Former Saskatoon priest charged with sexual abuse

February 8, 2012

CBC Radio 1 mentioned 89 year old William Hodgson Marshall this morning so I went hunting for more information. From CBC I learn he’s in custody in Kingston, Ontario and awaiting trial:

Marshall was a priest, basketball coach and mathematics teacher at St. Paul’s High School in Saskatoon between 1958 and 1961. The all-boys school, which was on the 400 block of 22nd St. E. downtown, closed in 1967.

On Tuesday, the Saskatoon police said Marshall has been charged in connection with indecent assaults that took place in 1959 and 1960.

The two alleged victims, now both 66 years old, were 14 at the time.

The Crown prosecutor’s office is arranging for a court appearance to take place in Ontario, Saskatoon police said.

In a written statement, Saskatoon Bishop Donald Bolen said the diocese was recently informed of the new charges.

“In all such cases, our first concern is for the suffering of those who have been abused. We are called to listen and to assist in whatever way possible as they move toward healing,” Bolen said.

Hmm. In other such cases I’ve read about, the Catholic church’s first concern has been to move the priest and/or pretend it never happened. Like in Memphis, and France, and Ireland and elsewhere. And, in a lot of cases, possibly all of them, it was a Vatican approved decision. These days the Vatican is under fire for not doing enough to protect victims and people are demanding a change. A New York Times article posted yesterday notes a conference finishing up in Europe where this has been the main issue being discussed.

Terence McKiernan, president of BishopAccountability.org , said the conference was intended to “change the subject and look like progress.”

“The Vatican is afraid, and it has reason to be,” he said, in light of recent charges against the church, including a complaint filed against the Vatican with the International Criminal Court.

The conference, which began on Monday and runs for four days, drew about 200 delegates, more than half of them bishops but also victims, rectors of Catholic universities and religious superiors. Cardinal William J. Levada, who heads the Vatican office that deals with allegations of clerical abuse, said Monday in his keynote speech that over 4,000 cases of sexual abuse of minors had been reported to his office in the past decade as the church toughened its responses. “We are still learning,” he said. “We need to help each other find the best ways to help victims, protect children,” and to educate priests “to be aware of this scourge and to eliminate it from the priesthood.”

Would step one be to boot out the priests known to be doing it and let the police and courts make mincemeat out of them? Put the ones suspected on some kind of probation where they’re never allowed to be alone with young boys? Apologize profusely for letting this get so out of hand and then offer to build and fund (but not operate) real counseling centers where real psychologists and other professionals won’t resort to prayer as a band-aid fix-it-all? That’s just off the top of my head, of course. I don’t know what they’ll actually decide on as a course of action.

It’ll be interesting to see what, if anything, comes of this.


Does emotion guide morality?

August 26, 2010

So this I get via Unreasonable Faith – a possible connection between the feeling of disgust and our moral choices. It’s an article out of the Boston Globe.

Disgust is a survival trait – Our ancestors needed their noses to pick out the scent of rancid meat so they wouldn’t eat it and get horribly sick and die. Physical revulsion was a good means of noticing when the shine was off that yak or whatever the hell other foodstuff was left in the sun too long.

Today, psychologists and philosophers are piecing these findings together into a theory of disgust’s moral role and the evolutionary forces that determined it: Just as our teeth and tongue first evolved to process food, then were enlisted for complex communication, disgust first arose as an emotional response to ensure that our ancestors steered clear of rancid meat and contagion. But over time, that response was co-opted by the social brain to help police the boundaries of acceptable behavior. Today, some psychologists argue, we recoil at the wrong just as we do at the rancid, and when someone says that a politician’s chronic dishonesty makes her sick, she is feeling the same revulsion she might get from a brimming plate of cockroaches.

Old gods do new jobs, as Neil Gaiman would put it. Old emotions find new uses. What an interesting concept. It has its skeptics, of course. People should never be afraid to criticize a theory. If it can be debunked, then it should be. If it can’t be debunked, then we know we’re probably on the right track. For now.

One of the criticisms has to do with a difference between taboos and moral choices. Incest is as much a cultural taboo as it is a moral no-no. If incest sounds disgusting, it’s just as likely to be because our society has said it is, not specifically because some inner moral compass says so.

But to David Pizarro, the most interesting — and perhaps most important — question to answer is how flexible disgust is, how much it can change. Fifty years ago, many white Americans freely admitted to being disgusted by the thought of drinking from the same drinking fountain as a black person. Today far fewer do. How did that change? Did their sense of disgust ebb as they spent more time in integrated restaurants and workplaces and buses, or did they find ways to actively suppress their feelings? Pizarro isn’t sure, but he’d like to find out.

Yeah, that’s interesting all right. I think there are probably a lot of instances that could be pointed at where opinions have done a 180. Some of it just comes out of better education, or more exposure maybe, or just attitudes changing and getting more flexible.

Kids out of wedlock, for example. My aunt hid a pregnancy in the 1960s. Beats me how she managed it for as long as she did. Baggy shirts and avoiding Grandpa, I guess. Dad knows girls who moved out of the area for a year for all kinds of “reasons,” all of which really had to do with premarital sex. At least, that always wound up being the rumour, true or not. Now people barely bat an eye, unless the girl seems way young to be preggers. And even then, what happens? Not a hell of a lot. The negative stigma of early motherhood is pretty much gone. Is that a good thing? Maybe, maybe not.

Adultery is another one. Ingrid Bergman was exiled from the States over an affair in 1950. That was a hell of a scandal, apparently, ditching her husband and child for another man. These days it’s hard to name a celebrity that hasn’t cut and run.

Different times call for different measure, I guess.


What is it like to see demons everywhere?

March 6, 2010

A book was recently published about a professional exorcist. Fr. Gabriele Amorth works in Rome and claims awareness of satanic sects working in the Vatican.

The book, “Father Amorth. Memoirs of an Exorcist. My life fighting against Satan.” was written by Marco Tosatti, who compiled it from interviews with the priest.

Fr. Amorth was asked by Tosatti how he knows Vatican clergy are involved. He answered, “I know from those who have been able to relate it to me because they had a way of knowing directly. And it’s something ‘confessed’ most times by the very demon under obedience during the exorcisms.”

According to Amorth, even the Pope buys into this.

Benedict XVI, being German, comes from a place “decidedly averse to these things,” argued Fr. Amorth, saying that in Germany “there practically aren’t any exorcists.” However, he clarified, “the Pope believes (in them).”

The Italian priest also warned of the existence of bishops and priests who do not believe in Satan in the interview. “And yet, in the Gospel, Jesus speaks extensively about it, so it should be said, either they’ve never read the Gospel or they just don’t believe it!”

That last line gives me the giggles. Inconceivable! They shill this shit like it’s God’s word but don’t take it seriously themselves? Hilarious! It’s also sad and despicable and if they willingly spread information they know is false, shouldn’t that fall under some criminal category? It’s a deceitful con job at the very least.

Of course, none of it is false for Amorth, or Fr. Jose Antonio Fortea Cucurul, a theologian who focuses primarily on demonology (bizarro!), who tut-tuts the exorcist’s conclusions. But not because he’s deluded:

After reading reports of Fr. Amorth’s accusations pointing a finger at members of the clergy, including cardinals, Fr. Fortea declared that it is a “duty of justice” to speak out in their defense.

Noting that some prelates “are more spiritual and others more earthly, some more virtuous and others more human,” he wrote on his blog, “from there to affirm that some cardinals are members of Satanic sects is an unacceptable distance.”

The Spanish priest then explained the sources of information used by Fr. Amorth to say that Satanic sects are operating in the Vatican.

Doomsayers and apocalypse whores who think they’ve gotten a message from God through radio waves or white noise or cheese-induced dreams descend on the Vatican with alarming regularity. Some think they’re possessed, some take Dan Brown too damn seriously, and others are plain old whack jobs.

Fr. Fortea added that the only acceptable stance is to suspend judgment of the messages while they are subjected to time-intensive discernment, “sometimes months for each one of the cases.”

The other source Fr. Amorth refers to, according to Fr. Fortea, is the demons who are being exorcised. Of this, the Spanish priest wrote that knowing whether or not the demon is telling the truth “is in many cases impossible.”

What’s really sad is that he can’t come out and just say this is all a bunch of hooey and demons don’t exist. No, he has to say, “Demons lie sometimes.”

Sheesh.

Fr. Fortea also defended those implicated in Fr. Amorth’s statements, stating, “Our College of Cardinals, if we compare it with past centuries is the most edifying and virtuous that history has ever known. One would have to go back to the epoch of the Roman Empire to find a body of electors so distanced from all earthly pretension as the current one is.

I don’t think he means the lot of them are too senile to know what planet they’re on so, I will have to take his word on that. I’m not going to fart around trying to prove him wrong. I suppose one Cardinal making homophobic comments doesn’t mean they all molested young boys in Ireland when they were bishops and priests. And anyway, it doesn’t matter; they’re all edifying and virtuous Cardinals now, dammit!

He concluded by emphasizing, “Statements must be proven, especially when they are about such grave accusations that affect the honorability of those who form part of the Head of the Church as far as they help the Supreme Pastor.”

Slander and defamation are concerns, of course. It’s bad form to go around insisting people did things they haven’t done and publish books where the only reality in them is the paper, glue and ink. It’s one thing to theorize and suspect and another thing to actually stand up and hollar, “J’accuse!” or whatever.

I guess what really gets me with this story is how pointless it is. Of all the things they should be concerned about in this world, and they’re wasting time with demonology and exorcism? Their priorities are so skewed, they have to be mocked. This is not the dark ages. This is not the middle ages. I don’t even know what age this is, but I certainly hope it’s not the age of idiocy. If it is, it’s a brand new low.


edit 7:39am: just found Paliban Daily’s post about this, including quotes from interviews with the exorcist. Fun reading!


Apparently Raelians want Tiger Woods

February 26, 2010

Want him to have a better outlook on sexuality, at any rate. I find out about this via a Facebook friend who had the link to Raelian News:

Rael has sent an open letter to Tiger Woods urging him to stop making his life a model of guilt, sadness and conformism to antiquated Judeo-Christian values. Such a model is a poor example to set for the younger generation, Rael advised the world-renowned golfer.

[...]

You pretend to be returning to ‘normality’ thanks to therapy and spirituality. What kind of normality is that? Which is normal: the happy, radiant and successful Tiger Woods, or the self-flagellating, publicly guilty and desperate new Tiger Woods? And what kind of spirituality is helping you? Is it the old Judeo-Christian version that makes sex sinful and calls such pleasures ‘a path to hell?’

Rael will be in Las Vegas at the Alexis Park Hotel from March 27 to April 3, 2010 to help host a Happiness Academy seminar. I wonder how many people will actually go. Somehow I doubt Tiger Woods will, but hey. According to their beliefs, humans were made to have nothing but pleasure and that’s a lifestyle I can get behind.


Take god out of politics. Seriously.

December 15, 2009

A City Councilman in North Carolina has turned out to be either atheist or agnostic. His opponents are crapping their tightiewhities:

Asheville City Councilman Cecil Bothwell believes in ending the death penalty, conserving water and reforming government — but he doesn’t believe in God. His opponents say that’s a sin that makes him unworthy of serving in office, and they have the North Carolina Constitution on their side.

Bothwell’s detractors are threatening to take the city to court for swearing him in, even though the state’s requirement that officeholders believe in God is unenforceable because it violates the U.S. Constitution. Arkansas, Maryland, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, Tennessee and Texas have similar provisions.

“The question of whether or not God exists is not particularly interesting to me and it’s certainly not relevant to public office,” said Bothwell, 59.

Well done, Councilman. I wish more people who thought like you would run and get elected. Why is god such a big part of these state constitutions anyway? Someone who is American can come on by and explain this to one very bemused Canadian, please.

Hemant Mehta at Friendly Atheist lists all the portions of constitutions with these bizarre holy edicts written in and, according to The Freethinker, the NC one was modified in 1868 to include this particular passage. Is it safe to guess all the rest were altered at some point as well?

When Bothwell took office last week, he used an oath that doesn’t require swearing on a Bible or reference God. That has riled conservative activists, who cite a quirk in the state constitution that disqualifies officeholders “who shall deny the being of Almighty God.”

Although Bothwell said a legal challenge would be “fun,” he believes his foes’ efforts are politically based.

Rather than let him do his job and see how capable he is to be working for the city at a political level, they’d rather try and get him canned now because they don’t approve of his lack of belief? How dare a non-believer have a presence? How dare he run! How dare he win! Whaaaaaaa!! Stomp stomp stomp those big boy Christian feet until you get your way. Very mature.

I wonder if people who voted for him knew he wasn’t religious ahead of time, or if that’s just popped into public awareness now.

It’s sad if he had to hide it in order to run.
It’s even more sad that it’s considered a scandal.


161 million Euros divided by ? over ? years equals what exactly?

November 26, 2009

It sounds like Christian Brothers is offering a hefty apologetic sum to victims of child abuse in Ireland. But does it make up for years of pain, heartache, and fighting for justice? Probably not.

The Brothers said that €34 million in cash would be used to help victims of abuse, whose plight was identified in a government report in May. However, the move was criticised, with one victims’ group describing it as “mere smoke and mirrors”.

The Ryan report chronicled cases of tens of thousands of children who suffered systematic sexual, physical and mental abuse over decades at residential homes run by 18 congregations. It concluded that the Brothers order was responsible for most of the cases.

€127 million worth of property is part of that deal, too, but I don’t know what that includes, or how much good that does. Along with money, the Brothers are releasing an interim report regarding legal cases brought against them on behalf of victims.

Its publication was delayed by several years after a lengthy legal battle waged by the Brothers to withhold the names of all its members, dead or alive. An agreement was eventually struck in 2004, allowing the Brothers’ institutions to be identified.

More than a thousand witnesses testified to abuse in 216 schools and residential settings between 1914 and 2000. More than 800 individuals were identified as physical or sexual abusers — an extraordinary number compared with the handful of prosecutions and convictions. Ninety per cent of witnesses reported physical abuse while half reported sexual abuse.

“Acute and chronic contact and non-contact sexual abuse was reported, including vaginal and anal rape, molestation and voyeurism in both isolated cases and on a regular basis over long periods of time,” the report said.

The commission found that the worst offender was the Brothers’ order, which ran most of the institutions for older boys, while the another Catholic order, the Sisters of Mercy, which was supposed to care for girls, also came in for heavy criticism.

The Magdalene Sisters was based on girls from one of those schools. That’s one of the saddest movies I’ve ever watched.

Well anyway, it’s a start. Apologies are a place to start. It’s not enough, but it’s a start.


What’s more important, Communion or human rights?

November 25, 2009

Since this is a Catholic conundrum, the answer is obviously Communion.

Shea, who has left the Catholic church, says he doesn’t understand why Tobin is targeting Kennedy.

“Everybody, including these priests, deserve Communion. Because that’s the whole point of it. That’s part of the point of the church. I don’t think anybody should be disqualified from it,” he said. “It’s politics. I think the bishop’s playing politics.”

The Catholic Action League of Massachusetts called Tobin’s action an “act of courage, fidelity and charity, intended to prevent scandal and sacrilege.”

“Bishop Tobin is being a good pastor by urging Congressman Kennedy not to commit the mortal sin of receiving Communion while in a state of grave sin,” said the league’s executive director, C.J. Doyle.

Sinners like Democratic Rep. Patrick Kennedy who supports the abortion rights. It’s a mortal sin to swallow the Savior.

Know what the article is really about? 125 priests in Rhode Island are accused of molesting children and Tobin is choosing to pick on a politician rather than clean house.

“He claims that it’s important that we protect the unborn. But it’s equally as important to protect those who have been born and those young children who have been raped and sodomized by clerics and priests. But yet he seems to protect those clerics,” said Ruth Moore, of Hull, Mass.

The group called on Tobin to publish the names of priests from the diocese who have been convicted of or admitted molesting children, or if a thorough investigation has turned up credible evidence of child molestation, even if no conviction resulted.

The diocese has said in court papers that 125 of its priests have been accused of molesting children. While many of their names are known from lawsuits and news accounts, others have never been released.

But all the priests deserve Communion because “that’s the whole point of it.”


Didn’t let Christian humility get in the way?

November 17, 2009

With monstrous churches all over the place, huge crosses, huge hissy fits over loss of crosses and rights to be the top dog of the holiday season every damn year since whenever, they’re not letting “humility” get in the way of self promotion?

When have they ever!?

But I digress.

The article, A grand studio dream runs headlong into reality, is all about starting a TV and movie studio in Massachusetts. The attempt to bring Plymouth Rock Studio to fruition has been wrought with scandal and lawsuits and big money problems, much of that due to the “help” they got from a group called Good News Holdings and David P. Kirkpatrick, a man with a very poor financial track record.

Kirkpatrick’s former partners in the sprawling Plymouth plan – a group of prominent businessmen who hoped to use films to project their Christian faith – allege in a 2008 lawsuit in Los Angeles that he stole the proposal from them during a time that they were in financial distress. The group, called Good News Holdings, had set up a field office in Plymouth, but, when Good News ran out of money, Kirkpatrick split and formed a new studio company. Plymouth Rock officials deny wrongdoing, but, in materials for potential investors, they warn that they may face more lawsuits over ownership of the studio.

Kirkpatrick blew a chance to film Anne Rice’s “Christ the Lord” because she actually expected to be paid some money for the rights to it but he’s also been taking credit for input into major screen gems and admires Tim Robbins’ role in The Player, if any readers recall that movie. Robbins played some studio sleazeball, apparently.

In the midst of bankruptcy, Kirkpatrick began working with a group of Christian businessmen who were eager to offer an antidote to the shallow values of Hollywood. Kirkpatrick, who said he once considered the seminary, told his new collaborators that he wanted to share their vision of spiritually uplifting books, movies, and even cellphone messages. “Spiritainment’’ they called it.

Which is where Plymouth Rock and Anne Rice come in. His grandiose promises to bring the world better (read: Christian) movies resulted in broken dreams and financial flub ups. But, still people were willing to buy in, like a woman who believed God wanted her husband to invest $200 million toward the project. Bobbit turned out to be a guy who already went to prison for misappropriation of investment funds, but Kirkpatrick kept that little secret from his Good News partners for as long as possible.

It goes on. If they wanted to make a movie out of this attempt to make movies, it could be a blockbuster. Read the rest. I’ve only told the story up to page six.


Holy cross equals job loss?

September 21, 2009

That appears to be the threat hanging over one very devout nurse:

Shirley Chaplin, a committed Christian, has been told by her employers that she must hide or remove the cross or remain out of the hospital wards.

I don’t know about anyone else, but that seems extreme to me. I’m sure they’ll explain their position though.

Royal Devon and Exeter Hospital told her that she cannot wear the one-inch tall silver cross openly around her neck, because it breaches their uniform policy and poses a risk to patients.

There you go. Safety concerns. Reasonable enough for a hospital, one would think. Turns out there’s a (tiny) concern that a patient might try to grab something shiny that swings from a nurse’s neck. It’s her safety they have in mind as much the patients’. Does this occur to her? Judging by her reaction, no.

While the Trust has banned the crucifix in its wards, it makes concessions for other faiths, including allowing Muslim nurses to wear headscarves on duty.

Well, they’re fabric, not metal, for one thing. But some patient could get freaked and grab the thing and choke her, maybe. Was that possibility discussed when they were revising their policies? It does seem unfair to make allowances for one side and restrict others. Then again, it’d never be considered jewelery, which is all the policy is banning. Headscarves are a non-issue in this case. (alert: they “make concessions” for mandatory Muslim clothing but “ban” Christians from wearing their optional faith trinkets. Strike one.)

Point of note: Nobody will take away your Christian membership card if you don’t hang a torture implement around your neck. They haven’t added a new commandment to the bible, “Thou shalt wear tacky Jesus bling” or anything. It’s still as much a choice to wear as are socks with sandals (which can also be tacky).

She has been warned by her employers that she will be suspended if she does not comply with their request. There are fears that this would lead to her dismissal.

Well, it might, if she continues to be this stubborn over a piece of metal. She cannot display jewelry around the patients. She’s disobeying the rules and she’s been warned of the risk of suspension if she keeps it up. If she doesn’t smarten up, her continued employment there will be on the line. The policy may be completely rigid and retarded but they are still required to enforce it. She’s not the only person this affects. Every member on staff has been informed of the new rules. She’s just the only one freaking out about it.

They’ve given her the option of taking off the cross, or tucking it under her blouse or smock (I’m assuming) so it’s out of the way. (alert: the writer of the piece, Jonathan Wynne-Jones, states she’s been told to “hide” it, which sounds a lot more anti-Christian than “put it away.” Strike two.)

Mrs Chaplin, 54, says she has been shocked and distressed by the threat, which means she must choose between her faith and her job.

Now this is where it becomes a load of tripe that not even a dog would swallow. What threat? They’ve stated what the policy is and she isn’t complying but they haven’t said outright that they’re going to fire her. I don’t think. Read this and see what sense it makes:

She was taken off duty in July and was warned last month that she would be suspended if she refuses to back down or accepts an administrative role at the hospital, which could affect her pension.

She’ll also risk suspension if she takes an admin job, or she can take an admin job (that may affect retirement plans) instead of getting suspended. The first way makes no logical sense, so I’m going to assume Wynne-Jones meant (but totally botched) the second. If she can’t work without a cross on, she can’t work in the wards. Administration sounds like a decent compromise. An olive branch, if you will.

As far as I’m concerned, the nurse is the one being completely unreasonable in this situation but her holy Jesus loving pride is not going to allow her to back off. The very fact that she’s gotten media attention out of it proves that. Does she want to be a nurse, or a martyr? “Religious-persecution” stories are so tiresome when they’re this shallow and self-centered. Anyone without a religious agenda or an axe to grind would just take off the necklace and get back to work. It should not be this big a deal.

She has spent all of her career at the hospital and has never been challenged before for wearing the necklace, which she considers to be a symbol of her deeply-held Christian faith.

The timing is a bit odd. The new policy came into effect last year but she only got warned about her crucifix in June. Mind you, I’ve worked for places where bureaucracy moves at the speed of chilled molassas and not everyone’s getting the same memos. I don’t know how speedy NHS Trust usually is when it comes to policy enforcement. Maybe these information delays are simply par for the course.

The spokesman admitted that not everyone at the hospital complies with the code, but said that this was the first time a member of staff had refused to co-operate with the policy.

Exceptions are made for requirements of faith, but a crucifix is not considered to fall under this category, they added.

Right, because a head scarf is built into the idiocy of Muslim decency rules for women and how they are allowed to dress themselves. They can’t not wear one. Crosses, no matter how strong one’s faith is, are still entirely optional decorative wear. They send a message that the wearer is a Christian, and that’s all. (Makes it easy for atheists to identify them, too. Maybe we should all be against this policy. I wouldn’t want to be caught unawares. I might get prayed on…)

“I feel that I’m being bullied and victimised because of my faith,” Chaplin’s reported as saying. No, dear. You’re being bullied because you’re breaking a rule others have agreed to follow yet you still manage to think your bosses have wronged you in some way. You’re making yourself into a victim by trying to claim it’s religious discrimination when it’s not.

“I can’t explain how important the cross is to me. It’s how I express my faith,” she says. It’s all right, dear. You don’t have to explain. Faith is by and large inexplicable. Just keep in mind that no one is saying that you can never wear a cross again for so long as you live. They’re asking you not to wear or display it while you work because the chain its on could become a safety hazard at some point. It’s not about your damned religion, no matter how much you try to spin it that way.

“My Christian faith is what motivates me to care for others,” she also says. But if your faith doesn’t motivate you enough to put your patients first and a necklace second, then you are in the wrong job, dear. Are there any Family Christian Stores in Britain? I’m sure they’d have whole counters devoted to your most favourite holy accessory.

Faith was Mother Teresa’s motivation, if you’ll recall, and how many people died under her “care” I wonder? Because Jesus tells you so isn’t a good enough reason to dedicate yourself to a job, unless you want to be a nun. A nurse ought to be motivated for other reasons. A passion for saving lives should probably be one of them. If your passion for a cross on a chain is stronger than your compassion for patients in a hospital, you are in the wrong job. Full stop.

Alas, she’s got all the big dogs of human rights and Christian discrimination groups in her corner for this one. States Andrea Minichiello Williams, founder and director of the Christian Legal Centre:

“You cannot separate a person’s faith and motivation from other areas of their life, including their work,”

They haven’t said she can’t be a Christian. They’ve said she can’t wear jewelery.

More from Williams:

“Unfortunately an aggressive, secularist, politically correct agenda is being driven in the NHS and other public sectors at present.

“This agenda is leading to case after case of discrimination against Christians and real suffering.”

No, dear. This is real suffering:

Aids

What Mrs. Chaplin has is a mosquito bite and you’re calling in an army to scratch it.

(Strike three. You’re out.)

At least Wynne-Jones redeems himself by not finishing the story there. He ends the report with quotes from the Trust spokesperson:

“We take a pragmatic approach. We don’t see any reason why a nurse on a ward wouldn’t be allowed to wear a cross provided quality of care and health and safety weren’t compromised.

“Where a member of staff in a ward environment needed to wear a head dress in line with their religious requirements, they were permitted and allowed to do so after discussion with infection control and an assessment of health and safety.

“A Muslim woman wearing a headscarf would be seen as a requirement of faith and does not cause a health and safety risk for her patients. This nurse’s faith does not require the wearing of a necklace or a crucifix, so our position is that this is not an issue of faith but an issue of health and safety in the work place.”

If only that really was the end of it…


I wondered when people would sue Wal-mart again

September 19, 2009

I love the reason they’re doing it this time – an employee from the photo department called the cops on a family that took bath-time photos of their children. Then Arizona Child Protective Services was called to take the kids away. The parents got them back eventually, but still.

The Peoria couple’s attorney said Walmart turned the photos over to police and the Demarees were not allowed to see their children for several days and didn’t regain custody for a month while the state investigated.

Neither parent was charged with sexual abuse and they regained custody of their children — then ages 1 1/2, 4 and 5 — but the Demarees claim the incident inflicted lasting harm.

The couple is seeking undetermined monetary damages from both Walmart and the state and have requested a jury trial.

Richard Treon, the lawyer for the Demarees, said the images of the girls were part of a group of 144 photographs taken mostly during the family’s vacation in San Diego.

Wal-Mart’s under fire for not making their policies more clear about what kind of photos they will and will not process. They are legally within their rights to involve police if they think a photo crosses a line. The trouble comes in when ordinary people start drawing the lines any ole where — get somebody just a little bit prudish or religious prone to over-reacting in charge of the machinery and the most innocuous photographs can raise a red flag.

The other suit names

Arizona, Peoria and the state Attorney General’s Office as defendants, claiming that employees from each defamed them by telling friends, family members and co-workers that they had “sexually abused” their children by taking pornographic pictures of them.

That would qualify as slander, right? The kids would have trauma enough from prolonged separation anxieties. It’s just good they were too young to understand exactly how their parents were getting wrongfully stigmatized.

I don’t get the purpose of bath photos but I know my parents took them. And they didn’t do their own developing so I know at least one stranger got a free look at my naked chest or tushie. Well, no, I guess he or she would have been paid to look at it. Nobody develops for free.

I wish people would think before they act. More than that, I wish fewer people would think the worst first and then act irrationally. Is everyone scared they’ll be shot in the face if they ask people direct questions, or are they just worried they’ll be sued if they say the wrong thing?

Oh. Right…

My suggestion — slap a pre-printed sticker on the photo envelope: “For policy reasons we are unable to process (insert file numbers). Sorry for the inconvenience.” If anyone asks why the fuck not, explain why nudity policies exist for photo developing studios. With luck they’ll just be embarrassed. It probably never occurred to them that anyone would consider soapy play-time bath pictures to be pornography. And if they do get their freak on (as customers denied their “rights” sometimes do) then involve the police, if only to stop the clerk from getting assaulted.

Maybe next time the Demarees should try the instant “Do It Your Damn Self” machines so those hoopy froods snoopy prudes behind the counter lose the opportunity to voice their righteous indignation. Or just foot the bill for a decent home printer and avoid risking a scandal altogether.


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