The horrendous ‘victim’ stories about the Magdalene Laundries in Ireland added to the voluminous ‘evidence’ of the wickedness of the Catholic Church and its Religious staff. The stories were as quick to be believed as the speed of condemnation heaped on the Church.
It had to be investigated, by popular demand.
That popular perception behind the demand is as manipulated and distorted by ‘agendas’ as any Gramscian plot. Mercator net reports:
‘The authors of the McAleese Report, having like the rest of us imbibed the popular image of the Magdalene laundries as nun-run concentration camps,’ says O’Neill, ‘seem to have been taken aback by ‘the number of women who spoke positively about the nuns’. O’Neill admitted in his article that he resented being branded a ‘pedant’ by Humanist Life magazine because he was ‘committed to historical accuracy rather than to the grander goal of making the Catholic Church appear as rotten and warped as possible, regardless of the facts’.
As they say, never let the facts get in the way of a good story. The Irish (and other countries’) newspapers were full of heart-wrenching and incense-inducing (‘scuse the pun) stories for a while, but…
Furthermore, The McAleese Report found ‘not a single incident of sexual abuse by a nun in a Magdalene laundry. Not one’. The vast majority of those interviewed for the McAleese report about abuses said they were never physically punished while in the laundries.
The ‘victim’s’ stories that were reported in the press were shocking enough but no-one seems to have confronted the fiction-creating-victims let alone taken them to task. Or to Court. It seems that the sin of calumny has been relegated to the void, leaving a void for all sorts of ‘victims’ to slander and ruin the reputations of even people they do not know.
One woman said, ‘It has shocked me to read in papers that we were beat and our heads shaved and that we were badly treated by the nuns… I was not touched by any nun and I never saw anyone touched.’
These are important testimonies which help to put the reported actual abuses into context while bursting the swollen media bubble of scandal and intrigue. A small number of incidents of corporal punishment were reported to McAleese and consisted of the kind of punishment, being caned on the legs or knuckles being rapped, that were carried out by many normal schools as recently as the 1980s.
It is a detail, however, which nevertheless poses another more significant question in relation to the laundries and the media’s coverage of the abuse reported there. In relation to yet another scandal attributed to the Catholic Church, how does the commonly espoused fiction stand up to the now public knowledge of the facts?
Could it be that in faithfulness to what O’Neill calls ‘their fashionable and irrational new religion of anti-Catholicism’, critics of the Catholic Church have sought to sweep under the already lumpy media perpetuated carpet of popular opinion, unfashionable and incongruous details, and even stone cold facts, which fly in the face of the public perception of these instances?
The media has a lot to answer for. The Press enquiries of recent years have focussed on some of the corrupt practices of the media, with the agenda of restricting free speech, but seems to have ignored the more pertinent issue of Truth.
Cold facts are unimpressive. Hot fiction grasps the imagination and sells newspapers and TV. Perhaps some hot truth, or at least some warmed facts are needed.
And some high profile calumny exposure.