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March 13, 2010 7:25 PM   Subscribe

Let's talk about Catholicism on metafilter...

Can we have a thread about Catholics that doesn't end with calling for the abolition of the church and blanket condemnations of the entire church hierarchy as a pedophile ring and organized crime syndicate? As a lapsed-Catholic with a very Catholic family, I find it pretty distasteful. I'm not asking for censorship or anything, but it seems that piling on Catholics seems to be acceptable here, but lolxtian threads in general are not.

Also, lazy and ignorant shots at Catholic doctrine like "The pope is infallible, therefore you are all wrong!" (favorited, too!) are a little tired.

more:
"I would make my shocked face but I'm afraid our local priest would stick his dick in it."

"How many more of these will it take before this 2000 year old confidence game and criminal racket is brought down? How can people be so stupid as to continue looking to these monsters for moral guidance?"

etc, it doesn't take much looking to find pretty offensive stuff...
posted by empath to Etiquette/Policy at 7:25 PM (452 comments total) 5 users marked this as a favorite

I'm not even THAT annoyed by it, because I've been known to spout off about the Catholic church at family gatherings, but it seems awfully one sided at times, and I'm wondering if it's because either A) there are no Catholics that read metafilter or B) The Catholics that read metafilter don't feel comfortable defending the church because of the atmosphere here.
posted by empath at 7:29 PM on March 13, 2010 [3 favorites]


I agree that people should try and be more respectable.

But if someone makes a joke like the one you mentioned, "The pope is infallible, therefore you are all wrong!", are they really being ignorant? My families Catholic and I've been to 8 years of CCD and as far as I know, that's the belief.
posted by kylej at 7:29 PM on March 13, 2010


orthogonality said it best.
posted by boubelium at 7:29 PM on March 13, 2010 [14 favorites]


"I would make my shocked face but I'm afraid our local priest would stick his dick in it."

Wait, we're not sidebarring that?
posted by phaedon at 7:31 PM on March 13, 2010 [39 favorites]


Yeah, they are. The pope is not infallible in all cases. Only when speaking Ex Cathedra, and I believe the last time that was done was 100 years ago, on some doctrinal issue involving Mary.
posted by empath at 7:31 PM on March 13, 2010 [3 favorites]


orthogonality said it best.

Calling a religious minority stupid, which has suffered from discrimination in the past due to anti-Catholic bigotry in this country is not simply 'expressing' an opinion. It's offensive. Would you be okay with calling Jews stupid for supporting Israel?
posted by empath at 7:34 PM on March 13, 2010


please stop asking for the mods to protect you from reading things you disagree with.

That may be his perspective, but it's not totally in line with how we feel that the site should run. People should have some level of being decent to each other and we're willing to enforce that. The thread really was not great out of the gate. I'm not sure what there was to say about it except "wow that totally and completely sucks" though the infallibility of the pope angle really was interesting but was almost guaranteed not going to be the main topic of the thread. We watched it go up, watched it evolve, watched a lot of the usual suspects say the same damned things and felt a little powerless to make it do anything other than what it did to.

To be clear: people attacking other posters or being totally assholish about religion in broad brush ways is not so great. People specifically talking about the role of the pope in the huge child abuse scandal that has been rocking the Catholic Church for the last several decades.... it's hard to figure out which comments are on topic and which are not. Obviously please flag lulzy child rape jokes, but "hey the Catholic church is dangerous to children" stuff? I'm really not sure how I personally [not modly] feel about that and that may be complicating the issue.
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 7:35 PM on March 13, 2010 [9 favorites]


Yeah, they are. The pope is not infallible in all cases. Only when speaking Ex Cathedra, and I believe the last time that was done was 100 years ago, on some doctrinal issue involving Mary.

I honestly had no idea that this was true, and I bet that I've had much more Catholic education than the majority of mefites. You might want to point this out to people and try to educate them rather than just calling them ignorant and lazy.
posted by kylej at 7:35 PM on March 13, 2010 [4 favorites]


I don't think we need to delete comments or anything, I don't like doing that in general. Just trying to make people realize that hey, there are real Catholics reading metafilter out there and folks who have friends and family members who are very serious about being Catholic, and who are not stupid or deluded, and what you are saying might be a little hurtful.

And sure, you know Catholics could jump in and correct all the myths and untruths in every single thread, but it does get a little tiring, especially when it feels like it's you vs all of metafilter.
posted by empath at 7:40 PM on March 13, 2010 [2 favorites]


Personally, I have a whole list of topics I will not read about on MetaFilter, because despite all the self-contratulatory "we're so much smarter and better than everybody else on the internet" stuff that goes on around here (and that may be true, but talk about being a winner in a slow race) there are a lot of assholes here, and a lot of sloppy thinking, and a lot of ignorance, and a lot of bias dressed up as informed opinion, and way more indoctrinated mainstreamy uninformed fallacy-laden thinking than people would want to admit.

The proliferation of these MetaTalk threads, and the regularity of their appearance, should tell you that there is no hope of site-wide change on these things. The answer to your question, "Can we have a thread about Catholics that doesn't end with calling for the abolition of the church and blanket condemnations of the entire church hierarchy as a pedophile ring and organized crime syndicate?" is, "No, we almost certainly can't."

You cannot force people to change their behavior, and if you've ever dipped into one of the previous MetaTalk threads similar to this one, you'll know that you are not likely to persuade them to, either. You can only change your own, by not clicking on certain links. My advice is that you make your own list of posts to ignore, and that the first item on your list be, "posts about Catholicism." Your life will improve immediately.
posted by not that girl at 7:40 PM on March 13, 2010 [33 favorites]


If people want to read more about the infallibility of the church and the pope, you can check out these links, because it's pretty complex.
posted by kylej at 7:41 PM on March 13, 2010


I don't come to MetaFilter for the debate. I come here for the discussion.

To me this does not mean in-thread assertions and refutations. I would much rather be able to trust other MeFites to come to a discussion with more potential for good faith assumption of good intent, open minds and a willingness to learn about others' points of view.

If I wanted debate I would seek that out on another site. I associate MetaFilter instead with reasoned discussion associated with mutual respect shared with strangers and a strong bias toward intelligent conversation.

In summary I don't agree that orthogonality said it best.
posted by kalessin at 7:43 PM on March 13, 2010 [21 favorites]


My advice is that you make your own list of posts to ignore, and that the first item on your list be, "posts about Catholicism."

Right, fine for me, but I think the site is worse off for it if there are no Catholics reading and responding to the threads about Catholicism. I mean, I'm an atheist and the threads annoy me because I have Catholic family members. I can only imagine how they must read to folks who are actually seriously Catholic.
posted by empath at 7:46 PM on March 13, 2010 [1 favorite]


Calling a religious minority stupid, which has suffered from discrimination in the past due to anti-Catholic bigotry in this country is not simply 'expressing' an opinion. It's offensive. Would you be okay with calling Jews stupid for supporting Israel?

How is the world's largest (by a huge margin) Christian church, a minority?
posted by atrazine at 7:47 PM on March 13, 2010 [8 favorites]


boubelium: "3orthogonality said it best"

I agree that it's better for stupid, offensive rubbish to be challenged and refuted in thread rather than disappeared in the middle of the night by a moderator. As far as I know, deleted comments cannot be recovered, even by strange Greasemonkey magicks, which is the opposite of what Metafilter is for.

A month ago I made a poorly worded comment on AskMeFi about the relative danger of HIV in unprotected, anonymous homosexual hookups versus hetersexual ones. I actually stand by the original intent of that comment, but it was pointed out to me, and I agree, that I phrased it in an overly vague way that also implicated stably monogamous homosexual sex. I think being called out of my mistake was far more educational than seeing my comment silently flagged and deleted. This is how we should handle such situations.

The problem is that, as empath points out, that doesn't seem to happen with Catholic-bashing. Somone did point out that the pope has only spoken ex cathedra a handful of times in the entire history of the church, but I think the far more offensive comments are the completely unsubstantiated, unsubstantiable "that's not even wrong" stuff like

"I would make my shocked face but I'm afraid our local priest would stick his dick in it."

Ask yourself, would this stay unflagged for ten seconds if he's written "homosexual" or "black man" instead of "priest"?

I'm afraid that, as far as Catholic-bashing in that thread is concerned, Metafilter is actually developing a sort of echo chamber effect. There are some ridiculously offensive statements in there that are actually favorited and quoted positively. It's terrible, and even as an atheist who reads the Old Testament for giggles, it's offensive to me that such comments are allowed to stand.
posted by d. z. wang at 7:50 PM on March 13, 2010 [8 favorites]


As a longtime lurker & minimalist poster, I'm ashamed to admit how often I've been rubbernecking these sorts of Metatalk threads as of late.
posted by Hesychia at 7:51 PM on March 13, 2010 [4 favorites]


How is the world's largest (by a huge margin) Christian church, a minority?

Because it's a minority in many places, including metafilter. Though they are ton of black people in Africa, you wouldn't make the claim that they're not a minority in the United States.
posted by kylej at 7:51 PM on March 13, 2010 [7 favorites]


And hey, another excuse for VikingSword to ride his favorite hobby horse as a bonus. I mean, how do you engage in discussion with a guy like that.
posted by empath at 7:52 PM on March 13, 2010


Anti-Catholicism

In the 1830s and 1840s, prominent Protestant leaders as Lyman Beecher and Horace Bushnell attacked the Catholic Church as not only theologically unsound but also an enemy of republican values.[citation needed] Some scholars view the anti-Catholic rhetoric of Beecher and Bushnell as having contributed to anti-Irish and anti-Catholic mob violence.[10]
Beecher's well-known Plea for the West (1835) urged Protestants to exclude Catholics from western settlements. The Catholic Church's official silence on the subject of slavery also garnered the enmity of northern Protestants. Intolerance became more than an attitude on 11 August 1834, when a mob set fire to an Ursuline convent in Charlestown, Massachusetts.
The resulting "nativist" movement, which achieved prominence in the 1840s, was whipped into a frenzy of anti-Catholicism that led to mob violence, the burning of Catholic property, and the killing of Catholics.[11] This violence was fed by claims that Catholics were destroying the culture of the United States. Irish Catholic immigrants were blamed for spreading violence and drunkness.[12]
The nativist movement found expression in a national political movement called the Know-Nothing Party of the 1850s, which (unsuccessfully) ran former president Millard Fillmore as its presidential candidate in 1856.


IAnd keep in mind, that it wasn't that long ago that electing a Catholic president was about as unlikely as electing a black man.
posted by empath at 7:54 PM on March 13, 2010 [2 favorites]


If Gos is all powerful, can he make a rock so heavy that even he can't lift it?
posted by fixedgear at 7:55 PM on March 13, 2010


Ask yourself, would this stay unflagged for ten seconds if he's written "homosexual" or "black man" instead of "priest"?

Yes, if it were posted during one of the four days a year when all the mods aren't home. I deleted it, it was crap.
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 8:00 PM on March 13, 2010


I mean, I'm an atheist and the threads annoy me because I have Catholic family members. I can only imagine how they must read to folks who are actually seriously Catholic.

Atheist, raised catholic here. I frankly am not too concerned about catholic sensibilities, at least until the slightest fraction of catholics (including those to which I'm related) become concerned with mine. Until then, I'll just have to settle with being continually harangued about catholics re: the fate of my soul, and enjoying one of the few places where catholics get kicked around a little.
posted by nevercalm at 8:02 PM on March 13, 2010 [8 favorites]


I'm the son of a preacher man (so obviosly not Catholic). I was also a religion minor in college and dated a Catholic (her family did not recognize Vatican II). I still read a lot of books on religion and can get caught up in the stories and politics of the church.

I wouldn't call myself ignorant when it comes to religion. Irreverent yes. But the joke wouldn't have been a joke if I had to qualify what constituted Papal Infalibility.

Considering the subject matter of the post I find it ironic that my joke is what is percieved as offensive.
posted by cjorgensen at 8:05 PM on March 13, 2010


Gos be praised!
posted by flapjax at midnite at 8:05 PM on March 13, 2010 [3 favorites]


Come on, you can't even link to the thread you're calling out? Way to be lazy. Don't assume everyone knows what you're talking about.
posted by Rhomboid at 8:08 PM on March 13, 2010 [2 favorites]


Can we have a thread about Catholics [that is tagged with the words catholic, church, children, sex, abuse and pedophile, and directly implicates the Pope in a sex abuse scandal] that doesn't end with calling for the abolition of the church and blanket condemnations of the entire church hierarchy as a pedophile ring and organized crime syndicate?

I literally can't think of a better place.
posted by phaedon at 8:11 PM on March 13, 2010 [4 favorites]


orthogonality said it best.

No, he really, really didn't.

In that comment, orthogonality said that attacks against individuals are touchy, but that attacks against groups are fine. How is that possibly okay around here?

Is it okay to speak in broad terms about race? Gender? Sexuality? Certainly not. Religion? Well, I guess it depends what religion one is involved with. Muslims, Jews and Hindus are probably "protected" under the orthogonality rule, but Catholics and other Christians are not.

While I'd rather we discuss actual issues than attack anyone, at least individuals can be considered responsible for themselves. Orthogonality proposed that the larger a group of people, the more monolithic they are. This is bullshit, and we shouldn't act this way.
posted by Navelgazer at 8:14 PM on March 13, 2010 [9 favorites]


Maybe it's just because I grew up in (and live in again) a state that is predominantly Catholic, but this thread comes off to me like a middle class white male complaining about discrimination against middle class white males.
posted by amro at 8:15 PM on March 13, 2010 [7 favorites]


Atheist, raised catholic here. I frankly am not too concerned about catholic sensibilities, at least until the slightest fraction of catholics (including those to which I'm related) become concerned with mine. Until then, I'll just have to settle with being continually harangued about catholics re: the fate of my soul, and enjoying one of the few places where catholics get kicked around a little.

Let me know when these two wrongs make a right.
posted by mpbx at 8:15 PM on March 13, 2010 [2 favorites]


Ask yourself, would this stay unflagged for ten seconds if he's written "homosexual" or "black man" instead of "priest"?

The concept of free will, particularly as it pertains to theology, is accepted by most Catholics, as well as the Vatican. It's not correct even in the slightest to draw comparisons between priests, black men and homosexuals in the manner you're doing.
posted by dhammond at 8:17 PM on March 13, 2010 [13 favorites]


I honestly had no idea that this was true, and I bet that I've had much more Catholic education than the majority of mefites. You might want to point this out to people and try to educate them rather than just calling them ignorant and lazy.

I knew about it, and I've never been to a Catholic church in my life. I don't think it's an unfair expectation for an educated person to know the basics of the major religions' beliefs, and it's not like this is some obscure thing. Especially if you're going to make derogatory jokes with a particular doctrine as the punchline. "Ignorant" isn't an unfair accusation. There are much worse things to be than ignorant, though - you can fix the problem pretty easily.
posted by DecemberBoy at 8:20 PM on March 13, 2010 [5 favorites]


Maybe it's just because I grew up in (and live in again) a state that is predominantly Catholic, but this thread comes off to me like a middle class white male complaining about discrimination against middle class white males.

Most Catholics in the US are not middle class whites, I don't think.
posted by empath at 8:20 PM on March 13, 2010 [2 favorites]


How is that possibly okay around here?

Well, there have been several MeTa threads posing this question in the past few days, right? The answer is, it's NOT, but people often do, say, and think things that are not okay because they didn't agree with their $5 to not be assholes so the mods do the best they can but it's gonna happen anyway.

I'm beginning to wonder what the value of posing the question is in a substantive way. What it actually accomplishes for anyone other than 500+ comments of offense and offended. It doesn't seem to change behavior.
posted by liketitanic at 8:21 PM on March 13, 2010


Most Catholics in the US are not middle class whites, I don't think.

Yeah... That's not what I was saying.
posted by amro at 8:22 PM on March 13, 2010 [4 favorites]


Calling a religious minority stupid, which has suffered from discrimination in the past due to anti-Catholic bigotry in this country is not simply 'expressing' an opinion.

I'm sure that the single largest, and probably richest, religious group in the world, can probably get along just fine without your support.
posted by rodgerd at 8:23 PM on March 13, 2010 [3 favorites]


(actually, I'm wrong, only 30% of the Church in the US is Hispanic as of 2004, but I'm sure that's grown a lot since then.) And for what it's worth, only 22% of Americans are Catholic, which does make them a minority.
posted by empath at 8:24 PM on March 13, 2010


As a former Catholic altar boy, I don't see a problem with calling the religion out. If the Church or anyone else wants to get upset over some comments on a website, whatever. The religious leaders committed some pretty serious sins with the sex abuse scandals and they (and by proxy the religion) have earned every shitty comment made about its behavior and actions in that matter.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 8:24 PM on March 13, 2010 [12 favorites]


As someone whose posting history is rife with "Catholic defending the church" comments, I think the OP makes a lot of fair points here. The kind of lulzy typecasting of priests in these threads is really the kind of stuff that belongs on the schoolyard, and the attempt to make blanket statements about the intelligence of a religious faith that has over a billion people in it and quite frankly isn't all that unified in ideology is just ignorant.

There is a common theme in all of the callout threads lately - if your comment essentially boils down to "your kind of people are stupid and my kind of people aren't", then it's not worth posting.
posted by l33tpolicywonk at 8:25 PM on March 13, 2010 [6 favorites]


Can we have a thread about Catholics that doesn't end with calling for the abolition of the church and blanket condemnations of the entire church hierarchy as a pedophile ring and organized crime syndicate?

Dunno. But if the FPP itself is about pedophilia by Catholic clergy and the various ways the entire church hierarchy - up to and including the pope - has been implicated in covering up these egregious, indefensible crimes? Yeah, that's not where I'm gonna go looking to remenisce about this groovy young priest back in high school who used to play rock & roll in religious studies class.

As a lapsed-Catholic with a very Catholic family, I find it pretty distasteful.

As a lapsed-Catholic with a mostly still very Catholic family, up to and including the uncle I never met who was almost certainly sexually abused as an altar boy and eventually basically committed suicide by binge-drinking, I find the fact that you came into that thread to play the victim card on behalf of the Catholics (again, including most of my family) who tacitly support this institutionalized sexual abuse by refusing to question the authority of the church and its officers no matter how stomach-churningly awful the latest revelation and the fact that you are now extending that feel-my-pain vibe to the grey - yeah, I find that pretty distasteful.

But, you know, I don't need my very own grey sandbox to stomp around in about it or anything.
posted by gompa at 8:27 PM on March 13, 2010 [37 favorites]


As a former Catholic altar boy, I don't see a problem with calling the religion out.

Yeah, but call it out on actual things it does, not imagined crap like "LOL they think the Pope is infallible so any stupid thing he ever says is true! That's so wacky!". It's like, if you said "hey, you're from Texas, and a lot of people from there are mean, stupid yokels who vote for evil fucks", I'd agree with you. However, if you said "hey, you're from Texas, and I think it's stupid how you all ride horses everywhere, don't you know about cars?", I'd just kind of look at you like you're a moron.
posted by DecemberBoy at 8:27 PM on March 13, 2010 [8 favorites]


(actually, I'm wrong, only 30% of the Church in the US is Hispanic as of 2004, but I'm sure that's grown a lot since then.)

Again, because I guess I'm not being clear: I was making an analogy.
posted by amro at 8:28 PM on March 13, 2010


That's okay, feel free to stomp around in mine.
posted by empath at 8:29 PM on March 13, 2010 [1 favorite]


This is ridiculous. That was a thread about the church's unabashed and continued support of pedophiles, by moving them from place of power to place of power. It is and should be an incredible blemish on the church itself, and to its members. The Catholic Church is harboring child rapists. Child. Rapists.

You want a pro-Catholic post? Make one. I'm sure there are a lot of wonderful things (probably some even on the web) that the church is doing. This is not one of them, and expecting people to be nice when the church seems intent on continuing this travesty is absurd.
posted by graventy at 8:29 PM on March 13, 2010 [26 favorites]


I'm sure that the single largest, and probably richest, religious group in the world, can probably get along just fine without your support.

The Catholic Church is a different thing from the congregation, and is not in any way a democracy. The Church has done awful things which should not be visited upon the faithful. Please stop trying to defend bigotry by claiming that the subject of your generalizations can handle it.
posted by Navelgazer at 8:29 PM on March 13, 2010 [2 favorites]


That's okay, feel free to stomp around in mine.

Huh?
posted by amro at 8:32 PM on March 13, 2010


This is ridiculous. That was a thread about the church's unabashed and continued support of pedophiles, by moving them from place of power to place of power. It is and should be an incredible blemish on the church itself, and to its members. The Catholic Church is harboring child rapists. Child. Rapists.

I thought I made a distinction between criticising the actual behavior of the church and the cheap lulzy shots at Catholics and Catholicism. In case it wasn't clear, then yes, I think it's perfectly fine to criticize the disgusting behavior of the Church organization in its handling of the child rape cases.
posted by empath at 8:33 PM on March 13, 2010


You don't have to be nice. I don't see anyone saying not to say that it's fucked up that the Church harbors pedophiles. Just be correct, though, and don't repeat Chick-style anti-Catholic bigotry like "Catholics have to accept anything the Pope says as true all the time no matter what because he's infallible".
posted by DecemberBoy at 8:33 PM on March 13, 2010 [5 favorites]


empath - Pew report's Race by Religious Tradition. As of 2008, I believe.
posted by Hesychia at 8:33 PM on March 13, 2010 [1 favorite]


There is a common theme in all of the callout threads lately - if your comment essentially boils down to "your kind of people are stupid and my kind of people aren't", then it's not worth posting.

It's like you're calling for the absolute abolition of the internet itself!
posted by kittens for breakfast at 8:36 PM on March 13, 2010 [3 favorites]


And I think bullshit like this:

The charge is: The Roman Catholic Church is the biggest and oldest pedophile ring in the world. That is not bigotry - that is the truth.

Is beyond the pale and not even worth responding to.
posted by empath at 8:36 PM on March 13, 2010 [3 favorites]


That's okay, feel free to stomp around in mine.

Huh?


Aimed at the last line of my post, I believe. Sometimes even the thinnest skin can have layers to it, like a pearl onion.
posted by gompa at 8:38 PM on March 13, 2010


I honestly had no idea that this was true, and I bet that I've had much more Catholic education than the majority of mefites. You might want to point this out to people and try to educate them rather than just calling them ignorant and lazy.

Yeah, thing is, this does come up and then get duly debunked. In almost every thread about Catholicism. Just like the "Catholics must not believe in evolution because it's not in the Bible"/"Catholics believe the Bible is literally true" thing comes up a lot, and has to be debunked again and again.

Plenty of the people doing the debunking are now atheists, or lapsed Catholics at best, and so it's a tiresome job, but it's tiresome too to see people spreading ignorant crap about the religion your whole family - whole neighborhood, and culture - believes in. It's just plain aggravating to see a billion Catholics discussed as if they're all automatons who walk in lockstep with the Pope and side with the Vatican bureaucracy in all things. (A view that was pretty common fifty and more years ago, when anti-Catholicism was still very widespread in the US.)

It would be nice if we could condemn the disgusting and, yeah, outright evil behavior of the paedophiles themselves and the assholes in the Church hierarchy that sheltered them without also condemning all the rest of the Catholics who're running schools and hospitals and food shelters and yeah, the ones fighting to reform the Church from within. (In the same way that I don't condemn all Americans as equally culpable in the torture of prisoners and accused terrorists.)
posted by ubersturm at 8:51 PM on March 13, 2010 [23 favorites]


And I think bullshit like this:

The charge is: The Roman Catholic Church is the biggest and oldest pedophile ring in the world. That is not bigotry - that is the truth.

Is beyond the pale and not even worth responding to.


Is your point that the Catholic Church isn't a pedophile ring, or that it isn't the biggest and oldest?
posted by andoatnp at 8:53 PM on March 13, 2010 [11 favorites]


I knew about it, and I've never been to a Catholic church in my life. I don't think it's an unfair expectation for an educated person to know the basics of the major religions' beliefs, and it's not like this is some obscure thing. Especially if you're going to make derogatory jokes with a particular doctrine as the punchline. "Ignorant" isn't an unfair accusation. There are much worse things to be than ignorant, though - you can fix the problem pretty easily.

I agree that people should try and have a basic understanding of the world's major religions, but I don't think the concept of infallibility regarding the pope and the church is in anyway a basic tenet of the Catholic church, it's actually pretty intricate. I graduated from my church's Sunday school less than three years ago and though the concept of infallibility was brought up, all that we learned was that the pope was infallible. If teachers who are focused on the teachings of a religion don't fully explain the complex concept of infallibility, it's kind of ridiculous to expect every educated person to learn this knowledge by themselves.
posted by kylej at 8:54 PM on March 13, 2010 [2 favorites]


One man's religion is another man's belly laugh.

Can we have a thread about Scientology that doesn't end with calling for the abolition of the church and blanket condemnations of the entire church hierarchy as ... (an) organized crime syndicate?

Because if you can't have that, you can't have the other thing, either.

Everyone needs a hug. Their choice of Supreme Being worship doesn't.
posted by Cool Papa Bell at 9:01 PM on March 13, 2010 [14 favorites]


It's a bit of "B) The Catholics that read metafilter don't feel comfortable defending the church because of the atmosphere here."

But it's tough because the hate and distortion [infallibility (you don't understand it) just get rid of celibacy (not clear that celibates abuse any more frequently than married folks), Austrian Cardinal calls for reconsideration of celibacy (actually he didn't mean that, his office issued a clarification)] comes so fast and furious that it's really not possible to respond in any comprehensive way.

Also, the comments are so vicious that the proper level of righteous anger isn't really what we'd like for the community to be like...

The BIGGEST problem with this thread was the framing of the initial post. The article Joe Beese linked to was far more inflammatory than say, the New York Times article .

In addition, he wrote things like "Archbishop Ratzinger's former deputy, Gerhard Gruber, has taken responsibility for initially allowing [the unidentified priest] to remain within the Church, saying this had been 'a bad mistake'".

This is false. The deputy took responsibility for allowing the priest to resume pastoral work. He said that was a bad mistake.

Even if the priest had been defrocked, even if he'd been excommunicated, he wouldn't have been by that fact not allowed to remain in the Church.

So we have a post that's pretty darn thin and then the attempt to expand and contextualize it is misleading.

It also seems rather GYOB given that this newsfilter post follows on the same poster's 3/10 newsfilter post on Catholic Charities in DC.
posted by Jahaza at 9:02 PM on March 13, 2010 [1 favorite]


People should be free to believe whatever the fuck they want, but comparing mocking of religious beliefs to racism, sexism, and homophobia is just plain offensive.
posted by Dumsnill at 9:05 PM on March 13, 2010 [12 favorites]


People specifically talking about the role of the pope in the huge child abuse scandal that has been rocking the Catholic Church for the last several decades.... it's hard to figure out which comments are on topic and which are not. Obviously please flag lulzy child rape jokes, but "hey the Catholic church is dangerous to children" stuff? I'm really not sure how I personally [not modly] feel about that and that may be complicating the issue.

Well, if the topic is the sex abuse scandal, then it is on topic. If it's not, then it's not.

I'm not sure why "lolz republicans are dum" topics are heavily moderated and frowned upon, and "the catholic church is dangerous to children" is an "I don't know"???

That's really a huge fuck you to the giant, vast majority of catholics and catholic leaders who aren't abusing anyone and are horrified by the scandal.

It is disgusting that anyone, especially a mod, could think that the idea of painting an entire institution with the failings of some of its members is anything but prejudice, bigotry and cheap.

Not the best of the web.
posted by gjc at 9:06 PM on March 13, 2010 [3 favorites]


And hey, another excuse for VikingSword to ride his favorite hobby horse as a bonus. I mean, how do you engage in discussion with a guy like that.
posted by empath at 7:52 PM on March 13


By clearly expressing your viewpoint and citing sources when necessary, just as VikingSword does. It's not his fault that the facts support his analysis. If you disagree, why not actually state your case instead of posting on MeTa asking the mods to censor people who don't view the RCC the way you do?
posted by Optimus Chyme at 9:10 PM on March 13, 2010 [11 favorites]


People should be free to believe whatever the fuck they want, but comparing mocking of religious beliefs to racism, sexism, and homophobia is just plain offensive.

There is no hierarchy in bigotry. Hate is hate, whatever the reason.
posted by gjc at 9:11 PM on March 13, 2010 [4 favorites]


People should be free to believe whatever the fuck they want, but comparing mocking of religious beliefs to racism, sexism, and homophobia is just plain offensive.

Right, because nobody has died or been otherwise discriminated against because of religious beliefs.
posted by empath at 9:11 PM on March 13, 2010 [2 favorites]


If you disagree, why not actually state your case instead of posting on MeTa asking the mods to censor people who don't view the RCC the way you do?

Reading comprehension is not your strong suit, is it?
posted by empath at 9:12 PM on March 13, 2010 [3 favorites]


I grew up in a secular family in suburban Canada in the 1980s, and it wasn't until I went to school with (former) Catholics in university that I understood why some people absolutely hate religion so much.

A religious denomination that systematically enables child abuse is no better than Scientology, and deserves everything it gets.
posted by KokuRyu at 9:12 PM on March 13, 2010 [1 favorite]


People should be free to believe whatever the fuck they want, but comparing mocking of religious beliefs to racism, sexism, and homophobia is just plain offensive.

Is it really offensive? For many Catholics, their religion is an ingrained part of them and is pretty unchangeable. Nobody should be persecuted for their religious beliefs.
posted by kylej at 9:12 PM on March 13, 2010 [1 favorite]


Hate is hate, whatever the reason.

Mocking a belief is not the same as hating everyone who claims to have those beliefs.
posted by Dumsnill at 9:12 PM on March 13, 2010 [14 favorites]


And mocking a belief is definitely not the same as persecuting a believer.
posted by Dumsnill at 9:13 PM on March 13, 2010 [11 favorites]


That's really a huge fuck you to the giant, vast majority of catholics and catholic leaders who aren't abusing anyone and are horrified by the scandal.

When the vast majority of catholics and catholic leaders stop paying tithes in protest of criminal acts perpetrated by their church hierarchy, then you can start shouting "bigotry" and "hatred".
posted by KokuRyu at 9:14 PM on March 13, 2010 [17 favorites]


It is disgusting that anyone, especially a mod, could think that the idea of painting an entire institution with the failings of some of its members is anything but prejudice, bigotry and cheap.

What? I'm saying if the topic of the thread is sexual abuse of children and knowledge of same by high ranking members of the Catholic Church, it's tough to figure out where to draw the line on comments that talk about sexual abuse of children by the Catholic church. I can see the flag queue, but I personally have a hard time determining what to do sometimes. I'm not sure why you think I'm saying or implying "fuck you" to anyone, but that's not at all my intention.

I'm comfortable letting my history of being pretty well in favor of religious and areligious tolerance here speak for itself. I'm not sure what is being misunderstood that is making you feel that I'm doing or saying anything disgusting.
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 9:16 PM on March 13, 2010 [8 favorites]


"clearly expressing your viewpoint and citing sources when necessary, just as VikingSword does"

Um... he called the Catholic Church a pedophile ring. He asked for the use of state power to abolish the Catholic Church. This is not reasonable discourse.
posted by Jahaza at 9:19 PM on March 13, 2010


And mocking a belief is definitely not the same as persecuting a believer.

You know there are really fascinating discussions to be had about Catholic philosophy and theology that don't involve mocking in anyway. They had a pretty good run of having some of the smartest people in the world working on Catholic theology, and even if they're wrong (which, as an atheist, I believe they are) it probably deserves a little bit better than mocking and dismissal, especially dismissal of the form: "Hah hah child rapist, papal infallibility, lulz'
posted by empath at 9:21 PM on March 13, 2010 [3 favorites]


Um... he called the Catholic Church a pedophile ring. He asked for the use of state power to abolish the Catholic Church. This is not reasonable discourse.

Oh no, the bad man said something slightly hyperbolic about the biggest religious community in the world. Will we survive?
posted by Dumsnill at 9:22 PM on March 13, 2010 [2 favorites]


Reading comprehension is not your strong suit, is it?
posted by empath at 9:12 PM on March 1


Just because you say you're not asking for censorship doesn't mean that it's not the implicit goal in your post. The Pope is implicated in covering up child rape. People on MeFi note that this is pretty much the church's major function nowadays, specifically excluding lay members from that judgment. And the first thing you can think of is to desperately try to change the subject from the Church's goals of furthering the careers and sexual desires of priests to a generalized bigotry against . . . whom? Because if there's bigotry here, it's against child rapists and the people who enable them, not Catholics in general.

But that won't work for you, will it? There's no angle there. You need to shift the conversation away from child rape and child rapists, so you literally pretend that all the comments regarding the RCC's policies are actually somehow about lay members and thereby get leverage to shut everyone up. Sorry, no one here is dumb enough to fall for that.
posted by Optimus Chyme at 9:22 PM on March 13, 2010 [10 favorites]


I think it's possible to talk about the scandals in the church without engaging in the same kind of Catholic bashing common to those who still sneeringly refer to the Catholic Church as "Papists", "The Whore of Babylon," etc. I'm no Catholic (anymore), but I find it especially offensive given the ugly immigrant bashing (Italians, Irish, Poles, etc.) that once went hand and hand with these kinds of slurs in the US.

I wonder how lulzy and hateful a conversation would get that was about, for instance, the breaking of silence over the last 10 years of similar secrets and abuses of power in the Orthodox Jewish community. Would we seriously be smirking at comments on how pedophilia is uniquely Jewish, snickering asides about sidelocks, etc.?

You could hate hierarchical authority structures supposedly derived from God (don't miss the story of the man who flies first to Israel to get a top Rabbi's permission before he reports his son's serial molester to the police!), abuses of power, bureaucratic failure, and poisonous secrecy, without the asinine bigotry.
posted by availablelight at 9:24 PM on March 13, 2010 [19 favorites]


it probably deserves a little bit better than mocking and dismissal

You're the one who compared a throwaway comment on a blog to persecution, and I'm being unreasonable?
posted by Dumsnill at 9:25 PM on March 13, 2010


Uh, actually you were not. Sorry.
posted by Dumsnill at 9:28 PM on March 13, 2010


Just because you say you're not asking for censorship doesn't mean that it's not the implicit goal in your post.

I am asking that posters take the feelings of others into account before they spout lazy, hateful bs about a world religion that's traditionally been the subject of persecution in the US. I specifically said that I don't want comments deleted. Please don't impute motives to me that aren't there.

I realize that it's a difficult topic and a difficult needle to thread, but I don't think that start a metatalk thread about it necessarily means anything other than "let's talk about this thing that is bugging me."

And as you can see, I am not the only one bothered by it.
posted by empath at 9:30 PM on March 13, 2010


The Pope is implicated in covering up child rape. People on MeFi note that this is pretty much the church's major function nowadays

Wow, and Glenn Beck was flipping out because he thought that social justice was the church's major function. Wait til he hears THIS!
posted by availablelight at 9:31 PM on March 13, 2010


Empath: Right, because nobody has died or been otherwise discriminated against because of religious beliefs.

Holy shit. Are you implying that the context in which this discussion is taking place is one in which Catholics have been historically killed and discriminated against for their religious beliefs? Were you asleep during the Crusades?
posted by phaedon at 9:33 PM on March 13, 2010 [2 favorites]


It is interesting that in 2 days we have had 3 threads and about 900 comments talking about the same type of behavior.

Before now I'd have a hard time answering: Why are Gays, Mainers and Catholics alike?
posted by edgeways at 9:33 PM on March 13, 2010 [3 favorites]


People on MeFi note that this is pretty much the church's major function nowadays

Oh wow, I missed this. Really? As far as I can tell, the church's major function seems to be desperately trying to get people to show up for Mass on Sundays other than Christmas and Easter.
posted by empath at 9:33 PM on March 13, 2010


Metafilter has the best discussion I've found on the internet but when it comes to religion everything falls apart and that's such a drag. And it's not that I'm offended (although there are offensive comments) - it's that I'm bored by the antics that occur in most religion-related threads that are nothing but noise and crowd out or discourage any comments that are (or might have been) about the actual topic of the post.
posted by moxiedoll at 9:37 PM on March 13, 2010 [15 favorites]


Are you implying that the context in which this discussion is taking place is one in which Catholics have been historically killed and discriminated against for their religious beliefs? Were you asleep during the Crusades?

Actually, anti-Catholic violence and discrimination AND the Crusades both happened! Can you believe it? History is so weird!
posted by moxiedoll at 9:39 PM on March 13, 2010 [12 favorites]


There seems to be a lot of these grey posts over the past couple of days where people are offended that someone says something insulting toward a group of which they are a part. Isn't this what flagging is for? Seems kind of ridiculous to have a complaint thread over here every time someone is offended. Earlier today, there was a comment that said something like "Texas is stupid." I flagged it, not because I'm offended by Texas insults (we're quite used to being the butt of jokes for the rest of America at this point), but because it was pointless and didn't answer the question asked. It is now gone. If these comments are meritless, then the flagging system should provide for their deletion, sooner or later.
posted by ishotjr at 9:41 PM on March 13, 2010 [3 favorites]


I wonder how lulzy and hateful a conversation would get that was about, for instance, the breaking of silence over the last 10 years of similar secrets and abuses of power in the Orthodox Jewish community. Would we seriously be smirking at comments on how pedophilia is uniquely Jewish, snickering asides about sidelocks, etc.?

No one said pedophilia is uniquely Catholic. Also, yes, ultra-Orthodox Jews have a huge child abuse problem in their communities, not just among the rabbis, and it's disgusting, and they should be ashamed at themselves for defending the people who perpetuate it.

Oh, wait, now that's bigotry against all religious people, right? We're the bad guys; the child rapists, as always, are just misunderstood.
posted by Optimus Chyme at 9:41 PM on March 13, 2010 [4 favorites]


I am asking that posters take the feelings of others into account before they spout lazy, hateful bs about a world religion that's traditionally been the subject of persecution in the US

Let's compromise: if Catholic priests stop raping children, posters on the internet will stop pointing out that they do so. Deal?
posted by Optimus Chyme at 9:45 PM on March 13, 2010 [13 favorites]


Are you implying that the context in which this discussion is taking place is one in which Catholics have been historically killed and discriminated against for their religious beliefs? Were you asleep during the Crusades?

Yes. There's been some history since then. The Know-nothings, the nativist riots, the KKK, the Cristero War. There are plenty more examples, those are just some of the ones from North America.
posted by Jahaza at 9:46 PM on March 13, 2010


Oh, wait, now that's bigotry against all religious people, right? We're the bad guys; the child rapists, as always, are just misunderstood.

as maxiedoll pointed out, this level of self-righteous vitriol is boring - and futile

religion has played a major part in civilization for thousands of years and will continue to do so

frankly, a lot of same old anti-whatever crowd here is doing a great imitation of a man pissing against the wind

don't you ever get tired?
posted by pyramid termite at 9:47 PM on March 13, 2010 [5 favorites]


availablelight: "You could hate hierarchical authority structures supposedly derived from God ..., abuses of power, bureaucratic failure, and poisonous secrecy, without the asinine bigotry."

Yes, this. As a vehement religion hating atheist whose entire involvement with The Church involves attending a midnight mass once, I find the Catholic bashing a bit tiresome. Take them to account for their misdeeds, hold the leadership responsible for the sexual abuse, but please skip the cheap jokes and the jack chick religion-as-satanic-conspiracy shtick.
posted by idiopath at 9:49 PM on March 13, 2010 [3 favorites]


But don't give me no shit, because... I've been tired!!!
posted by Dumsnill at 9:51 PM on March 13, 2010 [1 favorite]


IAnd keep in mind, that it wasn't that long ago that electing a Catholic president was about as unlikely as electing a black man.

A few more decades and we might even be able to elect an atheist.
posted by Tenuki at 9:52 PM on March 13, 2010 [14 favorites]


religion has played a major part in civilization for thousands of years and will continue to do so

frankly, a lot of same old anti-whatever crowd here is doing a great imitation of a man pissing against the wind

don't you ever get tired?
posted by pyramid termite at 9:47 PM on March 13


man you really gotta have a beef with me if you're more irritated by me than you are by literally tens of thousands of child rapes
posted by Optimus Chyme at 9:52 PM on March 13, 2010 [4 favorites]


yawn
posted by pyramid termite at 9:54 PM on March 13, 2010 [5 favorites]


There is a difference between the comments the OP cited. The one about the shocked face is lulzy and harmless. The second one, "How can people be so stupid as to continue looking to these monsters for moral guidance?" is not so harmless. IANAC, but I can easily see how it crosses the line.
posted by water bear at 10:00 PM on March 13, 2010


The Know-nothings, the nativist riots, the KKK, the Cristero War. There are plenty more examples, those are just some of the ones from North America.

Not to mention all the religious persecution of Catholics by the Church of England that lead a lot of Catholics to flee to the US to begin with.

And multiple rounds of church burnings in the US in the 19th century. The motivation for those church burnings was often the same kind of innuendo that's driving anti-Catholicism now, (except then it was about Priests using convents as harems). You can probably see why, given the history, that Catholics as a whole weren't quick to believe the accusations of systemic child abuse.

It's obviously true that the Church as an organization has been almost hopelessly corrupted by the scandal. And it's something that should be discussed and talked about. I just wish that people were a bit more thoughtful in their comments about it and mindful of history and didn't just rush to 'ban the church, they're all child rapists.'
posted by empath at 10:01 PM on March 13, 2010


Why are Gays, Mainers and Catholics alike?

They are good at playing marry-fuck-kill with?
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 10:05 PM on March 13, 2010 [9 favorites]


Since the evils of catholicism is the one issue evangelicals and atheists agree on, I don't click on catholic posts when I see them on the blue. "You follow the pope blindly and worship Mary," is something I've heard from both sides, and I'm just not interested in that conversation anymore, especially when, as it often is in the southwest, the anti-papist rhetoric is mixed with old-fashioned nativism. (the last part of the sentence is referring to conversations I've had offline, as I said before, I don't click on catholic posts.)
posted by betweenthebars at 10:10 PM on March 13, 2010 [1 favorite]


Here's a mini-callout: pyramid termite, I'm sick of your smug bullshit in threads about religion. You habitually respond to anti-religious arguments, be they against religious belief, religious beliefs, religious authority, or specific religious structures, with something along the lines of "god you atheists are so pathetic, why don't you get lives" and it's far more unproductive than any honest anger could ever be. You behave unfailingly in these threads like an asshole who just wants to smirk and smugly point out how much fucking better you are- not your ideas, not your positions, not anything but you, as a superior being- and it's completely unproductive, assholeish behavior. You're like the jonmc of religious threads- rather than participating in any really meaningful way, your contribution consists of "I'm smarter and better than you, you sad children". Knock it the fuck off.
posted by Pope Guilty at 10:13 PM on March 13, 2010 [18 favorites]


My heart absolutely weeps for the poor, oppressed catholics. No, really. Seriously. Biggest landowner in the world? One of the richest churches on the planet, if not? Dictates public opinion to 1/6th of the planet? I bleed, for this pedophiliacm incredibly rich gang of crazies. When Ratzinger gets down on his knees and washes the feet of a leper, maybe I'll change my mind. Until then? He's just god(tm)'s banker, leading an army of people who tell me that I'm doomed bc I don't buy in.

Get down off the cross please. Bc remember the poor? They're cold, they could use the wood.
posted by nevercalm at 10:14 PM on March 13, 2010 [6 favorites]


I'm a longtime lurker, recent member, and a practicing Catholic, though probably in one of the most liberal archdiocese in the US, with a pastor who regularly decries the pedophilia and the cover-up . I was born and raised a Catholic, even left the Church for a few years, and then made the conscious choice to come back for a variety of reason.

Before I joined MeFi I knew not to touch the posts about Catholics or the Catholic Church with a 10-foot-pole. But I had to thank empath for speaking up.

Not all Catholics suck. Not all of us approve or or support the cover up that happened, and many of us are working to try to make things right. A large portion of the administrative leadership of the Church is fucked - I truly wept when I found out that Ratzinger would be the next Pope. The religion - the law-and-order portion of the Church - I have a lot of problems with, and I do speak up about them, and I hope to help change them. But the faith life I have within the framework of Catholicism as a faith tradition - I cherish that, and I hope that at least some MeFites might recognize the difference and respect it for what it is. Painting us all with a broad brush is shitty and knee-jerk.

Or, my first post in the gray is going to get me pummeled. Either way, I guess someone will have learned something.
posted by Lulu's Pink Converse at 10:14 PM on March 13, 2010 [35 favorites]


Also empath in a discussion about one of the most powerful and wealthy organizations in the world your participation is limited to attempting to reframe the conversation to be about the poor, powerless church and how it's being victimized. You are deliberately trying to turn the conversation away from the thousands of child rapes and the systematic covering up of those rapes by exploiting the language of victimization on behalf of the victimizers. This is vile, and that you continue to do it demonstrates a near-total lack of shame or empathy on your part.
posted by Pope Guilty at 10:16 PM on March 13, 2010 [14 favorites]


empathy
posted by gman at 10:17 PM on March 13, 2010


MetaFilter: therefore you are all wrong!
posted by not_on_display at 10:20 PM on March 13, 2010 [1 favorite]


The second one, "How can people be so stupid as to continue looking to these monsters for moral guidance?" is not so harmless. IANAC, but I can easily see how it crosses the line.

How does this cross a line? Sorry, but this whole organization seems riddled with pedophilia and those who would cover it up out of a desire to retain power/credibility. These people are monsters. Take the crosses off of their necks, and make them babysitters, as someone else said. If there was a network of babysitters who did the same thing, would we be allowed to condemn them? Gimme a break.
posted by nevercalm at 10:21 PM on March 13, 2010 [3 favorites]


Also empath in a discussion about one of the most powerful and wealthy organizations in the world your participation is limited to attempting to reframe the conversation to be about the poor, powerless church and how it's being victimized.

I don't know how many times I've said, this, but I give too shits about the well being of organization of the Church. It's corrupt and sick in a lot of ways. I've had almost no interaction with it since I was 13 and got out of Catholic school.

I do, however, care about Catholics in general and the way they are treated and perceived, and calling them and me a bunch of pedophile enablers is pretty fucking offensive.
posted by empath at 10:27 PM on March 13, 2010


O my Mod, I am heartily sorry for having offended you and I detest all my posts, because I dread the loss of schmoopy and the pains of MeTa; but most of all because they offend you, my Mod, who are all good and deserving of all my love. I firmly resolve with the help of your grace, to confess my sins, to do penance, and to amend my commenting style.
posted by Abiezer at 10:27 PM on March 13, 2010 [7 favorites]


It is interesting that in 2 days we have had 3 threads and about 900 comments talking about the same type of behavior.

It is. And it really sucks that the mods acknowledge it ("We...watched a lot of the usual suspects say the same damned things") but apparently feel "powerless" to fix it.

The proliferation of these MetaTalk threads, and the regularity of their appearance, should tell you that there is no hope of site-wide change on these things.

That's probably true.
posted by cribcage at 10:28 PM on March 13, 2010 [3 favorites]


People on MeFi note that this is pretty much the church's major function nowadays

Oh wow, I missed this. Really? As far as I can tell, the church's major function seems to be desperately trying to get people to show up for Mass on Sundays other than Christmas and Easter.
posted by empath at 12:33 AM on March 14 [+] [!]

The one has to do with the other.
posted by mlis at 10:29 PM on March 13, 2010 [1 favorite]


Here's a mini-callout: pyramid termite, I'm sick of your smug bullshit in threads about religion.

and i'm sick of superfluous hotheads who think they're doing anything but venting their spleens at enemies who aren't even there to read them

by the way, this isn't a thread about religion, it's a thread about pointless snarkiness about religion

you might have noticed that i've been staying out of a lot of these kind of discussions lately - i'm afraid i've gone past offended to being mortally bored by you and your ilk - a bunch of impotent robespierres tilting at online windmills

you're not doing much for the readability of this site with your nonstop pontificating and crusading

you and your pals are the reason why religious discussions don't go well here - and why i've pretty much stopped participating in them

and that is the end of that mini-callout - good night

whether you like my saying so or not, i have more interesting things to do - so do you, if you would only realize it
posted by pyramid termite at 10:29 PM on March 13, 2010 [5 favorites]


I stopped participating in religion threads long ago; this just isn't a friendly place for religious people most days. That isn't anything theods can change. There are plenty of other threads to read, so I just skip the LOLXTIANS.
posted by DWRoelands at 10:31 PM on March 13, 2010


Let's compromise: if Catholic priests stop raping children, posters on the internet will stop pointing out that they do so. Deal?

Actually, they have stopped. Mostly.

In the wake of the lawsuits and the diocesan bankruptcies the Church has been diligent about weeding out the bad priests. What's happening now is the reckoning for 60+ years of coverups by the hierarchy. This current issue with Ratzinger isn't about something that happened in 2010 but in 1980, involving a priest that was convicted six years later.

The result of the coverup in the US has been the bankruptcies of several dioceses -- Boston, San Diego, Spokane, Davenport, Wilmington, etc. etc. The hierarchy in the US has been on its back foot for the last decade, and as a result you're seeing changes in how things are run. They're finally starting to get policies for removal from service in place, policies that most Protestant denominations have had in place for over 20 years.

What's happening now in Europe is the European hierarchy having their smug bubble of invulnerability deflated. They really thought they'd never have to face what the Americans did, but now it's their turned to get kicked in the nuts repeatedly.

But again, these aren't cases that turned up last month or even last year. We're still reckoning their past bad decisions, and we'll probably continue to do so for years to come. More dioceses will fail, and it's possible that Catholicism's remaining toehold in western Europe may slip away from them. Since the scandals broke, though, you've seen fewer and fewer new cases come out of the American church. They got the message. It just took being a few billion lighter in the pocketbook for them to finally get it.

But that is the problem with your logic. I can say all that, but you can probably throw me some priest who molested a kid and scream "SEE? SEE?" It's the problem of having a post-9/11 terrorism plan -- no matter what you choose to do, all it takes is one yokel with explosive underpants to prove that THE ENTIRE SYSTEM IS POINTLESS AND INCOMPETENT.

I'd be far more worried if there were zero cases coming out of the American Church than if there were 20 a year. 20 might be what you'd expect for the largest denomination in the US. Zero says your only policy is deny, obfuscate, and cover up.

I'm not defending the Church. They're reaping what they sowed, and it's downright stupid that they've kept the same people who organized and actively continued the cover up in power. But they got the message.
posted by dw at 10:32 PM on March 13, 2010 [24 favorites]


Except it's really just a few people who have an axe to grind and grind it on every thread on religion. You know, religion is a fucking interesting topic, and I wish we could actually have an intelligent discussion about it without it devolving into the same hacks spouting the same trite anti-religious shit.

It would be really great if we could have had a thread on metafilter about this where catholics could feel comfortable talking about their experiences with the church and maybe even their experiences being victimized by the church, but we've already had multiple Catholics say that they won't even read threads about Catholicism on metafilter and multiple people tell Catholics not to even read threads on Catholicism.

Maybe that is a problem, I don't know.
posted by empath at 10:32 PM on March 13, 2010 [11 favorites]


"theods" = "the mods"
posted by DWRoelands at 10:33 PM on March 13, 2010


I wonder how lulzy and hateful a conversation would get that was about, for instance, the breaking of silence over the last 10 years of similar secrets and abuses of power in the Orthodox Jewish community. Would we seriously be smirking at comments on how pedophilia is uniquely Jewish, snickering asides about sidelocks, etc.?

I commented regarding this in a previous thread when someone pondered whether celibacy amongst Catholic clergy might correlate to an increase in abuse incidents.

Pedophilia is not uniquely Catholic or Jewish. It is not unique to those who are religious. However, one of the many characteristics of pedophiles in our society is that they often seek out careers and social positions which will allow them access to children with few restrictions or oversight: teachers, clergy, sports coaches, etc.

Why might they logically seek out employment within the Catholic Church? It aggressively protects them. As an institution, it has been slow to act when incidents have been reported and has actively worked to suppress evidence which would incriminate their members.

Empath, I've been rather outspoken around here in defense of civilized discourse & tolerance and against stereotypes, racism and attacks which target other mefites. So I hope you will consider what I'm about to say with that in mind: The lulz do suck and we shouldn't tolerate them. The Catholic-stereotyping and bashing also sucks and shouldn't be tolerated. The post itself was badly framed, used a link which was purposefully biased and inflammatory and encouraged threadshitting. And it should be noted that the Church has made major changes regarding how child molesters within their ranks are handled.

But the fact remains that there is a tremendous amount of evidence that the Catholic Church did and has both allowed and sanctioned child abuse by its clergy. By "sanctioned" I mean priests admitted molesting their congregants and went unpunished. In many cases, priests who molested children were (apparently forgiven, then) shuttled from parish to parish and allowed to continue preaching. The organization helped perpetuate widespread child abuse. Should we ignore that? Sweep it under the rug? It's outrageous that the Church hierarchy has deliberately, repeatedly turned a blind eye in the face of mounting evidence. They have repeatedly chosen to protect their institution rather than their most vulnerable worshipers.

Expressing anger and outrage against all of this is natural and appropriate. I realize that the Church is an institution, not the Catholic religion. No one should be condemning the Catholic faithful for the actions of their priests. But....

I ask this in all seriousness: how is what the Church hierarchy did regarding child abuse not the actions of a pedophile ring? Sadly, I think the characterization being posed may well be accurate.
posted by zarq at 10:37 PM on March 13, 2010 [15 favorites]


Not all Catholics suck. Not all of us approve or or support the cover up that happened, and many of us are working to try to make things right.

I wish you well in that endeavour Lulu's PC and I respect your right to your private faith, but I spent most of my childhood in the church and I was educated in its schools and beyond the loss of faith I have no respect left for the institution. I don't believe it can change. I've seen not even the slightest shred of evidence, even in the midst of revelations of unspeakably brutal crimes committed and covered up by its officers, that it has begun to understand the magnitude of the harm it has done (let alone shown any interest in making sure it can never happen again).

Let me put this in personal terms: the bishop of the church my parents were married in, the figurehead of the first cathedral I ever knew - and still on some level love, at least as a physical space, especially since my maternal ancestors laid some of its stone - this bishop negotiated a $13 million settlement with the victims of decades of sexual abuse perpetrated by the officers of that cathedral. (It's a near-certainty, though no one in my family likes to state it so baldly, that one of the victims was my mother's oldest brother.) So this bishop handed over cheques. Made gestures of goodwill, repentence and restitution. Stood in front of his god and the victims of his predecessors' abuse, and expressed his regret. While in possession of a vast trove of child pornography.

If he is punished, it will be under Canadian law, not under the bankrupt moral law of his church.

There's no glimmer of hope for reform there. Not a single flickering candle.
posted by gompa at 10:40 PM on March 13, 2010 [7 favorites]


Except it's really just a few people who have an axe to grind and grind it on every thread on religion.

This is exactly how I would describe your behavior- axe-grinding against people who are critical of religion. As ever, you view your efforts to distract the discussion from the massive harm done by the church as somehow more legitimate than actually discussing that harm, and that is disgusting and dishonest. You are not interested in actually discussing the issue and only wish to derail the discussion, and as such you do not have a valid place in the discussion; you are in it to make it less useful and less productive, and your continuing efforts to paint the victimizer as the victim are shameful.

Get a new account- your username is a complete lie.
posted by Pope Guilty at 10:40 PM on March 13, 2010 [5 favorites]


Also, the mods are at SXSW, and they should be geeking out with the awesomeness, not dealing with this endless pissiness MeFi has been stuck in the last 48 hours or so. Can we give it a rest? I mean, poor cortex hasn't even lost his virginity taste buds to a Nuclear Taco yet.
posted by dw at 10:41 PM on March 13, 2010 [2 favorites]


I don't disagree with anything you just said.
posted by empath at 10:41 PM on March 13, 2010


(last comment was toward zarq)
posted by empath at 10:42 PM on March 13, 2010


Pope Guilty: Fuck you. How is that for a positive contribution to the discussion.
posted by empath at 10:43 PM on March 13, 2010 [1 favorite]


It's pretty much the same message as your posts in this thread and in the one you're calling out, only somewhat more honest.
posted by Pope Guilty at 10:45 PM on March 13, 2010 [4 favorites]


How does this cross a line? Sorry, but this whole organization seems riddled with pedophilia and those who would cover it up out of a desire to retain power/credibility.

If only we could just treat religion as organizations and worldviews like any other, to be analized, critiqued, questioned. Supporters won't have it, they stick them literally on another plane of existence.
posted by floam at 10:49 PM on March 13, 2010 [2 favorites]


Funny how we keep having these MeTa posts which essentially go stop having a negative opinion of my group!

I'm not sure when words like "tolerance" and "community" became an excuse to shake the shame stick at people -- while simultaneously howling about the tremendous injustice of being struck with the shame stick, of course -- but it's a worrying trend. If we're really going to make this about which opinions it's OK to express, rather than how they're expressed, then what we'll end up with is a race to the bottom in a toboggan full of milquetoast. If we're lucky.

This trend is especially amusing when you read between the lines of phrases like "a lot of the usual suspects", "you and your ilk", etc -- it's glaringly obvious that all this "religious tolerance" is anything but.

I'm with orthogonality on this one.
posted by vorfeed at 10:51 PM on March 13, 2010 [2 favorites]


I think I am going to take a break from mefi for a while. See you guys in a few weeks.
posted by empath at 10:51 PM on March 13, 2010 [2 favorites]


Okay, but don't come here and analize me. I've been tired.
posted by Dumsnill at 10:51 PM on March 13, 2010 [1 favorite]


I think I am going to take a break from mefi for a while. See you guys in a few weeks.

kthxbye
posted by nevercalm at 10:54 PM on March 13, 2010


Also, the mods are at SXSW, and they should be geeking out with the awesomeness, not dealing with this endless pissiness MeFi has been stuck in the last 48 hours or so.

boo-hoo-hoo, it's not like they have to work for a living.
posted by mlis at 10:58 PM on March 13, 2010 [1 favorite]


Yeah, they are. The pope is not infallible in all cases. Only when speaking Ex Cathedra, and I believe the last time that was done was 100 years ago, on some doctrinal issue involving Mary.

There is an apparently substantial and respectable school of thought among Catholic theologians that believes Humanae Vitae (Paul VI's 1968 prohibition of birth control) was made Ex Cathedra and is therefore infallible
posted by jamjam at 11:25 PM on March 13, 2010 [1 favorite]


Metafilter: a race to the bottom in a toboggan full of milquetoast
posted by flapjax at midnite at 11:28 PM on March 13, 2010 [2 favorites]


This thread is kind of all over the place.

So I'll just say I'm raised and confirmed Catholic, although I am really agnostic. My mother, however, seems to be a believer. She would kick your ass if you diddled boys and she is not so happy about the pope generally. She also favors abortion rights.

I dare any of you fucks to challenge her Catholocism based on her support of abortion rights.

So please stop stereotyping Catholics.
posted by Trapped Vector at 11:49 PM on March 13, 2010 [5 favorites]


So is saying that the clear decades-if-not-centuries-old pedophile protection ring at the heart of the Catholic Church heirarchy is more than enough evidence to close the entire organization down (and would be for any gay group that had even 1/100th of the blood of children on its hands the Catholic Church does) over or inside the line, empath?
posted by mediareport at 11:52 PM on March 13, 2010


There is an apparently substantial and respectable school of thought among Catholic theologians that believes Humanae Vitae (Paul VI's 1968 prohibition of birth control) was made Ex Cathedra and is therefore infallible

What would happen if a later pope produced an Ex Cathedra papal bull which contradicted an Ex Cathedra papal bull issued by an earlier pope? Has this ever been addressed?
posted by Justinian at 11:59 PM on March 13, 2010


Our text for today, as for so many days here in MeTa, will be John 11:35
posted by Abiezer at 12:03 AM on March 14, 2010 [1 favorite]


This thread is just so we'll stop talking about Maine, isn't it?
posted by SLC Mom at 12:44 AM on March 14, 2010 [1 favorite]


I ask this in all seriousness: how is what the Church hierarchy did regarding child abuse not the actions of a pedophile ring? Sadly, I think the characterization being posed may well be accurate.

How is the American government (or the American military, or the nation in general) anything but a giant torture ring? Simple answer for both questions: both institutions are huge, and while chunks of them - including a terrifying and depressing number of top officials - were involved in the crimes and the cover-ups, most of the rest of the people were not. Judge the guilty, support those who're working for reform, but if you make blanket statements like "the Church is just a paedophile ring," you're either tarring a billion people with that brush or you've got a ridiculously reductionist understanding of what the capital-C Church is, in the same way that someone claiming that "all Americans are torturers" either has a pretty broad understanding of culpability or a pretty narrow understanding of who Americans are.

There is an apparently substantial and respectable school of thought among Catholic theologians that believes Humanae Vitae (Paul VI's 1968 prohibition of birth control) was made Ex Cathedra and is therefore infallible.

What, Catholic theologians, disagree? Look, there's a long and honorable tradition of theological debate in the Church, which is what usually ends up resulting in progress. Yeah, there are conservatives who think that Vatican II was a mistake, and that Humanae Vitae was ex cathedra, and then there are people who think that the Church should be more focused on social justice and all that caring for the sick and the poor stuff than on what goes on in the bedroom, and that there are a bunch of things that need structural reform in the Church (including a lot of the criticisms mentioned in this thread.) As much as Ratzinger would like to claim that the Church is the former and not the latter, previous Popes have failed to prevail against the slow march of progress in the Church, and I don't think you can be certain at this point that the current Pope won't be one of them.

And man, do I hope for the sake of all my Catholic family and friends, including the ones who are in or are joining the Holy Orders, that that ends up being the case. The Church that they believe in, and that they make real in their own lives, really is a force for good, and I wish the real-life Church was worthy of their faith...
posted by ubersturm at 12:52 AM on March 14, 2010 [9 favorites]


I don't come to MetaFilter for the debate. I come here for the discussion. To me this does not mean in-thread assertions and refutations....If I wanted debate I would seek that out on another site. I associate MetaFilter instead with reasoned discussion associated with mutual respect shared with strangers and a strong bias toward intelligent conversation.

With all due respect, this makes no real sense.

Any discussion is based on assertions. They may be explicit or implicit, but any discussion, much less any intelligent one, needs to be about something, and that means asserting things. We start by implicitly asserting solipsism isn't true....

What you seem to be saying is that you want discussion that is "not debate", that is, discussion amongst people who share implicit assumptions (Catholicism good, Catholicism bad, priests necessary moral leaders, priests cynical child-raping parasites, some priests saintly self-abnegators but other priests disgusting perverts...) whatever those shared implicit beliefs happen to be.

And we have that, here on Mefi, whenever our prejudices coincide, when we (almost) all agree that, e.g, Palin sucks, and konolia or whomever fulfills the role of our lovable apostate. (Actually, konolia eventually came out pretty suspicious of Palin, and so our comity was preserved, even enhanced.)

But then there are the 'surprise" threads, generally when one strongly held liberal value (e.g., tolerance of other beliefs) clashes with another strongly held liberal value (women's rights ("boyzone!)", decency to animals ("cat-declawing!"), the autonomous personhood of infants ("circumcision"), justice and education ("Mainers/Southerners/Texans are inbred hicks because they are uneducated and do bad things to out-of-staters/blacks/hispanics!").

Yeah, not really any surprise, but some of us get all stirred up when our good liberal valued Mefi friends inexplicably pick the other, less important, the WRONG! liberal value, and our in-group's ox gets gored.

And we got a "debate" where Mefites actually really truly do disagree, rather than a "discussion", a discussion between the preacher and the choir, in which we chorus were to have sung our favorite old hymns of shared outrage over, or derision for, the subject of the thread.

Frankly, I think we all learn more when we have a real debate, when the commenters feel they have real skin in the game, when we have to really think and really make a mental choice between two strongly held values that this time lead to opposing conclusions.

But I get it, some people aren't here for that. For some people, Mefi is Denny's, where you come for comfort food late at night. For discussions without disagreement. Without "debate".
posted by orthogonality at 1:09 AM on March 14, 2010 [5 favorites]


empath: "The pope is not infallible in all cases. "

No offense, but that statement is absolutely silly to me.

Then I saw this in an online dictionary:

in·fal·li·ble (n-fl-bl)
adj.
1. Incapable of erring: an infallible guide; an infallible source of information.
2. Incapable of failing; certain: an infallible antidote; an infallible rule.
3. Roman Catholic Church Incapable of error in expounding doctrine on faith or morals.


If the catholic church feels they can just make up their own definitions for words, well, I'm not bothering to go any further after that. I guess if your god is powerful enough he can magically turn binary things into trinary things.

Good luck with your faith and I wish you the best, but I'm going to keep on ignoring that stuff, if you don't mind.
posted by InsertNiftyNameHere at 1:11 AM on March 14, 2010


Can we have a thread about Scientology that doesn't end with calling for the abolition of the church and blanket condemnations of the entire church hierarchy as ... (an) organized crime syndicate?

What he said.

Um... he called the Catholic Church a pedophile ring.

What else would you call a collection of men where this is ample documentation that, over decades, those men have raped children, or assisted men in raping children?

The second one, "How can people be so stupid as to continue looking to these monsters for moral guidance?" is not so harmless.

So when we have well-documented evidence that senior members of a religious group have systematically been involved of child rape it's improper to ask why people ask them for moral advice?

In the wake of the lawsuits and the diocesan bankruptcies the Church has been diligent about weeding out the bad priests.
Pope Benedict XVI faced claims last night he had 'obstructed justice' after it emerged he issued an order ensuring the church's investigations into child sex abuse claims be carried out in secret.

The order was made in a confidential letter, obtained by The Observer, which was sent to every Catholic bishop in May 2001.

It asserted the church's right to hold its inquiries behind closed doors and keep the evidence confidential for up to 10 years after the victims reached adulthood. The letter was signed by Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, who was elected as John Paul II's successor last week.
From 2005.

Yeah, that seems real focused on weeding out the bad priests, by using the threat of excommunication against anyone reporting them to the police without asking the Church for permission first.
posted by rodgerd at 1:20 AM on March 14, 2010 [3 favorites]


Can we have a thread about Catholics that doesn't end with calling for the abolition of the church and blanket condemnations of the entire church hierarchy?
Short answer: No.
The Catholic Church is a highly conservative long term operation so lets look at this historically and start with the Inquisition. As in all things ultimately the responsibility goes back to the top.
When the smell of charred flesh and bubbling human fat has cleared from your nostrils let's fast forward to the last Century and Catholic Fascism
Then there is the aiding and abetting of modern dictatorships, link from previous thread and fpp.

Forward to the not-so-new Catholic fundamentalism. add in Opus Dei together with Roberto Calvi and the Banco Ambrosiano with it's funnelling of covert funds to the Contras.
For a thought provoking though possibly not 100% accurate look at some of the shenanigans check out Vatican Exposed.
So to conclude: Can we have a thread about Catholics that doesn't end with calling for the abolition of the church and blanket condemnations of the entire church hierarchy? The answer is still emphatically No.
posted by adamvasco at 1:54 AM on March 14, 2010 [2 favorites]


I think empath is spot on about the anti-catholicism strain here. Chalk it up to the memetic influence of puritanism on the SWPLs here. It certainly isn't atheism, check out Billington's Protestant Crusade, 1800-1860: a Study of the Origins of American Nativism (Amazon reviews. Internet archive download).

Compare the blue's tags:

Six hits for protestantism.
Seven tags for protestant.
Six tags for puritanism.

15 tags for Catholics.
A (whopping) 68 tags for catholicism.

You wanna talk about the most rich and evil religious organisation on the planet right now. It's certainly not Catholicism. It's the US government, with the dominionist right, and the secular protestant left playing their messianic role of spreading democracy all over the planet for the last couple of hundred years.

Americans will go on hating on Catholics claiming they are the most evil religious group on the planet -- all the while bombing the shit out of other countries for "Christian" democracy and imposing their tainted cryptotheistic views on the world -- until people realize Americans (including the American left) have an invisible knapsack of deranged protestantism that guides their views.
posted by ollyollyoxenfree at 3:03 AM on March 14, 2010 [10 favorites]


It can be tough putting up with intemperate and silly remarks, but if you can bear it with patience it's good for you (dare I say good for the soul? I mean this seriously); and who knows, you may be able to bring some small nugget of gold out of the heap of crap.
posted by Phanx at 3:35 AM on March 14, 2010


Pope Guilty: “Get a new account- your username is a complete lie.”

Pot, kettle, &c.
posted by koeselitz at 3:52 AM on March 14, 2010 [1 favorite]


tl;dr

But I did just yesterday get a shaky-hand addressed envelope from my mother containing my baptismal certificate.
posted by StickyCarpet at 4:54 AM on March 14, 2010 [1 favorite]


This thread is appalling.

I am an atheist with no love for the Catholic Church, particularly the hierarchy. (I love its buildings though)

Yet, almost every argument used in this thread against Catholicism could be used against the United States if you change the problem from paedophilia to torture, imperialism, and economic exploitation on a truly massive scale.

I have immense problems with the US Government. I have no trust in the US system to punish individuals that work for it for their transgressions of international or even domestic law when their actions are either in the interest of the USA or where the exposure of their crimes would damage the interests of the USA. History speaks for itself in this regard.

The almost fundamentalist beliefs that the USA is the greatest country in the world (where everyone wants to live); that there is a need for US hegemony to secure peace; and that the US free market dogma is the best way to order society/civilisation all come close to being as mockable as the beliefs of Catholics.

Despite this, not all citizens of the US are rampaging imperialist torturers, preaching free market capitalism, who like to economically gang rape the developing countries of the world with every tool and institution at their disposal.

A bit of friendly joking is all very well, but the systematic characterisation of Catholicism as a giant paedophile ring is offensive to many, and places those who engage in it in a very bad light.
posted by knapah at 4:58 AM on March 14, 2010 [20 favorites]


That is not to say that there is not a hugely serious issue to be examined in relation to the child abuse coverups that the Church have been involved in, but merely that it should be done in a reasoned way rather than hurling abuse at the entire congregation.
posted by knapah at 5:09 AM on March 14, 2010


There's another one of those useless phrases.

"With all due respect" as usual prefaces no respect whatsoever. Well executed Straw Man though.
posted by kalessin at 5:26 AM on March 14, 2010


As a lapsed-Catholic with a very Catholic family, I find it perfectly acceptable.
posted by chillmost at 5:34 AM on March 14, 2010


it doesn't take much looking to find pretty offensive stuff...

I don't mind offensive. Make all the jokes that you like about priests diddling little boys while the leity masturbates from the pews, and I'm not bothered in the slightest. Make them about priests, rabbis, black people, white people, women, gays, transgenders or midgets and you won't hear a peep out of me.

But that thread is a veritable circle-jerk of stupidity and smug self-righteousness.
posted by PeterMcDermott at 6:03 AM on March 14, 2010 [4 favorites]


And remember folks, far more children are sexually abused is by family members and family friends than have ever been abused by Catholic priests.

Obviously, that proves that the nuclear family is a paedophile conspiracy and our little ones are at risk every moment they remain in their clutches. It's way past time we started to smash that outmoded institution now and start having all our children cared for by state-run collectives.
posted by PeterMcDermott at 6:10 AM on March 14, 2010 [12 favorites]


start having all our children cared for by state-run collectives.

Probably better to just let them raise themselves. All paedophiles are adults, so the only way to protect them is to not allow adult contact with children at any time.
posted by knapah at 6:28 AM on March 14, 2010


I guess this is the "STOP STOP STOP I DON'T WANT TO READ THINGS I DISAGREE WIIIIIIITH! MAKE THEM DISAPEARRR!!!!" whine-fest trifecta.

Sad, really.

I do find the LOLXIANS / LOLRELIGION to be pretty distasteful, personally, but for crying out loud.
posted by paisley henosis at 6:30 AM on March 14, 2010 [1 favorite]


My heart absolutely weeps for the poor, oppressed catholics. No, really. Seriously. Biggest landowner in the world? One of the richest churches on the planet, if not? Dictates public opinion to 1/6th of the planet? I bleed, for this pedophiliacm incredibly rich gang of crazies. When Ratzinger gets down on his knees and washes the feet of a leper, maybe I'll change my mind. Until then? He's just god(tm)'s banker, leading an army of people who tell me that I'm doomed bc I don't buy in.

Get down off the cross please. Bc remember the poor? They're cold, they could use the wood.

posted by nevercalm at 1:14 AM on March 14

Oh so clever. You go into threads on anti-Semitism and make clever, "edgy" comments like, "My heart absolutely weeps for those rich shysters now that Israel has one of the most powerful armies in the world and everyone knows the Jews run Hollywood the press the banks the Trilateral Commission and got to call out sick on 9/11 right? I bleed, for this Palestinian-children-shooting incredibly rich gang of crazies. Get over the camps, please. Bc remember the oppressed? they're refugees on their own land, they could use the housing." Oh that's right--there ARE people crazy enough to post that when people assert that anti-Semitism is wrong, but that would get deleted as and incredibly asinine, hateful, and irrelevant to a discussion on why bigotry is unacceptable.

Anti-Catholicism in the US was intimately tied in with the nativism that branded the "new immigrants"--from Italy, Ireland, and the "wrong" Europe (Slavs)--as sub-human. (People--all the way up to professors and policymakers--were hysterical that the Papist new arrivals seemed genetically less intelligent and moral, wouldn't learn the language properly, believed in a primitive voodoo, and they were outbreeding the "real" Americans--sound familiar?) My grandparents have painful stories about this, my father had a coworker run out of a Southern job transfer in the 70s for being Catholic (his "charming small town" neighbors included the kind of people who set your hedges on fire for being a "greasy Italian idolater", apparently). I still cringe when I hear the echoes of this ("LOL they're so OTHER! Child raping machine degenerates! Crazy Mary worshippers! Wave the magic stick, funny hat old rich man you all think is a mini-God you dumb pre-reformation ring-kissers!"), when anything regarding the Catholic Church comes up.
posted by availablelight at 6:31 AM on March 14, 2010 [7 favorites]


Personally, I'd rather have over 9,000 morons from 4chan here spewing idiocy than this trend of pissing and crying and whining about every single in-groups precious precious little toesie-wosies getting stepped on; it's pathetic and it's embarrassing and it's ruining discourse at this site, and I'm referring to the whole lot of it, not just to this thread.
posted by paisley henosis at 6:33 AM on March 14, 2010 [7 favorites]


All empath is saying is: there is a way to criticize the Catholic Church for the pedophilia cases WITHOUT ALSO bringing up the stupid tired jokes about "death cookies" and "infallible pope lol".

And there is a way to criticize the Catholic Church for the pedophilia cases WITHOUT making a ton of assholish, lulzy jokes about how "oh, every single priest ever ever ever is diddling boys".

Because when you do that, you're calling my friend who went to a Jesuit seminary and who spent two years working in a hospice catering to the homeless, and who was most likely the only face of kindness some people ever saw in their entire lives, a gay rapist. And frankly, if that's what you're saying about the guy, FUCK YOU SIDEWAYS.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 6:48 AM on March 14, 2010 [15 favorites]


lulzy jokes about how "oh, every single priest ever ever ever is diddling boys".

Are there really a lot of people here saying that? Aren't you engaging in the exact same type of hyperbole and mischaracterization that you seem to be objecting to?

Because when you do that, you're calling my friend who went to a Jesuit seminary and who spent two years working in a hospice catering to the homeless, and who was most likely the only face of kindness some people ever saw in their entire lives, a gay rapist


This is so stupid and manipulative it's not even worth commenting on.
posted by Dumsnill at 6:59 AM on March 14, 2010 [3 favorites]


Are there really a lot of people here saying that?

I never said there were a lot. Just a handful, in fact. But they say it ENOUGH for the rest of the class.

Aren't you engaging in the exact same type of hyperbole and mischaracterization that you seem to be objecting to?

I never made claims to how many people I was talking to. I had only one person in mind, in fact. So how the fuck can I be generalizing when I'm only talking to the people who are doing this? If you're not doing this, then you're not who I'm talking about, so what's the problem?

This is so stupid and manipulative it's not even worth commenting on.

If you think trying to stand up for a friend is "stupid and manipulative," I sure am glad we're not friends.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 7:03 AM on March 14, 2010


Personally, I'd rather have over 9,000 morons from 4chan here spewing idiocy than this trend of pissing and crying and whining about every single in-groups precious precious little toesie-wosies getting stepped on; it's pathetic and it's embarrassing and it's ruining discourse at this site, and I'm referring to the whole lot of it, not just to this thread.

Agreed. This and @username are the cancer that is killing Metafilter.
posted by dunkadunc at 7:05 AM on March 14, 2010


It's manipulative in the sense that it's guaranteed to make anyone who disagrees with your overall opinion seem callous and immoral and insensitive. It's a pure appeal to emotions.

I'm sure your friend is a wonderful person, and I know that you are too.
posted by Dumsnill at 7:09 AM on March 14, 2010 [2 favorites]


It's manipulative in the sense that it's guaranteed to make anyone who disagrees with your overall opinion seem callous and immoral and insensitive. It's a pure appeal to emotions.

And referring to the ENTIRE CATHOLIC CHURCH as "the world's biggest pedophile ring" ISN'T an appeal to emotions???
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 7:14 AM on March 14, 2010 [4 favorites]


You know what, fuck it.

*walks off*
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 7:14 AM on March 14, 2010 [1 favorite]


Yes, absolutely, the enabling hierarchies in the RCC are sickening. Yes, the Church elite protects its brand by burying outrageous facts/acts of pitiful magnitude. It is a patriarchal entity. It is also a kind of ethnic entity. As a nation/ideology/brand it is like many other entities that are fueled and manipulated by the 'elite' to protect the status quo - the money making, land owning, agenda setting ideology blah blah.

Soldiers, priests, employees of Boeing/Exxon/KBR etc who commit crimes are routinely sheltered by the brand managers. Look at how the USA suppresses honest scrutiny of war crimes to protect the brand. You can be patriotic - believe in the ideals of the state - without automatically being cast as an enabler of human rights violations.


Just in passing, most of the victims are catholic - they were solicited, groomed and raped during the course of their interaction with their own faith community. Catholics themselves have suffered physically, emotionally and have been spiritually violated. It's hard to believe in something [say your parents' love/your country's valour, religious tenets etc] and have it so painfully compromised. Or to think that somehow believing in, I dunno, the Nicene Creed, is the enabling factor that caused the catastrophe.

I don't think it's okay to pretty much tell Empath to go cry on her/his own somewhere instead of making a legitimate observation here in Metatalk. If we did that when sexuality or race issues were flagged, you'd be aghast at such treatment.
posted by honey-barbara at 7:20 AM on March 14, 2010 [7 favorites]


And remember folks, far more children are sexually abused is by family members and family friends than have ever been abused by Catholic priests.

Obviously, that proves that the nuclear family is a paedophile conspiracy and our little ones are at risk every moment they remain in their clutches. It's way past time we started to smash that outmoded institution now and start having all our children cared for by state-run collectives.
posted by PeterMcDermott at 6:10 AM on March 14


Are you asserting that when some father or mother abuses their children, other mothers and fathers will move the offender to a different state or country to raise and abuse different children? I hope you have the presence of mind to be embarrassed by this horrifically weak argument.

The reason it's conspiracy, the reason it's a pedophile ring, in not merely because child rape is frequent in the church. It's because there is a clear pattern of covering up abuse and moving abusers to new parishes so the issue will just "go away." Do you understand?
posted by Optimus Chyme at 7:20 AM on March 14, 2010 [8 favorites]


And referring to the ENTIRE CATHOLIC CHURCH as "the world's biggest pedophile ring" ISN'T an appeal to emotions???

It is, and it's a stupid thing to say.
posted by Dumsnill at 7:21 AM on March 14, 2010


> And referring to the ENTIRE CATHOLIC CHURCH as "the world's biggest pedophile ring" ISN'T an appeal to emotions???

It is, and it's a stupid thing to say.


Then we are in agreement.

But someone saying this very thing is what prompted empath to make this post. So why are you, Dumsnill, critiquing ME for saying something manipulative?
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 7:38 AM on March 14, 2010


Maybe we should give up making MetaTalk posts for Lent.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 7:44 AM on March 14, 2010 [4 favorites]


Homosexual Mainer Catholics.

That is all.
posted by flapjax at midnite at 7:49 AM on March 14, 2010 [2 favorites]


boo-hoo-hoo, it's not like they have to work for a living.

I know it may be tough to get your head around, but our jobs actually involve more than just moderating MeFi. There's a lot of email to answer, features to code, threads to read, people to interact with, discussions to have and plans to make. However, our jobs sort of expand to fit most of the time we have available to do them and when something requires more of our time, other things get less of our time.

SXSW is for, among other things, meeting people who do jobs like ours and figuring out [maybe] how to do them better. Also I'm giving a panel about the digital divide which should help people who design websites learn to do that better so that people with low tech skills have maybe a fighting chance of being able to interact with the online world with dignity.

Many people who are at SXSW are there "for work" too but work is sending them and being at SXSW is their job. For us we're at SXSW and also still working at MetaFilter. No one has to be sorry for us, it's a great opportunity and we're happy to be here.

apparently feel "powerless" to fix it.

That said, I think this thread and the one it refers to would have gone better if we had been available for our usual "we'll keep a close eye on that" approach. We weren't. It happens. I'm aware that there's more responsibility for how this stuff all goes than just moderation, but I feel that having kind and just moderators helps touchy topics go better. And we didn't have the time to do that this week in an incredibly rare few days of "we're all actually busy" which never happens, even on holidays and weekends.

Not much to add to the main topic except the usual "it should be possible to talk about this without being total assholes about it"
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 8:12 AM on March 14, 2010 [9 favorites]


empath writes "Yeah, they are. The pope is not infallible in all cases. Only when speaking Ex Cathedra, and I believe the last time that was done was 100 years ago, on some doctrinal issue involving Mary."

November 1, 1950. Well within living memory rather than some hoary quirk of history.
posted by Mitheral at 8:13 AM on March 14, 2010


So why are you, Dumsnill, critiquing ME for saying something manipulative?

Because you said something manipulative, and the fact that others did does not make your comment any better. In fact, I thought your comment (using your friend as an emotional bludgeon) was far far worse than even the silliest over-generalizations by the most active Catholic-bashers. And I think this whole call-out is beyond stupid and so is the Mainers post.
posted by Dumsnill at 8:13 AM on March 14, 2010 [6 favorites]


> So why are you, Dumsnill, critiquing ME for saying something manipulative?

Because you said something manipulative, and the fact that others did does not make your comment any better.


I trust that you also observed to others that their comments were manipulative, then?

And I think this whole call-out is beyond stupid and so is the Mainers post.

In essence, this thread is about how it should be possible to critique the Catholic church for doing something without making manipulative and bigoted comments in the process. You yourself agree that comments like "the church is the biggest pedophile ring" are manipulative. All this callout is saying is "don't say manipulative crap like that."

If you think THAT request is silly, but you then turn around and accuse ME of being manipulative, then please explain to me why that doesn't make YOU hypocritical.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 8:22 AM on March 14, 2010


Having slept on it, I think what's really getting me about the position taken by the "The Roman Catholic Church are being victimized here!" folks in this thread and the other is that the anti-Catholic sentiment being cited by them is of a particularly right-wing nativist bent, which was historically a form of racism against immigrants- Italians, Irish, and so on. That is not what is happening here- the anti-Catholic sentiment here is based not on wild conspiracy theories and racial hate but on horror at an actual, existing, admitted conspiracy to cover up thousands of cases of sexual abuse of children over the course of a century.

Comparing the racial bigotry-motivated anti-Catholicism of the nativist right to horror and shock at actual actions of actual people is absurd; it's simply a way of, as I've said, minimizing the rapes by suggesting that the anti-RCC sentiment they motivate is no different from that of the racist right- fundamentally it suggests that anger over the century of rapes and cover ups is similar in character to nativist racism- that it is acceptable to be angry at the priests but one must not be angry at the institution which they comprise and which has worked hard to protect them.
posted by Pope Guilty at 8:27 AM on March 14, 2010 [16 favorites]


MetaTalk: If you're not doing this, then you're not who I'm talking about, so what's the problem?
posted by mr_crash_davis mark II: Jazz Odyssey at 8:29 AM on March 14, 2010


I for one am sorry that we've lost empath, even temporarily, to this. If there is any possible way to untangle this mess of hurt feelings and outrage, it'll start by reminding ourselves that other people hurt, too, and that they lash out when they feel attacked.

In the case of the Catholic Church, there are folks whose identities are tied up with victimhood and oppression -by- the Church, and with victimhood and oppression -as- members of the Church. It helps to recognize that these reciprocal feelings of hurt aren't actually about the same set of issues.

On the analogy to the US government, maybe it's just me, but I can't help feeling like this is EXACTLY THE RIGHT analysis: the US government has become a gigantic war-porn and torture-ring. However, like the Catholic Church, it has the potential to be something better than that. Let's not fight: let's get to work on fixing both institutions.
posted by anotherpanacea at 8:35 AM on March 14, 2010 [4 favorites]


Homosexual Mainer Catholics.

"And Ampersand gets the hat trick!"

the systematic characterisation of Catholicism as a giant paedophile ring is offensive to many, and places those who engage in it in a very bad light.


I thought that was Islam's thing.

Also, dragging jonmc into a conversation that he has not participated in to make a derogatory comparison is a pretty shit move. Though it was partly worth it to see Pope Guilty slamming someone for spouting 'smug bullshit'.
posted by Alvy Ampersand at 8:35 AM on March 14, 2010 [1 favorite]


MetaTalk: no matter what you choose to do, all it takes is one yokel with explosive underpants to prove that THE ENTIRE SYSTEM IS POINTLESS AND INCOMPETENT.
posted by grapefruitmoon at 8:35 AM on March 14, 2010


I wish that people who are making callouts like this would link to specific examples of what they consider to be offending statements and include links to these comments and then go on to say why they find the comments offensive.

As a general rule, I think that very vague callouts are not particularly useful. Anyone who's comment could possibly be considered offensive in any light gets dragged in and people end up defending themselves against accusations that are being made about other people's comments. People debate the offensiveness of comments that got deleted and only exist in quotes; it's just a big mess.

In conclusion, more "I find Comment A and Comment B to be offensive because of this reason." and less "How about all this offensive commentary in this thread, jeez."
posted by jefeweiss at 8:36 AM on March 14, 2010 [1 favorite]


Firstly: in all honesty, PG, thank you for saying that. You make a good point.

In response:

Comparing the racial bigotry-motivated anti-Catholicism of the nativist right to horror and shock at actual actions of actual people is absurd; it's simply a way of, as I've said, minimizing the rapes by suggesting that the anti-RCC sentiment they motivate is no different from that of the racist right- fundamentally it suggests that anger over the century of rapes and cover ups is similar in character to nativist racism- that it is acceptable to be angry at the priests but one must not be angry at the institution which they comprise and which has worked hard to protect them.

I think, though, that the nativist-right anti-Catholicism comparisions are about things that are lullzy jokes about ex Cathedra statements and actual Catholic belief. And those things DO come up in threads which criticize the pedophilia cases.

You and I are in complete agreement about how the behavior of these priests is reprehensible. You and I are also in complete agreement about how the church structure itself has really dropped the ball in handling the problem effectively; and I'm saying this as an ex-Catholic. In fact, I think MOST of the CURRENT Catholic people in here ALSO would agree that the issue is a serious crisis, and the church structure itself has really dropped the ball on this.

However. There is still a way to critique the issue itself, and critique the political structure of the church which contributed TO that problem, without attacking the ideals and beliefs held dear BY that Church, by cracking jokes about "but they all think the pope is never wrong, amirite?" Similarly, it is also possible to critique the issue itself and the political structure of the church which contributed TO that problem, without making lulzy jokes implying EVERY priest is in on it.

I believe that the kind of "they're allllll alike" generalizing, and "wait, gee, i thought the pope was never wrong lol" jokes, are the things being compared to nativist bias -- and whether or not you agree with that comparison, I would hope you would at least allow that they might be unfair.

We are in complete agreement about how we should be able to comment on the crisis, and comment on how the structure of the church itself contributed TO that crisis, without being dicks in the process. In fact, I'd LOVE to take part in a discussion like that.

That's all anyone's trying to say.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 8:38 AM on March 14, 2010 [5 favorites]


Possibly my favorite Thomas Nast cartoon.
posted by Alvy Ampersand at 8:40 AM on March 14, 2010 [2 favorites]


Apparently, the mods' repeated request that people not try to be dicks is simply too much to ask. If 4chan-style commenting, with quick lulzy drive-by assholish potshots that contribute nothing to an actual discussion become to norm, rather than an aberration from the norm, and people insist on defending it with "Oh, poor widdle babies, can't take the heat, get off the Internet," I'm fucking done with this site. Metafilter is supposed to be better than the best of the Web, nad I come here for people who are smart, not people who are really super-proud of how much feces they can smear in how short a time.

Religion is absolutely one of the things we do worst, and there already was a longboat thread in which the mods expressedly and explicitly made the case for a more nuanced and reasoned discussion environment. It's a reasonable request, except, I guess, for people who have nothing at all to say except how much religion sucks.

The Catholic Chruch is nothing close to a monolith, despite having a hierarchy. If you don't understand it well enough to offer anything other than a misunderstood idea of Papal infallibility, maybe these are the sorts of threads you don't have terrifically much to contribute to.
posted by Astro Zombie at 8:42 AM on March 14, 2010 [37 favorites]


Possibly my favorite Thomas Nast cartoon.

....Thank you, Alvy, for being my "Exhibit A" about how irrelevant lullzy jokes seem to always find their way into serious discussions involving Catholicism in here.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 8:42 AM on March 14, 2010


Yes, I said nad.
posted by Astro Zombie at 8:43 AM on March 14, 2010 [1 favorite]


boo-hoo-hoo, it's not like they have to work for a living.

That's a low blow. You should apologize for it.
posted by ericb at 8:44 AM on March 14, 2010 [9 favorites]


irrelevant lullzy jokes seem to always find their way into serious discussions involving Catholicism in here.

With all due respect, linking to a political cartoon from 1875 in a thread talking about historical attitudes towards Catholicism is nothing at all like making child rape jokes.
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 8:45 AM on March 14, 2010 [8 favorites]


Thomas Nast hated the Irish too; can we link to one of those cartoons when threads about Irish-American come up?
posted by Astro Zombie at 8:47 AM on March 14, 2010 [1 favorite]


With all due respect, linking to a political cartoon from 1875 in a thread talking about historical attitudes towards Catholicism is nothing at all like making child rape jokes.

Some context would have been helpful. "My favorite" seems to imply "Here's a really awesome image," rathee than "Here's a pretty typical example of hatred for Catholics in the 1800s."

I mean, if there was a thread about antisemitism, and somebody said "My favorite cartoon," and it was a Nazi caricature of a Jew, that would be pretty questionable.
posted by Astro Zombie at 8:50 AM on March 14, 2010 [1 favorite]


Thank you, Alvy, for being my "Exhibit A" about how irrelevant lullzy jokes seem to always find their way into serious discussions involving Catholicism in here.

Actually, I thought it was a pretty good and quickly-grokkable example of the American nativist anti-Catholic bias and bigotry availablelight mentioned (It's also a great cartoon and visual metaphor in general, despite it's offensive message). I can appreciate that when things get heated, nuance can be hard to recognize, but my first comment was way more lulzier and unproductive.
posted by Alvy Ampersand at 8:51 AM on March 14, 2010 [1 favorite]


*Considers making a comment about what some other people could be Exhibit As of, decides to go fold laundry instead*
posted by Alvy Ampersand at 8:55 AM on March 14, 2010


I trust that you also observed to others that their comments were manipulative, then?

I critiqued the American invasion of Iraq and my own country's involvement in it. Does the fact that I didn't write lengthy treatises on the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan in the same thread somehow invalidate my point? You are making less and less sense.
posted by Dumsnill at 8:56 AM on March 14, 2010 [1 favorite]


...your participation is limited to attempting to reframe the conversation to be about the poor, powerless church and how it's being victimized.

Vatican: Everyone is trying to set up the Pope - he's the victim.
posted by ericb at 8:59 AM on March 14, 2010


Though it was partly worth it to see Pope Guilty slamming someone for spouting 'smug bullshit'.

I don't think I'm smug. I'm kind of arrogant sometimes but I don't think I'm smug.


I believe that the kind of "they're allllll alike" generalizing, and "wait, gee, i thought the pope was never wrong lol" jokes, are the things being compared to nativist bias -- and whether or not you agree with that comparison, I would hope you would at least allow that they might be unfair.

I just took the jokes as, well, jokes. People confronted with horror of this magnitude tend to crack jokes; it's a way of dealing with it. It's unfair I'll grant you, but I think it's more levity than anything else. I do see an argument for assigning some blame to the laity based on the fact that, well, they're giving money to serial child molesters and those who work to protect them; I'm not sure what would, for a Catholic lay person, constitute a valid line of response other than withholding tithes and making the sorts of demands that, when made from the bottom of power structures, tend to be ignored or superficially addressed. I don't think the power to stop this lies with the laity, other than perhaps a responsibility to not circle the wagons and to not interfere with efforts to root the sickness out.
posted by Pope Guilty at 9:00 AM on March 14, 2010 [2 favorites]


You know, it's not really believable to say "oh I agree with you that child rape is bad and the church has not handled it properly" when apparently your main issue - the thing you are most horrified by - is that two people made throwaway papal infallibility jokes.

Really? That's your priority?

But fine. Fucking fine. How about this, EmpressCallipygos, empath, everyone who thinks that the rich and powerful church is really the victim here, here's the deal.

A) THOSE PAPAL INFALLIBILITY JOKES WERE SUPEROFFENSIVE AND THE PEOPLE WHO MADE THEM ARE BAD PEOPLE

B) THE RCC IS NOT A PEDOPHILE RING I GUESS

Now, you got what you wanted. Okay? We're all very sorry. Now will you please go do something about your goddamn church covering up decades of child abuse and get off MetaTalk? I hated the Iraq War so I donated and volunteered for the Obama campaign. I wrote and called my Senators and Representative. I do what I can with the resources that I have, but the church doesn't give a shit about me, so there's nothing I can do here. But apparently you two have a shitload invested in it. It's Sunday: go and do something about it if you're tired of people's perceptions of the church.
posted by Optimus Chyme at 9:06 AM on March 14, 2010 [6 favorites]


It's not a pedophile ring. A pedophile ring focuses on the children themselves -- grooming them for abuse, abducting them, distributing images of the assaults. For example, this was a pedophile ring:
LONDON — A team of international investigators infiltrated an Internet chat room used by pedophiles who streamed live videos of children being raped, rescuing 31 children and identifying more than 700 suspects worldwide.

Undercover officers in Britain, the U.S., Canada and Australia busted up the pedophile ring using surveillance techniques more commonly associated with fighting terrorism and organized crime.

The chat room, which was called "Kids the Light of Our Lives," featured images, including live videos, of children — some only months old — being subjected to horrific sexual abuse, said Jim Gamble, chief executive of Britain's Child Exploitation and Online Protection Center.

More than 15 children were found in Britain, Gamble said, declining to give further details. A Canadian official said authorities there arrested 24 Canadians and rescued seven Canadian children as part of the investigation. Four people have been arrested in Australia, including one who was previously convicted of child-pornography charges, officials said.
What the Catholic hierarchy did was different. It moved the pedophiles around in order to minimize and prevent any potential PR debacle. The cover up wasn't about getting pedophile priests more ass, it was about covering the Church's ass.

And that's worse than actually being a pedophile ring. It's a conspiracy. They knew this was a problem, they knew they had priests molesting kids, and their response wasn't to come clean but keep sweeping the problem under the rug for decades. They abused the trust of their followers and did their best to sow FUD when confronted with allegations. It wasn't until the bankruptcies started that they finally started to wake up.

They weren't motivated by making sure every boy in church was having his ass blessed by a priest. They were motivated both by what was a prevailing anti-Catholic sentiment in this country clear into the 1980s (when anti-abortion Protestants finally accepted the help and support of anti-abortion Catholics and the deep pockets that funded them), and they were motivated by not derailing the gravy train of donations that kept the Catholic system of churches, schools, and charities running.

As I said before, the Protestant church had to confront this during the same time frame, and one by one every denomination has set up policies and processes for investigating suspected pedophiles and removing them from service, all while cooperating fully with local police. These policies aren't a perfect fix -- the Presbyterian Church (USA) adopted their rules in 1991 but had to reconsider them a decade later in light of the Pruitt case -- but they are working. But in the Presbyterian Church, a congregation calls a pastor; in the Catholic Church, that responsibility lies with the Holy See through its bishops. And that gave them the ability to hide bad priests in the system.

With great power came great responsibility, and the Catholic church hierarchy behaved recklessly. And now they're suffering those consequences. They knew what was going on, and instead of doing the most selfless and sacrificial thing, they chose the most selfish ass covering imaginable while failing to protect their most vulnerable parishioners. What's happened as a result is sad, but they know the consequences of their actions.

But was it a pedophile ring? No. It was far worse.
posted by dw at 9:13 AM on March 14, 2010 [8 favorites]


It's too bad this came up as I was laying down to sleep, because it's a fucked up world when I wake to find myself in agreement with Optimus Chyme.

I was going to break this thread down be relevant comment by comment, but honestly it's all over the place and other than being one of the original offending commenters I have no strong opinions on the culpability or continuance of the Catholic church.

I do find it ironic that people keep wanting to make a distinction between the institution and the people that comprise the institution (and who financially support its continuance). I'm unable to make that distinction myself. If I were at strong odds with an organization of which I was a member, and I had a choice, I'd bail. But that's just me and that's what I did. Everyone gets to make that call on their own.

I don't mind making "cheap lulzy shots at Catholics and Catholicism" mostly because I find very little to be off limits when it comes to jokes. I am sure Jesus had a better sense of humor than much of you lot. I've asked it before, lets come up with a list of people and organizations we're not aloud to make fun of and post it. That would at least be more honest than these continuous thin skinned call outs.

I am sorry Catholics feel put upon and discriminated upon. But if there were a cosmic balance and one were to measure all the wrongs perpetrated and covered up by the church against the evils levied against it...I know which way I believe the scales would tip. I could be wrong, but that's one thing I share with the religious. I too have faith I am correct.

And just to be clear, I have no greater truck with Catholics than any other religion. I also don't put them in some protected class. I would have made a similar joke about anthropologists if I had one.
posted by cjorgensen at 9:16 AM on March 14, 2010 [3 favorites]


Pope Guilty:

You are deliberately trying to turn the conversation away from the thousands of child rapes and the systematic covering up of those rapes by exploiting the language of victimization on behalf of the victimizers. This is vile, and that you continue to do it demonstrates a near-total lack of shame or empathy on your part.

To me, this is a kind of argumentive tactic of casting your comment from an unassailable moral position while clearly avoiding the point empath and others are making. And I think its pretty vile that you are suggesting that, because his fealings on the Catholic Church and religion in general are a little more nuanced than yours, that empath has less symapthy for abused children than you do.
posted by freshundz at 9:20 AM on March 14, 2010 [5 favorites]


Personally, I would love to see Pope John XXIII re-incarnated and make Vatican III happen.
posted by ovvl at 9:25 AM on March 14, 2010


I'm an English Catholic by birth; in many ways the entire notion of Englishness was got up post Henrician reformation and especially in the reign of Elizabeth as an explicitly anti-Catholic identity (see Bonfire Night for one example). Then there's the whole panoply of mixed feelings and complex relations the extended Irish side of the family had and has with the Church, given its shifting role during colonial times and then as an influence in Irish life and the Irish state after independence. Same family included other atheists like myself, old commies who fought alongside romantic Catholic nationalists against the English crown for the Irish Republic, priests, lay workers in Catholic communities for the homeless and noted composers of popular Folk Mass tunes.
Given all the above, most of what's been written above just seems comically reductive and weaker as a critique than that made by Catholic people themselves (who as someone pointed out above constitute the overwhelmingly majority of the victims of the Church's many crimes). dw's post above is more than fair comment, but OC it's not the content of the jokes so much as the underlying lack of understanding they betray. Like any mockery, it works best if you know what you're talking about.

Also can't resist this dig:
I hated the Iraq War so I donated and volunteered for the Obama campaign.
Bit keener on murdering Afghans, was it?
posted by Abiezer at 9:33 AM on March 14, 2010 [5 favorites]


Only in the simple mind of the bigot does:

"people in an institution did bad things, tried to cover it up and got away with it for a while"

turn into:

"the institution is bad and so are the people who support it".

That's just lazy. Jokes and even lulz are funny. But there is a big difference between jokes and bigotry couched in joking. And there is a difference between supporting the institution and supporting the bad acts of people in the institution.

Look, I'm mostly atheist. But I went to a Catholic school and know a lot of Catholics. I know a lot of Catholic priests, nuns and brothers. This might be surprising to some, but they came from all walks of life and have their own personalities and like "normal people" they aren't perfect.

The church's role in society is to help people be nicer to other people. One of the ways they do that is by providing a place for people to work who might not be able to function in normal society. Normal people generally don't want to live in a rectory or a convent and swear an oath to poverty and chastity. But not everyone is normal. Some people need that kind of structure and sparseness, and the church is an outlet for that. Which is a good thing. The bad thing is that they didn't do a good enough job at realizing the responsibilities of that role, which is to keep an eye on the weirdos.

One of the problems with Christianity is the whole forgiveness thing. Not enough people do it, not enough people believe in it, and even more people are just surprised when they see it in action. It in inconceivable to many that people can separate the horrible behaviors of people from the person himself. Worse, some of the pedophile-cover-up stuff ended up being a perversion of that concept.
posted by gjc at 9:49 AM on March 14, 2010 [2 favorites]


Yeah, just because some people claim the Catholic Church is a single, monolithic entity doesn't mean it actually is. That's more conspiracy theory bullshit than comparative theology.
posted by Slap*Happy at 9:49 AM on March 14, 2010


Only in the simple mind of the bigot does:

"people in an institution did bad things, tried to cover it up and got away with it for a while"

turn into:

"the institution is bad and so are the people who support it".


It was not random people. It was powerful members of the organization, going all the way to the top. A bit of rot at a few spots around the edges of a tree can be pruned away. If the rot is spread throughout the roots and trunk, the tree cannot be saved.

The church's role in society is to help people be nicer to other people.

And you're calling other people simple-minded.
posted by Pope Guilty at 10:07 AM on March 14, 2010 [6 favorites]


"the institution is bad and so are the people who support it".

That's just lazy
.

I don't quite understand this. When you are financially and vulgarly supporting an institution, aren't you at least to some small degree responsible for what that institution does?

Someone compared church membership to national citizenship upthread (Americans are not bad just because their government does bad things), but this is not a good analogy. You can leave a religious community in a matter of minutes; changing your citizenship is, however, a very time-consuming and difficult process (and chances are you will end up being a citizen of country who's government also engages in morally dubious activities).
posted by Dumsnill at 10:07 AM on March 14, 2010 [2 favorites]


Someone compared church membership to national citizenship upthread (Americans are not bad just because their government does bad things), but this is not a good analogy. You can leave a religious community in a matter of minutes; changing your citizenship is, however, a very time-consuming and difficult process (and chances are you will end up being a citizen of country who's government also engages in morally dubious activities).

You can leave (most) countries easily. You may still be saddled with citizenship of said problem state, but at least you won't live there.
posted by knapah at 10:08 AM on March 14, 2010 [1 favorite]


Just weighing in here as another Mefite (and in this case atheist) who finds these lulzy hate-on conversations detrimental to the site. And to the extent that I agree with the "don't click on these threads" advice, which is a lot, there comes a point when you're refusing to click on so many topics that it becomes time to close your account.

The asshole quotient on Metafilter seems to be increasing or at least having a seasonal bump lately. Sure, people have a right to hold and state opinions that offend others; people have a right to make lulzy comments; people have a right to favorite them. Civility sometimes consists of failing to exercise one's rights to the limit. Everybody needs a hug, so why are some folks so determined to kick others in the teeth to prove that they're Right on the Internet?
posted by immlass at 10:24 AM on March 14, 2010 [4 favorites]


I don't quite understand this. When you are financially and vulgarly supporting an institution, aren't you at least to some small degree responsible for what that institution does?

We've discussed before that a lot [all?] of us spend some of our money supporting a lot of fucked up institutions in various ways. Not on purpose, but as a consequence of spending money generally. I'm aware that tithing is not exactly the same as, say buying an automobile or buying a soda, but playing the "who is spending their money in the most pure way" is really not a great way to have an intelligent discussions about the implications of religious adherence and belief or lack of same. Once you put people under this magnifying glass we are all found wanting and it's not really a fun exercise in any case.

I typed this on a Mac which means I must support child labor in China. See?
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 10:32 AM on March 14, 2010 [4 favorites]


"people in an institution did bad things, tried to cover it up and got away with it for a while"

Come on, gjc. We're talking about the *very heart* of the organization - it's leaders and institutional core - in a coordinated ongoing attempt to cover up and minimize decades and decades of child sexual abuse. Calling for the elimination of that organization as punishment is the least you should expect thoughtful people to be doing - and more *would* be doing it if it was anything other than a religious organization, which you apparently feel is supposed to give it a pass for some reason which escapes me. Again, if even 1/100th of this garbage had been going on in a g/l/b/t group, that group would have been wiped off the face of the earth long ago.
posted by mediareport at 10:33 AM on March 14, 2010 [1 favorite]


You can leave (most) countries easily. You may still be saddled with citizenship of said problem state, but at least you won't live there.

I'm not sure what this means. My point was: You can easily stop contributing to an institution like the Church without joining another, similar institution. But: You can only stop contributing taxes to a specific country whose policies you dislike by joining another country whose policies your taxes support. This, to me, makes national citizenship rather different from church membership.

And on preview: Jessamyn, really? You have to be kidding me.
posted by Dumsnill at 10:39 AM on March 14, 2010 [1 favorite]


Well as someone who was "molested" "fondled" call it what you will at 9 years old by good ole' father Kelly. Then 3 years later when I spill the beans (my guts) and i am told to take my sick fantasy to confession and not use my imagination to hurt a very good and pious man, well your institution is corrupt and should be condemned across the board.

Finally I would make my surprised face but I really am worried that my local priest would stick his dick in my mouth.

Why was that deleted?


Hi Ho hi ho.
posted by pianomover at 10:40 AM on March 14, 2010 [3 favorites]


I hope when this thread is done, everyone is able to come together and enjoy the eponysterical-ness (eponystery?) of empath arguing for increased empathy while Pope is Guilty points out that the pope is guilty.
posted by scottreynen at 10:46 AM on March 14, 2010 [15 favorites]


I joined Metafilter last August after years of lurking, and the last several weeks have almost made me regret putting down the five dollars. Perhaps being able to directly participate in threads has changed how I see the site, but I came here looking for a place where people could discuss complicated and, at times, sensitive topics in a thoughtful and respectful manner. Unfortunately there has been a series of threads recently that lead me to believe that when it comes to certain issues, Metafilter is really no better than a YouTube comments section.

Now, I haven't been personally offended by any of the more contentious recent threads; none of them directly apply to me or confront a personal belief or worldview I hold. But what does offend me is the pigheadedness present in these threads. People are just shouting at one another. There's no room for shades of gray and people are unwilling to consider counter arguments. It's 'you're either with us (the right side) or against us (the wrong side)'.

Does the Catholic thread this MeTa refers to really count as "best of the web"? What is the point of posting it other than to stir up trouble? It seems like everyone who commented had already made up their mind beforehand and had no interest in actually discussing the topic, so what purpose does the thread serve?

I still enjoy a lot of what Metafilter has to offer, but there is a lot of ugliness here and I think if people don't acknowledge it and work toward reducing it there's no hope of moving the site forward, making it better. I want to stay, but threads like this make it harder to resist deactivating my account in the hopes that being unable to comment might make me a little less invested in what goes on in them.

In any case, you're welcome for the five dollars.
posted by mpbx at 10:47 AM on March 14, 2010 [4 favorites]


I'd just like to say to those who enjoy the humour of deriding the institutions of Catholicism, which they see as a dangerous and smothering institution detrimental to freedom and justice, and those who enjoy deriding political correctness, which they see as a dangerous and smothering institution detrimental to freedom and justice, and also to those arguing that leaders within institutional Catholicism have a done a lot of vile things and have helped their own evade due criminal punishment endangering children, and to those arguing that there is an institution of anti-catholicism in America, and that we should be aware of what we're stepping in when we make casual anti-Catholic jokes: I have no idea what any of you are talking about.
posted by ~ at 10:49 AM on March 14, 2010 [3 favorites]


Unfortunately there has been a series of threads recently that lead me to believe that when it comes to certain issues, Metafilter is really no better than a YouTube comments section.

If that's really what you think, then please come back once you've grown some discernment. They're not even close at MeFi's worst and YouTube's best.
posted by jtron at 10:51 AM on March 14, 2010 [3 favorites]


I attended a four-year Catholic college, despite not being Catholic myself. While there, I had one Salesian priest who was the head of my major tell two friends of a grieving woman who had just lost her father, friends who had prior commitments to the play he was producing, "Decide which one of you is the better friend. That one can go [to the wake]."

Another Salesian priest who would shortly become the college's president wrote an editorial in the college newspaper explicitly stating that a student's right to free speech on campus was superseded by the importance of Catholic teachings.

In my own opinion about Christianity, the teachings of Christ are pretty radical, and it is tough to live up to what he teaches, whether he's a he or a He. But the Vatican is quite ornate and rich, and I wonder what about Matthew 19:24 is misunderstood. And when I read various condemnations and words written without mercy, I wonder what was left unclear by the Parable of the Sheep and the Goats. As just two examples.

I think that sheerly by thanks to its size, there are a great deal of Catholics, both in the ministry and in its congregations, that make amazingly positive contributions to the welfare of humanity each and every day, and do so in thanks either partially or fully thanks to their specific faith in the Catholic denomination of Christianity.

But I think that the institution and a lot of its teachings also makes amazingly negative contributions to the welfare of humanity each and every day, and I could say that even were I to specifically exclude those men who raped children.

And I believe that a lot of that damage could be ameliorated, or at least averted going into the future, if only the organization didn't consider so much of its own structure and self-made teachings infallible, sanctified, and protected from change.
posted by WCityMike at 10:53 AM on March 14, 2010 [1 favorite]


Only in the simple mind of the bigot does:

"people in an institution did bad things, tried to cover it up and got away with it for a while"

turn into:

"the institution is bad and so are the people who support it".


Been a while since I've been called a bigot. At least I think that's what I was called. I'm not sure being all simple minded and all.

I could call into question your reading comprehension, ability to parse words, inability to accurately paraphrase, and education level, since we're lobbing baseless attacks.

In the first instance I think you need to change your tense to accurately reflect what's going on. Until the Catholic church opens up a Truth and Reconciliation Commission style committee it is going to appear to be an ongoing conspiracy to cover up abuse and sin. I'd say it was time for institutional confession, but it's well past time to practice what is preached. There's something to be said about unconscionable actions. It makes it easy for some to draw a line and say they will no longer be part of an organization. Like I state above, that's each person's call.

I like how I get called a bigot for attacking an institution I see as sexist and bigoted. The warm and comfy part here is this is like being called a racist by a skinhead. I can live with it.

My first girlfriend had all kinds of identity issues that could be firmly laid at the feet of her catholic upbringing. She was told there were things she just wasn't going to be allowed to do due to her sex. She was told the opinions of men mattered more when it came to her body than her own. My own experiences aside it would be way too easy to go into a litany here. The crimes are Legion.

And as to your second citation I never said the individuals that that comprise an institution have to be bad. What I did say was that I can't separate the two. I don't see how this is possible. The church is comprised of the individuals that make it up and materially support it. That's how I see it. You're welcome to see it differently. I will concede there is a wide spectrum of the people making it up and that they shouldn't be judged solely on their membership.

Just like metafilter is it's users. I don't see how you can draw a clear line between the two. Most of the people on here are good people, and as a whole I think this place is better than other places. I wouldn't keep being a member if I thought this was otherwise. I am guessing that's how catholics see their church. At least I hope they do. I hope they see it as a mostly decent place filled with mostly decent people. Because otherwise there's a larger systemic issue going on.

If the fact that I don't see religion, in general, to be a necessary and positive force in the world, and I see the catholic church (and many of it's members), in particular, to be a superstitious lot perpetuating institutionalized persecution makes me a bigot, so be it. We'll revisit the issue again in 50 years and we can see how much has changed.
posted by cjorgensen at 11:07 AM on March 14, 2010 [2 favorites]


Wow, is it like 4Chan in here.

I think what makes metafilter great is that we can talk about these things. Enough threads devolve into lowest-common-denominator snark against anyone trying to have a real conversation or reach understanding, it's really sad to me that meta does too.

Look, I've been called out in-thread before for saying ignorant and poorly-thought out things. I'm not proud of it, but I thought about it and reconsidered what I had been saying. Even if I thought I was still correct, I at least said "Huh. I guess I'm coming off as an ass to a lot of thoughtful people whose opinions I hold in high esteem. Perhaps I should try harder to take their opinions into account and frame my complaints in thoughtful ways instead of as one-liners."

I think I'm a better person for having been confronted on my prejudices.

But if your reaction is just "Oohh, waah, look at the baby cry! Metafilter is worse for not having my lulz!" - really? What exactly are you contributing to the site by characterizing other real people with legitimate concerns as PC-Nazis or whatever? Do we really want metafilter to be another place on the internet to hear nothing but one-liners and aggressive thoughtlessness?
posted by Solon and Thanks at 11:26 AM on March 14, 2010 [9 favorites]


I said: I ask this in all seriousness: how is what the Church hierarchy did regarding child abuse not the actions of a pedophile ring? Sadly, I think the characterization being posed may well be accurate.

unberstrum said: How is the American government (or the American military, or the nation in general) anything but a giant torture ring?

My government has certainly done some ugly things, and it is possible to argue that they have sanctioned and covered up torture in a similar manner to what the Catholic Church has done regarding pedophile priests.

However, I did not say that the Church was "anything but a giant" pedophile ring. I said that what the Catholic Church's hierarchy did to sanction and cover up the molestation of children by their own priests were actions equivalent to those that a pedophile ring would take. I think dw's comment in response to my question was excellent.

...if you make blanket statements like "the Church is just a paedophile ring," you're either tarring a billion people with that brush or you've got a ridiculously reductionist understanding of what the capital-C Church is, in the same way that someone claiming that "all Americans are torturers" either has a pretty broad understanding of culpability or a pretty narrow understanding of who Americans are.

I did not make a blanket comment, I quite clearly restricted my question only to actions taken by the Church's hierarchy and did not implicate or condemn either the Catholic religion or its followers.

If you're trying to address someone else's comments in this thread, I suggest you refer to them directly.
posted by zarq at 11:33 AM on March 14, 2010


Do we really want metafilter to be another place on the internet to hear nothing but one-liners and aggressive thoughtlessness?

No, we don't. And to the extent that I have contributed to that, I honestly and hamburgerlessly apologize. But still. I occasionally get the sense here that even the mildest little thoughtlessness gets reacted to as if it were the end of the world. This annoys me. (But on the other hand, I'm very glad that we have moderators who don't suffer racists, sexists, and homophobes gladly, so I realize why someone like Empress might think of me as a hypocrite. She is wrong, but I understand her accusation.)
posted by Dumsnill at 11:45 AM on March 14, 2010


And a difference in my mind between the church and the state is that you generally do have a choice on one. Love it or leave it people do not generally take into account that people often to not have the resources to leave their country or state. Also, not everyone agrees that one is a horrible bad thing. A lot of people think their country rocks and is the best thing ever. Same for a lot of people in their churches. The difference here is that it doesn't take much more than a bit of moral fortitude to leave a church. You sacrifice community and risk familial distancing, but their is no compelling reason to stay in a church if you do not agree with their teachings. I'll even go ahead and extend this to your country.

I think the US has done a lot of rat bastard things. I still think it's a great place and one I try to make better. I did military service, I vote, I contact my representatives on issues important to me. I have a vested interest in this country. Religion isn't the same to me, so it's not the same game. I'm not vested. Other people's opinions will vary.

I am also not going to get too upset by someone making a joke about the US or launching valid criticism (as long as they are willing to take it in turn). In college my mind was once blown by a person making the case that Cuba was a better country than the US because their education levels were higher and their healthcare was better. He was fine with it not being a democracy.

If you're fine and comfortable in your religion more power to you. I would think in this case you wouldn't get bent out of shape over other people's opinions.
posted by cjorgensen at 11:57 AM on March 14, 2010 [3 favorites]


If I were at strong odds with an organization of which I was a member, and I had a choice, I'd bail.

I guess you'll be packing your bags and moving to another country, cjorgensen, if you really stand behind your stated principles and aren't just talking shit. Unless of course you support TEAM TORTURE USA.
posted by Kraftmatic Adjustable Cheese at 12:01 PM on March 14, 2010


Just went through the thread on the Blue looking to see what set off this Leviathan of a thread. The mods must've done some heavy cleanup through their Lone Star haze, because I'm not sure I saw anything too awful - and please correct me if I'm wrong! Here are the bits I thought might be the ones to cause fuss, most emphasis added by me for easy readin':
Stop it. You are all wrong. The pope is infallible, therefore you are all wrong!. Try to get out of this logic. You can't because you are wrong. And if you think you are right you have to have faith that you are wrong.
posted by cjorgensen at 10:52 AM on March 13 [10 favorites +]

Whoa whoa whoa. I hope no one is saying that this was WRONG. The Pope is infallible, people. It's in the Bible.
posted by DU at 11:14 AM on March 13 [1 favorite +]
These are not accurate representations of Catholic doctrine. As a veteran observer of contentious debate on this subject I took these comments to be sarcastic predictions of the futility of arguing religious subjects using rational methods. Or perhaps mockery of the idea of a human being being treated as though infallible in any capacity. Or maybe just threadshitting.
Homosexual ≠ pedophile.

Correct. But Homosexual + Pedophile = Catholic Priest
posted by mikelieman at 12:36 PM on March 13 [+] [Flagged]
Inaccurate, inflammatory, and FIAMOed.
I've said it before, and I'll say it again: the Roman Catholic Church is the largest pedophile ring in the world.

Many things are wrong here, but focusing just on the priests is not the whole story. There are also the secular authorities who allowed the RCC undue exemption from the rule of the law.

This is #4567289 reason for a robust and absolute separation of church and state.
posted by VikingSword at 3:32 PM on March 13 [4 favorites +] [!]
The biggest-paedo-ring thing pops up.
Ratzinger could play a child molester in a film and look totally believable.
posted by telstar at 4:18 PM on March 13 [3 favorites +]
I think he looks more like an evil wizard, or maybe halfway on the transformation between Joe Lieberman and Emperor Palpatine.
You know who else kept meticulous administrative records of their crimes?

Nothing personal, Your Holiness.
posted by Joe Beese at 4:20 PM on March 13 [3 favorites +]
Cheap, easy, and essentially noise. Joe, you can do better. See me after class.
I know everyone is going to flip out at me saying this, but it's true: the Catholic Church is nothing more than the world's largest, most powerful child abuse ring. I would honestly, no shit, no question bet my life, that at least half of the thousand most powerful men in the church are active or former child abusers.

Now I know that there are soup kitchens and shit that Catholics get into and they care about the death penalty and all that, but those are lay members of the church. The guys wearing the costumes and doing the rituals and setting church policy are the child abusers, and they have absolute power within the church, and they will always be protected, all the way to the top.

There is literally no other organization on the planet that devotes as much money and manpower into both covering up and facilitating systemic abuse.
Priests are shuffled in and out not to protect the church members, but in order to provide "fresh meat" for predatory priests. If you're a regular Joe and you molest a kid, you go to prison. Even those people who are normally "above the law" - politicians and police - will go to prison if they're caught abusing children. Only the Catholic Church has rules in place to specifically protect these men at the expense of their victims; only the Catholic Church will move these men to new places where their crimes are unknown. Only the Catholic Church will intimidate witness to this extent, only the Catholic Church will destroy evidence and obstruct justice as an organizational tenet.

I don't normally agree with crazy evangelicals and conspiracy theorists, but if there were a worldwide Satanic conspiracy that happened to be actually be true, you'd have to start by looking at the wildly powerful, ultra-wealthy, politically untouchable, child-abuse-centered Catholic Church.
posted by Optimus Chyme at 4:47 PM on March 13 [21 favorites +]
Here we go with the second appearance of the biggest-paedo-ring meme. Here OC tries to stick to factual assertions, but (I feel) lets himself get carried away.

For instance, with numbers. As the number of people within the Church actively or passively abetting these activities is unknown to us, I don't think it's fair to call the Church "the world's largest" paedo ring or that at least half of the top 1000 are knowingly involved. We just don't know; there may be a bigger one out there, and it may be 50 of the top 1000 (or 750 - we don't know).

The second paragraph seems to be key. Here he seems to say that while the laity does good in the world, the hierarchy's corruption and institutional self-preservation have ruined it for moral purpose.

The third paragraph, while making a strong point, would be stronger with some supporting data. Again, we don't know how much other organizations are spending on systematizing and covering-up this sort of abuse. Maybe KB&R saves pennies on the margin and makes it up in volume; maybe the slavers in the Cote d'Ivoire take advantage of the less-costly labor market.

While the section featuring repetition of "Only the Catholic Church..." is powerful, I would point out that other organizations (generally organized crime groups and intelligence agencies) do these things, too.
Priests have the power of God on their side, and that is a very powerful tool when used against children.

And parents have the power of Santa Claus. I went to Catholic School for eight years. We were much more afraid of the nuns than the priests.

Non-Catholics seem to have a very, very skewed view of the way actual Catholic life is lived. It's not all child rape and rulers across the knuckles, you know, and the vast majority of priests don't rape children and are pretty nice guys.

But anti-Catholic bigotry seems to be socially acceptable on metafilter when almost no other bigotry is. You guys sound like you could be reading off of Chick Tracts half the time.
posted by empath at 9:03 PM on March 13 [6 favorites +]

But anti-Catholic bigotry seems to be socially acceptable on metafilter when almost no other bigotry is.

Funny, I don't recall anyone attacking ordinary lay Catholics, or even all priests - I certainly wouldn't. What I did attack, and am unapologetic about, is the RCC as a hierarchical organization - top down power structure. I have a problem with the way the "top" is working and the way power is structured within the RCC, because while I have no doubt that there are plenty of good honest decent and even heroic priests, the organization they work for has been responsible for the biggest organized child rape anywhere in the world, going on for decades (and no doubt centuries).

Truth is an adequate defense against charges of slander. And truth is an adequate defense against charges of bigotry. If the shoe fits, wear it.

The charge is: The Roman Catholic Church is the biggest and oldest pedophile ring in the world. That is not bigotry - that is the truth.
posted by VikingSword at 9:44 PM on March 13 [1 favorite +]
empath comes in with the accusation of anti-Catholic bigotry, and VikingSword responds with an assertion of his belief in common priestly goodness, a challenge for counterevidence, and a repetition of his thesis. Again, while there is evidence of widespread and systemic sexual abuse and coverup, we don't know for certain that the Church's efforts in this vein truly are the historic apex.
The Roman Catholic Church is the biggest and oldest pedophile ring in the world.

You know, I'd generally just be against such statements on principle. But it's been decades if not centuries of these crimes, literally thousands of such cases and every single time the role of the church has been to cover up - not one time has the church ever been the one to blow the whistle.

For those of you who claim it's a witch-hunt - where are the innocent victims of this witch-hunt? If it's a witch-hunt, why isn't the Holy Roman, Apostolic and Catholic Church actually doing something to distinguish the guilty from the innocent?

Invoking RICO seems perfectly reasonable to me. We've had decades of inaction. The Catholic Church is never, ever going to do one thing about priests putting their penises into the anuses of small children until they are forced to.

At this point, if you are a defender of the Catholic Church, the onus is really on you. Show us how the elders of your church have defended your children from sexual assault. Tell us about the internal discipline of the church, prove to us that priests who have violated children are prevented from ever being in contact with children again. Otherwise you are in the unpleasant position of defending serial child rapists who are also protected by one of the largest and oldest institutions in the world.

(Oh, and I'd add that my anger is fueled by the fact that these are the same people who believe that people who have consensual same-sex relationships will be subject to infinite torture for an infinite time, whereas priests who sodomize - rape! - little boys will get an eternity in paradise...)
posted by lupus_yonderboy at 11:15 PM on March 13 [3 favorites +]
The far-away wolf-child breaks it down for us. He posits that while these accusations against the Church are hyperbolic, evidence points to them being true at least qualitatively. He points out the inaccuracy of the term "witch-hunt" and makes a point about the inertia inherent in organizations, especially old and powerful ones. Pace jessamyn he demands that participants in the rites, activities, and daily life of the Church hold their hierarchy responsible for their actions. Finally, he points out something of an elephant in the room.
This whole catholic as victim thing really has me curled in a ball, weeping for them. Seriously? Are we going to indulge this crap? Um, sorry your feelings are hurt, but your little club has been killing people and dictating misery to a massive percentage of the planet for well nigh on many centuries? Deal with it. Sorry your feelings are hurt. Your rosary is in the corner.
posted by nevercalm at 12:39 AM on March 14 [+]
Despite the historical justification given in the fourth sentence, this comes off as rude and is not likely to help the conversation go in any positive direction.

...

That aside, I was surprised to see how "clean" the thread was, or is (again, I don't know what's been deleted). There was some rudeness on the BOO CHURCH side, but their arguments were generally backed up with facts, and pains were taken by multiple commenters to assign blame to the hierarchs responsible for abuse of power (and children). empath, I apologize if there were bigoted comments deleted that would've gone in the thread before your accusation of anti-Catholic bigotry, but if there weren't, then I think it looks like you jumped the gun or overreacted. And again, please let me know if I've misread anything, or missed something deliberately false, obtuse, bigoted, or erroneous.

Oh, and comparing evidence-based criticism of the temporal Church's policies, politics, and procedures to the heinous batshit bigotry of Jack Chick and his ilk is beyond the fucking pale and I hope you take that back.
posted by jtron at 12:01 PM on March 14, 2010 [6 favorites]


DUDE I THINK I JUST CHANNELED ETHEREAL BLIGH
posted by jtron at 12:02 PM on March 14, 2010 [5 favorites]


I frequently wish to join the discussion surrounding child rape, it being a topic that is uncomfortably close to my heart. Then I read Optimus Chyme's comments, and I feel like I don't need to. Thank you so much, Optimus. I really can't tell you how validating and....I don't know...hopeful I suppose, your comments make me. Thank you.
posted by lazaruslong at 12:05 PM on March 14, 2010 [3 favorites]


The asshole quotient on Metafilter seems to be increasing or at least having a seasonal bump lately.

I, too, have noticed this.

I joined Metafilter last August after years of lurking, and the last several weeks have almost made me regret putting down the five dollars.

Can't say as I blame you. It hasn't been our best several weeks. I took some of it off, and I highly recommend the "going outside" approach for GRAR weary MeFites.
posted by grapefruitmoon at 12:13 PM on March 14, 2010 [1 favorite]


I guess you'll be packing your bags and moving to another country, cjorgensen, if you really stand behind your stated principles and aren't just talking shit. Unless of course you support TEAM TORTURE USA.

I guess people have lost the ability to read today. I'm not packing up my bags, since 1. I don't see as I have a choice. (Job, family, language barriers, finances, etc., and loyalty preclude the move.) 2. I am happy to support TEAM TORTURE USA.(I prefer to call it TEAM BETTER THAN THE OTHER OPTIONS). You can disagree with me, but I think I clearly stated that I'm behind and support the US. As an aggregate I think we've gotten more right than wrong and I think we do a mostly better job than other countries. But if you know one that is better feel free to make your case. I'm not really in the market to move though. I like it here.

And I extend the same courtesy to catholics. If they think their religion is the bee's knees, more power to them. If they can see it's flaws and are working to change this, then admirable.

In the first instance I see a reason to stick around, would actually argue with someone making a case otherwise. In the second, I don't see why anyone would want to continue, but as already stated, I think this is a personal decision.
posted by cjorgensen at 12:18 PM on March 14, 2010


When people are trapped by their faith, or feel they can't leave it, they will react to negativism concerning their faith as emotional victims of the comments themselves.
posted by Brian B. at 12:19 PM on March 14, 2010


I wonder how many members beefing about the RC pedophile thread went to Mass today and put ten bucks in the donation tray.
posted by five fresh fish at 12:40 PM on March 14, 2010


One might note that citizens of Team Torture USA don't have a choice about paying their tithe to the IRS. I don't think the same is true of the RC laity. And I think the laity need to assume some culpability for having made it financially possible for the RC to spend several hundred years protecting kiddy-diddlers.
posted by five fresh fish at 12:42 PM on March 14, 2010


This morning I gave $20 to TEAM CHILD RAPERS.
posted by Kraftmatic Adjustable Cheese at 12:53 PM on March 14, 2010 [2 favorites]


Oh hey guys, i'm back.

Just want to note that while several people have claimed that no one is saying that all Roman Catholics are responsible for the actions of the priesthood, that now quite a few people have just said that Roman Catholics have collective guilt for child rape if they haven't left the church.

And several people have said that Catholics who HAVE left the church but have family in the church (ie, me) STILL should feel guilty about child rape by priests for some reason, which I can't quite figure out.
posted by empath at 12:54 PM on March 14, 2010


One might note that citizens of Team Torture USA don't have a choice about paying their tithe to the IRS.

Sure we do. We can leave the country and head to inviting, yet chilly Canada. On a more abstract level, we can vote in anti-torture political replacements.

If not, then I suppose some other advantages of living here must take priority.
posted by zarq at 12:57 PM on March 14, 2010


If you're trying to address someone else's comments in this thread, I suggest you refer to them directly.

Yes, I was primarily addressing the broader claim from the original thread, but I think that even if you focus on the hierarchy of the two institutions - federal government vs. priests, the holy orders, bishops, and the Vatican bureaucracy - the comparison is still worth making. A disgusting number of the people at the top and a distressingly large number of their underlings were involved in committing or covering up crimes, but even so, those people were a subset of those institutions. Other parts of those institutions just weren't really involved. It's fair to say that a group of assholes within the institution were functionally a pedophile protection ring or a torture-enabling ring, but it's stretching it a bit reduce the entire institution to that.

You can leave a religious community in a matter of minutes.

I think you underestimate the role that religion plays in others' lives. It's not simply a matter of going to Church on Sundays. In the US, Catholicism tends to be associated with groups that were (or are) ethnic minorities - Irish, Italian, and Hispanic immigrants. The first two groups were historically subject to a lot of discrimination, much of which was also anti-Catholic in nature, and obviously anti-immigrant sentiment today is focused almost exclusively on Hispanic immigrants. As a result, perhaps, these groups settle(d) in ethnic enclaves, where culture (inextricably intertwined with religion) was preserved. Even today, there are Irish-Catholic and Italian-Catholic neighborhoods, where everyone's ancestors came from the same areas in Ireland or Italy, where everyone belongs to the same churches and goes to the same Catholic schools and celebrates the same feast-days and attends everyone else's parties and weddings and funerals. Where your workmates from the Police Dept. or the Fire Dept. or the union come up and say hi after Mass. Religion, and religious identification, is a huge part of daily life.

And so "leaving a religious community" means more than no longer going to church on Sundays. It means turning your back on the ethnic culture and community you grew up with. It means (possibly) losing the support of your extended family. It means isolation, and while someone who left for college and found new friends and has a support system outside of the community might be able to do it, and to navigate the disapproval of the family, there are plenty of people who didn't go to college, or who only went to the local community college - or the local Catholic college. They settle down in the same neighborhood as their parents, marry another nice young Irish Catholic boy or girl, and start having kids. They work in the same sorts of jobs their parents did, though maybe more of the women have jobs. They served as altar boys/girls as kids, and eucharistic ministers now that they've grown up. They've got a brother or an uncle or a cousin who's a priest, maybe more in the older generations. Whether or not they personally have deep religious feelings, being Catholic plays a huge role in their identity and their community.

And so asking those people to simply leave the Church is like asking poor families to leave Detroit, or asking people who don't support the war to leave the US - it might be the best thing to do, in many ways, but to act as if it were simple for them is to dismiss a great many challenges and obstacles that you may not even realize exist. It's not easy to leave all of these things behind, and even though people do do it, and even though not everyone belongs to families and communities where religion and culture and family are one big knot, it's rarely a matter of a few minutes (!). (Incidentally, I'd posit that this is why there are so many lapsed Catholics and Christmas-and-Easter Catholics and cultural Catholics: it's hard to leave that cultural identity behind, even if you don't believe anymore, or left the Church due to its anti-gay, anti-woman policies and decreasing focus on social justice, or whatever. )
posted by ubersturm at 12:58 PM on March 14, 2010 [17 favorites]


And several people have said that Catholics who HAVE left the church but have family in the church (ie, me) STILL should feel guilty about child rape by priests for some reason, which I can't quite figure out.

I don't know whether you or your family should feel guilty, but you can't quite figure out why supporting this organization financially and popularly enables it's activities to some extent?
posted by Dumsnill at 1:02 PM on March 14, 2010 [2 favorites]


Intention matters for a lot. And Catholics aren't going to Mass on Sunday so they can support Team Child Rape. They're giving money to support charity, the private schools, etc. The fact that the money has been used for nefarious purposes makes them victims not enablers.
posted by empath at 1:09 PM on March 14, 2010 [2 favorites]


gjc writes "Only in the simple mind of the bigot does:

"'people in an institution did bad things, tried to cover it up and got away with it for a while'

"turn into:

"'the institution is bad and so are the people who support it'.

"That's just lazy. Jokes and even lulz are funny. But there is a big difference between jokes and bigotry couched in joking. And there is a difference between supporting the institution and supporting the bad acts of people in the institution."


The priests in question just didn't happen to belong to the same Elks lodge or softball league or something. Your argument might hold some water if the church was somehow ignorant of the problem and it was just bad luck that all the priests worked for the church. But it wasn't bad luck. They were employed by the same church that was supposed to be providing spiritual guidance to the victims and then, when their crimes were uncovered, moved the criminals to new locations and new employ with the church. New locations where the church essentially vouched for the character of the molesters. Where the church put them in places of authority over children without any supervision. Where they often went on to re-offend. The church was instrumental in and a primary player in the cover ups not some nebulous group of people who just happen to go to the same meetings on Sunday. And the cover ups were as much about protecting the church as they were about avoiding personal repercussions on the part of the priests.
posted by Mitheral at 1:12 PM on March 14, 2010 [5 favorites]


They're giving money to support charity, the private schools, etc.

More specifically, they're giving money to the local diocese to help keep it running -- keeping the church heated, the grounds kept, the local school operating, etc. It's not about giving money to the Vatican, it's about supporting the local community.
posted by Kraftmatic Adjustable Cheese at 1:13 PM on March 14, 2010 [1 favorite]


zarq writes "Sure we do. We can leave the country and head to inviting, yet chilly Canada. "

Have you actually looked into this? Not as easy for the average American as you seem to think.
posted by Mitheral at 1:16 PM on March 14, 2010 [3 favorites]


One might note that citizens of Team Torture USA don't have a choice about paying their tithe to the IRS. I don't think the same is true of the RC laity.

We sorry citizens of Team Torture USA do have a choice, remember? Leave the country. Or wait, are we now allowed to abrogate some of our collective guilt by explaining how hard it would be for us to leave the country, given that we'd need money and visas and a job in another country and so on? I mean, no matter what emotional and social and practical challenges people might face leaving the Church - sorry, Team Pedophile Ring - it sounds like the consensus is that they're tainted by association, no excuses, right?

Incidentally: you know, in more than a decade of Catholic schooling, I don't think I ever heard the word "tithe" except in reference to the whole 10%-of-your-income thing, which is primarily Protestant. Though it's possible churches are trying to adopt it now, most parishes I knew as a kid used bingo, fish fries, lotteries, festivals, and collections during Mass (where most people gave cash), along with voluntary larger donations from church members. In most parishes, at least some of this money was for supporting the parish grade school and other local programs (food banks etc.), as well as for managing basic maintainance. Everyone was encouraged to give money directly to charities of their choice, as well. I don't vouch for the general accuracy of this site, but these answers seem to fairly accurately reflect my memories of how donating money to the Church usually worked. Membership in the Church is not contingent on giving money except in countries where there is a general church tax (like Germany), and those are national laws, not Church laws.
posted by ubersturm at 1:16 PM on March 14, 2010 [1 favorite]


"Comparing the racial bigotry-motivated anti-Catholicism of the nativist right to horror and shock at actual actions of actual people is absurd ..."

The two aren't mutually exclusive. I don't see a problem with criticizing the church, but if you think that MeFi doesn't have an anti-catholic bent that is influenced by America's cultural history, then you are completely ignoring your own unpacked cultural bias. You are akin to a white guy ignoring his white privilege.

What is absurd is ignoring the evidence that MeFi has an obsession with one Christian sect over another (again, check the tags, LOLCatholicism far outweighs LOLProtestantism FPPs). What is truly absurd is that American Protestantism has far more worldwide consequences than Catholicism, yet there is rarely any criticism of it beyond lumping protestants together as a part of monolithic Christianity, or ignoring the religious influence on the American left and right all together.
posted by ollyollyoxenfree at 1:16 PM on March 14, 2010 [2 favorites]


It seems like everyone who commented had already made up their mind beforehand and had no interest in actually discussing the topic...

Oh, come on. That's disingenuous at best. There has been some interesting and informed conversation in that thread -- and the snarky, LOLCatholics is actually a minimal part of it.
posted by ericb at 1:18 PM on March 14, 2010


Have you actually looked into this? Not as easy for the average American as you seem to think.

I was half-joking. I haven't looked into it. Interesting. Is it more difficult for an immigrant than becoming an American citizen?
posted by zarq at 1:23 PM on March 14, 2010


Just want to note that while several people have claimed that no one is saying that all Roman Catholics are responsible for the actions of the priesthood, that now quite a few people have just said that Roman Catholics have collective guilt for child rape if they haven't left the church.

Why wouldn't you feel guilty? I'm not saying responsible, but guilt? Why not. I feel guilty for unresolved and continuing treatment of potentially innocent prisoners at Guantánamo. I want the innocent let go and the guilty held accountable. I want closure. Do I feel responsible for what goes on there? No. I did my part. I voted for the guy who said he'd clean the mess up. I've written some of the people that think holding people indefinitely is a good idea. I've made contributions to candidates that seem to agree with me. But I still feel guilt for what we as a country have done and are continuing to do.

Hell, even I feel guilty about the sex abuse in the Catholic church.

Intention matters for a lot. And Catholics aren't going to Mass on Sunday so they can support Team Child Rape. They're giving money to support charity, the private schools, etc. The fact that the money has been used for nefarious purposes makes them victims not enablers.

I can't even wrap my head around that logic.

You do realize that you don't have to have charity to give to charity, right? You don't even have to have a charitable organization.

Just this week I sent $20 to someone that needs it. If the story proves to be untrue then call me a victim. If after finding out his story is untrue I send him another $20 I am something else entirely.
posted by cjorgensen at 1:23 PM on March 14, 2010 [1 favorite]


ollyollyoxenfree: I don't know about MeFi being more against Catholicism than other Christian religions. Go into a thread bashing some American Christians' views on evolution and if the Catholic Church is brought up at all it's generally complimented on its refreshing approach to science.

Maybe LOLCatholicism outweighs LOLProtestantism because people don't use the word Protestant as much as Catholic?
posted by ODiV at 1:24 PM on March 14, 2010


Intention matters for a lot. And Catholics aren't going to Mass on Sunday so they can support Team Child Rape. They're giving money to support charity, the private schools, etc. The fact that the money has been used for nefarious purposes makes them victims not enablers.

Twenty years ago, when this was all really starting to come to a head, I would have agreed with you. Now, not so much.
posted by five fresh fish at 1:26 PM on March 14, 2010


Just want to note that while several people have claimed that no one is saying that all Roman Catholics are responsible for the actions of the priesthood, that now quite a few people have just said that Roman Catholics have collective guilt for child rape if they haven't left the church.

And several people have said that Catholics who HAVE left the church but have family in the church (ie, me) STILL should feel guilty about child rape by priests for some reason, which I can't quite figure out.


While the anti-Catholic crown in these and other threads are over the top and could make their case better, they ask good questions: What should a good Catholic do in response to finding out Church leaders knew about and excused the sexual abuse of children? What does it mean for the individual to continue being part of a religious group that did these things? How serious should church leadership be taken going forward? How does the individual reconcile the inflexibility of the church and its leaders, with the outrageous sins some of the leadership have committed?

The Catholic church did a lot of dirty laundry and that laundry was made public. I have no problem with people calling the church and its practitioners on that laundry and/or asking them how they intend to clean it.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 1:29 PM on March 14, 2010 [2 favorites]


What is absurd is ignoring the evidence that MeFi has an obsession with one Christian sect over another (again, check the tags, LOLCatholicism far outweighs LOLProtestantism FPPs)

I imagine it's hard to see this stuff when you aren't Catholic and haven't had to deal with the typical 'saint worshiping idolatry' and 'you think the pope is perfect' stuff from protestants and conspiracy theory stuff from Jack Chick types.

I'm really sympathetic to former Catholics having terrible opinions about the Church and religion in general, because I have definitely been there myself, particularly in the years directly after I stopped believing in God. It was a struggle for me, and I went through some difficult times emotionally trying to deal with it while still being close to my family.

But what bugs me is the non-Catholics here who clearly have no idea what it's like to have a Catholic family or what the day-to-day experience of being Catholic is, piling on to people who have been taken advantage of and lied to by an institution that so permeates their lives.
posted by empath at 1:34 PM on March 14, 2010 [4 favorites]


And there are other ways to address that than yelling about the Know-Nothing Party.
posted by Pope Guilty at 1:35 PM on March 14, 2010


While the anti-Catholic crown in these and other threads are over the top and could make their case better, they ask good questions: What should a good Catholic do in response to finding out Church leaders knew about and excused the sexual abuse of children? What does it mean for the individual to continue being part of a religious group that did these things? How serious should church leadership be taken going forward? How does the individual reconcile the inflexibility of the church and its leaders, with the outrageous sins some of the leadership have committed?

Yeah, all that's great. Meanwhile, the original thread has been taken over by idiots like VikingSword who want to shut down the church, seize the assets and invade the Vatican.
posted by empath at 1:45 PM on March 14, 2010


"And there are other ways to address that than yelling about the Know-Nothing Party."

Strawman. There is more to American Anti-Catholicism than the Know-Nothing party. If you actually knew about American religious history you would know this.

ODiV, the point is that in LOLCHristian threads, which I will participate in as well because I dislike religion for the most part, is that the Americans here will lump Protestantism together with Christianity as a whole, but when the issue is Catholicism it is its own and distinct from Christianity. And the part about word usage might be true, as Americans aren't generally aware of their own religious history (even though Protestantism has a much more historical and current impact than Catholicism). But I would say it might be selection bias. American protestants are more likely to see Christianity as the TRUE (scotsman-like) Christianity, if you know what I mean.
posted by ollyollyoxenfree at 1:48 PM on March 14, 2010


boo-hoo-hoo, it's not like they have to work for a living.

That's a low blow. You should apologize for it.


Indeed, it was a stupid thing to say. Sorry.
posted by mlis at 1:49 PM on March 14, 2010 [3 favorites]


MLIS -- "good on you." Thanks for the apology.
posted by ericb at 1:59 PM on March 14, 2010 [1 favorite]


Right. Can we talk about Bruce Willis again now? How about my other teen-crush Kevin Costner? Much to be said about bad movies there, no?
posted by ZeroAmbition at 2:10 PM on March 14, 2010


zarq writes "I was half-joking. I haven't looked into it. Interesting. Is it more difficult for an immigrant than becoming an American citizen?"

My understanding (admittedly not exhaustively researched and merely observed from people trying to go both ways) is that while it is essentially impossible for your average Canadian to emigrate to the US it is "only" very, very difficult for the average American to come here. And by average I mean no family ties, not independently wealthy, not a professional. Short of CoS style retention I'd imagine it is at least an order of magnitude easier to leave any American church than it is to come to Canada for the average American.
posted by Mitheral at 2:11 PM on March 14, 2010 [2 favorites]


But what bugs me is the non-Catholics here who clearly have no idea what it's like to have a Catholic family or what the day-to-day experience of being Catholic is, piling on to people who have been taken advantage of and lied to by an institution that so permeates their lives.

I am certain that Scientologists feel much the same when their organization is hammered for the things its founder and current leader have enabled in their name.

Tough. Shit.
posted by five fresh fish at 2:18 PM on March 14, 2010 [1 favorite]


Thanks for raising the bar, FFF.

Just want to point out that you, Optimus Chyme, Pope Guilty and VikingSword are really the only people that I think seem to be incapable of having a civil discussion about this kind of thing. Kind of curious what motivates it, to be honest. Some of us have been a bit open about our backgrounds and why we feel the way we do about things, but you guys just seem to be Perpetual Anonymous Vitriol Machines.
posted by empath at 2:24 PM on March 14, 2010 [11 favorites]


Nobody ever wants to talk about Kevin Costner. Schould have gone straight to the Shmoopy thread.
posted by ZeroAmbition at 2:26 PM on March 14, 2010


Kevin Costner? Much to be said about bad movies there, no?

Oh God, I saw Mr. Brooks on the telly the other day. Yes, there is much to be said about the badness of that movie.
posted by Dumsnill at 2:27 PM on March 14, 2010


mpbx: Does the Catholic thread this MeTa refers to really count as "best of the web"? What is the point of posting it other than to stir up trouble? It seems like everyone who commented had already made up their mind beforehand and had no interest in actually discussing the topic, so what purpose does the thread serve?

I think there were multiple thoughtful contributions in-thread.

Back to this call-out:

Criticizing all individual Catholics for being Catholic--silly. Although I would hope that educated and aware Catholics would withdraw their support from the church, I understand the complicated role it plays in the lives and families of Catholics.

Criticizing the Catholic church--yes, please. As much as possible. It has enormous power and influence over the lives of millions and, as such, should be held to a very high standard. Call for it to be dismantled. Suggest it should be subject to RICO. Go ahead. Criticism of such an influential organization is invaluable. In that sense, if you can't take the criticism of the Catholic church as an organization then yes, you should get out of the kitchen.

The comparison of Catholics to Jews/black people/women/etc is not helpful. I've never seen that change anyone's mind.
posted by internet fraud detective squad, station number 9 at 2:31 PM on March 14, 2010 [1 favorite]


I tried to avoid making analogies like that myself, which is why I made historical anti-catholic analogies. I think maybe the closest, if you need to draw an analogy, is between Muslims and Catholics (terrorism/child abuse), but it's still a pretty big stretch. Analogies with anti-semitism are particularly problematic because of Catholic complicity in the holocaust. It's tempting to try to make an analogy with something that everyone agrees is wrong though.
posted by empath at 2:38 PM on March 14, 2010


empath: “But what bugs me is the non-Catholics here who clearly have no idea what it's like to have a Catholic family or what the day-to-day experience of being Catholic is, piling on to people who have been taken advantage of and lied to by an institution that so permeates their lives.”

five fresh fish: “I am certain that Scientologists feel much the same when their organization is hammered for the things its founder and current leader have enabled in their name. ¶ Tough. Shit.”

This is the laziest copout I think I've read all week, and it's cowardly, too. It's only been repeated ad nauseum in this thread because some people want the visceral thrill of comparing Catholicism with Scientology. (Which is, by the way, an insane comparison that says more about the bitterness of the person making it than it does about reality.)

Yes, Scientologists would feel the same. Scientologists would feel attacked if people generalized about their innate abilities, called them collaborators with fanatics and mind-control loonies, attacked their moral and spiritual relevance, and generally dismissed them as human beings. Scientologists would feel quite besieged. So don't fucking do that. Yes, it's just as bad when you do it to Scientologists. You should know this. There's a right and a wrong way to approach the problem, and veering into personal attack is the wrong way. Inform yourself, read up on Scientology, learn a bit about the experience of Scientologists at large – try to find out what motivates them, what drives them to membership in the church. And talk with them honestly, accepting that people are Scientologists for a lot of different reasons; people find some solace there often, they get help working out deep-rooted issues from childhood through auditing, they get help with drugs through the rundown, etc. Accept these elements of another person's experience – don't just reject it. And understand that accepting another person's experience of a thing doesn't threaten your validity as a human being. Moreover, a Scientologist can have their own experience of the church, can have their own thoughts and feelings and very interesting viewpoints, and still be wrong in the final estimation.

In fact, Scientology is actually an interesting example, because high-level Scientologists are actually trained to use the tactic you're using here, five fresh fish. That is: you're conflating "attack on an organization and a set of beliefs" with "attack on the adherent." That's precisely what Scientologists are supposed to conflate when speaking to the press, according to L Ron Hubbard: they're supposed to take every challenge that anyone offers of their beliefs, every bit of evidence that Scientology is actually wrong, and make it seem like a personal attack. High-level Scientologists often do this in interviews; they'll listen to a thoughtful challenge and say, "see, this is the sort of personal attack that Scientologists suffer through." But those aren't personal attacks. They're attacks on a belief system.

It's important to know the difference. Just because high-level Scientologists tend to conflate debate with personal attack doesn't mean we should; we should be careful not to attack people personally and make emotional accusations. That level of common decency is the only thing that allows us to interact in a healthy way as human beings. And - it needs to be said - the statements here and in many threads about Catholicism have gone well beyond the level of common decency into very real and startling personal attack.

In short: accusing any and all Catholics of being collaborators in the crimes which high-level officials of the church have committed prevents rational discussion.

What's more, the accusation is clearly false. At the very least, people here don't seem to understand that the officials within the Church often actively deny all of this stuff, and that run-of-the-mill Catholics believe those officials. If run-of-the-mill Catholics really believe that there is no problem, how can they be collaborators? People here are clearly just attacking for the sake of the attack. Which leads me to believe that here, as elsewhere, atheism is often more an expression of a personal bitterness with the capriciousness of authority figures than a well-thought set of beliefs.
posted by koeselitz at 2:58 PM on March 14, 2010 [14 favorites]


mpbx: "Does the Catholic thread this MeTa refers to really count as "best of the web"? What is the point of posting it other than to stir up trouble?"

It's a globally significant news story, presented solely with direct quotations from two major news outlets in different places on the political spectrum, that present both the claim and counter-claim.

In short: I make no apology for either the post or its framing.
posted by Joe Beese at 3:10 PM on March 14, 2010 [1 favorite]


What in particular is angering you about my post re: Scientology's parishioners, empath?

Are you upset that I compare Catholics to Scientologists? Or upset that I don't give a shit what their brain-washed Scientology parishioners feel when I criticize their incredibly abusive church organization? Do you feel that if a Scieno thread comes up, I shouldn't be extremely critical of that church's propensity for murder, harassment, child abuse, political infiltration of government organizations, taxation-dodging, and abuse of parishioners?

I made 1, 2, 3, 4, 5 posts to the blue thread and 1, 2, 3, 4 to the grey thread.

Not one of them justifies your accusation of being "really the only people that I think seem to be incapable of having a civil discussion about this kind of thing," jackass.
posted by five fresh fish at 3:13 PM on March 14, 2010


In short: accusing any and all Catholics of being collaborators in the crimes which high-level officials of the church have committed prevents rational discussion.


I sort of agree, and then I don't. But keep in mind that this is the rational discusser who called for the murder of Japanese and Norwegian whalers. Quite the paragon of rational debate, here.
posted by Dumsnill at 3:14 PM on March 14, 2010


Koeselitz, I was with you until the swipe on atheism. There are a lot of atheists on metafilter. Most of them are not at all jerky about it.
posted by empath at 3:15 PM on March 14, 2010 [3 favorites]


“But what bugs me is the non-Catholics here who clearly have no idea what it's like to have a Catholic family or what the day-to-day experience of being Catholic is, piling on to people who have been taken advantage of and lied to by an institution that so permeates their lives.”

But Catholicism permeates everyone's lives in America, over the issue of abortion. If a disbeliever is being forced to have an unwanted or otherwise defective kid just because the Pope decrees it, and because regional Catholic authorities attempt to boycott any politicians who jump that ship, then all criciticism of these people is allowed under political free speech. Anyone who gets their feelings hurt is only being creepy passive aggressive.
posted by Brian B. at 3:16 PM on March 14, 2010


That is: you're conflating "attack on an organization and a set of beliefs" with "attack on the adherent."

Please indicate where I have done that. I have helpfully provided links to all my posts, just above. Other than criticising parishioners for financially supporting a corrupt organization, where have I attacked anyone? Maybe where I call empath a jackass, a few minutes ago?
posted by five fresh fish at 3:17 PM on March 14, 2010


I don't see what abortion has to do with child abuse or infallibility.
posted by Monday, stony Monday at 3:21 PM on March 14, 2010


One might note that citizens of Team Torture USA don't have a choice about paying their tithe to the IRS. I don't think the same is true of the RC laity. And I think the laity need to assume some culpability for having made it financially possible for the RC to spend several hundred years protecting kiddy-diddlers.

If this isn't an attack on adherents, I don't know what is.
posted by empath at 3:25 PM on March 14, 2010


koeselitz: "Which leads me to believe that here, as elsewhere, atheism is often more an expression of a personal bitterness with the capriciousness of authority figures than a well-thought set of beliefs."

???

It's often a well though-out lack of belief, but I'm quibbling.
posted by internet fraud detective squad, station number 9 at 3:26 PM on March 14, 2010 [1 favorite]


An attack?! Give us a break, empath. It is a criticism and a judgement, but it hardly constitutes an attack. Gahds.
posted by five fresh fish at 3:44 PM on March 14, 2010


"Which leads me to believe that here, as elsewhere, atheism is often more an expression of a personal bitterness with the capriciousness of authority figures than a well-thought set of beliefs."

This is a clear example of psychological projection.
posted by Brian B. at 3:47 PM on March 14, 2010


Indeed, it was a stupid thing to say. Sorry.

No problem, we're cool.
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 3:47 PM on March 14, 2010


"But Catholicism permeates everyone's lives in America, over the issue of abortion."

See, this is what is wrong with people with no clue about religious history or religious sociology. It's the protestant denominations (especially the evangelicals) that have the most political clout, and statistically dislike abortion. Catholics are divided on the issue (that's not to say there isn't influence, but to say they are primary influencers is flat out wrong).

It fucking frustrates me as an atheist that so many of my fellow atheists are completely clueless about religion.
posted by ollyollyoxenfree at 3:58 PM on March 14, 2010 [3 favorites]


me: ”Which leads me to believe that here, as elsewhere, atheism is often more an expression of a personal bitterness with the capriciousness of authority figures than a well-thought set of beliefs.”

empath: “Koeselitz, I was with you until the swipe on atheism. There are a lot of atheists on metafilter. Most of them are not at all jerky about it.”

I know this is true, and I'm sorry to imply otherwise. But it seems pretty clear to me that PG was airing his own personal demons when he made that crack about your username above. Some people are so vehement about this issue that I can't believe that it's not personal to them in some way. Learning to let go of our personal baggage here is an inherent part of the process, I think.

Brian B.: “This is a clear example of psychological projection.”

No, it's a clear example of sympathy for people whose experience I understand. I was raised by evangelicals. It's an experience which leaves scars, I know. I'm pretty damned bitter myself, and I know what that bitterness makes me do. I could probably channel that bitterness into personal attacks on people who disagree with me. Strike that - I often do. I'm trying to learn not to. But the fact that I do it too doesn't make it right.
posted by koeselitz at 4:00 PM on March 14, 2010 [1 favorite]


(that's not to say there isn't influence, but to say they are primary influencers is flat out wrong).

Where did I use the word primary that you italicized? By your own links, Catholics are to the right on abortion, but you tried to blame others to exonerate them. That's two wrongs right there. You can special plead your case all you want, but not without self-aggrandizing it seems.
posted by Brian B. at 4:12 PM on March 14, 2010


I was raised by evangelicals. It's an experience which leaves scars, I know. I'm pretty damned bitter myself, and I know what that bitterness makes me do

I was BEYOND bitter at the Catholic Church when I left, and nothing to do with any of the scandals. Just to do with general moral hypocrisy and the sense that I had been conned by teachers, etc. I was very WAKE UP SHEEPLE every chance I got.

I think as I've gotten older I've gotten a more sophisticated appreciation for faith and ritual and the role it has in people's lives, and I can appreciate the value of the church support structure for people, because the church has been there for my family when we've needed it, which I recognize is not the case for everybody. And also realized that most people just can't handle atheism, so its not worth trying to convince people.
posted by empath at 4:17 PM on March 14, 2010 [1 favorite]


"Where did I use the word primary that you italicized?"

You didn't, you inferred it. You said "But Catholicism permeates everyone's lives in America ..." as if Catholicism is the main influence on American abortion politics.

"By your own links, Catholics are to the right on abortion, but you tried to blame others to exonerate them."

No, I pointed out that four of the six groups with majorities that want abortion to be illegal are protestant or protestant denominations (at least historically). The other two -- Catholics and Muslims -- are borderline 50/50.

"You can special plead your case all you want, but not without self-aggrandizing it seems."

Cool, you can go on being ignorant about religious history. You'll be worse off for it when you make voting decisions.
posted by ollyollyoxenfree at 4:19 PM on March 14, 2010 [1 favorite]


By your own links, Catholics are to the right on abortion, but you tried to blame others to exonerate them

And they are to the left on the death penalty, welfare programs and national security. What exactly is your point?
posted by empath at 4:21 PM on March 14, 2010


It's the protestant denominations (especially the evangelicals) that have the most political clout, and statistically dislike abortion. Catholics are divided on the issue

The existence of pro-choice Catholics seems very strange to me. Maybe it's related to why I have such a disconnect with religion. Being a member of the Catholic Church felt to me like the equivalent of saying, "I accept your moral and religious teachings." I was raised Catholic, but dont't believe what the Church believes, so I'm simply not Catholic.

I guess I just don't see how it can be anything but all or nothing. Obviously it can be for some people. It just seems so alien to me to be saying essentially "On the things we agree (for now, anyway), you have absolute authority, but on the things we disagree, you're wrong." How can you be Catholic if view the Pope and Catholic Hierarchy as having less moral and religious authority than yourself?
posted by ODiV at 4:31 PM on March 14, 2010 [1 favorite]


There's a right and a wrong way to approach the problem, and veering into personal attack is the wrong way. [...] Accept these elements of another person's experience – don't just reject it. And understand that accepting another person's experience of a thing doesn't threaten your validity as a human being.
[...]
Which leads me to believe that here, as elsewhere, atheism is often more an expression of a personal bitterness with the capriciousness of authority figures than a well-thought set of beliefs.


I don't think I've ever typed this on metafilter before, but here it is: LOL.

Like I said earlier, the anti-atheist subtext to this "stop being anti-religious!" argument is blatantly obvious. Just as in the previous thread, this comes down to little more than using words like "civility" and "tolerance" as excuses to criticize people for their beliefs about religion, while simultaneously claiming that beliefs about religion are off-limits to criticism.

If you can tell me I'm wrong, I can tell you you're wrong. If you are free to argue in favor of religion on this site, then I am free to argue against it. That's only fair. I have no problem with deleting comments which break the guidelines... but the guidelines are about behavior, not ideology, and that's just as it should be.

As far as I'm concerned, these "Can we have a thread about [INSERT GROUP HERE] where we get to have our cake and eat it too?" callouts are much more harmful to the community than open discourse is, including anti-religious discourse.
posted by vorfeed at 4:41 PM on March 14, 2010 [3 favorites]


I scrolled to the top and noticed that this thread is only 275 comments long. That really blew my mind. It's already got the tone of one of those threads that's on its 2,358th comment.
posted by WCityMike at 4:43 PM on March 14, 2010


How can you be Catholic if view the Pope and Catholic Hierarchy as having less moral and religious authority than yourself?

Because life is complicated and nobody has all the answers. Catholics don't check their brains and hearts at the door when they become confirmed, you know.

The Church's position on abortion has evolved over the years in any case.
posted by empath at 4:43 PM on March 14, 2010 [1 favorite]


ODiV, yeah it does seem strange, there's a lot of grey area in most religions. They debate and splinter off all the time. If you want a good scholarly book on the topic, check out The Construction of Orthodoxy and Heresy: Neo-Confucian, Islamic, Jewish, and Early Christian Patterns by John B. Henderson. It covers this topic (heresiography/heresiology: the study of religious heresies) indepth.

If you want to read a short case study you could do no better than the Branch Davidians, how Koresh split up into another subgroup, and the lead up to Waco.
posted by ollyollyoxenfree at 4:45 PM on March 14, 2010


Now, you got what you wanted. Okay? We're all very sorry. Now will you please go do something about your goddamn church covering up decades of child abuse and get off MetaTalk?

How are you so certain that I AM NOT ALREADY DOING THIS?

Really, I'm serious. What would convince you? A daily checking-in about my actions? Copies of any and all letters I send protesting this issue? I'd offer a recording of the "Why I Don't Go To Mass Anymore" conversation I had with my mother, but that was back in 1995, and hey, I didn't know I'd need to be justifying myself to you on this issue. Please advise what would convince you that my asking that people just not be dicks for a change is tanamount with turning a blind eye to pedophilia.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 4:51 PM on March 14, 2010 [3 favorites]


But Catholicism permeates everyone's lives in America, over the issue of abortion.

I wrote an extended response to this, but basically: what ollyollyoxenfree said, word for word.

In general: if you want to hear about the other side of Catholicism, the parts of the Church that care more about social justice than the big conservative issues, the parts that are actively working for justice and reform, you could do worse than to check out Commonweal (a liberal magazine run by lay Catholics), America (a moderate Jesuit magazine), the National Catholic Reporter (another independent progressive publication), or even single focus publications like Conscience (a magazine by Catholics for Choice). I'm sure there are a lot I'm forgetting, of course, but it's worth it to remember that "large lay organization works over the decades to reform Church" doesn't get the same kind of headlines that "Catholic bishop pressures Senator on abortion" does, even though the former is a real and important part of the Church too.

How can you be Catholic if view the Pope and Catholic Hierarchy as having less moral and religious authority than yourself?

Because the Church has been around for two millennia, and it's changed on many major issues during that time. My understanding is that people who remain in the Church see it as a general progression (despite setbacks and fuckups) towards a better understanding of the right relationship between God and man, and the right way to live. Catholic belief has never been formed fully on the basis of a literal reading of the Bible or the religious authority of the pope; there's an extensive history of theological debate, based on scholarship and conscience. So, from this viewpoint, the current period is a period of debate and disagreement, but one that will eventually be overcome by a more correct theological understanding of the world than the stuff Ratzinger's been saying. (As happened with the Church's relationship with science, for example - from persecution of Galileo to support of a Jesuit-manned Vatican observatory.)
posted by ubersturm at 4:53 PM on March 14, 2010 [7 favorites]


Anyway, like I said before, trying to explain something you don't believe in or support is really sort of tiresome and thankless, and really I've probably done enough of it for one day. I guess it all boils down to the fact that I really prefer discussions where everyone ends up learning more about the topic at hand and where everyone's coming from (whether or not everyone ends up agreeing). Plus, "don't be an asshole" is really one of the basic rules I try to follow, and I tend to hope that adding longish explanations and arguments in a fight-y thread can sometimes spark some real discussion and lower the kneejerk asshole quotient.
posted by ubersturm at 5:00 PM on March 14, 2010 [1 favorite]


You didn't, you inferred it. You said "But Catholicism permeates everyone's lives in America ..." as if Catholicism is the main influence on American abortion politics.

Your argument seems to rest on asserting that Catholics are an excusable minority, when in fact they are probably the second largest group by population, who are following the lead of central religious authority, and who would arguably shift opinions radically if this religious authority backed off. And in this way Catholicism permeates our lives in America, from the very top, unlike evangelicals who might disown any leader who jumped that ship. You vainly tried to pretend that my argument rests on the word "primary" which you foolishly italicized, as if I ever wrote it. Now you're just covering up your mistake, and predictably this involves personal attacks as a distraction.

Cool, you can go on being ignorant about religious history. You'll be worse off for it when you make voting decisions.

Where was I ignorant about "religious history" or did you infer that one too?

And they are to the left on the death penalty, welfare programs and national security. What exactly is your point?

Not that one.
posted by Brian B. at 5:00 PM on March 14, 2010


And there are other ways to address that than yelling about the Know-Nothing Party.

I don't have a dog in this fight. I just wanted to say I've never belonged to any kind of a community before where we yelled about the Know-Nothing Party while having arguments. I wish we didn't have to argue, but if we are going to, I think yelling about the Know-Nothing Party in a small way does raise the level of discourse.

Just don't make me bring up the National Fucking Greenback Party.
posted by marxchivist at 5:01 PM on March 14, 2010 [2 favorites]


vorfeed: “If you can tell me I'm wrong, I can tell you you're wrong. If you are free to argue in favor of religion on this site, then I am free to argue against it. That's only fair. I have no problem with deleting comments which break the guidelines... but the guidelines are about behavior, not ideology, and that's just as it should be.”

Fair enough. I have no problem with this.

I do have a problem with someone calling the poster of this thread vile and shameless for having mentioned it. And I have a problem with someone saying that this metatalk post means that empath is "deliberately" supporting the child molestation perpetrated by certain church officials. That's bullshit, it's a personal attack, and moreover it's clearly not true.

And it's happened in this thread. You didn't say it, but someone did. And I think there ought to be an apology here about that comment, because I think that comment was pretty vicious.
posted by koeselitz at 5:02 PM on March 14, 2010 [3 favorites]


Like I said earlier, the anti-atheist subtext to this "stop being anti-religious!" argument is blatantly obvious. Just as in the previous thread, this comes down to little more than using words like "civility" and "tolerance" as excuses to criticize people for their beliefs about religion, while simultaneously claiming that beliefs about religion are off-limits to criticism.

There are plenty of atheists / non-religious types (myself included) uncomfortable with the quick & informed generalizations about religion that we see on metafilter - we've been pretty vocal in this thread in saying so.

It seems like disparaging comments about atheism are just like the comments against Catholics: symptomatic of the same stubborn tendencies to disparage other people's identities.

Pushing for greater tolerance of a one group can only help your group. Saying, "They're calling for tolerance, and it's clearly a sham to cover an agenda!" is just giving other people ammunition to use the same argument against you.
posted by Solon and Thanks at 5:07 PM on March 14, 2010


uninformed generalizations.
posted by Solon and Thanks at 5:07 PM on March 14, 2010


Just want to point out that you, Optimus Chyme, Pope Guilty and VikingSword are really the only people that I think seem to be incapable of having a civil discussion about this kind of thing. Kind of curious what motivates it, to be honest. Some of us have been a bit open about our backgrounds and why we feel the way we do about things, but you guys just seem to be Perpetual Anonymous Vitriol Machines.
posted by empath at 2:24 PM on March 14


If you could quote me breaking the site guidelines or being specifically uncivil and attacking people personally in the original thread (or this one), that would really help out your argument. Other than that, I'm not going to apologize for not mincing my words about rapists or their enablers.
posted by Optimus Chyme at 5:17 PM on March 14, 2010 [2 favorites]


DUDE I THINK I JUST CHANNELED ETHEREAL BLIGH

I miss EB. He would have made this thread his hunting ground. You, running around with your sticks like they are guns, going 'pew pew', you aren't even close.
posted by Catfry at 5:19 PM on March 14, 2010 [1 favorite]


In that comment, orthogonality said that attacks against individuals are touchy, but that attacks against groups are fine

No, I didn't. I said, "Sure, remove direct personal insults ("User X is a knob!"), but this "you were insensitive to my kind of people" crap is getting out of hand."

Maybe that was unclear. I mean, remove direct personal attacks on Metafilter users ("User X sucks!"), not on any individuals ("GW Bush sucks!") and not on groups ("Texans suck!").

Understand also, I'm not saying "Texans suck!", by itself, is a great comment, but I don't think it should generally be removed. And usually we don't see unvarnished, "Group X sucks", we see "Group X sucks because Y" ("Texas sucks because they routinely execute people they know or should know are innocent"), which while not "nice" does advance the discussion and in some cases needs to be said.

Is it okay to speak in broad terms about race? Gender? Sexuality? Certainly not. Religion? Well, I guess it depends what religion one is involved with. Muslims, Jews and Hindus are probably "protected" under the orthogonality rule, but Catholics and other Christians are not.

Again, not what I said. The issue isn't broad terms, it's how that's used. "Women have vaginas"? True, unoffensive except perhaps in a discussion of gender reassignment, but pretty much a useless for being a tautology. "All Arabs are violent extremists"? False, offensive, ugly, but frankly I'd like whomever makes that comment to have to own it, not get the benefit of having it disappeared.

"Asians are the 'successful' minority"? Hopefully followed by a explanation of what "successful" means in this context, and some evidence. And then, as I wrote, "If you disagree with someone's opinion [that Asians are the successful minority, in this particular example], refute them in the thread".

What I'm saying is that, some people think the Roman Catholic Church, is on balance, a force for good, and they can find evidence for that. Other people think the Roman Catholic Church, is on balance, deleterious, and they can find evidence for that. And I don't think either opinion ought to be censored, just because the holders of the other opinion don't like hearing it, as long as the discussion doesn't degenerate into personal attacks on individual mefites.

Personal attacks on the Pope or any other public figure? Well, when you assume the leadership of a Universal Church triumphant (or a political party, or a country or a corporation) you become a public figure, and along with the perks of that position, come the attacks. The Pope has the Swiss Guard, thousands of bishops and priests, and millions of followers; he doesn't need to be protected from Metafilter.

Orthogonality proposed that the larger a group of people, the more monolithic they are.

Where are you getting this?
posted by orthogonality at 5:23 PM on March 14, 2010 [4 favorites]


The big problem I see with your contributions to religious threads, OC, is that they are hard to distinguish from a dissociated-press version of you (using tags as guides).
posted by Monday, stony Monday at 5:32 PM on March 14, 2010


"Your argument seems to rest on asserting that Catholics are an excusable minority blah blah blah ..."

Your argument seems to rest on the idea that Catholicism is a more influential power than Protestantism in America. Again, I have posted numerous scholarly books above that prove this point wrong. American Protestantism, in its various forms and cultural influences, is the 500 pound gorilla of American politics. Catholics may have a large number of adherents, but their political power is nothing compared to evangelicals and other denominations.

I also stated that there was obvious influence, but not as influential. The unstated assumption you are granting me -- that Catholics are an excusable minority -- is wrong. And the point you made about Catholics receiving their mores from authority is contradicted by the empirical data. If the authority were that much an influence, then you'd see a disproportionate number of Catholics against abortion (when again, it is split).

Also, italics are used for emphasis, among other things. If I quote you, I'd put it in quotes. I inferred the main point of your argument, that you believe Catholicism has a disproportionate influence over abortion politics, which is quite clearly wrong (but I suppose you'll continue arguing it, as your brain has been taken over by that special American secular protestant mind-virus of anti-catholicism).
posted by ollyollyoxenfree at 5:36 PM on March 14, 2010 [1 favorite]


Also, italics are used for emphasis, among other things. If I quote you, I'd put it in quotes.

It's a Metafilter convention to quote other users using italics. Linking to a wikipedia article about when to use italics as if you're lecturing a schoolchild is irritating and kinda tone-deaf.
posted by Doublewhiskeycokenoice at 5:47 PM on March 14, 2010 [4 favorites]


"It's a Metafilter convention to quote other users using italics. Linking to a wikipedia article about when to use italics as if you're lecturing a schoolchild is irritating and kinda tone-deaf."

When somebody can't tell the difference between a single word emphasis -- in the middle of an otherwise un-italicized sentence -- and a quoted sentence, then linking to the appropriate usage is called for.
posted by ollyollyoxenfree at 5:53 PM on March 14, 2010


Your argument seems to rest on the idea that Catholicism is a more influential power than Protestantism in America. Again, I have posted numerous scholarly books above that prove this point wrong. American Protestantism, in its various forms and cultural influences, is the 500 pound gorilla of American politics. Catholics may have a large number of adherents, but their political power is nothing compared to evangelicals and other denominations.

You are making this up to cover your amateurish mistake (the first clue is the backtracking in your first sentence). Catholicism was mentioned by me in a direct response to the subject of Catholicism proper. You choose to see it as exclusive to only Catholicism, making the straw man case for other religions we aren't discussing. That tells me you were just desperate to make the same point you probably make every day, and you got caught missing it. Now you are insisting on my meaning, as if you own it, and with a sort of faux logical style. You failed to persuade me of anything, so let the name calling begin. I have the strange feeling I'm talking to a troll apologist.
posted by Brian B. at 5:56 PM on March 14, 2010


American Protestantism, in its various forms and cultural influences, is the 500 pound gorilla of American politics. Catholics may have a large number of adherents, but their political power is nothing compared to evangelicals and other denominations.

Totally agree with this. We've had 44 Presidents, one of whom was Catholic. That leaves 43 to be divvied up amongst the various Protestant sects, since we've also yet to have a President come out and say "Yeah, I'm not so much with this Jesus guy."

(That is, no US President has been openly non-Christian, though I await the Pedant Brigade's Presidential Belief Analysis with bated breath.)
posted by grapefruitmoon at 5:59 PM on March 14, 2010 [1 favorite]


"..no US President has been openly non-Christian..."

Other than the current Muslim occupant of the Oval Office.

It must be true, I read it on the internets
posted by mr_crash_davis mark II: Jazz Odyssey at 6:03 PM on March 14, 2010 [1 favorite]


Other than the current Muslim occupant of the Oval Office.

SHHHHHHHH! He's a SEKRIT! Muslim!
posted by grapefruitmoon at 6:04 PM on March 14, 2010 [3 favorites]


"You are making this up to cover your amateurish mistake"

lol ok smackhead, lay off the crack pipe.

Your original claim was about the influence of Catholicism in America (you also used the example of abortion), and it was a direct response to empath's post about anti-catholicism in daily life. My response was that the influence was disproportionate to contemporary Protestant power (that same power that gave us American anti-Catholicism).

So whatever, you are the one dodging the issue here: that anti-catholicism and protestantism are inherently tied together in a religious milieu. To discuss anti-catholic sentiment is to bring up protestantism, and to bring up it's political power is also to bring up protestant political power. To think they exist in a vacuum is the height of fucking stupidity.

You know what is awesome though? In a twisted way you are attacking another religion in the cause of another. Think about it. Anti-Catholicism in America has its cultural roots in Protestantism. Along the way various movements within Protestant denominations evolved into secular movements, including influences on the progressive left (see the link above from the book 'The Puritan Origins of American Patriotism' so far I'm the only one adding facts to be side). So in a roundabout way, when you get your roided-up rage towards Catholics, you are really executing an atavistic cultural-religious program founded a few hundred years ago by religious nutjobs. Imagine if you are an atheist! They would really be the height of irony.
posted by ollyollyoxenfree at 6:11 PM on March 14, 2010 [2 favorites]


So in a roundabout way, when you get your roided-up rage towards Catholics, you are really executing an atavistic cultural-religious program founded a few hundred years ago by religious nutjobs. Imagine if you are an atheist! They would really be the height of irony.

Yeah, get it all out, one dry heave after another.
posted by Brian B. at 6:16 PM on March 14, 2010


To discuss anti-catholic sentiment is to bring up protestantism, and to bring up it's political power is also to bring up protestant political power.

Saying this doesn't make it so. Here's a wikipedia link for you: the Genetic Fallacy.
posted by anotherpanacea at 6:23 PM on March 14, 2010 [1 favorite]


Why would a heroin addict be using a crack pipe?
Warning: the preceding was an irrelevant lulzy comment.
posted by Alvy Ampersand at 6:26 PM on March 14, 2010 [5 favorites]


lol ok smackhead, lay off the crack pipe.

That's your level of discourse? You will know them by their fruits indeed.
posted by zabuni at 6:26 PM on March 14, 2010


Meanwhile, the original thread has been taken over by idiots like VikingSword who want to shut down the church, seize the assets and invade the Vatican

I know the feeling. I had to wear brown pants, a yellow shirt and a brown tie for 8 years of Catholic school. That's enough to entitle anyone to a piece of the Vatican.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 6:33 PM on March 14, 2010 [1 favorite]


Pushing for greater tolerance of a one group can only help your group. Saying, "They're calling for tolerance, and it's clearly a sham to cover an agenda!" is just giving other people ammunition to use the same argument against you.

When tolerance toward religion is used to suggest that it's "offensive" to express anti-religious opinions, pushing for it certainly does not help me as an anti-religious person. That sounds like a real good way to "tolerate" myself right into an "offensive" corner.

Tell you what: if I start making callouts suggesting that tolerance toward atheists means it's offensive to express pro-religion opinions, then I'll expect people to use the same argument against me. Until then, I suppose I can live with the possibility. In fact, my entire point is that everyone should have to live with the possibility of being argued against, rather than dashing off to metatalk with "can't we have a thread where criticizing my group is off-limits?"

In the context of a site like this one, tolerance means "you are welcome to speak your mind". Not "you are welcome to speak your mind and entitled to encounter no 'offensive' counter-arguments." Like orthogonality said, I think we're all mature enough to refute opposing viewpoints, whether we find them offensive or not.
posted by vorfeed at 6:33 PM on March 14, 2010 [3 favorites]


anotherpanacea, I don't have time to lay out an exposition as to the cultural history of anti-catholicism. To deny my conclusion based on what you believe to be faulty reasoning without having read the background readings is the fallacy fallacy.

There are plenty of readings above that lay out the links between contemporary anti-catholicism and the past, I also posted a link to a book by one of the notable historians (Billington) within that area. As to political power and protestantism, again, check out that book on the Puritan origins of American patriotism for the ties between contemporary power and protestantism (here's the link to the publisher page from that notoriously dodgy Yale Publishing).

I also noticed Brian B. favorited you . He reminds me of that little dog in the Warner Bros cartoons that bounces about excitedly and gets backhanded by the larger dog (on preview the favorite is gone).

Anyway, I'm done with this thread, it looks like the moderator-protected, MeFi superfriend, spittle brigade is swooping in like hungry, squawking seagulls on a chip. Good day to you all.
posted by ollyollyoxenfree at 6:39 PM on March 14, 2010 [1 favorite]


What happened to Ethereal Bligh?
posted by Kraftmatic Adjustable Cheese at 6:50 PM on March 14, 2010


He left after the big Nov. 2007 sexism threads.
posted by Monday, stony Monday at 6:57 PM on March 14, 2010


ollyollyoxenfree: "Anyway, I'm done with this thread, it looks like the moderator-protected, MeFi superfriend, spittle brigade is swooping in like hungry, squawking seagulls on a chip."

I've seen many a ball taken and carried home. But never with such Bukowskian eloquence.
posted by Joe Beese at 6:59 PM on March 14, 2010 [5 favorites]


I had to wear brown pants, a yellow shirt and a brown tie for 8 years of Catholic school.

I can beat that. We had gym class but no gym, and no locker room to change—so every day we had gym class, we had to wear our gym clothes (shorts and T-shirt) underneath our uniforms (maroon shirt and gray corduroys). Double-layer clothes, all day long, often in hot weather.
posted by cribcage at 7:01 PM on March 14, 2010 [1 favorite]


I also noticed Brian B. favorited you . He reminds me of that little dog in the Warner Bros cartoons that bounces about excitedly and gets backhanded by the larger dog (on preview the favorite is gone).

Speaking of smack, you might want to cut back.
posted by five fresh fish at 7:07 PM on March 14, 2010


I also noticed Brian B. favorited you . He reminds me of that little dog in the Warner Bros cartoons that bounces about excitedly and gets backhanded by the larger dog (on preview the favorite is gone).

The favorite was never gone. The cartoon imagery suits you though.
posted by Brian B. at 7:09 PM on March 14, 2010


Wow. I'm late to the party, but since I was quoted disparagingly in empath's wail, I just want to say this: I was an altar boy (though never abused, I will add). I was confirmed, baptized, and took first communion in the Catholic church.

We're talking about decades (probably centuries) of organized child sexual abuse, covered up by ecclesiastical leaders, including the highest ranking Catholic leader in the world. If that doesn't bring shame on the entire institution he leads, we might as well go back to Medieval Europe.

If you don't like it that this makes people angry at the church that officially condoned and protected this behavior, you're proving something about how it happened. How it *is* happening now, no doubt. We don't know nearly everything yet.
posted by fourcheesemac at 7:23 PM on March 14, 2010 [4 favorites]


I don't recall one single person defending the Church as an institution or the Pope individually. This thread is about Catholics.
posted by moxiedoll at 7:35 PM on March 14, 2010


Did you mean to say it's about pedophiles and the ways they go about getting protection from prosecution?
posted by five fresh fish at 8:00 PM on March 14, 2010 [1 favorite]


I've explained at length why I have a problem with religion, and why I feel as strongly about it as I do. I did not grow up in a religiously abusive household; my stepfather, with whom I have a very loving and caring relationship, was a United Methodist preacher. I was fairly devout up until about the age of 17, and even then I was pretty friendly to religion until about 23 or 24.

My strenuous, passionate opposition to religion and to religious structures is not born out of a bad experience with religion, nor with a religious person, nor with anything else of that sort. The idea that one could only have such an opposition if one had some kind of traumatic upbringing is silly and presumptuous; surely religion is such a wonderful thing that only a person who had been grievously wronged by a religious person and misdirected their anger at that wrong could be against it!

Also, any time somebody accuses me of being fighty or making personal attacks, I'm linking them to olly's posts in this thread. Get a hold on yourself, man- there's attacks based on arguments and then there's just saying nasty, vicious things in order to say nasty, vicious things.
posted by Pope Guilty at 8:06 PM on March 14, 2010 [5 favorites]


Did you mean to say it's about pedophiles and the ways they go about getting protection from prosecution?

No, actually! I meant to say that the thread is about Catholics. Look - this isn't my callout, and I wouldn't have made one for that particular thread because the subject matter is so horrific that I wouldn't connect the level of vitriol to any particular prejudice. And I've been watching both threads pretty closely and I don't recall anyone standing up for pedophiles or those who harbor them for their own benefit. (Do you?) I just think it's fair to say that one can criticize the Pope or the Vatican or various American Archdiocese (Archdioceses?) or Catholic doctrine in general *without* being anti-Catholic.
posted by moxiedoll at 8:15 PM on March 14, 2010


The existence of pro-choice Catholics seems very strange to me. Maybe it's related to why I have such a disconnect with religion. Being a member of the Catholic Church felt to me like the equivalent of saying, "I accept your moral and religious teachings." I was raised Catholic, but dont't believe what the Church believes, so I'm simply not Catholic.

Aside from the social and cultural components, Catholicism is a "big tent" sort of religion. They definitely have a top down hierarchy when it comes to dogma and the teaching of that dogma. But the difference that a lot of people don't get about Catholicism is that it is about striving to live as close to the word of god as possible. But also that nobody is perfect. You can be Catholic and disagree with fundamental teachings. And god will judge you in the end by the content of your character and the quality of your acts. This is in opposition to a lot of other religions where obedience* and acceptance is purported to be the fundamental of getting a passing grade on judgment day. Basically, it isn't enough to be "sorry" for the choices you made in life, but to have made those decisions for (simplifying) good reasons. If there is a god, he probably doesn't like abortions. So that's what the church teaches. But if there is a god, he also probably understands why people get them and how painful a decision that is for someone.

Hate the people who did these things, not the church they belong to. I hate to use the "no true Scotsman" defense, but what these people did, whether the molestation or the cover up, were not the actions of the catholic church, rather, the actions of people who failed to live the teachings of christ.

* The church doesn't really require its members to be obedient to its teachings, but it does require its "staff" to be.
posted by gjc at 9:17 PM on March 14, 2010 [1 favorite]


Thank goodness daylight savings time is finally here. I can't tell much difference between the day before and the day of the vernal equinox but this clock moving day always comes as a giant relief of stress, like when the ice finally breaks up on the river. It really is when springtime starts.
posted by vapidave at 9:24 PM on March 14, 2010


To deny my conclusion based on what you believe to be faulty reasoning without having read the background readings is the fallacy fallacy.

I know you've gone, and I respect that decision, but I'm really curious how this could be anything other than an example of the genetic fallacy:

"So in a roundabout way, when you get your roided-up rage towards Catholics, you are really executing an atavistic cultural-religious program founded a few hundred years ago by religious nutjobs."

It seems a pretty textbook case of treating the nativist history of anti-Catholicism as if it were the present motivation of posters who identify non-nativist and non-protestant reasons for their distaste for the institution. Isn't it irrelevant to our present discussion that some racists once upon a time hated Irish and Italian immigrants because, in addition to being newcomers, they also practiced a different religion? And if it is irrelevant, why isn't this continual return to the Know-Nothings an example of a fallacy of irrelevance, like a red herring or an ad hominem?

I mean, it's certainly possible that Pope Guilty (just to use a example I think is absurd enough to be read as such) is dissembling about his true motives, that there's a closet nativist and Protestant dominionist hiding under the flamingly cosmopolitan and atheist posting history, but certainly his anti-catholicism isn't particularly persuasive evidence of that secret in this case... is it? We're getting into some pretty deep crypto-Protestantism at this point, I think, akin to claiming that Glenn Beck is really a tool of the Democratic Party designed to splinter the Republicans. It seems like the burden of proof is on you, here....
posted by anotherpanacea at 9:31 PM on March 14, 2010 [1 favorite]


Someone alerted me to this amazing callout by empath, and I just spent almost an hour reading through this mess. I honestly have no idea what ails empath, but that man is not well.

Empath claims that he's just fine with criticizing the RCC as an organization, just opposed to lulzy posts and attacks against common Catholics:

"I thought I made a distinction between criticising the actual behavior of the church and the cheap lulzy shots at Catholics and Catholicism. In case it wasn't clear, then yes, I think it's perfectly fine to criticize the disgusting behavior of the Church organization in its handling of the child rape cases."

Yet, he references me by name more than any other poster as the primary offender here - yes, I've done the count. And he reserves quite some bile for me. Let's see what I posted in that respect:

"Funny, I don't recall anyone attacking ordinary lay Catholics, or even all priests - I certainly wouldn't. What I did attack, and am unapologetic about, is the RCC as a hierarchical organization - top down power structure. I have a problem with the way the "top" is working and the way power is structured within the RCC, because while I have no doubt that there are plenty of good honest decent and even heroic priests, the organization they work for has been responsible for the biggest organized child rape anywhere in the world, going on for decades (and no doubt centuries).

Truth is an adequate defense against charges of slander. And truth is an adequate defense against charges of bigotry. If the shoe fits, wear it.

The charge is: The Roman Catholic Church is the biggest and oldest pedophile ring in the world. That is not bigotry - that is the truth.
"

Hmm. Can it be any more clear that I am not in any way endorsing attacking of lay Catholics, or even most priests? Didn't I explicitly state that there are *plenty* of "good honest decent and even heroic priests"? How much more generous could I have been other than stating that "all" rather than "plenty" of priests were heroic, which would simply be an lie? I think it's pretty clear that I'm not engaging in "lulzy shots at Catholics and Catholicism". And it is crystal clear that I am speaking of the organization - the top power structure - which I make extremely explicit indeed. Thus doing what empath claims he's not against "I think it's perfectly fine to criticize the disgusting behavior of the Church organization in its handling of the child rape cases."

So what gives? Why despite making by far fewer comments than a lot of commenters in that thread, and despite my comments being explicitly not anti-Catholic or even concerned with doctrine, and focusing very carefully on the power structure that allowed this abuse to take place, empath has reserved his biggest outpouring of bile for me?

I thought that we agreed to make arguments about the topic - which I did. Not personalize it. So why is empath personalizing it:

"I mean, how do you engage in discussion with a guy like that."

Not the topic apparently, but the "guy".

Just want to point out that you, Optimus Chyme, Pope Guilty and VikingSword are really the only people that I think seem to be incapable of having a civil discussion about this kind of thing.

Right, best personalize it. Oh, and of course, there are no examples of lack of civility on my part in any post in that thread - so the incivility is all empaths. Amazing, that.

"Meanwhile, the original thread has been taken over by idiots like VikingSword who want to shut down the church, seize the assets and invade the Vatican."

Hmm. I've taken over the thread? There are at least a dozen other posters who posted far, far, far, more than I did in that thread. "Meanwhile" calling me an "idiot" - I guess it's me who is uncivil and one can't have a civil discussion with me, cause empath is the one who is "civil". I thought that that we here on MF were not supposed to attack other posters? Attack my position - if you can - but why attack me? How is "idiot" a good way to address a poster - especially when one hasen't provided one fucking single argument on the topic itself? Ad hominem - the refuge of those bereft of arguments.

But really, why search for answers in the motivation of someone who makes contradiction the only constant in spewing bile? Here's empath:

"And I think bullshit like this:

The charge is: The Roman Catholic Church is the biggest and oldest pedophile ring in the world. That is not bigotry - that is the truth.

Is beyond the pale and not even worth responding to."

This is exactly the same empath who responds to this from zarq:

"I ask this in all seriousness: how is what the Church hierarchy did regarding child abuse not the actions of a pedophile ring? Sadly, I think the characterization being posed may well be accurate."

with this:

"I don't disagree with anything you just said."

So when I say it, it's beyond the pale, but when zarq says it, well, there's no disagreement with anything in that statement.

There is no sense in looking for reason in such feeble buffoonery.

I stand fully behind my statements: I have attacked no Catholics as lay people, only the organization of the RCC - the top power structure. All empath's impotent rage, made up charges and general buffoonery will not change that.
posted by VikingSword at 9:32 PM on March 14, 2010 [16 favorites]


Tell you what: if I start making callouts suggesting that tolerance toward atheists means it's offensive to express pro-religion opinions, then I'll expect people to use the same argument against me.

Well, here's the problem - you haven't thought it through, and your logic is wrong. The pieces don't match up.

There is a difference between "This is what I believe, and why I believe it" and "You are wrong and evil for believing as you do."

Tolerance toward atheists means that it's offensive to to express anti-atheist opinions... which is why religious tolerance means it's offensive to express anti-religious opinions.

I mean, you can, there's no law or rule against it (here in the US), but it's rude and insensitive to your fellow man, and you will be thought poorly of, even by other atheists. This is because you show an ignorant disregard for the freedom of conviction, a fundamental human right hard fought for - and which makes it possible for you to declare yourself an atheist in modern society with basically no repercussion. (Or Wiccan, or Buddhist, or Jew.)

Fighting religion is not a battle that cannot be won. Fighting for the right to believe how you would chose to believe is a fight that can be won, but only if you respect your fellow travellers.
posted by Slap*Happy at 9:36 PM on March 14, 2010 [2 favorites]


You can be Catholic and disagree with fundamental teachings.

This is partly because there is such a disconnect between churches and the Church. Many American Catholics are "Catholic" despite disagreeing with many fundamental Church tenets (marriage, procreation, origin theory, etc.) because, despite all of that and less important than it, they want to join a particular community formed by their local parish. They seek the social facets, if not necessarily the religious.

But if there is a god, he also probably understands...

That's a much deeper question, and an interesting one. A relative who belongs to another religion once told me that even a "good" person would go to Hell if he did not accept Jesus. (It's never been clear to me what "accept" means, but that's another issue.) That doesn't seem fair or just to me, but then, (1) maybe we're not meant to understand, and (2) isn't there some value in obeying a directive you don't understand because of faith in its proponent, not unlike what we ask of young children. ...I don't necessarily believe that it's the case, but I've found it an interesting idea to puzzle over from time to time.

There's a terrific book titled One People, Two Worlds that delves into some of these questions from a Jewish perspective. The 'book' is a dialogue between an Orthodox rabbi and a Reform rabbi, discussing and at times arguing about faith and edict and such. Obviously both men have read and thought about these questions more and deeper than I, and probably anyone else in this thread. It's a good read.
posted by cribcage at 9:44 PM on March 14, 2010 [2 favorites]


gjc: "... what these people did, whether the molestation or the cover up, were not the actions of the catholic church, rather, the actions of people who failed to live the teachings of christ."

A few bad apples, you say?
posted by Joe Beese at 9:46 PM on March 14, 2010 [1 favorite]


There's a terrific book titled One People, Two Worlds that delves into some of these questions from a Jewish perspective. The 'book' is a dialogue between an Orthodox rabbi and a Reform rabbi, discussing and at times arguing about faith and edict and such. Obviously both men have read and thought about these questions more and deeper than I, and probably anyone else in this thread. It's a good read.

Seconding that recommendation. It's a fantastic, fascinating book, and what happened after it was published when the authors began to go on tour was a damned tragedy.
posted by zarq at 9:59 PM on March 14, 2010 [1 favorite]


To clarify what I mean... Reform Rabbi Ammiel Hirsch (the executive director of ARZA) and Orthodox Rabbi Yosef Reinman were introduced in 2000 by a publisher. For the next 18 months they corresponded by email and debated a wide range of Jewish issues. One People, Two Worlds is a compilation of those emails. They covered everything from intermarriage to abortion, and to anyone who wants to know anything about Judaism's stances on a variety of modern issues, it's an utterly fascinating read. Along with Constantine's Sword, it's one of my favorite non-fic books to recommend to friends about Judaism.

After it was published in '02, the authors embarked on a 17-city book tour, but Reinman bowed to pressure from the Orthodox community and pulled out after just two appearances. (He explains why here. / More here.) The book was intended to bridge the religious divide and hopefully foster pluralistic understanding. Instead, the Orthodox rabbis completely missed the point. They had a fit because Reinman's participation in the project would lend legitimacy to the Reform movement. (Note that the Reform movement is by far the largest group of American Jews. Far larger than Jewish Orthodoxy.) They forced him to abandon the project.

The irony was thick.
posted by zarq at 10:13 PM on March 14, 2010 [10 favorites]


That's really sad.
posted by Pope Guilty at 10:46 PM on March 14, 2010


And if it is irrelevant, why isn't this continual return to the Know-Nothings an example of a fallacy of irrelevance, like a red herring or an ad hominem?

I would say that it's roughly equal to saying "You know who else was against legalized abortion? HITLER!"
posted by Pope Guilty at 10:50 PM on March 14, 2010


impotent rage, made up charges and general buffoonery

From you, that's absolutely hilarious.
posted by empath at 11:04 PM on March 14, 2010



We got Roman Polanski. I think we can get the Roman Catholic Church. This is a criminal conspiracy on a massive scale. We get the Pope the same way we got Polanski. Sure we may not be able to get Polanski from France, or the Pope from the Vatican, but the second he travels somewhere where the law can get ahold of him, we clap him in irons. Diplomatic immunity? Heads of state have been arrested too, never mind diplomatic immunity. The first step is to declare him the head of a criminal enterprise (like the Mafia), and issue an international arrest warrant the same way we'd issue one for the head of an international pedophile ring. This of course should be simultaneous with asset seizures and the arrests of anyone who assisted with the conspiracy to subvert the law. The Roman Catholic Church must be shut down.


Do you not realize how much condensed stupid you managed to fit into a single paragraph here?
posted by empath at 11:08 PM on March 14, 2010


Also, since we're being pedantic, the Pope frequently speaks in ways that are meant to be infallible, especially when issuing papal bulls. Ex Cathedra statements usually concern the metaphysics of Christian doctrine, but he also speaks infallibly on other moral topics.

Here's how that works: "an act of the ordinary papal Magisterium, in itself not infallible, witnesses to the infallibility of the teaching of a doctrine already possessed by the Church." You don't have to understand the ordinary/extraordinary magisterium distinction to understand that the Pope claims the right to speak infallibly and exercises that right on a semi-regular basis on matters of public political concern.

Two examples in the last twenty years include the reiteration that euthanasia is murder and the exclusivity of the priesthood to chaste men. The latter may be irrelevant to the discussion at hand, but that irrelevance is hardly self-evident.
posted by anotherpanacea at 11:11 PM on March 14, 2010 [1 favorite]


PG, I agree. But I can see where they're coming from even though I completely disagree with their assessment.

From the Traditional Orthodox perspective, the Reform and Conservative movements are a complete tragedy to Judaism. In fact many Modern Orthodox feel that way as well. I've had a number of Orthodox folks over the years tell me that I'm not Jewish. (Which is rather laughable and inaccurate, actually -- from perspective of an Orthodox rabbi, I'm Jewish because my mother is Jewish, no matter how observant or non-observant I am.) I've been told that as a Conservative, I'm personally contributing to Judaism's decline. Worse, I'm somehow hurting my children by not raising them to know Orthodox ways.

They fear what the Reform movement has done to their traditions and worry that the denomination's overwhelming adaptation to modernity corrupts the religion's core values. (Conservatives do too to some small extent, I think. But I suspect most Conservatives are more tolerant than our Orthodox brethren.)

So the Orthodox outright refuse to recognize the Reform movement and its Rabbis. Because if they do, Jews might think Reform is a valid alternative to Orthodoxy. They lament that Reform exists and their own numbers are dwindling. But in all its denominations, our religion doesn't proselytize and deliberately makes it hard for people to convert, so it is unlikely to grow without at least some adaptation to modern times.

So along comes a book that just might correct some myths and assumptions to make their denomination more appealing to Reform Jews. They might even score some converts. It's been known to happen. But the Charedi view pluralism as a dilution, and reject it outright.

I suppose the Catholic Church must have felt similarly about the Protestant Reformation.

It's all sad and a bit frustrating.
posted by zarq at 11:36 PM on March 14, 2010 [1 favorite]


Do you not realize how much condensed stupid you managed to fit into a single paragraph here?

Empath, you should be the last person to speak of "stupid". I really do make allowances for it being you and all, but the sheer incoherence of your attacks against me sets a new low.

Have I attacked any lay Catholics? Yes or No? Have I been careful to specify that I only object to the top power structure of the organization, not all priests? Yes or No? Can you point to a single "lulzy shot at Catholics and Catholicism"? Can you point to a single "uncivil" post I have made in that thread? So why in the world are you making these charges against me? Because you agree that attacking the RCC as an organization is fine - which is the only thing I did. You disagree - fine, but how is that grounds for a META callout. Again - answer for what you write!

You attack me while at the same time claiming that you object to personal attacks against ordinary Catholics (give one example of such a post from me), lulzy shots and comments (again - give one example from me) and how one can't have a CIVIL discussion with me. If there is incivility it seems to be all yours - what with your name-calling and ad hominem attacks.

You are also not above making up stuff from whole cloth - like claiming that I advocate invading the Vatican, which I never did.

And claims about something being "stupid" are simply empty unless substantiated - which you are entirely incapable of doing (through no fault of your own, given who you are).

Your incoherent personal attacks against me, entirely divorced from reality as they are, don't bring any light to the subject. Clearly, you can't do better. So sad.
posted by VikingSword at 11:44 PM on March 14, 2010 [4 favorites]


Well, here's the problem - you haven't thought it through, and your logic is wrong. The pieces don't match up.
There is a difference between "This is what I believe, and why I believe it" and "You are wrong and evil for believing as you do."
Tolerance toward atheists means that it's offensive to to express anti-atheist opinions... which is why religious tolerance means it's offensive to express anti-religious opinions.
Fighting religion is not a battle that cannot be won. Fighting for the right to believe how you would chose to believe is a fight that can be won, but only if you respect your fellow travellers.


As far as I'm concerned, "fighting for the right to believe how you would choose to believe" clearly includes fighting for the right to be against religion, both in general and in specific. And I'd wager that most religious people would agree -- religion is rarely compatible with the idea that there are no wrong and evil religious beliefs.

That's why the pieces do match up. If "you are wrong and evil for believing as you do" is off-limits, then what excuses stuff like "your opinions are offensive and ignorant"? Why is it OK for you to tell me that my anti-religious beliefs are wrong and harmful, yet simultaneously claim that it's offensive for me to say the same thing about pro-religious beliefs? If you're so keen on "respecting your fellow travelers", why are you so quick to dismiss and insult my beliefs? Why is it that expressing opinions -- even negative opinions like the ones you applied to me -- in defense of one side of this argument is acceptable, yet expressing an opposite opinion is inherently "offensive"?

In short: as you clearly already know, tolerance toward the beliefs of others does not place those beliefs beyond criticism. It simply means that people are free to have those beliefs, to speak of them, to celebrate them, etc, whether others like 'em or not. And to be frank, I think your "having 'offensive' convictions shows an ignorant disregard for the freedom of conviction!" argument shows much greater disregard for that freedom than does the fact that I don't like religion.
posted by vorfeed at 11:51 PM on March 14, 2010 [1 favorite]


By the way, far from a lulzy sidenote, infallibility is actually central to the question of how sexual abuse was dealt with by the Roman Catholic Church.

It's all in Ratzinger's 1986 letter on the "pastoral care of homosexual persons," based on the 1975 "Sexual Ethics" declaration, which we wouldn't normally expect to be infallible, except that it contains the following words:

"With this in mind, this Congregation wishes to ask the Bishops to be especially cautious of any programmes which may seek to pressure the Church to change her teaching, even while claiming not to do so. A careful examination of their public statements and the activities they promote reveals a studied ambiguity by which they attempt to mislead the pastors and the faithful. For example, they may present the teaching of the Magisterium, but only as if it were an optional source for the formation of one's conscience. Its specific authority is not recognized. Some of these groups will use the word "Catholic" to describe either the organization or its intended members, yet they do not defend and promote the teaching of the Magisterium; indeed, they even openly attack it. While their members may claim a desire to conform their lives to the teaching of Jesus, in fact they abandon the teaching of his Church."

I think that's going to include most of the folks in this thread, including those who think of themselves as pro-Catholics. Here's why:

"At the present time there are those who, basing themselves on observations in the psychological order, have begun to judge indulgently, and even to excuse completely, homosexual relations between certain people. This they do in opposition to the constant teaching of the Magisterium and to the moral sense of the Christian people."

When Ratzinger invokes the "constant teaching of the Magisterium," he's not simply invoking the "ordinary magisterium," which can be mistaken or fallible. He's invoking the "ordinary universal magisterium," which is infallible: "The term ordinary universal Magisterium means an exercise of the Church's teaching office where there is complete agreement, or fairly close to complete agreement, among the Catholic Bishops of the world that a particular doctrine is certainly true, but without a solemn definition.[... T]he ordinary universal Magisterium is infallible. The fact that the bishops are dispersed throughout the world' (in the words of Vatican II quoted above) does not make any difference."

By invoking the the ordinary universal magisterium, Ratzinger chastises all those who would question his words in that 1986 letter, either in the diagnosis or in the treatment. So let's turn to the treatment that the Catholic Bishops demand for homosexual persons, speaking in consensus and ratified by the infallibility of the Pope:

"We would heartily encourage programmes where these dangers are avoided. But we wish to make it clear that departure from the Church's teaching, or silence about it, in an effort to provide pastoral care is neither caring nor pastoral. Only what is true can ultimately be pastoral. The neglect of the Church's position prevents homosexual men and women from receiving the care they need and deserve.

An authentic pastoral programme will assist homosexual persons at all levels of the spiritual life: through the sacraments, and in particular through the frequent and sincere use of the sacrament of Reconciliation, through prayer, witness, counsel and individual care. In such a way, the entire Christian community can come to recognize its own call to assist its brothers and sisters, without deluding them or isolating them."


Perhaps it helps to remember that Ratzinger wrote this letter the same year that Father H, the pedophile priest Ratzinger helped to protect from prosecution, was finally convicted of crimes he committed AFTER Ratzinger's prescribed a course of therapy. Notice that he does not recommend criminal prosecutions in this letter, despite the failure of therapy six years earlier in Priest H's case.

Now perhaps you'll say that pedophilia and homosexuality are different, and so Ratzinger's letter on the therapeutic approach to homosexuality isn't relevant to the therapeutic or prosecutorial approach to pedophilia. And you'd be right! But unfortunately, Ratzinger didn't and doesn't agree. The Vatican's fallible representatives continued to treat pedophilia and sexual molestation as homosexual issues:

"It is "more correct," said Archbishop Silvano Tomasi, to speak of ephebophilia, a homosexual attraction to adolescent males, than pedophilia, in relation to the scandals.

"Of all priests involved in the abuses, 80 to 90 per cent belong to this sexual orientation minority which is sexually engaged with adolescent boys between the ages of 11 and 17," said Tomasi.


So Ratzinger, in 1986, infallibly advocated the treatment of sexual abuse with a multipronged approach that addresses "all levels of spiritual life" as a substitute for temporal criminal investigations, which would only "isolate them."

But that's alright, isn't it? Apparently, reasonable people disagree about such matters.

"Only what is true can ultimately be pastoral," indeed.
posted by anotherpanacea at 11:58 PM on March 14, 2010 [9 favorites]


This whole call-out is a particularly clumsy bit of concern-whoring.

Why in the world, should it be off limits to call for the abolition of the RCC as an organization? I mean, as long as lay Catholics are not personally attacked, why is this not a legitimate position? How does this merit a callout? Why should anybody be above the law or exempt from extradition and having to answer in a court of law - and why does calling for that merit a META callout?

I know it's empath and all, but even so, is it OK to attack other MF members (why is calling me an "idiot" OK Mr. Keep It Civil?) for expressing their views? Merely not liking those views is not enough for a META callout wherein one heaps abuse - with name calling.
posted by VikingSword at 12:04 AM on March 15, 2010 [2 favorites]


Oh, and comparing evidence-based criticism of the temporal Church's policies, politics, and procedures to the heinous batshit bigotry of Jack Chick and his ilk is beyond the fucking pale and I hope you take that back.

Catholic Church as global child molester ring, confessional as source of Godly power exercised by priest over faithful and pope as infallible arbitrator of all actions of every Catholic are each common Chick themes that have been, to a greater or lesser extent, cited up thread.
posted by l33tpolicywonk at 12:10 AM on March 15, 2010


empath writes: Do you not realize how much condensed stupid you managed to fit into a single paragraph here?

So? Whether or not it's "stupid", it's not insulting to you. It's the writer's opinion. It doesn't need mod action. If it's as stupid as you think it is, it ought to be easy to refute. If it's obviously ridiculous, there's no need even to refute it, as it refutes itself.

You seem to be all worked up, essentially, that other people have opinions, opinions you consider teh stoopit!, and that they have the audacity to use their accounts that they paid for, to make their opinions known, and that it's really wrong that jessamyn isn't pre-screening comments to make sure comments that empath thinks are teh stoopit! GRAR! aren't allowed, because disagreement with empath about the Catholic Church is somehow tantamount to anti-Catholic bigotry.

Dude. Other people have opinions. Often they're not the same as your opinions. If you chose to live in a pluralistic society, you have to learn to deal with that, to accept not their opinions you disagree with, but that they are allowed to have them. That's part of the implicit social contract for a pluralistic society, and it's part of the implicit social contract here an Metafilter.

Your other choice is outlined by zarq's comment about the Orthodox rabbi, above: you can become part of non-pluralistic society, in which a Council of Torah Sages or a Grand Mufti or an Index Librorum Prohibitorum determines what opinions are allowed, keeping threatening outside opinions from corrupting that insular society. And that's cool, if you chose to do it: our pluralistic society is so pluralistic that it allows the creation of these pockets that, had they the numbers or or the power, would destroy their pluralistic host society in disgust:
Just last month, a book by the chief rabbi of Great Britain, Jonathan Sacks, was labeled as heresy by several Orthodox rabbis in Manchester because it espouses the belief that Judaism does not hold the only religious truth. One of the offending passages in "The Dignity of Difference" states that "no one creed has a monopoly on spiritual truth."
But what you can't do is use our pluralism against us, to take our belief that all opinions are more or less equally allowed to be held and our belief that all opinions, even those we vehemently disagree with should be treated politely, and use our pluralistic beliefs to undermine our pluralism.

What you can't do is come into our pluralistic space, and rip books out of our pluralistic libraries, insisting that our library is intolerant of your group unless it carries only those books acceptable to your group. What you can't do is insist that "tolerance" means you get your own to impose your minority pocket beliefs on all of us.

What you can't do is expect us to accept your limitation of our opinions to only that subset of opinions acceptable in your non-pluralistic group .

Yes, empath, maybe the comment you're responding to is "condensed stupid". Maybe.

But your proposed solution is more than stupid: it would be the end of Metafilter as we know it. We want a polite to (almost) anyone, pluralistic Metafilter. We don't want a safe-for-The Roman-Catholic-Church-Metafilter or an empath-approved-Metafilter in which opinions critical of The Church, or which tick off empath, are suppressed.

Sorry man. If that's what you require, you need to build your own insular pocket community. And if you do, godspeed and good luck.
posted by orthogonality at 12:22 AM on March 15, 2010 [20 favorites]


Oh pshaw. Anti-Catholic bigotry of the Nativist/Dominionist stripe would be slammed into oblivion were it to show its face on Metafilter. Just as anti-Semitic bigotry would be were it trotted out disingenuously in a discussion of the crimes of the Israeli state against Palestinian people. As the son of a Catholic and a Jew, who is now a non-believer, we're talking about my family here. I'm not bigoted against my own family, I don't think. But I reserve the right to my own intellectual freedom to condemn religious and social institutions that hide, condone, rationalize, justify, or otherwise defend the exercise of evil actions against innocent people. And the childish argument that because there has been bigotry or hatred expressed (sometimes violently) against Catholics or Jews in the past or in other contexts is simply not an excuse for the actions of those institutions -- the Vatican, the Israeli government -- against innocent victims. Indeed, a *good* Catholic or Jew would be, doctrinally, morally obligated to exercise his or her full measure of outrage at evil things done in the name of his or her faith. Anyone who enacts evil while claiming God is on his or her side deserves no particular deference for their religious beliefs. I am no less critical of the American government, to which I have the same sense of allegiance that the average Catholic does to the Pope, when it does evil in my name.

This callout is just so much bullshit. I don't see Catholics being oppressed or discriminated against in any way in the contemporary United States or Europe. Quite the contrary -- they enjoy a measure of deference and social power that is completely unwarranted in a secular democracy, and the church intervenes in secular politics with total impunity, denying communion to candidates who are pro-choice, for example, in ways timed to harm them politically.

Back in 2004, when John Kerry was running against George W. Bush, on the Sunday before election day, there was an organized effort in American Catholic churches (just as in so many Protestant ones) to defy the conditions of the outrageous exemption of churches from taxation through direct political advocacy. I had a Catholic friend in Connecticut, and another in New Mexico, each tell me they had heard their priest urge his congregation to get out and vote for Bush, from the pulpit, in the homily. I don't doubt that it happened in hundreds of other churches, since the scripts were the same in these two churches on opposite sides of the country. It was surely an organized effort. Happens all the time.

And yet the Catholic church sits on billions of dollars worth of untaxed real estate, enjoying all the freedoms religion has acquired in our liberal democracy.

I didn't advocate the abolition of the Catholic church -- whatever that would even mean. I do advocate, and did in the original thread, the simple and expedient measure of taxing churches -- ALL churches -- so that they are accountable to the secular state and its laws, concerning reproductive choice, criminal justice, and many other things. You cannot claim to be above and outside the fray of politics if you are actively engaged in partisan electioneering from the pulpit; nor can you claim exemption from (man's) law if it happens to be inconvenient for your organization if you are otherwise engaged in secular politics, profiteering, and the usual sins and temptations of the flesh which you would condemn even in their most legal and accepted forms while a striking number of your own emissaries cannot keep their hands off the children in their pastoral "care."

Calling those of us who are outraged by the Catholic church's actions vis a vis the sexual abuse scandals of recent decades, or the actions that caused those scandals, "bigots" is projection at best, transparent hypocrisy at worst. I'm not a bigot. I don't hate Catholics, or object to their religious beliefs, or their exercise of their faith. Quite the contrary.

But I do believe the Catholic church has made of itself a pariah institution, through the direct actions of its leadership.

Hate the sin, love the sinner, and all that. Sound familiar?
posted by fourcheesemac at 12:46 AM on March 15, 2010 [9 favorites]


Why in the world, should it be off limits to call for the abolition of the RCC as an organization?

Sure, yes let's ban a world religion with hundreds of millions of followers. There's no way that could POSSIBLY be an offensive statement to make. And the concept is colossally stupid to even consider if you spend five minutes thinking of the consequences such an action would entail.

And at no point have I asked for mod action. (I specifically said waaaaay back at the beginning of the thread that I don't want comments deleted). I've asked people to moderate their tone and consider the feelings of others when expressing feelings about Catholics and Catholicism. Obviously, that's too much to ask of some people.
posted by empath at 1:27 AM on March 15, 2010 [2 favorites]


But your proposed solution is more than stupid

My proposed solution? What solution was that? Considering other feelings? WOE IS FUCKING ME IT WOULD BE THE END OF EVERYTHING. I don't know how metafilter would survive.
posted by empath at 1:29 AM on March 15, 2010 [1 favorite]


fourcheesemac: “This callout is just so much bullshit. I don't see Catholics being oppressed or discriminated against in any way in the contemporary United States or Europe.”

You, PG, VikingSword, and vorfeed don't seem to have gotten the point at all. I understand that since orthogonality's wildly popular diatribe against community standards everybody seems to think that if you want to talk about people being assholes on metafilter you're asking for a mod to do some deletion, but nobody asked for that here. empath wasn't addressing the mods and saying "delete stuff! delete stuff for me!" He knows better than that, and I think you know it. Moreover, here you seem to be saying that the only case in which a person can be a dick to another person on a web site is if the other person is "being oppressed or discriminated against... in the contemporary United States or Europe." Is that really what you think?

I admire empath for trying to bring this up. I think it was the right thing to do. I don't think it'll change anything, unfortunately, but it was a good try.
posted by koeselitz at 1:35 AM on March 15, 2010 [11 favorites]


Thank you VikingSword
I don't recall anyone attacking ordinary lay Catholics, or even all priests - I certainly wouldn't. What I did attack, and am unapologetic about, is the RCC as a hierarchical organization - top down power structure. I have a problem with the way the "top" is working and the way power is structured within the RCC, because while I have no doubt that there are plenty of good honest decent and even heroic priests, the organization they work for has been responsible for the biggest organized child rape anywhere in the world, going on for decades (and no doubt centuries)
posted by adamvasco at 1:51 AM on March 15, 2010


Wow. I think it's worth mentioning that VikingSword's dissection of empath's callout and blatant self-contradiction here is a revelation. It's also worth mentioning that empath is completely failing to address VikingSword's main point: that empath has called out VikingSword specifically in a way that even empath's own argument doesn't support.

empath, you really need to apologize to VikingSword. Because from here, it sure looks like you flipped out unfairly in his direction. Either that, or you're not meaning what you've been saying in this thread.
posted by mediareport at 4:35 AM on March 15, 2010 [7 favorites]


There's no way that could POSSIBLY be an offensive statement to make.

Oh please. Calling for the Catholic Church heirarchy to be abolished is, again, the very least you should be expecting thoughtful people to suggest, given "the disgusting behavior of the Church organization in its handling of the child rape cases" over decades and decades.
posted by mediareport at 4:38 AM on March 15, 2010 [1 favorite]


I have watched every user called out in this meta come in and personally ask you, empath, to justify it. instead he has just insulted them, and acted like a child.

In spite of some of the more lulzy comments in that thread, I think the tone was as respectful as one can be of an organization with a history of protecting child molesters at the expense of its members. Whether you think it's "stupid" or not to recommended abolishing the church, it's not offensive. It's a viewpoint you disagree with. It seems to me that you originally came in here just to play devil's advocate, saying "I'm not Catholic, but I think this would offend Catholics." Since then you have gotten it twisted into this anti-Catholic conspiracy on Metafilter which just doesn't exist.

Vikingsword really just made it abundantly clear not only how childish your attacks have been in this thread, but how fundamentally incorrect they have been. Your behavior in here - dismissing certain users out of hand, calling people idiots, repeatedly resorting to ad hominem attack - have been much more offensive than even the lulziest comment in that thread.

If someone makes a joke about a religious group, there's a chance that a member of that religious group might take offense. If someone pops into a thread and makes personally insulting comments about another user, as you have done repeatedly and unapologetically, it's almost guaranteed that someone is going to take offense.

I agree that you should apologize, not just to vikingsword, but to pope guilty, optimus chyme, and anyone else you made part of this callout. You haven't held up your end of the bargain, by pointing out any consistently offensive behavior exhibited by anybody.

At this point, watching you flail in here is kind of depressing.
posted by orville sash at 5:08 AM on March 15, 2010 [3 favorites]


I was thinking to what the "solution" could be to the overarching "ZOMG! OFFENSIVE!" theme that's plaguing MeTa. Most of the problem, I think, isn't that there are more lulzy one-liners, but that the GRAR meter has been turned up to 11. And yes, there are frankly over the line remarks that deserve outrage, but for the rest?

How about we just not jump to the worst possible reading? How about we assume that our fellow MeFites mean well and maybe we take vague jokes a little more charitably? And rather than assuming "ZOMG! You are a terrible person for saying that!" we ask "Wait... did you really mean this, because if you did, that's pretty uncool." I've certainly done that with offhand statements that have rankled me - a simple MeMail with "Hey, I'm not sure, but did you mean such and such by your comment. I really hope not, because that's pretty offensive, but I thought I'd give you the chance to explain before I went ahead and got pissed." The few times I've done this, it's gone well. The user clarified what they actually meant and there was no need to draw everybody in to a MeTa about the things stuck in my own particular craw.

MeFites are, by and large, pretty awesome. I think if we all took a step to assume that vague comments are probably well meant, but coming off wrong, rather than the tendency to assume that the commenter is harboring anti-X views, it would go a long way to avoiding massive threads about the lack of sensitivity towards X issue.
posted by grapefruitmoon at 5:13 AM on March 15, 2010 [11 favorites]


(To wit: I think that the "child porn ring" comments about the Catholic Church are definitely over the line. But a joke about the Pope being infallible? Yeah, to me it was clear that it was a joke and I think that a lot of the "ZOMG IGNORANCE!" outrage could have been avoided if the people who were reading it as a serious indictment took a second to ask "Wait, are you kidding or what? Because that just reads totally wrong from here.")
posted by grapefruitmoon at 5:14 AM on March 15, 2010 [2 favorites]


So hai did anyone find an example from the original thread of someone being offensive toward (not the Church but) Catholics? my hands still hurt from my megacomment upthread
posted by jtron at 5:16 AM on March 15, 2010


Are you asserting that when some father or mother abuses their children, other mothers and fathers will move the offender to a different state or country to raise and abuse different children?

I'm asserting that when daddy gets caught putting his peen into Junior, all too often, mommy, grandma or grandpa will engage in a conspiracy of silence, often enabling further abuse of the same child or siblings to continue. Historical and geographical patterns of abuse show that this isn't an isolated incident, but has been a systematic, endemic practice. All the more reason to encourage the state to act immediately. Won't somebody think of the children and take them into the care of the state, immediately if not sooner?

I hope you have the presence of mind to be embarrassed by this horrifically weak argument.

What, you think there's a failure in logic somewhere in my argument? Why quelle surprise!
posted by PeterMcDermott at 5:26 AM on March 15, 2010


...aaaaaaaaaand Empath's account is disabled. So I guess that means he won't be apologizing?
posted by orville sash at 6:30 AM on March 15, 2010 [1 favorite]


At this point, watching you flail in here is kind of depressing.

So is watching you pile on.

posted by abc123xyzinfinity at 6:37 AM on March 15, 2010


Why in the world, should it be off limits to call for the abolition of the RCC as an organization?

it's not politically possible, nor is it constitutional - you're not just advocating the abolition of the church, but of a system of government that guarantees religious freedom

I mean, as long as lay Catholics are not personally attacked, why is this not a legitimate position?

do you really think that lay catholics are not going to interpret the padlocking of their churches as a personal attack? - do you really think that "i'm going to close down your church" isn't going to offend people?

you're not thinking this through very well

we have laws against child molestation and they should be enforced and the church should cooperate - those in power who don't should be charged as accessories - that's the rational solution to the problem

your solution is pure fantasy and would take a stalin or a mao to implement
posted by pyramid termite at 6:51 AM on March 15, 2010 [5 favorites]


grapefruitmoon: I think if we all took a step to assume that vague comments are probably well meant, but coming off wrong, rather than the tendency to assume that the commenter is harboring anti-X views, it would go a long way to avoiding massive threads about the lack of sensitivity towards X issue. To wit: I think that the "child porn ring" comments about the Catholic Church are definitely over the line. But a joke about the Pope being infallible?

A lot of sense here. I'm a lapsed Catholic and I find some of this stuff tiresome. Not so much people saying that the Church is full of paedophiles, or even that it should be abolished - more the drive-by, lulzy, "sex with alter-boys ha ha ha" type posts, in threads where they don't belong. The first category, we can debate, disagree, whatever. Different opinions should be welcome. The second just degrades the quality of conversation here.

The reason I like MeFi (and I lurk a lot more than I post) is that its a community of smart people. We should be smarter than "I would make my shocked face but I'm afraid our local priest would stick his dick in it" [yes, I realise it was deleted, but as the mods have pointed out previously, bad posts early on can take a potentially good thread in a bad direction].

Another point I'd make is that jokes about child sex really aren't that funny, and I'm sure there are people here who were abused by priests and don't particularly need to be reminded of it.

Peter McDermott is also on the money talking about other conspiracies of silence. Look, we all know and agree that the Catholic Church did horrible things in covering up and enabling child sex abuse. So did most other elements of society. The police did it: I've seen accounts of children who reported that they were being raped by their father, to be told "Don't be silly, John wouldn't do that". Families covered this thing up (there was an FPP recently quoting a writer who'd been abused as a boy by his stepfather, his mother knew but didn't do anything). It's still incredibly hard to get rape convictions (see the front page of today's Independent (UK)).

Western societies, as a whole, have been incredibly bad on rape and sex abuse. The Catholic Church has certainly been part of that. Maybe even the worst part. But certainly not the only part. Eastern societies? We know the institutional prejudice against rape victims in Pakistan, say...but someone who posted about that in every thread about Islam would rightly be condemned. I can't help thinking that the constant mentioning of this topic in Catholic threads is a sign of underlying (probably unconscious) anti-Catholicism.
posted by Infinite Jest at 6:53 AM on March 15, 2010 [6 favorites]


This callout is just so much bullshit. I don't see Catholics being oppressed or discriminated against in any way in the contemporary United States or Europe.

Well, it's not a one way street (Protestant people can be on the receiving end in majority Catholic environments), but perhaps you'd like to familiarise yourself with this Scottish government-funded anti-sectarianism initiative. Bit of England I grew up in, you could crack jokes about this sort of stuff with little chance of it getting out of hand; there's plenty of places it can result in much uglier outcomes up to and including murder.

anotherpanacea - you've got that reading of a supposed claim to infallibility by Ratzinger entirely round your neck, even if you merely follow the logic of the sources you provide.
He asserted the necessity of giving primacy to the infallible teachings of the Church when addressing homosexuality, rather than relying merely on modern non-doctrinal approaches. You've conflated that with him asserting his own infallibility. That's not what he's doing - the burden of his letter is reminding his naughty liberal underlings who think homophobic doctrine is wrong their pastoral approach should continue to tell those gay people who want to stay reconciled with Church teaching they're sinning against God's plan (this is the Truth he thinks they should hear) if they actually have a proper love life.
You're also wrong when you extend this supposed claim to infallibility to the more recent question of how the cover-ups were justified.
I haven't any interest in defending the ridiculous homophobic theology and - well spotted - Ratzinger is an utterly reactionary failure of a human being but again, you've misread it entirely and so a critique based on such isn't going to have much impact on the Church or the wider Catholic world.
posted by Abiezer at 7:07 AM on March 15, 2010 [3 favorites]


You're also wrong when you extend this supposed claim to infallibility to the more recent question of how the cover-ups were justified.

Saying "You're wrong" doesn't make it so. The very same year that Ratzinger watched a priest he protected from prosecution for child rape finally get convicted of child rape, he wrote a letter invoking the "ordinary universal magisterium" (i.e. infallibility) to claim that homosexuals, which for him includes pedophiles, ought to be treated by the pastorate rather than prosecuted.

I may be wrong, as I am assuming the following three controversial premises, though of course I believe these premises are justified:

1. Ratzinger knew about Father H.
2. Ratzinger meant to address both "regular" homosexuality and pedophilia in the 1986 letter.
3. Ratzinger's distinction between treatment "within the Church community" as opposed to "isolation" is an implicit call for cover-ups of priestly pedophilia to prevent the "isolating" effects of temporal prosecutions.

Personally, I believe that premises 1 and 2 are well-documented, but certainly my evidence for 3 is circumstantial: I'm depending largely on the timing of the letter and Ratzinger's behavior before and since its publication. That doesn't mean it's not true, but I'd be interested to hear arguments to the contrary. That'd be different from assertions to the contrary, I think.
posted by anotherpanacea at 7:37 AM on March 15, 2010


Saying "You're wrong" doesn't make it so. The very same year that Ratzinger watched a priest he protected from prosecution for child rape finally get convicted of child rape, he wrote a letter invoking the "ordinary universal magisterium" (i.e. infallibility) to claim that homosexuals, which for him includes pedophiles, ought to be treated by the pastorate rather than prosecuted.
And thinking you're right doesn't make you a Jesuit either. This is the bit I'm saying you've misread. His claim isn't what you think it is. Look at section 14 for example:
With this in mind, this Congregation wishes to ask the Bishops to be especially cautious of any programmes which may seek to pressure the Church to change her teaching, even while claiming not to do so. A careful examination of their public statements and the activities they promote reveals a studied ambiguity by which they attempt to mislead the pastors and the faithful. For example, they may present the teaching of the Magisterium, but only as if it were an optional source for the formation of one's conscience. Its specific authority is not recognized. Some of these groups will use the word "Catholic" to describe either the organization or its intended members, yet they do not defend and promote the teaching of the Magisterium; indeed, they even openly attack it. While their members may claim a desire to conform their lives to the teaching of Jesus, in fact they abandon the teaching of his Church. This contradictory action should not have the support of the Bishops in any way.
Quite clearly the magisterium is introduced here (as in all other instances in the text) to assert its primacy over these modern liberal approaches. His concern is, as I said, that gay people continue to be told they're going against God's plan.
Where's the bit of the letter that mentions criminal proceedings? It's clearly addressing approaches to pastoral care - i.e. the ordinary spiritual relationship of church with parishioners - of gay Catholics in general not "treatment" in specific cases of persons who may have broken some civil law. Offensive to you and me no doubt, but important to Catholics including I have no doubt many gay Catholics.
posted by Abiezer at 7:55 AM on March 15, 2010


...aaaaaaaaaand Empath's account is disabled. So I guess that means he won't be apologizing?
posted by orville sash at 6:30 AM on March 15


The last time empath disabled his account he was back in 24 hours to continue the "fuck yous" and such.

In one of empath's earlier comments, he said "And hey, another excuse for VikingSword to ride his favorite hobby horse as a bonus. I mean, how do you engage in discussion with a guy like that." I replied that VikingSword (I'm paraphrasing) "clearly expresses his viewpoint and cites sources."

Empath later reponds (this is verbatim): "Pope Guilty: Fuck you. How is that for a positive contribution to the discussion." VikingSword later demonstrated empath's extensive history of arguing uncivilly and in bad faith with this comment. It's interesting in light of all this to see who still accuses VikingSword, Pope Guilty, and me of being the bad guys.
posted by Optimus Chyme at 7:57 AM on March 15, 2010


Empath flamed out?

He was eviscerated by VikingSword's sword! Once again, the heathens triumph over the Xtians.
posted by fourcheesemac at 8:14 AM on March 15, 2010


Oooh, but there has to be a great pun somewhere on the phrase "arguing in bad faith."

Bad faith. Get it?
posted by fourcheesemac at 8:15 AM on March 15, 2010


Are you sure empath have disabled his account before? When was this?
posted by Catfry at 8:17 AM on March 15, 2010


Where's the bit of the letter that mentions criminal proceedings?
"We would heartily encourage programmes where these dangers are avoided. But we wish to make it clear that departure from the Church's teaching, or silence about it, in an effort to provide pastoral care is neither caring nor pastoral. Only what is true can ultimately be pastoral. The neglect of the Church's position prevents homosexual men and women from receiving the care they need and deserve.

An authentic pastoral programme will assist homosexual persons at all levels of the spiritual life: through the sacraments, and in particular through the frequent and sincere use of the sacrament of Reconciliation, through prayer, witness, counsel and individual care. In such a way, the entire Christian community can come to recognize its own call to assist its brothers and sisters, without deluding them or isolating them."
You're right that the exoteric half of the letter is aimed at preserving the repudiation of ordinary homosexuality. (That's the "deluding" horn of the dilemma.) However, the letter would apply equally well to what the Church has always thought of as homosexual "ephebophilia" rather than pedophilia, which is attraction to adolescent boys, defined as 11-and-above. This distinction is built into the Catholic doctrine of "the age of reason." Here I claim that Ratzinger's desire to prevent "isolating" such unfortunates has a troubling double meaning: for homosexuals, it means welcoming gay Catholics to participate so long as they acknowledge that homosexual activity is a sin. For pedophiles, it means doing the same thing, and preventing the intervention of temporal authority.

Ultimately, my contention is that the real problem here is the Church's conflation of pedophilia and homosexuality. Of course, the Catholic response is that it's the secular conflation of pedophilia and ephebophilia that is really suspicious. What's your take? Are 11 year olds fair game? The argument goes that pre-pubescent boys are innocent victims, while pubescent boys are co-sinners with their abusers unless there is actual physical violence and thus rape.
posted by anotherpanacea at 8:18 AM on March 15, 2010 [1 favorite]


anotherpanacea:
I think you're stretching it with this reasoning. You're correct about the Church's conflating of homosexuality and pedophilia being a problem, but in the case of this letter, even with its timing, I would wager the cigar is a cigar. That just comes from my own experience in dealing with the Church, though.

In the end, it's a pretty minor dispute. Even if you were right this couldn't be used as any sort of proof. And if you are wrong then it doesn't ameliorate any of the wrongs that have been done.
posted by charred husk at 8:28 AM on March 15, 2010


Empath flamed out?

He was eviscerated by VikingSword's sword! Once again, the heathens triumph over the Xtians.


Jesus wept. [Not really!] Day two, the flame out. Sorry anti-Empath posse, you seem to care more about gloating, point scoring etc than the point. Yeah, Empath got his knickers in a twist when the pile-on got going. Not cool. Doesn't seem to me that you had a genuine cry about it though - you just kept up the pile on. It looks a bit needy. Someone's left the thread, and the community, tonight angry, mad, sad, bewildered and WTF, for making an originally fair call in the right place.

And new people, like me, feel like they'll never be brave enough to say 'um, hang on... this doesn't seem ok...?' in the forum for which those tentative questions are invited. Cos we'll get slammed for being cry babies, or pedophile apologists or lobster warriors or something.

Empath didn't play nicely as the thread progressed, but you posse types don't look cool for hounding the dude out. Cliche: Two wrongs don't make a right.
posted by honey-barbara at 8:40 AM on March 15, 2010 [8 favorites]


He was eviscerated by VikingSword's sword! Once again, the heathens triumph over the Xtians.

Could we not do this? It doesn't help anything.
posted by grapefruitmoon at 8:45 AM on March 15, 2010 [6 favorites]


Moreover, here you seem to be saying that the only case in which a person can be a dick to another person on a web site is if the other person is "being oppressed or discriminated against in the contemporary United States or Europe."

Now that is really funny. Who's being a "dick" here?

I mention the US and Europe (though neglecting Canada, and oversight) since a majority of Mefi users live in these societies where freedom of religion is the law of the land. Religious organizations (and religious people) enjoy the supreme advantages of this situation, especially those who practice minority religions (as Catholicism is in the US and northern Europe, at least). They are protected under the law.

Therefore, they ought to follow the law, pay taxes (which help sustain the rule of law), or else keep the hell out of politics and public life.

The Catholic church -- meaning the official institution and its hierarchy, as well as some large number of its followers -- is a malevolent force in American politics, to keep it to my own country. They would impose their "moral" vision (about reproductive rights, about homosexuality, and much more) on me EVEN THOUGH I AM NOT A CATHOLIC. Like all organizations that claim to have God on their side, they think that what they *believe* is true for everyone, and should be imposed on everyone. In this, the Catholic church is no different from the Afghan Taliban. The means differ, the ends are the same. They spent centuries holding extraordinary political power in Europe and imposing their moral vision on everyone in society, and that's how they got rich and powerful to begin with.

They are now an anachronism. And their sole claim to political authority over anyone is their purported claim to moral authority. This scandal goes deeper than the crimes themselves, however. The church has abdicated its moral authority, such as it ever had. This is why I said, in my comment disparaged by empath in the OP here, that people who look to the Pope or his bishops and deacons for moral teaching are stupid.

I still believe that. I have a right to believe some people are stupid. Calling people stupid for choosing to believe something patently false is not bigotry. If I insisted the world was flat, you'd call me stupid, and you'd be right.

And if I demanded the right to assert my religion's values as deserving of imposition on EVERYONE ELSE in society when I was obviously not bound by those values myself, you'd call me a hypocrite, and the people who looked to me as an exemplar of morality stupid.

Uncivil, yes. Bigoted, no way. No one is born believing in the tenets of Catholicism, and I specifically called out contemporary North America and Europe because in those places, there is no social pressure whatsoever to remain a member of any particular faith except that exerted, through the political process, by the agents of the various faiths as organized institutions. No one makes any American be a Catholic. You are not born a Catholic just because you have Catholic parents (as the church actually recognizes). It is not the same thing as race or ethnicity (both of which have been conflated with religion in the usual meaning of "anti-Catholic bigotry," which was actually, and usually, anti-Irish or anti-Italian bigotry in modern US history). It is not the same thing as gender or sexuality. It is a conscious belief system you can choose to adopt or not, and if you do, you take on the identity of its leadership as a burden.

That is stupid, given the conduct of said leadership right down to the level of parish priests, and right up to his Holiness Herr Ratzinger himself.

If I call out the members of the Westboro Baptist Church as stupid people, does that make me bigoted against Christians?
posted by fourcheesemac at 8:46 AM on March 15, 2010


I prefer Blind Faith .
posted by adamvasco at 8:50 AM on March 15, 2010


What's your take? Are 11 year olds fair game?
Blimey. Your argument's fallen over lacking legs to stand on and not content with enquiring after my wife-beating habits, you want me on child rape. Can't see where the Rahman paper you link mentions the Catholic Church either, though admittedly had to Google as I have no access to the journal.
To borrow another of your charmless debating tactics from above, 'isolating' doesn't mean what you lard onto it just because you say so. Show a bit of working. In the context of the letter, it seems plainly to refer to not isolating homosexual people from the life of the Church (whilst being sure to remind them they're sinners)
But in any case, my take is the one I ended with above, 'a critique based on [misreadings of doctrine] isn't going to have much impact on the Church or the wider Catholic world'. You're on a hiding to nothing arguing theology with the past masters. The reasons the Church failed so criminally as an institution are the far more everyday ones of self-interest/self-preservation others have mentioned above. Similar conspiracy and cover-up has been seen in secular children's homes in the UK. There's no need to get into some pointless parsing of later weasling by those involved in the cover-up. The abuse was always clearly wrong and all those involved knew it was clearly wrong. On preview, pretty much as charred husk says.
posted by Abiezer at 8:51 AM on March 15, 2010


Someone's left the thread, and the community, tonight angry, mad, sad, bewildered and WTF, for making an originally fair call in the right place.
posted by honey-barbara at 8:40 AM on March 15


The point is that it wasn't a "fair call in the right place." It was a bad callout, unsupported by evidence, attacking people who are concerned with the actions of and the support system behind repeat child abusers. If empath, or you, or anyone else, have real evidence that we are arguing unfairly, or that we are attacking lay Catholics instead of the church hierarchy which put in writing policies designed to shelter child rapists, please feel free to post it.

I don't think that the comment "He was eviscerated by VikingSword's sword" was productive, frankly, but empath is the only person in this thread who posted, and I quote, "Fuck you" to another member of this site. Will you explain to me why this discourse is preferable to mine, or VikingSword's, or Pope Guilty's, or fourcheesemac's, or anyone else's?
posted by Optimus Chyme at 8:57 AM on March 15, 2010 [2 favorites]


anotherpanacea: ""It is "more correct," said Archbishop Silvano Tomasi, to speak of ephebophilia, a homosexual attraction to adolescent males, than pedophilia, in relation to the scandals.

"Of all priests involved in the abuses, 80 to 90 per cent belong to this sexual orientation minority which is sexually engaged with adolescent boys between the ages of 11 and 17," said Tomasi.
"

If there's one thing I've learned from the internet, it's that people who work really hard at establishing the difference between ephebophilia and pedophilia are trying to downplay pedophilia.
posted by graventy at 8:57 AM on March 15, 2010 [3 favorites]


Therefore, they ought to follow the law, pay taxes (which help sustain the rule of law), or else keep the hell out of politics and public life.

Obviously organized religion is unfortunately and inappropriately quite intertwined with politics and public life in various countries already, but subjecting them to taxation would only increase and legitimize their interference.
posted by Alvy Ampersand at 8:57 AM on March 15, 2010


In the end, it's a pretty minor dispute.

Well, in my view, infallibility is the fault line that runs through this entire controversy, and the RCC can't respond adequately or appropriately to the problem without risking a fundamental doctrine.

It's important in our context because it validates the concerns about infallibility, and it's important in the larger context because it suggests one reason why the Catholic Church is having such difficulty dealing with the child abuse scandals: it's committed through the doctrine of infallibility to a defense of priestly abusers rather than an alliance with law enforcement to root out its own corruption.

The schismatic threat of sheltering wrongdoers goes back to the controversy with Donatists (when the RCC got it wrong and basically lost North Africa to early Protestantism and Islam) so it's not a simple fix by any means. They're going to lose North America for the same reasons: American Catholics are increasingly turning to other sources for religious community as a result of these scandals.
posted by anotherpanacea at 8:58 AM on March 15, 2010


empath: Sure, yes let's ban a world religion with hundreds of millions of followers. There's no way that could POSSIBLY be an offensive statement to make. And the concept is colossally stupid to even consider if you spend five minutes thinking of the consequences such an action would entail.

I'm at best a curious student of Christianity and Catholicism -- my knowledge of the religion, its sects and traditions were not steeped in me from childhood. But my impression has always been that (and if any Catholics could step in and correct me, I'd be grateful,) while the Vatican and Churches are the central authority on all things Catholic, they are still a separate entity from the religion itself. Can a person not be Catholic without attending a Church, confessing their sins to a priest and/or receiving communion? A person can be Jewish without stepping foot in a synagogue. Or be Buddhist even if they don't pray in a temple.

I believe that subjecting the Catholic Church to the civil laws of the countries within which its churches reside would not constitute a ban on Catholicism. If I'm wrong, I'd appreciate it if you would explain how and why.

However, making it toe a civil legal line would once again highlight a problem the Church has had throughout history: more often than not, it maintains a privileged status within its host countries and even vies for political power and influence. From the investiture controversy of the Middle Ages to the American civil rights/abortion/Proposition 8 machinations, the Church has only rarely restricted its activities when it comes to influencing the laws of society. Even when they haven't always done so overtly -- by preaching politics from the pulpit, for example. In fact, when a Pope chose not to involve the Church in an attempt to prevent the Holocaust, he was criticized for non-action, which many interpreted as tacit support for the Nazis. The assumption, supported by precedent, is that the Church will act out of a sense of moral compulsion when necessary.

We keep coming back to this term: "privileged status." Each time someone criticizes religion on MeFi, a debate ensues over whether religion (both its organizations and beliefs) should be given privileged status here. This is purely my opinion, but I maintain that it should be possible to criticize religious organizations for their actions while not vilifying the faithful. I think this is an appropriate ideal. By 'vilifying,' I mean not engaging in stereotypes or lazy, inappropriately all-encompassing analogies. So yes, calling all Catholics stupid for their faith would fit that bill. But talking about whether the Church itself (as an organization) has become morally bankrupt in light of the child abuse scandal shouldn't be considered offensive.
posted by zarq at 9:00 AM on March 15, 2010 [4 favorites]


You know, can people on both sides of the discussion stop using phrasology like this:

This whole call-out is a particularly clumsy bit of concern-whoring.

I'm going to go ahead and assume empath was making a good faith effort, and the people who disagree are also in good faith, and regret using the phrase "dicks" earlier. This thread is going nowhere, and the sheer rancor in the choices of words has a lot to do with that.
posted by Astro Zombie at 9:06 AM on March 15, 2010 [2 favorites]


Although, to be fair, buried in this mess is a very interesting discussion of papal infallibility.
posted by Astro Zombie at 9:14 AM on March 15, 2010


fourcheesemac: No one makes any American be a Catholic. You are not born a Catholic just because you have Catholic parents (as the church actually recognizes). It is not the same thing as race or ethnicity (both of which have been conflated with religion in the usual meaning of "anti-Catholic bigotry," which was actually, and usually, anti-Irish or anti-Italian bigotry in modern US history). It is not the same thing as gender or sexuality. It is a conscious belief system you can choose to adopt or not, and if you do, you take on the identity of its leadership as a burden.

To the religions themselves, being born into it may not preclude the ability of a person to make their own choices and choose their own adventure identity.

Regarding Judaism, one can be born a Jew (according to the religion) and choose not to ever follow their religion. In fact, even if a person converts to another religion* and renounces their Judaism, they are still considered Jewish by virtue of their genetic heritage. There's an old Jewish joke about a Jewish immigrant who marvels at how easy it is to convert to Catholicism, then justifies eating chicken on a Friday by simply saying "Once a chicken, now a fish!" before dunking the bird into a soup pot. To Judaism, a person is 'once a Jew, always a Jew.' Even if a person doesn't want to be Jewish, Judaism will claim them if they want to return to the faith.

* Although.... you know.... don't do that. You're killing your mother. Who was in labor for 900 hours with you. And had to walk herself to the hospital, uphill, through hip-deep snow. ;)
posted by zarq at 9:14 AM on March 15, 2010


but empath is the only person in this thread who posted, and I quote, "Fuck you" to another member of this site

Jesus, are you fucking blind? He was reacting to an accusation of not caring enough for abused children- a totally inappropriate and insulting comment.

You can harp on about using appropriate language but its obvious that a thread can pretty well dominated and shit upon while still remaining within whatever pc acceptance criteria.
posted by freshundz at 9:16 AM on March 15, 2010


...when zarq says it, well, there's no disagreement with anything in that statement.

I'm totally in favor of this as a new site rule, by the way. :D :D
posted by zarq at 9:20 AM on March 15, 2010


hay. sup?

So I've been reading this and the original thread throughout this past weekend, and it's been interesting to lurk and read, but I did want to chime in here and comment on this:

Infinite Jest "Eastern societies? We know the institutional prejudice against rape victims in Pakistan, say...but someone who posted about that in every thread about Islam would rightly be condemned. I can't help thinking that the constant mentioning of this topic in Catholic threads is a sign of underlying (probably unconscious) anti-Catholicism."

While it may very well be your opinion that there is some underlying (or overt) anti-Catholicism on Metafilter, this is a completely bogus analogy. "Islam" doesn't have an institution. It doesn't have ownership, property, money, a leader, or hierarchy, and does not have some kind of mechanism of order of social (or religious) stratification. Sure there is violent rape and abuse in Muslim communities, but there isn't a central religious institution that harbors rapists, transfers them, excuses them, promotes accomplices, while fulfilling supposed roles of faith and self-sacrifice, all without paying taxes, allowing no transparency, in the name of god and for your own eternal sake.

IMHO, this really does not compare to a corrupt Pakistani police officer taking bribes to not do anything about the 15 year old girl gang-raped, or doing the rape himself - it is awful and corrupt, yes, but it is on a very different scope. It really does not compare to a religious institution such as the Roman Catholic Church, to which all Catholic roads lead. Child rape is carried our by, covered up by, ignored by, continued by, paid for by, protected by, and supported by faithful men in places of power. And they don't do a fucking thing about it, in the name of religious pride. Now, there are shitload of cultural and national failures when it comes to allowing such abuses to continue to happen in communities that are Muslim, but these crimes of such violent abuse are not done under the guise of, under the roof of, a supposed place of solace and trust.

I really liked Pope Guilty's comment that:

"It was not random people. It was powerful members of the organization, going all the way to the top. A bit of rot at a few spots around the edges of a tree can be pruned away. If the rot is spread throughout the roots and trunk, the tree cannot be saved."

To me, this isn't really about some "Fuck yeah! Now's our time to get the Catholics!" kind of attack. It's more like… well, shit, if the man at the top knew about abuses and let someone get away with it, the RCC is really pretty damn messed up. The abuse, the ignoring of the abuse, has totally permeated the institution. It's systemic. And it's really pretty sad that they themselves, those within the RCC (I don't necessarily mean the lay people), just don't see it as much of a problem. I mean, holy fuck. That's a kind of messed up that seems beyond repair. The RCC doesn't even seem to want repair - they're not even pruning the rot, they're re-planting it.

Perhaps some of you are interested in why I've been following this and favorited a bunch of your comments (or perhaps you aren't, and that's ok). My mom was raised in a small town in the Apennines, came to the US in her 20's, met my Pakistani dad, and converted to Islam. I know that she was molested and raped growing up in Italy, but I don't know for sure by whom. I do know that it wasn't family, and I do know that she spent nearly all of her formative years alone in a Catholic schools, while her dad and older siblings made their way to the US. As I knew her, she had a deep hatred of Catholicism, and was harassed by her family members to convert back, up until the day she died. But I never understood exactly why she hated Catholicism SO much (my dad wasn't even that religiously Muslim). I suspect that the rape and molestation occurred at school, and possibly by a priest. I don't understand how someone could just uproot totally from their cultural and religious foundations. I myself am an atheist, raised Muslim - I don't believe in the theology at all and have few reservations about criticizing ill behavior related to faith, but I can't just completely erase my upbringing which was, because of my mom, influenced a lot by Islam. I mean she didn't even want to make cookies at Christmas! She just completely wanted nothing to do with anything that remotely reminded her of Catholicism. I don't know for sure if she was abused by clergy, but for me, it would make a lot of sense.

Well, that's all. I'll go back into the shadows now.
posted by raztaj at 9:26 AM on March 15, 2010 [9 favorites]


Well, that's all. I'll go back into the shadows now.

Please don't. That was really well said.
posted by zarq at 9:42 AM on March 15, 2010


but empath is the only person in this thread who posted, and I quote, "Fuck you" to another member of this site. Will you explain to me why this discourse is preferable to mine

That's second time you've mentioned that comment as if it was simple "fuck you" and nothing more. I read it as more of a rhetorical one: that empath was quite aware that he was engaging in shitty discourse but that it was kind of par for the course at point. A sort of exasperated "if you can't beat 'em, join 'em and maybe they'll see how ugly it is". It's not something I like to see here, but people let frustration get the best of them sometimes, and I don't agree with you that empath has a history of such outbursts.

You, on the other hand, have repeatedly implied in this thread that anyone who disagrees with you is cool with raping children. This doesn't sound to me like it's rhetorical, but that you actually believe these mefites are somehow culpable for the abuse. Which, yeah, personally I'd prefer to get a straight "fuck you" thrown at me than an implied "you like to diddle little boys, don't you?" Couple that with your well-established history of belittling of members, and I can't help but think you're request for an explanation is pretty disingenuous.
posted by and hosted from Uranus at 9:44 AM on March 15, 2010 [3 favorites]


He was eviscerated by VikingSword's sword! Once again, the heathens triumph over the Xtians.

Please don't do this. Gloating that you ran someone off the site is petty and immature.
posted by zarq at 9:53 AM on March 15, 2010 [1 favorite]


You, on the other hand, have repeatedly implied in this thread that anyone who disagrees with you is cool with raping children.

On the one hand, there's the guy derailing a conversation about a massive, decades-spanning conspiracy within the Catholic Church to cover up and facilitate child molestation to imply that people discussing it are 1850's style racists, and on the other hand, there's a guy questioning the first guy's motivation for that derail.

I know where, between those two people, my sympathies lie.
posted by Pope Guilty at 9:53 AM on March 15, 2010


Yea, as long as you have the moral high ground it doesn't matter how insulting you are.
posted by freshundz at 10:02 AM on March 15, 2010 [3 favorites]


You, on the other hand, have repeatedly implied in this thread that anyone who disagrees with you is cool with raping children.

I don't think they are "cool with it"; I do think that the magnitude of these crimes doesn't register for them or that maybe it's not a priority. I don't understand why someone would stand up for the church when the leaders of the church, all the way to the top, have engaged in decades or centuries of covering up rape. I don't understand who could look at the corruption go all the way up from the priests to the bishops to the cardinals to the Pope and not conclude that RCC is fundamentally broken. I don't understand anyone who can cside with the church. I don't care what that makes me in your eyes.
posted by Optimus Chyme at 10:07 AM on March 15, 2010 [5 favorites]


He was eviscerated by VikingSword's sword! Once again, the heathens triumph over the Xtians.

Please don't do this. Gloating that you ran someone off the site is petty and immature.


zarq, I think it's obvious he was joking. And he certainly did not run empath off the site, nor has anyone. Empath has been behaving erratically for quite some time - he's already disabled his account once, then come back shortly thereafter with more of the same.

And speaking for myself, I take no pleasure in "eviscerating" anyone - I finally responded, calmly, after persistent personal attacks that were so unhinged, incoherent and self-contradictory, that I sincerely wondered about his health. This is sad all around - I hope empath finds peace, and comes back to the site, even if it's under another moniker.
posted by VikingSword at 10:10 AM on March 15, 2010


If there's one thing I've learned from the internet, it's that people who work really hard at establishing the difference between ephebophilia and pedophilia are trying to downplay pedophilia.

This is going to be a slight derail, but I do believe there's an important distinction between being sexually attracted to, say, a 6-year-old, and being sexually attracted to a 16-year-old. They are absolutely crimes of different magnitudes.

A 6-year-old is not sexually developed. He's not nearly mature enough to know what's happening to him. Pedophilia acted on requires abusing a defenseless child both physically and emotionally. I fully condone calling it a horrific crime, easily one of the worst in the books.

But there's certainly a sliding scale of maturity. You don't just hit 18 and suddenly become an adult. I'm a sophomore in college, and I think that if the idea of requiring an age of consent is to make sure people are emotionally mature enough to have sex, 18 isn't old enough for a guarantee.

Being sexually attracted to a young person who is developed sexually is not quite as heinous as full-blown pedophilia. I still get why it's a crime — my ex-girlfriend was involved in a high school relationship with a teacher, and it's become very clear since that she simply was not mature enough at 15 to judge the proper limits for a relationship. The teacher was 23, and an age difference of 8 years is not extraordinary, but he abused his authority and he abused my ex's immaturity. But that's not the same thing as if he were an elementary school teacher and had a relationship with an 8-year-old.

Ahem! Thoughts on the thread in general.

Empath degenerated into an asshat as the thread went on. I do think his original point was a good one, though, and I do think that people are misunderstanding it. Perhaps deliberately? Empath was saying that perhaps we can criticize Catholicism without being petty about it. It's totally cool to say you want the Church dismantled because you think it's corrupt and in a sense evil. It's not cool to go from that to saying, say, that all priests are child molesters, or even that most of them are. Unless I've missed a study that actually says that legitimately, you start crossing the line between being critical of Catholicism and being an outright bigot.

And Pope Guilty, I agree with you on this thread, and I think that your stance is pretty smart and rational, but I think your turning Empath's beanplating into an accusation of his not caring about child abuse is somewhat distasteful. This is MetaFilter. We're all about derails and intensive comments that don't focus on the main subject of whatever.

And Empath was right. We can hate the subject of child abuse and hold the Church accountable without descending into bigotry; when somebody calls out the bigotry, they aren't instantly saying the subject of child abuse isn't serious.

So the question, I think, is how to draw the line between legitimate criticism/opinion, and opinion that's actively hateful in a way that doesn't provoke good conversation. But I doubt we'll reach a consensus in this thread, because honestly we're all acting like a bunch of fucking Mainers.
posted by Rory Marinich at 10:18 AM on March 15, 2010 [4 favorites]


So empath closes his account, without apology to those about whom he has outright lied. Classy.
posted by five fresh fish at 10:22 AM on March 15, 2010


So empath closes his account, without apology to those about whom he has outright lied. Classy.

There are a lot of people who could be being more decent in this thread.
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 10:36 AM on March 15, 2010 [9 favorites]


Empath has been behaving erratically for quite some time - he's already disabled his account once, then come back shortly thereafter with more of the same.

No really, when was this?
posted by Catfry at 10:41 AM on March 15, 2010


I think it would be great if everyone, absolutely everyone, could attempt to be decent, respectful, absolutely irrespective of whether they have any chance of being wrong about anything that they are saying or of how their behavior comes off relative to the behavior of others.
posted by shakespeherian at 10:41 AM on March 15, 2010 [2 favorites]


You need to shift the conversation away from child rape and child rapists, so you literally pretend that all the comments regarding the RCC's policies are actually somehow about lay members and thereby get leverage to shut everyone up.
---
Oh, wait, now that's bigotry against all religious people, right? We're the bad guys; the child rapists, as always, are just misunderstood.
---
You are deliberately trying to turn the conversation away from the thousands of child rapes and the systematic covering up of those rapes by exploiting the language of victimization on behalf of the victimizers. This is vile, and that you continue to do it demonstrates a near-total lack of shame or empathy on your part.
---
On the one hand, there's the guy derailing a conversation about a massive, decades-spanning conspiracy within the Catholic Church to cover up and facilitate child molestation to imply that people discussing it are 1850's style racists, and on the other hand, there's a guy questioning the first guy's motivation for that derail.

I know where, between those two people, my sympathies lie.

---



So empath closes his account, without apology to those about whom he has outright lied. Classy.


Antinomianism is my favorite heresy.
posted by Snyder at 10:43 AM on March 15, 2010


He was eviscerated by VikingSword's sword! Once again, the heathens triumph over the Xtians.

Please don't do this. Gloating that you ran someone off the site is petty and immature.

zarq, I think it's obvious he was joking.


Yes, it's obvious that he was joking, but the joke is still not helpful to the tone of the site. People have the right to come and go as they please, making a "HAHA!" kind of joke when someone decides to take a break is in poor taste - especially as they are (presumably) not around to answer to it.
posted by grapefruitmoon at 10:44 AM on March 15, 2010 [3 favorites]


Antinomianism is my favorite heresy.

I would expect to be spoken to in the same manner were I trying to distract people from such a crime.
posted by Pope Guilty at 10:50 AM on March 15, 2010


I would expect to be spoken to in the same manner were I trying to distract people from such a crime.

Can I ask you something? Do you sincerely believe that empath and other people here on MetaFilter are willful apologists for child molestation? And if you don't think so, why do you keep saying this?
posted by shakespeherian at 10:54 AM on March 15, 2010 [1 favorite]


No really, when was this?
posted by Catfry at 10:41 AM on March 15

I think I am going to take a break from mefi for a while. See you guys in a few weeks.
posted by empath at 10:51 PM on March 13

posted by Optimus Chyme at 10:58 AM on March 15, 2010


Empath has been behaving erratically for quite some time - he's already disabled his account once, then come back shortly thereafter with more of the same.

No really, when was this?


Read the thread - there are several references to this. When he came back, it was with this:

Oh hey guys, i'm back.

He then carried on just as erratically, and finally flamed out.
posted by VikingSword at 10:59 AM on March 15, 2010


I don't understand anyone who can cside with the church.

Fair enough. Apologies if I misrepresented your statements. I guess I do understand because anytime I've actually interacted with someone representing the Church it's been related to social justice and they've all seemed like good people (or, in the case of one particular gay couple I used to hang with who truly lived by their vows of poverty, downright holy people). Catholicism, to me, isn't encompassed by this scandal.

without apology to those about whom he has outright lied.

May I ask what exactly you are referring to? Honestly, I don't know what lies empath has written that require an apology. Do you mean "the Roman Catholic Church is the largest pedophile ring in the world" thing. Empath may have had an inaccurate reading of that statement by VikingSword, and may have been too personal in his critique of it. But he didn't exactly lie about it, and VikingSword rebutted it well enough that an apology would kind of be overkill. And that's one example, of course, yet you used the plural "those" so what else was there?
posted by and hosted from Uranus at 11:02 AM on March 15, 2010


Rory Marinich: "We can hate the subject of child abuse and hold the Church accountable without descending into bigotry; when somebody calls out the bigotry, they aren't instantly saying the subject of child abuse isn't serious."

The thing is, we're not dealing with bigotry here. I think a lot of it is conflation of "the Church" the organization that is based out of the Vatican and "the Church" as in the body of Christ (or some similar communal but more secular feeling).

Optimus Chyme: "I don't understand why someone would stand up for the church when the leaders of the church, all the way to the top, have engaged in decades or centuries of covering up rape."

See, right here I think is where lot of the problem is. From what I've seen (and done myself in other threads), people here aren't as much standing up for the Church as a whole. We're standing up for our local priest who pushes for female and/or married clergy, inclusiveness of homosexuals and has never given anyone a bad touch. We're standing up for EmpressCallipygos' friend. We're standing up for family, friends and lovers who stand for social justice and love instead of bigotry and hate.

Many people have spoken about how much easier it is to leave the Church than other things, but it isn't that simple. Aside from the cultural and personal pressures, if you're a invisible-man-in-the-sky worshiping type, the Catholic Church has things that no other denomination has - the sacraments, transubstantiation, the communion of saints. That may all be fantasy world crap to many here, but it is real enough to some very good people and it is only provided by Catholicism. They do what good they can locally and as far as they can reach and hope that change or a split will someday occur.

Which is to say, its a lot of talking past one another. It isn't some love of the Church as an organization that is being rubbed raw here, but personal experiences with those we love who are in the Church as part of our local community.
posted by charred husk at 11:03 AM on March 15, 2010 [8 favorites]


I would expect to be spoken to in the same manner were I trying to distract people from such a crime.

He wasn't, but it's no problem to accuse him of such and smear him, because your position gives you the moral high ground, and he is wrong, and that excuses wrong acts on behalf of a virtuous cause.
posted by Snyder at 11:03 AM on March 15, 2010 [1 favorite]


Yes, it's obvious that he was joking, but the joke is still not helpful to the tone of the site. People have the right to come and go as they please, making a "HAHA!" kind of joke when someone decides to take a break is in poor taste - especially as they are (presumably) not around to answer to it.

True, and that's why I avoid joking about that. In the case of empath, the "not around to answer" part however is not that relevant, since he doesn't answer when confronted with his own blatant lies and contradictions. Anyhow, what he says about breaks must be taken with a grain of salt - he announced a break of a few weeks and was back within hours. Then flames out again. He's acting erratically. People take breaks for various reasons, and that's just fine, there's no stigma attached, but there are also people who flame out after a prolonged bout of name-calling and bizarre self-contradictory attacks... and even in such cases, we should have compassion, as they may be battling all sorts of psychological demons. And the "tone of the site" is best served by being civil to one another, something that empath should really work on, wherever he is.
posted by VikingSword at 11:07 AM on March 15, 2010


zarq, I think it's obvious he was joking.

It's a lousy sentiment. I'd honestly prefer to see less of it. How does a joke that disparages another (ex)user improve MetaFilter?

And he certainly did not run empath off the site, nor has anyone.

I said he was "gloating" that he'd done so. Not that he (or you) had actually done it. Whether empath chose to leave permanently or take a break, that was his choice.

Look, there have been cases where I've felt that one or more users had turned MeFi an unwelcoming environment for other users. Or deliberately taunted them until they flamed out. I don't think you did that. My comment to fourcheesemac was not intended to be any sort of criticism of your comments here. You were quite calm and reasonable, considering what you'd been personally accused of.

What was so strange to me is I clearly remember you speaking more than once about the need for separation of Church and State when it came to Proposition 8 and that people should separate criticism of the Roman Catholic Church's actions from those of the laity. I didn't see any contradiction of this stance in your most recent comments, which is why I didn't say much of anything about them. I didn't completely understand why so many of empath's comments were directed towards you, but assumed you two had a history and kept out of it.

Empath has been behaving erratically for quite some time - he's already disabled his account once, then come back shortly thereafter with more of the same.

I hadn't noticed him behaving erratically. I did see that he said he was going to disable his account earlier in this thread, but when I checked on him a couple of hours later last night he hadn't.

And speaking for myself, I take no pleasure in "eviscerating" anyone - I finally responded, calmly, after persistent personal attacks that were so unhinged, incoherent and self-contradictory, that I sincerely wondered about his health.

It's a highly emotional topic and we all have our buttons.

This is sad all around - I hope empath finds peace, and comes back to the site, even if it's under another moniker.

Agreed. I'm sorry to see him go.
posted by zarq at 11:07 AM on March 15, 2010


Emapth didn't make an announcement that he was taking a break. Bringing it up as you guys have done is pretty classless. You really do sound as though you are taking pleasure in driving another user off the site, or, at least, showing him the door with an extended middle finger. This is not good MetaFilter behavior, and, if you think empath has behaved poorly in this thread, you might make your point on more solid footing by not likewise behaving poorly.
posted by Astro Zombie at 11:10 AM on March 15, 2010 [4 favorites]


Can I ask you something? Do you sincerely believe that empath and other people here on MetaFilter are willful apologists for child molestation? And if you don't think so, why do you keep saying this?

I'd like an answer to this as well.
posted by zarq at 11:11 AM on March 15, 2010


Emapth didn't make an announcement that he was taking a break.

Yes he did, last night: I think I am going to take a break from mefi for a while. See you guys in a few weeks.
posted by empath at 1:51 AM on March 14 [2 favorites +] [!]

posted by zarq at 11:12 AM on March 15, 2010


Well, I guess he did make an announcement. Nonetheless, the behavior in this thread has been generally shitty, and I think I'm just going to avoid religion threads from here on out, just as I avoid threads about Israel. I'd like to think I have something to offer those threads, since my degree was in religion, but this is just too fucking depressing for my delicate sensibilities.
posted by Astro Zombie at 11:13 AM on March 15, 2010 [6 favorites]


Raztaj: thanks for the response. In hindsight, I think my Pakistani reference was an unhelpful digression and I should have focused on Western institutions. I stand by that argument though: the Catholic Church is far from the only institution engaged in covering up or downplaying abuse, but it seems as though it cops far more flak than any of the others.

Fourcheesemac: I don't see Catholics being oppressed or discriminated against in any way in the contemporary United States or Europe.

I'm not sure about the US, but the UK constitution says a Catholic can't become head of state (monarch). Tony Blair converted to Catholicism only after he had retired as Prime Minister - when it was rumoured that he was considering converting, there were articles in the (serious) press condemning this, and saying that a Catholic shouldn't be PM. [A similar thing happened, albeit only from the fringes, when Jim Bolger became Prime Minister of New Zealand]. Even in the US, one might expect a powerful group with 23% of the population to have elected more than one President.

There's fairly blatant violence and/or prejudice directed against Catholics in parts of the UK (Northern Ireland and Scotland: a few weeks ago an Irish Catholic friend of mine was told to leave a Belfast pub for his own safety; further back the (Protestant) father of a friend of mine was followed home from work and shot in the back for the crime of sitting with Catholics in the work canteen). Catholics have historically been discriminated against in jobs and housing in N Ireland.

Clearly it would be absurd to argue that Catholics, now, have things remotely as bad as other religious minorities, and I'm not trying to do that. I do think there's an undercurrent of prejudice and dislike, in some elements of our societies. I think it's at least possible that this undercurrent may be effecting attitudes on MeFi.

(Pointing to this part of your post only, I thought much of the rest was well said. Also about to go offline for a day so forgive me if anyone responds to this and I don't reply).

On preview: charred husk makes a great point about the two meanings of the Church: I suspect that many of the critics of "the Church" are using that term to refer to the establishment, run out of the Vatican. But to a Catholic (or us lapseds) "The Church" is all of us, the individuals in each parish. So someone trying to say "the hierarchy is corrupt and needs to be reformed or destroyed" may be perceived as saying "all 1 billion Catholics are corrupt". Part of the problem may be this simple difference in definitions.
posted by Infinite Jest at 11:14 AM on March 15, 2010 [7 favorites]


VikingSword: I have no particular disagreement with you, but you should probably stop insinuating empath has health or psychological issues. It is not coming off well if your intentions are good, and if they're not, it's coming off worse.
posted by haveanicesummer at 11:15 AM on March 15, 2010


I think I am going to take a break from mefi for a while. See you guys in a few weeks.
posted by empath at 10:51 PM on March 13


He did not disable his account then, although I now see what you guys mean.
posted by Catfry at 11:17 AM on March 15, 2010


Emapth didn't make an announcement that he was taking a break. Bringing it up as you guys have done is pretty classless.

Yes he did. Please refer to a link by Optimus Chyme just a few posts above yours. Not only that, but he also announced his return with a bright "Oh hey guys, I'm back."

So you are wrong on the facts. Pretty classless to accuse others of classlessness based on this.
posted by VikingSword at 11:18 AM on March 15, 2010


You know, I've already answered that, and whether or not he announced it isn't relevant to my point, which is that the back and forth here has been abominable, and you've been a big part of that.
posted by Astro Zombie at 11:19 AM on March 15, 2010


But if, instead of addressing the behavior, you'd liker instead to come after me with your guns ablazing, please take it to memail. I don't want to get sucked into this shit.
posted by Astro Zombie at 11:20 AM on March 15, 2010


There are a whole bunch of things here that I'm just itching to respond to, but I've been reluctant to get involved in this thread for a couple of reasons. First, compared to some previous discussions of religion, including, but not limited to Catholicism, that got really nasty, I don't think this one was that offensive. It was completely full of stupid, over-the-top, knee-jerky, axegrindy, good-old-fashioned Church-hating that bore little relevance to the actual content of the links, but it seemed like (with a few notable exceptions) people were mostly doing a good job of keeping it confined to attacks on the institution - not on regular Catholics or religious people in general. I was pretty pleased that there was only one reference (that I noticed) to "invisible friends" which is usually a pretty popular tactic on religion threads. I think it was a bad FPP (not much point beyond outragefilter) and I think there was definitely some bad behavior, but it wasn't nearly as bad as some of the crap I've seen here before.

Second, after reading a number of these callouts, I've seen a consistent pattern that leads me to believe that they're pretty pointless.

Person A acts like a jerk.
Person B objects.
Mods step in with a general statement that 'yeah we'd like people to talk about this without being jerks'
Person A (with backers) denies that anything was jerky (often while continuing to be a jerk) and asserts that Person B is thin-skinned, hypocritical, and refusing to allow 'reasonable discourse.'
Person B (with backers) reasserts that 'yes it was jerky' and that 'reasonable discourse' is fine as long as it's done without jerkiness
Repeat until flameout.
Flameout.
Person C says the flameout is a real shame and asks why we can't all get along.
Persons D-Z discuss pie and/or movies.

The people who think the behavior was unacceptable continue to be bothered by it, the people who behaved badly continue to believe they were in the right and nothing changes except that I get new names to add to my "I do not like this person" list. It's pretty rare that anyone on either side says "wow, I didn't see it that way, you're absolutely right." It's not a discussion, it's Thunderdome. But nobody walks away victorious.
posted by Dojie at 11:27 AM on March 15, 2010 [5 favorites]


You know, I've already answered that, and whether or not he announced it isn't relevant to my point, which is that the back and forth here has been abominable, and you've been a big part of that.

I've been a big part of it? Where is the "big" part? I assume you can quote entire paragraphs, not merely some sentence wrenched out of context after I have been repeatedly attacked and called names and I did not even respond until finally after 300+ comments.

But if, instead of addressing the behavior, you'd liker instead to come after me with your guns ablazing, please take it to memail. I don't want to get sucked into this shit.

Hmm. It seems to me it was YOU who started this whole thing with your "classless" jibe (while actually being wrong on the facts), and then followed it with claiming that I (getting personal!) am a big part of the abominable discourse. You'd have more credibility if you didn't start off attacking someone personally, before crying out about the injustice of "going after you" when the person attacked responds.
posted by VikingSword at 11:29 AM on March 15, 2010 [2 favorites]


Memail.
posted by Astro Zombie at 11:30 AM on March 15, 2010 [1 favorite]


VikingSword, can you please lower your temper? Regardless of whether you are right or wrong right now, you are coming across as shouty and confrontational at a point when this thread would be best served by measured discourse.
posted by shakespeherian at 11:32 AM on March 15, 2010 [2 favorites]


Persons D-Z discuss pie and/or movies.

We could do both and discuss Pi.

Actually, I'm hoping this thread eventually evolves into a discussion about Cheesecake.

Bettie Page. Hubba Hubba.

posted by zarq at 11:35 AM on March 15, 2010


VikingSword, can you please lower your temper? Regardless of whether you are right or wrong right now, you are coming across as shouty and confrontational at a point when this thread would be best served by measured discourse.

And measured discourse is calm, as I think my posts here have been - if there is some place where my temper runs hot, please point it out, so I may be aware of it, specific examples, not general characterizations devoid of factual basis which you hope may stick. And thank you for inserting yourself into this measured discourse.
posted by VikingSword at 11:38 AM on March 15, 2010 [1 favorite]


True, and that's why I avoid joking about that. In the case of empath, the "not around to answer" part however is not that relevant, since he doesn't answer when confronted with his own blatant lies and contradictions. Anyhow, what he says about breaks must be taken with a grain of salt - he announced a break of a few weeks and was back within hours. Then flames out again. He's acting erratically. People take breaks for various reasons, and that's just fine, there's no stigma attached, but there are also people who flame out after a prolonged bout of name-calling and bizarre self-contradictory attacks... and even in such cases, we should have compassion, as they may be battling all sorts of psychological demons. And the "tone of the site" is best served by being civil to one another, something that empath should really work on, wherever he is.

I don't think that singling out users for "needing to work" on being civil is helping the general tone either. In the case of anybody, we should just leave it be if someone decides to take a break. Brand New Day and all of that. This kind of building up a sort of "reputation" leads to the kind of mud-slinging grudge matches that take contentious debates up to HOPPITAMOPPITA levels. I've seen a ton of it in this thread and I don't think any names need to be named other than just a blanket: "Look, if you're really focused on what one particular user has said/needs to apologize for/needs to answer to rather than the larger discussion, it would be healthier to the site if you just took to email."
posted by grapefruitmoon at 11:43 AM on March 15, 2010


I think the meta-discourse about whether or not Metafilter "does religion well" is really interesting, mostly because I perceive it as being interesting and fruitful but see it characterized as being horrible/offensive and/or boring. It must be relative to the kinds of conversations people have elsewhere, but to me it seems like a lot of good disagreements happen, and even the meta threads like this have a pretty healthy push-back against any one view taking over the entire conversation.

I get that individual members might start to suffer from some kind of exhaustion at having to defend their particular views over and over, but they are the ones who have to decide if it's really worth it... no one is forcing them to stand up for anything in the end. I know some people get upset and it gets ugly, but I usually take that as a sign the something serious is being discussed. There's a kind of irreconciliable ugliness to religious diversity that is exhausting/fascinating depending on your inclinations and personal insistence on tidy consistency and simple answers. People have deep commitments to really different ideas and also share alot of superficial common ground and imagined sympathies to various unexamined values and worldviews... the whole thing is a tangle of potential conflict and unexpected sensitivities...

I dunno, I just wanted to say that, from here, Metafilter does these types of discussion and meta-discussions really well even if they are kind of unseemly and ugly at times. Even if the satisfaction level of individuals is generally low, I think the opportunities for learning and self-examination are pretty high. I have taught this stuff before and I've seen what the difference is between discourse that takes religious ideas seriously, and the kind of polite relativism that shrugs away the differences that separate us... I really prefer the serious engagement with difference that occasionally causes some ugliness. I really don't think even the "lazy" "stupid" responses can be dismissed so lightly when people care enough to post them... That people take it seriously enough to notify people of their disinterest, to come and report on how they avoid stuff like this in the threads about it... It's interesting...to me.

Anyway, I don't want the whole "not end well/ we suck at this" idea to go unchallenged. I, for one, think it's pretty good even when it's "bad".

I admit I'm biased, if people stopped reading and posting about religion here it would be a loss for me.
posted by ServSci at 11:46 AM on March 15, 2010 [4 favorites]


I believe people should have a second chance, and holding grudges is pointless.

I'll start by saying: I am not offended by empath's name-calling.

Let a new page be turned.

And with this, I'll take a break from this particular thread, new pages and all.
posted by VikingSword at 11:52 AM on March 15, 2010 [1 favorite]


And measured discourse is calm, as I think my posts here have been - if there is some place where my temper runs hot, please point it out, so I may be aware of it, specific examples, not general characterizations devoid of factual basis which you hope may stick. And thank you for inserting yourself into this measured discourse.

Maybe I'm just tone-deaf, but, for example, your 'And thank you for inserting yourself into this measured discourse' does not come across as very genuine, but rather as snarky and sarcastic. Maybe I'm wrong; I'd very much like to be.

However, I don't think that reasoned discourse is very well-served by sarcastic jibes such as 'I assume you can quote entire paragraphs, not merely some sentence wrenched out of context after I have been repeatedly attacked and called names and I did not even respond until finally after 300+ comments.' I understand and respect that you feel that you have been treated unfairly in this thread, but saying things like this is not respectful, no matter whether you are correct or not. And, again, whichever side of the right you are on, I don't believe it is respectful to say things like 'All empath's impotent rage, made up charges and general buffoonery will not change that' nor does 'Clearly, you can't do better. So sad.'

I don't wish to get into whether I think you're right or wrong, because I don't think this thread or the Maine thread or the Texas thread or the lesbian thread or the Christians thread or any of the other MeTa threads like them are really at their heart about whether anyone on either side of the various disagreements are right or wrong: they're about the lack of respectful behavior on MetaFilter, which as has been said a few times here, is harmful to the community. I certainly don't think we should outlaw sarcasm, jokes, or criticism of any religions or states or whathaveyou; rather, I am of the opinion that shitflinging contests like this one can be better avoided by checking yourself once an argument begins and attempting to treat one another decently.

And I don't mean to single you out, VikingSword. You have specifically asked people to point out where you have been a part of the back-and-forth, and I think the better of you for doing so, if it was genuine.
posted by shakespeherian at 11:58 AM on March 15, 2010 [1 favorite]


I don't wish to get into whether I think you're right or wrong, because I don't think this thread or the Maine thread or the Texas thread or the lesbian thread or the Christians thread or any of the other MeTa threads like them are really at their heart about whether anyone on either side of the various disagreements are right or wrong: they're about the lack of respectful behavior on MetaFilter, which as has been said a few times here, is harmful to the community. I certainly don't think we should outlaw sarcasm, jokes, or criticism of any religions or states or whathaveyou; rather, I am of the opinion that shitflinging contests like this one can be better avoided by checking yourself once an argument begins and attempting to treat one another decently.

I try not to say this, but...

QFMFT.
posted by grapefruitmoon at 12:02 PM on March 15, 2010


I believe people should have a second chance, and holding grudges is pointless.

I'll start by saying: I am not offended by empath's name-calling.

Let a new page be turned.


I'd just like to say that this is the first time I've ever literally slapped my palm into my forehead.
posted by rocket88 at 12:05 PM on March 15, 2010 [1 favorite]


Maybe I'm just tone-deaf, but, for example, your 'And thank you for inserting yourself into this measured discourse' does not come across as very genuine, but rather as snarky and sarcastic.

I was kind of hoping it was the set up for another fellatio joke. But, admittedly, that's my own problem.
posted by and hosted from Uranus at 12:06 PM on March 15, 2010


You, PG, VikingSword, and vorfeed don't seem to have gotten the point at all. I understand that since orthogonality's wildly popular diatribe against community standards everybody seems to think that if you want to talk about people being assholes on metafilter you're asking for a mod to do some deletion, but nobody asked for that here.

No, they asked for self-censorship on the grounds that other people's opinions -- not the way they're expressed, not whether they're put in an "asshole" way, but the ideas themselves -- are "offensive". And given what happens to offensive comments on this site, I think it's a bit much to claim that this isn't about deletion. Not today, certainly... but c'mon, you can't have people calling for a purely ideological "community standard" against anti-religious ideas, and at the same time go "nobody asked for deletion!" Like Optimus said, just because you say you're not asking for censorship doesn't mean that it's not the implicit goal in your post.

If you want to call people out for being assholes on metafilter, go right ahead (I'm not crying over the "stick a dick in it" comment, for example). If you want to call people out for being against religion on metafilter, however, you should expect to meet resistance. I can tell you now that I'm never going to "get the point" of callouts like "can we have a thread about my religion where nobody is against it?"

I try hard not to act like an asshole on this site, so I'm not going to shut up and take being smeared as such -- by people who've draped the religious tolerance flag over their own beliefs, no less! -- purely because I don't share their beliefs about religion.
posted by vorfeed at 12:07 PM on March 15, 2010 [7 favorites]


Rory Marinich: "But there's certainly a sliding scale of maturity. You don't just hit 18 and suddenly become an adult. I'm a sophomore in college, and I think that if the idea of requiring an age of consent is to make sure people are emotionally mature enough to have sex, 18 isn't old enough for a guarantee."

This is a lot of hair-splitting, though. Both a 6-year-old and the 15-year-old in your examples were not mature enough to handle or even understand the situation they were in. They are victims of predators, in both cases, preyed upon by people taking full advantage of positions of authority and trust.

And yes, 8 years isn't that big of a difference to an adult, but 23 to 15? That's huge. Splitting these cases into separate camps implies a bit of complicity between older victims and their predators. 'Surely she was old enough to understand what she was getting in to.' And yet, you yourself admit that she wasn't.

That's what the Archbishop is implying in his quote, too. Since the boys are sexually mature, they understood the consequences of their actions. Which is pure blame-the-victim nonsense.
posted by graventy at 12:18 PM on March 15, 2010 [2 favorites]


...by people who've draped the religious tolerance flag over their own beliefs, no less! -- purely because I don't share their beliefs about religion.

You know what's really nuts? Some of the people who are most vocal in calling for very basic civility in these largely shitty threads are atheist and/or former [INSERT GROUP HERE] themselves. I know, what a mindfuck, right?
posted by shiu mai baby at 12:23 PM on March 15, 2010 [1 favorite]


given what happens to offensive comments on this site, I think it's a bit much to claim that this isn't about deletion.

Almost all offensive comments on this site aren't deleted.
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 12:43 PM on March 15, 2010


...you should probably stop insinuating empath has health or psychological issues. It is not coming off well if your intentions are good, and if they're not, it's coming off worse.

Insinuations that someone is crazy or unbalanced, especially while playing the victim of unwarranted attacks, are among the cheapest and most common of cheap shots fired off around here.

While such remarks might give one plausible deniability in regards to following the letter of the law hereabouts on making personal attacks but they certainly do not do so in regards to the spirit. A liberal reading might see these and some of your following remarks as condescending at best and this is a place where people will not forget when such a lordly tone of condescension can be read so plainly between the lines.

I'd like to think I have something to offer those threads, since my degree was in religion, but this is just too fucking depressing for my delicate sensibilities.

The seemingly ubiquitous proselytizing on the part of our local parish of Anti-Jehovah Witnesses can get tiring at times.
posted by y2karl at 12:45 PM on March 15, 2010 [2 favorites]


Can I ask you something? Do you sincerely believe that empath and other people here on MetaFilter are willful apologists for child molestation? And if you don't think so, why do you keep saying this?

I do not believe that empath thinks that either the execution or covering up of child abuse is acceptable, but I do believe that he is trying to push the discussion away from the Church's crimes and toward how it is somehow morally wrong to be against the Church itself. In a discussion that was fairly on-topic, he jumped in and derailed the discussion, obscuring the crimes committed and painting the Church as a victim. This is Reagan-at-Bitburg-style offensive, and if he didn't want to derail the discussion, he could have simply created a Metatalk thread and linked it in the MeFi thread, as is done very commonly. Instead he decided that the discussion was going to be empath vs. the Know-Nothing Party. It is for this reason that I accuse him of acting in bad faith and of attempting to distract the discussion from the subject at hand- namely, the decades of sexual assault and the covering up of same. I do not believe he thinks child abuse or covering it up are acceptable, but I do think he wants us to stop talking about it.


He wasn't, but it's no problem to accuse him of such and smear him, because your position gives you the moral high ground, and he is wrong, and that excuses wrong acts on behalf of a virtuous cause.

I don't feel that I've done anything wrong, nor am I an antinomian; your position appears to be that being impolite- even in the sense of not dancing around a point which people may strenuously object to- is somehow a moral failing, which is silly and something which I do not believe in. You are trying to paint me as some kind of hypocrite or antinomian for pointing out empath's actions and not pretending that he's acting in good faith- I do not regard those as wrongful actions. I am accusing him of what I believe him to be guilty of.
posted by Pope Guilty at 12:45 PM on March 15, 2010 [3 favorites]


Can we please stop discussing what empath may or may not believe? Dude's on a break. Let's wait until he comes back and then he can answer for himself if he wishes. Putting words in someone's absent mouth is not the best use of MeTa.
posted by grapefruitmoon at 12:46 PM on March 15, 2010


Almost all offensive comments on this site aren't deleted.

I suppose my question is.... offensive to whom?
posted by zarq at 12:47 PM on March 15, 2010


What empath believes is a large portion of the substance of this thread.
posted by Pope Guilty at 12:50 PM on March 15, 2010


Agreed that empath's contributions are a huge portion of the thread, but going over them without him to clarify what he actually meant isn't going to help anything. It's just talking in circles. So, he left and there are some holes as to what he may or may not have been saying. There's plenty of other issues that can be picked up while dropping that one.
posted by grapefruitmoon at 12:54 PM on March 15, 2010


Yeah empath's state of mind is just something that isn't really on the table since he's not here to talk about it and arguing with other people about it gets into "not great to go there" territory. I'm aware this is frustrating to people, and I guess we could close this up, but yeah I think it's a decent idea to leave it alone.
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 12:57 PM on March 15, 2010


PG: Second time Ive quoted this

This is vile, and that you continue to do it demonstrates a near-total lack of shame or empathy on your part

How is this not an attack on empath's principles in regards to child molestation? And if it is- just come out and justify it.

I don't feel that I've done anything wrong

Sometimes admitting when your wrong, or at least when your words could be hurtful, is more important than being right.
posted by freshundz at 12:58 PM on March 15, 2010


Also I was asked what I believe about what empath believes and I don't feel that I should leave a question like that hanging just because empath's not here- especially given that his breaks appear to end when he has something to say. If he wants to contribute, he'll reactivate and come back in.
posted by Pope Guilty at 12:58 PM on March 15, 2010 [1 favorite]


I do not believe that empath thinks that either the execution or covering up of child abuse is acceptable, but I do believe that he is trying to push the discussion away from the Church's crimes and toward how it is somehow morally wrong to be against the Church itself.

Well, fair enough. I don't agree with your assessment of his behavior in that thread, but I appreciate your giving me a straight answer.
posted by shakespeherian at 12:59 PM on March 15, 2010


I think the meta-discourse about whether or not Metafilter "does religion well" is really interesting, mostly because I perceive it as being interesting and fruitful but see it characterized as being horrible/offensive and/or boring.

I said that religion threads here are generally boring because the discussion generally winds up being about religion in general and not about the actual topic(s) raised in the post. I was particularly disappointed by the thread that was the basis of the last religion callout - the one about the Pearl's and their child-beating ministry No Greater Joy. Because that shit is fascinating and the dominionist / submissive wife / child beating / homeschooling subculture is one of my favorite things.

It's like - imagine that every post about gaming lead to a thread where everyone said that gaming is a waste of time and wrote autobiographies about how they came to that conclusion and questioned the intelligence and sanity and moral quality of anyone who gives a shit about ANY games... and so no one ever talked about the actual game. That's how religion threads feel to (alot of?) people (believers or not) who want to talk about aspects of faith and religious life and culture.
posted by moxiedoll at 1:00 PM on March 15, 2010 [9 favorites]


Nothing wrong with being an antinomian; a certain Abiezer Coppe was one of the leading lights.
posted by Abiezer at 1:01 PM on March 15, 2010 [1 favorite]


Also I was asked what I believe about what empath believes and I don't feel that I should leave a question like that hanging just because empath's not here-

I don't see how leaving that hanging would harm you any. At all.

It seems like closing this thread wouldn't be a bad idea, this is now turning into meta-circling over what one guy said and that one guy has gone. No one wants to drop that part of the conversation in favor of talking about the actual topic at hand or how we could best steer discussions on the site at large.
posted by grapefruitmoon at 1:02 PM on March 15, 2010


How is this not an attack on empath's principles in regards to child molestation? And if it is- just come out and justify it.

I think that in the name of defending the Catholic Church against criticism which he finds upsetting or offensive, he is trying to steer a discussion about the Church's crimes away from the topic of the Church's crimes and toward how the Church has been victimized by bigotry in history, citing 19th century racist anti-Catholicism as if it were relevant. I am in fact attacking whatever principle leads him to consider this an acceptable course of action.

Sometimes admitting when your wrong, or at least when your words could be hurtful, is more important than being right.

I'm more interested in the ability to have a free discussion than in the feelings of a MeFite who wants to only have things posted to Metafilter if they don't hurt his feelings.


I don't see how leaving that hanging would harm you any. At all.

Ignoring pointed questions looks really, really bad.
posted by Pope Guilty at 1:03 PM on March 15, 2010 [1 favorite]


Ignoring pointed questions looks really, really bad.

Please just leave it or take it to email.
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 1:05 PM on March 15, 2010


You know what's really nuts? Some of the people who are most vocal in calling for very basic civility in these largely shitty threads are atheist and/or former [INSERT GROUP HERE] themselves. I know, what a mindfuck, right?

I do not care what group you are, or are not, a part of. If you're calling for "community standards" based on the content of people's beliefs about religion, and you're using religious tolerance as an excuse, you are (to borrow your word) nuts.

Civility is a matter of behavior, not ideology. Religious tolerance involves the right to speak and to believe, not the right to have everyone else refrain from disagreement with your speech and/or beliefs.
posted by vorfeed at 1:09 PM on March 15, 2010 [2 favorites]


"Can a person not be Catholic without attending a Church, confessing their sins to a priest and/or receiving communion?"

I'm no Catholic theologian (or Catholic), but concentrating on the latter for the time being, while open to debate the answer is at least arguably no.

To explain further. According to "The Blessed Eucharist as a Sacrament", Catholic Encyclopedia: Communion *is* necessary for salvation, and thus in a practical sense in is necessary for Catholics to go to Church and receive the Eucharist.

However the Catholic church makes an number of other distinctions: between the
'outward sign (matter and form) and inward grace (effects of Communion)' (ibid)

and between

'the necessity of means (necessitas medii) and the necessity of precept (necessitas præcepti). (ibid). . In the first case the means is so necessary to salvation that without it (absolute necessity) or its substitute (relative necessity), even if the omission is guiltless, the end cannot be reached. Thus faith and baptism of water are necessary by a necessity of means, the former absolutely, the latter relatively, for salvation. In the second case, necessity is based on a positive precept, commanding something the omission of which, unless culpable, does not absolutely prevent the reaching of the end.' ("Necessity", Catholic Encyclopedia)

On Communion the Encyclopedia is clear that communion is not an absolute necessity for salvation for adults because 'a necessity could be established only on the supposition that Communion per se constituted a person in the state of grace or that this state could not be preserved without Communion'.

The former speaks to a confusion between outward form and inward grace; it is not eating the wafer etc that counts but the grace bestowed by god. The latter is highly relevant to the discussion here.

The Code of Canon Law1": A person who is conscious of grave sin is not to celebrate Mass or receive the body of the Lord without previous sacramental confession unless there is a grave reason and there is no opportunity to confess the Catholic Encyclopedia draws on St Paul for justification 'it is for this very reason that St. Paul (1 Corinthians 11:28) demands that rigorous "self-examination", in order to avoid the heinous offense of being guilty of the Body and the Blood of the Lord by "eating and drinking unworthily", and that the Fathers insist upon nothing so energetically as upon a pure and innocent conscience'. this has, I believe, been a source of some anguish to contemporary Catholics for if this true of those receiving the Eucharist, what of those giving it? If they have been hiding their (very severe) sins (as indeed they have been) does it mean that this has had the effect of denying communion, and hence the possibility of salvation, to those who have received it from them? A serious matter indeed.

As to the second point this is something of a necessity, what if a person cannot receive the Eucharist, for instance if they are sea voyage. Well the argument is something like grace if a gift of god, so he is able to bestow it on those people.

However it is argued that receiving Communion is a practical necessity 'the Eucharist, if not absolutely necessary, is at least a relatively and morally necessary means to salvation, in the sense that no adult can long sustain his spiritual, supernatural life who neglects on principle to approach Holy Communion. This view is supported, not only by the solemn and earnest words of Christ...but also by the fact of the helplessness and perversity of human nature'.

So in practice you can escape these things only if you are supernaturally good or willing to risk eternal damnation.

Now this might seem silly to anyone who does not share these beliefs, but not to ascribe sincerity (or at least the possibility of it) to people who hold viewpoints other than our own is to argue in bad faith.

Which is why to suggest that Catholics can easily leave the Church is extremely problematic. It is not just a case of which building you walk into on a Sunday morning, it's a matter of eternal life. To paraphrase Bill Shankly: Salvation in not just a matter of life and death. Its more important that that.

Note this is not to say that Catholics shouldn't (and almost certainly do) leave the Church over this. But if we to argue this from without, it would seem to me that there is a duty upon us to recognize just what we are asking of other people, at the very least to recognize this is a difficult, even agonizing decision.

(Just for the record since there has a been a tendency in this thread to characterize being in this thread as being motivated by a desire to defend the Catholic Church, let me make it clear that no such motivation exists on my part. I had a friend who was booted out of the catholic clergy after he was outed, so they are not about to get a free pass to salvation for me. But the lesson I took from knowing him was that despite the pain this had caused him, his faith was such that his reponse was to chose to take a similar position (as a monk) in the Eastern Orthodox church rather than to leave the church altogether and thus abandon his faith. Which told me something about the importance of faith to people, even if if then, as now, I was a thorough going atheist).


1. As cited in http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Eucharist_in_the_Catholic_Church

posted by tallus at 1:16 PM on March 15, 2010 [2 favorites]


Also I was asked what I believe about what empath believes and I don't feel that I should leave a question like that hanging just because empath's not here- especially given that his breaks appear to end when he has something to say. If he wants to contribute, he'll reactivate and come back in.

At this point, to the best of my knowledge, he has deactivated his account for the first time in his history on the site, something that surprised me greatly. We don't have any precedence with this user wether he will be back.
posted by Catfry at 1:18 PM on March 15, 2010


It seems fairly obvious why any Catholic, lapsed or not, might be upset over a comparison of the Catholic Church to a freakin' pedophile ring, not to mention calls for the institution to be dismantled. These are extreme suggestions. Unfortunately, the scandal, corruption and subsequent coverups are a widespread and equally extreme problem. And with the titular and spiritual head of the Church implicated with evidence in a child abuse cover-up, criticism of the Church should be considered par for the course.

I agree with vorfeed that a callout in which someone said "can we have a thread about my religion where nobody is against it?" would be ridiculous. But it's kind of hard to say that's what empath originally or ultimately intended by this confused callout. Especially when he also made a comment like this one:
"I thought I made a distinction between criticising the actual behavior of the church and the cheap lulzy shots at Catholics and Catholicism. In case it wasn't clear, then yes, I think it's perfectly fine to criticize the disgusting behavior of the Church organization in its handling of the child rape cases.
Which is it, then? We don't know. And he isn't clarifying.
posted by zarq at 1:22 PM on March 15, 2010


I do not care what group you are, or are not, a part of. If you're calling for "community standards" based on the content of people's beliefs about religion, and you're using religious tolerance as an excuse, you are (to borrow your word) nuts.

As near as I can tell, this hasn't occurred. Community standards have been called for on the basis of behavior and not ideology, exactly as you wish. It's possible someone did this, and I didn't see it, but I don't see it happening any longer, if it ever was.
posted by shakespeherian at 1:23 PM on March 15, 2010


Community standards have been called for on the basis of behavior and not ideology

The behavior in question was expressing the wrong ideology.
posted by Pope Guilty at 1:29 PM on March 15, 2010 [1 favorite]


Can you show me where this occurred? I haven't seen it in this thread or the other, but I did skim some, so I could have easily missed it.
posted by shakespeherian at 1:30 PM on March 15, 2010


You know, I've been watching this thread (and, in all the whirlwind of this whole SXSW not getting around to saying anything and sort of leaving Jessamyn holding the bag as far as that goes, sorry Jess) and hoping it'd just resolve into either some clearer discussion of what people actually constructively think can or could happen on the site re: threads about dicey ideologically-charged stuff (How Can We Do Better As A Community, essentially) or some genuine civil sidebar about something or other without the bad blood (Hey Let's Talk About Foo Instead) as sometimes happens.

But it doesn't feel like we're really getting to either of those places and I don't think the bit of genuinely interesting stuff, on either of those fronts, is really manifesting itself so well in here as to make up for the ongoing inter-user crappiness, so I apologize to folks who feel like there might have been something more productive to get out of this but I think it's time, if not well past, to just put this to bed.

To those of you who feel like you really need or deserve an answer from someone, consider pursuing it via private channels. But please don't be dicks to each other about it.
posted by cortex (staff) at 1:31 PM on March 15, 2010 [2 favorites]


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