Monthly Archives: February 2016

Sexting And Crime

I couldn’t agree more.

Police Detective Mike Mohney told WBST.com that sexting is a serious crime because [when teenagers sext it can lead to] “bullying,” and “real severe things like people committing suicide or violent crimes against others because they’re so embarrassed about it.”

Mohney’s statement is a perfect example of the inherent contradiction of ruining kids’ lives for sexting. If the goal is to avoid “severe consequences,” why would they pursue charges in the first place? If sexting-induced embarrassment is a source of violence and suicide, certainly the risk of embarrassment is made much worse by branding the offender a pedophile—for abusing no one but himself—and sentencing him to the sex offender registry…. Authorities warn that the consequences for the underage are just too dire, but the most awful outcome is the one the authorities themselves impose on perpetrators: criminal charges. Can you imagine being a 14-year-old, trying to get your life back on track, after being socially stigmatized, expelled, charged with a crime, and publicly branded a sex offender? All because you took a picture of yourself?

Teens who create and share sexy photos aren’t child pornographers. They are teenagers. To pretend the law can suppress their natural curiosity about their own bodies, and each other’s, is to subscribe to vindictive madness and paranoia about human sexuality. These kids aren’t hurting themselves—we’re hurting them.

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Komen Losses

I hadn’t heard these numbers:

The Susan G. Komen Breast Cancer Foundation committed one of the great PR faux pas of the decade in January 2012, when it summarily cut off funding to Planned Parenthood in what appeared to be a bow to anti-abortion crusaders.

Now, with its release of its latest financial statements, the cost of that decision can be measured: It’s more than $77 million, or fully 22% of the foundation’s income. That’s how much less the Dallas-based foundation collected in contributions, sponsorships and entry fees for its sponsored races in the fiscal year ended March 31, 2013, compared with the previous year.

Or this:

The affair led to more public scrutiny of the foundation’s own record. It transpired, for instance, that while the foundation depicted itself as devoted chiefly to research for a breast cancer cure, it spent only about 20% of its donations on research; the biggest expenditure category was public education, at more than 50%. Critics questioned whether “education” really should be such a heavy priority in a field where research issues remain important.

Or this:

Since the controversy, the foundation has struggled to regain the nearly unquestioned public support it once had. Its founder, Nancy Brinker, a prominent figure in the Texas GOP who says she founded the organization after her sister Susan Komen succumbed to breast cancer, has stepped down as CEO.

Tremendous.

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Language vis a vis Women, Reproduction, and Violence

I adore this article by Rebecca Solnit, because of how carefully and analytically – and humorously – it untangles the relationship between language and the inequities between men and women. It begins this way:

In a detective novel, you begin in a state of ignorance and advance toward knowledge, clue by clue. The little indicators add up at last to a revelation that sets the world to right and sees that justice is done, or at least provides the satisfaction of a world made clear in the end. If detective fiction is the literature of disillusion, then there’s a much more common literature of illusion that aspires to deceive and distract rather than clarify.

A perfect recent example is the Center for Disease Control’s new and widely mocked guidelines to drinking. They are like a detective novel run backward—if you read them with conviction, you’d become muddled about what a woman is and how violence and pregnancy happen and who is involved in those things. On the other hand, if you read more carefully, you might know why the passive tense is so often a cover-up and that the missing subject in a circumlocutionary sentence is often the guilty party.

Just one more excerpt:

Language matters. We just had a big struggle around the language about rape so that people would stop blaming victims. The epithet that put it concisely is: rapists cause rape. Not what women wear, consume, where they go and the rest, because when you regard women as at fault you enter into another one of our anti-detective novels or another chapter of the mystery of the missing protagonist. Rape is a willful act, the actor is a rapist. And yet you’d think that young women on campuses in particular were raping themselves, so absent have young men on campuses been from the mystificational narratives. Men are abstracted into a sort of weather, an ambient natural force, an inevitability that cannot be governed or held accountable. Individual men disappear in this narrative and rape, assault, pregnancy just become weather conditions to which women have to adapt. If those things happen to them, the failure is theirs. This training begins early. Girls in middle and high school even now, even in supposedly progressive places like New York and San Francisco, are told their forms and garments cause male behavior. Who is responsible for the behavior of boys in these narratives about spaghetti straps and leggings? Girls.

We have a lot of stories like this in this country, stories that, if you believe them, make you stupid. Stories that are not expositions but cover-ups on things like the causes of poverty. Stories that unhitch cause from effect and shunt meaning aside.

Go read the whole thing.

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FISA

I really do need to set up some blogging software…here’s a recent LTE I wrote about all this FISA nonsense.

June 26, 2008

Dear editor,

Is it okay to break some laws while obeying others? What do you think?

What if you’re rich and powerful? Should there be a different standard for those with money and lobbyists – should they be able to get away with things that regular folks would be thrown in jail for?

What if you’ve committed a crime, and you’re worried that your high-priced lawyers won’t be enough to protect you? Should you be able to go to the US Congress and ask them to pass a special law, making your crime legal retroactively?

Believe it or not, our U.S. Senators – Democrats Carl Levin and Debbie Stabenow – and our U.S. Representative (Republican Candice Miller) think this is perfectly fine.

Starting shortly after September 11 (though Joseph Nacchio, the former CEO of Qwest, says before), most of the major telecommunications companies in the United States began helping the US Government collect and listen to your emails and phone calls without a warrant. I say ‘your’ because nearly everyone was included in this program – 300 million Americans. All your favorite phone companies joined in – Verizon, AT&T, Bell South, etc. However this was illegal – not just unconstitutional, but expressly forbidden by law (it’s a felony). The Bush Administration might have tried to change the law, and later on they did, but for years the program was allowed to run illegally. Now these corporations are facing lawsuits from citizens groups in federal courts, and rather than defending themselves with high-priced lawyers (apparently they don’t think that’s enough), they’ve spent tens of millions of dollars lobbying Congress over the past year. They’re asking for retroactive immunity, which would end the court cases and the legal threat against them. The retroactive immunity provision has been added as an amendment to the FISA (Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act, the law that governs federal surveillance) reauthorization bill in the House and the Senate, and sadly this has now passed both chambers. Thanks to the support of innumerable Republicans and Democrats in both chambers, retroactive immunity is likely to be signed into law by President Bush. The phone companies will go free, and no one will be punished for reading your email or listening in while you had private conversations with your friends and loved ones.

If this upsets you as it upsets me, why don’t you let them know? You can ask them what other laws they think it’s okay to break – should auto theft be okay now? What about assault & battery? Maybe arson, or how about kidnapping? Because if it’s okay to break the law – and if they’re personally willing to immunize those who broke the law retroactively – I’m wondering when they’re going to start opening the prisons and telling us anything goes.

You might also ask them what they think of the Constitution, and our right to privacy. I wonder whether they’d agree to let us – that is, the American people – monitor all their emails and phone calls, since they think it’s okay to monitor ours. Seems only fair, doesn’t it?

The last thing I’m wondering is, if our politicians think law-breaking is good and the U.S. Constitution is bad, why are we supposed to vote for them again?

—-

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