The pedophilia scandals over the past decade have a common seamy thread: institutions protect their reputations at the expense of children.
The Roman Catholic Church became notorious for pedophilia by priests. Penn State officials covered up serial pedophilia. Newly released “perversion files” of the Boy Scouts reveal decades of “a corrosive culture of secrecy” that failed to protect kids.
Now the venerated BBC of Britain protected sexual abuse of 200 teenage girls in hospitals and children’s homes by the late TV personality, Jimmy Savile. The BBC abandoned an investigation of Savile, sullying an ethical reputation solidly built up for 50 years.
George McGovern was no saint. No politician ever is. But he was a man of conscience. “He taught us to stand up for human decency and honesty no matter what the cost,” social critic Chris Hedges writes.
That cost was a trouncing as the Democratic candidate for president in 1972.
McGovern opposed the Vietnam War and urged the withdrawal of American forces in Indochina. He wisely told the Senate: “Every senator in this chamber is partly responsible for sending 50,000 young Americans to an early grave. This chamber reeks of blood.”
So it did. But his was that voice in the wilderness.
McGovern, who died recently, closed his nomination acceptance speech at the Democratic convention with sterling words:
“From secrecy and deception in high places, come home America. From military spending so wasteful that it weakens our nation, come home America. From the entrenchment of special privileges, come home America.”
Unfortunately in America this South Dakota prairie populist was a hopeless idealist.
The socialist government of France constantly shames the blindness and puritanism of the U.S. Congress.
France’s House has approved legislation to reimburse abortion expenses and to make contraception free for minors. French national medical insurance already pays for abortions for minors and the poor. Other women are reimbursed up to 80 percent for the $600 cost of an abortion.
The House measure, expected to pass the Senate, would make all abortions free and pay for contraception for those between 15 and 18.
King defies poverty
Spain is mired in such economic woes and poverty that many Spaniards are forced to rummage through garbage for food scraps. Yet the Spanish monarch, Juan Carlos I, dashes off on a pricey African safari.
It is unclear whether Juan Carlos is a millionaire or billionaire. But he does have an island home, yachts and scores of luxury automobiles. One caustic Tweeter message summed up public outrage: “The Spaniards in slippers and the king with 70 cars.”
Diderot, as long ago as the Enlightenment, was right: “Man will never be free until the last king is strangled with the entrails of the last priest.”
A high school English teacher in Knoxville, Tenn., did exactly what advisers of student publications should be doing: flouting community thinking.
The teacher, James Yoakley, approved the publication of a yearbook story, “It’s OK to be gay,” and signed off on an article in the student newspaper by an atheist explaining her lack of belief.
His wisdom was rewarded with demotion to middle school.
Presidents come and go but Shakespeare abideth forever.
Jake Highton is an emeritus journalism professor at the University of Nevada, Reno.