Wednesday, December 17, 2014

When to Publish, and When Not

My decision to fictionalize my encounters with a sexually abusive guru has drawn fire from left and right, as the media commentators say.

There is a loud minority that would rather I publish nothing at all about my experiences with “Gulliver” when I was nineteen. I have heard from one by e-mail; I am dreading meeting another in person this weekend. He’s an old friend. He means well. He just wants me to shut the hell up.

These folks, whether they like it or not, are in the same camp with the mainstream media, which has failed to report on the sexual shenanigans of a key Obama adviser. Like the press, these silence-is-golden folks seem to think that it’s OK to give a pass to those who prey on others, especially older gay men who prey on youths.

On the other side, there are those who want me to go whole hog, pardon the expression. These hail from the 16 percent who voted “Publish but only with real names” in my recent poll. Expose the bastard! Destroy his name! they shout at me. Never let anyone think Gulliver did any good!

Meanwhile, I sit huddled amidst the hue and cry, making up stories about places that may never have existed like Dulcinea, the antiquarian bookshop and floorshow. But I know what I’m doing. Dumb I ain’t. My parents didn’t rear stupid children.

Let me explain with a recent exchange. A dear old friend—definitely one of those in the whole-hog camp—wrote me last night:

Suppose one of your children, or to make it more personal, let's say [he names one of his children] came to me and shared the following. “Dad, when I was in college a very charismatic professor seduced me with his wisdom and secret knowledge that would bring me to a higher place of consciousness. Being a young nineteen-year-old and somewhat confused and searching for higher understanding, I fell into his web, and found myself in a sexual relationship with him for years. Later I learned that I was one of many who fell prey to a similar fate. Should I expose this predator dad?” she asks me. 

Although I have not been in a fight since third grade, I predict that I would have paid this professor a visit and perhaps have been less gentle than your dad was in confronting your predator in early years. I might have said, with my hands on his throat, “If you go near my child again, I’ll rip your [anatomical organ] off and shove it down your throat so you can live in eternal ecstasy, and God bless you.” 

Do you get my point Webster? We were the victims and he the predator. No need for embarrassment; perhaps gullible naiveté, but not embarrassment. This evil predator should be exposed.

I take my friend’s point, and I take it seriously. But current circumstances are not the same as those in his analogy.

First, Gulliver is dead. It would require earth-moving equipment to exact the revenge my friend proposes. Moreover, the Church I choose to follow does not advise revenge.

Second, those who knew him and know me and have read what I’ve written now have more information about who he was. I have revealed aspects of his character that I imagine they had not considered as closely as I have been forced to do in writing my book. I’m pretty sure they know I’m telling the truth, though I am dressing the truth in lies. They know me. Like my dad, God rest his soul, I’m usually a straight shooter.

All of us must wrestle with our own culpability in aiding and abetting a man we all—c’mon people, you knew something was fishy—had suspicions about all along.

Third, now that the predator is dead, all of the damage of a full exposé would fall on the living. Let the dead bury the dead, I say. St. Joseph teaches me that I must care for the living, especially those of my own household. Sometimes silence is indeed golden.

So rest in peace, Gulliver. And keep your head down, brother. My next salvo is incoming.

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