Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Mackenzie Phillips, Roman Polanski, and how America really views child abuse.

Hasn't this been a wild week for child abuse headlines? First, Mackenzie Phillips gets the ball rolling with the bombshell that her father, John Phillips of the Mamas and the Papas, drugged and sexually molested her when she was a teen.

The relationship continued for ten years, although she concedes 'the Stockholm syndrome' might have been at work in her head. She pleaded with people not to hate her father, which even disturbed shock radio host, Howard Stern.

There was mention about others who might have known, like fellow band member, Denny Doherty, but Mackenzie does not want to exact revenge.

Roman Polanski was arrested in Switzerland for drugging and sexually molesting a 13 year old girl.

This stems from an old case from the early seventies, but, then again, so were some of the incidents brought up in the Bob Gray saga. Click here if you are not familiar with Bob Gray saga, the central figure who inspired the blog you now read.

Gray was not alleged to have drugged his victims, but maybe didn't have to. The King James Version of the Bible, in the hands of a man already claiming power and absolute authority, can be the most addictive drug of them all.

How many victims have been deluded into giving a pastor unbridled authority over their lives because of a few well chosen words from scripture, with a 'gotcha' attitude to match?

Let's get back to Hollywood scandals.

Here's where things get screwy:

Most, outside of Hollywood producers, writers, and directors, agree Polanksi needs to answer for his crime. Even if the victim forgave him.

Things are different when it comes to Mackenzie!

Half of America seems to be filled with hate and anger toward her for even bringing it up. Those who would otherwise want Polanksi in jail, or the death sentence against fundamentalist preachers who molested children, have now become turncoats when it comes to accusations against John Phillips.

Excuses are made.

"She was a drug addict!

. . .has a book coming out!

. . .career's on the skids!"

What's conveniently left out of the anger is the fact it was her father, who introduced her to drugs, which helped put her career on the skids! Let's face it, if you had been raped by your father, don't you'd think you'd want some drugs to just get the thoughts out of your mind?

The Fighting Fundamentalist Forum, the primo place to discuss abuses by fundamentalist preachers, is filled with amazing posts by people ragging on Mackenzie for being on drugs in the first place!

What's weird is the people trashing Mackenzie on the FFF are also critical of abuses at places like Hephzibah House, as well as other fundamentalist predator/pastors.

If her book alleged abuse by a fundamentalist minister, would her motives even be questioned?

Why the double standard?

Take, for instance, the women accusing Ron Williams, the founder of Hephzibah House, of physical abuse. When supporters of Williams try to use the past of the HH victims against them, the critics of HH are front and center declaring how unfair it is to bring up the victim's past.

Yet, when it's Mackenzie, even the critics of HH seem to not care about bringing up the drug issue, even if it was her father who introduced her to it. How dare Mackenzie tread on our precious memories of Mamas and Papa tunes!

I'm not posting the links of these comments because I'm very disappointed in these people. For awhile, I thought they really cared about child abuse! Silly me! Concern about child abuse ALWAYS takes a backseat to whoever we happen to be scapegoating at the time.

You can sift through the posts by clicking here. Those who would otherwise defend victims of child abuse by religious figures are suddenly turning on Mackenzie Phillips, victim of a once popular musician. It's just sickening.

I think a lot of these people spent their formidable years defending rock music against the wild accusations of fundamentalist preachers. Now that we see that some accusations against popular musicians (no matter how 'out of date' they are) actually had validity, those who once defended victims (of religious abuse) suddenly lapse into an unexpected 'blame the victim' mode.

I don't see them blaming the victim when it comes to accusations against fundamentalist preachers, but when it's against their precious musical memories, somehow it becomes okay to blame a victim.

I'm sure John Phillips and Roman Polanski felt exactly like Bob Gray, Eddie Dunagan, Daryl Gilyard, and other alleged evangelical preacher/predators.

"Nobody's going to turn me in! I'm known as a great artist!"

Or, "I'm practically a 'Christian rock star'!"

Nobody will touch them. There's too much 'respect' in the waters for that. Too many people dependent on them for their financial income.

And their victims? Like Mackenzie Phillips, they have 'questionable backgrounds', according to those who defend the preachers.

Indeed, one of the first accusations I heard against a victim of Bob Gray concerned the use of marijuana by one of the accusers. How is that any different from those accusing Mackenzie of being unreliable because she had a 'needle stuck up her arm for 35 years'?

It's not just the FFF, though. Nor is child sexual abuse being mishandled only by fundamentalists, Catholics, rock stars, and film directors. Read through the comments at this Huffington Post article.

America, and the world, is still out to lunch when it comes to the issue of child sexual abuse.

There's also a lot of people spouting the ridiculous idea about John Phillips needing to be around to 'defend himself'.

How dare she wait until he's dead!

Mackenzie displayed great compassion by waiting until he was dead.

Let's face it, there's nothing more fun than a celebrity trial. Why would she want to put herself through that? You think Mackenzie is being dragged through the dirt now? Imagine how she would fare having to face her father on the witness stand!

Her background would be totally used against her.

Imagine how terrible her father would feel!

Ha! I know, you're thinking, "Why should we care?"

Those who seemingly care about John Phillips not being around to defend himself somehow miss that Mackenzie did John a great favor by not addressing the issue while he was alive. She spared him from further embarrassment, not to mention her family when the inevitable 'who knew' questions would be asked in court.

A victim's first responsibility is to herself, not the entertainment of the masses. If she had brought this up while he was alive, the issue of child abuse would most likely have been swept under the rug. She would have probably settled for an 'undisclosed amount', and that, most certainly, would have guaranteed her silence.

By not going through that fiasco, she's made it possible to shine a light on a problem that's affecting millions of people throughout the world.

NOTE: ABC News reports that since Phillips’ public admission on the Oprah Winfrey show this week, the Rape, Abuse and Incest National Network (RAINN) has seen a 26 percent jump in its hotline calls and an 83 percent increase in traffic on its Web site.


zardoz12 said...

Remember this is the "Fighting Fundamental Forums" you're talking about...if Christ came back and denounced the IFB churches on every TV channel, radio frequency, and website they would deny the whole thing as a hoax. You really have to screw up bad for the FFF'rs; a good example from the site would be the thread on Dr. Preston Bunnel (it's under the section on the Oklahoma Bible College and only titled "Bunnel.") Bunnel had done something at a church, went on a mission to Russia (this was in the early 1990s), then showed up at a church in San Diego County. He impressed the pastor of that church so much he went on a mission to Japan, and Bunnel was left in charge. Within six years the church was ripped apart because Bunnel was having an affair with a woman in the church. The church (and it's attached church school) dissolved and now Bunnel is pastoring at some church in New Orleans, LA. If you read the thread half of the conversations are a lot of Biblical "legalese" on leadership, while the other half are condemnations of Bunnel (as a "whoremonger") from the pastor of another SD church who took in the "shipwrecked" churchgoers while one person (who was nowhere near SD County at the time) tries to defend the guy. There is a lot of hemming and hawing and it takes pages for the story to come out because it makes "the Faith" look bad. Whenever it is the powerful against the powerless, unless the charges cannot be refuted, the FFF sides with authority and power.

In full disclosure I attended the church school (Fairhaven's Christian in Spring Valley) but I graduated from their rinky-dink high school a year before Bunnel took over. Before I read the details on the FFF, I thought the school had collapsed because Bunnel was running it like a POW camp. Having actually been called out (in front of the entire school) for looking at my watch during one of his rambling chapel sermons, none of this new info suprises me.

Dwayne Walker said...

>Whenever it is the powerful against the powerless, unless the charges cannot be refuted, the FFF sides with authority and power.

Very astute comment! That explains why sometimes I read posts praising those who 'expose' the predator preachers, but the very same people wanting the predator preacher's exposed seem to be silent (if not downright aggressive) when others, who may not be preachers (but still meaningful to the accusers), are exposed.

I've got an overdue article I need to publish on this website, and I'll probably get around to it tonight. It'll explain my turnaround on some issues.

rabpid7 said...

Very good post.

I post frequnetly on the fff, i am against abuse no matter where it comes from and who does it.

i hope i was kind in my posts about her. to me she is a victim, drugs make people do very horrible things.

john phillips was a druggie, whose lifestyle fried both his brains and his morality. what he did was sick and deplorable. would it have happended if drugs were not such a big part od his life, i doubt it.

people reactions to her were shocking, it was like blaming the rape victim. no matter her age, that was her father. he took advantage to her.

the one reason for this outrage against her, is that the accused is very well known and loved by many people, and the accuser is just as famous, but not as beloved daughter. who before she wrote her book, was viewed at best by many as a junkie.

with mckenie phillips coming out with her story, hopefully others who are in the same circumstances, and hear her story and get the the courage to seek help and get out of that sick situation.

child abuse and incest is a sick crime, and only hurts and devastes everyone.

Dwayne Walker said...

Yes, I agree about the extreme drug culture. I think, when it comes to minors and the law, drugs should be treated the same as sex.

Actually, it already is. You can't sell alcohol and cigarettes to those between 18-21, but parents can, at their discretion, allow for limited wine consumption for ceremonies, family dinners, etc. Same is true, in a way, with sex within marriage. A parent can give his, or her, blessing to a minor getting married. Although, I don't believe the parent can grant consent to a minor having sex outside of marriage. That seems kind of strange to me, actually.

This is all an opinion and a guess, though. I'm not a lawyer and haven't researched it.

The one thing drugs and alcohol have in common is a set federal age. You know, no matter where you are in the country, that you cannot sell or give alcohol to anyone between the ages of 18 and 21. Although I'm in favor of just settling to one age, 18, like it was when I grew up.

I do believe there should be one mandatory age for sexual consent throughout the country.

I think the 18-21 creates a lot of confusion. You can join the military and be trained to operate heavy artillery, and have people's lives in your hands, but don't you dare smoke!

And with sex? Washington D.C. has the age at 17 while most of the country sets it at 18. One can be guilty of statutory rape in California, but have an encounter with that same person in D.C., and every thing's legal.

Not quire sure if bringing the same 17 year old from California to D.C., and having sex, would constitute taking someone beyond state lines. I mean, we are talking about our nation's capitol here!

Another topic for another day. . .

But back to Mackenzie:

Her world was, and is, light years from fundamentalism. However, the situation is still the same, just the particulars are different. Phillips taught her how to roll a joint at 11! I think that was the age, I'll have to double check the book.

If drugs weren't involved, hopefully it wouldn't have gone the way of incest. However, incest has happened in fundamentalist circles. Let's hope it's just limited to a few people.

It's something you can't be too comfortable about, though. Most experts believe the amount of children abused at home, that haven't been reported, may total into the millions.

Those families most likely wouldn't be able to live the life of John Phillips! Yet, there is incest happening out in America in the homes of middle class, and poverty level, families. Some of it without the necessity of drugs and alcohol.

Just generational intimidation, with everybody else being too shell shocked to do anything about it.

They can do something about it, of course, but they love their father, mother, brother, sister, uncle, niece, nephew, too much to call the police on them. Or, for that matter, just hold a 'family meeting' to discuss the situation.

Meggs said...

Thank you for this post. Mackenzie Phillips' book and interviews have brought about a great amount of controversy, but have also opened doors for many other survivors to speak out and tell their stories. If you'd like to see some positive things that have come out of this, check out my blog: ... Mackenzie was recently honored as the Darkness 2 Light Foundation's 2009 Voice of Courage. Of course, no one in the media wants to focus on the work she is now doing to help prevent child abuse and incest. They all want to dwell on the drug use. I've read her book... it's no wonder the woman has lived a tortured life. As an incest survivor myself, I can tell you that we know when someone has been through what we have been through... we can see it in their eyes, hear it in their voice. Mackenzie is telling the truth, has since spoken out about the fact that she realizes the incest was definitely NOT consensual, and the survivor community is following suit. I will forever applaud her decision to speak out. Thank you again for this post... I know about 1200 men and women over at a support group on facebook who will really appreciate it too. I'm going to share it with them now.

Dwayne Walker said...

Thanks for this post! I was not aware that Mackenzie was honored by Darkness2Light. Well, that's what you get for depending on the mainstream news for all your info! Or, for that matter, even some of the better internet news sources.

This is a subject no one wants to discuss, but whenever somebody does discuss it, and isn't afraid to advertise it, it becomes a lead story or draws a sizable crowd. Makes you wonder why we're not seeing stories like this plastered across the newspapers and magazines of the country.

Meggs said...

You're very welcome. I subscribe to a lot of blogs that talk about the fight for victims/survivors/awareness... D2L has a great blog and they have some videos of Mackenzie there too. Charleston, SC has a local station that covered the story because that's where the D2L Gala happened... but you KNOW the mainstream media wasn't going to touch that. Sad, but true. Mackenzie is also working with Angela Shelton. Good things are happening because of her bravery. I can't tell you how much I appreciate your blog. I plan to catch up with the rest of your posts when I am able.

Lori said...

Excellent points on Mackenzie's negative and unfair treatment for bringing up a disturbing topic as well as tarnishing the reputation of her famous father. I like the Mamas And Papas music, but as a survivor -- and member of the Facebook support group Meggs mentioned, which she formed -- I had no trouble believing Mackenzie's accusations. I respect the woman's courage and am grateful for the positive effects her disclosure is having for all survivors including me. We are coming together in a wave of voices that can no longer be silenced. I believe you will hear more such stories.

Dwayne Walker said...

Lori brings up a good point I've been thinking about. The idea of boycotting artists because of pedophilia in their private lives.

Brick and mortar organizations I can understand. Children might be at risk and people need to know the dangers.

Art, however, is esoteric. A number of artists have had tortured backgrounds. Some have engaged in abuse. Others have killed people. But we still showcase their works in schools.

Disney's got a new version of ALICE IN WONDERLAND coming out. In addition to Disney's dismal record regarding cooperating with the police when it comes to child molestation happening in their parks, Lewis Carroll was known for nude pictures he took of children.

If Lewis Carroll were living today, he'd be arrested for child pornography! There are apologists for Carroll, but I find it difficult to think he was truly innocent. Of course, then we are met with the old standby, "You can't judge people from prior centuries by contemporary standards."

We don't take that tactic when it comes to slavery. Or abuse towards women by historical figures. Yet, when it comes to children, we're supposed to refrain from judging the past actions of writers, preachers, and others. By our contemporary standards, John Wesley, the founder of Methodism, was a stalker! Don't get me started on Pocahontas!

I haven't heard of anyone seriously talking about boycotting music from the Mama's and the Poppas. I still listen to it, briefly felt guilty, then immediately started thinking about all 'the greats' who also might have been guilty of the same thing.

If we boycotted all music and art made by abusive personalities, we probably wouldn't have a lot of music and art! Or roads and bridges,for that matter. I believe it's that prevalent! I mean, if you knew the man responsible for building the roof over your head also molested a child, would you move out of that house? At a certain point, boycotts become ridiculous.

However, all this might be a straw man argument. I have seriously not heard of anyone calling for a boycott of John Phillips songs, but can't say I haven't pondered the idea.

Thanks for cluing me in about all the new websites. Will visit them more often!

Dwayne Walker said...

Meggs, you're right with that mainstream media comment. Even if we didn't have a war, a terrible economy, and things apparently on the brink, I don't think the media would still address this subject!

Any little thing, like the Angela Shelton project, should be welcomed. I get the feeling if this topic is to be addressed, in a REALISTIC fashion, especially through movies and videos, it will be through a grass roots effort.

There are movies about child abuse, but someone always ends up killing someone. Then, actual victims of child abuse are watching these movies and going, "Wait a minute! I never killed anyone."

The effects of child abuse for adult victims, from my point of view, are always internal. Feeling worthless. Like your viewpoint doesn't matter. Not standing up for yourself. Or worse: becoming tolerant of the abuses of others.

Lori said...

Dwayne, you've raised some excellent additional points I'd like to address. I totally agree about the grassroots campaign and feel it is happening, and that Mackenzie Phillips fully deserved recognition for providing so much momentum to the effort.

On the subject of art, it is a troublesome pickle. It can be difficult to separate the artist from the art, whether music or writing or film or whatever. I myself find it tough if not impossible in some cases -- disturbed by the behavior of Roman Polanski and Woody Allen, for example, along with John Phillips. I'm not so sure Michael Jackson was "innocent", despite the craziness surrounding his accusations. As you said, how much art would be left if we boycotted the creations of such individuals? Where would it end? In the case of Lewis Carroll, I am a major fan of his writing. It distressed me -- particularly as a victim of child abuse -- to learn of the controversy surrounding him. Ironically, I remain unconvinced he wasn't motivated by some peculiar sense of purity as some claim. I'd like to believe based on the innocence he captured so well in his books that the photography wasn't as sordid as it now seems. Whereas with Michael Jackson, I'm inclined to believe the innocent act was indeed a sham. Unfortunately, too many great talents -- Hitchcock, another favorite -- are not without a sullied backstory. It makes me sad.

You are right that victims of abuse have internal effects. This damage, from being forced to remain silent, manifests through emotional and psychological scars. The trauma is being connected to a large number of health conditions too.

Dwayne Walker said...

LORI! I'm sorry I accidently deleted your post! Opps!

That's what I get for writing and re-writing my comments until I get it right, at 1:09 in the AM! When I make mistakes with comments, I'll cut and paste, then correct the mistakes, in the 'leave your comment' box, then delete my message above it until I get it right. This time, though, I inadvertently deleted Lori's message! That's the first time this has happened! Won't happen again.

Anyway, Lori wrote 'please don't say anything about Dr. Suess', and spoke about Tim Burton movies. To which, I replied:

Hey, guess what? I checked out a copy of Roman Polanksi's Oliver Twist from the library! I'll probably watch it tomorrow and get back with you for my review.

Dr. Suess? Doubtful, although I think all of us have wondered about the Cat in the Hat! lol.

I love Tim Burton movies! I'll still go see Alice in Wonderland, even though I'm feeling very anti-Disney now after my experiences working in the park. Still, how many cherished American institutions can one declare war on in one lifetime?

I'm really tired of fighting, though. I just don't think boycotts work! I think we've just have to embrace the ambiguity and contradictions of life. We really don't have much of a choice! Corruption is everywhere, and if we withdraw from everything corrupt we might as well move to Lancaster, PA, and join the Amish.

My tactic now seems to be the same as Mackenzie Phillips and Angela Shelton. I'd rather concentrate on helping victims become survivors.

It seems, these days, one has to choose between recovery and justice. Those two roads don't seem to be parallel.

My feeling is if you're over 30, and your case falls out of the statute of limitations, your chances of justice are quite slim. Repressed memory works well in recovery, but can be a disaster in the courtroom. I really think lawsuits are a waste of time in those cases.

In situations like that, I believe it's better to concentrate on recovery, while lending support to those victims whose cases fall within the statute of limitations, and actually stand a chance of winning.

Okay, that's my post. Everything seems correct, now. There was absolutely nothing wrong with Lori's previous post. Just got a little to quick on the trigger.

Lori said...

You're forgiven. Especially since you seem to have accidentally deleted your own remarks also, which I was replying to. I am glad you are a fellow Tim Burton fan, in the case of Disney's "Alice In Wonderland". And that at least one of my literary heroes, Doctor Seuss, is safe from controversy -- as far as we know.

One thing I had pointed out was that times have indeed changed (a statement you made earlier), thus I do hesitate in judging the likes of Lewis Carroll or Edgar Allan Poe by modern standards. Nudity was prevalent in artwork of the past. And the marrying age for females was often much younger (regarding Poe), something we in western societies now recognize as improper and harmful. Unfortunately, girls are still being married to men in some parts of the world.

I am glad as well that you have joined the effort to help turn victims into survivors. Thanks again for speaking out. Your views are very much appreciated.