A Column Published every Monday by Kevin D. Annett
December 28, 2015
Evil is unspectacular and always human, and shares our bed and eats at our own table. - W.H. Auden
Author’s Warning: Nothing about “Mister X” is made up.
Welcome to The Caucasian Healing Fund Show – where our panel of experts get to match their acumen with pale contestants who have gotten away with spectacular crimes!
And here’s your nice host, Wink Feelsgood!
Wink: Thank you and hello, and welcome to our show. We’re brought to you today by the good folks down at Goldcorp Limited, an all-Canadian corporate citizen who’s strip mining the world for a greener tomorrow. (applause) Well, tonight we have a special treat in store for you: a featured guest who really personifies the spirit of our program and our wonderful nation. I know you’ll all get a kick out of him. But first, let’s introduce our panel.
Panelist number one is a newcomer on the show: he’s a currency speculator, an arms dealer and an elder with the Anglican Church of Canada. Let’s welcome Peter!
Panelist number two hails from Burlington, Ontario: she’s a mother of three lovely children and a founding member of the Campaign to Keep Canada Bland. Say hi to Margaret!
And our third panel member is appearing at the special request of tonight’s guest and his lawyer: won’t you please welcome David, a senior consultant with the prestigious public relations firm of Harper and Sons.
Okay panelists, you know the drill. You’ll try to guess the identity of our guest within the time allotted, and if you fail, our guest walks away with a nice hefty prize. So let’s get started. (pause) Tonight’s guest was in the news some years ago. He’s a convicted felon, a happily married man and a proud father of two wonderful children. Please refer to him as Mister X. So, Panelist number one, why don’t you begin.
Panelist #1: Wink, I’m going to cut right to the chase. I think Mr. X is really the Prime Minister. Am I right?
Wink: (laughing) Sadly, no. But a good guess.
Panelist #1: Shit.
Wink: How about you, Number Two?
Panelist #2: Thank you, Wink. Mister X, are you a Christian?
Guest: Well, I like to think so.
Panelist #2: Then what do you think about all the homosexuals in the church?
Guest: Which ones?
Panelist #2: Oh, they’re always careful to hide themselves. They could be anywhere.
Guest: I try not to be judgmental about that sort of thing.
Panelist #2: So you don’t mind condoms lying under the pews and floating in the baptismal font, Mister X?
Wink: Panelists, let’s keep our questions to our guest focused on his identity, shall we? Panelist number three, you haven’t said anything yet. How about it?
Panelist #3: I have nothing to say right now, Mr. Feelsgood. I’m monitoring the situation for my client.
Wink: Well good for you, Dave. Okay then, anybody else?
Panelist #1: Listen, Mister X, are you a former Prime Minister?
Panelist #2: I bet you’re a cross dresser.
Wink: Panelists, I can see this is going nowhere. I’m declaring our guest the winner.
Wink: So why don’t we ask him to introduce himself for the audience and the panel. Mister X?
Guest: Thank you Wink. My name is Reverend Russell Crossley and I live in Victoria, British Columbia. I’m a retired minister with the United Church of Canada.
Panelist #2: I knew it! He is gay!
Wink: Please, Margaret. You had your chance. So Russell, please tell us what you’re famous for.
Guest: Well, in 1997 I did a bit of time in prison. It was all a big mistake, really, for which I have officially apologized, kind of.
Wink: That’s very nice of you, Russ. But why not tell us what you were charged with?
Guest: Oh, just going out now and then with a few people from my church …
Wink: Russell, I read in the papers that you were found guilty of raping women in your United Church congregations for over thirty years. It happened in many such churches all over Ontario and British Columbia. You even raped under-aged girls.
Guest: Well, “rape” is too harsh a word, Wink. I prefer to use the term “intense affection”.
Wink: How much time in prison did you actually do, Russ?
Guest: I was pleased that the judge in his Christian charity gave me only six months’ confinement, Wink. I was out on good behavior in three.
Wink: Wow, only three months! That’s pretty impressive for a serial rapist, even here in Canada!
Guest: It’s true. But like I always say to my parishioners, you must never underestimate the power of divine intervention. And a good lawyer, of course.
Wink: You must have had more going for you than a good lawyer, Russ. You seem to have some friends in high places – and I don’t mean in heaven.
Guest: Yes, the national church office was kind enough to pay all of my legal fees and solicit excellent character references for me from some prominent politicians, and a former Superintendent of the RCMP.
Wink: Well, aren’t you the well connected one! But tell me Russ, how did you get away with raping all those women for over thirty years, and keeping your job in the United Church?
Guest: Oh, quite easily. I was moved around a lot by my superiors. The church isn’t one to condemn a man just for a few little indiscretions, Wink. We believe in healing and reconciliation. Besides, I was the one who came out the loser …
Wink: Pardon me?
Guest: Well, of course. All that bad publicity. It really hurt to see myself talked about like that. But I grew from the experience. It was a chance for me to learn some humility and forgiveness.
Wink: Oh, so you’re the victim then, not all those women?
Guest: Well, isn’t that obvious? I mean, they’ve all moved on and garnered lots of sympathy. But I had to go to jail. I became a villain. Sunday attendance in my Victoria congregation even dropped for awhile when I was locked up.
Wink: Wait a minute, Russ! Your congregation? You mean you weren’t defrocked for raping your own parishioners?
Guest: (laughing) Defrocked? Are you kidding? What do you think I am, Wink, a whistle blower?
Wink: You mean you kept your job as a minister after going to jail for rape and assault?
Guest: Why, naturally! Why should I lose all that income and pension benefit on top of being victimized by all those women? And the church saw it that way, too. The United Church head office even gave me an official testimonial dinner after I came out of prison. It was quite a blowout actually …
Wink: After you did prison time. Amazing. Remind me never to send the United Church a donation. (canned laughter, groans and applause) So what now, Russ?
Guest: Well, I’m writing a book about the whole experience. An inspirational work, along the lines of the dark night of the soul, you know. The church is publishing it. I know it will be a real help to all the other clergy who find themselves in a similar situation.
Wink: Right. And by the looks of things, there are more than a few of you. (laughter) So tell us Reverend, do you have any regrets?
Guest: Only that I’ve lost touch with so many of the women who hurt me. Like I said, I’ve forgiven them. I hope we can all be healed and reconciled: you know, maybe by going out to dinner for starters …
Wink: Thanks, Reverend, I think we get the point …
Guest: I sincerely hope so, Wink. For everybody’s sake.
Wink: Right. Well, on that note, let’s call it a night, everyone. Thanks for …
Guest: Um, excuse me, Wink …
Wink: Yes, Russell?
Guest: When do I get my prize?
Wink: (annoyed) You’ll be getting a cheque in the mail.
Guest: How much?
Wink: Look, Russell, why don’t we discuss this off the air …
Panelist #3: Mr. Feelsgood, my client has every right to know the amount of his compensation.
Wink: His what?
Panelist #3: His compensation for the trauma you’ve all put him through.
Guest: (smugly) It’s for my healing fund.
Panelist #3: If I could read to you from article forty six of our contract with your station, Mr. Feelsgood …
Wink: Will somebody please pull the plug? Hello, control room?
Wink: (cheerfully) And so that’s our show for tonight, everyone. Thanks for tuning in. And until next week, don’t forget: Keep smiling, Canada, and keep healing!
Post script of Kevin Annett: Russell Crossley was protected and exonerated by the United Church of Canada during exactly the same year that I (unlike Crossley) was being disparaged, defrocked and blacklisted by the same church for speaking publicly about its Indian residential school crimes: a fact that demonstrates that, in the United Church as well as the Catholic, rape is not considered an offense, but talking about it is.