During the early 2000’s I remember talking with a few friends and the subject of the Catholic Church sex scandals came up. Not that they were the most serious sex scandal of that time of course, but theirs was the one most heavily covered by the mainstream media. During our chat my old friend the Destroyer of Colons1 made an interesting observation. I don’t remember exactly what he said given how long ago it was but what he said was something along the lines of, “When any organization grows, no matter what its original purpose, at some point the organization’s main priority is sustaining and growing the organization itself.” The obvious example is most government agencies, but from the title of this post you can guess that I’m looking in a different direction.
The Catholic Church sex scandals are a good example of this phenomena. First, let’s clarify one point. I’m saying “The Catholic Church” because it’s the generally used term. In reality the abuses and cover-ups were done by a number of priests up to their Cardinals. Yes, at some point the Pope has some responsibility simply because he’s the organization’s head but is not directly responsible for every single incident. If you’re saying that he is, I’m going to go out on a limb and guess that you’re not calling for the head of the Department of Education over sex scandals that are more widespread in America’s schools. Likewise, I don’t like using the term “The Catholic Church” because it implies that every practicing Catholic somehow shares blame. But since it’s the generally used term it’s the one I’m using here. Sorry for the tangent but it is an important point to clarify.
Save for a few radical outlets nobody is going to dispute the fact that child abuse is wrong. Anyone in the church knows this too, so why would anyone cover up such a disgusting crime? From the bureaucratic mindset, one could see that a Bishop or Cardinal would be afraid of the public relations backlash, how it could hurt or potentially destroy their parish, and the impact it would have on the people working for it, not to mention the people who might be relying on the church’s charitable works, schools, etc. Just so there’s no misunderstanding, I am in no way, shape, or form condoning the cover ups for this abuse, but just trying to explain how such an obvious case of wrong vs. right can get clouded in somebody’s judgment. And of course, that doesn’t rule out the possibility of self-interest, malevolence or incompetence in any of the cover ups, either. At this point the decision becomes a terrible case of weighing the consequences of public admission versus the smaller possibility of getting caught in a cover up, and which one poses the greatest threat to the organization itself.
Another example comes from Mothers Against Drunk Drivers (MADD). When MADD was founded in 1980, drunk driving was a problem in this country, and MADD worked to instill tougher laws to discourage the practice and to punish those who did. According to their site:
Since 1982, when the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration first published national estimates, the number of traffic deaths involving alcohol have declined from 26,172 to 14,188 (62% per 1 00,000 population)
Nobody is going to argue that stopping drunk driving is a bad thing But like any cause, a point gets reached where the pendulum swings too far.
The biggest problem in reducing drunk driving fatalities now consists of the hard core of alcoholic drivers who repeatedly drive with BAC’s of .15 or higher. But MADD has now decided to go after social drinkers and to eliminate driving after drinking any amount of alcohol beverage. This change appears to reflect the influence of a growing neo-prohibitionist movement within MADD.
The founding president of MADD, Candy Lightner, left in disgust from the organization that she herself created because of its change in goals. “It has become far more neo-prohibitionist than I ever wanted or envisioned,” she says. “I didn’t start MADD to deal with alcohol. I started MADD to deal with the issue of drunk driving.” Ms. Lightner has emphasized the importance of distinguishing between alcohol and drinking on one hand and drunk driving on the other.
Although I couldn’t tell if MADD is still pursuing this, they were in 2002, and as late as 2008, they were crusading for… tougher seat belt laws. They even branched out into video games, criticizing Grand Theft Auto IV for allowing drinking and driving. Although the games’ producers pointed out that doing so makes the game controls less responsive to simulate the impairment that comes from drinking and driving. Another good measure of how an organization evolves shows in its fundraising efforts:
Non-profit organizations typically permit their chapters to keep most of the money they raise. For example, Remove Intoxicated Drivers (RID) chapters get to keep 90% of all funds they raise. But MADD claims ownership of every penny raised by all its many chapters. Thus, after raising $129,000 locally and turning it all over as MADD demands, the Las Vegas chapter received a check from the national office for $1.29 (one dollar and twenty nine cents) as its share.
What about the NAACP? A few months ago the owner of the professional basketball team the Los Angeles Clippers, was caught on tape making some very ugly racist remarks.
“I’m just saying, in your lousy f—ing Instagrams, you don’t have to have yourself . . . walking with black people,” says Sterling, the 80-year-old owner of the Los Angeles Clippers basketball team, to V. Stiviano, 31, a bikini model. “Admire him, bring him here, feed him, f— him, I don’t care. You can do anything. But don’t put him on an Instagram for the world to have to see so they have to call me.”
If you’re wondering, “him” referred to former NBA star Magic Johnson (who is black). The Post points out more about Sterling’s relationships in the Los Angeles community:
But to overlook the context of the conversation is to miss the point of what has been disclosed.
The United Negro College Fund has taken Sterling’s money; so has the Black Business Association of Los Angeles, among many other black groups.
The Los Angeles chapter of the NAACP counted on Sterling’s support and was about to present him with another award before the telephone conversation was made public. Suddenly, its members are critical of the benefactor and have pledged to give back $5,000 he gave them in 2010.
Before the ban was announced, the players had been calling on African Americans and Latinos to boycott the Clippers games. But will they step up and do more to support black organizations? Maybe groups such as the NAACP wouldn’t have to depend so much on the Donald Sterlings of the world if they did.
The relationship that Stiviano had with Sterling was bad; the one that the NAACP had with him was worse. Even as the billionaire was being exposed in 2009 as one of the largest slumlords in the country, he was being honored with a Lifetime Achievement Award by the glitziest branch of the nation’s oldest civil rights organization.]This incident also wound up costing the head of the Los Angeles chapter of the NAACP his job. For the right price, any sin can be forgiven by any organization.
In each of these cases, whatever these very different groups stands for over time the body of the organization becomes more important than the mission itself. This brings me to the point of this post, in that however worthy any groups’ original mission may be, once its main purpose is growth the original mission becomes corrupted. Look at how the left’s favorite grievance groups have evolved over time:
Women have overcome not being allowed to vote to the point where suggesting that women are intelligent enough to manage a $9 per month birth control pill expense is somehow sexist.
Black Americans have a legacy that started with slavery, moved on to Jim Crow, and now… suggesting that they should have the intelligence to be able to acquire a photo ID (the same needed to open a bank account, board an airplane, or buy alcohol) is racist.
Being gay has gone from having to fear people knowing your orientation to the point where suggesting that marriage is between a man and a woman can have you driven from your job or threatened with imprisonment by the Gaystappo.2
Image appears via The People’s Cube
This is not to suggest that discrimination against any of these groups is completely gone – human nature says that it never will be. But as the worst forms of discrimination disappear, so do the number of villains to be targeted, as do the number of victims. That becomes a problem for these groups, so the scope of victimhood has to be expanded, along with who can be targeted as an enemy. This is part of why the extremist wing has taken over the Democrat party.
Another more disturbing explanation for why we’ve seen such extremist agendas from the Democrats is that in terms of electoral victory, centrist voters just doesn’t matter that much any more. To make a long story short, the Dems have been using a database known as Catalyst to ensure high turnout among their more extreme followers. It’s gotten efficient enough that they can mostly ignore the center as long as they turn out everyone they need from the radical left. My one critique of the post that I linked to is that the story carries a somewhat sinister tone – I get that a little bit to that but I see this as more of a good exercise in turning data into action and wish conservatives had discovered it first.
But if you’re wondering why we seem to becoming more polarized, this will hopefully explain why. Contrary to what the radical left screams about Tea Party “extremists”, it’s not that fiscal responsibility and personal responsibility have become extreme positions – the left’s positions have and they think their radicalized positions are the new center. Or as Will Antonin put it:
If you were open-minded and tolerant, you’d think exactly as I do. Since you don’t, I’ll use government to coerce you. ~ the modern Left
— Will Antonin (@Will_Antonin) October 21, 2014
Cross posted from Brother Bob’s Blog
1 By now you know I don’t use the real names of friends/family in my posts. The DOC was the name of this particular friend’s fantasy football team one year if you were wondering.