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Surviving an unholy school war - Comments

Colwyn Abernathy's Avatar Comment 1 by Colwyn Abernathy

Larry Buttrose still marvels at the hypocrisy of a system he says violated generations of Catholic children.

You're posting these cuz of the names, aren't ya, Joshie-washie? ;) Who's next? Peter Chocastarfish? :P

my hand beaten hard and often so I could no longer hold my pencil in "the hand of the devil".

That would be, a fellow Southpaw, not the devil. Good thing I was spared the Catholic upbringing my father had.

Sun, 18 May 2008 06:00:00 UTC | #172537

Rufus08's Avatar Comment 2 by Rufus08

I don't think that the details of this essay come as a surprise to many people, catholic schooling is well known for producing this sort of behaviour which in turn seems to produce a lot of atheists. I think that Catholicism may have had a hand in it's recent decline.

Sun, 18 May 2008 06:13:00 UTC | #172540

moniz's Avatar Comment 3 by moniz

Though my catholic education was nowhere as bad as this, it had it's moments. This is why I really don't want to send my soon-to-be born child into a catholic school system. Still negotiating with the wife.(She's not devout, and open to a public school education, but feels duty in continuing the tradition of catholic school education of her family). We've already discussed That I will not lie to our children about the "grand questions" when I am asked. No religious BS from me.

Sun, 18 May 2008 06:14:00 UTC | #172541

ThoughtsonCommonToad's Avatar Comment 4 by ThoughtsonCommonToad

This is not hypocritical. This is education straight out of the Bible.

Sun, 18 May 2008 06:16:00 UTC | #172542

riki's Avatar Comment 5 by riki

In contrast I went to about eight different public schools throughout Australia during the 70's and up to the mid 80's but only remember one incident of a student receiving the cane.

Sun, 18 May 2008 06:19:00 UTC | #172543

Raiko's Avatar Comment 6 by Raiko

I don't think that the details of this essay come as a surprise to many people

Sadly not. That's exactly what I imagine catholic school a while back to be like. And I'm just happy I know no one who had to go through that. I would certainly not know how to make them forget.

Sun, 18 May 2008 06:36:00 UTC | #172546

Drew's Avatar Comment 7 by Drew

I went to Catholic schools during the 70's and 80's in Australia and this is exactly my experience. Use of a thick leather strap stitched together was an almost everyday occurrence. It was only eclipsed by a Year 6 (10-11 year-old's) teacher who used the edge of a metal ruler rapped across across the knuckles.

Sun, 18 May 2008 06:45:00 UTC | #172549

riki's Avatar Comment 8 by riki

The endless joy that religion brings. Looks like the inquisition is still alive and kicking.

Afghan student in torture claim

An Afghan student journalist who was sentenced to death for blasphemy has told an appeals court that he confessed after being tortured.

Sun, 18 May 2008 06:49:00 UTC | #172551

Cartomancer's Avatar Comment 9 by Cartomancer

Catholic thinking in education has always placed a strong emphasis on beatings in childhood. Medieval depictions of the seven liberal arts usually portray them as wise maidens, each bearing the tools of their particular art. Astronomy has an astrolabe or an armillary sphere, Music has a lyre or flute, Rhetoric has a speech written on parchment. Grammar, the first and most basic of the arts which was usually taught to children, is universally depicted with a stick for beating unruly charges when they get it wrong...

Sun, 18 May 2008 07:03:00 UTC | #172555

Logicel's Avatar Comment 10 by Logicel

I was educated by Catholic nuns from the mid-fifties to the late sixties in NYC--no beatings (perhaps because they were all-girl schools), but the nuns, except for a couple of them (I still remember vividly an exceptional one, who gave me Sartre to read when I told her that life is absurd), stifled and crushed any expression of creativity/independence of thought and behavior by shunning, ridiculing, and accusing us of plagiarism (an essay of mine was rejected for a national contest because the head nun decided it was too intelligently written for dull little me) or being addicted to drugs (how else could I have written a short story about a junkie withdrawing if I did not have first-hand experience of drug withdrawal?) My significant art talent went largely unnoticed unless it was to force me to do a Thanksgiving card for the red-faced, blustering maniac who was the head nun.

They were for the most part, mean-spirited, frustrated, and an exceedingly stupid bunch of women with major fail dominating their miserable lives. Unfortunately for the students, their oppressive behavior never was challenged by parents at that time.

EDIT: I concluded, at the time, being the closet atheist that I was, that their fear of creativity was based on their belief that their god had a monopoly on creation.

Sun, 18 May 2008 07:52:00 UTC | #172561

Prankster's Avatar Comment 11 by Prankster

Ah yes the leather strap and frequent beatings in a "loving" catholic school......makes me pine for the good old days doesn't it?

My experiences while not as gruesome involved me tackling a mob of bullies, beating the shit out of the ringleader and 2 of his mates and receiving 12 of the best (6 on each hand) for defending myself...never quite got my head around that one.....

Still it hasn't......unngh!....woof! woof! aarrrghh! affected me in any way at all-howl! has it?

Sun, 18 May 2008 07:55:00 UTC | #172563

mordacious1's Avatar Comment 12 by mordacious1

I wonder if the church would then move these priests to another school, far away. I know if they did that to me, if I didn't kick the snot out of them right away, I would have looked them up later. Remembering the priests I knew as a lad, they could probably be found at the local bar. "Do you think this is funny, priest?" Blow to right eye-socket.
I think in the old days they used to teach boxing at the seminary. Self-defense I suppose.

Sun, 18 May 2008 08:08:00 UTC | #172566

Border Collie's Avatar Comment 13 by Border Collie

Nothing like being raised and or educated by psychopaths ... primary thing is ... go to therapy and don't become a psychopath yourself ...

Sun, 18 May 2008 08:33:00 UTC | #172581

Ascaphus's Avatar Comment 14 by Ascaphus

"Give us the boy at seven and we'll answer for the man"

Given the anti-religious outcome, this seems to give new meaning to the idea. I wonder if there isn't a more humane way to get new atheists.


Sun, 18 May 2008 08:34:00 UTC | #172583

mordacious1's Avatar Comment 15 by mordacious1

Border Collie

Therapy wasn't really common when I was a kid. The priest I had to deal with was eventually carted off, literally, in a strait jacket. I think I might have had something to do with that, as he threatened me with excommunication, and I said "Really! When?" He was never physical though, he just screamed alot. Hopefully, he got some help and left the church.

Sun, 18 May 2008 08:57:00 UTC | #172593

qomak's Avatar Comment 16 by qomak

Within days she was belting us with a cane, and being a left-hander I was singled out for special treatment; my hand beaten hard and often so I could no longer hold my pencil in "the hand of the devil".

Funny, coming from a muslim country, I had a teacher who told me almost the same thing. He suggested I practice eating with the right hand; at the time I was confused as what's the point of going through such a trouble while I could use the left hand just fine.

Thankfully, we were not tortured and abused the way it's been mentioned here but at least our teachers were when they were young. I remember my arabic teacher reciting a vivid experience of how his old teacher beat him up bloody for good for something which was entirely the old teacher's fault.

Sun, 18 May 2008 09:03:00 UTC | #172596

dansam's Avatar Comment 17 by dansam

Reading this disturbing tale of abuse makes me physically ill. If I had a child that experienced this type of torture, I'm ashamed to say that I might lose my composure, follow the example set by these "men of god", and beat the holy shit out of them!

I (of course) would then repent.... and then do it again! ;-)

Sun, 18 May 2008 10:59:00 UTC | #172623

huzonfurst's Avatar Comment 18 by huzonfurst

Agree, dansam. Nothing could stop me from marching into that "school," throwing that evil psychopath to the floor and stomping him to within an inch of his life - then happily taking the consequences with no remorse whatsoever.

Sun, 18 May 2008 12:11:00 UTC | #172630

dansam's Avatar Comment 19 by dansam

Well.... I said that I would be "ashamed" to resort to violence. In fact, I would hope that I would be able to resist the impulse to commit a crime regardless of how justified it might seem. I consider the abuse of children to be by far the most reprehensible crime that can be committed and as such I "fear" I might "lose it".

That said... I feel compelled to state for the record (although it sounds sappy) that violence is wrong.

Sun, 18 May 2008 12:43:00 UTC | #172635

SRWB's Avatar Comment 20 by SRWB

I wonder if Larry ever returned to the school as an adult and made his displeasure known. As a kid, I attended a nominally Catholic school (only because it was close by) where corporal punishment was no longer, if it ever was, de rigeur. But we had a particular prick of a teacher who enjoyed rapping his knuckles on some of our heads. While we were no "angels", I did not take kindly to this and after a while informed my father. He promptly paid a visit to said institution of learning and informed the principal that if anyone would rap knuckles on heads it would be him doing so. Miraculously, we were never touched again!

Sun, 18 May 2008 12:59:00 UTC | #172643

Wosret's Avatar Comment 21 by Wosret

This disgusts me. This reminds me of a dark moment in Canadian history, when a plan was passed by the government known as "white paper" that forcefully removed native children from their homes, and attempted to essimilate them by putting them into catholic schools. Where they were taught that their cultural traditions were evil, their families were hell bound, and were beaten for speaking any native langauges, some of which didn't know english. They were physically mentally and sexually abused under catholic reign, for I believe more than a decade before it was defeated in court. I believe pyschologists have pointed to this event to explain the increase and violence in native communitees in the decades following.

It seems that the catholic educational system is where society's sick and twisted find their home.

Sun, 18 May 2008 13:55:00 UTC | #172652

HoyaSaxa87's Avatar Comment 22 by HoyaSaxa87

I now have a new comeback for people who push the, "if not from god, then where do you get morals?" argument. Catholic schools stop beating their kids when it becomes illegal, and it clearly doesn't take a religious person to figure out it's immoral.

That said, if i had kids and a teacher beat them, I'd be tempted to hurt them, but instead, I'd just have them sent to jail where they'd get done to them what priests did to children from decades. (and if they were acquitted, then i'd hurt them).

Sun, 18 May 2008 14:14:00 UTC | #172655

huzonfurst's Avatar Comment 23 by huzonfurst

Dansam, there is no shame in protecting one's family by whatever means necessary. Violence is a last resort but sometimes that's all that's left. In a case such as this, also, violence is almost demanded by our genes; having a child purposely injured is so beyond the pale that "getting medieval" on the perpetrator is an instinctive response, and I can't imagine a jury would convict the parent with more than a symbolic slap on the wrist.

Sun, 18 May 2008 14:27:00 UTC | #172660

supernorbert's Avatar Comment 24 by supernorbert

The treatment of "fallen women" by the catholic church was very similar to this.

Here's a link to a real shocking BBC4 Documentary on the infamous Magdalene Asylums

Sex in a Cold Climate (on Google Video)

Sun, 18 May 2008 15:51:00 UTC | #172671

utelme's Avatar Comment 25 by utelme

Gave me a feeling of deja vu reading this article. The cane from frustrated nuns for crossing my legs (never understood the significance), slap in the face from the priest outside church ( I was outside the church getting ready to escape and avoid mass)lol.

I can never understand why some people are so surprised at the sadism in catholic schools of the past when the church leaders glory in the belief that they are going to watch with delight the sinner in hell being tortured forever (Tertullian). Talk about a loony, topsy turvy belief system.

Sun, 18 May 2008 18:05:00 UTC | #172687

MattInOz's Avatar Comment 26 by MattInOz

Aussie Catholic "education" from Years 1 to 12 for me, largely from the boys in dresses.

Weapons of choice are seared on my brain even though I largely managed to avoid it all. (sometimes you just couldn't no matter how well behaved you were)

Year 1 - wooden metre-long ruler, used to 'play cricket' where YOU were the ball.

Year 2 - feather duster called "Earnie"

Year 3,4 - nice (female) teachers

NB my priest from this early era served jail time.

Year 5 - mini cricket bat called "Killer" with name of each year's 'first-struck' inscribed upon the face - I kid you not.

Year 6 - 5 foot long bamboo cane

Year 7 - 6-ply stitched leather strap (I think called 'Thrasher' though wouldn't swear to this one)

Year 8 - metal foot long ruler over the back of the knuckles (the wielder of which is also in jail for more notorious deeds)

Years 9-12 - a noticably declining use of the bamboo cane, generally restricted in application to headmaster.
(After all, we were entering the nineties by now!!! - yes, can you believe that.)

Aaaah, the beauties of religion.


Sun, 18 May 2008 19:21:00 UTC | #172696

Drew's Avatar Comment 27 by Drew

I'd forgotten the meter-long ruler. I truly wonder where they got these 6-ply stitched leather straps from. They seem to be ubiquitous in the catholic school culture of that time.

In year 8 we had a 'christian brother' who kept what we referred to as the gestapo file. It was a thick black leather-bound book in which he would dutifully inscribe the name, punishment and imagined transgression of each boy he assaulted. It went back years. The more I think about it the creepier it becomes.

This same man gave me '6 of the best' for being struck by an orange thrown by another boy.

Sun, 18 May 2008 20:02:00 UTC | #172702

dansam's Avatar Comment 28 by dansam


Although we certainly agree in spirit and my reptilian brain would *fantasize* about beating the crap out of these assholes, I don't think violence in this case is justified AFTER the fact. Catching someone IN the act of hurting your (or for that matter anyone's) child is a different story.

Although a jury would probably not convict you, I submit that they would be wrong.

A card carrying member of the ACLU

I include a beautiful quote by MLK Jr below.
"The ultimate weakness of violence is that it is a descending spiral, begetting the very thing it seeks to destroy. Instead of diminishing evil, it multiplies it. Through violence you may murder the liar, but you cannot murder the lie, nor establish the truth. Through violence you may murder the hater, but you do not murder hate. In fact, violence merely increases hate. So it goes. Returning violence for violence multiplies violence, adding deeper darkness to a night already devoid of stars. Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate: only love can do that."

Sun, 18 May 2008 20:38:00 UTC | #172708

Noodly's Avatar Comment 29 by Noodly

My father was beaten by the "Christian"? Brothers at school, but luckily he decided he couldn't afford to send me to the Catholic boarding school he had in mind. An uncle on the other side of the family was sexually abused by one of them.

In order to lighten the mood a little, let me tell you about my friend's sister who went to a Convent school in the early 1970's and was taken on a school trip to London to see the Shakespeare play they were studying. The nuns and girls all settled into their seats in expectation, the curtain went up and a full frontal naked man launched into the avant garde production.

Sun, 18 May 2008 21:12:00 UTC | #172713

Raiko's Avatar Comment 30 by Raiko

This same man gave me '6 of the best' for being struck by an orange thrown by another boy.

What an offense. I think it's those things that show you that the punishment has little to do with punishing anyone for anything, but with disgusting, personal pleasure.

Sun, 18 May 2008 21:33:00 UTC | #172716