Thursday, December 10, 2015

"Whoever does this for the least of these..." --and today that is sex offenders; a Christmas story

Warm, fuzzy, feel-good stories about sex offenders are a little hard to come by, even at Christmas time. The stories are more likely to be of the type that threatens to put them out on the streets in the freezing weather or refuses them admittance to emergency shelters when they they have no place else to go.

That is why the headlines of a story this morning really caught my eye. It seems that a couple in Arizona, as part of their Christian-based ministry, have opened a home in which former sex offenders
are welcomed. Steve and Deborah Schmidt built the house where they are now living in Mesa because the transition for newly-released registrants would be facilitated.

Of course, while some neighbors are supportive, others are indignant and fighting the program. Some of their reasons are legitimate. The program is still in the process of attaining the required special use permit, and that needs to be done and is in progress.

Some of the reasons, however, are more of the type of which we are all too familiar--those born of fear-mongering, myth, and misinformation.

The Schmidts are very selective in choosing their registrant residents; they must fit in with the concept of a Christian ministry. They were totally up front about the home, inviting neighbors to an open house to acquaint them with the program and meet the current residents. They are acting upon what they feel is a call from God and say that if the required permit is denied, they will move elsewhere and continue their mission.

So for now, thanks to the Schmidts, a few men in Arizona have at least some prospect of a happier Christmas than they would otherwise have. And that should make a happier Christmas for us all.

Monday, November 30, 2015

Freezing weather, shelters, and sex offenders; it's deja vu all over again

A month shy of a year ago, I posted a long and bitter post about the policy of at least one homeless shelter regarding sex offenders. That place, as part of its general policy, excluded anyone
on the sex offender registry from, literally, coming in from the cold.

Parts of California, it seems, are having uncharacteristically cold weather this year--and it isn't even winter yet. A shelter in Sacramento with the Biblically-referenced name of Loaves and Fishes has teamed up with area churches from late November to the beginning of next April with a program called Winter Sanctuary. This service offers a meal and a place to sleep out of the elements for the cities' homeless. It unquestionably is doing good work, needed work, and I read the article about it with equal amounts of increasing admiration for what they are doing and guilt for not doing more myself for those less fortunate.

And then, close to the bottom, there it was. After a short digression about the behavior of someone who was obviously suffering a mental or emotional problem was the statement, "The screening process is intended to weed out sex offenders or those who are intoxicated or agitated."

Weed out sex offenders. Does this mean those who are actively offending as they are applying for admission to the shelter? Could it be that someone on the screening committee had personal knowledge that certain individuals had just committed sexual offenses and intended to do so again?

Of course not. It means that part of the screening process involves running each applicant's name against the public sex offender registry, that unwieldy and unreliable list containing the names of people who broke the law--or in come cases were falsely accused of doing so--by committing an offense ranging somewhere on the scale between a stupid misdemeanor to a serious felony, some of them with a single offense committed over twenty years ago.

There is no murderers' registry to check and exclude the murderers. There is no drug dealers' registry to consult in order to keep out those who might sell illegal drugs to other shelter-seekers. There is no thieves' registry to enable the exclusion of those who might steal the meager possessions of other residents. Those who are drinkers are only excluded if they are drunk at the time of admission, and those who tend toward agitation must be visibly agitated at the time to be turned away.

But someone on the registry? All that is needed here to turn these men and women into the freezing cold is their names on a list, a list that no more tells anyone who they are now than their eye color predicts how tall they will grow.

If this discrimination were done on the basis of race or ethnicity, gender or sexual preference, religious preference--or lack of--, political persuasion, handicap or deformity, or any of the myriad other characteristics that set us apart from each other, all it would take would be a phone call to the local newspaper to have the place swarming with media and civil rights advocates and specialized lobby groups, and the shelter and the churches and everyone involved would be knocking each other down to get to the microphone to apologize.

But registrants? Those whose names are on a public sex offender registry?

The question answers itself.

Tuesday, November 17, 2015

The sex offender industry

Follow the money.

How often has this advice been given, and how often has the heeding of it led to the unraveling of an enigma or a crime.

The sex offender industry is both, and following the money trail reveals what lies at the heart and continues to drive this occasionally well-meaning but more often self-serving complexity of businesses, individuals, and motivations that comprise this billion dollar industry.

The industry is well diversified. It has three well-developed branches and a fourth smaller but highly important one.

The first, and certainly the lynch pin that holds it all together, is the appeal to the public for security and protection, especially for the need to protect our children. This branch encompasses, first and foremost, the public sex offender registries; it includes varied screening, monitoring, and alert products, from systems in schools and libraries to cell phone and email alerts that notify instantly if someone on the registry enters the building or moves into the neighborhood. It includes GPS bracelets and private sex offender registry
sites, many of which run a lucrative side business as blackmail sites, charging fees to remove people who are there “accidentally” or who have been removed from the Megan’s list registries. Like any successful product, these businesses employ those who sell and market them as well as those who design, manufacture, and create them.

The second, and even larger, branch of this industry is the management of those on the registry. Many of these are applicable to registered offenders living in the community, especially when they are on parole or probation. The first and most insidious is an industry unto itself, and that is the sex offender treatment industry. The polygraph runs a close second, and the demand for the polygraph creates a need for the polygrapher, and of course polygraphs must be manufactured and marketed. Many states found the day to day management of their sex offender databases, aka registries, too onerous and demanding for them to keep up with, and a new industry was born, the sex offender database management companies, who, for a fee, take care of all the day to day work of keeping the state online registry updated. 

Law enforcement has benefited as their budgets were increased to allow the hiring of new personnel to do parole compliance checks, take care of the constantly ongoing registration process, do home visits, and check on compliance with residence restrictions; in some cases entire sex offender task forces were created. Their image and public approval are enhanced with every “sex offender” they report violated for a parole infraction or arrested for failure to register. 

The management of sex offenders not yet released has spawned another group of
businesses. Civil commitment “hospitals” are among the most controversial, but in the states that allow civil commitment, they thrive. Other enterprising investors saw an opportunity, not limited to those with sex offenses but certainly aided by their numbers, and private prisons--prisons for profit—are on the increase. Not to be outdone, private probation companies appeared on the scene. Those who provide telephone and medical services to the incarcerated are finding those areas lucrative.

The third major branch of the sex offender industry is the role the federal government plays. Under the Adam Walsh Act, the Federal Marshals are empowered to track and capture “absconded” registrants, and they receive large grants each year with which to accomplish their work. Additionally, most investigation of electronic/computer sex crime, such as online solicitation, teen-age “sexting,” and viewing illegal images, falls under federal jurisdiction. Federally financed sting and “bait and switch” operations are infamous. Under some circumstances, the officers involved confiscate and keep the property of those they arrest. Special task forces have been created and well funded.  Some federal prisons are filled almost exclusively with those convicted of sexually related crimes.

Finally, rounding off the components of the sex offender industry are individuals who have and continue to benefit from their participation in the industry. Most notable, perhaps, is John Walsh. Certainly his involvement was thrust upon him in a way no one would ever choose, but it cannot be denied that he has built a career that has spanned two decades using his son’s murder. Other parents and some victims have to lesser degrees stayed in the limelight with activism, victim advocacy organizations— at least one of which has landed a contract as sex offender compliance monitors —and endorsement of harsher and harsher laws dealing with sex offenders. Additionally, political careers have been carved out of the
sex offender industry. One could not possibly count the number of those seeking political office or campaigning to be reelected who used some variation of, “I promise to crack down on those who sexually abuse our children.” Finally, as those charged with sexual crimes come to trial, the field of expert witnesses is proving quite profitable.

The offenses that require public registration run the gamut from the ridiculous to the heinous. Proper management of such a vast range of behaviors requires moving away from our “one size fits all” model and actually reading the research and listening to the experts in the field. Even more essential is focusing on the very real problem of child sexual abuse and those who really do sexually abuse our children and developing appropriate programs of education and prevention. But first we need to dismantle the sex offender industry; we need to remove the financial and personal incentives to keep the status quo; otherwise, nothing will change.

Friday, November 13, 2015

To seek the truth or not

This is not a political blog except insofar as political posturing affects legislation which affects policies which govern those on the registry.

The world of politics per se is something I stay away from....until....

Until a contender for our nation's highest office makes a statement that is blatantly untrue but will without question be accepted as truth by his followers.

During a CNN interview, in an attempt to discredit one of his opponents, Donald Trump refers to Ben Carson's admission of once having had a "pathological temper." Then, to show just how serious this is, Trump goes on to say, " 'That's a big problem because you don't cure that...That's like, you know, I could say, they say you don't cure — as an example, child molester. You don't cure these people. You don't cure the child molester.' "

Even through Trump's semi-incoherence, his meaning is clear. And if I had to bet, I would bet that he believes what he said. This puts Trump firmly in the company of so many other ignorant and uninformed individuals, persons who know what they think and have no intention of considering any other viewpoint. Trump even tries to bolster his statement by appealing to the ubiquitous "they"--"...they say...."

I have never found "they" to be a particularly reliable source of information.

We all know people like that. We quickly realize that reasoning with them or appealing to them to do some research is just wasted effort because they aren't interested in research or what it shows, and attempts at reason and logic go far over their heads.

However, this man wants to be our president.

Shouldn't the person seeking the presidency of the United States seek out some facts before making generalized statements that have no basis in truth?

Tuesday, November 10, 2015

Manufactured Fear

It's a horrifying video. Children go up to a door trick-or-treating and then inside when the man who opens the door tells them the candy is "downstairs." After finding no candy, they are told by the man there is none, and as he advances on the kids, they start screaming and try to run, only to be stopped by masked accomplices coming out of a closet and down the stairs. They are screaming and crying when the parents reveal themselves and proceed to yell at the kids for putting themselves in danger.

But there was no danger. This is one of those vulgar, fear-mongering, words-cannot-describe-it things that have become the mode lately. There have been a dozen or more made, all showing up on you-tube. Masquerading as "social experiments" or "parental warnings," they posit situations that, when they happen, happen with such extreme rarity that those who want to profit from them have to manufacture the scenario.

They all revolve around a single premise: the danger and threat of a total stranger to a child, the danger almost always, implicitly or explicitly, of a sexual nature.

Why don't they make videos of Uncle Joey conniving to get Susie to sit on his lap while the rest of the family carries on their conversations? Or Bob's older brother's best friend holding Bob down and feeling him up while roughhousing in the back yard? Those situations would at least strike much closer to the reality of how child sexual abuse occurs.

I have a question that I wish someone would answer for me. WHY do not the parents and the makers of those videos--the ones where kids are scared to death by a fake kidnapping or a fake Halloween abduction--why does not everyone involved in those videos get arrested and charged with child abuse and unlawful restraint of a child? They have emotionally devastated their children, created a horror for them that far exceeds anything they are likely to experience the rest of their childhood.

I guess if you are a parent, it's okay to scare the living crap out of your child--just not okay to let them play outside for five minutes unless you are watching them--but then that's for another post.

Tuesday, October 20, 2015

The train wreck continues in Rhode Island

Byron Deweldon is not the poster boy for one-trial learning. He has several sexual assault convictions behind him and was civilly committed for eight years.

But he was released from civil commitment last year. That means that he was found no longer to be at a dangerous risk of re-offending. He could live in the community, monitored, as a registered offender.

And that is exactly what he did for almost a year. He settled down in a home with his mother in Warwick, Rhode Island. He lived quietly and with no further arrests. He was monitored by the authorities in Warwick and was on his way to becoming a slow learner who finally got it.

Then the Rhode Island Legislature, driven largely by one legislator who was angered when a registrant moved a few blocks from him, passed legislation increasing the residency restriction “buffer zone” around schools from 300 to 1,000 feet for the higher-level registrants. This encompassed the home occupied by Mr. Deweldon and his mother.

According to Deweldon, he was notified of this change and his imperative to find another place to live on September 17.  The next day he left home.

He traveled. He went to California, Florida, Maryland, Connecticut, Maine and Pennsylvania. He did not register in any of the states he visited for brief periods although the states required him to do so. Meanwhile, during a routine compliance check at his home in Rhode Island, his mother told the officers that he was traveling.

Deweldon then talked with the Warwick authorities and returned to Warwick where he was immediately arrested and is being held on warrants of failure to register in violation of SORNA.

He will most likely go back to prison—not for committing a sexual re-offense, not for stealing or assaulting or murdering, but for committing a crime that didn’t exist a few years ago, the crime of failure to register. Instead of continuing to live peacefully in his home with his mother, he will now again most likely be back in the Rhode Island prison system for a non-violent crime and because of a retroactively applied law that gave him no choice but to leave his home and go somewhere else.

This is the beginning. Numerous other registrants across Rhode Island, those that have stayed in their homes up to this point, will in a few days face either arrest or homelessness. The ACLU is fighting this. RSOL is fighting this. This cruel and retroactive piece of legislation was passed with no support from anyone except the Rhode Island legislators and the president of a union representing the correction officers who work in the Rhode Island prison system. Much evidence was presented against it, including expert testimony that these restrictions do only harm and do not provide a public safety benefit, but it passed anyway.

Byron Deweldon knows where he will be residing for the immediate—and most likely beyond—future. Sadly, other registered citizens in Rhode Island do not.

Thursday, October 15, 2015

There are idiots, and they walk among us

I have a friend who often expresses the reluctance to say, "Well, now I've seen everything!" because, he claims, something more ridiculous is sure to come along.

And he's right.

A state senator in Florida has filed a bill "that would make it a crime for registered sex offenders to use a remote control drone to spy on kids or take their pictures." 

A drone. 

This is a prime example of what my buddy Lenore Skenazy likes to call "worst-first thinking." That is the tendency, in any situation, to think of the absolutely worst thing that could possibly happen and then proceed as though it would. This, however, goes right beyond worst-first thinking and off into the realms of "what were you smoking when you dreamed that up?"

The good senator admits she has "never heard of a case where a sex offender used a drone to stalk a child, but she contends it's bound to happen eventually."

This is the same reasoning that has put Halloween restrictions for registrants in place in three-fourths of our states in spite of the fact that no case can be found of a child being abducted by a registrant on Halloween in America and in spite of the fact that, year after year, both the states that have such restrictions and those that do not report zero such instances.

But getting back to drones--what's next? How about a law against registrants tunneling underground from outside their 1000-feet restriction areas and popping up, like a gopher, in a playground, camera in hand? Or dropping from parachutes into a park? Or, a-la-Trojan Horse, wrapping oneself inside a huge box, bow on top, and being delivered to a child's birthday party?

I suppose it would be too much to hope that some legislator might go for facts and evidence and propose legislation shown to actually be effective in increasing public safety and doing something toward actual prevention of child sexual abuse.

I guess that would REALLY be in the realm of the ridiculous.

Monday, October 5, 2015

Travesty in Rhode Island

October and cooler weather are upon us, and November will be here before we’ve unpacked all the winter clothes. November is Thanksgiving, and Thanksgiving means Christmas is hasting on, and both Thanksgiving and Christmas mean home and family.

This year, for some men in Rhode Island, Thanksgiving and Christmas won’t mean home because theirs are being taken from them.

According to this excellent piece in the Providence Journal, October 5, 2015, those required to register as sex offenders in Rhode Island who have been assessed--some a great many years ago--as Tier III offenders and live within 1000 feet of a school have thirty days to move. In Providence, a few tiny parcels of land remain in which they may legally live. 

This is due to a bill passed in June expanding the 300-foot restriction to 1000 feet for Tier III registrants. The bill was supported by the R.I. Brotherhood of Correction Officers, no one else, and apparently that “Brotherhood” does not encompass all of law enforcement, for, according to the Journal:

Remarkably, law enforcers, civil-rights advocates, supporters of victims of sexual assault and experts who study sex-offender management say the expanded ban could actually decrease public safety by forcing offenders to move frequently or become homeless, destabilizing their lives.

Most of Providence’s affected registered citizens have lived, quietly and offense-free, in their neighborhoods for years. Some own their homes. Many are senior citizens. A few have found other places to live. The majority are bewildered, facing homelessness and hopelessness. As one said, " 'The state has got to stop punishing us. We've paid for our crimes. What's next?' ”

That is an excellent question. I am almost sure that, for most of them, what is next will not include Thanksgiving turkey or a Christmas tree in the homes where they have lived, in total compliance with every law and regulation, for a good portion of their lives.

Sunday, September 13, 2015

What feeds rape culture--or--doesn't everyone want a dress with a penis on it?

No publication is complete without an occasional inclusion of the latest in the fashion world. I most likely would not have stumbled on this had it not shown up under a “rape culture” alert I subscribe to. Rape culture is a term that showed up five or so years ago, and it means a society in which the abuse and exploitation of women by men not only exists but is encouraged and supported and, by extension, a society in which males hold almost all of the power and privilege.

This has resulted in many things--none of them, as far as I can see, good. One is the rise of a militant type of feminism that seeks not to promote women—a noble goal—but to belittle men. Another is the insanity that is sweeping U.S. college campuses, one that is resulting in an accusation of sexual assault being treated the same as a conviction and any insistence that the accused receive due process being derided as coming from “rape apologists” and as proof of male privilege and the existence of this rape culture--a circular argument if ever I heard it.

But what does that have to do with penises on dresses, you ask? Let’s start with the fact that the fashion collection is named, “My pussy, my choice.” Add to that a major motif running through much of the collection—“cartoonish penises in transparent latex and sparkly silhouette.” 

And the reason for this…questionable…choice of design and accessory? “ ‘It's like playing the penis game,’ Namilia [the designers] said of its playful use of a symbol of male power. ‘The more often and louder you say it, the more harmless it becomes.’ ”

A comment made in reference to a bra constructed of representations of male genitalia—one on each side—reveals what this is all about. “Filling out sparkly 2-D testicles with breasts is a brilliant power play.” 

Power. Make men's most obvious physical difference from women a fashion accessory, reduce it to a meaningless pattern on a piece of clothing or, even better, something in which to insert a female body part, and men themselves are negated to something weak and laughable and pathetic.

Feminism was about equality. It was embraced by those of both sexes as something whose day was long overdue. This feminism is about power. It is the opposite of equality. It allows no equality. If you question that, imagine the fall-out if a designer of men’s clothing used the pictorial representation of breasts and vaginas to decorate shirts.

Actually, you don’t have to imagine. Just remember back a few short months. A brilliant scientist, Matt Taylor, instrumental in the success of an important ESA mission, had his career virtually destroyed because he wore, on camera, a shirt that portrayed female film stars wearing bathing suits. Bathing suits. He was bashed and ridiculed and demeaned by bloggers and tweeters across a wide spectrum of individuals. Feminists demanded his resignation if not his head on a platter. One male blogger with a wide readership wrote, “If he [Taylor] wore that shirt around female colleagues it was automatic sexual harassment anywhere in the US, and completely disrespectful to any woman in the room...."

What if one of the women scientists there had worn a blouse decorated with penises? What would that have been called? Courageous and empowering?

Thursday, September 3, 2015

A new name and a new law claiming to fight child sex abuse, and guess what? THIS one will work!

We could say the names in our sleep—Megan’s Law; the Adam Walsh Act; Polly Klass; Jessica’s Law; Lauren Book; Chelsea’s Law; Laura Ahearn; and so many others.

They all mark milestones for laws and policies and mandates and programs that claim to fight child sexual abuse. More than one has launched the major participant to fame, fortune, or a political stepping-stone. They all claim to be pro-victim—but they aren’t. They are pro-registry. They are pro-public notification. They are pro-lifetime punishment for those who have committed any one of over 200 offenses, from the mildest possible to the most horrific, that triggers sex offender registration.

None of them are supported by evidence or empirical data. None of them focus on victims.

Enter Erin’s Law.

Erin Merryn is not involved in self-promoting activities. She does not appear to seek fame or power. She isn’t running for political office. She has limited her activism and her advocacy, born out of her own childhood abuse, to writing books and to lobbying legislators about the need for research-based sexual molestation prevention programs in public schools.

This is from her website:  
 After Erin introduced the legislation in her home state of Illinois, the bill was named “Erin’s Law” after her by legislators and it has caught on nationwide. “Erin’s Law” requires that all public schools in each state implement a prevention-oriented child sexual abuse program which teaches:
  • Students in grades pre-K – 12th grade, age-appropriate techniques to recognize child sexual abuse and tell a trusted adult
  • School personnel all about child sexual abuse
  • Parents & guardians the warning signs of child sexual abuse, plus needed assistance, referral or resource information to support sexually abused children and their families

 I have scoured the site. I have found zero references to the sex offense registry. As far as I am able to determine, this is a totally victim-focused program. It is an education and prevention program, not a punishment program or a revenge-motivated program.

There are one or two statistics used on the site that I find contrary to research studies, but I can forgive that, and I will attempt to communicate with Erin about those things.

What I find possibly the most significant is that in five years, 26 state legislatures have passed Erin’s Law, and a significant number more are considering it. The states are underwriting the expenses themselves. They are receiving no help from the federal government.

Compare that to the states—is it 17?—who have adopted the Adam Walsh Act in nine years, and many of those only through coercion and federal help and with many reservations and reluctances and with some states poised to repeal it.

People who commit crime should be appropriately punished. Then everything possible should be done to foster rehabilitation and re-connection to a healthy lifestyle and a law-abiding community.

Making a significant difference in the number of children who are sexually abused will only be effected through education and prevention, and of every “law” named after a victim, Erin’s Law is the only one of which I am aware that is putting the total focus in the right place.

Tuesday, August 11, 2015

Another Sex Offender Entrapment Experiment? Oh, My!

I may be too angry to write this coherently, but I'm sure gonna give it a try.

Some of you will remember the "How easy it would be to kidnap your child in the park experiment" that I blogged about two years ago. With the parents' permission, a man lured children in a park to his van to "see his puppies." It was phony and contrived but certainly accomplished its purpose of terrifying a You-Tube viewing audience.

Cut from the same entrapment-type cloth, a new one went on line, as I write this, less than twenty-four hours ago and has had over a million views. Titled "The Dangers Of Social Media (Child Predator Social Experiment)," the brilliant conceiver of this "experiment" set up a Facebook identity as a young high school boy and, with the cooperation of each parent, contacted the 12 or 13 year old daughter on Facebook, claiming to go to her school and having seen her around. By day two or three, he convinced her to meet him at a nearby park, only to have the enraged father jump out from behind a trashcan and start screaming at her when she arrived for the rendezvous. (I only watched the first of what were apparently several events; my stomach was churning.)

But, as tacky as I found the video, that isn't what made me so angry. It was this statement on a Facebook posting accompanying the link to the video: "In the United State[sic] there are over 750,000 registered child predators." Full of righteous anger and statistics, I dashed to the "Report" function of Facebook--only to discover that the sentence wasn't written by Facebook. Off I rushed to Youtube, only to discover the same.

The villian is an online rag called "GoingViralPosts." The closest I came, with admittedly only moderate effort, to finding contact information was that they are headquartered in San Francisco.

Should parents educate children about potential dangers online? Certainly. Should they be terrified of some "registered sex-offender bogeyman" who lurks in cyperspace ready to pounce? Should they be
seduced by false statements and bogus "experiments" into believing that potential luring behavior, if it comes, is likely to be done by someone already on the registry, someone who is a stranger to the child?

Just as research shows that virtually all actual child sexual mistreatment is committed by those who are NOT already on the registry for previous offenses but rather those close to the chosen victims, it strongly suggests that by far the greatest Internet threats to children and teens are the peers of the potential victims.

One of my "sounding boards" suggested this solution to the danger to children posed in the video, and actually any danger at all--save a meteor crashing out of the sky and leveling the house and everyone in it. Anyone who has children commits to keeping them in the home every second of the first 17 years of their lives, with at least one of the parents having eyeball contact with the child each of those seconds. Any parent found negligent shall be imprisoned and the child taken into care where he or she will be assigned a surrogate to fulfill the parental role and expectations.

I hope I haven't given any aspiring politicians any ideas.

Thursday, August 6, 2015

Open letter to Laura Ahearn and Parents for Megan’s Law

Your program is advertised as an advocacy for children focused on preventing sexual abuse.

Yet this, from your site, tells a very different story: “Most parents and community members believe that they are doing everything they can to protect children from sexual predators but the disturbing reality is that registered sex offenders are obtaining employment and volunteer positions across the country where they can have unfettered access to children.”

This tells me that your focus is on people who have already committed a sexual crime and have served or are in the process of serving their court-ordered sentences. Your very name, Megan's Law--synonymous with public notification which often translates into public persecution--makes this focus crystal clear.

Why? Statistics and studies tell us that virtually all children who are sexually abused are not random victims of offenders already registered. They are overwhelmingly victims of those in their lives with whom they are comfortable: their family members, their peers—fully a third of those who molest children are themselves children and juveniles—and their authority figures.

Studies show that if we wish to work toward the goal of protecting children, we must focus on the children; we must change our focus to a victim-oriented one, one that stresses prevention through education, awareness, and empowerment programs.

And yet here you are again--or rather, still--"standing with" self-serving politicians "to advocate for stronger sex offender laws."


This is what you are encouraging and promoting:

Every suggestion that sexual harm to children will be prevented by closely monitoring all on the registry obscures the fact that virtually all such perpetrators are not on the registry.

Every dollar spent registering, tracking, monitoring, and legislating against registered citizens is a dollar not spent educating and empowering parents and victims against the overwhelmingly greater threat.

Every dollar spent impeding registered citizens in their goals of rehabilitation and second chances is a dollar not spent working toward prevention of child sexual abuse.

Every minute focused on those on the registry is a minute not focused on those who are victims of sexual abuse in their own homes and other places in their everyday lives.

Again I ask--Why?

Tuesday, July 7, 2015

Here's an IUD--but wait! You can't have sex yet!

By now virtually everyone in the “sex offender laws reform” camp knows the story of Zack Anderson, the 19 year old Indiana youth who faces imprisonment and sex offender registration for a sexual liaison with a 14 year old who pretended to be 17. His parents have pushed and pushed for publicity on this—good for them!—and they have it. The story made the New York Times, quoting RSOL’s executive director Brenda Jones saying that the public registry was “a conviction on steroids.”  Lenore Skenazy wrote a wonderful piece for about the case, with her own this-says-it-all quote: “That’s because the public Sex Offender Registry is not about public safety. It’s about public shame.” 

And the "Diane Rehm Show" on National Public Radio on July 7, 2015, featured Zack’s story as a segue into the topic of the registry in general and juveniles in particular and the need for reform. Brenda Jones was one of the four panelists, and excellent points were made, with all panelists, even one in the “opposition” camp, agreeing that reform was definitely needed, especially when it comes to juveniles.

There is probably not a reformer among us who could not tell his or her own story of teenage sex resulting in a conviction, either jail time or probation, and placement on the appropriate state’s sex offender registry, often for life. Even states that had or now have passed “Romeo and Juliet” laws have hundreds, often thousands, of young men, and a few young women, on registries because the age difference was one year too many or because, once the exception law was passed, there was no retroactive removal.

Texas’ own most prominent case also made headlines and even went to national television. The story, as briefly as possible, is this: dating high school couple, boy a senior, girl a freshman; he was convicted of “sexual abuse of a child” and registered for life. They married; they have four children; they have been married now for over 15 years; he remains on the registry and will be there, unless something changes, until he dies. A generation before, this was called pre-marital sex; now it is sexual abuse of a child.

If this were the end of the story, it would be bad enough. However….

The Guttmacher Institute, a non-profit organization that works to advance reproductive health, has published a report verifying that over half of our states allow all minors twelve years old and above to receive contraceptive services, many of them without the permission of a parent, which, in this situation, is actually immaterial. Almost all of the remaining states make them available to some, sometimes dependent on an arbitrary decision that the individual is “more mature.” In some states the adolescents learn of this availability and their rights in their middle schools. 

Does anyone see a problem here? However they find out about them, wherever they can go to receive them, 12 and 13 and 14 year olds are being fitted with contraceptive devices in programs sanctioned and sometimes promoted by our government. With whom is it legal for these 12 and 13 and 14 year olds to engage in sex? The way the sexual penal code reads in virtually every state, no one. Not too many years ago, the state of Utah prosecuted both a 13-year-old girl and her 12-year-old boyfriend for “sexual assault of a child under 14.” They were each named as the victim in the other’s case. Both of these sexual criminals were placed on the Utah sex offender registry. 

And heaven help the 17 year old who engages in sex with a fully compliant 14 year old in a state where the age of consent is 16 or 17. Her contraceptive device may protect her from pregnancy, but it will not protect him from the horrors of a prosecution for sexual assault of a child or a minor, and it certainly won’t protect him from many, many years, quite possibly a lifetime, of sex offender registration.

Our penal codes and many government practices are full of contradictions and hypocrisies. A 14 year old is unable to consent to sexual activity and, if her partner is older, will be considered a victim incapable of being responsible for the act of having sex, no matter how willing she was. However, if she decides to kill him rather than sleep with him, in many states she will be tried as an adult and held fully responsible for her decision and her action.

When an adult man is duped by a 15-year-old girl into believing she is 18, he will be prosecuted for the reality, not for what he believed. But if that same man is duped by an undercover agent into believing he is chatting with a 15 year old, he will be prosecuted for what he believed, not for the reality.

However, when we—we in the universal sense—hand out sexual contraception to those who, when it becomes known that they have put it to its intended use, may well have put into motion what will destroy either their own lives or that of their partners--depending almost always on who is the elder, and if they are the same age, the male--are not we the instigators of that destruction?

Are not we who should be on the registry?

Wednesday, June 24, 2015

If you want to get attention, just say "Sex Offender!"

I think we've all seen it--headlines shouting "sex offender" when the article had little to do with a registrant or registrants in general. It's the modern day version of, "If it bleeds, it leads."

I may have identified the most egregious example of this phenomena.

The headline screams, "Florida complex for sex offenders blasted for selling children's toys at yard sale."  Apparently the Lighthouse Mission, a halfway house for released sex offenders in Florida, was having a yard sale of used and donated items. Among these items were "Stuffed animals, baby toys and strollers...."
The implication given is that the registrants deliberately included items attractive to children in an attempt to lure them within their reach.

Neighbors were up in arms, rushing to protect neighborhood children from the danger lurking just inside the door of the mission, danger in the form of registered sex offenders.

The truth, of course, bears no resemblance to that.

The mission, which helps registrants rehabilitate and find employment, is run by a mother and daughter. They hold several of these sales a year, and their tight-stretched budget is dependent on them for income. According to them, several of the resident registrants helped move some of the heavier items before the sale began. They were not involved with the sale at all.

But what if they had been? Would children be at risk? Does the near--and mere--proximity of those who have committed any of a myriad of registerable offenses, served prison time, and been released automatically put children at risk? All available studies and research says no.

Of course, those frantically concerned neighbors would not know this. Chances are high that they are ignorant of what the literature says on the subject. No, all they need to know in order to spring into action and, ultimately, force the closing of the yard sale, is that sex offenders are somehow involved.

I have been to many a yard sale. Most of them do include items for babies, toddlers, and children. What I have never seen is the babies, toddlers, and children wandering around on their own shopping for their baby toys and strollers.

BI am used to the most trivial and ridiculous issues becoming front page news if the phrase "sex offender" can be attached to it, but this may be the most ridiculous one yet. Even if the registered offenders in question were running the sale instead of just helping out by moving heavy furniture, how on earth would children be endangered? Even assuming that children in the proximity of registrants automatically creates a risk, which it doesn't, I have been at many a yard sale, and I don't recall ever seeing babies and toddlers shopping for their own toys or strollers. I am used to the most trivial and ridiculous issues becoming front page news if the phrase "sex offender" can be attached to it, but this may be the most ridiculous one yet. Even if the registered offenders in question were running the sale instead of just helping out by moving heavy furniture, how on earth would children be endangered? Even assuming that children in the proximity of registrants automatically creates a risk, which it doesn't, I have been at many a yard sale, and I don't recall ever seeing babies and toddlers shopping for their own toys or strollers.   am used to the most trivial and ridiculous issues becoming front page news if the phrase "sex offender" can be attached to it, but this may be the most ridiculous one yet. Even if the registered offenders in question were running the sale instead of just helping out by moving heavy furniture, how on earth would children be endangered? Even assuming that children in the proximity of registrants automatically creates a risk, which it doesn't, I have been at many a yard sale, and I don't recall ever seeing babies and toddlers shopping for their own toys or strollers. am used to the most trivial and ridiculous issues becoming front page news if the phrase "sex offender" can be attached to it, but this may be the most ridiculous one yet. Even if the registered offenders in question were running the sale instead of just helping out by moving heavy furniture, how on earth would children be endangered? Even assuming that children in the proximity of registrants automatically creates a risk, which it doesn't, I have been at many a yard sale, and I don't recall ever seeing babies and toddlers shopping for their own toys or strollers. IsIIII;

Friday, June 12, 2015

The Public Sex Offender Registry--A Perpetual Shame

Amanda Hess has written a brilliant piece about the re-emergence of public shaming using the tragic example of a father's punishment of his daughter. For disobeying a house rule, he filmed his cutting off her hair, chastising her all the while, and posted it online. She was only 13, unable to deal with the humiliation, and she killed herself.

Hess then takes us back to the days when public shaming was the norm, into more modern times when it fell into disfavor and disuse, and forward into our electronic age, where it has emerged wild of eye and fierce of tooth.

I was struck by some of her phraseology. "Online, your shame can move instantly from your father’s cellphone to every important person from every stage and aspect of your life. And if you try to move on, your offense can be dialed up on Google and replayed for future acquaintances to see."

" media has found a way to integrate total strangers in the shaming process. Digital villagers are no longer relegated to the sidelines; online, everybody gets a gavel."

"...the only thing that some Internet gawkers know about you now is this one jerky thing you did."

Substitute the registered sex offender for the disgraced teen, the sex offender laws for the father, and the world for...the world, and we have in a nutshell the destructive power of the public registry.

Approximately 95% of those on the registry will never commit another offense. An unknown but significant percentage have families, are raising children, and are doing so with the entire world looking on and condemning them for what was, for a great many, that "one jerky thing" they did. Even when the offense went beyond the jerky category, years of living a law-abiding life and doing everything possible to fit into a society all too ready to reject them counts for nothing as long as their names on a public registry shout to the world that they are dangerous and have to be watched and tracked and monitored, often for the rest of their lives.

Public hangings and pillorings faded from public usage as the reality of community changed and as the public lost their taste for such barbaric acts.

Those who use the Internet today to shame and disgrace a child who is in disfavor themselves risk the tide of public opinion--and even the law when they have gone too far--turning against them and condemning them for their actions.

But those on the registry remain.  Against all facts, against all evidence, the public registry remains. The ultimate public shaming tool remains.

Wednesday, April 22, 2015

For sex offenders, not the way

Is the New York Post on a vendetta against those on the sex offender registry who are not breaking the law or in violation of requirements but are trying to find a place to live and get their lives back together?

On April 19 they printed an article about the Bellevue Men’s Shelter and the registered citizens living there. Possibly they were using some degree of restraint--they were into the second sentence before they resorted to using pejorative language to describe these citizens.

"Degenerates." "Perverts." "Sex fiends."

The incorrect information the headline conveys seems almost benign after reading those words.  Does the Post know that those on the registry do not have restrictions placed upon their residency choices once their sentences, including probation and parole, are completed unless they have individual conditions imposed at sentencing? This is not a loophole in the law; it is the law.

Then, in an attempt to top themselves, on April 24, this appeared criticizing yet another city shelter for housing registrants. This time the gloves were off; restraint is thrown out the window with the opening sentence. The rhetoric is the same as the previous article; only the epithets are different.

"Filth." "Creeps." "Criminals." "Deviants."

Everyone, even media outlets and those who write for them, are entitled to their opinions. And there are places for expressing those opinions--the editorial section or a blog, like this one. However, that is not where these articles appear. They are in the metro section--city news. Are the days of fair, unbiased news reporting slipping further and further into the past?

Every state values the rehabilitation of felons. Is the Post trying to make New York an exception? Even though sex-offender laws and practices are seldom based on facts and evidence, those who make and administer these laws, and those who report on these laws, know that society is safer when former offenders are successfully assimilated into the wider, law-abiding community. Does the Post not agree with this goal? Or does it believe that the way to accomplish this is to belittle, degrade, and insult those most in need of help, acceptance, and a feeling of worth? Does the Post believe that citizens who feel shunned, ridiculed, and worthy of being called the vilest of names will be more inclined to embrace the values of the society that makes them feel that way?

Based on the frequent state of flux that registered residents of these and other city shelters experience, this is quite possibly not the best situation for those in need of stability and continuity in their lives. It may well be that to maximize the rehabilitation of this portion of New York’s citizens and to improve public safety for all that alternate situations should be sought and budgeted for. But first those responsible for shaping public opinion must recognize that they are dealing with human beings, flawed as all humans are, but fellow citizens who deserve to be recognized as such. 

Thursday, March 26, 2015

To Save One Child--Again

It has happened again. An airplane has crashed, killing everyone on board, including quite a few children. This has happened too many times in the past and must not be allowed to continue. Clearly
it is time to ban all air flights and destroy all airplanes. Appropriate legislation will need to be proposed and passed, but if it saves one child, it will be worth it.

Furthermore, with this latest incident and the innocent lives that have been lost on everyone’s mind, we should include automobiles as well. Statistics show that more children’s lives are lost in car accidents than plane accidents, so a complete outlawing of automobiles should have occurred long ago. Think of the children that would still be alive today had that been done.

And guns—that most sacred of subjects; I can hear the yelling about constitutional rights, and logically I agree. I am a strong supporter of our Constitution and the rights and protection it offers, but this has moved beyond that. We simply must be willing to sacrifice some of our rights in order to protect our children.

Knives should be included, and swimming pools, and even bathtubs. How many precious lives are lost yearly by drowning?

More children die each year by any one of these methods, many, many more, than are killed or even harmed by someone on a sex offender registry. Yet the notion of eliminating travel by air or auto had those of you who thought I might be even half serious shaking your heads in disbelief.

Yet let a legislator or any other individual suggest making something else illegal for those on the registry in order to save one child, and most of America jumps on it even though research and law enforcement show clearly that such legislation is a waste of resources because it does not address the very real issue of child sexual abuse. Studies show that approximately 96% of newly reported sexual crime is committed by those not already registered for a previous offense. Law enforcement knows that virtually all sexual crime against children is committed by those in the children’s lives in close and trusted positions, namely: 1) relatives; 2) authority figures; 3) peers.

Why are we so willing to put our children at risk by putting them in cars and planes, by housing them in proximity to guns and knives and sometimes killing them ourselves with those same instruments, yet when it comes to reforming a system that offers nothing in the way of protection against sexual harm to them, we defend that system with every breath in our bodies? We close our eyes and cheer on the laws that blind us to the truth and turn us in the wrong direction, and in so doing, we are taking the greatest risk of all.

I owe thanks to Larry for giving me the idea for this post. Thanks, Larry.

Monday, March 16, 2015

What do you do when everything you do is predicated on fallacies?

A sheriff in Graham County, North Carolina, has made national headlines by sending letters to the twenty registered sex offenders in his jurisdiction telling them they were not allowed to attend worship services at any of the counties’ houses of worship and citing a state law having to do with places where children were supervised.

Fallacy number one: “To all sex offenders…” [letter from sheriff; emphasis mine].

Fact: All designated as sex offenders, based on a requirement to register, did not offend against children. This is overkill; with only twenty registrants, could not case-by-case individualization be managed? A blanket restriction against “all” will encompass sexually active and sexting teens, those with adult victims, and those whose behavior falls in the "public nuisance" or "college-boy stupidity" categories--and of course those who are innocent and were wrongly convicted.

Fallacy number two: “I don’t like them around little children…” [a local minister]. In addition to violating fallacy number one, it assumes that anyone who has previously offended, even against children, will not be able to resist pouncing on any child who comes into his range of vision.

Fact: Almost all child sexual offense is against children with whom the offender has a close relationship and takes place in either the victim’s or the offender’s home, not with random children in public places. Additionally, very few registrants living in the community will commit an additional offense. In fact, specific to North Carolina and according to the North Carolina Sex Offender and Public Protection Registry, based on searches performed as of May 6, 2007, “Manual searches (by county) using the new criteria yield some of the lowest recidivism rates ever disseminated by any law-enforcement establishment. In the entire state of North Carolina there are only 71 recidivists shown on the registry, if incarcerated offenders are included. Per-county results for "registered"-status offenders (compared with "recidivist"-status offenders) on the North Carolina registry yield actual convicted recidivist percentages ranging from zero to a fraction of one percent.”

Fallacy number three: “ ‘You are not permitted to attend church services,’ the letter read, citing a law that prevents offenders from being within 300 feet of premises where minors are supervised” [letter from sheriff].

Fact: Proximity restrictions, along with residency restriction, are totally unsupported by any study or any empirical evidence. The idea that a 300-foot barrier creates a “child-safe zone” is ludicrous. If a child safe zone that was effective were to be created, it would have to separate the family members, the peers, and the authority figures from the child to be protected.

Fact: Until we are willing, as a society, to demand that all legislation is grounded in facts and evidence, we will continue to be bombarded with ineffective laws that eat up our resources but do nothing to work toward public safety or toward the betterment of our society.

Monday, February 16, 2015

Are We Right to Encourage Hatred, Violence, Rape Against Sex Offenders?

Close your eyes and remember the worst thing that ever happened to you. Maybe you lost a loved one in a tragedy. Maybe you suffered a horrible accident that left you paralyzed or disabled. Or maybe you are one of the more fortunate ones, and the loss of an expensive diamond ring or the break-up with a boyfriend or girlfriend is the worst you have experienced.

Or maybe you are like Diena Thompson and suffered the almost unimaginable—the violent death of a precious child at the hands of a rapist and murderer. What kind of revenge would you have wished on her killer? What type of payback would ease your pain a little?

Jarred Harrell is right where he belongs, in prison for life for the brutal murder of little Somer in late 2009. Would that be enough for you, or would you want more payback, more revenge?

The house where Jarred had lived and Somer was murdered had fallen into disrepair and long been condemned. Earlier this month, it was burned to the ground as part of a fire-training exercise by the Orange Park, Florida, fire department—and Diena Thompson. She participated with glee, her smile described as “cathartic” by a journalist, and, according to his interview, she felt delight in the act, proclaiming herself “the big, bad wolf this time.”

I am sure there is not a one of us who does not understand her feelings.

The media is making much of this, and beyond the local level. Is this wrong? If so, why?

One answer is found in the comments posted to the comment board of one article. They range from, “He [Harrell] should have been in it,” to, “Maybe he will be getting raped for life where he is. Wouldn't that make you feel better? And when he is 80 and some young 25 y/o comes in and rapes him and the guards ignore his screams, that will be part of justice.”  

No, that will be part of something that has no place in justice. That is part of vigilantism. That is as much a part of evil as that which Jarred Harrell committed. What irony it is that, in a protest against sexual violence, one wishes for more sexual violence to be committed.

The journalist who wrote that article and played up the joy that Diena experienced in her metaphoric act of vengeance knew that comments would be of that nature, as did the media outlet that published it, as did other journalists and outlets that wrote and published like stories, and they are many.

The harm is more than just giving vigilantes a platform from which to spew their hatred, ignorance, and violence. There are, according to fairly difficult-to-gather figures, somewhere over 700,000 men, women, and children registered as sex offenders in our nation. A scant handful have come near the atrocities that Harrell visited upon Somer, but the vigilante mentality is unable to process that.  To those determined to hate, stories such as this are all of the justification they require to continue the hatred, to refuse to believe the facts, to demand with every opportunity the harshest possible consequences to everyone on the registry because, you see, they all molested children; they are all rapists and destroyers of innocent young lives, and if they haven’t murdered yet, well, just give them time because they will all do it again and will probably kill their next victims.

They are undeterred by the facts that give lie to these spurious statements.

So the questions remain: Are we right to encourage hate and violence against sex offenders? Does it really help those in pain heal? And the biggest question of all, in a paraphrase of an old cliche: Does an eye-for-an-eye make the world a safer, better place to live—or just a blind one? Or, in this case, a raped one? 

Friday, February 6, 2015

A Result of Sex Offender “Stranger Danger” Nobody Saw Coming

The entire sex offender registry—indeed, the entire sex offender industry—is built around the concept of “stranger danger,” the idea that children are at high risk of sexual assault from people they do not know, strangers, people who have already sexually offended and are out there just waiting to grab a random kid and do it again. Nothing will produce spasms of eye-rolling and unintelligible
sounds of disgust and derision in the well informed as will the term “stranger danger.”

The greatest part of the American citizenry supports the public sex offender registry. And yet when anyone says that those most likely to sexually abuse a child are those the child knows, those who aren’t on the registry but rather are close to the child in his everyday life, often family members, everyone within hearing distance nods his or her head in agreement. They do know this. It has been written in article after article, talked about ad nauseam by television talk show hosts and pop psychologists, and verified by any personal knowledge they have on the subject. Yet still they support the public sex offender registry.

Three members of a family and their accomplice are in jail because of stranger danger. They apparently had not read the articles or seen the talk shows, and when the mother of a six-year-old child in Missouri felt her son was too friendly and nice to strangers, to people he didn’t know, thus increasing his risk of becoming a victim, the boy’s grandmother and aunt agreed. So they did what any loving family would do; they decided to teach him a lesson.

They enlisted the help of a co-worker of the boy’s aunt who was ready and willing to play the part of Mr. Stranger Danger himself, and his performance was truly Oscar-worthy. He lured the little boy into his pickup as he got off the school bus. There the stranger from Hell proceeded to tie his hands and feet together; he told the terrified child he would not see his mother again; he threatened him with being “nailed to a wall.” He threatened him by waving a gun at him and covered his face with his jacket so that he could not see.

In this condition—bound, vision obscured, terrified and sobbing—he was carried into the basement of his own home. There he had his pants removed and was told he would become a sex slave. This surely begs the question of what a six-year-old child knows about being a sex slave. After four hours in captivity and terror, he was released and told to go upstairs to his mother. There he was lectured by his family about—you got it—stranger danger. This kid would have been safer with almost any stranger I could drag in off the street than he was with his family members.

At school the next day, he disclosed his ordeal to school authorities. The four adults were arrested, and the little six year old victim of the unfathomable ignorance and cruelty of the people who should have protected him from ignorance and cruelty was placed in protective custody and is by now most likely with a foster family.

What will happen to this family and to this child is anybody’s guess; all we can do is keep the child in our thoughts and prayers.

And, lest the irony has escaped anyone, this case proves that, in spite of the myths that persist about bogeymen hiding in the bushes, strangers that will pounce without notice, once again the true bogeymen, the ones so much more likely to bring fear and pain and horror to children, are those close to them in their everyday lives. 

Tuesday, February 3, 2015

Hi there, I'm a sex offender

You may not know that, but you may know me. My son Billy is in third grade at Cooper Elementary. I drop him off and pick him up most days, and I have attended several of the parent days and parent lunches there with you. The superintendent has given me permission, and that was all that was needed. Now that has changed. Before I can come to school for any reason again, I have to run an ad like this one, at my expense, for two weeks. There will be a hearing at the end of the two weeks, and any of you who want to keep me from going on school property are invited to come and speak against me. As I understand the legislative bill, only negative testimony will be heard. Apparantly they don't want anyone saying anything good about me. Anyway, here's the notice, and it will run every day for two weeks, and then the meeting will be held in the board room at the administration building at 7 p.m. on February 28. See ya'll there!

If you aren't laughing by now, if you realize that this is real, then I hope that you are crying. The bill calling for everything outlined above, Virginia House Bill 1366, has passed the House Courts of Justice Committee unanimously. The full House of Delegates votes on the bill Tuesday, February 3--TODAY.

We are in the midst of a whirlwind at this point in time. More and more studies are being released, showing what we have been saying for years, and more and more journalists are writing the facts and the truth, and everything they write points to the utter ridiculousness of legislation such as this. And then the crosswinds of more restrictions and harsher laws and legislation based on nothing resembling facts and truth threaten to blow us away, especially, it seems, in the South.

I cringe for every child of every registered parent in the state of Virginia. Did the proponents of this horrible legislation consider them, I wonder, even for a moment?

What most registered parents of school children will choose, of course, in order to avoid the pain and humiliation and bullying and all the other negative consequences to their children, is to not place the ads, to not ask for a hearing, and to quietly remove their presence from their children's school lives.

Someone else will take them and pick them up. No more parent days or field trips or school lunches shared. No parent or counselor conferences. No school plays or basketball games to cheer on the budding actresses or future NBA stars. They will become the invisible parents, parents not allowed to do what even the most ignorant legislator surely knows is vital for optimizing the future of America.

They will no longer be involved, for thirteen years, in what is the major part of their children's lives.

Sunday, January 18, 2015

Feminism? You gotta be kidding

If you party too hard, willingly go home with someone to whom you are attracted, and continue drinking until the rest of the evening is a blur but you have vague, foggy memories of sexual activity, you are a victim of rape—if you are female.

If you party too hard, willingly go home with someone to whom you are attracted, and continue drinking until the rest of the evening is a blur but you have vague, foggy memories of sexual activity, you are a rapist—if you are male.

As an entertainer/comedian, if you tell a joke that even hints that you find the subject of rape fodder for amusing your audience, the results are that you are castigated, pilloried, and will, more likely than not, be blackballed from the entertainment industry—if you are male.

As an entertainer/comedian, if you construct an entire episode around the subject of rape for the express purpose of amusing your audience, the results are that you are called brave, innovative, and empowering—if you are female.

What is wrong with this picture? If this is the goal of feminism, I don’t want any part of it. If this is the goal of feminism, it fails miserably, assuming, that is, that the bottom-line goal is equality.

Where is equality when the outcome of a situation—one in which both male and female behave the same--depends on gender?  Where is empowerment when the same actions by both male and female result consistently in female victimhood? This isn’t equality. This isn’t feminism. This is gender discrimination. This is payback. This is revenge for past injustices scanning decades, actions taking place in American cultures far removed from our 22nd century.

True feminism seeks the elevation of women, not the degradation of men. True feminism demands respect for oneself and offers respect in return. Whatever is passing for feminism now is devoid of respect for everyone, even ourselves and our gender.

Women, including modern feminists, share this planet with men; that will not change, and most women, even most modern feminists, like it that way. We are, as my Southern grandmother used to say, cutting off our noses to spite our faces. We are creating an environment of hostility, and not just in the workplace but in every corner of our lives.

When I was a young child, I believed that the only way I could right an injustice done to me was to do the same thing to the one who hurt me. As I gained a few years and some wisdom, I embraced the meaning of the well-known quote, “An eye for an eye leaves the whole world blind.”

I don’t want to live in a blind world.