Waiting for the asimon to drop

Asimonim, the tokens we used to utilize to make phone calls are no longer used. They have not been used in public telephones in forever. Younger people do not even know what an asimon is. But, the old saying suggesting that someone has not yet understood is still in use, as in the lights are on but no one is home, the asimon has not dropped, and the saying has a great deal of applicability even today.

I can be referring to many different situations. In most of these situations, people are very easily misled by confirmation bias and cognitive dissonance. People often have a hard time thinking for themselves and are attracted toward the acutely dramatic and shocking. Those are the stories that are more fun than taking the time to learn the truth. So leaders and their followers take a position that is stimulating – an us against them, stance that they can all latch on to and then search for confirmation, regardless how outrageous it may be, from their role models.

Some of the editorials in yellow newspapers whether they are secular or religious, are a perfect example of this. Take for instance a recent one in a religious paper that stated:

Those who stoke fires, create diversions, and fuel division in the pursuit of any goal expose themselves as guilty of hypocrisy and a refusal to examine the real facts the way they are. Throughout the ages, we have been victimized by blood libels. It is shameful that religious people are now utilizing the methods of Eisov and tactics of Haman to further their agendas. 

This quote was taken from an editorial critical of those who took issue with the Wall Street protest against Israel’s law regarding a Hareidi draft. One must take a careful look at who this editorial is directed against and who is writing it to see just who is lying, guilty of hypocrisy and acting in a most shameful fashion. It is not those who protested against the march who are full of invective but those who took part in it. Those who publicly lie about the facts and who expose their religious brothers in Israel to worldwide misunderstanding and attack are the ones who use the methods of Eisov and Haman. It is even more disheartening to hear that the accusations presented in this libelous piece are precisely the hypocritical and derisive approach that just this paper accused bloggers of even though most bloggers are significantly more candid. So, using their logic, it is all right if they make accusations that are based on lies and gross misrepresentations but no one else may do so especially since the others are more truthful. The asimon has not dropped if you can accuse someone of asking for discretion when you act out and then lie about it in so public a fashion.

This is so typical of the problems we are seeing in the community today. Perhaps nowhere more so that in the area of preventing child abuse. Too many leaders insist that rabbis must make the decision to determine who is guilty and only then can the secular authorities become involved. This is a completely shameful, hypocritical, and distorted approach to community care.

There are two basic components to preventing abuse. The first is to teach children to protect themselves. Too many of the new “experts” in this field are too beholden to certain leaders to the point that the most effective training techniques are ignored or misapplied to appease their referral sources. However, even when the programs for children are properly presented the second part of containing abuse is not. If we are to truly protect children, we must address and contain the abusers with the correct interventions. Here is where the system completely falls apart. Not reporting abusers to the authorities; determining if they are guilty without a proper investigation, and when they are arrested, based on well documented evidence – seeking their immediate release; asking the courts for mercy, writing letters of support on their behalf, and even calling the legal system a place where you can’t get a fair trial if you are an orthodox Jew is employing the shameful methods of Eisov and Haman.

At what point will the asimon drop? At what point will the leadership get the fact that people who have not had the proper training cannot decide who is telling the truth about the abuse they perpetuate? At what point will they understand that pedophile abusers, abusers in general, are liars – great liars, they have years and years of experience at perfecting their lying skills? Perhaps it will be when they themselves stop and honestly reassess their own actions and accusations.

About the Author
Dr. Michael Salamon ,a fellow of the American Psychological Association, is an APA Presidential Citation Awardee for his 'transformative work in raising awareness of the prevention and treatment of childhood sexual abuse". He is the founder and director of ADC Psychological Services in New York and Netanya, the author of numerous articles, several psychological tests and books including "The Shidduch Crisis: Causes and Cures" (Urim Publications), "Every Pot Has a Cover" (University Press of America) and "Abuse in the Jewish Community: Religious and Communal Factors that Undermine the Apprehension of Offenders and the Treatment of Victims."