Corrupt Priest Shelters Pedophile on 'Boston Legal'

Recently I wrote about Law & Order's not-so-subtle agenda on the immigration issue. Now cometh ABC's Boston Legal, a show known for both entertaining and pushing the envelope. Let's start with a portion of the show synopsis on the ABC website:

While [Crane, Poole & Schmidt law firm lawyer] Denise Bauer shops with her housekeeper and the woman's four-year-old son, the unthinkable happens when the boy is kidnapped by a known pedophile. An FBI special agent tells them that technicalities prevent the Bureau from getting involved, but he strongly suggests that, as private citizens, [law firm lawyers] Denise and Brad Chase conduct their own investigation. Their frantic search eventually takes them to Father Ryan, a priest who refuses to help since he can't break his confessional seal.

After this, things get pretty crazy. The firm lawyers present a phony warrant, which they are not authorized to administer even if it was valid. When the priest locks his office door in defiance of the warrant and to protect the confessional seal, Denise "breaks the glass" and convinces Brad to threaten to break down the exceedingly expensive Italian office door with a fire axe. Brad accidentally chops off three of the priest's fingers in the process.

But this shocking incident does not stop the firm's lawyers. At the behest of the FBI agent, the two lawyers take one of the priest's fingers to his hospital room and (a) notify him that they found fake documents implicating the priest in criminal fraud-- a corrupt priest is almost a cliche in movies/television now, and (b) subtly suggest that if the priest doesn't provide some information protected by the confessional seal, his finger might disappear. Naturally, the priest breaks down and provides information that leads to the discovery of the abducted child and the arrest of the perpetrator.

The subtle message here is that Catholic priests stand in the way of "justice" and that they are probably invoking privileges to prevent the discovery of their own illegal ways. This is pretty nasty propaganda.

It is also a bit of fascist propaganda as well. The synopsis's statement "technicalities prevent the Bureau from getting involved" refers to the fact that the FBI doesn't want to arrest the pedophile's brother and browbeat information about his brother out of him. So the FBI carefully directs private citizens to do what the FBI does not want to do due to "legal technicalities." The ends justify the means.

On unrelated matters, towards the end of the episode, the "conservative" firm lawyer Denny Crane goes on Larry King Live to explicitly condemn poor people. And Alan Shore strongly suggests that the people of New Orleans were ignored by the federal government during the Katrina disaster... because they were poor.

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