Monday, June 1, 2015

Introducing the Once Fallen ICoN Newsletter for Corrlinks users

Some of you may be familiar with CorrLinks. For those who are unaware, Corrlinks is  an email service allowing inmates in federal prison (as well as some prisons in Iowa, Minnesota, and Oklahoma) to send and receive emails. Of course, it is text-only, so PDF files or photos cannot be sent through the Corrlinks system, and letters are limited to 13,000 CHARACTERS, not words. It is a very limited system but it is still a fast and easy way to pass along pertinent info. 

Once Fallen, with the help of those on the inside, is proud to announce the publication of the "Informational CorrLinks Newsletter" (ICoN), a text-only newsletter sharing sex-offender information free of charge to CorrLinks users. 

The ICoN offers summaries of recent court decisions, inmate letters, treatment issues, activist info, and other useful information to inmates who will be forced to register as sex offenders upon their release. In addition, Once Fallen will answer inmate inquiries as much as possible. 

If you have a loved one who is incarcerated and has a Corrlinks account who wants to receive these newsletters, have him send a request to

You can also email me at if you want a copy of this newsletter to send to a loved one behind bars. 

Volume 1 (Spring 2015) is already currently available, and issues can be sent any time, so if in the future someone wants older editions, I can send it to them at any time.

ADDENDUM: I have added a page on Once Fallen where you can download all volumes of the CorrLinks newsletter. Below is the link:

Wednesday, May 6, 2015

Rally In Tally HD Video with commentary

Below is my video review of the 2015 Rally in Tally. The coverage of the event is pretty comprehensive, and now people will need a better excuse to not attend future events besides fear of arrest.

Thursday, April 23, 2015

A quick update about the Rally In Tally

The JTC Camp display that was part of the Rally in Tally

I know everyone is wondering what happened at the Rally. I had technical difficulties so I could not live stream as I hoped to do. There will be a full report on the Rally but it is safe to say that Lauren's Kids spent a lot of money to try to censor us. We were completely blocked off by a tight wall of uniformed FDLE motorcycle cops, they used colored smoke to hide the Books as they RAN past us, and, according to some reports, even threatened us with arrest. Lauren's Kids alluded to us and how they were going to deal with us on her website. However, we were there, and there was some press coverage:

-- Tom Madison is interviewed and given a moment in the WCTV vid (can anyone record it for us?)

-- I got coverage in the Florida Politics website, though for some reason they said we identified ourselves as Anonymous members. I did no such thing.

Here's the thing-- the local news was more concerned about FSU QB Jameis Winston's crab legs theft than the Lauren's Kids event. None of the local media gave it any significant coverage save for a generic AP blurb. I would have though they would have received more press, but what little coverage was there included us. Lauren failed to completely censor us but they pulled out all the stops.

A couple of independent film crews also recorded us for future projects for this is all the immediate coverage for now.

There will be an open conference call on Monday, April 27, at 8pm EST.

Call in # 712-775-7031

Meeting ID # 490-643-495

Friday, April 10, 2015

Ron Book, Lauren Book, Florida Governor Rick Scott, and the GEO Group connection

On April 22, 2015, members of the Anti-Registry Movement will be at the Florida State House at the corner of Monroe and Alapachee in Tallahassee, FL. We will be protesting the efforts of the Book family as they help promote Florida's "Scorched Earth" policy. 

There are many reasons to protest the Book family, but there is one major detail that most of us have not considered. At last year's event, Gov. Rick Scott gave his blessing to Lauren's Kids. Rick Scott is a major supporter of the private prison industry, so much so he hosted a $10,000-per-seat fundraiser at the home of GEO Group's president, who lives in Boca Raton. A number of people protested Scott's fundraiser because they understand just how bad private prisons run by GEO group can be. 

Last November, Lauren Book opened a political committee called Leadership for Broward. It had raised $423,750 -- much of that from Ron Book's past and present clients, including the GEO Group, who donated $25,000. So Ron Book and Lauren both have connections with the GEO Group. 

GEO Group has been immersed in a number of controversies over the years and has been sued hundreds of times. "Violence abuse and death" apparently run rampant in GEO Group private prisons. Perhaps one of the most egregious cases involves Walnut Grove Youth Correctional Facility in Mississippi, sued in 2012 in federal court. Federal Judge Carlton Reeves wrote that the youth prison "has allowed a cesspool of unconstitutional and inhuman acts and conditions to germinate, the sum of which places the offenders at substantial ongoing risk." 

Among the conditions described in a report against the facility in 2012:
  • Prison staff had sex with incarcerated youth, which investigators called "among the worst that we've seen in any facility anywhere in the nation."
  • Poorly trained guards brutally beat youth and used excessive pepper spray as a first response.
  • The prison showed "deliberate indifference" to prisoners possessing homemade knives, which were used in gang fights and inmate rapes.
  • Some guards had gang affiliations — a finding confirmed to NPR last year by former inmate Justin Bowling.
The former mayor of Walnut Grove was convicted of witness tampering after telling a female inmate not to rat him out for having sex with her. He served only seven months. 

There are lots of lawsuits against GEO Group but this one stands out because of the level of sexual abuse rampant in this case. I want you to wrap your minds around the concept of Lauren Book, "Sexual Abuse Survivor/ Educator/ Advocate" pocketing $25,000 from a corporation that ran an institution with the most rampant sexual abuse cases in the entire nation! This is right up there with that Oprah Winfrey orphanage controversy from a few years ago. 

This is also something that bothers me because I was inside a facility called the "Eufaula Adolescent Center" for a year, a place that was closed in 1996 for similar issues. My only reason for being sent to such a horrific place was because I was abandoned by my family as a teenager and became a ward of the state, and no foster homes would take teenage boys in my area. Thus, I was in this hellhole for over a year for no reason at all. I was not a juvenile delinquent, nor was I ever charged with a crime. Info on the facility is sparse, but over two decades later, I still remember the abuse and maltreatment I received at that place. My time there made me distrusting of the police and the courts. Imagine that-- a kid never in trouble with the law but dragged through the courts and the police simply for being abandoned. But I guess that does not matter to most people. 

Lauren Book claims to stand up for children, yet she takes money from a corporation that abused children. That is hypocrisy at its finest. That is simply another reason I will be joining those protesting in Tallahassee on April 22. 

Monday, March 9, 2015

Food stamps and Registered Sex Offenders: What you need to know

This morning I received an email from a Registered Citizen who recently applied for food stamps and was denied due to his status as a Registered Citizen. After getting some background information, I'm pretty sure this man was wrongfully denied food stamps and I told him to appeal it. I believe his appeal will be successful.

I'm sure some of you heard by now that "sex offenders can't get food stamps" because of a provision of last year's "Farm Bill" (H.R.2642 — 113th Congress [2013-2014], officially called the Agricultural Act of 2014.) Well, what you might have heard is only partly true. 

Last year's farm bill did contain a section  that denied food stamp eligibility to "certain convicted felons." This amendment was known as the "Vitter Amendment," for the diaper-fetishist Louisiana Senator David Vitter. However, this provision is actually pretty limited. Below is the so-called "Vitter Amendment" added to last year's farm bill.

(Note: eAdvocate pointed out that part (c), which prevents the amendment from being applied retroactively, is NOT a part of the original Vitter Amendment; the Senate version of the Farm Bill (S954) which failed to pass in the House; instead the House copied the Vitter amendment into their version of the Farm bill with the added section (c) to their version, which became law.  Vitter's idea was source of Registered Citizens denials.)


(a) In General.--Section 6 of the Food and Nutrition Act of 2008 (7 U.S.C. 2015) is amended by adding at the end the following"

``(r) Disqualification for Certain Convicted Felons.--

``(1) In general.--An individual shall not be eligible for benefits under this Act if--

``(A) the individual is convicted of--

``(i) aggravated sexual abuse under section 2241 of title 18, United States Code;
``(ii) murder under section 1111 of title 18, United States Code;
``(iii) an offense under chapter 110 of title 18, United States Code;
``(iv) a Federal or State offense involving sexual assault, as defined in 40002(a) of the Violence Against Women Act of 1994 (42 U.S.C. 13925(a)); or
``(v) an offense under State law determined by the Attorney General to be substantially similar to an offense described in clause (i), (ii), or (iii); and

``(B) the individual is not in compliance with the terms of the sentence of the individual or the restrictions under subsection (k).

``(2) Effects on assistance and benefits for others.--The amount of benefits otherwise required to be provided to an eligible household under this Act shall be determined by considering the individual to whom paragraph (1) applies not to be a member of the household, except that the income and resources of the individual shall be considered to be income and resources of the household.

``(3) Enforcement.--Each State shall require each individual applying for benefits under this Act to attest to whether the individual, or any member of the household of the individual, has been convicted of a crime described in paragraph (1).''.

(b) Conforming Amendment.--Section 5(a) of the Food and Nutrition Act of 2008 (7 U.S.C. 2014(a)) is amended in the second sentence by striking ``sections 6(b), 6(d)(2), and 6(g)'' and inserting 
``subsections (b), (d)(2), (g), and (r) of section 6''.

(c) Inapplicability to Convictions Occurring on or Before Enactment.--The amendments made by this section shall not apply to a conviction if the conviction is for conduct occurring on or before the date of enactment of this Act.

Sections (B) and (c) are in emphasized in bold and underline because the criteria for food stamp ineligibility is specific to certain conditions. It is NOT a blanket provision. First, the food stamp ban does NOT apply to anyone convicted for a crime that was committed on or before the bill passed (it was officially signed into law or "enrolled" as Public Law No: 113-79 on February 7, 2014.). Second, this provision" prohibits anyone convicted of aggravated sexual abuse, murder, sexual exploitation and abuse of children, sexual assault as defined in the Violence Against Women Act of 1994, or a similar State law, and who is also not in compliance with the terms of their sentence or a fleeing felon from receiving SNAP benefits." In other words, if you are not registering or obeying the conditions of your sentence, or if you are a fleeing felon, you are ineligible for food stamps. 

If you were not convicted for a crime that took place on or before February 7, 2014, you are still eligible for food stamps. If you were convicted for a crime that took place after February 7, 2014, you are STILL eligible for food stamps so long as you abide by registration laws and don't have any active warrants out for your arrest. If you are denied simply based upon sex offender status, you can successfully appeal for eligibility.

You may, however, have to present a copy of Section 4008 of the Farm Bill as evidence, as 7 USC 2015 (r) does not mention the fact the farm bill, as signed, was not intended to apply to anyone convicted before or on February 7, 2014. You can also provide a copy of this USDA memo as further proof of the interpretation of the law as non-retroactive and only applicable to absconded registrants (See page 6, "Section 4008" of the memo). 

Law professor Corey Yung believes it is unlikely this bill will ever be applied retroactively, but when it comes to the rights of  Registered Citizens, I've learned to never say never. But for now, you are eligible for food stamps as a Registered Citizen for the most part. 

One last note, if the Vitter Amendment does apply to you and you are disqualified from food stamp eligibility, whatever income you bring into the household is still counted against the rest of your household for determining eligibility. (See the italicized portion of the Vitter Amendment above.)

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 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, (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.

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.