Saturday, June 28, 2008

Super alta vectus Attis celeri rate maria: Jindal sings Catullus 63

Louisiana governor Bobby Jindal signed into law the requirement for second-time sex offenders to be castrated, either chemically or physically. For first time offenders, the judge has the option to order either.

The bill was initiated by a lawmaker from Meaux, Louisiana (a village about a skip and a jump from Lafayette) and inspired by the sexual misconduct of a former Diocese of Lafayette priest-child molester, Gilbert Gauthe. Watchers of the news will recall the name recently from the Galveston scene, where the ex-priest was arrested because he had not checked in with authorities as a sex offender.

Now that such offenders in Louisiana will be or could be forced to share the fate of Attis, I have been eagerly awaiting a statement from either the local bishop, other Louisiana bishops, or perhaps from the Achdiocese regarding the new law. Jindal himself, I understand is a Roman Catholic (who knows whether or not that factoid has anything at all to do with the price of tea in China), and therefore, one would think, he would (or should?) likewise faithfully refuse to support sterilization (as much as he would refuse to support condom use or abortion). Curiously, we haven't heard a peep from the mitred set, either now after the signing, or before when the law was still being proposed. Is it a matter of wording? "Castration" vs. "Sterilization"? Or are the croziers just waiting for the right time to respond, or will they respond when the judge orders the cruel flint to make its first cut? Seems to me that silence means consent. And if sterilization is ok? Might that mean that slipping on a raincoat might also not be as bad as, say, the A-word? Maybe I overlooked a hidden footnote in Humane Vitae that went something like "an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure".

What a wretched catch-22. Here is a law containing such a punishment which we as Catholics have been taught is morally unacceptible, yet if the bishops speak out against it immediately, they may be seen as supporting sex-offenders. Colloquially, the dilema is like "having a fox in the hen house." However, it would be a shame for Catholic morality to be weighed against monetary damages. That reminds me of the scene from the Egyptian Book of the Dead in which the human heart is balanced against a feather. In this case, which is of greater weight: what's right according to Church teaching or the balance in the Church checkbook after the lawyers get paid? Maybe if they just ignore it, it will go away....


Motherhen said...

As a mother, I say YAY, I hope they castrate all who prey on children.

As a Catholic, I have to hope that God will forgive me for not siding with Church teachings on this issue.

Jason Pennington said...

I'm with you, Paula. Personally, I think such a punishment is really very mild. From what I understand, if a prison stay is prescribed, the castration takes place upon the offender's release into the population.

We won't even mention anything about the castrati who sang in the choir. Of course, that was back before such things were deemed immoral.


Richard Chonak said...

Castration isn't wrong because it's sterilization, but because it's mutilation of the body. Or is there some claim that castration is therapeutic for such criminals?