Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Clohessy’s double standards—UPDATED

SNAP director David Clohessy told CNA on Jan. 3 that his organization should be held to a “different standard” of transparency than Church leaders and dioceses, which he described as “organizations that enable and conceal thousands of pedophiles to rape tens of thousands of kids.”

I read this paragraph in Michele Bauman’s CNA story and my jaw dropped.  Surely this must be a misquote, even a false quotation!  Not even David Clohessy could be this nakedly hypocritical and hysterical!  But no, here’s his response as reported by the adulatory National Catholic Fishwrap:

Asked whether he thought his organization’s refusal to hand over certain documents contradicted its calls for transparency from diocesan offices regarding allegations of sex abuse, Clohessy said he believed there “are two standards of transparency.”
“Our view is that agencies that counsel and help sex crimes victims should never be transparent about the people who call them desperately in pain and seeking guidance,” Clohessy said.
We believe that there are two standards of transparency,” he said.  [So he’s honest about having double standards.]  “One for institutions that have enabled thousands of pedophiles to assault tens of thousands of kids and conceal the crimes.  And another standard for organizations that enable kids to be safer and expose heinous crimes.”

In other words, “We should be able to hide whatever information we want because we’re the good guys.  Our intentions are noble, right and just; rules are for bad men, like those sneaky, lying bishops.”

Okay, let’s ignore the factual exaggerations in Clohessy’s last paragraph; for those who hate the Catholic Church, no disproof is possible.  Besides, as I tire of saying, I have no wish to defend the indefensible or excuse the inexcusable, so nothing I say from this point forward should be taken as such.

How many action-adventure movies feature a rogue cop or average citizen — that is, an average “ex-Special Forces with a specialty in demolitions” citizen — who, after destroying hundreds of thousands or millions of dollars’ worth of private property, creating numerous accidents on the roadways endangering countless innocents and taking the lives of a couple dozen bent-noses, doesn’t spend five minutes in Interrogation let alone face trial to answer for his vigilante rampage?  Especially the rogue cop … how is it Internal Affairs gives him a pass?  (And boy, isn’t it lucky that the good guy’s stray bullets never hit innocent people across the street, let alone five blocks away?)

Now, I remember growing up in the wake of Miranda v. Arizona, when it seemed every year there were a number of crooks who went free because of technicalities.  Or, at least that’s the meme the adults passed back and forth among themselves, while we slowly absorbed it; that’s the trope that made its way into the movies and cop shows, where rogues like Harry Callahan, Tony Baretta and Martin Riggs could bend the rules into pretzels and solve the problem of “release on technicality” with .357 and .44 Magnums.

We still live informed by that trope, even though improvements in law enforcement training and technology have mostly overcome the problems of forty and fifty years ago.  To talk about the rights of the accused is still to be “soft on crime”; in fact, the improvements I just mention make it harder to believe cops could ever arrest, and courts convict, an innocent man for a crime.

But the situation of Fr. Michael Tierney is different.  There’s no material evidence in question, but rather accusations from 25-35 years in the past.  The conditions under which police investigate crimes and make arrests aren’t an issue.  SNAP talks about “protecting kids”, but kids aren’t making the accusations; rather, the alleged victims are middle-aged men who may or may not have an economic motive to falsely accuse a priest of molesting them in the ’70s and ’80s.

Yes, people can still be falsely accused of crimes.  Just over a year ago, according to Dave Pierre of The Media Report, “veteran attorney Donald H. Steier stated that his investigations into claims of sexual abuse by Catholic priests [in the Los Angeles area] have uncovered vast fraud and that his probes have revealed that many accusations are completely false.”  In one story reported just yesterday, Fr. James Selvaraj’s name still turns up on Google searches as an accused pedophile despite a charge so decrepit that the grand jury saw no reason to continue the investigation and an attorney general took the extra step of expunging the accusation from his record.

With over $1 billion in Church funds paid out in settlements, economic motive isn’t that hard to find: thar’s gold in them thar lawsuits.

In fact, as Steier pointed out, “a person who wanted to make a false claim of sexual abuse by a priest could go to [SNAP's] website and find a ‘blueprint’ of factual allegations to make that would coincide with allegations made by other people.”  Such “templating” seems to have taken place in the sad story of Fr. Gordon MacRae: the substance of the accusations came from the victim of another priest, down to almost the same exact wording.

The fact is, Clohessy and SNAP aren’t by definition trustworthy accusers simply because they act as victims’ advocates.  They aren’t by definition trustworthy simply because they include in their organizational outreach people who have been real victims of real predator-priests.  In fact, as I’ve noted before, Clohessy’s victim’s-rights advocacy appears to be a Trojan horse for the more vicious goal of getting the state legislatures to emasculate the Catholic episcopacy … in words which John L. Allen, Jr. attributes to him, to curb “the virtually limitless power of bishops.”

There are no “two standards of transparency” — you’re either transparent or you’re not.  Being a victim’s advocate doesn’t give the State the right to withhold information vital to the accused’s defense, let alone a private 501(c)3 non-profit.  Sorry, no “white hat discount” here.  Neither does putting on a Roman collar mean giving up the right to a fair trial. 

Time for Riggs and Murtaugh to face Internal Affairs.

Update: January 5, 2011
In an interview with Catholic World Report, Dave Pierre alleges that David Clohessy worked for almost a decade with the Association of Community Organizations for Reform Now (ACORN).  In fact, a court filing for ACORN v. St. Louis County (930 F.2d 591) includes David Clohessy as co-appellant.

To refresh your memory: ACORN was founded in 1970 by former SDS and NWRO member Wade Rathke.  The mission statement on their website, which is still up and running despite their Chapter 7 liquidation, carries the somewhat innocuous aim "to organize a majority consituency of low- to moderate-income people across the United States"; according to City Journal writer Sol Stern,

ACORN’s bedrock assumption remains [this was written in 2003] the ultra-Left’s familiar anti-capitalist redistributionism.  “We are the majority, forged from all the minorities,” reads the group’s “People’s Platform,” whose prose Orwell would have derided as pure commissar-speak.  “We will continue our fight . . . until we have shared the wealth, until we have won our freedom .  ... We have nothing to show for the work of our hand, the tax of our labor” — claptrap that not only falsifies the relative comfort of the poor in America but that also is a classic example of chutzpah, given ACORN’s origins in a movement that undermined the work ethic of the poor.  But never mind — ACORN claims that it “stands virtually alone in its dedication to organizing the poor and powerless.”  It organizes them to push for ever more government control of the economy.  ...
ACORN’s revival of its Baltimore chapter is a textbook example of this style.  Several years ago, a top ACORN organizer, Mitch Klein, injected a new aggressiveness into the Baltimore chapter.  Underlings piled garbage in front of City Hall to protest lack of services in poor neighborhoods, wielded huge inflated rubber sharks to disrupt a bankers’ dinner, and — most controversially — staged a profanity-laced protest in front of Mayor Martin O’Malley’s home.  “They unloaded a busload of people shouting pretty ugly things and scared the daylights out of my wife and kids,” an angry O’Malley complained.  “I thought it was a pretty cruddy thing to do.”  ...


Stern's critique is heavily laced with the reflexive magic-of-capitalism bilge that had a lot more traction in 2003 (the year he wrote it) than in 2011.  Yet, as Stanley Kurtz reports, "in an Acorn-friendly reply to Stern entitled 'Enraging the Right,'” academic/activists John Atlas and Peter Dreier tersely admitted that “Stern accurately outlines Acorn’s agenda.”

The Dallas-based site Workers View, a Communist blog (no, I'm not being insulting; it actually belongs to the Texas branch of the CPUSA) had this to say about ACORN:

Some ACORN employees were totally dedicated to the organization. Some of them believed that they were not just social reformers getting potholes fixed or traffic signs replaced, but were actually revolutionaries. Their underlying theory was that the "most oppressed people," not the working class, would eventually make a revolution in the United States. The "most oppressed" people, those with the lowest incomes, were the most motivated to overthrow capitalism. All they needed was organization, and ACORN was better at that than just about anybody!
Those of us who realize that Marx was right, that the working class is the only class capable of standing up against capitalism, tried to work with ACORN on critical issues. Usually, they were difficult to work with, since they felt that ACORN itself, and its legions of "most oppressed people," was the key to a bright future in America. They didn't make good coalition partners, but they were very effective on their own projects, and they welcomed help from unionists and others, even though they were unlikely to reciprocate.

Let me make clear first: I am not calling David Clohessy a "pinko Commie".  For all I know, he may have voted straight-ticket Republican in the last four or five elections.  But I doubt seriously that Clohessy could have worked for ACORN for so long if he hadn't some sympathy for their radical-leftist aims and appreciation of their Alinskyite tactics.

Speaking of SNAP's relatively low spending on victim support, Pierre tells CWR, "When one examines the activities of SNAP, it becomes apparent that the organization is more about bludgeoning the Catholic Church than providing any concrete support to clergy abuse victims.  ... Although it may have started with the noble intention of assisting abuse victims, SNAP has simply evolved into a Church-bashing operation." Indeed, they want (in the words of one member) "a ‘going out of business’ sign in front of every Catholic parish, church, school, and outreach center.”

If there's anybody who should be angry, it's the victims SNAP purports to represent, who have been used as a Trojan horse to advance a different agenda.

Update: January 7, 2012
H/T to Dave Pierre, who, when I asked him for source links on the Clohessy-ACORN connection, kindly provided them.  Dave has done so much research to uncover and expose to daylight SNAP's hidden agenda and assorted dishonesties that the very least I can do for him in gratitude is plug his new book, Catholic Priests Falsely Accused: The Facts, The Fraud, The Stories (US $9.95 paperback, US $3.00 Kindle).


The fact is, when the scandals of 2002 uncovered so much dirt, we over-reacted and threw our priests under the bus.  There was a reason Bl. John Paul insisted that the Houston Protocols retain some protection for the accused's good name, a reason that got overlooked in our righteous anger and haste to clean house.  It is critical to have safeguards for children, and I think we can be proud that our bishops have, on the whole, been so successful in instituting child-safe policies.  But if we truly want to support our priesthood — a desire especially important to us Knights of Columbus — then we need to re-engineer the "zero tolerance" policy to insure that those who are falsely accused are restored to their proper positions of respect and responsibility promptly and without cowering under media pressure.