Don’t get over it

Irfan Yusuf at New Matilda (a favourite of mine) discusses Bishop Fisher’s “dwelling crankily on old wounds” remark (which I ringbarked here) and the deafening silence coming from our politicians over the matter, compared to the reaming all & sundry from the media & political arenas gave (former, I think) Australian mufti sheik Hilaly over his infamous “uncovered meat” remarks, which basically implied some women deserve rape if they dress provocatively.

I concur with Mr Yusuf on this glaring double standard (though admittedly it hadn’t occurred to me). Justifiably, sheik Hilaly deserved all that he got for his insensitive, misogynist remarks. No woman deserves to be raped for any reason. But the silence from the same pundits, talking heads, editors, ministers, senators (and everyone else who had a go at Hilaly) in response to Bishop Fisher’s “get over it” statement are disturbing. While Hilaly’s remarks were highly offensive & inflammatory, he was making a point – if clumsily and lackwitted – about western culture in general. The bishop was clearly referring to (in his estimation) the buzzkill father of two girls, raped by the same priest, one of whom took her own life earlier this year, and his demand for a meaningful apology from the Catholic church & for the church to take effective preventative measures in the future. But not a word from the talkback jocks or Andrew Bolt or any other easily-inflamed professional opinionator, telling Fisher to pull his head in. Not a peep from Canberra or the NSW government who ponied up a hundred million bucks to host the visit of a Roman Emperor who could’ve funded the whole thing out of Vatican petty cash. Not one word from anyone who could’ve made it to the 6 o’clock news and registered their displeasure. Not one word, especially, from Fisher himself, who’s clearly too much of a walled-in Catholic bubble-boy to realise the sting of his words.

Certainly nothing was heard from Enforcer Pell-end, not even a soft yet stern suggestion that perhaps Fisher didn’t fully realise the gravity of the situation and was being a tad naive. What Fisher said was far beyond the ignorant, misogynistic foolishness of sheik Hilaly. It was a downright, flat-out insult to the agony of a parent suffering through multiple layers of grief: the loss of innocence and trust of both his daughters at the hands of the same abusive predator and the loss of the very life of one of those girls. It was far beyond ignorant or insensitive. Words don’t exist to describe the mentality that thinks telling a grieving father of two rape victims, one recently dead at her own hand, to “get over it” because he’s taking the shine off a gathering of clean-cut Catholic kids is okay. Perhaps it’s time those kids had a wake-up call. Perhaps their “Papa” and his cronies should stop sheltering them – and sheltering those of their brethren who abuse those kids’ trust and break the law. Perhaps those kids need, nay, deserve, to know the full truth about the organisation they belong to.

But that’s beside the point. Perhaps Mr Yusuf was right – maybe in Australia you do have to be from the right religion for your remarks to be construed as offensive.