totally visceral, emotional, non-rational surge of “Oh My Goodness! This is too horrible to be ignored!”

That’s how those sorts of stories get into the list.

For a long, long time sex advice columnist, gay rights activist, and Seattle gadfly Dan Savage has had a continuing feature on the blog of the local alternative weekly’s paper called “Every Child Deserves a Mother and a Father.” He started it because, when he and his husband adopted a baby 17-or-so years ago, they began being harassed by even more threats, hit-pieces in conservative news sources, and so forth by various anti-gay people. The charge that the reason queer couples shouldn’t be allowed to adopt, shouldn’t be allowed to have civil unions, and shouldn’t be allowed to marry is always couched in an argument that children can only properly and lovingly be raised by a pair of opposite-sex parents because reasons. The argument usually summed up as “every child deserves a mother and a father. So any time a story of a straight couple abusing (sometimes to the point of murdering) a child crossed his news feed, Dan would share it under the “Every Child Deserves a Mother and a Father” heading. His point being that the mere fact that the adults raising a child don’t have matching genitals never guarantees that the children will be loved and cared for.

This feature always drew its detractors, too. “You don’t have to share these horrible stories to make your point,” or “Don’t make it sound like you’re happy to have your point proven correct” et cetera. For a while in reaction to those comments, Dan started including links to charities such as The National Children’s Alliance or The Child Help Foundation, giving those of us who read the stories of the horrible abuse an option to do something to help. Which maybe I should do the next time one of these stories winds up ripping my heart out and making we want to share the story.

I didn’t include the story because I was trying to make a political statement. I included it because it was heart wrenching, because I think it is too horrible to be ignored. I can’t save either of those kids. Sharing the news won’t bring either one back. But pretending I don’t know about their deaths doesn’t do anything to prevent other cases like theirs, either.

I don’t have any clever conclusion to this digression. All I can say is that there is a National Child Abuse Hotline (1-800-4-A-Child/1-800-422-4453) that anyone can call if you suspect a child is in danger and you’re not sure who to notify. There is a lot of social pressure to hope for the best, to assume that the parent or significant other of the parent is just having a bad day. There is a fear of getting an innocent person in trouble. And there is an aversion to even thinking about the bad things that might be happening out of sight. All of those things contribute to cases like the sad one I linked to Friday.

So I share it as a reminder that there are awful people in this world who don’t always look awful. To make us mindful. To, maybe, encourage someone who has seen something like this, to call someone before the next child dies.

National Child Abuse Hotline (1-800-4-A-Child/1-800-422-4453)