Dr William Coulson


Sir, - Having written in an earlier column (January 12th, 1994) that I am "the American rightwing campaigner Charles Coulson" (evidently confusing me wth the former Watergate felon Charles Colson), Fintan O'Toole has added insult to injury (Opinon, May 14th) by misquoting me badly. Although this time he got my name right, he wrote:

"And here, in 1993, is an American Catholic, Dr William Coulson, brought over to Ireland by conservative Catholic groups, addressing a meeting in Cork: `Children are being told to tell teachers if anyone interferes with them, even if it is their father. This is a direct attack on parental responsibility.' "

I did not say this. I said nothing remotely like it. I have gone over the tape of the talk twice, and colleagues in Ireland have gone over it three times more.

Then Mr O'Toole did it again. In a footnote to a letter from one of my defenders, Fr Brian Gogan (whom he called Grogan), he wrote (May 31st): "Father Grogan also implies that I invented a quotation from William Coulson. Dr Coulson's description of advice to children that they should tell their teacher if they are being abused as a `direct attack on parental responsibility' is contained in the Cork Examiner's report of the event to which Father Grogan refers. Again, the reluctance to acknowledge that such a statement was made is unsurprising."

How does he know the statement "was made"? He knows, he says, because he read it in a newspaper. One supposes the Examiner practices fact-checking. Perhaps the standards of the Examiner are like Mr O'Toole's own; perhaps they are better. In any case, he got me wrong again. - Yours, etc.,

William Coulson, Consulting Psychologist, Comptche, California, USA.