When is a matter a ‘scandal?’ What if it involves two adults doing nothing unlawful or offensive? Jim and Mary kissed on a beach, for example. Or Jim and Jim.
What if Jim is an ordinary parish priest? His kissing on a beach is an indiscretion, and a violation of church law. But is it a “scandal’?
You know where I am headed: What if Jim is a famous priest, is, in fact, Father Alberto Cutié?
The photos, taken by avulture paparazzi, were never offered to The Herald, Executive Editor Anders Gyllenhaal told me. But he said he would not have bought them and would not have pursued the story had the statements not made it a public issue. The priest’s personal relationship by itself ‘is not the kind of journalism we are interested in,’ Gyllenhaal said.
‘Of course, there are sensational elements of this story, but what the paper has been doing is both covering a powerful and emotional story and looking into some of the other important issues it raises,’ Gyllenhaal said. “Not a day goes by when we’re not flooded with letters about issues like loyalty, oaths, love and celibacy.’
By the standards of our celebrity-saturated culture, the gossip-magazine language in some of The Herald’s stories is pretty tame. But the matter is still not a ‘scandal.’ The priest didn’t rob, kill or cheat taxpayers. There was no crime. The girlfriend, whom he claims to love, has been identified as a 35-year old divorced mother. No bimbo, no teenage girl, no young boy.
In the first place, it’s “vulture paparazzo.”Paparazzi is the plural. I don’t want to hear any more about editing and standards in newspapers that we bloggers tragically lack.
In the second place, well, she’s not abimbo, the priest’s girlfriend. She doesn’t have, like, dyed hair or run around in miniskirts or anything. If she was a bimbo, then it would be an outrage, a moral quandry for the Herald and its readers. If she was some floozy, then it would be EXACTLY LIKE STATUTORY RAPE, and then the Miami Herald should feel free to condemn her and her cassocked Casanova with all the moral force it wields in the community. Right? But she’s got kids, she’s an adult, she’s not cheap.
Am I making sense about why this bothers me? It’s not that the Miami Herald reported on a priest having an affair (and deemed it an important enough story tocommission a poll about it, but that’s another post about the soap opera crapola we consider worthy of journalistic resources these days while we bitch about the trivialization of the Internet). The Miami Herald feels comfortable passing judgment on the value of the priest’s girlfriend and thus on the priest himself. She’s not a bimbo.
What if she was? What if, by whatever standard we define “bimbo” these days, she was any less than virtuous? Would it make it more or less okay that the priest was having an affair with her? Set aside the merits of the story itself, the Herald seems to be saying, and concentrate on the merits of the woman in question. She wasn’t a bimbo. I’m asking, so what if she was?