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Scandal taints fathers' rights group — Debate

Message #1

From: Freedom For Kids [ffk@sympatico.ca]
Sent: April 19, 2001 22:50
To: ffk
Cc: ffk
Subject: FFK: D.SHACKLETON re: POST Article: "Scandal taints fathers' rights group"

----- Original Message -----
From: "David Shackleton" <editor@EVERYMAN.ORG>
To: "EPOC" <EPOC_NEWS@topica.com>
Sent: Thursday, April 19, 2001 9:01 AM
Subject: RE: [EPOC_NEWS] Donna Laframboise Article

Below is an email I sent to Donna today.

David Shackleton, Editor and Publisher
Everyman: A Men's Journal
PO Box 4617, Station E, Ottawa, ON  K1S 5H8, CANADA
http://www.everyman.org
"The World Changes When We Do"

--------------------

Donna,

I am sure you know how supportive I am of you personally, and your work in support of truth and honesty in journalism.  I know how much criticism you take for your courageous writing.  As a friend, I will do for you what I hope my friends would do for me if they saw me slipping into error.

After we spoke a couple of weeks ago, I went and re-read the relevant portions of Ferrel Christensen's book, which I have here.  As I read, it seemed to me that your concerns about what he had written were exaggerated, but I chose to wait and see.

After seeing your article in the Post, I think that, for the first time that I can recall, you have made some journalistic distortions of the kind that I am used to seeing from other journalists, but not from you.  However, I could be wrong about this: if I am, please set me straight.  And, probably unnecessarily, I reassure you that this is not about our friendship (if I may presume to name it that): my respect for you is undiminished.  I greatly dislike the personal, judgemental criticism that I see all the time within our movement, from people who are unable to separate the issue from the individual.  I am not one who shares this common disability.

Donna, I think that in your article you erred in three areas.  The first is in regards to Ferrel's book.  You wrote in your article, "[Ferrel] equates loving parents, who teach their children sexual restraint, with pedophiles: "Given that children are particularly vulnerable to coercion," he writes, "protecting them from being pressured or forced into something which, in present social conditions, can be highly distressing or even psychologically damaging is a serious concern [though it is potentially no more so than the practice of coercing them not to act sexually]."

Nowhere in what you quote, or in the rest of Ferrel's book that I can find, does he do anything that can remotely be described as equating loving parents with pedophiles.  Loving parents do the best they can, by their lights, to instill socially appropriate sexual morals and behaviours into their children.  Does the repression of natural sexuality that they encourage or enforce do harm to their children?  I would suspect that it does: to say that it doesn't would be to suggest that such parents bring none of their own discomfort with sexuality to their decision process about what is appropriate for their children, or use only guilt-free or shame-free processes in directing their children, and neither of these suggestions are commonly true today.  The difference, however, from this inadvertant damage that good parents do to their children and the behaviour of pedophiles is that the pedophile is interested PRIMARILY in the satisfaction of his or her own sexual desires through the kids, while good parents try strenuously to consider what is best for their children.

The comparison you make is thus a slur, Donna, a smear, and unsupported by anything Ferrel has written.  He has done us a service by clearly articulating one side of an important question, namely, the issue of what is appropriate parental and societal sexual guidance for children.
Unfortunately, this is an area where we are highly emotional as a society, reacting often without thinking.  It seems to me that there is some of this kind of reaction in your own response.

The second area in which I think you err is in the question of what should be done by ECMAS Edmonton regarding the memberships of Paul Abrams [the man's name is Paul Adams] and Ferrel Christensen.  I agree with you that the election of Mr. Abrams to Vice President of the organization was an error, and seriously undermined the credibility and potentially the effectiveness of the organization.
However, Mr. Abrams resigned swiftly, for which he is to be commended.  You seem to be taking the position that both he and Ferrel should be ejected from the organizaation.  This is too extreme.  Inclusiveness and openness are important principles, and people should not be excluded from membership in democratic organizations because of their views (Ferrel) or their past crimes, for which they have paid (Paul).  The fact is, Ms. Malenfant is mistaken when she says, "You cannot legitimately speak on behalf of the falsely accused while holding the belief that sex in childhood is a good thing."  Actually, it is quite possible to hold the belief that sex between consenting minors is a good thing, and simultaneously to speak on behalf of those ADULTS falsely accused of sexual abuse of children.  The two issues are separate, and Ferrel is careful to separate them in his book, as you note in your article.

My third point is about your use of anonymous witnesses.  What these four say about Ferrel's and Paul's behaviour and statements is both hearsay and anonymous.  I think that you erred in quoting their recollections, unchallengeable by those they are accusing because of their anonymity, so extensively. 

Overall, Donna, I want to suggest to you that perhaps your laudable desire for the fathers' rights movement to put its house in order and operate effectively and professionally might have caused you to try to hold them to a higher standard of behaviour than you would other organizations.  God knows we have our problems, and there may indeed be a story in the ECMAS events.  However, I think that the story probably should have ended when Mr. Abrams resigned from the ECMAS executive.  We live in a land of free speech and free assembly, and Ferrel is entitled to his views, and Paul is entitled to attempt to recruit clients at ECMAS meetings.  You presented no evidence that the organization (i.e., the executive) supported or endorsed either Ferrel's views about child sexuality or Paul's activities as a paralegal.  As simply members, even prominent members, their views and activities are neither illegal nor unethical.

Donna, I'll leave it there.  I hope that you find my arguments to be useful, and I assure you once again of my consistent respect and admiration for your commitment to journalism of integrity.

Feel free to call me at (613) 832-2284 if you would like to talk about any of this.

Sincerely,

David Shackleton, Editor and Publisher
Everyman: A Men's Journal
PO Box 4617, Station E, Ottawa, ON  K1S 5H8, CANADA
http://www.everyman.org
"The World Changes When We Do"
 

Louise Malenfant's reaction (message # 2) to the letter shown above


The book that motivated the debate:

Pornography: The Other SideAnnotated quotes from the book

The article by Donna Laframboise in the April 17, 2001 issue of the National Post

Scandal taints fathers' rights group,


What other people say about the book

Don't take anyone's word for it.  Judge for yourself:

Annotated quotes from Pornography: The Other Side


Parents Helping Parents

Louise Malenfant

malenfant.jpg (2818 bytes)

Family Advocate, Parents Helping Parents

Calgary, Alberta, Canada

Louise Malenfant passed away in 2006.  She is being missed.

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