Shooting the Messengers

When Church & the State Play
the Whistleblowers’ Swan Song

Two recent reports making the rounds beyond the 24-news cycle share a disturbing trait, usually associated with authoritarian regimes: The Obama administration’s prosecutions against government employees accused of leaking classified information to the media; and the Catholic Church’s use of the court system to intimidate a group representing victims of sexual abuse by priests.
The combined decisions send chilling waves down the spines of advocates for press freedom and human rights, two pillar institutions of any democratic society. And may embody an unduly attempt by the government at preventing accountability before its citizens, as well as an unacceptable bullying by the church of those who seek to bring to justice clergy members who committed criminal acts.
That this is happening in a country whose constitution is a tenet of moral standards and a manifest for the rule of the law, and at a time when its presidency is occupied by a member of a historically oppressed racial minority is not just startling: it’s outrageous.
And it’s occurring now, when the U.S.’s military presence in Afghanistan is faltering, while the economic recovery is lagging and an extremist minority of religious zealots is gaining traction. It should be, otherwise, the ideal moment to show resolve about this nation’s secular principles and commitment to individual freedom and separation of church and state.
Instead, we’re getting lost in this quagmire of whether to support a president that has restored a lot of our national pride, out of the sheer power of his personal charisma and persuasion, and at the same time, demand transparency from its law enforcement agencies, that seem eager to trample individual rights in the name of vague concepts of national security and the war on terror rhetoric.
THE RAPE OF PVT. MANNING
Perhaps the case that ignited the current cycle of ‘persecute the messenger, forget about the message’ is the still ongoing, extremely painful public excoriation of Army Private Bradley Manning, who has been under arrest since May 2010, and who only in February was Continue reading