The Day of Moral Perplexity Has Come for Angelo Cataldi

I had thought about entitling this post, “Predators All,” since the revelations of child molestation mount and mount. First it was the Roman Catholic Church, then Penn State, then Hollywood, and now comes word from several adults that Bill Conlin, a longtime baseball beat reporter for Philadelphia’s Daily News, molested them as children. This news cuts close to home for our dear moral blow hard, Angelo Cataldi, since Cataldi has hosted Conlin many times on the show to talk RBI’s and walks-hits-per-inning. Even closer to home, Angelo and Bill are neighbors during the summer when they occupy their beach houses in Sea Isle City, New Jersey.

Not that anyone living outside the Delaware Valley really cares about these Philadelphia media figures, but listening to the shows today (now that classes are over and grades are in) may be of interest to non-Philadelphians if only because of the tone that the various hosts have deployed to discuss this latest scandal. As clear as Angelo and others have been in condemning the alleged acts, the hosts have also exhibited a degree of anguish that was entirely lacking in the case of Joe Paterno. (One important difference is that Conlin yesterday resigned from his writing post, so no one can call for his job.)

On the one hand, all the talk show hosts looked up to Conlin as one of the best baseball minds in Philadelphia (a mind and voice that earned him the J. G. Taylor Spink Award this year for meritorious contributions to baseball writing). In other words, they knew him and could never have imagined that Conlin was capable of such behavior. Now, though, the moral wheels are grinding and different hosts are agonizing over the darkness of human nature, and wondering how much they need to be suspicious of anyone they know.

On the other hand, the hosts are not nearly so condemning of the adults who enabled Conlin (allegedly) to escape any charges for over forty years (and now the statute of limitations means that Conlin will not face criminal charges). No one is wondering who among Conlin’s editors knew about this. No one is blaming the parents of these children who did know (allegedly) of the molestation but did nothing because they did not want to hurt a friend and family member who was coming into his own as a reporter and columnist.

In other words, what is happening in the world of Philadelphia sports journalism is precisely what did not happen when news from Happy Valley arrived in Philadelphia. Instead of imagining how those close to Jerry Sandusky might have reacted to protect both a friend and an institution, Philadelphia journalists called for the figurative death penalty for everyone close to Sandusky.

It is a complicated world out there.

By the way, I keep wondering when the shoe is going to drop in all of these child molestation scandals. We live at a time when practically every form of sexual desire is tolerated; the institutions that promote some of those forms even wind up sponsoring sports talk radio. So why exactly, for instance, do these men who sometimes go to gentlemen’s clubs think that sex between an adult and a child is wicked and perverse? The obvious answer is consent. The children are subordinate to the predators and have no recourse. The flip side of this deduction is that consensual sex is fine, no matter how kinky.

What I don’t understand is how consent makes sex, no matter how perverse, okay. Is the desire of a man for a boy okay? Is it perverse and disgusting? Or does it only become twisted when carried out on a boy (who is incapable of giving consent)? Could it be that certain forms of sex are perverse, no matter whether the partners are consenting and no matter how “natural” either of the partner’s desire is? Could it even be that sex between a married woman and her single boss is also perverse no matter how consensual the sex or natural the adulterers’ desires are?

The reason for asking is to see if the moral sense that does regard child molestation as heinous might also be available to draw lines in other places. These other lines would and should apply as much to heterosexual as to homosexual forms of sexual desire. Ideally, the true form of consensual sex would be one where two people have consented to be each other’s sexual partner for life and to be responsible for rearing any offspring that proceed from their sexual relations.

6 thoughts on “The Day of Moral Perplexity Has Come for Angelo Cataldi

  1. Re: I keep wondering when the shoe is going to drop….

    What used to be perverse and disgusting when I was a young is now mainstream. Based on how everything has progressed since the ’60s and how the old taboos are systematically being torn down and made socially acceptable. I’m not optimistic for the future. Between reading your post and the post I read yesterday, well… read what I read yesterday:

    Witherspoon Institute – Public Discourse – 12/20/11

    Anne Hendershott on the academics who want to redefine pedophilia as “intergenerational intimacy”:

    The Postmodern Pedophile

    Excerpts:

    The publication of “Harmful to Minors: The Perils of Protecting Children from Sex” promised readers a “radical, refreshing, and long overdue reassessment of how we think and act about children’s and teens’ sexuality.” The book was published by University of Minnesota Press in 2003 (with a foreword by Joycelyn Elders, who had been the U.S. Surgeon General in the Clinton administration), after which the author, Judith Levine, posted an interview on the university’s website decrying the fact that “there are people pushing a conservative religious agenda that would deny minors access to sexual expression,” and adding that “we do have to protect children from real dangers … but that doesn’t mean protecting some fantasy of their sexual innocence.”

    This redefinition of childhood innocence as “fantasy” is key to the defining down of the deviance of pedophilia that permeated college campuses and beyond. Drawing upon the language of postmodern theory, those working to redefine pedophilia are first redefining childhood by claiming that “childhood” is not a biological given. Rather, it is socially constructed—an historically produced social object. Such deconstruction has resulted from the efforts of a powerful advocacy community supported by university-affiliated scholars and a large number of writers, researchers, and publishers who were willing to question what most of us view as taboo behavior.

    Not so long ago, the postmodern pedophiles had help in defining down their deviance from the American Psychological Association. In 1998, the association published an article in its Psychological Bulletin that concluded that child sexual abuse does not cause harm. The authors recommended that pedophilia should instead be given a value-neutral term like “adult child sex.” NAMBLA quickly posted the “good news” on its website, stating that “the current war on boy-lovers has no basis in science.”

    Click on the link below to read the embedded links and the full story
    http://www.thepublicdiscourse.com/2011/12/4440

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  2. Conlin may be in more trouble than he realizes. The statute of limitations for sex crimes against minors is 12 years, after they reach the age of 18. It won’t allow him to be prosecuted for crimes in the 1970’s of course but child molesters usually don’t stop at 4 victims. Emory University says there is usually a whole lot more than just a few. That’s probably why Conlin started bawling like somebody’s punk when he was confronted. (“Wolf” wanted Clint Eastwood to be his “punk” in the movie “Escape from Alcatraz” — I think they use another term these days).

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  3. To Lily’s comments:

    In 1973, the American Psychiatric Association (APA) removed homosexuality as a mental disorder from the APA’s Diagnostic and Statistical Manual Of Mental Disorders (DSM-II). And it wasn’t due to any cutting edge research, either.

    I’d be interested to learn the amount of money that is spent in this country to treat what used to be known as venereal disease. The Fed likes to target DGH’s cigars and occasional beers with the “sin tax.” When is the Fed going to target “real” bad behaviors with a sin tax? And it doesn’t just apply to the upper teens and twenty somethings . . . a doctor friend of the family says that STD’s are rampant in a lot of nursing and retirement homes.

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  4. DG,

    Good points about the inconsistent calls for punishment in these cases.

    The last three paragraphs are a wonderful use of natural law.

    Like

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