Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Rabbi Manis Friedman on Being Molested (Get Over It And Move On)

This is part of the reason why molestation is a big problem in our community. 

No, the man in the video is not a molester.  To my knowledge, he has never actively  tried to shield molesters either.  But his attitude towards molestation is simply horrific.

In the video, he sits and jokes -- JOKES -- about molestation. He apparently believes that being molested is no big deal.  At one point he compares it to having a case of diarrhea.  At another point, he claims that it's worse to miss saying Al HaMichya (the blessing said after eating grain-based products) than to be molested.

It would be bad enough if the person were just an ordinary person.  However, this isn't just anybody.  The man in the video is Rabbi Manis Friedman, a prominent figure in the Chabad-Lubavitch community.  This is a man who is a leader in one of our communities. 

Personally, I find it repugnant that anyone can take the issue of molestation so cavalierly that he can smile and make wise-cracks about it.  I find it doubly so when they do so in public.  I also find it repugnant how he seems to feel that molestation victims have no right to be upset about what was done to them, or that it's no worse than having a teacher who unfairly picks on you.

Personally, I find it amazing that Rabbi Friedman takes this position.  About six years ago, Rabbi Friedman wrote an article making the implication that children conceived through IVF or other similar methods are spiritually and emotionally deficient.  He took the position that if a child is conceived in other-than-ideal circumstances (i.e. parents who are angry with each other or drunk at the time of intercourse, or worse, when there is no sexual intercourse at all), then the child born under such circumstances can be negatively impacted.  He stated that such children can feel unloved or unwanted.  He even speculated that much of the unexplained dysfunction that we see with children has its roots in the circumstances of their conception. 

I find it mind-boggling that Rabbi Friedman believes that the circumstances of one's conception, which the person cannot possibly know, feel or remember in any way, should negatively impact a him or her, but molestation, which the victim certainly knows, feels and remembers, should simply be brushed off as a lesson learned about whom to not trust. 

How anyone can be so clueless about molestation is beyond me.  The fact that he believes that molestation victims should just forget it and move on shows him to be incredibly ignorant on the subject.  The fact that he smirks and jokes about it shows him to be uncaring and unfeeling.  The fact that the leaders of our community can be so clueless and callous about it as to sit and crack jokes about molestation and its victims, goes a long way to explaining why molestation is still a problem in our community.

The Wolf

UPDATE:  (2/1/13 10:45 EST)  Rabbi Friedman has apologized for his remarks.  The full text of his apology follows.

I want to apologize for my completely inappropriate use of language when discussing sexual abuse. I have always believed in the importance of empowering victims of all kinds to move forward in building their lives. In my zeal to reinforce that belief, I came across as being dismissive of one of the worst crimes imaginable.For that I am deeply sorry. 
Molestation is a devastating crime, violating the intimacy and innocence of the pure and defenseless. The victim is left feeling that there is something wrong with the world in which they live. Perpetrators of molestation should be reported to the police and prosecuted appropriately. Any person, organization or entity that stands by silently is abetting in the crime.
From now on, I will make sure to make those points absolutely clear. This is about more than regret. The subject can't be neglected.
I hope over time to earn the forgiveness of those who were hurt by my words.