Today, a friend sent along a NYTimes column by Mark Oppenheimer: "No Religious Exemption When It Comes to Abuse." The column is filled with old stuff, stuff I have seen again and again, but it excited enough new fires so that I wrote to Mark:
Mark -- K passed along your most recent column, which I enjoyed. One of the lines that set my hair on fire (your intention, perhaps?) was the well-lubricated rejoinder of Norman Lamm when asked about alleged molesters at the high school [under Lamm's aegis]: "'It was not our intention or position to destroy a person without further inquiry,' Dr. Lamm said."
The comment fairly screams for elucidation: 1. Does it mean that if further investigation were conducted and the allegations substantiated, then "our intention and position" would be to destroy the person in question? 2. Is further investigation on-going and if not, why not? 3. If further investigation revealed that the alleged perpetrators were blameless, would the Yeshiva then apologize for having let them go quietly in the first place? 4. Doesn't letting them go quietly imply that the institution finds some guilt to be involved ... or is the institution excused from responsibility under the wussy explanation that even a hint of impropriety is not acceptable?
That small, mink-oiled remark strikes me as one example of the free ride that executives (religious or otherwise) are too often given: It sounds well-grounded and reasonable when in fact the lack of follow-up (by either writer or his subject) only shows how willing anyone might be to credit the good nature and kindly disposition of those in command: The Vatican must be good because the Vatican asserts its goodness.
OK ... I got my rocks off.
Keep on truckin'.