Tuesday, January 10, 2017

Partisan Complacency: My Party Right or Wrong

It's been a busy five years. My how time flies. But I'm back because there is something I have to get off my chest today. It's partisan complacency.

There seems to be an epidemic of thinking that allows one to minimize the behavior of someone who represents their party or ideology, while criminalizing the exact same behavior of someone who represents the opposite party or ideology. Mitch McConnell looked like Mel Brooks character Governor Lepetomane in Blazing Saddles when he said Americans won't tolerate the blocking of Supreme Court Justices after doing just that for the last year as Obama tried to replace the deceased Scalia since last February. And one half of America agrees with both of these stances simultaneously.

Because the two party system is so entrenched here in the collective American mind, voters only believes these are the two paths. Pick one and stick with them. Regardless.

It's the type of thinking that allows for pronouncements that Obama or Bush were the greatest presidents or the worst. Depending. Hyperbole is accepted as truth.

This has been a dangerous path that has brought us to this. Donald Trump. I try to imagine what would have happened if there was a tape of Obama released where he encouraged crowds to punch protestors in the face. What would the rights reaction have been to that? More importantly how would the left have responded?

Case in point is the killing of Anwar al-Awlaki. He was a United States citizen who was targeted and killed by the United States Government in a drone attack in Yeman. Whether he was a recruiter for Al Qaeda we'll never know. There was never a trial, never an arrest. Just a killing that was announced by President Obama and met with applause.

Due process? We don't need no stinking due process.

Nor do they need to release any evidence to support their findings. After several lawsuits they finally did release a little information.

In an article in the Guardian written on June 23, 2014 by Spencer Ackerman it says:

The redacted version of the memo released Monday does not reveal much of the factual basis for the government's claims that Awlaki represented an imminent threat to the United States.
In the disclosed portions, Barron's memo does not explicitly vouch for the government's case against Awlaki, referring instead to "the facts represented to us". It refers instead to Awlaki as a "leader" who was "continuously planning attacks" against the US, without providing an evidentiary basis for claims central to the extraordinary circumvention of normal due process procedures. Nor do the public sections explain why capturing Awlaki was not feasible, nor why the Justice Department believes it need not have provided Awlaki with judicial process.
Most people don't care. At all. After all he was a Muslim in Yemen. Why should we care that the United States targeted an American citizen for assassination then bragged about killing him? He probably deserved it. Right? 
If we follow stereotypes the left, who on paper anyway support Human Rights, the ACLU and all that, they would have made a large and loud stand.  But because Obama is a Democrat who is supposed to be a liberal the left remained relatively silent. 
Why should we care? Because of the silence from the left this precedent has been set and Donald Trump will be the next president. 
Until individuals cast the same suspect eye on the leaders of their own party or ideology that they do on the the opposing, then this is what we will get. The weakening and growing insignificance of the United States Constitution and the Bill of Rights.
It's time to follow the advice of Ben Franklin.

Question all authority. Always.  

Thursday, August 30, 2012

Dolan's Conventional Wisdom

I wasn't surprised when I read that Cardinal Dolan would deliver the closing prayer at the Republican National Convention.  He should be right at home there. After all this new batch of Republicans has lead it's own war on woman at the same time the Vatican is waging war with Women Religious.
The Vatican didn't like women speaking on women's issues saying  they often hosted speakers who "disagree with or challenge the bishops, who are the church's authentic teachers of faith and morals."
Ah, the authentic teachers of the faith. You know, men.
Similarly the men of the Republican Party have decided they are the authentic teachers of women's biology. When discussing the choice of abortion for women who have been raped Rep. Todd Akin  said:
“It seems to be, first of all, from what I understand from doctors, it’s really rare. If it’s a legitimate rape, the female body has ways to try to shut the whole thing down.
Granted making the latter part of that statement in Freshman biology class would get you an F for a grade, but in congress it gets you a seat on the House Committee for Science, Space and Technology. 
But what does he mean by "legitimate" rape? Or the language Akin used with Republican Vice President candidate Paul Ryan when they co-sponsored a bill that would have narrowed the already-narrow exceptions to the laws banning federal funding for abortion—from all cases of rape to cases of "forcible rape."
Isn't rape rape? What on earth could they be driving at? Or driving away from? 
The only adjective I hear commonly used before the word rape is statutory. Are they suggesting that isn't legitimate or forcible? 
That's what Rick Santorum, who will also be speaking at the RNC, suggested when he defended sexually abusive priests by saying:
"In this case, what we're talking about, basically, is priests who were having sexual relations with post-pubescent men. We're not talking about priests with 3-year-olds, or 5-year-olds. We're talking about a basic homosexual relationship. Which, again, according to the world view sense is a perfectly fine relationship as long as it's consensual between people."
Which brings me back to Cardinal Dolan.
While he was the Archbishop of Milwaukee he approved of payments of up to 20 grand to sexually abusive priests to make them go away,  leave the church and abuse kids somewhere else without the collar. That's the way to look out for the welfare of children in the world. In a perverse sort of way. Literally.
By reading this it might be best to suggest that you keep women and children away from the RNC. These people are crazy with their views of rape and abuse.
But not to be out done, apparently Democrats don't want to lose the coveted pervert vote either, so in the most unoriginal act conceivable and not forced but certainly legitimate, the Democratic National Convention will also have Cardinal Dolan say a prayer.
He must give good prayer. I hope that's all.
Because when a person who participated so heavily in the cover up of sexual abuse of children is given such a huge national platform by both parties in the heat of a presidential campaign, I see no justice in the future for children.
Because no matter which party wins, the Cardinal has covered the bases. From local DA's to Federal Prosecutors to the Justice Department to much needed Congressional Hearings, I see no political will to hold accountable the men who are responsible for thousands of children being abused.
All I see is those is the old boys club looking out for their own, tossing women and children overboard as their Titanic sinks. And if this is how both parties lead, I pray it does.

Saturday, July 28, 2012

The House That Kane Built

It isn't big news anymore when a Catholic Diocese sells old and unused property. The church has been consolidating and selling property for decades now. Parishioners complain to deaf ears and eventually move on. But a story on WBZ TV, Boston today caught my attention.

Apparently Alain Beret wanted to buy The Oakhurst Retreat and Conference Center in Whitinsville Massachusetts from the Worcester Diocese and transform it into a venue for weddings and functions. A great idea as the center has been closed for years. And a sale for one million dollars to boot. A win win all around.

Except Mr. Beret and his partner are gay. Uh oh. And they might perform gay weddings there. Uh oh. Bishop McManus can't allow that to happen on this church property. This property is sacred! I'm sure there was some sort of blessing that occurred at one point with holy water, incense and Latin chants. This place is holy!

After all the Bishop is so much against the notion of gay marriage that he persuaded the small Catholic institute of higher learning, Anna Maria College, to disinvite Vickie Kennedy as the commencement speaker. Because as a Kennedy she must be for gay marriage, right?  Maybe. I hope so. But she has never publicly said one way or the other. 

When your a Bishop you don't need hard evidence. It's been that way since the inquisition. They're closer to God and all that.

And that closeness to God guided the Bishop in his decision to not sell to Mr. Beret. In a message to the real estate agent, Monsignor Sullivan explained the Bishop's position: "Because of the potentiality of gay marriages there….we are not interested in going forward with these buyers. I think they’re shaky anyway. So, just tell them that we will not accept their revised plan and the Diocese is making new plans for the property. You find the language.”

Apparently God was at a loss of words when the Bishop asked for guidance on this one because his move may be illegal and Mr. Beret, a lawyer, is exploring how to proceed. I suspect he won't be at such a loss for words.

It could be that God and the Bishop are also at a loss of words because The Oakhurst Retreat and Conference Center was once known as the House of Affirmation, a treatment center for priests with psychological problems. And pedophiles. The church had a lot of them and needed to prove to insurance companies they were handling the situation.

It was started by Fr Tom Kane, who claimed to have a Phd in Psychology. He didn't.  In fact the diocese settled a lawsuit, confidentially about Kane's sexual abuse of a none year old boy.  Meaning Kane himself was a pedophile. And he had just created his candy store. Because Kane, with his phony Phd and his cronies sent there for treatment by the likes of Cardinal Law, kind of made the House of Affirmation their own little playground. Kind of a Club Ped. 

So much for sacred ground. A lot of the serial sexual abuse of children in the Southern Worcester County can be traced right to the House that Kane built. Kane, like the brother who killed Able. The only problem was that this Kane and his buddies were very willing and able. Because of protection by the church.

And knowing this, somehow the Worcester Diocese is still more offended by the notion of a gay marriage happening on this property, than by it's vast history of abuse. Because if he was more offended by the abuse he might have sought to bring justice to those who were abused there by opening the files and shedding light on this sad chapter. Instead they changed the name to Oakhurst and destroyed the files. Hoping we would all forget. 

Not yet.

According to the Bishop, the last thing that should happen on the House of Affirmation property should be something as unholy as gay marriage. Why should a property that terrorized so many children become a place where couples should be allowed to publicly declare their love, devotion and commitment to each other? Beacuse that would be... What? Good? To me it sounds like a wonderful way to heal that space. A way to genuinely bless it.

I fear asking the Bishop "Why not sell Oakhurst to Mr. Beret?" would only fall on deaf ears, as he awaits guidance from his God, who still seems to be at a loss of words over all of this. 

No wonder. Who wouldn't be?

Thursday, July 19, 2012

Pro Death Penalty

Lately I've found myself listening to Sports Talk Radio in Boston. Being a sports fan from New England is almost a natural. Red Sox, Celtics, Patriots and Bruins are all legendary teams. At least to us. Much like politics here, which most consider a contact sport. Although they should never mix, just as Mayor Menino and try not to laugh as he tries to pronounce Wes Wekler. Res Wreckler?

The real no-no's in pleasant conversation are politics and religion. Which seems to be true as the silence from all of the politicians when the clergy sexual abuse scandal broke in Boston ten years ago still echoes. And I mean all politicians, from both parties. There were no profiles in courage.

Which brings me to Penn State. I spent a good part of the afternoon today listening to WEEI's The Big Show with Glenn Ordway and Michael Holley as they fended off a lot of Penn State apologists. Who sounded awfully similar to the Catholic Church apologists.

Serial child abuser Sandusky is in jail for life now and Joe Paterno is dead. Time to move on. Others who may have facilitated the cover-up are still being investigated like Tim Curley and Gary Schultz.  More justice will be served by the actual guilty parties. Time to move on. And leave statutes and football alone.


Serial child abuser John Goeghan and Cardinal Law has moved to Rome. Time to move on. We are investigating it. Time to move on. And leave all the good priests alone. Stop Catholic bashing.

A little tweaking and the playbook is the same. Penn State apologists are fighting to prevent an NCAA imposed Death Penalty to the football program. Meaning no football for a year or two. Which isn't really death because there is a form of resurrection involved. Maybe play in the Easter Sunday Bowl?

The main argument in saving Penn State football is that innocents should not be punished for the acts of these few. You can insert Catholic Church for Penn State, assign the statement to the Catholic League's Bill Donohue, slap him on Fox News and it's the same story.

Both Glenn Ordway and Michael Holley agreed, some innocents will be hurt by the Death Penalty but believe it sends a strong message to other NCAA sports programs that may find themselves in a similar situation. And instead of covering up for the crime, those in charge will report it so as not to suffer the same consequences.

In essence they will report the sexual abuse of children to save their sports program first. The children second. That is an incredibly sad and probably true statement.

As far as we know Penn State covered up for Sandusky's crimes for fourteen years. "Covering up" is a nice way of saying allowing him to commit more crimes, because that is exactly what happens. That makes them co-conspirators in facilitating his access to victims.

Why did they do this? To protect a football program worth $99 million dollars according to Forbes Magazine.

A football program that grew during those fourteen years of cover ups. Everyone, innocents included benefitting from the active cover up. Profiting because of the cover up. And the apologists don't want to lose that share.

Too bad.

Just like Monsignor William Lynn of Philadelphia being found guilty of child endangerment because he covered up for sexual abuse by priests under his supervision, he did so to protect his position. He didn't want to lose his share. Because priests and Bishops who speak up lose theirs. So, sorry kids, you're on your own. Unless we prosecute a few more. Then they will report pedophiles to protect their position rather than go to jail.

Just like Ordway's observation, Bishops will report sexual abuse of children only when it will protect their job and position. Not to protect children.

It is up to all of us to protect children and hold those accountable who are abusers and their protectors. With the harshest measures possible. Because the numbers are staggering. One in every four girls and one on every six boys will be sexually abused before the age of eighteen.

For the first time in my life I will say I am in favor of the Death Penalty. For Penn State.

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

As far as I can tell there is no difference between JoePa and JoePope. Both were kings of their worlds. Both turned a blind eye to sexual abuse of children to protect their records and their brand. As well as make a boatload of money.
Let's go through the timeline. According to CNN:
1977 - Jerry Sandusky founds the Second Mile, a charity to help troubled youth.
1998 - He is accused and admits to showering with a boy and says he sorry. The DA does not go forward with the charges and advises the Campus Police to drop the case.
Hmm, the police, the DA all investigate. Do we think JoePa (the king of Penn State) knew?
Maybe not.
1999 - Sandusky retires from Penn State football, but stays on as a "volunteer" and has full access to the campus and facilities.
A year later he retires from his job at one of the most successful college football programs in the country? Why would he do that? Is it really possible JoePa did know. Maybe.
2000 - A Janitor sees Sandusky performing oral sex on a boy in the shower and reports it to his supervisor. Who does not report it to the police. And this point I'm guessing it has been reported to JoePa, just to protect his program and brand.
I think we are seeing a trend here. It looks pretty familiar to me.
2002 - McQueary sees the now famous shower rape scene and tells his father, who is not a police officer. Because if he were it would have made sense. They tell JoePa the next day. Second Mile is told.
2004 - 2008 He abuses another boy while volunteering to help a wrestling coach. Wrestling. How convenient. He can quickly claim that his sexual contact is wrestling or horseplay.
And on. And on.
To digress for a moment, when Sandusky's narcissistic sociopathic side decided to phone in his interview with Bob Costas, he claimed it was horseplay.
"I could say that I have done some of those things. I have horsed around with kids. I have showered after workouts. I have hugged them, and I have touched their legs without intent of sexual contact," said Sandusky.
He went on to describe turning on all the showers and sliding across the floor as part of the horsing around. And that may be odd, but not sexual abuse of a child.
He is right. It is called grooming.
He is preparing the child for sexual contact by making it fun and safe to play around with a grown and naked man. 
It would probably happen a few times without any intimate contact at all. Then slide on the floor through my  legs. Accidentally touch. And you can imagine the rest.
And I hope you do. You need to think about how awful this is.
In 1970 a young Tom Teczar was in seminary studying to be a priest.  He was kicked out twice and  Bishop Flanagan from the Diocese of Worcester Massachusetts, wrote in response to an inquiry from Catholic University's dean, of Teczar's "predilection for intimate and rather exclusive companionship with young boys."
He noted that because in the mid-60's Teczar was fired from the Nazareth Home for Boys (a home for trouble youth - sound familiar?) for "inappropriately touching" a 10 year old boy.
So they ordain him and send him to Saint Mary's in Uxbridge Massachusetts where he has been known to have "allegedly" abused at least five boys. I was "allegedly" one.
Caught, is bounced around from parish to parish until in 1988 he was moved all the way to Fort Worth Texas. Where Bishop Delaney took him, even though he was well aware of Teczar's history.
Finally in 2002 he is arrested in Texas where he is now serving a 25 year sentence.
Can you imagine if someone had called the police in the mid-60's with that 10 year old boy?
Can you imagine if the DA had prosecuted Sandusky in 1998?
JoePa and JoePope couldn't.
But I wish they had.

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

I don't normally use this blog to promote any of my work. It is usually a place for me to poke the bag of Catholic with a stick. It is when I am irritated enough by the news of the day that I tend to sit down and write one of these. I haven't done that in awhile.
It's not that I haven't been irritated. I have. But I've been busy trying to promote my little short horror film called "Microcinema." But more on that later.
Today I want to talk about Sinead O'Connor. Apparently some people are upset that she tweeted "That there'd be a fucking bloodbath. Me meet the fucker off the plane myself" if Pope Benedict visited Ireland. In another tweet she talked about pulling the trigger.
And people are calling her crazy. Really? Have you looked at the Pope while he parades out another group of clergy sexual abuse survivors in Germany and apologizes. Just like he did in D.C. to people that I actually know.
He uses them as a PR tool, is humbled, promises change then leaves after the photo op to change nothing and continue to allow abuse through the old cover up game plan of move 'em and don't report. Which ultimately re-traumatizes the people he just humbly posed with.
How is that not infuriating? Last year I shot a short called "Putting on Its Shoes," which you can watch if you follow the link. It's free. It was shot in roughly the same place I shot "Microcinema." But more on that later. And it is .99 cents. The Best Horror for Under a Dollar.
Hey, an artist has to eat.
In "Putting on Its Shoes" I estimate that there are roughly 1,200,000 victims/survivors of clergy sexual abuse worldwide. And I'm guessing these numbers are low. These numbers are staggering. The stuff that rises to the level of crimes against humanity.
The U.N. has sent in troops to countries for humanitarian purposes to stop such crimes. And the Holy Sea is a sovereign nation, so... Is Sinead that far off base? Not from where I'm sitting.
But I'm guessing the highly paid spokesperson for The Catholic League, Mr Bill Donohue will have a different take on Sinead.
Look at what he said about a recent Rolling Stone article by Sabrina Rubin Erdely about the Archdiocese of Philadelphia. 
"She treats the Rolling Stone readers to some of the most salacious renderings imaginable, drawing from the grand jury testimony of "Billy," a man who claims he was worked over by two priests and one lay teacher, beginning when he was 10."
The Irish Central then reports he smears "Billy" that would not dignify by quoting.
Why would a highly paid spokesperson for the Catholic Church say such a thing?
Because it is what Jesus would do.
Jesus Hitler, Adolf's older and meaner brother.
How does this stuff not drive people to the brink, like Sinead?
Which brings me to "Microcinema"
My horror short is about a highly educated, young man of means who passively watches snuff films. He even uses the phrase "passive observance" to describe his behavior. He decides to take it to the next level and produce his very own short.
When he finally decides to take action it isn't to stop it, but to participate. Because there is very little difference.
It reminds me of my favorite Walt Whitman poem "I Sit and Look Out" which ends with the lines:
All these-All the meanness and agony without end, I sitting, look out upon,
See, hear, and am silent.
If you are not doing anything to stop it, you might as well be doing it. 
It is the same for everyone who remains a passive observer of this criminal behavior by men posing as conduits to God. Pass the basket please.
Good Lord! If the DA's and Federal Prosecutors won't get it done for me, like Sinead I'm shooting something to get justice.  I shoot a camera. My revenge is the horror short "Microcinema" 
Suffice it to say, the cinematic justice I served up seems to have struck a nerve with the reviewers as you can see below.
If horror is your thing, with metaphors that run way beyond the Catholic Church, drop the .99 cents for "Microcinema" already. Halloween is coming.


"I figured I was in for one of three things:  a really solid work, a bite size film that left me feeling nothing, or one of those that makes me want to substitute rat poison for the salt on my dinner table.  Those are the three categories all art falls into for me, always.  Yet, when it was all said and done, Shea's vignette carved a whole new icky slot out just for itself. 9 out of 10 Stars" - The Conduit Speaks
"Brilliant. 8.5 out of 10 Stars" - The Gruesome Hurtzogg Horror Movie Review Podcast.
"Skip Shea is an adept director with equal ability to write, his short film gets more across than most full length films. Microcinema is available here for a very worth it $0.99, (it's worth more, in my opinion). 4 out of 5 Stars" - The Bleeding Dead Film Reviews. 
"What I find particularly interesting about Microcinema is its plot and how it seems to blend together torture, voyeurism, and a lot of other really weird horrific topics like snuff films." - Horror Society 
"Microcinema Doesn't Disappoint" - Victor Infante, The Worcester Telergram & Gazette
"You will not be expecting to see the events that unfold in this shocking short film." - The Horror Spot
"The new indie horror romp Microcinema and it is a dozy." - Truly Disturbing Horror
Unicornsblud Horror Review Stamp of Majestic Approval.

Thursday, May 19, 2011

It looks like the church has figured out the cause of the sexual abuse scandal. According to the 2 million dollar John Jay Report, the cause was the sexual and cultural revolution of the 60's and 70's. Apparently listening to songs like "Young Girl" by Gary Puckett and the Union Gap makes priests lose impulse control and forces them to, well, force themselves on children.
According to the report - "The rise in abuse cases in the 1960s and 1970s was influenced by social factors in American society generally. This increase in abusive behavior is consistent with the rise in other types of ‘deviant’ behavior, such as drug use and crime, as well as changes in social behavior, such as an increase in premarital sexual behavior and divorce."
American society generally? Did the church export American society to Ireland and every other country where reports of the scandal have exploded?
That's right, they can't blame the 60's for the abuse in Ireland as reports say the epidemic of abuse there started in the 30's. John, Paul, George and Ringo weren't even born yet.
But did it really start in the 60's here? Well, not according to a blog I wrote in 2009. Hey, if Norman Mailer can quote himself why can't I? I know I've used that joke before, but I figured what the heck, I'm repeating myself anyway.
According to a New York Times article in 2009, "From the 1940’s through the 1960’s, bishops and superiors of religious orders sent their problem priests to Father Fitzgerald to be healed."  In 1947 Rev. Gerald M. C. Fitzgerald founded of the order, Servants of the Paraclete, a treatment center for priests, including pedophiles, in Jemez Springs, N.M.
According to the article he wrote in a letter in 1957, “We are amazed to find how often a man who would be behind bars if he were not a priest is entrusted with the cura animarum,” meaning, the care of souls. 
He even went so far as to put a five thousand deposit on a Caribbean Island where he planned to build an isolated retreat to sequester priests who were sexual predators.
Fitzgerald finally met the Pope in 1963 to explain that there was an epidemic in the church. Which, as history has shown, only got worse.
All before a child of God was walking along the road, on the way to Woodstock.