Thursday, July 17, 2008

COMMENT: Good for the goose ...

Back in January 2007, Gerard Henderson wrote the following words in the Sydney Morning Herald in relation to the Hilaly situation and Muslim responses ...

During the controversy of late last year Waleed Aly, a director of the Islamic Council of Victoria, wrote an article which at best rationalised Hilaly's comments and at worst went close to defending them. At the time Aly said there was "plenty of supporting evidence for those who wish to believe it" that "journalists are paid to defame the Muslim community with the goal of keeping us divided and weak". In other words, blame the media for the public's hostility to Hilaly's extreme language.

The other day, Henderson did some media-bashing of his own. I agree with many of his observations on the "sneering secularists". But he can hardly blame the ABC and other media outlets for reporting stories on child sexual abuse anymore than Muslims can blame the media for reporting stories on Hilaly's rants on the causes of sexual assault.

Last week Lateline began a campaign against Pell concerning his handling of a complaint of Anthony Jones who, at the age of 29, was sexually assaulted by a Catholic priest, Terence Goodall.

Henderson then asks this question ...

... Lateline interviewed a Canberra lawyer, Jason Parkinson, and the American journalist Robert Blair Kaiser. Both were critical of Pell. The former Catholic priest Paul Collins was also heard on Lateline that night. So was the academic Mark Findlay. They were also critical of the cardinal. Apparently Lateline could not find anyone who would put an alternative view.

Alternative view? That some influential people in the Church hierarchy have handled the matter fabulously? That victims don't deserve compensation? That Bishop Fisher deserves a Nobel Peace Prize?

If Henderson is suggesting Catholics and/or WYD pilgrims shouldn't be held accountable for the foibles of the Church hierarchy, I agree with him. But if he is suggesting the media should not report this story, I think he is as deluded as those claiming the Hilaly fiasco shouldn't have been reported.

In reality, the media has been relatively generous to the Church over this issue. Perhaps the enthusiasm and good cheer of the pilgrims that has captured journalists' imaginations.

Words © 2008 Irfan Yusuf