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The General Reaction to Child Abuse Is Grounded in Show Morality

June 23, 2012 16 comments

You might be aware of the recent guilty verdict against Jerry Sandusky on multiple counts of sexual abusing young boys. Even before this verdict, the intertubes were full of people calling for a public lynching or torture of that guy. I, however, find the public reaction to his crimes rather odd and full of show morality.

Before I go any further, let us be clear about one thing. From the very beginning of this trial, it was obvious that Sandusky had a series of rather odd relationships with adolescent boys for many decades. This brings up two questions that most people don’t like to discuss in any worthwhile detail.

1. How could a guy with such an obviously problematic behavioral profile stay out of trouble for so long? I mean.. look at the guy, hear him talk or read his books. He was almost daring people to come and get him.

Yet prior to these charges, he was a highly respected member of society. So how could a person like Sandusky keep on doing what he did for decades and with dozens of boys? Surely, he could not have concealed such an obvious behavioral peculiarity from all the people around him for years. So why did the people around him not care? What about his wife? What about the people who worked with him for years? What about the relatives of all those boys he abused. If people really cared about preventing child sexual abuse, they would have exposed and tried him decades ago. However their behavior during all those years suggests that they prefer the very American worship of money and fame, over doing anything to support their publicly stated beliefs.

The outbursts of outrage and moral posturing at his trial and conviction are therefore merely an unconscious reaction of the public upon being exposed as negligent hypocrites.

and this brings us to the next question.

2. How is sexual abuse of children any worse than schools systems that ignore bullying, parents who relentlessly push their kids into show-business or sports, or Asian parents who push their kids to excel in schools and universities?

What is the basis for saying that one action is more criminal than another action? Is sexual abuse by a middle-aged guy in return for monetary and other help really more damaging to a child than white parents who push their reluctant kids into careers in show-business and sports? Are mothers who continuously push their pre-teen daughters in beauty and dance competitions really damaging to their kids than a boy being forced to give a few blowjobs to Sandusky? Are the parents who relentlessly push their kids into professional sports careers not as abusive and damaging to their children’s future than a few ‘bubble fights’ with Sandusky? Are Asian parents who continuously berate, blackmail, threaten and abuse their kids for academic success any less exploitative or damaging than Sandusky playing ‘hide the sausage’ with his foster kids?

So why do people express so much outrage at what Sandusky did? How did he screw up the boys he sexually abused any more that parents who berate, blackmail, threaten and abuse their kids for their own personal gains or status? I don’t see people lining up to express outrage at dance moms, beauty pageant moms, sport nut fathers or Asian parents? If we were to use future psychological and emotional damage as the main criteria for deciding whether a particular adult-child interaction is criminal or not, shouldn’t a lot parents and teachers be in jail? If we are not using psychological and emotional damage as a criteria for something being right or wrong, what other rational criteria are we using?

What do you think? Comments?