This is obviously a sensitive subject, and because it is sensitive, one hates to even bring it up.
But Scott Brown wants us to draw lessons from the life story he describes in his book "Against All Odds", a story that involves domestic and sexual abuse. So what lessons the reader happens to draw seems to be of some relevance.
When Brown’s book was first released, it came under only mild criticism from a few people perceptive enough to connect some dots : just a few months earlier, Brown had been an ardent supporter of Massachusetts Republican Jeff Perry’s Congressional bid against now-Congressman Bill Keating, a Democrat, despite allegations that Perry had supervised the illegal strip search of a 14-year old girl as a Wrentham police officer.
In a radio ad at the time, Brown dismissed the seriousness of those allegations:
In a radio ad released at the same time, the senator said Keating "has decided to focus almost entirely on negative attacks concerning an incident that took place almost two decades ago and which didn't directly involve Jeff."The senator has since said the two situations are not analogous, but juxtapose Brown's comments last night with Lisa Allen's complaints about her treatment, as a 14-year-old, at the hands of a uniformed police officer — all while his supervisor allegedly stood by mute.“Yup, as predators do," Brown said of his alleged attacker. "He said, ‘If you tell anybody, you know, I’ll kill you.' You know, 'I will make sure that no one believes you,' and that’s the biggest thing, when people find people like me, at that young, vulnerable age, who are, basically, lost, the thing that they have over you is they make you believe that no one will believe you.’’
So is Brown interested primarily in what his past says about him, or genuinely in helping other victims (and future victims) with their own struggles against domestic abuse and sexual predators?
Cape Cod Today’s Walter Brooks had a similar question:
Many have questioned how Brown could let a pedophile run free instead of stopping what could be a serial molester who may now have been at it for upwards of 40 years. Among the “believers” are many who are appalled that a U.S. senator would throw a literary grenade at a respected Christian summer camp and not disclose a name so that Cape officials can pursue the attacker and defend their reputation.…In one of the most boorish statements ever uttered by a politician, Brown told the media “I have more important things to do” when challenged to name the perpetrator.
Thus, it is important for Brown to reveal his own abuse, in a story about his own triumphant victories over adversity, but it is not important to identify abusers and potentially protect others from molestation?
This is the lesson that the Globe’s Eileen McNamara takes in Boston magazine:
…But buyer beware: Brown's memoir might be a voyeur's delight, but it has no wisdom to impart. No counsel to offer battered women besides making better choices. No guidance to offer children trapped in violent households besides toughing it out. No example to offer sexual abuse victims besides getting on with their lives.Make no mistake: There can be only compassion for a boy abandoned by his father, kicked around by brutish stepdads, shipped out to resentful relatives by a beleaguered mother, set upon by neighborhood bullies, and molested by a camp counselor. But the bromides Brown peddles as the lessons to be learned—self-reliance and human resilience—undermine the hard-won recognition that violence and sexual abuse are not private traumas to be overcome by force of will; they are pressing public health emergencies that demand a communal (dare I say governmental?) response.
She goes on:
Scott Brown is not Roseanne Barr or Tyler Perry. If he is going to exploit a painful past in the run-up to his reelection campaign, shouldn’t we expect more than the “shocking details” he delivers in his quickie Book of Revelation? We did not spend the past 20 years dragging sexual abuse and domestic violence out of the shadows only to be told that victims just need to suck it up.
Surely given his own experience, Scott Brown would be expected to be a champion of abused women and children in his political career, which has now spanned a dozen years.
McNamara writes that this has not yet been the case in his public life:
As he travels the country hawking his book, Brown makes much in interviews of his efforts on behalf of child abuse victims. His book, which devotes fewer than six pages to his legislative career in Massachusetts and almost 60 to his campaigns, is a more accurate reflection of his record. Brown was on Beacon Hill from 1999 to 2010 before moving on to Washington. During that decade there were lawmakers who worked tirelessly on behalf of abuse victims, but Scott Brown was not among those indefatigable advocates. That he jumped on an overloaded bandwagon in the wake of the sexual abuse crisis in the Archdiocese of Boston falls somewhere short of leadership on the issue.
The final chapter of Scott Brown’s public life, of course, has not yet been written. It is still possible from Brown to use his exalted position as a United States Senator to improve the lives of abused women and children, to help law enforcement pursue sexual abusers who have been living in freedom for 40 years, and above all, to provide support for those whose claims of abuse go unheard and unbelieved. And we should all hope that that is exactly what he will do with the power and responsibility he now enjoys.
But in the short happy life of Scott Brown as U.S. Senator, we have only one real data point for his record on women’s issues and sexual abuse issues. And that one data point is named Jeff Perry.