This week I became absorbed with Netflix’s crime documentary The Keepers about the sexual abuse of a priest who got away with it for years by being moved to another school/church (Remember Spotlight?).
At one of the schools, a nun and teacher, Cathy Cesnik, found out about it and was ready to go to the police, but was killed in 1969, a murder that was never solved. I will not say too much about the documentary as I highly recommend you watch it yourself, but there were similarities with my own story, especially when it comes to victim blaming and the power of our institutions who prefer to look the other way and don’t have the best interest of the people at heart.
When perpetrators don’t get caught (and some of them may actually get promoted), they will repeat offend and their circle of abuse will widen, claiming more victims. You just have to wonder how people who look the other way (and thus enable the perpetrator even more) can live with themselves. They are part of the system rot and just as accountable for having failed the system and themselves. I’m not discounting that speaking up/whistle blowing comes with its own risks as this documentary showed so well: The hero of the story, the nun who was killed because she knew too much and was about to go to the police, showed that risk, and so did the victims who ended up suing the church. But for people in positions of power not to be receptive to complaints or discount them because they don’t want to question the status quo or ruffle certain feathers– those folks don’t deserve to be entrusted with that power and need to be held accountable, too.
The bigger picture here is the problem of intentional concealment and of systems /people having so much power that they can call the shots and, consequently, can do so much damage in such a short time that the due diligence of justice, of collecting evidence etc. etc. can never keep up with all of this foul play. This leads to widespread corruption, for if one potential abuser sees how another abuser is above the law (“When you’re famous, they’ll let you do anything…”), it encourages, if not promotes a culture of abuse (and silencing) which seemed to have been the MO of the Catholic Church and, in my case, the MO of the patriarchy of our academic institutions as well.
In autocratic regimes, any effort to reveal or disclose crimes and misdemeanors will be delegitimized, attacked and silenced. Our commander in chief engages in this every day, by sending out tweets into the world that constantly delegitimize the press, and attack the facts and the various investigations. The Trump administration has even openly said it wants this Russia story to go away, and no, not because it interferes with governing, but because it might implicate them. The Catholic Church engaged for years in obstruction of justice, leading to more altar boys being fondled and more Catholic school girls being raped. If we let this happen, if the GOP stands by condemning none of those insane tweets, the GOP, just like those people in power I referred to above, are part of the rot and corruption while we, the citizens of this country, who entrusted them with our vote, will be fucked over and over again.
Watch The Keepers, be aware of the analogy, and shudder…