I submitted the first op/ed to The Morning Call and, perhaps not surprisingly, they wouldn’t run it. So, I edited it to address their concerns. That version is posted here. They won’t run this one, either.
Just one more example of the erosion of basic institutions, tenets, norms that are so common in 2020 United States. Not a lot of people will see this but at least I got it off my chest.
Normally, I don’t criticize The Morning Call or, for that matter, any other mainstream newspaper. I get them. I’ve worked with them for almost 40 years. I get how they work. I get the rules. I get the challenge of a daily newspaper trying to survive in the age of the 24-hour news cycle and the internet.
But on the news that Paul Carpenter has been sued by his daughter for ten years of sexual abuse, The Morning Call, while deserving credit for reporting his despicable but, for now, alleged behavior, deserves to be called out for its complicity.
For those of you who are new to the area or were not paying attention, Carpenter used the platform the paper gave him to methodically attack and discredit the counties’ offices of children and youth services. He would use specific cases, by name, to accuse the system of abuse of power. He did it, surely knowing that they could not respond due to the rights of their clients to confidentiality. To be very clear, I am not suggesting that anyone at the paper knew he was, as she alleges, sexually abusing his daughter. But giving this awful man almost celebrity status, then allowing him, over and over, to attack the child welfare system was not particularly honorable or in our community’s best interest.
Let me tell you, being a caseworker in the child welfare system may well be the most stressful job in the field of human services. Precious little children, innocent as can be, are victimized in absolutely hideous ways by adults who, considering what they have done, are monsters. Moreover, their pay doesn’t come close to what they should earn, especially when the work deserves combat pay. And, on top of it all, their caseloads are downright inhumane. And there was Paul Carpenter beating the hell out of these heroes. It was nothing short of sickening that The Morning Call gave him that platform to harass, abuse and terrorize these kind souls.
Keep in mind that this was occurring while various conservatives, from Washington down to our local community, incessantly looked for ways to discredit anyone, any institution, any level of government that existed for the purpose of standing up for those our society was all too willing to leave behind. They cut funding, they created bureaucratic quicksand, they undermined. This constant attack on institutions established for the greater good had a self-fulfilling prophecy to it: render them incapable of doing their work and you can then point at the failure as proof that the work is ineffective.
Imagine: You’re doing the most stressful work our society can create, intervening on behalf of the most vulnerable among us, and people apparently considering themselves patriotic Americans are lying about your work, undermining it, making sure that you can’t be effective.
Worse, as it turns out, according to his daughter, he was an incestuous pedophile.
Now, he has a right to defend himself. Her accusations are, until a jury says otherwise, simply allegations. But the thought of him attacking the child welfare system while he was, himself, allegedly endangering his own child, is particularly disgusting. This, my friends, may be the most horrific thing I have ever seen in my 40 years of fighting for what’s right in our world.
I routinely called people at the paper objecting to his outrageous opinion columns attacking a system that was underfunded and over-burdened. I talked to lawyers, trying to find a legal mechanism to force this guy out of his position. His views were libertarian at best. But, at worst, he was discrediting a system while he should have been in the system himself. It makes me sick.
So, friends, when you come upon people denouncing that system and its institutions designed to bring some semblance of decency to what can be a pretty ugly world, think hard about what might be this person’s motive. Reject the cynicism that allows people to harbor sinister motives. And raise hell when you discover that those motives illustrate the worst of the human condition.