Tuesday, September 3, 2013


I just watched a segment on CBS News This Morning, on a documentary on J.D. Salinger, who wrote "Catcher in the Rye" and died at the age of 93.

Evidently he liked very young teenage girls. CBS interviewed a now elderly woman who when she was 14 in the 1940's he began a supposedly platonic relationship with her when he was in his 30's and when they had sex five years later when she was 18 or 19 he moved on.

She decided to talk about it after his death, but endearingly, not as some kind of victim. And of course CBS extolled the man and did not focus on the implications of ephebophilia (sexual attraction to teenagers, could be heterosexual or homosexual) of Salinger or that this teenager was manipulated by him for his own pleasures. In fact, after the story, one of the anchors said, "great story!"

A reporter asked the aging woman what her mother thought at the time when as a 14 year old Salinger was spending so much time with her. She indicated her mother wasn't very pleased! She smiled!

"... Along with [Salinger's] quest for total seclusion went a predilection for teenage girls -- not so much a Lolita syndrome as an urge to discover innocence and then mould it to the shape he wished." The New York Times (January 28, 2010) remarked on this matter only that "Mr. Salinger frequently dealt with the subject of precocious youth."

Today, Catholic priests are being removed from ministry, often 20 to 40 years after an alleged incident, for what Salinger gets a pass in the press and is nonetheless praised!
Priests are going to prison with the reputation of priests entirely broad stroked as evil predators by the main stream press, while Salinger is praised.

I wonder why there is so much hypocrisy by the main stream press, the Boston Globe's owner the New York Times, and the northeast's main stream press, such as CBS when it comes to sexual abuse of teenagers. Can anyone tell me?


Gene said...

I read "Catcher in the Rye" in the tenth grade. I wondered then and still wonder, as a former college English major, what exactly is the literary value of the book. It seems merely an excuse to cram as much profanity into a story as possible within the limits of the censorship standards of the day.

John Nolan said...

In the 1880s most states of the USA had the female age of consent at between 10 and 12; in Delaware it was 7. English Common Law, supported by Canon Law both pre- and post-Reformation, held it to be 12. Following a campaign against child prostitution by WT Stead, editor of the Pall Mall Gazette, Parliament raised the age of female consent to 16 in 1885. However, in practice it is now 13, since after that age the police do not take action unless the girl herself makes a complaint. The exception is when the man is in a position of trust, eg a teacher, in which case sexual activity is a criminal offence if the other party is under 18 (this is recent legislation, brought in when the age of homosexual consent was reduced to 16). It also applies the other way round, ie a female teacher and a male student.

The hypocrisy is that a 13-year-old can be prescribed contraceptives and the medical practitioner is not allowed to inform her parents, whereas a fifteen-year-old is allowed to pose as a child and a victim, despite the fact that the act was consensual and took place 30-40 years ago, since the alleged perpetrator is a celebrity with lots of money.

Back in the 1960s and 1970s girls, some of them technically underage, were queuing up to get laid by pop stars (and even their road crews!) and DJs yet they are now regarded as the victims rather than the predators.

Templar said...

To answer your question Father, Priests are attacked because they respresent the Church, which must be destroyed because it represents a value system which is diametrically opposed to the value system espoused by the Democratic Party, for whom 90% of the media sources in America shill for.

Some have called me a Conspiracy Theorist for saying such things but it's long past theory in my book, it's right in front of our faces and anyone who doesn't see it is either party to it, or living in a river in Egypt.

Robert Kumpel said...

I guess Gene will think I'm an idiot, because I've read Catcher several times and always enjoyed it. And I've certainly read books with more profanity than Salinger's most famous novel. As I understood it, Catcher was sort of Huckleberry Finn turned inside out and backward, demonstrating the modern young man's difficulty in accepting adulthood and all that goes with it. But I'm just an amateur.

To answer your question, Father, Templar's got it. The Catholic Church is public enemy #1 to all who favor an atheist, secularized society. You are far more likely to be molested by a public school teacher than a Catholic priest, but you don't hear about any states lifting the statute of limitations so students can sue teachers who molested you?

The world hates the Church. It's that simple.

Robert Kumpel said...

I should have added that although there is some profanity in the book, that's not the reason I enjoyed it. I find the profanity disturbing, especially given Holden Caulfield's youth.

Ironically, one of the most disturbing passages of the book occurs when Holden, exhausted, visits an old teacher late at night and the teacher lets him spend the night on his sofa. Holden wakes up shocked to find this male teacher patting him on the head, which Holden suspects might be a "flitty pass" of some sort. He leaves in a hurry, then later questions what really happened.

Gene said...

Templar, you are exactly correct. The Catholic church is the only Christian body that actually stands for something and will (so far) not cave to secular humanism, permissive morality, and other forms of unbelief. No, you are certainly no conspiracy would only be that if you believed that Obama and his ilk are Muslims who hate America and white people and who wish to completely dismantle the Constitution, and that they are being actively assisted by the media, Hollywood, factions within the Church, AND the Democratic know, like I believe.

Marc said...

Wouldn't Obama be a pretty terrible Muslim? For example, Muslims believe in an objective morality that forbids sin, like abortion.

Obama is a lot of things, but he is clearly not a Muslim...

Gene said...

Well, he is a Muslim sympathizer, then.

Random Thoughts said...

I will never understand why some in the clergy direct their anger/frustration on this issue towards the media and not the priests who succommed to evil and abused children and the hierarchy who covered it up.

I get that there are double standards, and I get that the media has a bias. Indeed, most people do. So what? Move on and deal with it. No one has ever told me that life is supposed to be fair. And I was taught at a young age by my parents that my friend's conduct cannot be used as an excuse or rationale for my behavior. It's like the celebrity who complains that "you don't know what it's like to be me." We all have hurdles to face and prejudices to overcome, deal with it.

But to address your point, Salinger's preying on children is not equal to the scandal that involved the Church. Yes, they are both crimes and should be punished under the law whenever it is discovered. Beyond that fact, however, what the priests and the church did was far worse IMHO. (Keep in mind this was an institutional scandal, not the sins of one priest.) The communities they served turned to them for spiritual leadership. In turn, certain priests abused their position of trust and harmed innocent children. And when some of these abuses were reported, the heirarchy of the church sought to protect the priests and not the children, which led to more abuses.

We know the stories and there is no need to rehash (that's not the point of my comment). But to complain that the media is picking on the Church by reporting what some of her priests did and the actions that some leaders took to cover up theses abuses and not chastising Salinger for being a pedophile too sounds a bit absurd.We should strive to be better than that and the church should too.

As for conspiracy theories, if there was no proof that the abuses and cover up happened I'd entertain it. But they did.

Robert Kumpel said...

Random Thoughts:

I Disagree. Salinger's questionable relationships with younger women may not equal the SCALE of the Church's sex abuse scandal, but the double standard the media exercises is seriously distorted.

Less than four percent of active priests were ACCUSED of abuse. The mere fact that certain hate groups turned the Roman collar into a target is outrageously disproportionate to the scope of the problem.

I think what Father is getting at is this: J.D. Salinger gets a wink and a pass because his readers usually consider themselves as "hip". Catholic priests represent outdated ideas like objective morality and unchanging ideals. If a hipster has his weaknesses, we tend to look the other way or even think it's "cool", but if someone who stands for something higher falls, the illiterati and their hipster friends cannot wait to tar and feather the entire species--this species being priests. Meanwhile, we overlook the alcoholism of Jack Kerouac or Heroin abuse of William Burroughs or the sexual predations of Neal Cassady. Those weaknesses only add to their hipster appeal--which is sick.

Finally, J.D. Salinger was not a pedophile and neither were most of the abusing priests. Salinger was closer to an ephebophile (as Father already stated) and the majority of priestly abuse cases had victims who were adolescent males--that's either ephebophilia or homosexuality--and we can't let homosexuality look bad, can we? Hence the unending chant of "pedophile priests".

The media will give us anything but objective truth.

Nathanael said...

I watched this story on CBS This Morning – It was also on the Sunday “News” Show with Charles Osgood.

I believe – I may have it backwards – they then turned to Bill Kristol to talk about Syria. Gayle King then segued, somehow, into who is playing the lead roles in 50 Shades of Grey. The only thing Charlie Rose seemed to get out of this was that the female lead is Don Johnson and Melanie Griffith’s daughter (I guess he likes Miami Vice and Working Girl?). Banality at its worst this morning – but it is the better news program on in the morning.

One year, in high school, we had a choice between Catcher in the Rye and A Separate Peace. Our teacher picked Separate. In college, during a Watergate seminar, we were asked to read it to understand the mindset of the young people of the time. I never did. I do not think I have missed much.

But to turn JD Salinger into Humbert Humbert ala James Mason (or Jeremy Irons – whose version of Lolita stars Melanie Griffith instead of Shelley Winters) is almost as bad as the media and their attempt to turn every priest into a pervert.

Gene said...

Well said, Robert Kumpel.

Random Thoughts said...


Whether you want to call it pedophilia, ephebophilia, or homosexual relations with a minor what happened was wrong and in many cases against the law. I don't think we need to try to parse words (i.e. your statement that the "majority" of cases involved adolescent males).

That being said, I disagree that Salinger gets a wink and a pass. I would suggest most have never heard of his inclinations, I know I had not until I read this post. But more importantly, as I said the scandal involving the Church is leagues worse than Salinger's trists because it involved a living religious institution. Would you not agree that the Church has a higher moral authority than Salinger? And if so, shouldn't the Church and its leaders be held to a higher standard than the hipsters you reference?

I do not deny that there is a media bias. I just don't see it here. The two stories are too different. Yes if you compare Priest A to Salinger, both preyed on young people. But Salinger did not have some members of a religious institution cover his actions up and move him to another city where it could happen again. And Salinger was not a religious leader.

But even if you disagree with my view, what do we gain out of complaining in THIS context that the media treats us differently? Do we really believe people will say the Church deserves the benefit of the doubt? Do you think we will get pity points based on our past behavior? Of course not.

So my point is instead of complaining about perceived biases (real or not) we should move forward and work to make sure this type of scandal does not happen again. Which, incidentally, I think Pope Francis is doing an excellent job of leading by example.

Cameron said...

There is a new biography called Salinger. I want it.

Robert Kumpel said...

Random Thoughts..

As you opined earlier, life certainly is not fair.

I guess one of the unfair things we have to deal with is this scenario:

I am at a secular college in a religious studies class. Someone discusses the Judaic influences of Allen Ginsbgerg's poetry and I opine that Ginsberg was a pervert who passed off obscenities as art. The entire class glares at me and the professor uses sophisticated jargon to put me in my place and takes me aside after class and suggests that I not come back.

In the same class, a student opines that anyone who stays in the Catholic Church sponsors pedophiles and should be ashamed and the class bursts into applause while the professor quietly smiles.

I would love to move on.

Gene said...

Salinger's novel is sort of a hyper-active "bildungsroman" which captures the nascent mentality of the 60's/70's baby boom geeks. I would never call it great literature. Give Dickens a won't regret it. Start with David Copperfield, Nicholas Nickelby, and Martin Chuzzlewit. There's nothing in Salinger that can't be found in Dickens and in much more profound, poignant, and subtle ways.
If you want a hilarious "road novel," read Pickwick.

I had a friend in grad school who would read nothing after 1870...the year Dickens died. Thinking about it, one would not miss that much. I wouldn't want to give up Faulkner or Steinbeck. You can have Hemingway.

Marc said...

“Who is this Hemingway person at all?”

“A guy that keeps saying the same thing over and over until you begin to believe it must be good.”

"That must take a hell of a long time."

- Raymond Chandler

Gene said...

"Hemingway has never written anything that would send someone looking for a dictionary." Faulkner

John Nolan said...

They're all ridiculously overrated. The greatest 20th novelist by a clear margin was Evelyn Waugh.

Anonymous said...

I always like to tell people that James Joyce is the greatest novelist of the 20th century and that Finnegan's Wake is the greatest book. It's great fun because nobody reads his stuff and no sane person could possibly decipher Finnegan's Wake.

It should be noted, however, that Mark Twain died in 1910, which sort of makes HIM a 20th century writer!

Nathanael said...

John Nolan is correct – Waugh is the greatest; for Brideshead alone – Lady Marchmain is the single greatest fictional Catholic character of the 20th century.

As for my own taste, I will go for Willa Cather (My Antonia), Graham Greene (The End of the Affair & Monsignor Quixote), and Shirley Jackson (We Have Always Lived in the Castle; short-stories “The Lottery” & “The Summer People”).

I would also add Brian Moore’s Catholics and Black Robe.

Gene said...

Joseph Conrad died in 1924. He would certainly have to be on the short list of greatest 20th Century novelists.

Unknown said...

Tolstoy died in 1910... does he count?

Gene said...

Yes, but I hate Tolstoy.

Ricky the Quick said...

And let us not forget that this book inspired David Mark Chapman to kill John Lennon on the Feast of the Immaculate Conception in 1980!