- The Washington Times - Monday, April 11, 2005

Syndromes on trial

“It all seemed to be going pretty well for Michael Jackson: His accuser’s testimony was all over the map; the boy’s siblings were telling inconsistent stories; there was even a late-breaking recantation to a high-school teacher. And then … one of the men allegedly abused by Jackson over a decade ago admitted under cross-examination that he’d initially denied to investigators that the singer ever touched him.

“Sounds like a job for Dr. Anthony Urquiza.

“Urquiza, called earlier in the trial as an expert witness for the prosecution, testified about something called ‘child sexual abuse accommodation syndrome,’ or CSAAS. …

“CSAAS is part of an ever-widening matrix of criminal-justice-related mental-health syndromes whose main goal seems to be to explain away otherwise-damaging evidence. Rape trauma syndrome (or RTS), battered-woman’s syndrome (or BWS), and CSAAS are all examples of this burgeoning field. …

“CSAAS … [was first] named and described in 1983 in an article by Dr. Roland Summit. … Summit himself has conceded the lack of compelling empirical research support for the syndrome. And when lawyers start importing these scientific curiosities into the courtroom, we all have a serious problem.”

David Feige, writing on “Stupid-Syndrome Syndrome,” Wednesday in Slate at www.slate.com

Gore TV

“Former Vice President Al Gore once claimed, absurdly, that he invented the Internet.

“On April 4, the defeated 2000 Democratic presidential candidate announced that he is reinventing television with ‘Current TV,’ a new youth-oriented satellite channel scheduled to commence full operation on Aug. 1. …

“Gore intends to ‘democratize’ television and produce dirt-cheap programming by exploiting an endless supply of nonunionized young, aspiring broadcast artists and filmmakers in their teens and 20s who are willing to create programs for little or nothing.

“Most of these young people will be from liberal places like New York City, San Francisco and university campuses. … It is easy to predict what kind of programs will result, and what kind of features will be selected for airing.”

— Lowell Ponte, writing on “Mr. Gore’s Neighborhood,” Thursday in Front Page at www.frontpagemag.com

‘Rearguard fighter’

“Everywhere in the great Catholic bastions of southern Europe — Austria, Italy, Spain, Portugal — the story is the same. In France … the only argument is whether regular Mass attendance today is just above, or just below, 10 percent. In Ireland … the numbers declined steadily from the 90 percent of 1973 to 60 percent in 1996, since when they have fallen off a cliff, to 48 percent in 2001 and heading south. A hundred years ago, the U.S. Church imported priests from Ireland; now, Ireland imports them from Nigeria. …

“And the most elementary duty of the Catholic laity, the making of more little Catholics, is now widely neglected: The old Catholic nations of Europe have the lowest birthrates in recorded history. …

“[T]he late pope will be seen … as a rearguard fighter, a man who stood up for human values before they were swept away by the posthuman tsunami. There is great nobility in that, but it is a tragic nobility, the stiff-necked nobility of the hopeless reactionary.”

John Derbyshire, writing on “The Rearguard Pope,” Thursday in National Review Online at www.nationalreview.com

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