In his Herald-Leader Op-Ed, Allen was criticizing editorial cartoonist Joel Pett for what he called an "intellectually lazy, bigoted, straw-man caricature of Catholicism" as presented in a recent political cartoon. Then, for some reason, he launched an intellectually lazy, bigoted, straw-man attack on public school teachers - not similarly affected Catholic school teachers, mind you - just public school teachers.
This from Mike Allen in the Herald-Leader:
Ky. Voices: Pett cartoon a bigoted attack on Catholicism
As a Catholic, I'm quite used to my church being criticized. And because the church is comprised of sinful people like me, I'm sure some of it is deserved. But I can handle an honest critique, not the intellectually lazy, bigoted, straw-man caricature of Catholicism that Joel Pett chose to draw and the paper's editorial staff chose to publish Feb. 15. The cartoon depicted a Catholic bishop condemning a woman for her "evil desire" for birth control while simultaneously leering at her young son....Unfortunately, Allen's assertion that the abuse of children at the hands of some public school teachers "far outnumbers Catholic crimes" is hard to know, isn't it? The church effectively swept some amount of abuse under the rug by various means including transferring priests to keep them in service, while crimes perpetuated by public employees are rarely, if ever, defended by public school administrators and always seem to make it into the press - as all such abuses should. No wonder Allen believes public school teachers' crimes far outnumber those of Catholics. But is that truth?
I suppose Pett was intending to illumine the bankruptcy of the Catholic Church's moral witness because of the sexual scandals of recent vintage. I will not minimize the ugliness of how some Catholics behaved, whether in perpetuating abuse or covering it up, but the connection between Catholic moral teaching regarding contraception and the clergy sex scandals is a colossal non-sequitur.
Truth is truth, whether we fail to live up to it or not. I doubt Pett would condemn the collective virtue of public school teachers because of the abuse that far outnumbers Catholic crimes, or devalue the work of journalists based on public cases of plagiarism, deceit or bias. And yet he uses human weakness as a reason to smugly and irrationally dismiss in toto the 2,000-year-old moral teaching of the Catholic Church.
The difference between the church's defense and protection of its sinners and the public schools' insistence that abusers of children receive the full punishment under the law is an important difference, and any fair assessment ought to consider that.