Religion

Q: And When There Were Still Two Sets of Footprints in the Sand?

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That was when I made you keep walking, so as to comply with the Archdiocese of Cincinnati's new guidelines regarding inappropriate behavior for Catholic priests:

The Archdiocese of Cincinnati has issued a detailed list of inappropriate behaviors for priests, saying they should not kiss, tickle or wrestle children.

The newest version of the archdiocese's Decree on Child Protection also prohibits bear hugs, lap-sitting and piggyback rides.

But it says priests may still shake children's hands, pat them on the back and give high-fives.

Victim advocates who have criticized the Roman Catholic archdiocese for its handling of abuse cases say they support the new measures as a step toward better protection of children.

The Cincinnati archdiocese says it updates the rules every five years. The latest version, issued last week, also mandates background checks for contractors working with children.

More here.

Am I just being too pre-Vatican II to suggest that any priest who high-fives anyone should be excommunicated and remanded immediately to the custody of Jack T. Chick?

Perhaps it's Cincinnati's proximity to Covington, Kentucky, site of the biggest priest-abuse scandal payout (yes, the worst damage was done not in liberal coastal towns, as Rick Santorum would have you think), that makes the Queen City so touchy about touches. Then again, if you need to make an explicit rule against priestly piggy-back rides, you should do it sooner rather than later. Unless you're carrying the babe Jesus through a river or carting someone from a burning building, it just doesn't like the sort of thing that Pat O'Brien would even consider doing.

In any case, here's reason Contributing Editor Thomas Szasz on pedophiliac priests. And reason columnist Tim Cavanaugh took the measure of the hype around the abuse scandal (including convictions based on shaky recovered-memory testimony and what he took to be the real scandal—the CYA mentality of Vatican higher-ups) here.

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  1. Oh for peets sakes, what are the Catholic Priests up to now? My gosh will it ever end?

    JT
    http://www.Ultimate-Anonymity.com

  2. Am I just being too pre-Vatican II to suggest that any priest who high-fives anyone should be excommunicated and remanded immediately to the custody of Jack T. Chick?

    Now that’s what I’M talking about. H&R needs more links to chick.com You just can’t get too much of Jack Chick.

  3. Maybe it happened in KY because they figured with a smaller population there was less chance of them getting caught. So they shipped them off the middle of no where. Having been to KY I can see how it could be used as punishment.

  4. Click on my name and choose from the menu.

    Thank you for praying, please sit down.

  5. Sadly, an overly-detailed guide to what consitutes “appropriate touching” is now becoming more and more of a required policy of any group which has routine contact with children. No one can afford to rely on common sense when there’s a potential for litigation.

  6. The reason I hate the poem “Footprints” is because it can’t be scientifically proven.

    Giggity, giggity goo, amen.

  7. Priests are in the un enviable position of being hated by a large chunk of the right and left. On the Right, you have the evangelicals whose anti-Catholic bigotry goes back generations. On the Left you have radical atheists who hate all religion. If you are ever accused of child sexual abuse, you chances of a fair trial in this country is about one in ten. If you are priest likly to get a jury made up of people who hate you and your faith to begin and fed a steedy diet of pervert priest propeganda you chances fall to zero. Given that fact, it would be insane for any priest anywhere to ever be alone with a child in this country. These regulations are just self defense.

  8. Thanks for the link to Szasz’s interesting article.

    Szasz’s analysis parallels pedophilia, which, misleadingly I think, he calls an “excessive” sexual love for children, with bibliophilia, which he defines as an excessive love for books. But as he notes, there is no moderate, appropriate, moral, or legal way to express the former, while there is to express the latter. What would be a non-“excessive” sexual love for children?

    Szasz is right to say that it is only behavior, rather than inclination, in which others (should) hold a compelling interest. But an appetite for obtaining sexual gratification with children is inherently problematic, because they are, for the reasons he cites, agents/patients incapable of giving meaningful consent.

    Thus, desiring to be sexually gratified by children seems analogous to holding any desire for something that would be wrong to acquire in, as the philosophy students say, any possible universe.

    At least that’s how it seems to me now.

  9. What would be a non-“excessive” sexual love for children?

    One that is never reduced to action?

  10. One that is never reduced to action?

    The 4chan guys who salivate over anime characters, for example.

  11. Now that’s what I’M talking about. H&R needs more links to chick.com You just can’t get too much of Jack Chick.

    It helps if your listening to Black Flag, Sonic Youth, or the Misfits while partaking in the work of Jack Chick. It hightens the experience.

    Mike E.

  12. RC Dean – Szasz’s effort to de-pathologize crime rests on the distinction between desiring vs. acting. He would hold people responsible for their actions only.

    Szasz disputes the commonly held assumption that desires for forbidden objects are harder for their possessors to control than are desires for legitimate objects.

    The degree of a desire’s intensity is distinct from whether its possessor acts on it: A shoplifter acting on whim is culpable, while someone burning with passion for a forbidden object, and who yet restrains himself, is not.

    Which, since desire is not necessarily connected to action, seems (to me) to leave no possibility for moderate sexual desire for children, just as there is no moderate appetite for (actually rather than in play) owning slaves, torturing people, or, to coin an inclusive phrase, initiating force or fraud.

    Szasz seems to say that any degree of desire for any of these items can be restrained by anyone holding them. But I don’t see that he’s shown all desires to be inherently innocent, or compatible with happiness, or with human dignity, or serving the ends of their possessors, or whatever standard of ultimate or even longer-term desirability one employs.

  13. Can’t we just change the rules and let these guys get laid? Maybe some hot priest-on-nun action? Seems like a simpler solution to me. It’s win-win.

  14. It helps if your listening to Black Flag, Sonic Youth, or the Misfits while partaking in the work of Jack Chick. It hightens the experience.

    It is OK to have an “excessive” love for the work of Jack Chick, as long as it is never reduced to action.

    And, they’ve clarified the “high five” thing, but what about the “fist bump.” The Church just can’t keep up. (Although functionally equivalent to a high five, I think you’ve got to keep away from anything involving priests, children, and the words “fist” or “bump”.)

  15. Wow. Szasz. I never knew that before. I’m anti-coercive psychiatric practices too, and he certainly is an interesting and famous thinker, but not a very good one. Some of his arguments have made sense, but there’s enough other ones he’s argued that I just can’t respect him.

    And I was planning on buying a subscription now that I have my new apartment.

    That’s really too bad.

  16. That was probably the shock talking. It is a bit embarrassing, though.

  17. Does anybody actually think that a priest prone to raping children would’ve suppressed this urge if only there had already been a policy forbidding piggy-back rides or giving a hug to a sad child who needed one? It’s like those idiotic colleges who thought they could legislate rape out of existence by requiring written consent for each step in a make-out session.

  18. Stick a fork in the Catholic Church.
    It’s done.

  19. Am I just being too pre-Vatican II to suggest that any priest who high-fives anyone should be excommunicated and remanded immediately to the custody of Jack T. Chick?

    In the same spirit that Peter Griffin of Family Guy thanks God for football victories and thanks the devil for making God feel useful, we libertine libertarians can thank Chick for helping us feel useful.

  20. From Szasz:

    Today virtually any unwanted behavior, from shopaholism and kleptomania to sexaholism and pedophilia, may be defined as a disease whose diagnosis and treatment belong in the province of the medical system.

    So, let’s look at an example whereby disease and crime are conflated…drug addiction. Being an addict is not a crime, but the actions that accompany the disease have been defined as crimes, so they are punished as crimes.

    It seems that Szasz would say this is the correct approach and would advocate arrest and prison time rather than treatment (remember, he does not recognize addiction as a disease).

    It seems in this case it is the criminalization of disease that is a problem, not the diseasification of a criminal behavior.

    Another problem is Szasz’s contention that behaviors are not physiologic in nature. His view seems to require a dualism that flies in the face of current understanding about the embodied nature of mind.

    His warning that the state and the medical industry may sometimes collaborate to reduce freedom is a worthy one to keep in mind, but his discussion of disease seems rooted in the 1950’s. He hasn’t moved on, the world of psychiatry and psychology has.

  21. It seems that Szasz would say this is the correct approach and would advocate arrest and prison time rather than treatment (remember, he does not recognize addiction as a disease).

    Neu,

    It may seem that way to you but that is not what Szasz contends.He is a drug legalization absolutist.

  22. SIV,

    Yes, I know that.

    Wonder why I chose that example then…hmmmm…it must be for a reason.

  23. At least as far as my knowledge goes, Szasz’s one redeeming factor, despite some shoddy thinking, is that he seems to be pretty libertarian.

    Also, from a philosophy of mind perspective, the way he writes implies a dualism that isn’t even thought well of in current dualist arguments anymore. It’s rather silly, in its way.

  24. Best headline + lede I’ve seen in a while, Nick.

  25. Reason: Alan Leshner, the director of the National Institute on Drug Abuse, says “Drug addiction is a brain disease.” Is there any scientific basis for that claim?

    Szasz: As far as I know, there is not one iota of evidence for this. When people take drugs and get “hooked,” this is simply another way of saying it becomes a habit, which makes the drug more difficult to abandon than if you haven’t got the habit. But it’s no different from speaking English or Hungarian. Any habit is difficult to change. And of course you can also become chemically habituated to drugs, so that you have withdrawal symptoms when you stop. Of course, taking a drug can make you sick, but a therapeutic drug can also make you sick. It’s a question of dosage, what you take, and why you take it.

    Reason: In the area of drug policy, you’ve criticized the idea of shifting from a criminal justice approach to a “medical” or “public health” model, which you say would only reinforce the therapeutic state. But if a drug offender who might otherwise go to jail can instead undergo “treatment”–which is now the case in Arizona, for example–isn’t he better off, even if the treatment is bogus?

    Szasz: He may be better off in the sense in which a Jew in 15th-century Spain may have been better off converting to Christianity than being tortured. But I reject the dilemma. One of these so-called treatment options may be less punitive for the subject. But the side effect is that it reinforces the legitimacy of this kind of medical autocracy.

    ….

    Language is a “habit?”
    No addiction, but “chemically habituated?”

  26. No addiction, but “chemically habituated?”

    I think he means thusly.

  27. Anarch,

    From your link:
    The sole cause of your addiction is a voice in your head that tells you to “Do it!” in a thousand different ways. That is your Addictive Voice.

    Is this an addiction demon tempting you to the ways of satan?

    ;^)

  28. “Can’t we just change the rules and let these guys get laid? Maybe some hot priest-on-nun action? Seems like a simpler solution to me. It’s win-win.”

    That wouldn’t have worked very well with the child-abusing priests, who were homosexual and hence not inclined toward women, nuns or otherwise.

    But never fear – new Vatican guidelines bar homosexuals from the priesthood, which I’m sure you approve.

    “Stick a fork in the Catholic Church.
    It’s done.”

    If the Church had a nickel for everyone who said *that* over the last several centuries, it could have paid off the sex-abuse plaintiffs and still had plenty left over to promote the works of Catholic authors like J.R.R. Tolkien (assuming they needed to be promoted, which they don’t, considering that Tolkien outsells Dan Brown).

    What we need to stick a fork in is the American Church’s willingness to abandon traditional Catholic doctrine and classify “sin” as “sickness,” as the cover-up artists in Boston, Kentucky and elsewhere did with the child-abusing priests. Perhaps the American Church will begin to show more skepticism toward the secularist attempt to medicalize sin.

    The Catholic Church tends to outlive the organizations dedicated to its destruction – like the Native American (Know-Nothing) Party, the Ku Klux Klan, the National Socialist German Workers Party, etc. All of these groups thought they could stick a fork in the Church, too.

    One useful result of the sex scandals is to deal a setback to those secularists described in the Szasz article – the ones who think “intergenerational sex” is no big deal. Many secularists who would otherwise have been tempted to adopt this line did not do so, because would take the wind out of the sails of their anti-Catholic campaign. You can’t get million-dollar judgements against an organization merely because of “hypocrisy” – otherwise, we could bankrupt the two major parties whose members praise the public schools while sending their kids to private schools. In order to seek large damages against child-abusing priests and their aiders and abettors, the secularists have to acknowledge (at least for the moment) that sexually abusing children is wrong.

  29. Mad Max,

    the secularist attempt to medicalize sin

    So is sin a disease of the soul?

    Is that [equivalent to] Szasz’s point?

  30. NM,

    Szasz has some excellent points. He may take his points to extremes, as people tend to do without the discipline of a Magisterium to keep them from taking a good idea and running it into the ground (a good definition of heresy).

    But Szasz can be seen as a good counterbalance to the people who say that evil is merely a lack of knowledge or rationality. If evil is merely an irrational psychic impulse, then all we need to do is classify all evil desires and tendencies into medical terminology, and “treat” the afflicted.

    Szasz sees through this, although he swings over to the other extreme and pooh-poohs the possibility of genuine psycological illnesses.

  31. Neu and your ;^) – You could call it that. But as you’ll see from his website, Trimpey gives a more conventional, evolutionary approach: The self-that-talks-to-itself [= my paraphrase] identifies certain substances, such as food and air, to be necessary for its survival. In the course of time, other substances, it matters not how [Trimpey’s wording and emphasis], can also get on that list. In those cases, the “addictive voice” (of putative survival) in your self-talk demands those substances, misleadingly telling you that you need them in order to live; the consequences that follow, and the method of reversing them, are in Trimpey’s description.

    Some New Age philosophical anthropologies incorporate elements of both evolutionary theory and biblical cosmogony. But as Trimpey says, “it matters not how” you got hooked; what matters is that you can unhook yourself, with or without assigning to divine powers a role in your emancipation (to complete the image you proposed, which some of us can both smile with and need not exclude).

  32. Neu Mejican,

    It seems that Szasz would say this is the correct approach and would advocate arrest and prison time rather than treatment (remember, he does not recognize addiction as a disease).

    False dichotomy. You’re assuming that any unwanted behavior must be either a crime or a disease.

  33. Anarch,

    I was just teasing, the website uses different language but the ideas they communicate are exactly equivalent to the concept of addiction as a disease that is used by the medical community. With the exception that some feel “it matters not how” is unhelpful since some causes will be amendable to certain treatments, while others will be amendable to different treatments. Etiology can have an important effect on the efficacy of treatment and should not be ignored.

  34. Occam’s Toothbrush,

    Nope, I am not making that assumption.

    I was talking about a specific case.
    The behavior under discussion has been defined as a crime already.

  35. It should also be noted that most cases of priestly abuse involve adolescents, not pre-pubescent children, and thus result from ephebophilia, not pedophilia. Ephebophilia is a natural trait of most men which is socialized against with varying degrees of success.

    Well unless you think nature intended that girls become fertile in their early teens so they can practice having their periods for almost a decade before being “ready” for sex.

  36. Occam’s Toothbrush,

    I case you need some help to the larger point.

    The error society has made in this case is to treat the behavior as a crime, when there is a more rational approach.

    The criminalization of behavior is motivated by the social harms that are associated with that behavior. In the case of addiction, a public health approach makes more sense.

    Szasz seems to see the risk of the public health approach as equivalent to the criminalization approach.

    But of course, the public health approach does not need to include the coercive elements that Szasz discusses. Involuntary commitment does not necessarily follow from diagnosis of a disease. They are separate issues.

  37. NM,

    You were not talking about how society defines the behavior. You were saying that if Szasz doesn’t consider addiction to be a disease, he must favor criminal prosecution of addicts.

  38. Re: Tim’s post: Maybe it happened in KY because they figured with a smaller population there was less chance of them getting caught.

    Took me a second to filter that. KY = Kentucky was not my first assumption!

    Maybe it happened in KY because it prevents chafing?

  39. Neu M, I hear you (and had even deciphered your jest). I won’t argue with what, IIRC from your other posts, is your considerable experience in treating addiction.

    From the testimony I’ve heard and the comparatively trivial use I made of his method to avoid sweets, I found Trimpey convincing, the way I found Albert Ellis’s REBT convincing without knowing the limits of its application. There have been some strong claims for self-talk-as-cure-for-mental-illness, which I would love to hope are valid.

  40. Occam,

    Read that again.

    You are a smart fellow.

  41. The error society has made in this case is to treat the behavior as a crime, when there is a more rational approach.

    False dichotomy again. There is not a more rational approach, there are multiple more rational approaches, not just the “diseaseification” you advocate.

  42. NM,

    I read it already, thank you. Perhaps you could point out where I’m going wrong, instead of flattering my intelligence.

  43. Occam,

    Sorry cross-posted.

    Yes, there is good evidence that self-talk can help…cognitive behavioral therapy has a decent evidence base for many conditions.

    Sometimes it is best paired with medication.

    ADHD is an example where this approach works better than either element in isolation.

  44. OK, now I’m confused. What does that have to do with anything?

  45. Occam,

    Perhaps you could point out where I’m going wrong, instead of flattering my intelligence.

    I said ” Being an addict is not a crime, but the actions that accompany the disease have been defined as crimes, so they are punished as crimes.”

    This does not make the assumption that all behaviors that are unwanted should be crimes. It deals with an existing state of affairs.

  46. oops,

    Sorry Occam, I was talking to you and anarch at the same time and conflated you into one person.

  47. Occam,

    False dichotomy again. There is not a more rational approach, there are multiple more rational approaches, not just the “diseaseification” you advocate.

    Yes, there are multiple rational approaches.
    Do you have a point?

  48. That’s not what I called a false dichotomy.

    Occam’s toothbrush | August 11, 2008, 12:41pm | #
    Neu Mejican,

    It seems that Szasz would say this is the correct approach and would advocate arrest and prison time rather than treatment (remember, he does not recognize addiction as a disease).

    False dichotomy. You’re assuming that any unwanted behavior must be either a crime or a disease.

  49. Occam,

    I will point out that Szasz is the one that presents the dichotomy. I was simple discussing it.

  50. Occam,

    That’s not what I called a false dichotomy.

    I am having no trouble keeping up.
    You asked me to point out where your error came from…so I added some context that you were ignoring.

  51. “Szasz sees through this, although he swings over to the other extreme and pooh-poohs the possibility of genuine psycological illnesses.”

    And in the process, for those that read and apply his line of reasoning elsewhere, he has also pooh-poohed genuine nonpsychiatric illnesses as well, for a variety of reasons. It isn’t that the man hasn’t had a few, or even many, good points. It’s that he often pushes his line of reasoning into the incorrect, either from love of his own ideas, a break down in logical thinking, a misunderstanding of science, or some other reason. I imagine it’s a combination of at least a few of them.

  52. J,

    Szasz reminds of Chomsky in that regard.
    They both have an impressive ability to reject evidence if it contradicts their axioms.

  53. It doesn’t matter. The church is running out of priests. In another generation you’ll be seeing great apes conducting mass. Lap dancing with the kiddies will be the least of your worries.

  54. In another generation you’ll be seeing great apes conducting mass.

    Beware the beast Man, for he is the Devil’s pawn. Alone among God’s primates, he kills for sport or lust or greed. Yea, he will murder his brother to possess his brother’s land. Let him not breed in great numbers, for he will make a desert of his home and yours. Shun him; drive him back into his jungle lair, for he is the harbinger of death.

  55. No one can afford to rely on common sense when there’s a potential for litigation.

    Or, y’know, an extensive history of past abuses, with Priests hiding behind “common sense” to convince people not to investigate.

  56. Occam,

    You were not talking about how society defines the behavior. You were saying that if Szasz doesn’t consider addiction to be a disease, he must favor criminal prosecution of addicts.

    Szasz makes the explicit argument “If a behavior is criminal due to the fact that it breaks society’s moral code, then it should be treated as a crime rather than as the symptom of a disease. The “disease state” (which he calls “desire”) and the behaviors associated with it need to be treated as distinct and the behaviors punished through the criminal system. ”

    Applying that logic to the case of addiction, if the behaviors associated with the disease “addiction,” (i.e., the taking of drugs to satisfy the addiction) are defined as incompatible with the society’s moral code, they should be punished through the criminal system.

    The fact that Szasz disagrees with the society’s decision that taking drugs is wrong is not relevant, as that is a separate issue.

    Additionally, the equivalence he sees between medical practice and prison comes from a conflation of his own…that between treatment of a disease and involuntary treatment. He, in other places, discusses the fact that he has no problem with voluntary treatment…but fears that the diagnosis of “disease” confers to the doctor too much power over the patient…inappropriately conflating the idea that the power to diagnosis equals the power to coerce.

    Szasz rightly fears the collaboration of the medical community in the application of coercive power by the state. His warning of the potential for abuse is warranted. But the supports he tries to build for that position are often inapt or invalid.

  57. “In another generation you’ll be seeing great apes conducting mass.”

    No need – they’ve already found a useful niche posting on Internet discussion groups.

    Present company excepted.

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