A new document was posted at TSW under “Case History” late last month. It should help answer questions asked by a number of readers about where my case now stands. The document is entitled “Report on the Status of the Case,” and is labeled “Part IV” under “Case History.” There will be a substantial addendum to this document at some point in the future. The document makes reference to an Investigation Report that will also be posted once it is completed.
TSW has another recent addition entitled “On the Record: What People Are Saying.” It is located to the right on the TSW Home Page, but, of course, I’ve never actually even seen the TSW Home Page so I’m not entirely sure of that.
Finally, I hope you’ve had a chance to review Ryan MacDonald’s essay, “Should the Case Against Father Gordon MacRae be Reviewed?“ It’s located under “Case History.” I am grateful to Mr. MacDonald for his essay which required an exhaustive review of the record.
THE NEWS MEDIA CRISIS
In “Catholic Scandal and the News Media” on April 21st, I wrote:
“We’ve all read that newspapers are desperate for readers and struggling for survival. About the last thing our culture needs right now is a news media that’s self-serving and desperate.”
Nowhere is this onerous desperation more visible than in the one-sided attacks on the Church, the Pope, and priests. The New York Times and The Boston Globe have been relentless. The May issue of Catalyst, the Journal of the Catholic League, is almost entirely devoted to examples of this rampant media bias.
In “Catholic Scandal and the News Media,” I challenged Peggy Noonan’s view in the Holy Saturday edition of The Wall Street Journal that the news media avoided the sex abuse scandal for years out of fear of mass reprisals by Catholics against the media. I don’t think these newspapers ever feared such a thing. The Times and the Globe seem convinced that you are Influenced and Informed far more by your newspaper than by your Church.
In my Holy Week post, “In Honor of Saint Maximilian Kolbe,” I wrote that the crisis we are witnessing Is not a Catholic crisis, but a news media crisis:
“It Is the focal point at which we must all decide whether the news media, as It now exists and conducts Itself, can be trusted to Inform us of the truth, of the whole truth, and with perspective and context. In this, the media has been a dismal failure.”
Perhaps more people than we realize have come to this same conclusion. Though The Boston Globe and The New York Times haven’t given this the same attention given to the Catholic Church of late, recent statistics on the news media Itself point to a dismal future for both papers as they now exist. Over the six month period ending just before Holy Week, the height of the news media’s latest Catholic witch hunt, The Boston Globe’s daily circulation fell 23.2 percent. Its current dally circulation reveals that less than ten percent of the population of Greater Boston is reading the Globe’s print version.
The Globe’s owner, The New York Times, came very close to unloading the Globe last year. The Times’ circulation dropped 8.5 percent during the same six month period. Both papers experienced similar declines in readership over the last several years. The Times attributed the decline to reader migration toward on-line news. But In the same six months, print circulation of The Wall Street Journal, which has an enormous on-line readership, increased half a percent. Darwin might have attributed signs of the Journal’s success in the face of other newspapers’ extinction to the evolutionary principle of “survival of the fittest.”
Perhaps there is a corollary between increasing news media cynicism and the fact that you are not buying it. It all reminds me of a bumper sticker I saw years ago declaring: “Nietzsche is Dead!’ signed: God”
GROWING OLDER IN CAPTIVITY
A few years ago, there was a great debate among some New Hampshire legislators about the rising costs of health care in prison. One legislator serving on the Finance Committee for the NH House was quoted in a local newspaper:
“I hope they [meaning the prison administration] know that medical care for prisoners should be one step above veterinary care.”
Fortunately for us who are over fifty and in prison, that legislator’s advice was not heeded. I do try to be cost conscious, but it’s a bit difficult to sympathize too much. After all, the State was prepared to let me go home thirteen years ago if I would just say I’m guilty. I’m 57 now, and was between 25 and 29 when my “crimes” were alleged to have been committed. Barring success in a future appeal, I’ll be a guest of the State until age 108 whereas I could have left at 43, two years after I arrived. Given that, it’s hard to make the “Live Free or Die” State’s budget woes my highest concern.
What I lack in sympathy for the budget, however, is balanced by a healthy respect for the staff of the prison’s Health Services Center. With one physician, two nurse practitioners, and a few registered nurses they somehow provide for the medical needs of 1,500 prisoners every day. When you consider the reality of this population, that is no small task.
Prisoners – taken as a whole, but with some exceptions – are a rather self-involved and self-serving group. The examples are legion, but here’s one that immediately comes to mind: last winter during a snow storm, a prisoner told me his wife and kids were supposed to drive up for a visit, but he called and told them to stay home. “Good idea,” said I. “Yeah,” the man said. “I hate walking through that crap just for a visit.”
Are men in general like that? I sure hope not, though lots of prisoners are. Add to the mix a bit of prison paranoia and they make for a challenging population. A twenty-six year old came to my cell door last week with a worried look on his face. He had been to sick call that morning with a sore throat, nagging cough, runny nose, and headache. He seemed perplexed that he wasn’t hospitalized immediately. Instead, he said, they gave him some Tylenol and cough syrup and told him to wash his hands a lot.
I told him it sounds like he has a common cold, and washing his hands helps keep it from spreading to everyone else. He looked at me as though I was delusional, and walked away alarmed that I would share the medical staff’s utter ignorance of the severity of his condition. He’s still alive, but I’ve never seen him wash his hands. I washed mine twice while typing this post!
If you read my post, “Naked in the Public Square” last September, you know that I don’t look forward to medical field trips. It might be inevitable, however. I’ve been having a problem lately with a real pain in the neck. No, I don’t mean Pornchai or Skooter, although they have their moments. I mean a literal pain in my neck. It started a few years ago, but me being me I just ignored it until I couldn’t anymore. Up to now I’ve been able to manage it by working out every day.
A month or so ago, I think I passed the point at which that helps. I woke up one day unable to turn my head to the left, and my arm was numb. It sure does hurt. After three weeks with no improvement, I went to sick call and was sent for a cervical x-ray. The result was not welcome news. I have two collapsed disks in the fourth and fifth vertebrae, and the swelling has pinched a nerve causing a lot of pain in my shoulder.
Sixteen years of sleeping on a steel bunk with a two-inch pad have not helped. Among other problems, this makes typing for long periods difficult – not something a blogger wants to hear. I’m to take a fifteen minute break for every forty-five minutes in front of my typewriter. So if I sound a bit more erratic than usual, please forgive me.
We’re trying a few weeks on Predisone to see if the condition improves. Maybe in a year or so I might have to consider surgery. That won’t make the budget people happy, but I’ll happily volunteer to forego the expense and go home. In the meantime, having to live with a pain in the neck (Pornchai and Skooter bristle every time I write that ) enhances my daily offering for the readers of These Stone Walls.
A BOW TO OUR EDITOR
I’ve said it before, but I can’t say it enough. I and TSW owe a great debt to Suzanne Sadler, TSW Editor and, in my view, the patron saint of cyberspace. From more than half way around the world, Suzanne devotes a day a week – every week – to keeping TSW up and running. She adds links and graphics to my meager prose, and transforms my posts into visually stunning publications. I am in awe of Suzanne’s work and humbled by her selflessness. You could thank her with some time well spent on her blog, “Priests in Crisis,” and with a prayer for her intentions. Suzanne is one of the true believers Pornchai mentioned in “Simon of Cyrene: Compelled to Carry the Cross.” Thanks, Suzanne!