Monday, July 29, 2013

what are YOU fine with?

Some visitors to my blog come here ready to be outraged. Vera seems to be one of those visitors. Her comment leaves me shaking my head.
Wait. So you think a naked photograph of YOU, that was taken without your permission, that was out there on the internet where any pervert who likes jacking off to pictures of naked women he doesn't know can access it, save it to his computer, show it to his friends, share it online - would be okay? Like that wouldn't bother you, to have your naked picture floating around without your permission? You wouldn't want to know about it? You would have no problem with ANYTHING that anyone did with that picture?
If I knew a naked photo of me was available on the internet and creeps and perverts were thinking who-knows-what....I would not be okay with that. Of course I would be bothered. If I knew about it, what in the world do you expect me to be able to do about it? I can't retrieve the photos, I can't find out who has a copy, I can't know what they were thinking when they saw it, I can't know if they shared it with others. 

I would rather not know. I have enough worries keeping me awake at night. 
What if that picture was of you as a child, naked, in the midst of the thing that brought you the most pain and shame in your whole life? THAT picture floating around the internet forever, for your children to some day possible stumble across, that picture being used by perverts to jack off to - that would be fine with you too? You wouldn't worry about where that picture is or what was being done with it?
No, that would definitely not be fine with me. If memories of the earlier abuse recorded in the images are already giving me nightmares, why in God's name would you want me to worry about the photos, too? What kind of sadist are you?

So far, Vera's point seems to be that I think child porn is no big deal. She's wrong, as she would know if she had read with something approaching comprehension. Then she goes off the rails:
You wouldn't feel some need to try to control what happens with those naked pictures that someone else took and posted without your permission?  
Okay, Vera. What kind of "control" do you think I could possibly have over images loosed on the Internet when all the law enforcement agencies in the world can't control access to the images? How do I make sure I gather all the CDs that may have been burned or thumb drives that may contain my images? How do I figure out who downloaded the images, who downloaded them by accident, who doesn't even realize they have images of me? Are you picturing me circling the globe from pervert to pervert, snatching photos of me from their sweaty hands? 
You don't believe people have any right to control photographic images of themselves? Especially images that were not taken or distributed without their permission?  
As marvelous as it would be if the children in the images had the right to control those images, that idea is incredibly naive. 

If the victims are told that images of them are floating around the Internet, they have the same amount of control they would have if they are not told: NONE. Absolutely none.

In her hurry to express her outrage with me and with my husband, Vera has lost sight of what matters most: children who are dealing with the trauma of sexual abuse. She would rather hammer at me than give any real thought to what it would be like to know.
That is SO interesting to me, because I have not seen ANY pictures of you on this blog... why is that? Are you shy? Are you worried about your picture getting out? Are you worried about someone in your life recognizing you? How ironic.
Oh, Vera. A registered sex offender and his wife were murdered last week (was that fine with you, Vera?) in South Carolina because he was on the registry...and you wonder why I don't post my photo on my blog? 

Thursday, July 25, 2013

murderers use sex offender registry to find their victims

In South Carolina:
A South Carolina white supremacist and his wife, self-styled vigilantes, say they murdered a couple because the man was a registered sex offender.  
"You think I'm here to rob you. I'm not here to rob you. I'm here to kill you because you are a child molester," Jeremy Moody, 30, said he told his victim before pulling the trigger. 
Moody and his wife, Christine, 36, say they planned to kill another before getting arrested Wednesday. 

This is not the first time someone has used the registry to target former sex offenders.

The sex offender registry is supposed to protect people. Instead, two people are dead.

Monday, July 22, 2013

the sex offender registry fails...again

Hint to reporters: It is not enough to tell us that the suspect in the most recent Cleveland serial killings was a registered sex offender. Do the tiniest bit of research and tell us what the man's offense was. Was it public urination or violent rape? There is a difference. 

If this man did murder the three women found, why did the registry not protect those women? He was one of the nearly 30,000 offenders on the Ohio registry. He was tracked. Law enforcement knew who he was; they knew where he lived. 

News reporters glom onto that one tidbit--he was a sex offender!--about the suspect as if it is significant. It isn't. When reporters take the shortcut of using the label instead of the facts behind the label, they are trying to sensationalize their reporting. They are not providing useful information to their readers.

Over 750,000 sex offenders in the U.S., and this case makes national headlines. Why? It is news when a registered sex offender commits a horrific crime like this because it is so rare

The registry protects no one.

Thursday, July 18, 2013

why I publish the hostile comments

Notes from the Handbasket generally runs along quietly, not drawing much attention. Once in awhile, someone notices it and holds it up to their online friends as an example of all that's wrong with the world. What follows then is a sort of competition to see who can make the comment that will leave the mark on me that stings the most. After all, I should be ashamed of myself, staying with my husband.

I will have a few days of high traffic and negative comments from people who disapprove of me having anything nice to say about my husband. Every time it happens, I wonder if maybe I ought to think about running Google ads; after all, I could use the money for the anti-registry causes I support.

Happily, every time it happens, I end up with a few more regular readers. Some of the regulars still don't like what I have to say but they make intelligent comments. The fly-by-night commenters are here not to understand but to condemn. Some, in their condemnation, are unintentionally amusing. I doubt this earnest commenter intended the irony in her comment:
I also want to suggest (gently) that you refrain from visiting this blog in the future. I don't think there are any minds here that are open to changing. 
Open minds, indeed. That commenter can't open her mind even the tiniest crack to the possibility that people can change for the better.

So far, I publish all comments except for the one I deleted by accident yesterday (apologies to the commenter...repost and I will publish it) and one some time ago that was the f-word repeated for several lines. Too bad that commenter didn't include more because just one more f-word would have made me see the error of my ways.

The first time I got hit with nasty comments, I considered not publishing them. After all, I started this blog to welcome others like me who have family members in trouble for possessing child pornography. How does it feel to a visitor who is planning to stay with her husband to read cruel comments like these:
You disgust me perhaps more than your husband does. 
I am extremely disgusted there are people like you and your husband in the world. are no better than the perverts who exploit children.
...or to encounter truly ignorant things like:
Police officers don't watch child porn or look at images to get their jollies off... 
YOU should not be allowed to say whether people looking at child pornography is abuse.  
Of course there's a difference! In one instance, he's viewing pictures of victimized children -- in the other he's not!  
The ignorant comments speak for themselves. Information is easily available but some horses won't drink the water.

The cruel comments say more about the commenters than about those of us who have watched someone deal with crippling guilt, shame, and remorse. When I read them, I wonder what it feels like to write those comments, to think that way. 

Maybe it is wrong of me to publish such mean-spirited thoughts. I honestly hadn't thought that until just this moment. Is it wrong to let someone bare the worst of themselves in public?

Fallible human beings are worthy of redemption. We should all be happy to know that. Instead, some take pleasure in beating down people who try to live with hope. 

I oppose pornography and sexual abuse because it is immoral. Wrong. That isn't a secret to anyone who has read my blog. However, child pornography laws are not based on reason, sex offender sentences are draconian, and the sex offender registry is unconstitutional.

That is my focus.

It is wrong to stand by and watch a whole segment of the population--750,000 Americans on sex offender registries--be vilified and labeled as monsters. Publishing those vile comments brings the ugliness to blame for injustice out into the open where it can be examined and challenged. 

I hope that others who have family members in trouble read those comments and can see clearly that that kind of thinking is evil. Don't give in to it.

Monday, July 15, 2013

broadening the definition of "child rape"

A Canadian cop wants to change the way we talk about child pornography:
Cops who hunt child predators say the term "child pornography" needs to be retired and be given a more apt term, such as "child rape." 
"It's not a child lying on a beach naked, it's a child that is being actively sexually assaulted. It is the rape of a child captured on image or video. It's a crime scene," said Detective Chris Purchas, a lead investigator with the Toronto Police told a news conference in Dartmouth this week.
This is all kinds of silly. 

If we prosecuted only those people who looked at images of child rape, my husband would be home with me now. If this detective means that a photo of a naked child is the same as child rape, he doesn't understand what rape is. 

It is hard to believe someone thought he would be a good spokesman.

He is almost onto something when he says, It's a crime scene. Child pornography sometimes is a photo of a crime scene. Don't get carried away, though. Remember it is a photo of a crime scene. It is not the crime itself. And remember that not all child pornography includes images of small children and not all child pornography images are of crime scenes.

Do not cheapen the horrifying abuse endured by some of these children by equating the photo with the horrifying abuse.

Hunting "child predators" happens in a crazy world.

Sunday, July 7, 2013

the many ways of cruelty

I was appalled by something mentioned casually in the article about the judge who refused to follow the sentencing guidelines when sentencing a man for possession of child porn (I blogged about the judge here):
A teenager depicted being raped by her father at the age of 10 in some of the videos [found in the possession  of the defendant] had told the court of the effect the case had on her. 
“Unfortunately, my hurt doesn’t end with my father,” the girl wrote before [the defendant's] first sentencing. “When I was told how many people had viewed these images and videos, I thought my pulse would stop. Thinking of all those sick perverts and viewing my body being ravished and hurt like that makes me feel like I was raped by each and every one of them.”
This girl is a teenager. Whether she is 13 or 19 or somewhere in between, who in their right mind thinks it is a good idea to tell her "how many people had viewed these images and videos"? The images of her will not be--cannot be--eliminated. What good can come of telling her that the images are still out there?

If pornographic images of children are illegal to protect the children, explain how it protects this teenager to tell her that "sick perverts" are viewing her "body being ravished and hurt"? Does that help her to overcome the trauma of being abused?

Law enforcement is required to tell the "victim and/or guardians" when the child in the image is identified.
At the initiation of an investigation, victims and/or guardians are contacted by a Victim Specialist (VS) who, in addition to providing referrals for services, explains the unique circumstances surrounding child pornography investigations, and the possibility that images may appear again in future investigations or court proceedings. At that time, the VS also requests the victim and/or guardian sign a Notification Preference Form.
The victim and/or guardian uses the Notification Preference Form to indicate whether or not they want a notification every time her image is found during an investigation. In order for the victim to say that she does not want the notifications, the Victim Specialist has to tell her that the images are still out there. Once identified, the victim is not allowed not to know

Some will say that the children, perhaps now adults, must be notified so they can ask for restitution from the defendants who looked at the images. As you can clearly see in Emily Bazelon's piece about child porn restitution, money does not make the trauma go away. In fact, the continuing notifications can also be traumatizing events.

If the victims need financial help to get necessary therapy (and, yes, that help should be available), that could be accomplished without giving them the information that their images are still in circulation. Private charities or government funding could extend that assistance without the need to further traumatize the victims.

Proclaiming a desire to protect the children from abuse and then needling them with reminders of that abuse...that is perverted.

Awful things happen to children everywhere, all the time. We marvel at child soldiers from war-torn countries who overcome their traumatic childhoods. We praise children who survive life-threatening illness or injury when they go on to live good lives. We admire children who come from troubled families yet go on to be successful businessmen and raise good families of their own. Child sexual abuse may or may not be worse than those traumas but with care and time, children can overcome horrible events. Many, perhaps most, will. 

...if we let them.

Friday, July 5, 2013

another judge gets it

A federal judge in Ohio shows mercy by refusing to sentence a defendant according to the sentencing guidelines. Twice.
Appalled at the harsh sentencing guidelines for child pornography offenses, a federal judge sentenced an ailing, 67-year-old defendant to only one night in jail — and when an appeals court ordered the defendant resentenced, the judge imposed the same punishment. 
“If I have got to send somebody like [this man] to prison, I’m sorry, someone else will have to do it,” said U.S. District Judge James L. Graham of Columbus, Ohio. “I’m not going to do it.” ...
The unusual act of judicial disobedience by Graham — who was appointed to the bench 27 years ago by President Ronald Reagan — is the latest protest of sentencing rules for pornography possession, which other federal judges have described in opinions as “irrational” and “bordering on witch hunts.” 
...Graham declared the guidelines were seriously flawed because, among other things, they require an enhanced sentence if a computer is used — even though, as Graham pointed out, a computer is nearly always used.
As far as I can tell, the defendant is pleading guilty to possession, a charge that does not carry a mandatory minimum. Sentencing guidelines are advisory, not mandatory.

The defendant has already had two strokes and his wife is in poor health. The judge said he worried that the defendant wouldn't get sufficient health care in prison. In another article, the prosecutors blithely brush aside those concerns:
The 6th Circuit pointed out that prisons have doctors and that [the defendant] has four adult children living near him who could help take care of his wife.
The prison where my husband is incarcerated has no doctor on staff. I do not know if that is usual.
“We’re not of a belief that someone should get a senior discount because of their age,” said Fred Alverson, a spokesman with the U.S. Attorney’s Office.
Well, that's certainly true. Federal prosecutors have been busy putting elderly people in prison and keeping others there until they are elderly--the majority of them for non-violent crimes.
The population of aging and elderly prisoners in U.S. prisons exploded over the past three decades, with nearly 125,000 inmates aged 55 or older now behind bars, according to a report published Wednesday by the American Civil Liberties Union. This represents an increase of over 1,300 percent since the early 1980s. 
More than $16 billion is spent annually by states and the federal government to incarcerate elderly prisoners, despite ample evidence that most prisoners over age 50 pose little or no threat to public safety, the report said. Due largely to higher health care costs, prisoners aged 50 and older cost around $68,000 a year to incarcerate, compared to $34,000 per year for the average prisoner. 
The feds want to put this man in prison, putting his health and that of his wife at risk, and they want taxpayers to pay the increased cost of incarcerating an elderly man in poor health. Why?

In the article linked above, the prosecutors explain that
...he was participating in a global market with millions of members that “constantly demands that more children be abused in order to create new images.” 
“Child pornography images themselves are their own currency,” prosecutors wrote. “Possessors are the engine of demand that fuels the molestation of children to create more supply.”
Note that prosecutors do not have to prove these assertions. They don't have to prove that this man's online activities demanded new images or that he wanted more children to be molested. They are allowed to make broad accusations about a general practice of looking at child pornography as if it naturally applies to everyone charged with possession. No one challenges them.

Welcome, Judge Graham, to the ranks of those who recognize that sentences for child porn users are not proportionate to the crime. There is probably a large number of judges in that group. If only more of them would stand up and publicly acknowledge the wrongs done to those who look at pictures.

Bordering on witch hunts, indeed.