When Accusation is Conviction

You may appreciate this synchronicity. Last weekend, I got one of those email petitions to sign, from a woman who asked me to help her to get her father out of jail. She said that because of pressure from her addicted mother, she had lied and said that her father sexually abused her. He has been in prison for 15 years for the crime.

Later that day, the Dylan Farrow/Woody Allen story broke in the news.

Child abuse is a hot trigger issue, and I hesitate to write about it. People are so justifiably incensed at the thought of a child being sexually harmed by an adult that they cannot listen to the most basic plea to stop and think for just a moment. It is a topic that conjures up the two most dangerous words in Western society: Zero Tolerance. Accusation is conviction.

Many astrologers, including some from whom I would have hoped for better, were quick to dive into the analysis of Woody Allen’s chart, in a search for factors that might make him a hopeless pedophile. I saw no one who stopped to consider the larger picture, and to review the story without convicting Allen of child abuse on the basis of Dylan’s claims. Because, once again, accusation is conviction.

The astrologers related this story to Saturn in Scorpio, the bringing up and exposing of hidden sexual actions. Allen, they said, was being called to account for himself by Saturn in the sign associated with sexuality.

It seems to me that is a wildly simplistic assessment. For one thing, the sexual abuse of children has been a hot trigger issue since Pluto was in Scorpio. The barrage of stories - many of which have been substantiated - against the priests of the Catholic Church has been in the news for decades. The Jerry Sandusky/Penn State scandal broke while Saturn was in Libra (although Sandusky was sentenced when Saturn was at 0 degrees Scorpio). The accusations against Michael Jackson happened years before Saturn entered Scorpio.

One thing we might notice, and it has little to do with astrology, is that the substantiated cases of sexual abuse that get media attention have to do with large institutions, the apparent foundation of society - churches and universities. The unsubstantiated (and, as Allen pointed out in his letter to the New York Times, deeply investigated yet unsubstantiated) accusations have been against people who we tend to see as peripheral and ‘not normal.’ Like the witch hunts of yesteryear, society is ready to convict those who appear a little different, a little ‘off’ from the rest of us.

Both Woody Allen and Michael Jackson have the kind of personalities and lifestyles that make it easy for more normal folks to say, “Oh, yeah, he’s so weird, I’m sure he did it.” Yet the public cases that are substantiated tend to involve people who not only present as normal, but as role models of normality. Perhaps that is what we should be thinking about. Perhaps that is what Saturn in Scorpio may be asking us to consider.

And if we as a society have been so determined to root out and convict child abusers, we may consider why we find this crime both so common and so heinous. Saturn in Scorpio may get us to ponder our approach to children.

When Jonbenet Ramsey was murdered, after Pluto left Scorpio, she was regularly referred to as a “child beauty queen.” Pictures of the seven year old decked out like an adult were everywhere. Few people stopped to question what kind of society would even consider having children as ‘beauty queens.’ When seven year olds are dressed up like adults, not for Halloween or a party, but as part of their identity, there is something deeply wrong with our collective psychic economy. Perhaps we as a society are so sensitive to child abuse because we recognize that we have, in so many ways, taken childhood away from children.

During the Pluto in Scorpio years, stories about child abuse were commonplace, although not so much among celebrities as among more everyday folks. It was a dangerous time to have a daycare center in the United States. The fallout of that time is still with us today - a teacher hugs a crying first grader at their own peril. School is a no-touching zone, and a few years ago two second graders were suspended for kissing. We are raising a generation (or more) of children for whom virtually any human contact will seem strange, dirty, and bad. Generations of new Victorians who really believe in the inherent wrongfulness of contact with anyone outside of tightly prescribed guidelines. All for their own good, of course.

So, I would say that Saturn in Scorpio is asking us to consider and reconsider our attitudes. To get to the truth. But not simply the truth behind the allegations of abuse: The truth behind our society’s attitude towards children, sexuality, and the fear we associate with it. To think that Saturn in Scorpio is about exposing perversions in ‘the other’ is simplistic - it is about exposing the perverse attitudes that are accepted as common sense.