Wednesday, November 9, 2011

And Now Penn State

Those who have followed this blog will be able to anticipate what I am going to say about the child abuse scandal at Penn State University. All of those involved, both in the molestation and in its cover-up, must be punished. It matters not what positions they held nor how long and distinguished their service. Everyone who committed the acts and knew about them and said and did nothing to put a stop to them - and by that I mean intervening directly or alerting the police - are equally guilty.

What astonishes is the similarity between the Penn State scandal and that involving the Roman Catholic Church. In both, boys were being systematically molested and raped, persons in authority knew about it - had even witnessed it - and the hierarchy conspired to contain the truth and cover it up. What struck me as different is the statement by the Pennsylvania Attorney General, who declared that no one in any position of authority who was complicit in the abuse should be sheltered from the law. No sooner were the words out of her mouth than I was shouting at the television: Arrest the bishops!

This has not been done, though the pattern and longevity of the abuse and the conspiracy to cover it up by the Church hierarchy far exceed those of the authorities at Penn State. If the university officials are not beyond the reach of the law for their silence and lies, then neither should the bishops and cardinals be. The Attorney General is being praised for her courage in not allowing herself to be intimidated by the prestige of the university and its football program. Yet so long as she remains intimidated by the Catholic Church, she should be branded as a coward. I, for one, demand that she apply to the Church in Pennsylvania the same standards which she enunciated regarding the Penn State scandal.

But let me go farther... The underlying point here is that nothing is more important than the safety, innocence, and well-being of children. Not the football program at Penn State, not Joe Paterno's legacy, not the reputation of the university. Neither is the hierarchy of the Catholic Church more important than children, nor the liturgy, reputation and power of the Church. And neither is feminist ideology, liberalism, and a woman's right to choose. NOTHING is more important than the life, safety, welfare, and innocence of children.

Now in the last case - a woman's right to choose - apologists will argue that the fetus is not a child. Of course they will; they have to. In order to protect themselves from being charged with a great moral wrong, they will pretend, they will lie, that what we are talking about is not a child. They do this precisely to insulate themselves from the knowledge that they are doing evil. It is a hideous reversal of Pascal's famous wager. We cannot prove that God or the afterlife exists, he wrote, and so we should act as if they do. Because otherwise, if they do not, we lose nothing, but if they do, we stand to lose everything. And so, he argued, we should bet that God and the afterlife exist. That is only rational.

The abortionists make the opposite wager. We cannot prove that the fetus is or is not a child, and so we should act as if it is not. This is irrational. Reason demands that we act as if the fetus is a child because, if it is not, we lose nothing, and if it is, we avoid a great moral evil. The pro-choice position, is, therefore, absurd, and yet its advocates wish to codify it in the laws of the nation. That is, they wish to incorporate into our body of law the possibility of committing a great moral sin without punishment. This, too, is absurd.

Let me repeat: NOTHING is more important than the health, safety, welfare and innocence of children. Nothing. Jesus said that those who violate children should be thrown into the sea and drowned. I would not go that far; but they must, whoever they are, be punished as severely as the law allows. And in the case of abortion, we must act as if the fetus is a child if only to avoid the possibility of committing a grave moral evil. That, it seems to me, is only rational, and humane.