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Post Mormon reaction to child abusers from their own community


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2 hours ago, Storm Rider said:

I don't know this individual and have never heard of him. I guess I live in a small world. Regardless, your comment comes close to how I feel about humanity. Individuals are very complex and often possessing highly conflicting desires and objectives. A pedophile does not sum up the totality of this individual or any other individual. As people talk about him it is obvious that he possessed other characteristics; some have stated he was kind, charming, etc. 

Humans are not one note beings, but each is a cacophony of notes that seldom evolve into a coherent symphony. I think we should value the good in others rather than diminish them into solely their worst, possessed demons.  

I agree with this. I think that properly understanding the individual in this light is the only hope of ever combating/preventing these problems in society.  He acted like a monster, but to diminish him to the point of suggesting that there was no good in him, or that he was not capable of doing good makes him less accountable/responsible in a sense.  If he truly was not capable of doing good, then we can't really blame him and he is not truly culpable for doing evil.  He made despicable choices, but was capable of making good choices (as he demonstrated) and not making evil choices, which makes it that much more despicable.  I personally believe that every predator who acts on their cravings are suffering themselves because of the cruelties of life in one way or another, and that this is a manifestation of their internal darkness, but that doesn't let them off the hook.  I think people are afraid to look at perpetrators as victims in some sense, because it might make them less monster-like or responsible.  But I disagree, I don't think it diminishes from their choices, but it does contextualize it.  Which is important.  Without the context and history and psychology behind their actions, then we will simply be addressing the symptoms of the disease and never fully address/prevent the root cause of the symptoms.  I think a powerful tool in prevention are the perpetrators themselves who have gone through a recovery process.  They are capable of good.  They can be a powerful tool in preventing future abuse because they have been there themselves.  I do believe in the power of redemption for all.  I believe that all men are capable of conquering their demons and finding grace - but they can never earn my trust back.  I will never leave them alone with my child. 

The greatest help and support to me in my own recovery process from addiction (I understand this is a totally different thing, but I think there are probably some parallels and similar root issues) were addicts themselves.  No one else truly understood what I was going through in the same way or could help me contextualize things in the same way which allowed me to find true healing and sobriety.  Redemption is real, and those who come out on the other side can be enormous assets in prevention and healing for others.  

While this man may have had good in him, now is not the time to praise him for it.   Instead of facing the shame and facing his daemons; instead of choosing the work and the path of redemption and restitution (as much as can be done), he was a coward and chose the easy path of ultimate numbness.  He chose to hide.  His victims need to be validated right now, and praising him for his good is not the way to do that (I know that is not what you are doing).

Edited by pogi
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9 minutes ago, juliann said:

Yes, I frequently meditate on the good in mass murderers, too. I appreciate all of the loving articles about the Vegas shooter, don't you?

How about we lose the "demons" excuse? I can't believe how often that trope is used. The abuser does this all on his own and I suspect much of their waking moments are wrapped around covering up while anticipating the next crime. Or wondering when the other shoe will drop in a culture that is teaching victims to speak up.

 

I get what you are saying, and you are right, the abuser does this all on his own.  But our psychology plays a role in every choice we make.  Without addressing that, we will never really address this problem in society.  I don't look at the "demons" as an excuse, as much as a reason (not saying it is a valid reason) for their choices.  Without understanding the reasons, we will never find effective prevention/treatment.  

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2 minutes ago, juliann said:

Yes, I frequently meditate on the good in mass murderers, too. I appreciate all of the loving articles about the Vegas shooter, don't you?

How about we lose the "demons" excuse? I can't believe how often that trope is used. The abuser does this all on his own and I suspect much of their waking moments are wrapped around covering up while anticipating the next crime. Or wondering when the other shoe will drop in a culture that is teaching victims to speak up.

People are grieving and trying to make sense of learning that the person they thought they knew doesn't exist. I suspect the Vegas shooter's family felt the same way some of these folks do, whereas those of us who didn't know or love him would find it difficult to say something loving about him. A lot of my wife's extended family has suffered from childhood sexual abuse. It used to really bother me that they would say they loved their dad or uncles despite what they had done. It took me a long time to understand that they loved and hated their abusers at the same time. The idea that you learn something bad about a friend or loved one and then just flip a switch to hatred and condemnation is not realistic. I find myself going back and forth between extreme anger for what Tom did and then sorrow that the kind man I knew was only part of the story. 

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4 minutes ago, jkwilliams said:

People are grieving and trying to make sense of learning that the person they thought they knew doesn't exist. I suspect the Vegas shooter's family felt the same way some of these folks do, whereas those of us who didn't know or love him would find it difficult to say something loving about him. A lot of my wife's extended family has suffered from childhood sexual abuse. It used to really bother me that they would say they loved their dad or uncles despite what they had done. It took me a long time to understand that they loved and hated their abusers at the same time. The idea that you learn something bad about a friend or loved one and then just flip a switch to hatred and condemnation is not realistic. I find myself going back and forth between extreme anger for what Tom did and then sorrow that the kind man I knew was only part of the story. 

That is all true but irrelevant to the appropriateness of what someone choses to publish. I also had one of those uncles, so I can throw my hat in the ring when it comes to that, too. He victimized all my cousins at a particular age. The last thing I would do is publish excuses for him. What I was left with is anger that it took me so long to put it all together and he was dead before I could confront him and his enabling wife. And yeah, they were "beloved."  So there is my anecdote. 

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2 minutes ago, juliann said:

That is all true but irrelevant to the appropriateness of what someone choses to publish. I also had one of those uncles, so I can throw my hat in the ring when it comes to that, too. He victimized all my cousins at a particular age. The last thing I would do is publish excuses for him. What I was left with is anger that it took me so long to put it all together and he was dead before I could confront him and his enabling wife. And yeah, they were "beloved."  So there is my anecdote. 

Personally, if I were still writing, I'd hold off on opining until I'd cleared my head (still haven't done that, really). It just seems weird to find hypocrisy in the way people deal with such information about a friend as opposed to how they react to a random church leader they don't know or love. 

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13 minutes ago, pogi said:

I get what you are saying, and you are right, the abuser does this all on his own.  But our psychology plays a role in every choice we make.  Without addressing that, we will never really address this problem in society.  I don't look at the "demons" as an excuse, as much as a reason (not saying it is a valid reason) for their choices.  Without understanding the reasons, we will never find effective prevention/treatment.  

It seems to me that the assumption underlying this is that they are powerless when faced with urges. Almost as if they are in a trance or something. Is it a choice or not? The demons excuse is saying it isn't for all practical purposes. If it is a choice, then what is the best remedy? Probably consequences...and that is what has been lacking because of their success in getting away with it. But consequences also must include those who look the other way. And that is only beginning to happen. 

So I don't think there is enough data to make hard conclusions until those around them turn on them...and those who looked away. Including mothers. 

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2 minutes ago, jkwilliams said:

Personally, if I were still writing, I'd hold off on opining until I'd cleared my head (still haven't done that, really). It just seems weird to find hypocrisy in the way people deal with such information about a friend as opposed to how they react to a random church leader they don't know or love. 

That is actually the very definition of hypocrisy. Or I suppose you could call it double standards. Someone loves those random church leaders, too, you know. 

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13 minutes ago, juliann said:

That is actually the very definition of hypocrisy. Or I suppose you could call it double standards. Someone loves those random church leaders, too, you know. 

I'm just saying people react differently when it's someone they know and love. It's human nature to have a "double standard" when it comes to dealing with loved ones and strangers. When a public figure dies, we don't feel the same way we do when our sibling or parent or friend dies. Is that hypocritical? After all, someone loved Eddie Van Halen, too. 

Oddly enough, my active LDS friends who knew and loved Tom are having the same trouble making sense of things. I suppose they are hypocrites as well. 

Edited by jkwilliams
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21 minutes ago, jkwilliams said:

I'm just saying people react differently when it's someone they know and love. It's human nature to have a "double standard" when it comes to dealing with loved ones and strangers. When a public figure dies, we don't feel the same way we do when our sibling or parent or friend dies. Is that hypocritical? After all, someone loved Eddie Van Halen, too. 

Oddly enough, my active LDS friends who knew and loved Tom are having the same trouble making sense of things. I suppose they are hypocrites as well. 

You continue to change my words. It has nothing to do with what people are feeling, I have acknowledged that. It is about what you publish. And even the MHA took down their glowing obit. One more time, it is about what you publish. As in.... a public forum. 

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41 minutes ago, juliann said:

It seems to me that the assumption underlying this is that they are powerless when faced with urges. Almost as if they are in a trance or something. Is it a choice or not? The demons excuse is saying it isn't for all practical purposes. If it is a choice, then what is the best remedy? Probably consequences...and that is what has been lacking because of their success in getting away with it. But consequences also must include those who look the other way. And that is only beginning to happen. 

So I don't think there is enough data to make hard conclusions until those around them turn on them...and those who looked away. Including mothers. 

What I am suggesting is that our demons influence our choices, they don't control us.  We all have them to some degree. The darker the demon, the stronger the influence.  There is still accountability.  There is still agency.  The best chance of success is to choose to address the demons rather then white-knuckle/ will-power your way through the enticements.  Pretending like there are no demons is what is sustaining and enabling, it is what the perpetrator has been doing his whole life.  Burying the issues is precisely why they are in the state they are in.  They are too damn afraid to go inside and address what is there.  Instead, they numb it by acting out, and in doing so, it reinforces their inner demons.   I agree that consequences and accountability are also an important tool, but that is only one wing of the airplane.  It won't fly for long without the other wing. 

I understand that this might not apply to all instances of abuse, but I believe that it applies to most repeat offenders - especially those who hate themselves for acting out, but keep acting out anyway.  Which sounds a lot like Tom.

Edited by pogi
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4 minutes ago, pogi said:

What I am suggesting is that our demons influence our choices, they don't control us.  We all have them to some degree. The darker the demon, the stronger the influence.  There is still accountability.  There is still agency.  The best chance of success is to choose to address the demons rather then white-knuckle/ will-power your way through the enticements.  Pretending like there are no demons is what is sustaining and enabling, it is what the perpetrator has been doing his whole life.  Burying the issues is precisely why they are in the state they are in.  They are too damn afraid to go inside and address what is there.  Instead, they numb it by acting out, and in doing so, it reinforces their inner demons.   I agree that consequences and accountability are also an important tool, but that is only one wing of the airplane.  It won't fly for long without the other wing. 

I understand that this might not apply to all instances of abuse, but I believe that it applies to most repeat offenders - especially those who hate themselves for acting out, but keep acting out anyway.  Which sounds a lot like Tom.

Doesn't that go back to whether innate sexual urges can be changed? If not, it does come down to white knuckling it. 

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59 minutes ago, juliann said:

Here is something they need to deal with. A prolific abuser, one of their own, on podcasts opining on LDS clergy abuse. That includes advocating against his children's ability to go into a bishop's interview without him there. Will they now stop mocking those who continually pointed out that they were ensuring a means of rescue would be closed for the very children they were claiming they were protecting from men far less likely to be the abuser?  

I hear ya, but I think it's far more complicated than that.  While abuse is unlikely, and I'd agree it's extremely unlikely for a bishop to abuse a youngster, its a matter of a question of whether a child should be talking behind closed doors to untrained men.  Can parents always trust these men?  Not at all, in some cases.  Parents certainly need to be diligently skeptical of vulnerable situations their kids end up in.  So while a bishop might not abuse, the conversations may end up being harmful or might contribute to children's notions of boundaries.  

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8 minutes ago, juliann said:

Doesn't that go back to whether innate sexual urges can be changed? If not, it does come down to white knuckling it. 

We all have innate sexual urges.  Without compounding factors, white-knuckling it is sufficient.  Once those compounding factors exist, then white-knuckling it is less effective.    I have lived both sides.  It is only through addressing my own personal compounding factors (demons) that I am now able to white-knuckle it without real difficulty.  It is like the difference between feeling hungry, and starving to death.  White-knuckling it when you feel starving to death is less effective.  The person has to feel satiated through other healthy mechanisms.    

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41 minutes ago, juliann said:

You continue to change my words. It has nothing to do with what people are feeling, I have acknowledged that. It is about what you publish. And even the MHA took down their glowing obit. One more time, it is about what you publish. As in.... a public forum. 

I think we agree about that. 

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1 hour ago, juliann said:

That is actually the very definition of hypocrisy. Or I suppose you could call it double standards. Someone loves those random church leaders, too, you know. 

I think about this all the time when I see an active LDS or ex-LDS, or never LDS member, convicted of something along these lines. The one I'm thinking about that is closest to where I live is the bishop in Kaysville, that was convicted for child porn and abuse while bishop. I kept thinking that he must have a double personality. How frustrating for all of those members of his ward, and especially for his family.  So I feel the same way I do for Hallows as I do Kimball, but I don't know either of them, but feel the exact same as far as thinking they are someone's loved son, uncle, father, husband, brother, friend, neighbor. 

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2 hours ago, juliann said:

Yes, I frequently meditate on the good in mass murderers, too. I appreciate all of the loving articles about the Vegas shooter, don't you?

How about we lose the "demons" excuse? I can't believe how often that trope is used. The abuser does this all on his own and I suspect much of their waking moments are wrapped around covering up while anticipating the next crime. Or wondering when the other shoe will drop in a culture that is teaching victims to speak up.

 

Halfway decent sarcasm, but still needs more work. Keep up the good work.

Based on your life, at what point can we start calling you a monster and equating you to a mass murderer?  Are all people that do tragic things monsters first and foremost?  Was there ever a time in their existence when they were not? Once having given in to their darkest passions - some may use the term demon, but don't be so silly as to think we are actually talking about a third party outside of the individual - do they cease to be anything except a monster?  

That judgement chair you are sitting in is pretty high up there in rarefied air. We may agree on individuals like Stalin and Pol Pot, but every single person that commits horrible acts being put in that same boat is just a mischaracterization of true evil. 

I don't know where the claptrap about victims speaking up is coming from, but it has nothing, as in NOT A SINGLE THING, to do with my comment. 

The abuser - or anything else that commits great sin, say like a mother who kills their child still in the womb - does not spend their entire life thinking only about that single thing. Do you you only think about your sins and nothing else? I don't believe I have ever met anyone that did. If anything, each of us should probably do more of that caliber of contemplation. 

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2 hours ago, pogi said:

I agree with this. I think that properly understanding the individual in this light is the only hope of ever combating/preventing these problems in society.  He acted like a monster, but to diminish him to the point of suggesting that there was no good in him, or that he was not capable of doing good makes him less accountable/responsible in a sense.  If he truly was not capable of doing good, then we can't really blame him and he is not truly culpable for doing evil.  He made despicable choices, but was capable of making good choices (as he demonstrated) and not making evil choices, which makes it that much more despicable.  I personally believe that every predator who acts on their cravings are suffering themselves because of the cruelties of life in one way or another, and that this is a manifestation of their internal darkness, but that doesn't let them off the hook.  I think people are afraid to look at perpetrators as victims in some sense, because it might make them less monster-like or responsible.  But I disagree, I don't think it diminishes from their choices, but it does contextualize it.  Which is important.  Without the context and history and psychology behind their actions, then we will simply be addressing the symptoms of the disease and never fully address/prevent the root cause of the symptoms.  I think a powerful tool in prevention are the perpetrators themselves who have gone through a recovery process.  They are capable of good.  They can be a powerful tool in preventing future abuse because they have been there themselves.  I do believe in the power of redemption for all.  I believe that all men are capable of conquering their demons and finding grace - but they can never earn my trust back.  I will never leave them alone with my child. 

The greatest help and support to me in my own recovery process from addiction (I understand this is a totally different thing, but I think there are probably some parallels and similar root issues) were addicts themselves.  No one else truly understood what I was going through in the same way or could help me contextualize things in the same way which allowed me to find true healing and sobriety.  Redemption is real, and those who come out on the other side can be enormous assets in prevention and healing for others.  

While this man may have had good in him, now is not the time to praise him for it.   Instead of facing the shame and facing his daemons; instead of choosing the work and the path of redemption and restitution (as much as can be done), he was a coward and chose the easy path of ultimate numbness.  He chose to hide.  His victims need to be validated right now, and praising him for his good is not the way to do that (I know that is not what you are doing).

Thank you for your comments, I think you understood me perfectly. 

I understand sin from my own lived experience. Though I have never committed the great atrocities that some have, I know how choosing poorly evolves. I recognize that each of us are human and each of us can do great harm as well as great good. Choosing a path of evil is not reflective of a perfectly balanced mind. Something has gone wrong along the path. 

I don't think that the fact we recognize that individual humans can do both good and evil removes consequences for their actions. In this particular case, even though I don't know Tom Kimball, I do understand some things about suicide. That is a very dark path where an individual is completely overwhelmed by life and, I think, incapable of thinking of others. They are in pain and are seeking surcease. Even in their death they do not escape the consequences of their sin. However, even had he not committed suicide the attention, the action of others involved should be focused on the victims. 

I am a bit of an Old Testament guy; an eye for an eye. When a man abuses others - regardless of age - I would have them castrated in haste. Any other punishment should then be meted out, but for me, society should focus on permanently preventing such actions in the future. 

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6 hours ago, stemelbow said:

I don't follow Exponent II so I'm not sure what you're talking about.  I did see comments from Lindsay and find them the most revealing, very honest and difficult to read.  Perhaps one of the tougher pills to swallow is when you learn that a friend was acting a monster behind closed doors.  Its so much easier to condemn abusers when you don't know them.  To be clear, I never knew him.

Then again, to be fair, I see a ton of Mormon defenders who see things like the Mountain Meadows and are quick to point out things like, these murderers were good people and there are reasons why seemingly good people do bad things.  I think there's truth to that.  What is really happening inside people we may never really know.  But our choices, if you will, pile up leading us as life and circumstance hit us.  There, of course, is no excuse, but I think it's true we all need to be better with each other.  We need to recognize those who develop monstrous habits are led there by life's circumstance.  Perhaps Tom was abused and hence abuse was an effect.  I don't say that to sympathize with the abuser, but in hopes we can actually find ways to lessen these abuses as we move forward in our conversation.  

I do think it problematic to blame Mormonism for abuse.  An abuser can be found in any community from any number of backgrounds.  Most people who suffer from psychosis may not really harm people, other than perhaps in indirect ways.  

To be fair, did any of those who participated in that awful event go on for years to commit equally horrible crimes?

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On 10/16/2020 at 6:23 PM, juliann said:

What do you think you are accomplishing by projecting real problems with how the church has treated women onto criminal acts against children? This is particularly problematic when this perp's own community is the one advocating that children not be allowed in a room alone with a bishop when the stats on bishop abuse must pale in comparison to the stats on family abuse. 

So how about dealing with this particular problem itself, give the children their due and do the other one another day? 

As far as I know, the accusations against Tom Kimball are not just pedophilia but also sexual assault on older victims. I was not speaking exclusively to pedophilia because this story is not just about pedophilia. But again, from a systemic point of view, attitudes and behaviors which enable sexual assault and abuse in general also tend to enable the abuse of children.

By the way, ex Mormons are a subset of the LDS community. And many who support Protect the Children are active LDS members. 

This particular problem is connected to Mormonism in many ways. For example, LDS church and culture tends to invest an extreme amount of trust in members of the church. We have a very high degree of quick intimacy and quick reliance on others. The same level of instant intimacy that allows LDS to welcome a new family into town, help them move in, and invite them to worship and to be highly involved in our lives also makes the work of predators much easier. Those of us who leave the church often struggle with losing the communal closeness the church provides. We may replace it with another similarly intimate community, or learn to adapt to living without it. But either way, many of us realize that the tendency to be very trusting is very deeply ingrained in us. 

Ex members, however, are not generally joined together institutionally. Their most common denominator is still the LDS church and many of them still have many ties to it.

By the way, from the dates of the information so far Kimball abused while he was still a practicing Mormon. If that is the case, this story is an LDS problem and an ex Mormon problem.

 

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