At left: Ex-faculty member Dr Camille Lewis and others at BJU Alumni Day yesterday, releasing red balloons in solidarity with victims of sexual abuse. Photo by Hannah Goodman.
I nearly titled this "Greenville News blows Bob Jones"--but as Ben Bradlee famously said in a similar situation: This is a family newspaper. Likewise, this is a family blog. Brainwashed is not the best word to describe their ass-kissing 'reportage.' The humorous initials of Bob Jones University popped into my head, and this post narrowly escaped being titled GREENVILLE NEWS GIVE BJ TO BJU.
Pretend that's the title, since that is the disgusting state of affairs we woke up to this morning in upstate South Carolina.
It isn't enough that the Greenville News totally ignored the recent appointment of a rape apologist to the board of BJU. It isn't enough that they ignored a Facebook-protest-page by students, and the threats of discipline against the students who organized it. It isn't enough that they have ignored the backroom deals by Bob Jones, that have cost Greenville County over a million dollars (at least) that we can scarcely afford. It isn't enough that they fawn all over Bob Jones and run their little just-so stories about their (19th century level) drama department, while a sex abuse scandal raged on. It isn't enough that they are too craven to investigate local right-wing politicians associated with Bob Jones University, like David Thomas--that is left to USA Today, to embarrass us nationwide with information that should have been reported on by our local so-called "newspaper." It isn't enough that they have not even covered the fact that Stephen Jones appears to be AWOL from the school he is supposed to be in charge of; much less ask why Bob Jones IV is not in charge, as he was originally intended to be. [see note below] And needless to say, there is NO investigation of the multiple accounts of ongoing psychological abuse that come out of Bob Jones University every year.
In fact, we might say that the Greenville News is busy getting in on the act and piling on the abuse, writing favorable, lovey-dovey editorials about an institution in which the ultimate authority, Bob Jones III, says to one of the faithful (about a 15-year-old girl):
Well, the truth is, she was raped but it was a consensual relationship. This man took advantage of her but she was a partner in all this. It wasn't, it was more than one time and she was a consensual person.THIS is what Bob Jones III says, to anyone who will listen. He is not ashamed of this view. He allowed this conversation to be TAPE RECORDED, he is PROUD of his opinions. He says it was rape but "she was a partner in all this"--and do we hear any consternation from the Greenville News? Ha! Instead, we hear how great Bob Jones University is!
THESE are the scum they defend and write gushy editorials about, THE DAY AFTER the first student demonstration on record. Instead of writing about the demonstration and the subject (SEXUAL ABUSE) of the demo, they run a gushing editorial about how they are "seeking accreditation"--you know, joining the 20th (not the 21st) century at last? That's what passes for BJU news at their mouthpiece, the official campus newspaper, the Greenville News:
These changes [seeking accreditation and increasing sports opportunities] came during a week that also saw Bob Jones University accept the resignation of a board member who had attracted controversy because of the way he handled an alleged rape of a 16-year-old girl by an adult member of his church in New Hampshire in 1997. The board member, Chuck Phelps, maintains that he handled the incident properly and reported it to police; the victim disputes his account and says she was made to apologize to the church for her actions. Whatever account is most accurate, the controversy surrounding the incident should have given BJU pause in welcoming Phelps back to its board in 2009."Whatever account is most accurate????" Why don't they try, you know, REAL JOURNALISM and find out?
Phelps’ resignation was accepted following an online campaign from students and alumni that was conducted in part on a Facebook group that was called “Do Right BJU.” The university should be commended for responding to students and accepting Phelps’ resignation. This was another appropriate step taken by the university that demonstrates it understands and cares about the community’s perception of its staff, its students and the faith that it represents.
The so-called "changes" came this week for a REASON; they are called DEFLECTING ATTENTION and CHANGING THE SUBJECT. And I guess it works on Beth Padgett, aka Mary Elizabeth Padgett, the author and fangirl-in-chief of the Greenville News editorial page. Note that she left out the quote above from Bob Jones III, claiming that Tina Anderson consented. (Certainly, Tina Anderson is of no concern to Beth Padgett.) Padgett leaves out the fact that students were threatened about the Facebook page, instead, she implies that Phelps resignation was voluntary and not forced by circumstances and nationwide humiliation, including the ABC 20/20 story. She omits the forced pregnancy. She makes the "appropriate step" sound like it was BJU's idea--rather than a result of outraged demands by faculty, students and other community members--because they worried that THEIR DAUGHTERS WOULD NOT BE SAFE.
That's the shoddy, ridiculous level of "reporting" that Padgett and her fundamentalist friends and cronies engage in. It should not be confused with real journalism or a real newspaper.
I hope when the place is at last handed over to someone sane, there will be a RELIGIOUS-ABUSE TRIBUNAL, and the Greenville News and their fraudulent "reporters" put on trial for aiding and abetting abuse in all its forms. Thank God for bloggers; now you see why we are so important. Otherwise, the right-wing noise machine would be the only version you'd get, at least in this neck of the woods.
Thankfully, there is Spartanburg, which is close enough to cover the issue but far enough away that they aren't being totally controlled by BJU, as the Greenville News is. WSPA covered yesterday's demonstration by Bob Jones students, ignored by local media, which may be the first ever:
GREENVILLE, S.C. -- A small, but vocal, group of Bob Jones University students spoke about Monday about what they call a "conspiracy of secrecy" at the school, and within Independent Fundamental Baptist Churches. The group of roughly two dozen students and alumni wore red in unity, as they attended the University's Monday chapel service. "We're just here to say we want to listen, we're here for moral support," says alumni Clinton Verley.Possibly the first show of discontent in the history of BJU, and the Greenville News uses the occasion to pointedly NOT cover the story, but instead reward them with another hand-job.
Student Chris Peterman, founder of "Do Right BJU", was one of the organizers of the event. Peterman says the effort stemmed from the University's connection to Pastor Chuck Phelps, a member of the school's board of Trustees, until he resigned last week. Phelps was surrounded by controversy after a case at his former church in New Hampshire, where a parishioner was accused of raping a teenage girl. "Do Right BJU" members say even though Phelps resigned from Bob Jones' Trustees, they are still unhappy with how the administration handled the matter. "This is about awareness and support for victims," says Peterman. "We want to say we're here for you and if you want to come talk to us, we'll help you heal."
University spokesperson Brian Scoles told Seven on your Side the school has a "zero tolerance" policy when it comes to abuse, and students are encouraged to file grievances with the University.
Participants gathered at the school's fountain after chapel service to release red balloons in support of victims.
Sometimes I wonder what it would be like to live in a town that had a REAL newspaper. Wouldn't that be nice?
According to what I read online (available to anyone who does an extensive internet search), the would-be heir apparent to BJU, Bob Jones IV, lives in one of the most expensive cities in the USA, Miami. As oldest brother and next-in-line, why was he passed over for the job he was being groomed for? What does he live on? After much investigation, I can't locate any visible means of support. The rampant internet rumors are that he lives on the money of the faithful. (Now, why would he be doing that?) Also of interest is the fact that he attended Notre Dame instead of going to his own father's school (not that I blame him for seeking a REAL education, of course). BJU teaches that Catholics are evil and the Pope is the antichrist, and yet, Bob Jones III sent his namesake, Bob Jones IV to the "flagship Catholic university of North America" for a Ph.D.--which by my estimation would cost almost a cool half-million. Notre Dame ain't cheap.
So, Bob Jones III takes the money of the faithful, taught to hate Catholicism, and gives it to the most well-known Catholic college in the country, to EDUCATE his SON. Hello? Why is it okay for BJIV to go to Notre Dame, but the students of Bob Jones University are still taught vicious anti-Catholic propaganda and bigotry?
And that ain't all. As I asked, what does he do for a living? Why was he passed over for Stephen Jones, who is supposedly too sick to show up for work for the last 99 days (but as the link above shows, he sure can go to the movies, a privilege denied to the students)? Does this mean that BJIV will finally take over, since Stephen Jones appears unable to rouse himself to do anything? And why are they so secretive about these matters? Why do Bob-Jones-affiliated people freak out and run like scared rabbits when you ask them about Bob Jones IV? What's the big secret?
I wonder. If we had a REAL investigative newspaper, we might find out these things, you know?
The story is there, if someone is willing to tell it. Just like the story about David Thomas (above), we can't count on our local "newspaper" to be anything but cowardly; they won't dare touch it. I don't have the means to go to Miami or New York and hunt him down, but I hope someone else will.
Because honey, from what I hear, it's a doozy. ;)