I actually have a post on baseball free agency almost completely written out, mainly because I (stupidly) didn't think the MT stuff would be very compelling to anyone but me. I was pleasantly mistaken. So, that'll come another day. Tease: Juan Pierre's contract is outrageous! Bet you can't wait.
Where to begin? A request has been made for some further substantiation of the claims made against MT, and it's proven to be a relatively difficult task when one is restricted to the interweb (my interest in the issue isn't great enough to buy anything about it). But I have found some things of interest (sorry, D, no "stats," though I fail to see what stats one could actually get on the subject, since MT refused to publicize anything except the mythology surrounding her order), that are worth mentioning. One of them is a Slate article by Chris Hitchens, who wrote a book called The Missionary Position that was all about our favorite Calcuttian.
(Aside on Hitchens: What does his drinking have to do with anything? Not only is he honest about his drinking — probably even proud of it — I challenge anyone to read something he's written and show me an example of how the scotch has diluted his ability to think or write one bit. To dismiss Hitchens' points because of his drinking is to engage in behaviour fit only for Republican presidential candidates)
There's also the book written by the timid-looking man who was interviewed in the Penn & Teller clip: The Final Verdict by Aroup Chaterjee, a Calcutta native who did extensive research on MT before her death. He's published the first three chapters online, and they make for some interesting reading. In the interest of offering a preview, here's a part that caught my eye:
A couple of other things I stumbled across: An article in The New Statesman and an article by a former member of her order.
In reference to D's criticism of my criticism: Of course MT's done more "good" for the poor than I have. But I submit that MT has also done more harm to the poor than I have, both with her Skinner-esque approach to "helping" the poor and the use of her political capital to wage war against abortion and divorce. Furthermore, I submit MT had the ability to do much more good than she actually did, as evidenced by the money she raised under the auspices of helping the poor and eventually used to build convents instead. While I realize that charitable giving isn't a zero-sum equation, it's plausible to suggest that lots of people who wished to give to the poor would have diverted their funds to more honest sources had the truth — or at least some of the accusations — regarding MT's ministry been told in her lifetime. So, I'm willing to count against MT the good that wasn't done by her as, at least, lost "opportunity cost." Thus, she's a cunt.
Mark: I understand your point completely, but I'm not sure I see much moral distinction between the ends of your three options (welfare, religious organizations or abandonment). Both welfare and religious organizations have perpetuated the problem of poverty, in my opinion, by either attempting to buy off those who suffer from it, or tell them that to be decrepit is noble. At least in the case of abandonment, we don't take an active role, which isn't any more "wrong" than actively abetting poverty itself.
I realize the validity of the, "Well, at least the church is willing to do something," argument, but that doesn't make it any less troublesome. Society ends up paying a pretty extreme price in return for religion taking care of the abject, usually in the form of having to tolerate the organizations themselves. MT is a perfect example of this: If any other Nobel Prize winner got up on stage and said something as utterly insane as abortion being the "greatest destroyer of peace," he or she would become an instant punchline. But no one wanted to take MT to task for saying it, because she had become the world's guilt eater, and both the Peace Prize and the pass she got for her indefensible views were her wages (not to mention an attempt at accelerated sainthood by the previous Pope, before he cashed out, too). So, I end up asking this: Is it worth it, all of this baggage, to avoid guilt over not being poor but knowing poverty exists for others? That's ultimately a personal question, and my answer is no. But I understand if someone feels otherwise, provided they do so realizing the bargain they're making.
And, ultimately, I don't have a problem with others thinking that MT was more good than bad, or just good period. I have offered my cuntjustification; do with it what you will.