by Constance Daley
American Reporter Correspondent
St. Simons Island, Ga.
September 11, 2007
WHEN THE 'GOOD' GO WRONG
ST. SIMONS ISLAND, Ga. -- It surprises me when someone asks me point blank if scandals among Republican officeholders reflect on the party as a whole, and, get this, will I change my vote in the upcoming election?
I've never been one to talk politics or religion if I can avoid it, but I could see one on the table. In stead, I asked the woman who last asked me that question, "Well, did you leave the Democrats when Governor McGreevy scandalized his party, his state and his wife - not necessarily in that order?"
"Well, no, but he came clean and now is in Theological School in the Episcopal church."
"And you didn't leave your party affiliation when Bill Clinton brought shame and dishonor to his wife and the entire country - not to mention shock to the whole free world."
"Oh, but he's a man taken in by the charms of a woman. Perfectly natural and forgivable - as Hillary forgave him," she said in a worldly way. "And the whole world didn't care; mistresses are common everywhere else but here."
"Anyway," I said, "I'll cast my vote on election day - as of now, I haven't made up my mind just who it will be. Let's order."
I had a similar conversation with her when the Roman Catholic Church scandal - allegations of sex abuse made against Catholic priests erupted, accusing not only the priests but the Church itself as being complicit in a cover up.
"Are you going to leave the Church? I hear they're leaving in droves," she said.
This is why I don't court such discussions. Not only am I uncomfortable responding to such uninformed supposition but I'm forced to defend what is in reality indefensible.
"No, of course I'm not leaving the Church; unequivocally, no. I am not condoning behavior of a rather small percentage of erring priests - of the more than 30,000 parish priests in the United States, those accused of this behavior were 4,392.* That's approximately 6 percent," I went on authoritatively, having done my homework.
"Of course, even one case is too many, but I matched those statistics against the number of letter carriers in the country versus the number who went "postal." She wondered where I was going with this until I said, "The United States Postal Service employs 750,000 workers - by the way, the largest employer outside of Wal-Mart. Four per cent reportedly went 'postal.' Do you know what 'postal' means?"
"Yeah, rage, like road rage," she answered - again not knowing where I was leadng her.
The Postal Service handled terrible happenings by trying to keep them all quiet and not having the authorities or the press involved - initially. According to the blog New Midget Revue, where many of the slayings were carefully described, "The Postal Service refused to give details of Joseph Harris' personnel file to reporters and a sign posted in the lobby of the post office ordered patrons, '...do not ask the workers any questions regarding events of yesterday.' Social workers and psychologists were brought in to instruct employees in how to deal with the experience and to shield them from inquiries from the press." Joseph Harris killed three USPS workers and the fiance of one of the victimes on Oct. 10, 1991.
On a lighter note, she added, "I'd go postal if I had to sort mail all day."
It appears that both the Postal Service and the Catholic Church shied away from "airing their dirty linen in public," as we say, preferring to handle each situation with counseling, psychiatric evaluation, and so forth, and with compassion and respect for their own along with sympathy - sometimes - for the victims.
Just as the Postal Service shielded their employees, you know, "it could have happened to anybody," so also did the Church treat their priests with the understanding that we are all sinners.
"The announcement at my church was:
"They must be accepted with respect, compassion and sensitivity. Every sign of unjust discrimination in their regard should be avoided."
"I like that they didn't shun the errant priests," I said, "as just about everyone was doing."
She looked thoughtful.
"Do you get the analogy?" I asked.
"Why? Because you still go the post office every day? Therefore you wouldn't let current events keep you from the Republican Party or the Catholic Church? Is that it?" She was armed for battle now. "You're the one who doesn't 'get it.' You have no choice about receiving your mail but there are other political parties beside the Republican Party and there are other churches just as devoted to God as the Catholic Church."
I don't know if it's possible to see a mind, boggling; perhaps the slight quiver of my head would give me away. My eyelids blinked and didn't come up right away as I steeled myself before answering. I know when I'm up against a brick wall and this was a brick wall.
"This is why I don't talk religion or politics. I get carried away," I said. I smiled but she had her head buried in her menu. w
With a self-satisfied air of having offered me viable choices, she asked, "Well, now then, are you still going to go to your grave a Republican Catholic?"
I laughed out loud at that and said, "Dear God, I hope so." * According to Wikipedia, figures supplied by the Catholic League for Religious and Civil Rights and the U.S. Dept. of Education suggest that the abuse figures in the c are similar to abuse in other institutions such as education.