Bad history in a name change

Reprinted from The Providence Journal/Evening Bulletin Apr 15, 2002

The on-again-off-again debate over Rhode Island’s name consistantly uses bad history (Richard Lobban letter, March 26). The people who want the word plantation dropped from our official name incorrectly cite the term’s connotation of slavery. The term plantation, however, did not originally have anything to do with slavery. Plantation is an English term to denote the planting of people in new lands.

The Scottish resettlement in Northern Ireland is known as the King James Plantations and the Elizabethan Plantations. Virginia was originally a plantation of English cavaliers in the New World. Providence Plantations refers to the resettlement of people from England and Massachusetts. We need to accurately recognize the source of words before we criticize them or call for renaming our state.

Pedophilia and the Priesthood

The great thing about witch hunts is that it gives bigoted people the opportunity to “grind the their axes.” McLaughlin’s “Letter to the Editor” is a perfect example (3/28/2). The recent attacks on the priesthood have gone beyond criticism. Too many people have tried to link pedophilia to homosexuality and celibacy. Enough is enough. It’s as simple as this: heterosexuals are attracted to people of the opposite sex; homosexuals are attracted to people of the same sex. Pedophiles are attracted to pre-pubescent children. Saying that all pedophiles are homosexual does not make it true. In fact, most pedophiles are married men. Most instances of pedophilia occur within the home and family. The recent crisis in the Catholic Church offers a chance for introspection, accountability and, most importantly, for forgiveness. It is not the time for witch-hunts and unsubstantiated attacks. McLaughlin’s suggestion that all priests live in group residences is an interesting idea. Perhaps if all married men also lived in community homes, we could stamp out the terrible evil of pedophilia. In retrospect, we know that Salem’s Witch Trials, Stalin’s Purges, McCarthy’s Hearings went too far. Too many innocent lives were lost or ruined. How long will we wait to realize the same about homophobia?