Wednesday, January 28, 2015

What a "Scorched Earth" policy really means

"With the stroke of Governor Scott’s pen, our state today sent a strong message – Florida is scorched earth for all those seeking to harm our children." -- Don Gaetz, Florida Senator

"We want to make Florida scorched earth for these sexually violent predators... We want to make our laws the toughest in the nation."-- State Senator Rob Bradley.

If you are a person who feels semantic arguments are valid, as I am, then it irks you when terms and phrases are used in an improper context. I wonder at times just how much thought FloriDUH legislators put into their so-called "scorched earth" policy for Registered Citizens. 

Just what does "scorched earth" mean exactly? In the most basic of definitions Scorched Earth is a military strategy in which a retreating army destroys any and all resources that the retreating army feels might be useful to the enemy army-- food, fuel, even people. Despite a ban on destroying food supplies per the Geneva Convention, the practice is still employed today. It is a desperation tactic by a defeated and retreating army. 

Does this mean that the FloriDUH legislature is admitting they are losing the "war on sex offenders?" 

At any rate, military terminology and tactics against American citizens, no matter how undesirable you may view them, has proven to be a disservice. You see, in times of war, civilian casualties are to be expected, so dropping bombs in a residential area and blowing up schools or an aspirin-manufacturing plant is considered acceptable. War tends treat every citizen of a foreign nation, or simply those with ties to that nation, as an enemy combatant. This leads to hastily-made blanket policies, like the mass "internment" (concentration camps) of Japanese Americans during World War II, a policy never overturned by the US Supreme Court. In times of war, rights can be taken away and "martial law" can be imposed. 

The imposition of military tactics and terminology has been damaging to American citizens. Since the Barry Goldwater presidential campaign in 1964, Americans have endured a "war on crime," followed by a "war on drugs," a "war on terror," and a "war on child abuse," of which a "war on sex offenders" becomes a relative extension. The problem with the militarization of culture is the promotion of violence that tends to follow. After all, the militarization of our police forces has only led to the increased police brutality that has in turn led to greater distrust of the police by many people in society. The war on drugs did not stop the cartels, it merely filled up our prisons with non-violent 

Just as with other wars, the "war on sex offenders" has a marked "enemy." Because the military mentality is a simple "us versus them" mentality, society can turn a blind eye to a little corruption from a sheriff running entrapment stings because he's targeting alleged online predators. But the label "sex offender" is a granfalloon, an association of diverse people whose only relation to one another is an arbitrary label given by the government. A "sex offender" can indeed be a rapist or child molester, and some can be pedophiles. The term "sex offender" can also mean anyone forced to register as a "sex offender" even if we are discussing a 10 year old child, teens having consensual relations with each other, married men having sex with their wives in a secluded area of a public park, teens taking nude selfies, or some guy who grabbed the arm of a 14 year old girl to chastise her for stepping in front of his moving car

"If it saves just one child" should have always end with an asterisk, because the "one child" obviously does not include the kids landing on the list. I suppose those "save the children/ just one child" types see a few kids on the list as acceptable casualties in this "war on sex offenders." They find it hard to let even one person off the registry even if that person landed on the registry as a child. Hell, they might even echo the sentiment of one US attorney who successfully added a 10 year old kid to the list, declaring this was the "best thing" that could have happened to the kid. Or, perhaps they could be the audience members cheering Erin Brockovich as she justifies adding a 10-year-old to the sex offender list

Treating a social issue like a war is a great disservice. Preident Lyndon B. Johnson's "War on Poverty" eventually became a war against the poor, not a war to reduce the poverty the poor experiences. Declaring a "scorched earth" policy is not going to resolve the issue of sexual abuse; it merely adds to the growing number of "acceptable" casualties. I doubt FloriDUH will see a marked decrease in registered citizens or sex crime rates (because most sex crimes are committed by people with no previous sex crime arrests) despite their "scorched earth" policies. perhaps it is time they eliminate the military rhetoric and use a solution based on facts and evidence rather than political bloviation. 

We can only hope that soon the Florida legislators realize their asinine "scorched earth" tactics are merely desperation tactics of a losing army. 

Wednesday, January 7, 2015

Feminist Hypocrisy: Even the common definition of "Feminism" is misleading

I do not consider myself a "Feminist." I believe even the definition of Feminism that our culture bandies around is inaccurate. Wikipedia defines Feminism like this:

"Feminism is a collection of movements and ideologies which share a common stated aim: to define, establish, and defend equal political, economic, cultural, and social rights for women."

That isn't Feminism, that is equality. There is indeed such a thing as "Masculinism," which Wikipedia defines in the following way:

"Masculism (or masculinism) is political, cultural, and economic movements which aim to establish and defend political, economic, and social rights and participation in society for men and boys."

Thus, if you believe that both sexes should be treated equally in every aspect of life, you are a Masculinist-Feminist. How can you be two things that are polar opposites of each other? Or, to quote Wikipedia once more, "In this regard, [Masculinism] is the counterpart of feminism, which seeks to achieve the same goals but from a contradistinct viewpoint."

I'm focusing on one key point in my morning rant. You see, I have a few associates who identify themselves as "Feminists." One day, one of them suggested I was a Feminist because I believe in equality (but interestingly enough, she did not say I was a "Masculinist"). It is a bit absurd to me, because I'm by no means a Feminist.

I do indeed believe in equality. As a criminal justice legal reformist, I would love to see equality between the sexes in sentencing policies. In fact, I'd love to see women sentenced the same way as men. When I see a story of a "hot (female) teacher" caught having sex with a student, the teacher gets a light sentence, and society tends not to label this female teacher as a "predator" or "pedophile." We don't take female sex offenders seriously at all. In fact, just Google "hottest female sex offenders," and you'll find 19 lists before you find a single article criticizing the fact we HAVE hottest female sex offender lists. (It is worth noting on the criticism article, a link to a Change.org petition for outraged readers was given-- it obtained a whopping 142 signatures. So much for the outrage.)

Here is an actual statement from one of these "hottest female sex offender lists:"

First off, I don’t see anything wrong with female sex offenders. The only time where it would be wrong is if the boy is under the age of 12 or 13. Otherwise female sex offenders or female rapists are oxymorons. (I never used oxymoron in a sentence before, I hope I’m using it right). Women can’t force themselves on young men because even at the young age of 12 and 13 boys have more strength than women. That’s a fact, Google it. Now this doesn’t take into account the scrawny little emo kids of today, they can definitely be raped by a woman, but any normal looking boy can’t. Furthermore any boy that age would welcome being “raped” by their teachers. Shit, personally if my 8th grade science teacher, Ms. Metler forced herself on me, I would lay back and pretend to struggle while she weakly pinned me down and let her “rape” the shit out of me. Secondly, to all the “victims” who told the police, what the fuck were you thinking? Tell your friends instead. Post that shit on your facebook, be proud of yourself. What the hell is wrong with you? And what the hell is wrong with the” victims” fathers? You fathers should not be telling the authorities and getting these women in trouble. You should be high fiving your sons and asking them if you can get a piece of that ass, on back to school night.

It should go without saying that if the gender was reversed in our scenario (male teacher), we want to "bury this pervert under the jail," the male teacher is generally given stiffer penalties and we refer to this man as a "monster, pedophile, and pervert." I could not find a "hottest male sex offender list. I doubt you'll find a male sex offender who received a lenient sentence because he was "too pretty for prison."

It is also worth noting that even Feminist researchers found that female sex offenders get lesser penalties than male sex offenders. These actually seemed somewhat surprised by their findings, as the study was based off a Feminist concept called the "evil woman hypothesis," which argues that sentencing may be harsher for women who are committing crimes that are outside there gender roles. They set out to determine whether the "evil woman" hypothesis is true but merely confirmed a fact easily observed by our culture-- female sex offenders are simply not taken as seriously as male sex offenders.

However, the Feminist researchers could not accept the fact, so instead of simply admitting the criminal justice system treats women more lenient as a whole, they attribute it to the "chivalry hypothesis:"

Women are not sentenced any more harshly than men, and in fact, it appears as if the criminal justice system actually treats women more leniently than men. Although there is no support in the current study for the evil woman hypothesis, it can be argued that the current study reveals evidence lending support to the chivalry hypothesis. […] This leads to the supposition that women, regardless of the departure from social and gender norms committed in concurrence with the offense for which they are being sentenced, continue to be viewed as individuals who should be protected by the justice system. 

In other words, blame the "Patriarchy."



No matter how you cut it, women are not treated equally in the criminal justice system. So where is the outrage, and where are the hordes of Tumblrinas, SJWs, and online feminist rage goddesses condemning the practice of an unequal criminal justice system where one gender is given preference over another? Where? Seriously, where are they, because I've been looking for them for a while, and I'm usually good at finding things.

I'm all for equality, rather than an -ism. Isms as applied to people are schisms and divisions, after all. I am all for equal sentencing between men and women. Lets give women the same sentences, the same threats of murder and castration, and the same stigma as the men. Or, lets sentence men equally as lenient when a "hot male" teacher has sex with a student, or any similar situation that would be considered "statutory rape." Whichever way you choose, be it lesser or harsher punishment, I say we should at least make it equal for the sexes. Which, according to the Feminist definition of Feminism, supposedly makes me a "Feminist" (imagine me literally rolling on the floor laughing when I wrote this, because I actually did).

Seriously, that definition should really be revised.


Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Once Fallen's Moving Day: Has a lack of residency restrictions improved the moving process?

Life as a Registered Citizen is filled with a number of worries, but perhaps no concern we have is greater than finding a place to live. For the past eight years, I have lived on Eden Avenue, just two blocks from the University of Cincinnati. It was not the greatest apartment in the world, but it was home. 

I had no intention to move, but I had no choice in the matter. On September 25, 2014, my apartment complex was bought by a company called Uptown Rentals, a big housing conglomerate in Cincinnati. They have been buying up older properties in the areas close to UC, tearing them down, and replacing the buildings with newer (and poorly built) properties they rent at a far higher rate. My apartment complex was built in the 1920s. It had survived being hit by a falling tree in a windstorm in 2008 because it was a brick building with steel frame construction. It will soon be replaced by a building lacking a steel frame, a cheap throw-together building that will rent for more than twice per month for the same size apartment I rented for the past eight years. 

Five days after buying the property, Uptown Rentals gave every person in the 14-apartment complex the 30-day notice to vacate the premises. My neighbors were mostly long-time residents, including people who were elderly and disabled. Uptown Rentals didn't care. They offered no assistance to any of us as we were forced to scramble to find a new place to live. They lied to tenants about offering help (even telling one they would write us a $1000 per tenant check to help us with the move) and they even threatened residents they felt were not working hard enough to find a new place to live. [I wrote a very scathing review of Uptown Rentals if you want the full story: CLICK HERE TO READ IT.]

Even though my move was not the result of my status on the registry, the prospect of looking for a new place to live was frightening. I didn't have much in the way of resources-- I don't have any money in savings and owe thousands of dollars in credit card and student loan debt, plus I live off Social Security so money is very tight. Also, I remembered the difficult time I had the last time I was forced to move to a new apartment. In 2006, when I last faced a forced move, I spent several months and dozens of phone calls--131 calls to be exact-- before I found the residence at Eden Avenue. In the time between my move in 2006 and this more recent move, the Ohio Supreme Court ruled residency restriction laws do not apply to anyone convicted before July 1, 2003. My conviction date was before then, so I didn't have to worry about residency restriction laws.

No doubt some of my readers are wondering if I noticed a big difference in finding housing between my move in 2006 and my recent move. I called 100 less places and out of those 30, three were open to renting to me. I still had my share of negative responses but it was not as bad as it was in 2006. Of course, this was merely a personal observation. A number of other elements could have factored into the relative success in finding a new place-- it could have been dumb luck, my improved ability to apartment hunt based on my previous experience and knowledge of the subject, having a better method of approaching prospective renters, or the fact that people are more understanding of the stupidity of sex offender laws in the past. (I had a few conversations with sympathetic landlords; however, we are still considered a liability and thus many wouldn't rent to us out of fear of lawsuits.) Whatever the case may be, it took only two months and 31 phone calls, five months and a hundred calls less, to find a new home.

Still, I hated moving to a new part of town. I miss the conveniences of my old apartment. The reason I've been able to survive off a mere $740 a month is because my rent was $395 per month AND included electric, water and heat. Now, I pay $420 plus heat and electric. Now I have far less money to invest in the cause than before. That means in order to complete much-needed activist projects, I will be more dependent on fundraising than in the past.

Back on topic, I feel residency restrictions (or lack of restrictions) play a major role in finding housing. perhaps the best way to study this issue further is simulate the apartment hunting experience in places with and without residency restrictions. I have a hypothesis that places with residency restrictions are more likely to believe in the efficacy of the laws and, as a result, even renters in places not covered by restrictions are more reluctant to rent to Registered Citizens than in areas where residency laws don't exist. I believe the human factor has been minimized in previous residency law studies. How much "available housing" in non-restricted area is actually available to us?

It would be nice to see the end of residency restrictions, but it seems that Wisconsin is poised to become the next state to push for residency restrictions. An activist's work is never done, is it?

Monday, November 3, 2014

Cars kill more kids on Halloween than Registered Sex Offenders, so we should ban Trunk or Treat

Another Halloween has come and gone. Halloween is my favorite day of the year, primarily because it is by birth date. I was born thirty-eight years ago, on a dark and stormy night. But I digress.

Over the past few years, we see the barrage of Halloween stories designed to scare the people in a different way. There was no shortage of news stories warning parents to check the registry before they send their kids out trick-or-treating. Still, there has not been a "stereotypical kidnapping" of a child by a "Registered Sex Offender" on Halloween so long as the registry has existed. In 2014, no child was murdered by a Registered Sex Offender.

The same cannot be said of motor vehicles. In fact, five children were killed by cars on Halloween this year, eight if you add the three kids (and their mom) killed by a train en route to a Halloween parade.

So cars 8, RSOs zero. And that is just for 2014.

Cars kill far more kids on Halloween than Registered Citizens. Yet, there are a myriad of laws targeting registrants on Halloween, preventing them from engaging in holiday festivities or forced to stay at a jail or police station, or stay home with the lights off. And yet, cars have been more dangerous to kids.

In light of this revelation, I propose we ban "Trunk or Treat." It makes more sense than sex offender Halloween bans, since cars are obviously a greater threat. After all, if it saves JUST ONE CHILD this would be worth it. Do you want dangerous cars around potential victims? Hasn't anyone read the Steven King novel "Christine"? We know cars can be evil, soulless killing machines. Maybe we can make all cars stay at home with the lights out.

I think my solution is more sensible than the sex offender Halloween laws.

As one final thought, there have also been more Halloween poisonings than child killing by Registered Persons on Halloween (a rare event also committed by someone the kid knew rather than by a stranger). But why let reason get in the way of a good Halloween scare? Or rather, Reason.com (with Lenore Skenazy from Free Range Kids)...


Next year, leave out the tricks and stick with the treats.

Wednesday, October 1, 2014

Decades later, the pain of our label never goes away

I am not a fan of Mike Tyson or of boxing in general. The only boxing matches I've ever seen were from "Rocky." Mike Tyson isn't the most beloved celebrity athlete, either. He's the butt of a lot of jokes, whether it is about his looks, his manner of "thpeaking," or biting off part of Evander Holyfield's ear during a boxing match. But one thing you rarely, if ever, hear is people labeling Mike Tyson as a "sex offender" or a "rapist." 

That is, until a few weeks ago. 

Mike Tyson was asked to appear on CP24, a Canadian cable news channel based in Toronto, to discuss his visit to the city and his visit with Toronto mayor Rob Ford. During the interview, Nathan Downer asked the following question:

"Some of your critics would say, you know, that this is a race for mayor, we know you are a convicted rapist, this can hurt his campaign. How would you respond to that?" Mike Tyson then proceeded to chew Nathan's ear ear off... no, not literally. Tyson remained in his chair, but began speaking his mind. First, he told Downer he was being "negative" and he wasn't going to answer the question. Downer tried to change the topic but by then Tyson was upset. Tyson told Downer that he comes off as a "nice guy" but he's "really a piece of shit" and added a "fuck you" for good measure. Downer tried getting Tyson to cool his language but Tyson responded, "what are going to do about it?" The interview continues but Tyson is still upset and by this point has disengaged in the conversation, referring to Downer as a "rat piece of shit." 


Quite frankly, I don't blame Mike Tyson for caling Nathan Downer a "rat piece of shit." Out of all the controversies Tyson has been embroiled in over the years, Tyson is rarely discussed in discussions about sex offenders, despite the fact he still forced to register as a sex offender for his 1992 conviction (22 years ago as of this writing). After 22 years, calling Mike Tyson by the label of "convicted rapist" still angers him. 

Mike Tyson still has it better than most Registered Citizens. Oprah interviewed Tyson and promoted a documentary about the former boxing champion. Most sex offender law reformers/ abolitionists can only dream of getting the kind of exposure that Oprah could offer. Oprah did not condemn Tyson, instead  she humanizes Tyson, another thing most registrant reformers can only dream of receiving. 

Here is the link to the Oprah interview.
http://www.worldstarhiphop.com/videos/video.php?v=wshhBAnHKj9x9rxtHe5o

However, the "sex offender" label I share with Mike Tyson carries the same pain decades later. If anything, my own anger at the effects of the label grows with each passing year. 

We hear a certain statement all the time from random commenters on online discussions, from celebrity victim industry advocates like John Walsh, and even from politicians. The statement is "sex offenders" should be punished for life because victims have been given a life sentence. Sex crime victims are "shattered and broken," will "never recover," and are "scarred for life," labels that also cause lasting harm to people given the label of "sex crime victim." Despite the myriad of celebrity victim advocates like Walsh, groups like RAINN and SNAP, and the bombardment of victim-centered talk shows like Oprah or even Nancy Grace, we believe victims are "silent." For a silent group, there is an awful lot of talking! Samantha Geimer (the woman who would rather NOT be know as "that girl raped by Roman Polanski) rebelled against what she calls the "rape-victim girl" label and criticizes what she calls a "victim industry":

“We have what I think of as a victim industry in this country, and industry populated by Nancy Grace and Dr. Phil and Gloria Allred and all those who make money by manufacturing outrage. I've been part of it. If you spent years reading about yourself in the papers with the moniker ‘Sex Victim Girl,’ you'd have a lot to say about this issue, too. But for now I'll leave it at this: It is wrong to ask people to feel like victims, because once they do, they feel like victims in every area of their lives. I made a decision: I wasn't going to be a victim of anyone or for anyone. Not Roman, not the state of California, not the media. I wasn't going to be defined by what is said about me or expected from me.” -- Samantha Geimer, excerpt from her book, "The Girl: A Life in the Shadow of Roman Polanski." (pgs. 9-10)

Despite all this, we continue to mark people who committed offenses decades ago. It is a mark of infamy that causes harm in many ways people have not thought possible. I've written in the past about the many ways this mark has changed every registered person into a degraded class of American citizens. And even though I have not suffered as much as some of those who call me asking for resources, I have not lived without experiencing discrimination. 

I have a rather humorous story to offer as an example of the discrimination I have faced due to my status and how I chose to handle it (and no, I didn't bit anyone's ear off, either). A few years ago, I visited one of the local museums alone to view the exhibits. After a few minutes, I had that rather cliched moment of feeling like I was being watched. Out of the corner of my eye, a chubby middle-aged security guard kept eyeing me from a distance. It quickly became obvious I was the object of his attention. I proceeded to walk faster, Hollywood-style, until I found a set of double doors propped open. I hid behind one of the doors and waited for the rent-a-cop to enter. Sure enough, he entered the door, passing me by 10 feet, and his back was towards me, so I exited my hiding spot and walked up behind the guard. I stood behind him, again, Hollywood-style, and blurted out in a booming voice, "Is there a problem, officer?!" The guy almost leaped out of his shoes. I think I embarrassed the poor guy. He really didn't want to say why he was following me; he simply stated, "You know why." I replied loudly, "No, I DON'T KNOW why. How about you tell me why?" As we conversed, he tried excusing his behavior as just doing his job and someone told him I'm a sex offender. He said I didn't have to leave but he'd follow me around. I ended up leaving in disgust. In retrospect, I should have stayed and made this fat slob work for his pay. 

I've had other instances like this over the years, but this story was the most entertaining. Whether I'm on "Raising America with Kyra Phillips" or filling out paperwork to donate plasma, the same stupid questions and comments pop up. People have been hard-wired to believe they have a "right to know" everything about my past, even though they want their own lives to remain private. And yet, we're expected by people to understand this is all part of our punishment and we should just deal with it. 

I refuse to accept any more of this kind of treatment. Mike Tyson didn't stand for it, and neither should any of us. I wish all those registrants also facing this ill treatment by society would develop a similar attitude and start taking up for themselves. We can't sit around waiting for Oprah to give us air time. We can't wait for the ACLU to finally come around and start slamming the feds with lawsuits. It is beyond time we start fighting back for real and stop playing nice. If you think the namby-pamby weaksauce approach espoused by so many of our current "activist" groups is going to spark this cause, then you are sadly mistaken.

Mike Tyson may not be well liked by a lot of people for many reasons, but people rarely refer to him as a sex offender. And it seems unlikely anyone will do that any time soon. If you choose to stand up for yourself, perhaps you can achieve the same results. 

Tuesday, September 9, 2014

Lets charge McKayla Maroney with Child Pornography!

I am going to suggest something that is counter-intuitive to our efforts to reform America's sex offender laws, but I have a good reason for my proposal.

I want to see Olympic Gymnast McKayla Maroney charged with production of child pornography.

I know, it is a ludicrous proposal on its face. Maroney didn't mean for these pictures to go out; her personal pictures were part of the celebrity leaked photo fiasco from Labor Day weekend. At first, Maroney denied the photos, buy later claimed they were taken of her at age 17. In turn, someone started a petition on the White House "We the People" petition site to charge Maroney with producing CP. As of my writing, 561 have signed the petition.

This is the kind of case most people would say should not be tried. I agree. There have been a number of cases that should not have been tried, but a number of people have faced CP charges and have even landed on the registry. America is not alone in the insanity; Australia reportedly has charged hundreds of teens and placed some of them on their registries for "sexting."

On the other hand, celebrities have a unique privilege in our culture that cannot be denied. Am I the only one who noticed how quickly the FBI sprung into action and how the celebrity photos were taken down from the internet? Yet, the FBI can't seem to make a dent in deleting all that alleged child porn on the internet or the myriad of internet scams, even the scams pretending to be from the FBI itself. Yet, the FBI jumped into action like a Nazi Blitzkrieg once celebrities were involved.

My proposal to charge McKayla Maroney is not because I feel threatened by her in any way nor do I think she's a danger to society. What I do think is it would be yet another example of the craziness of our registry. If this push to prosecute Maroney is somehow actually successful, she could be on the registry next to someone who committed rape. Or, she could be next to the Oregon men who had relations with their wives in a Salem, Oregon park or the man who grabbed a teen's arm to chastise her for running in front of his car. We can find a place for her between the 10 year old kids on the list and the other sexters. She can sit in the celeb wing of the registry between Paul "Pee Wee Herman" Reubens and Mike Tyson. She can walk into the registry office and give her famous "not impressed" face while getting her mugshot.

Prosecuting McKayla Maroney would raise awareness to the dangers of taking nude pictures with devices that connect to the internet. It would raise awareness that sex offender laws have been expanded far beyond their original intentions, so much so that even some of those most responsible for the creation of these laws have spoken out against them. Star power alone would raise the level of debate.

Slowly, some states have made strides to prevent teens from landing on the registry for nude "selfies." It does not appear California is one of those states, and California has prosecuted teens for sexting in the past.  So there is nothing to stop the state from going ahead and prosecute Maroney.  In the interest of fairness, the state has a duty to prosecute Maroney. I say, "Go for it."


Monday, September 1, 2014

Bullshit Artistry: Blurring the lines between fiction and reality

A common problem in this age of "instant information" is that a lot of misinformation exists, and misinformation spreads like wildfire. It is possible for people to research before posting something, but few of us do. 

Someone sent me a link to a page from a news article about a kid named Paul Horner who engaged in something called "SWATTING" (calling in a fake threat of violence to get a SWAT team sent to someone's home) and was sentenced to 25 years in federal prison. The only problem is the source of the story is a site called the National Report, a satirical news site. In other words, this story is faker than Dolly Parton's bosom. 

There is indeed such a thing as "Swatting," and people have indeed fell victim to this prank. However, the National Report site is not a real news site. It even utilizes this mythical "Paul Horner" as a running gag; in addition to being featured in a number of stories in the NR (HERE as a Koran burning chef and HERE as a fundamentalist preacher who stones a woman to death), Paul Horner is listed as a "Staff Writer." The NR is just one of a number of satirical/ fake news websites out there (along with fake personalities like Georgia 15th District Rep. Steve Smith.)

This phenomenon isn't new-- remember the Weekly World News? But the fake sites are doing a better job at fooling people. If you've fallen for it, don't feel bad -- fake news led people to make harassing and threatening calls to a school, and even journalists from reputable news outlets have fallen for fake news. I can understand how people can fall for this stuff. We have other things to do than spend all day verifying news stories online. As social justice activists, we are sensitive to topics such as police abuse, so a story of a teen getting a 25-year sentence for a prank, even a potentially dangerous prank, catches our eye. Thus, 99% of us rely on the media as a primary source of info.

A lot of people try to pass off fake news as real, even if they are not writing satire. In fact, people have been far too willing to accept any myth about Registered Citizens, even claims of a massive underground ring of pedophilic satanists. A prime example of this mindset is a story that made the rounds in the media two years ago. A press release from Utica College in NY state proclaimed they conducted a study which concluded "1 in 6 sex offenders hide attempt to avoid monitoring" by use of various deceptive practices. Of course, the media was quick to pick up and run with the story. One headline reads "Some sex offenders turn to identity theft to avoid registration." Another claims, "Study: One in six sex offenders uses Internet to live undetected." A third outlet's headline reads "New study shows 1 out of 6 sex offenders 'manipulate' their identities." The entire basis for the article was the press release that may have been written by someone at The Onion.

There were a number of issues with the study. First, this was a preliminary study, so the study had not been subject to peer review. Second, the author of the study is not in the field of sex offender criminology, but the executive director of Utica College’s Center for Identity Management and Information Protection (CIMIP). In other words, he studies identity theft and economic crime (which may explain at least one of the aforementioned headlines). Third, the study had some interesting criteria for deciding who was manipulating registry info. Preliminary findings indicated that several of the most frequent identity manipulation methods utilized by sex offenders to avoid detection were:

  1. Using multiple aliases.
  2. Using various identifying information such as SS#s or date of birth.
  3. Stealing identifying information from family members.
  4. Manipulating either their own names, or changed name through marriage.
  5. Using the address of family members or friends.
  6. Altering physical appearance.
  7. Moving to other states with less stringent laws 

The last few criteria are intriguing. because it has little to do with identity theft. People get married, move to where life is better for them, or decide to try new hairstyles. I have moved a few times over the years, and I cut my hair shorter and have grown the "Stone Cold" goatee for a few years until it started going gray. Also, who is to say the discrepancy in the data is not result of clerical errors? (It happens to the best of us.) So I am likely ranked among those the researcher determined to be trying to shirk the system. Below are the techniques the researcher claims he utilized:

Rebovich and his colleagues employed various techniques to carry out their research such as: 

  • Conducting site visits where they interviewed subject matter experts in several states to discuss the registration, monitoring and absconder location process. 
  • Sending out a nationwide survey to law enforcement involved with sex offender registration, monitoring and location.
  • Analyzing data on registered sex offenders from the FBI/CJIS national database to develop estimates of the extent and nature of the missing sex offender problem, examine missing sex offender locations and to identify the factors that distinguish compliant from noncompliant sex offenders.
I honestly don't know how the first two techniques helped the researcher arrive to a conclusion. In particular, the "survey of law enforcement" method was the flawed technique that gave rise to the thoroughly debunked "100,000 missing sex offenders" myth. I must ask whatever happened to this study? To this date, the study has not been subject to peer-review (neither was the Parents For Megan's Law study that gave rise to the 100,000 missing RSO myth).

Another question is why the results were announced at a conference before anyone had a chance to review the findings:

And at least one longtime Dallas sex offender treatment provider questioned the motives for even conducting the study in the first place. “I’m extremely skeptical and I welcome an opportunity to read” the study when it’s finally published, said Philip Taylor, who has treated sex offenders for almost 20 years. “It seems to me that the premise fits in with the crafty, scheming sex offender that’s smarter than everyone else, and that’s just not the case.” Taylor said releasing some of the results of the study before all the data is ready for publication in its entirety touches on the issue of “research ethics.” “You don’t hold a conference and announce your findings before you’re ready to publish your paper,” Taylor said. “It’s a lot like rumor-mongering, and that’s when it becomes problematic.”

Thankfully, this study has not been utilized as the basis for a lot of public policy and has been all but forgotten. However, other studies, like the Prentky study (which claims high recidivism rates for registrants) and the Butner study (which claimed a link between CP viewers and hands-on offenses), despite being flawed studies, continue to influence public policy today.

One of the most important things you can do is verify what you read. I suggest reading the original source work, not the press release or the news story. If we are discussing a research paper, then try to obtain the original study. Sometimes, a simple email to the authors of the study will work, or, if you have access to a university, you might be able to download it from a university computer. Research papers can be stuffy and a bit confusing if you aren't trained in statistics. However, you can read the abstract and the discussion after the results to find a plain language summary of the study. I have found that sometimes the reporter did a terrible job of simplifying the study or neglecting such things as disclaimers (most research has a brief discussion on potential limitations of the study, such as sample size or demographics concerns). If you are verifying the news source, check with other reputable news sites (I don't consider many independent sites like Brietbart or The Examiner to be accurate news sources; as bad as the national media can be, independent news outlets can be far worse).

Doing your research takes time and a little know-how. It is not convenient but it saves time in the long-run. If you see a report that looks crazy, like a story of a kid getting 25 years for a phone threat, then verify the facts before you pass it on. That is not to say all crazy stories out there that are true, like the story of the woman who called the cops on her teen for looking at porn. Just remember to take the time to verify a story by doing a little fact-checking. Not every parody site is as obvious as The Onion, but it is embarrassing to have to tell people who read your pages that you posted a smoking pile of bovine excrement and you have to retract. 

Saturday, June 21, 2014

Vigilante Violence is NOT "Justice"

Christine and Jeremy Moody -- Skinhead "Heroes"
How do we rehabilitate a sex offender? They cannot be fixed, what they can do, is convinced the Psychologists that they are ‘fixed’ and they are safe to be released into society. The only cure for child abusers and molesters is to have every member of their immediate family killed. These nefarious crimes and people should not be allowed to procreate. By destroying their immediate family members, you purify the blood line. This is the only way to ensure that they (the pervert or family) cannot ever hurt a child again. Liberals will think that these statements are immature and that I must be empty headed. How many people consider the children that were abused or molested? What about the mental destruction that this child has to live with for the rest of their lives? How these children will find it difficult to ever trust another person. How these children may possibly never be able to have children of their own, because they were raped so severe, that it damaged them permanently? I don't think my suggestion is immature, I think it's the only answer, and if you don't agree, then you two should be destroyed[i].” – Jeremy Moody, “Yesterday, Today, and Tomorrow.” Lulu Publishing, 2012. p.5

On Sunday, June 8, 2014, Jay Maynor[ii] of Cullman, Alabama shot and killed Raymond Earl Brooks, a registered citizen, who had served time for a sex crime against Maynor’s daughter 12 years ago[iii]. As with any story involving so-called “vigilante justice,” there are plenty of individuals coming out of the woodwork proclaiming this man a “hero.” The killer’s family has set up a Facebook page[iv] and a defense fund[v], and has raised $1500 in 10 days (the listed goal is $5000). A few of the comments from the fundraiser page are frightening and disturbing indeed:

There is no room in this world for pedophiles. They cannot be rehabilitated, and there is no cure. They should all be chucked off a boat and left for sharks.” – Holly Perkins

We have several sexual offenders living around us. Unless they start neutering them, I am with Mr. Maynor kind of justice.” – Kat Perry, who donated $5.00

As a survivor of abuse I support Mr. Maynor for seeking justice for his daughter. This demon should have never been allowed to walk the streets again, to have the chance to abuse another child. You are a hero to me Mr. Maynor.” – Jeanna Phillips, who donated $20.00

Jay Maynor's mugshot

A woman by the name of Kayla Maddux[vi], whose Facebook picture is a blue variation of the “Keep Calm” internet meme proclaiming “Keep Calm and Free Jaybird,” posted a comment to detractors at the Cullman Times, stating, “Dont [sic] go trying to tell facts when you dont know them.” When has the lack of facts stop the mass media from exploiting the tragedy for ratings? Even though the AP story didn’t mention the shooter’s name to “protect the victim’s identity,” they had no reservations posting the victim’s mug shot and proclaim him a sex offender[vii]. The lack of details didn’t stop Catherine Connors, an executive with the Walt Disney Company and “award winning blogger,” from writing a post on the Nancy Grace HLN site hinting that what Maynor did, although legally wrong, is understandable and she would be tempted to do the same thing. Connors states, “I know, if something like this happened to me, I might be tempted to do wrong, too[viii].” Michelle Lund from CrimeJail.com called the victim’s father a “pedo-sympathizer” and claimed that Cullman County Sheriff Mike Rainey cares more about sex offenders than “a father who had to watch her child suffer[ix].” Dr. Drew’s “Behavioral Bureau” also added their two cents[x]. HLN is notorious for focusing on stories such as this one.

The Dr. Drew show deserves a more in-depth critique. I have had the privilege of taking on Dr. Drew’s “Behavior Bureau” on two occasions in the past year. This is how the Bureau works – the show invites a panel of personalities to come on the show to discuss various topics, and not all of the panelists have explicit knowledge of the subject at hand. For this particular episode, the panelists were Leeann Tweeden, a TV sportscaster for poker and baseball’s Anaheim Angels, Anahita Sedaghatfar, a civil defense attorney and TV analyst, and Jason Ellis, a journeyman MMA fighter (who only fought two matches) who hosts a show on Sirius XM radio. Out of three individuals, only one has any degree of criminal justice experience, so the outcome of the show should come as no surprise.

Defense attorney Anahita Sedaghatfar stated she was against vigilante violence and that we can't be allowed to take the law into our own hands, but in the end, she still stated, “I would definitely defend [Maynor]. I think he has a strong case for mitigation in terms of sentencing.” As expected, the discussion simply went downhill from this point. Leeann Tweeden stares glaringly into the camera and proudly proclaims, “You do that to my child, I will shoot you in the head.” Jason Ellis gave the strangest statement of all. So, I don`t wanna -- I already said what I had to say, this -- when you bring up the extra -- I mean, I didn`t remember until I was 40 who the guy was that molested me. So, I didn`t know until I was about 26 that I`d been molested. I had to take a bunch of acid and they also recall it. Then, at 40 I find out who it is, because my body can`t even handle knowing who it is. You did that to that girl in that fashion, I don`t need to be related to the girl, I`ll kill him right now[xi].” It is interesting that Jason Ellis just stated that he “recalled” abuse that happened decades ago. (The False Memory Syndrome[xii] controversy continues, but that is a discussion for a different day.) The point is whether we want a person who took headshots for a living (like Ellis) or some “eye-candy” model who peddles her body for a living (like Weeden) to dictate the rules of society, especially not knowing the whole story behind the murders.

Returning to Kayla Maddux’s statement about knowing “all the facts,” supplemental articles have put together the facts. This is the complete story up until this point. The day of the murder, Jay Maynor got into an argument with his stepdaughter’s boyfriend (investigators say there was “bad blood” between the two men), and apparently, somewhere along the way, the boyfriend used the sexual abuse narrative to criticize Maynor, sending him into a rage. Maynor pulled out a gun and shot into the Berlin Quick Mart gas station where the boyfriend was sitting. Painter then went to the home of Raymond Earl Brooks and ambushed him, killing him in the home of his parents. The defense made the claim that a “catalyst” or “triggering event” that should considered mitigating factors for lowering his bail[xiii].

It is rather ironic that the term “trigger” was used Maynor’s defense since pulling a gun trigger landed Maynor in jail. The term “Trigger Warning” (or TW for short) is a relatively new buzzword. “In the area of mental health, a trigger is something which causes instant distress in a vulnerable person. If you know what can trigger a bad reaction, you can try to avoid those triggers in the same way that someone with an allergy might take steps to avoid dogs.” Trigger warnings first appeared on feminist websites to flag up stories of abuse[xiv]. This word is particularly dangerous because, in the words of Rhiannon Cosslett, triggers “smacked to me of victimhood.” Cosslett does not believe triggers hinder free speech, but states, “they do display an increasingly nannying approach to language that is being used to shut down discourse and to silence. Often, it is coupled with a sense of passive aggressive glee…I do not doubt that they are of enormous service to survivors with specific triggers likely to reoccur on feminist websites, but it has got to a point now where I feel women I have never met are trying to wrap me in cotton wool, and I detest that. PTSD can make you hypersensitive and hyper-aware…[xv]”Furthermore, trigger words perpetuates cultural victimhood; as one example, college campuses are considering placing trigger warnings on classic literature because people do not like feeling even slightly uncomfortable. As one RT reporter proclaimed, “Our kids WANT to be nannied. They WANT to be protected, and feel safe, and coddled[xvi].” And fear justifies some very atrocious behavior, like canonizing a man who shoots into a business establishment because he later killed a pariah of society.

When society canonizes a vigilante, society overlooks a lot of things; however, we should not forget Maynor’s actions have harmed many people, not just the murdered Registrant. Those victimized by Maynor’s actions found Maynor to be anything but heroic.

At Maynor’s bond hearing, “Cullman County District Attorney Wilson Blaylock called two witnesses, Jeremy Trimble and Bobby Weeks, who were present for the gas station shooting. Trimble testified he was present in the store at the time of the shooting and claimed one of the stray bullets came within 10 feet of hitting his child. ‘I was alarmed for my son’s safety and it made my heart stop,” he said. “He tried to shoot someone and shot another man.’Weeks was attending a child’s birthday party at the karaoke business located beside the gas station and said he heard a gun shot then looked outside to see Maynor with a gun drawn chasing another man. At that point, Weeks said he gathered the children together and took them inside for safety. ‘It sounded like he was yelling, ‘Come here you motherfucker,’ Weeks testified. ‘It scared me and the kids[xvii].’”

Jay Maynors shows the world how he feels about the laws of society
“Mike Hays, who cooks and operates a small barbecue restaurant inside Berlin Plaza Quick Stop, where the shooting occurred, said he came face-to-face with the shooter after the man opened fire outside and then entered the store looking for his intended victim, who wasn't hurt. ‘People here are calling him a hero for killing a child molester. I'm calling him a psychopathic lunatic for endangering peoples' lives, including mine,’ Hays said. After stopping his motorcycle at an intersection outside the store, the father fired once at a man who was standing beside an ice cooler, Hays said. The bullet entered an exterior wall of the store and chipped a window but no one was injured. Hays said he retrieved his own weapon and confronted [Maynor] near the cash register. ‘He had the gun down by his side. He was calm, as calm as you are standing there now. But he had that look in his eye,’ said Hays. ‘I have no problem with him shooting a child molester, just not 12 years later. If it was my daughter he would have died back in 2002[xviii].’”

“Brooks' father, Ralph Brooks, told WBRC-TV in Birmingham that his son did not deserve to die. He said Raymond Earl Brooks turned his life around after his conviction and lived a godly life that included being active in his church. Because his son's conviction happened so long ago, he said he couldn't be sure if the shooting was a form of revenge. ‘It would be unbelievable to hold animosity in your heart for 12 years,’ Brooks said[xix].

It should not be surprising with anyone that Jay Maynor had a criminal history. Maynor had made several court appearances over the years—once for DUI and three times for domestic violence (though the domestic violence charges were eventually dropped). It is laughable Maynor’s defense attorney brought these prior charges up in attempt to show the court that Maynor would come to court responsibly and should thus receive a lower bond. Thankfully bail was not reduced [xx].

This story has played out numerous times over the years. This brings me to the statement by Jeremy Moody at the beginning of this article. Moody’s proclamation could have been written just as easily by any anonymous commenter. But Moody’s proclamation was written in a self-written skinhead manifesto, alongside discussions on racial purity and ethnic cleansing. (Ironically, the head of Moody’s skinhead group, known as “Crew 41,” is a Registered Citizen[xxi].) Patrick Drum, who murdered two registrants in Washington State in 2012, had 47 criminal convictions over a 15 year period, including assault, drug, and burglary charges. One of his victims landed on the list for a consensual act with a teen when he was 17 years old. Drum and the Moody clan were unrepentant thugs with disgusting pasts. Had they killed anyone else, society would not have given any of them a second thought except to call for the heads of these men on a silver platter. But because their victims were Registered Citizens, people want to give murderers a free pass.

Even the Neo-Nazi skinhead Jeremy Moody had support from the public, as illustrated by this statement from a CNN commenter:

Kimberly269life – “In this case the dude had been convicted of a sex crime on a child!where is the good old killemall mindset we normally apply to pedophiles?What is your prob people? Pedophilia is a well known incurable condition-even castration doesn not cure this despicable condition in many men! He def needed killing.His wife on the other hand seems to have been collateral damage-but thats the price you pay for being connected to child molesters! Its true that many wives allow crimes against children-their own and others-by doing nothing and turning away.They are culpable.They are helping ! Nazis and other white supremists are really disgusting people-yes-but the pedophile is probably even lower ...frankly its a win/win from what I can see[xxii]” [Grammatical errors included]

The vigilante violence and the people who support them are definitive proof the registry, or any degree of public disclosure of Registered Citizens in the community, should be abolished. Until the registry is abolished, we will see this same story play out repeatedly in the coming years. Patt Morrison from the LA Times says, “Justice in a democracy cannot be some tit-for-tat clan vendetta, or determined by bribes or bias. It must be the dispassionate act of the people and the state, whose good order and laws have been violated. Vigilante justice erodes the authority and regard for a legal system that can’t be about vengeance or passion… And when an Alabama father or a California mother usurps that role, they are not heroes, because vengeance is not justice. And justice, not just someone’s child, becomes a victim too[xxiii].” 

The registry is a “catalyst” and a “trigger event” that enrages the community, and when a person is assaulted or murdered because of this registry, justice is perverted.



[i] http://www.lulu.com/us/en/shop/jeremy-moody/yesterday-today-forever/paperback/product-20441110.html
[ii] In terestingly enough, the AP did not publish the perpetrator’s name, stating “The Associated Press doesn't identify victims of sex crimes, and it isn't naming the man charged with murder to protect his daughter's identity.” Yet, they published the victim's name and picture and proclaimed him a sex offender. See Jay Reeves, “ALABAMA MAN CHARGED IN SLAYING GAINS SUPPORT.” AP, June 10, 2014. http://bigstory.ap.org/article/alabama-man-charged-slaying-gains-support
[iii] Trent Moore, “Cullman man charged with murder in Berlin shooting.” Cullman Times, June 9, 2014. http://www.cullmantimes.com/breakingnews/x1396881180/Cullman-man-charged-with-murder-in-Berlin-shooting
[iv] https://www.facebook.com/pages/Family-Friends-and-Supporters-of-Jay-Maynor/325444844270469
[v] http://www.gofundme.com/a51e8g
[vi] Apparently Kayla the daughter of Jay Maynor, though she does not list him as her father on her Facebook page.
[vii] Jay Reeves, “ALABAMA MAN CHARGED IN SLAYING GAINS SUPPORT.” AP, June 10, 2014. http://bigstory.ap.org/article/alabama-man-charged-slaying-gains-support
[viii] Catherine Commons, “Avenging a horrid crime: Right, but still wrong?” HLN, June 18, 2014. http://www.hlntv.com/article/2014/06/18/catherine-connors-dad-kills-sex-offender-two-wrongs-right
[ix] Michelle Lund, “Jay Maynor, Hero Shoots Man Who Molested His Daughter.” CrimeJail.com, June 14, 2014. http://crimejail.com/jay-maynor-hero-shoots-man-abused-daughter/
[x] Dr. Drew staff, “Father charged in shooting death of daughter's molester.” HLN, June 12, 2014. http://www.hlntv.com/video/2014/06/12/father-kills-daughter-sex-offender-decade-later
[xi] http://transcripts.cnn.com/TRANSCRIPTS/1406/12/ddhln.01.html
[xii] http://www.fmsfonline.org/
[xiii] Trent Moore, “Maynor’s attorney: ‘Trigger event’ caused shooting, seeking bail reduction.” June 12, 2014. http://www.cullmantimes.com/breakingnews/x998005628/Maynor-s-attorney-Trigger-event-caused-shooting-seeking-bail-reduction
[xiv] “Trigger warnings: What do they do?” BBC, Feb. 24, 2014. http://www.bbc.com/news/blogs-ouch-26295437
[xv] Rhiannon Lucy Cosslett, “Why I don’t agree with trigger warnings.” New Statesman, Jan. 29, 2013. http://www.newstatesman.com/sci-tech/2013/01/why-i-dont-agree-trigger-warnings
[xvi] “Our Kids Want to be Nannied. We’re Screwed.” The Resident (Russia Today), May 27, 2014. http://www.theresident.net/our-kids-want-to-be-nannied-were-screwed/
[xvii] Trent Moore, “BREAKING: Bond reduction denied in Maynor murder case.” Cullman Times, June 19, 2014. http://www.cullmantimes.com/breakingnews/x1669975480/BREAKING-Bond-reduction-denied-in-Maynor-murder-case
[xviii] Jay Reeves, “ALABAMA MAN CHARGED IN SLAYING GAINS SUPPORT.” AP, June 10, 2014. http://bigstory.ap.org/article/alabama-man-charged-slaying-gains-support
[xix] Ibid.
[xx] Moore, “Breaking”
[xxi] “Killing Sex Offenders: The Apparent Hypocrisy of Crew 41.” Southern Poverty Law Center, July 29, 2013. http://www.splcenter.org/blog/2013/07/29/killing-sex-offenders-the-apparent-hypocrisy-of-crew-41-2/
[xxii] http://edition.cnn.com/2014/05/07/justice/south-carolina-neo-nazis-murder-sex-offender/#comment-1378773440
[xxiii] Patt Morrison, “Opinion Does an angry parent killing a child molester ever serve justice?” LA Times, June 17, 2014. http://www.latimes.com/opinion/opinion-la/la-ol-jay-maynor-ellie-nesler-child-molesters-justice-20140616-story.html