31 August 2008

Where have I been?

Apologies to my avid reader(s). I have been engaging in a controlled experiment with my neurologist in trying to reduce what may be neuropathic pain (don't worry, it isn't bad, but I do need to deal with it) by taking medicine that turns my mind into mush in the evenings. This is why I haven't been posting much lately.

That and the prolonged feeding ritual for our 14.5 year old German Shorthaired Pointer, Pongo, who, contrary to all expectations, is still alive and doing reasonably well. In the meantime, his 9 year old girlfriend, Nessa, our Great Dane, has developed laryngeal paralysis, and has difficulty breathing whenever she gets hot, excited, or anxious. Basically, we are doing hospice care for our two geriatric dogs.

And there is so much to think about. Barack Obama and his choice of Joe Biden, a smart guy no doubt, but he can come across as an arrogant a--hole when his dander and his mouth get motored up. John McCain and his choice of Sarah Palin, perhaps a ploy to simultaneously make a bid for the farther right and the disappointed Hillaryites, but also - win, lose, or draw - a move to tee her up to run for President in 2012 or 2016 against HRC herself. The upcoming test of FEMA as hurricane Gustav nears New Orleans. Heck, the upcoming test of whether Ray Nagin has learned anything from Katrina.

But, you know, the two biggest things are money and oil. Our national debt is so huge that whoever wins the presidential election is likely to have their hands tied unless they inflate the dollar to gain some wiggle room. And we really need to develop and export the technologies necessary to get the entire world off burning petroleum products for energy. It's not just good stewardship of the planet - it's a strategic necessity for disempowering regimes that live on unearned wealth. Governments that subsist off taxes have to create and maintain the conditions that enable their citizens to make the money to be taxed. Governments propped up by petrodollars do not. Hence they can be totalitarian, and can foster uncivil societies in which many of the citizens feel the urge to take their frustrations out on the safest target available - us.

Let me give you a hint as to whom I might be referring to. Will all the happy people in Saudi Arabia please stand up?

And the Russian government... Let's see, just as soon as they got back on their economic feet using mostly petrodollars, here they come, right back in our faces. Not because they're Communist (they're not), but because they're Russian. Realistically, we have two ways to confront them - our nuclear deterrent (always a bad idea), or trying to invent the technology that makes oil and natural gas uninteresting as sources of energy (a better idea, which will ultimately make the whole world, including Russia, richer).

Oh well. I expect that the next week or two will consist largely of the press trying to decide how closely Sarah Palin can be compared to Betty Bowers. (Yawn.)

22 August 2008

How I was Abused

My deposition to the mediation hearing
contributed by Kay Goodnow
Received in October 2008

But whoso shall offend one of these little ones which believe in me, it were better for him that a millstone were hanged about his neck, and that he were drowned in the depth of the sea. — Matthew 18:6
I was invited here today to tell all of you how my seduction by John C. Baskett, a Roman Catholic priest has affected my life. My case dates back to 1953 when I was 14 years old and a student at Notre Dame de Sion, a private Catholic school for girls run by an order of European nuns.

As I understand it, this is a hearing that is comprised of victim Kay Goodnow, the mediator, attorneys for the victim, a priest as a representative of the institutional church.

It is my understanding that this hearing is a business deal initiated by the institutional church known as the Diocese of Kansas City / St. Joseph. As such, it follows that all human beings are fallible and in that respect, all human beings are equal.

It is also my understanding that this hearing will determine the amount of compensation that I will receive, based solely on the degree of sexual abuse. Oral and anal penetration, digital penetration, kissing, fondling, alcohol abuse by either or both parties, ritual abuse, how long the abuse took place, where and when it occurred and how often will all be considered factors as to how much financial compensation each victim will be awarded.

I am not here to describe my sexual experiences as I find doing so both degrading, demeaning and beyond contempt. I have to work within the limits of the law as it stands today, but experts believe there are no ‘degrees’ of sexual abuse because every human being is different. Our present laws reveal ignorance in respect to the damage done to all victims of sexual abuse. In time, Statutes of Limitation laws and the misrepresentation of “Freedom of Religion” will be clearly defined and implemented, with or without the consent of the institutional church and organized religion.

As requested, I completed a very long written form to confirm the extent of my abuse. That form was initiated by my attorneys when the form provided by the institutional church proved inadequate. I understand that my form has been made a part of what will occur here today.

The contents of the form include my educational, medical, sexual, social and economic background along with my employment history. Every word of it is true. That form will stand by itself.
The person you see here today was the victim of a crime. She is also a survivor. She is a wife of 45 years, a mother of three, a grandmother of eight, a sister, an aunt, and friend to many.

Yes, I am a survivor, but I was seduced, not violently raped and sodomized. I was treated to long walks in a park adjacent to where I lived, I was treated to movies and ice cream cones and long talks. I attended concerts, basketball games at other high schools with this priest, and sometimes I went to parties with him, or met him at parties. On one occasion, I was treated to eggnog, which I later learned was laced with rum. I was carefully groomed by this priest. I trusted him and eventually I loved him.

I had never even dated before this man walked into my life. I was 14 years old. He was 33. He told me that God had sent me to him as a gift because he was so alone. He told me that he did not enjoy the company of other priests. He told me that he would always love me. He told me that because he was a man of God, our love would forever have to be kept secret. He was a man of God, how could I not believe the things he told me?

Yes, I am a victim, and there are thousands of victims out there who will never have the opportunity to speak of abuse and the ruination of their lives. Yes, I am a victim but I am not a lemming, I am not a sheep, and I am not a parrot. I have feelings. The institutional church and American lawmakers are apparently unaware that human beings have feelings.

Many victims of the crime of sexual abuse have committed suicide and my heart aches for their parents, siblings and friends. The institutional church makes no comment. Those victims were seriously damaged first by being abused by someone they trusted, and then by their treatment by the institutional church. That callous treatment so demoralized them that they chose to leave this world. Weapons of choice were placed in their hands by sexually immature priest or nun predators and the institutional church that conspired to shelter and protect them. The institutional church lied when it said that “this problem has been resolved” or “Father so-and-so will never be allowed around children again.” Even victims who have had their day in court have committed suicide thanks to the mental abuse inflicted by the institutional church.

Some victims are too traumatized to speak for themselves. Some are under pressure from their families. And there are those who fear the loss of their eternal souls if they speak against the church or darken her image in any way.

I will speak for myself and for them.

Sexual abuse is an insidious cancer. It spreads out like ripples in water. It wreaks havoc, pain and fear not only on its victim, but also on the victim’s family members and friends.
Sexual abuse is a very extensive social problem, so broad in scope that people generally deny it, look the other way or cast their eyes downward. They avoid mentioning it, let alone discussing how to prevent it. They have the right to make moral choices for themselves but at the risk of the lives of their children and grandchildren.

In Bishop Finn’s Letter to Priests on Wednesday, August 20, 2008 (KC Star) he said:
“Over the past five years, our Diocese and a number of our clergy or former clergy have been sued by persons claiming to be victims of sexual abuse or misconduct.”

Yes, all of that is true. The institutional church traditionally uses the phrase “persons claiming to be victims” to cast doubt on the reality that sexual abuse occurs all the way around the world. To deny this undeniable reality is both offensive and disingenuous.

Finn simply failed to mention that over at least the past five years, every effort was made by the diocese to silence, repudiate, malign and re-victimize those who did sue. Many of us reported to the Vicar General and were dismissed as having no case of merit or were merely ignored.

Since my initial contact with SNAP in 1997, the leadership in this institutional diocese has seen multiple vigils held, while countless “good Catholics” screamed at us to “get over it.” We came forward in peace with the intent of protecting children and educating adults. From pulpits all over this diocese, the institutional diocese of Kansas City explained to parishioners that we are “liars.” Had it not been for the inept handling of clergy sexual abuses cases, I would not have had to stand in front of an institutional building with a sign and a candle. I might have been enjoying the life to which I was originally born. Victims do not ask to be abused. They are chosen by skillful predators.

On Wednesday, August 20, 2008, after the TENTATIVE settlement had been announced and before the list of 17 non-monetary demands had been released on August 22, 2008, Bishop Finn said:
“…the church will remain an inviolate sanctuary for healing, for spiritual renewal, and for love.” (Kansas City Star, 08/20/08)

The key word here is REMAIN. The institutional church in this diocese has NEVER been an inviolate sanctuary. Priests, nuns and bishops have violated children and vulnerable adults. If this institution wants to be an inviolate sanctuary for healing, for spiritual renewal and for love it must first tell the truth. It must then keep telling the truth, even when it is inconvenient or costly or uncomfortable, even when it might tarnish the golden image of the roman collar or the pristine purity of a nun’s habit. The institutional church must hold itself accountable to God’s law and to the laws of this nation. Their attempt to bury the damage and recreate history is not truth. It’s so simple. All they have to do is tell the truth.

This institutional “church” is the antithesis of the message brought by Christ. It is a church divided against itself because of men who are fallible, and as leaders of the institutional church, abused their unquestioned power in order “to protect the church.” By “protect the church,” they mean both money and power. Money is power.

Fallible males have believed in the institutional church for so long that they have become the God that they have so carefully crafted for centuries. Religion by fear or by oppression, religion built on smoke and mirrors, religion that requires its’ membership to worship in the church of the almighty dollar, religion that requires total belief in all of its’ fallible dogmas, doctrines, rites, rituals and lies is not a church. It is a cult that abuses all of its members by brainwashing them from birth.
Yes, I am both proud and pleased to have been a part of crafting the original 24 non-monetary commitments. I am even pleased with most of the 17 in the final draft. Finn has chosen not to apologize to victims as individuals. To the best of my knowledge, neither he nor his predecessor has ever spoken with a victim.

Besides, we’ve only been asking for those same commitments for the past six years or so.
On April 15, 2008, Pope Benedict XVI said at a press conference in the United States: "We will do everything possible to ensure that this does not happen in the future. I think we have to act on three levels: the first is the level of justice and secondly the political level. ...then there is the pastoral level.
On April 16, 2008, Pope Benedict XVI said to American Bishops: "It is your God given responsibility as pastors to bind up the wounds caused by every breach of trust, to foster healing, to promote reconciliation and to reach out with loving concern to those so seriously wronged."
On April 16, 2008, Pope Benedict VXI said to American Bishops” "....This scourge is found not only within your dioceses but in every sector of society. It calls for a determined, collective response."

During his recent visit to Australia, Pope Benedict XVI said:
“These misdeeds, which constitute so grave a betrayal of trust, deserve unequivocal condemnation. I ask all of you to support and assist your bishops, and to work together with them in combating this evil. Victims should receive compassion and care, and those responsible for these evils must be brought to justice.”
I ask all involved here today to honor the message brought by Christ along with the pope’s request. I charge all people everywhere to guard and protect their children and grandchildren. What has happened in the past, what is happening in our present, and what will happen in the future depends on our ability to speak our truth without fear of reprisal.

I believe that I have done everything that I can do to call attention to a situation that should never have existed. I will admit to having trusted the church. I admit to being very tired of the lies spoken in God’s name by the corporate, institutional church. For Catholics who continue to believe in the leaders of this travesty of church, you have been warned and the responsibility to make correct choices rests solely with you.

John C. Baskett seduced me because he could do so without fear. He knew that the institutional church would protect him. He knew he would not lose his job, his freedom, or his orders. In 1955, Bishop O’Hara, titular head of the institutional church in this diocese enabled a sexual predator to continue to abuse.

The diocese of Kansas City / St. Joseph owes me for a lifetime of shame, guilt, and fear. It owes me for alcoholism and attempted suicides. It owes me for sexual frigidity. It owes me for ADHD and PTSD. It owes me for obsessive-compulsive behavior disorders. It owes me for my enormous need for approval. It owes me for thousands of dollars spent on psychiatrists as an investment in my sanity. It owes me a personal apology for the demeaning manner in which I was treated by Vicar General Rush from the Boland regime. It owes me and every other victim a personal apology by the bishop, as requested in the original 24 non-monetary demands.

It owes me for 54 of the 72 years I have lived the lie of trying to appear ‘normal’ while knowing that something was very wrong with me.

The child known as Kay will always be Catholic. The child misses the mystical beauty of the music, the art, the stained glass windows, the Latin rituals and the French virgin-martyr tales of her early childhood. The child known as Kay was deliberately brainwashed.

I have lived long enough to know that the pain is so deep that it never goes away. Age, time and professional therapists along with the support of family and friends help. Certainly, survivor organizations have strengthened us on all levels and have helped us find our voices. Without them, I might never have understood that I am a victim and that I am not to blame for what happened to me.
My hands are shaking as I write this on August 22nd, and they will shake again when I am deposed on August 28th.

Kay Goodnow writes of her deposition: 

In March of this year (2008) the Diocese of Kansas City / St. Joseph contacted the law firm that works with victim/survivors in this area. The diocesan lawyers wanted to work out a settlement between victims who had sued the diocese; some of those cases had been wending their way through the court for eight years. The diocese stalled, wrote briefs, etc. etc. ad nauseum. By March of 2008, our law firm had deposed several "higher ups" as well as all of the victims and their families.

I got a call in March, as I have stayed active with SNAP in an attempt to prevent further harm to children and as support for victims. The attorney said that she believed I could be a part of the settlement although my case was well beyond the Statute of Limitations.

So I filed, I did press conferences and the news spread across both Kansas and Missouri, into the Chicago area and eventually to Bishop Accountability in Boston.

Then, on August 17th or so, the lawyers (ours) released the tentative settlement agreement to be shared by 47 victims of 12 area priests. One of those area priests is a retired bishop in Cheyenne, Wyoming.

This was a mediation process and not a lawsuit. I believe it was encouraged by the judge who would have to hear the individual cases as they occurred. All parties agreed to the settlement amount and every one of us 47 victims stated that the non-monetary awards were more important than the money.

Because my case was so old, I figured I would be at the bottom of the heap.

All of this will explain the enclosure, which is what I planned to say when I was deposed. Actually, I did not read it, but my attorney highlighted it and led me through it, which was great. I got everything I wanted to say said, and everyone in the room cried, including the male moderator. Only piggy priest tried to look away, but I caught him and demanded that he listen. He did. He himself had been accused, but not publicly, of soliciting sex and he knew that I had seen both the written accusation and the bishop's written response.

The reason I thought of you is that my lawyer suggested to the mediator that he Google me, and she gave him a copy of what I had written as well. Later, she told me that that evening, the mediator had called to tell her that he had spent quite a lot of time reading my stuff on the internet and he had found the Dogchurch...

The Bishop, whose name is Finn, finked out on the non monetary provisions. In so doing, he irritated me (mild understatement) so I wrote him a letter and mailed it this past Saturday.

09 August 2008

Are we stupid or what?

Russia invades Georgia, ostensibly to "rescue" ethnic Russians living in Georgia (colonized there by the former Soviet Union) sort of like the Nazis invading the Sudetenland in Czechoslovakia to "rescue" ethnic Germans who had settled there, a move which began World War II. This could be the Russians beginning the re-conquest of as many of the former Soviet Republics (the "near abroad" in Russian parlance) as they can.

And what are the top headlines in our national media? How Americans are faring in the Beijing Olympics, and what John Edwards has been doing with his d--k.

Are we stupid, or what?

Or is it that our media thinks that news is meant to entertain, or to propagandize, rather than to inform?