Thursday, December 23, 2010
My mother recently passed away. Before she died, we had talked about writing a book together, sharing our experiences of adjusting to life in small town Alabama. Mom was from Canada so she stood out like a sore thumb. However, she made many friends in that small town over the years. There were a lot of memories that went to the grave with her. After all, I was only five when we left big city Baltimore for rural Alabama. I saw this as a final opportunity to summon long lost memories of the distant past.
I have struggled with my faith over the past few months, but a couple of events that occurred during this trip led me to believe someone was watching over me. Perhaps it was my mother's spirit. I felt it once before right after mom had died, a firm hand pressing against my leg in the middle of the night, like someone trying to wake me up from my slumber.
My first sign came as I took a detour off the main highway to visit my aunt's old house. My step-aunt is still alive-- she has Parkinson's and lives in a nursing home. The house was being renovated and sits abandoned. Next door was my other step-aunt and uncle's house. They died years ago. The two houses sat empty, but still looked like it did when I was a child. On the other side of my aunt's old house was a new house, built barely a year ago in what used to be a wooded area I played in and picked muscadine grapes. A man in a silver Rio was pulling out of the driveway of the new house.
I flagged this man down and asked him if anyone was currently staying in the house. He seemed a bit wary at first until I explained my relation with the woman who used to live in the house. I introduced myself and told him about my mother and my book. Coincidentally, he was heading to Decatur via Moulton so he would pass right by where I needed to go, and he offered to take me to my destination. After two long hours of bike riding, I was a little sore, so I accepted the lift.
Along the way, he asked me if I believed in God. I told him I was struggling because of recent events, including losing my mother. He asked me if I believe in angels. I told him since I was Catholic I believe in guardian angels. I also believe angels can take the form of regular people. He responded "You never know. I could be an angel in disguise for all you know." He dropped me off at my first destination, just up the street from the home I lived in for a quarter of my life. The guy was illiterate and could not remember his address but he drew me a map to his residence. He drew a very familiar map, a corner of two intersections that was very familiar to me. He lived just across the street from my first home after we moved to Alabama! Call it what you want-- a coincidence, divine intervention, a sign-- but I want to believe there was a reason for this meeting.
I visited many places I remember from my childhood-- both houses we lived in, the old pizza parlor where mom used to work (it is now a seafood restaurant), the car lot where my step-dad worked (abandoned but still standing), and a few of our favorite places to stop in town, some of which still stood.
My first house was abandoned years ago and it is set to be torn down. I went next door, and it turns out the same people have lived there for over 30 years, and they remembered me. They invited me inside and listened to my story. I found my second coincidence when they mentioned their son, who went to school with me, lives in Cincinnati, my home of seven years. Thankfully, on top of showing me hospitality, they were also the people keeping tabs on my old house. I was allowed the chance to enter my old house.
My old house was in shambles. However, I was still able to find my old room, and the great oak tree still beckoned to the open window. When I was a child, I tamed a squirrel who lived in the big oak tree, and he'd come in through the window and cuddle up next to me. A flood of memories returned, and for the first time in weeks, I felt peace.
I spent the day stopping at place after place and reliving the memories of my childhood. My third "sign" came when I stopped by the house I lived in for 8 years. There is a small wooded area near the house I lived in, and in those woods is a stream. My brother and I played in that stream. We even had a favorite spot we called "Sacred Rock." It was a large round sandstone rock that resembled an altar, hence the name. I had broken off a piece of that rock and placed it in a small plastic bag. The bag fell out of my pocket in the driveway of my old house. I didn't notice until I was a mile down the road that I lost it. I returned to my house to retrieve it when it dawned on me-- I forgot to scatter some of mom's remains here. I believe again this happened for a reason.
I returned just moments ago to write this entry. I'm tired and chances are I will be sore. After all, I spent roughly 16 hours and rode about 100 miles on a bicycle. However, I wouldn't have traded this trip for the world. I was able to fulfill a promise and a desire. I left a part of mom in the place that changed her life as well as mine.
I have a feeling mom knew her time was coming, and she left me this project. I have thought about why she left this to me. Now I see this project for what it was. This was mom's final gift to me. This gift is the one thing no one can ever take away from me-- not Brandi, not the criminal justice system, not the trolls, and not even a hateful, spiteful society. Mom wanted me to find the good memories and hold fast to them. For so many years, I've only looked at the negative aspects of my life-- after all, I'm still a registered individual, and the justice system and society are not kind on people with my label. However, when I rested last night, it was filled with the happier moments. Mom wanted to remind me of those moments. She knew I would figure out what to do with that gift. She knew I would not let this book die with her.
Somehow I think she's still watching over me.
Thursday, December 16, 2010
In my previous article, I likened Brandi to my relationship with society. Today solidified that. Love so easily turns to hate.Life as a sex offender can be that way. In April 2005, life was as good as I could make it under the circumstances. I was dating a beautiful young lady, I had a job and money in the bank, and my own place. It was just over a year removed from being homeless. I was "beating the odds." I may not have been making a six figure income and driving a Jag, but I was happy. It all changed the day I received the notice the state of Ohio was changing my classification. It was followed by notice my approved sleeping room was too close to a school and I had to move. My girlfriend left me fearing my status change. Though I fought so hard, I lost all I worked to achieve.
I was homeless again, though only temporary, as I had found a new apartment and would wait two months for the apartment to finish renovations. I was starting over again, but I had hope that I would rebuild. It was that time, in 2006, that my dream to reconcile with Brandi was fulfilled. That glimmer of hope was just that -- a glimmer. In early 2007, we broke up. I turned my anguish and despair into my book "Once Fallen." I thrust my frustrations into my activism.
In 2008 Brandi and I reconciled a third time, and recently, we broke up a third time. I cataloged my despair on this blog; I questioned whether I have ever accomplished anything in the past decade. It is hard to see someone I loved more than life itself sees me as an enemy. In the blink of an eyes, the love turned to hate. The one who had been there in my darkest hours of life has abandoned me and created a new darkest hour in my life. I've lost it all over again.
When I had nothing, I had hope. Hope is a hard thing to maintain in times of darkness. There was plenty of darkness and despair this week. It is hard to accept the contempt of someone I loved so deeply but I have no choice. I struggled to search for hope. It is not easy to find it alone, or even with new friends. Without hope, however, what else is there?
I know this storm will pass, like the storms I faced in the past. If I have nothing else, I have hope. I had nothing in prison but hope. Each starting over is a chance for something new.
I'm starting over again, as before. This time, hope is not coming easy. It has become harder to grasp each time. I must have hope, because without it, I have nothing.
Monday, December 13, 2010
For fifteen long years, Brandi has been a part of my life, for better or for worse. In many ways, my relationship with Brandi and my life as a sex offender is similar -- tumultuous, filled with mistakes, and periods of both hope and utter despair.
I met Brandi March 8, 1996 at Northwest-Shoals Community College. It was love at first sight, and she was my first true love. We had a whirlwind romance and married on May 31, 1996. It was a happy time in my life, long before my days of the registry. Like most young couples (I was 19, she was 17), we had our share of struggles and disagreements. It was a somewhat amicable split after three years of marriage (though the last year was in separation).
Hindsight is 20/20. I never knew what I lost until she was gone. I fell into a deep depression and it was the factors related to that depression which led to my terrible mistake. I had sexual contact with an underage girl. I was arrested and charged with sexual abuse. When I sat alone in that jail cell and no one else was there, she was my only supporter. It was her faith in me that first led me on the path of redemption.
My relationship with society also ebbs and flows. I worked for two years to drag myself out of homelessness. I bothered nobody, kept to myself, and slowly built a life for myself. Things were looking up for a while. Then one day, my status was changed and I was forced into homelessness again. I found a new house and successfully fought to keep it. I experienced death threats. It was followed by the opportunity to establish myself as an online advocate. And as fate... and Brandi... would have it, I returned to the place where my journey began.
Throughout my two journeys, I have struggled to overcome two labels. Society judges me because I am a sex offender. Brandi judges me because I am a man.
Society says all sex offenders will re-offend. Brandi says all men cheat on and beat on their wives. Society says sex offenders can never change. Brandi says men can never change. Society says if a sex offender did it once he will do it again. Brandi says if a man does wrong once he will do it again. Brandi is filled with hatred of men, and society is filled with hatred of sex offenders.
Society believes in myths that hinder growth. So does Brandi. Not only does it hinder growth, it hinders relationships. Brandi, at 32, is no different from Brandi at 17. In her personal life there is no growth. Society, despite proof to the contrary, cannot be swayed from their deeply held myths. There is no growth in our knowledge of preventing sex crimes since Megan's law was passed in 1996.
Is it another coincidence my two journeys originated from events that occurred in 1996? Maybe it wasn't a coincidence after all. Both journeys are immortalized in my book, "Once Fallen." I would love to see the light at the end of this journey. Unfortunately, at this point my journey has lead me into a valley rather than a peak. I can only walk the valley until the peak returns. Time marches on. My journey now leads me elsewhere, and it is time to say goodbye to this forlorn past forever.
My journey with Brandi did not have a happy ending, but my journey to overcome the sex offender label does not have to share the same fate.
Sunday, December 12, 2010
DELTONA -- A Deltona man listed as a sexual predator for eight years won a pardon this week after he told the governor's clemency panel he has received therapy, and the designation has kept him from finding steady work.
Even in Florida, the state seen as the worst in the USA, it is possible to obtain a pardon. Even if society and the law labels you a sexual predator, you can obtain a pardon. Even if you are standing before someone like Charlie Crist, a pandering politician who has used sex offenders to garner votes, you can obtain a pardon.
There IS hope. Simply type in "Pardons" and the name of the state of your conviction, and you can learn how to obtain a pardon.
Saturday, December 4, 2010
"VIDEO GIRL BARBIE"
Barbie has always been the subject of many controversies over the years, from claims she promotes anorexia and sexuality to the fight over her "decision" to dump Ken and be single. No controversy is more asinine than the recent news story that "Video Girl Barbie" can be used for... wait for it... Production of Child Pornography! In fact, the FBI actually created a press release just to warn parents that Barbie could be a mule for child pornography pictures. "If we pair the doll with someone familiar to the child, a babysitter or a friend, then you have something that is fairly dangerous at play," stated forensic psychologist Dr. N.G. Berrill. The justification is sexual predators could potentially take hidden video of kids using this toy.
There are a few problems with this line of logic. First, the same argument could be made for video cameras in general, including webcams and cell phone cameras. Second, the camera cannot be run in secret. Video Girl Barbie is not a spy camera that can be run by remote control. Third, are we supposed to believe giving this toy to a little girl will compel her to take off her clothes and pose for Barbie? Somehow I find that hard to believe. Perhaps people assumed this toy is as complex as cameras costing hundreds of dollars, with delayed recording functions. However, I doubt this toy, even at $50 MRP, is that complex.
What's next? Maybe we'll have "Voyeur Barbie" complete with trenchcoat, puppy, and the Barbie Malibu Resty Van, with a "Kidnapping Ken" doll sold separately.
Who would have guessed a vibrating broomstick would cause such a fuss? Reports abound online that the Harry Potter vibrating broomstick was causing a lot of "problems." Consumers were reporting their children were becoming "addicted" to the toy, playing with it "for hours."
Apparently the toy was pulled off the shelves within weeks of its 2008 release. No word on whether these toys were ever sold in Alabama, where sex toys like vibrators have been banned for years.
Jelly Bracelet Sex Game" hoopla of the early 2000s (and supposedly making a comeback). While undoubtedly there are a small number of individuals who misuse a product, the amount of fear-mongering we devote to isolated incidents have been staggering. It is nothing new; after all, there was a lot of controversy surrounding the Dungeons and Dragons board game in the 1980s. The main difference is these days, we fear sex more than murder.
The bottom line-- at what point do we draw the line between genuine concern and witch hunting? Does a few isolated incidents equate to an "epidemic?" Many Americans seem to think so. Why stop there? Lets ban bicycles. They vibrate between a kid's legs when you ride them, and don't forget about roving bands of "smegglers."
So, this holiday season, watch out for Pedobear Santas bringing sackfuls of bicycles, Harry Potter vibrators, and Video Voyeur Barbies. Or, you can simply ignore the fear-mongers and just enjoy the holidays.
Sunday, November 28, 2010
Voting for the 2010 Shiitake Awards is taking place, so I set the mood by sharing the lyrics for one of the spoof songs featured in the 2009 Shiitake Awards. CLICK HERE to visit the Shiitake Awards during the month of December to vote, to watch the 2009 awards show, or to find out more about the third annual Shiitake Awards if you're not familiar with the awards show. No surprise, Mark Lunsford was a double winner (or loser, depending on your perception).
HERE IS A SECOND SPOOF, DEDICATED TO THE 2009 EVERYDAY ZEROES WINNER, PAUL SANDMAN, WHO TRIED TO EXTORT MONEY FROM A REGISTRANT:
MISTER PAUL SANDMAN
[Spoof of "Mr Sandman" By The Cordettes]
Mister Sandman Extorted Me [bum bum bum bum]
He needed money to buy him some weed [bum bum bum bum]
He tried to cheat me out of my clover [bum bum bum bum]
But one call to the cops and now its over!
Mister Paul Sandman sits all alone [bum bum bum bum]
Inside that jail cell he calls his home [bum bum bum bum]
For all the things he stole from me
Paul Sandman extorted me!
Thursday, November 18, 2010
Predator Panic in this country seemingly has no end. It is becoming more common for city parks to ban adults from being near playgrounds unless accompanied by an adult. Apparently this is the case in New York City, as seen in this sign. This week, seven people were cited (they could have been arrested) because they did a terrible thing-- they were playing Chess in the park!
Okay, enough sarcasm. It is time to analyze this idiotic story:
Tuesday, November 16, 2010
CHILDREN AT GREATEST RISK OF ABDUCTION WHEN GOING TO AND FROM SCHOOL OR SCHOOL-RELATED ACTIVITIES
Rather than cut and paste the entire article, I will cut out the high points and point out the contradictions.
NEMEC: "An estimated 800,000 children are reported missing every year. That is 2,000 children every day or one child every 40 seconds. NCMEC analyzed more than 4200 attempted abductions for the five year period from February 2005 and March 2010 and found that:"
The stat is from the NISMART-2; 800,000 missing child reports are just that-- missing person reports. They do not clarify that fact that of the 800k reports, the vast majority are runaway/ throwaway children. Part 2 is a structural issue because it implies that each of the 800,000 reports are the same as abductions.The problem is they took two stats that are not alike and put the two together. They clarify this later on in the report but by then the damage has been done.
NCMEC: "Parents also need to understand that most of those who abduct children are not 'strangers'. The phrase 'stranger danger' is pervasive in our culture. However, teaching children to only be afraid of strangers is the wrong message. Children don’t get it. Children view a 'stranger' as someone who is 'ugly' or 'mean'. If someone spends time talking to a child or is even just around a child they think they “know” the person and don’t view them as a stranger. Research shows that of the 58,000 non-family abductions each year 63% involved a friend, long-term acquaintance, neighbor, caretaker, baby sitter or person of authority and only 37% involved a stranger. The number of pure strangers is not insignificant but it remains far smaller than other offenders who have easy and legitimate access to children."
This should have been mentioned without the 800,000 missing child report statistics, most of which are runaways. From the 58,000 "non-family abductions, that'd be roughly 19,000 "stranger" abductions. The definition of abduction in the NISMART-2 report is rather vague. The criteria is extrapolated from the NISMART-2:
Thus, NISMART–2 defined a missing child in two ways:
first, in terms of those who were missing from their caretakers
(“caretaker missing”); and second, in terms of those
who were missing from their caretakers and reported to
an agency for help locating them (“reported missing”).
NISMART–2 counts a child as missing from the caretaker’s
perspective when the child experienced a qualifying
episode during which the child’s whereabouts were
unknown to the primary caretaker, with the result that
the caretaker was alarmed for at least 1 hour and tried to
locate the child. For an episode to qualify, the child had
to be younger than 18 and the situation had to meet the
specific criteria for one of the following NISMART–2
episode types (summarized in the sidebar on page 4):
■ Nonfamily abductions (including a subcategory,
■ Family abductions.
■ Runaway/thrownaway episodes.
A nonfamily abduction occurs when a nonfamily perpetrator
takes a child by the use of physical force or threat of bodily
harm or detains a child for at least 1 hour in an isolated place
by the use of physical force or threat of bodily harm without
lawful authority or parental permission; or when a child who
is younger than 15 years old or is mentally incompetent, without
lawful authority or parental permission, is taken or detained
by or voluntarily accompanies a nonfamily perpetrator
who conceals the child’s whereabouts, demands ransom, or
expresses the intention to keep the child permanently [Emphasis added]
A stereotypical kidnapping occurs when a stranger or slight
acquaintance perpetrates a nonfamily abduction in which the
child is detained overnight, transported at least 50 miles, held
for ransom, abducted with intent to keep the child permanently,
But there was no mention of the stats for "stereotypical" abductions, which was 115, the high-profile cases people fear most. There is no clarification between the different types of missing person reports, and without even knowing the NISMART-2 was quoted, you have no way of clarifying the facts.
This poses another question--why did they look at only attempted abductions rather than actual abductions? The scenario is a little stereotypical. What were the other scenarios involved? I'd like to know.
The bottom line: They should know better than to write such a easily misread article.
This news story already shows how the article is already misread and misinterpreted; notice the headline:
Friday, November 5, 2010
This is the Wikipedia definition of "collective punishment."Collective punishment, simply put, is the concept of punishing a group of individuals for the sins of one person. Sex offender laws are a prime example of collective punishment.
You need to look no further than the Adam Walsh Act to understand this concept. The law was named after a child who was killed in 1981, before my fifth birthday. I was still living in Baltimore, MD in 1981, so there is a pretty good chance I had nothing to do with young Adam Walsh's disappearance and death. Yet, nearly 30 years later, I am punished for his death by a law passed in his memory. In fact, there are 715,000+ (and growing) individuals who had nothing to do with Adam Walsh's tragic death, but are punished in his name.
What happened to Adam Walsh was tragic indeed and no one deserves that kind of fate. However, should I be held accountable for a tragic murder that had occurred when I was in Kindergarten? Should I apologize over and over again for something I did not do? Society seems to think so. I don't. Somehow not claiming responsibility for a crime I didn't do somehow makes me "unrepentant?" I don't think so.
Sex offender laws should be based on reason rather than revenge. Revenge motivated laws have tarnished the memories of those children we have named laws after. Why is it we can name a law after Adam Walsh to satisfy our bloodlust but we won't throw our support to a grieving family who believes in rehabilitation of former offenders, as in the case of Esme Kenney? Where is an Esme's law that supports the things that the Kenney family believes in, such as a common sense approach to the issues?
The answer is simple. America supports revenge, not rehabilitation. That is why we have the highest incarceration rates in the world, beating out Russia and China. Ironically, as a former offender, I'm supposed to apologize for every tragedy that happens, accept whatever punishment they arbitrarily throw my way, and if I complain, I'm "unrepentant." To that I say, is Esme Kenney's family as deserving of a voice as Adam Walsh's family? Think about it.
Sunday, October 31, 2010
ELECTION NIGHT THRILLER
(Sung to Michael Jackson's Thriller)
It's close to midnight/ And something evil's lurking on TV
Right now on primetime/ You see some crap you really can't believe
You Try to scream/ But you still can't drown out Ann Coulter's screeching
You start to freeze/ As Bill O'Reilly looks you in the eyes
Feeding you lies!
'Cause its a thriller, election night!
And no one's gonna save you from four more years of this tripe!
You know it's thriller, election night
Your fighting for your right to fight this killer, election night!
You change the channel/ But election cov'rage rules on every one
You feel a cold chill/ You're wondering who voted for this bum
You close your eyes/ And hope some people voted independent
But all the while/ You see another tally rolling in
You just can't win!
Cause it's a thriller, election night!
There ain't no chance he'll lose now with a lead that friggin' wide!
You know it's thriller, election night
You'll want to end your life here on this killer election night!
The votes are all tallied and evil ones cheer in their masquerade
There's no escape from the lies of the winners this time
Its the end of your life!
They're out to get you/ It feels there's nothing more that you can do
They'll raise your taxes/ but then again that's nothing new to you
Now is the time/ for us to move the heck out of this country
All through the night/ I'll push the car pedal to the floor
To reach the border!
'Cause its a thriller election night
And no one's gonna save you from the damn teabagger's strike
Yeah it's a thriller election night
So spread your cheeks real wide and take this-
-Killer, diller, chiller, thriller, election night!
It's a thriller election night
Those elephants and donkeys got you locked into their sights
Yes it's a thriller election night
So spread your cheeks real wide and take this killer, thriller, ow!
We're getting screwed tonight!
Darkness falls across the land
Election hour is close at hand
Creatures ponder for your votes
The night air fills with pundit's notes
And whosoever shall be found
An undecided voter still in town
Must stand and face the ballot from hell
And choose from two clowns he can't can't apart tell
The foulest stench is in the air
The funk of FOUR MORE YEARS!
And grisly laws from womb to tomb
Will be passed soon to seal your doom
And as you watch the nightly news
Your body starts to shiver
For no mere mortal can withstand
The evil election night thriller!
Saturday, October 30, 2010
This pales in comparison to the current insanity related to sex crime panic. Children as young as age 3 have been suspended from school or even arrested for "sexual harassment:"
-- I recently learned that children nationwide, some of preschool age, have been suspended from school or taken to jail after being accused of sexual harassment. In their zeal to avoid lawsuits, educators seem to be ignoring important information, such as whether the accused child intended to commit a crime or even knows how to pronounce the word "harassment..."
Consider these egregious examples: In December 2006, a 4-year-old boy in Waco, Tex., was punished with an in-school suspension after a female aide accused him of sexual harassment. According to a television station there, the child had hugged the woman while getting on the bus, and she later complained to administrators at La Vega Primary School that the child had put his face in her chest. School officials later agreed to remove sexual references but refused to expunge the "inappropriate physical contact" charge from the boy's school record.
Our fear of all things sexual has led to disastrous results. Why stop at age 4? Considering the USSA have the highest incarceration rates in the world, we could just turn our schools into prisons. Why stop there? Lets turn day care centers, nurseries, and even hospital delivery rooms into prisons as well.
At what point will the witch hunt end? I'm not sure. I wonder if that female teacher's aid understood the concept of "sexual harassment" any more than Beavis and Butt-head does.
We hear this mantra all the time: "If it saves just one child, then it is worth it." Is saving one child worth destroying countless lives in a hypersensitive witch hunt? You decide.
Monday, October 25, 2010
I feel a common bond with this story. Frankenstein's creation was no monster. He was misunderstood. He was doomed from the start because he would always be seen as a freak in a society that judges based upon superficiality. He was aware he was seen as "broken." He wanted love and acceptance. He felt remorse for killing his creator. We judge him based upon fighting his creator, yet we forget the other aspects of the creation's personality.
Last month I wrote an article asking if I am a monster. Maybe I have a preconceived notion of what constitutes a "monster." We hear this a lot as registrants -- "Sex offenders think of nothing but sex. They do not have any feelings. They lack remorse/ empathy. Etc." In short, we lack the capacity to feel for anyone but ourselves.
If I was a monster...
Then why do I feel pain?
Why do I feel remorse for past wrongs I have done?
Why do I feel sad over losing my mother and fiancee?
Do monsters do these things? I pondered these things while I took a trip to Oregon. I watched the waves crash onto the rocky shores of Oregon as the sun set over the Pacific Ocean. I partook of the most heavenly brownies at Timberline Lodge on Mt. Hood, Tillamook cheese, and Marionberry Cobbler in various shops around Oregon. I shopped for Oregon Duck attire at Clackamas Mall. I stood in awe of the artsy buildings of downtown Portland. I stopped to smell the roses in Portland's famed Rose Garden. I felt the mist of Multnomah Falls land on my skin. I stood in awe of the devastation left by Mt. St. Helens 30 years ago. I spread mom's ashes at Mt. St Helens and the Pacific Coast at Manzanita. I enjoyed the beauty and diversity of the lands in Oregon, the nice people of Portland, and the feeling of experiencing something new and exciting. I was in good company, though I wish I could have shared this journey with my ex-fiancee.
Looking back on that short trip, I think a "monster" would not have enjoyed the experience. Can a monster feel love, feel sad, or feel pain? I think not. If a monster's only goal is revenge or inflict pain and incapable of feeling remorse, then why do I feel remorse and why do I still care about the one who betrayed me? That must mean I'm not a monster!
People love to label other people. Do we have to be slaves to the label? I think not.
Tuesday, September 28, 2010
I had reported on and critiqued Mark Lunsford and the Surviving Parents Coalition's latest get rich quick scheme in an earlier post on my blog. Well it appears at least for the amount of publicity, or rather the lack of publicity, that the so-called "Ride For Their Lives," the fundraising scheme to earn a million dollars for lobbying, has been a bigger flop than Gigli or Son of the Mask. The next picture sums up the typical rally quite well:
Ed Smart replied "Sometimes we don't like hear about these stories."
I don't think so, Ed. People hear it all the time. The problem is people are starting to become skeptical of people like Mark Lunsford, who has been embroiled in controversy over mismanagement of funds donated in his deceased daughter's name.
The "Ride for their lives" event was a 3000 mile trip from Rochester, NY to Los Angeles, CA. The month long trip was to raise a million dollars for lobbying for the Adam Walsh Act and other useless bills that already exist. I suppose Ed mart and Lunsford figured star power alone would get enough attention to make their goals. Lets just ride our bikes a few miles, Lunsford on a motorcycle, and watch the masses flock to us -- easy money.
A funny thing happened along the way. Turnout was ridiculously low, as evidenced by the picture at the St. Louis event. In fact, you'll find little media coverage at all about the event.
There is absolutely no media coverage of the "Grand Finale" to the rally in Los Angeles, CA. None. Unless you count what the SPC put up on the internet.
These rallies, no matter how unsuccessful they may be, are still golden opportunities to counter the ignorance and blind hatred of the populace. There are plenty of materials at Sosen and Once Fallen you can print out and hand out. Approach media hounds. peak with event organizers. You don't have to have an organized counter, just be there.
UPDATE: It seems Jane Velez-Mitchell reads this blog because now, over a week AFTER the fact, wrote a small piece on the Ride 4 their lies:
Saturday, September 18, 2010
AM I A MONSTER? The answer has plagued my mind for days on end. My neighbors watch me with suspicious eyes and gossip behind my back. People shout obscenities at me while I'm walking down the street. People devote website to hating and attacking me. I am put on a public list, and that makes people afraid.
Recently, my now ex-fiancee was told by her neighbor, a child, "That man who comes over to your house, he' a bad man, he hurts people." He's a monster. We could not get married because she has a child so the law won't allow it. We could not easily go on trips together or attend kid friendly events together out of fear of vigilantes.
My ex-fiancee could not take it anymore so she left me. Even she began seeing me as a monster. I will never forget that she sees me as a monster. I can never forget.
AM I A MONSTER? Am I eternally doomed to virtual exile? Is death my only escape? Once fallen, can anyone restore his or her own life? Is there hope? Is there forgiveness? Is there LOVE?
If I am a "monster," then I have none of those things. If that is the case, why should I bother to fight anymore? I have lost everything-- my family, my friends, even the one person in this world I truly loved. All I have left is instinct to survive. I have fought not because I wanted to because I felt I did not have a choice.
Every morning I wake up from a nightmare and into a bigger nightmare of life. Every day I am gripped with the thought of the hells in tore for me today. I wonder what new law will be passed out of fear of the people on that public list. I wonder what more people can do to harm me. I fall deeper and deeper into despair. It is as if even God himself has forsaken me. Each day is filled with one objective-- finding the will to live.
I'm sure this makes those who hate me feel happy. It is sad how people get such pleasure from another person's suffering. They love to point out the harm I caused, but if they get pleasure out of my pain, then what does that make them?
AM I A MONSTER? The Cypress Times wrote an article last year called "The Monster Next Door: The Plague of American Sex Offenders." In it he says this:
“There’s no such thing as monsters.” We tell our kids that. The truth is that monsters are real. A real live monster might live next door to you, or across the street from your child’s school, even around the corner from your church. These monsters are called “Sex Offenders”, a label that is far too innocuous to convey the evil of those who have earned it.
Most people agree with him. To most people, we are all "monsters." It does not matter what landed us on the registry, whether we are rehabilitated or not, or whether or not we are a threat of any kind. To them, we are ALL "monsters."They have made up their minds. [To the Cypress Times's credit, they did allow me to write a counter-argument]
It was funny when I typed in the words "sex offenders are" into Google. It did not end with "monsters." Instead the first item that came up was "sex offenders are people too." The article begins with a quote by GK Chesterton:
To love means loving the unlovable. To forgive means pardoning the unpardonable. Faith means believing the unbelievable. Hope means hoping when everything is hopeless.
It stopped me in the middle of writing this post. It was a different view on sex offenders than the norm. Forgiveness? The sex offender is a "human being?" What audacity! The article asks this question:
Read that article in its entirety and you will see she discovered she was truly blind to the issues until it impacted her family. she once held the same views as the majority. That's the issue I have with society-- no one is ever aware of what these laws do to us.
People have blindly supported laws because "monsters" don't deserve to be treated like human beings. People find it hard to believe the effects the laws have in my personal life. They did not know what they were supporting.
AM I A MONSTER? If I am, then why do I feel pain, remorse, heartbreak, and sadness? I am reminded of the classic work "Frankenstein."
Victor Frankenstein created a "Monster." He feared the monster. He flees the "monster" he created. The "monster" was abandoned. It was confused, angry at being abandoned, and afraid. This poor creature sought out friendship and acceptance, only to be met with derision and violence against him. His own creator betrayed him. The "monster" could find no peace, neither in reaching out to others or by getting revenge on his creator. In the end the "monster" destroys himself.
I feel like Frankenstein's "Monster." I have been searching for love and acceptance but I am only met with anger, derision, fear, and violence. AM I TRULY A MONSTER?
It does not matter what I have done since my release. It does not matter I have never been suspected of any wrongdoing. It does not matter that I have never re-offended. It does not matter I have made reparations and atoned for the wrongs I have committed to the extent allowable. In the eyes of society, I committed the unforgivable sin, and there can never be a pardon.
I wish I could say I am not a "monster." If I am not a monster, what am I? Even the angels desire to he human. If only I knew the answer.
Tuesday, September 14, 2010
Below are some of the most recent stories:
For those of you who have never heard of "Pedobear," Pedobear is a character created on a popular website called 4chan that was used to call out someone who makes a comment that sounds sexually inappropriate, or calls to attention something that oversexualizes children or minors. Pedobear eventually became used outside the 4chan site, of course. But many do not understand what it means because it is a 4chan inside joke. Apparently, neither did the San Luis Obispo Sheriff's Office. They saw a person dressed as Pedobear at the comic book convention and they sound the alarm. It may be a joke in bad taste, but it is not necessarily a criminal, either.
The San Lius Obispo Sheriff's Office is not the only one creating panic. John Walsh of AMW, the leader in fear promoting for almost 30 years, has created a new panic: Watch out for "bus surfing pedophiles:"
"The front lines against a disturbing reality. John Walsh calls it "bus surfing" -- pedophiles who follow buses and prey on children at bus stops."
Of course, the problem is not just that he creates a new fear, he finds a few people willing to back him up on his latest campaign of fear:
Oh yeah, if you are lost or new to the neighborhood, be prepared to be a suspect.
The last featured article is relevant in light of recent trends that ban sex offenders or even people without children from parks.
The Monster of Meridian Park
This post originally appeared on Wallyhood, the Wallingford, Seattle neighborhood blog. Visit us for more Wallingford news.
And there you have it. How do you think this innocent man must have felt because some idiot thought he was a pedophile? His only "crime" was sitting in a park. Men are increasingly cast as potential sexual predators in this country.
Sexual predators are EVERYWHERE! HIDE THE KIDS! Watch the video below, and you'll see how far this has gone.
ADDENDUM: There is one more panic out there. Now CNN is reporting an alleged "Pedophile Manifesto," and promotes the fear by getting Ed Smart, Robin Sax, and Mark Klaas, complete with faulty stats. Joy Behar should've stayed on The View. The irony is that most of the child advocacy place put info out there on how molesters work. That is about the same thing, in my opinion.
ADDENDUM 2: The Pedobear scare spreads!
Tulsa's Fox 23 News claims the guy under the mask was a Registered Sex Offender, yet there is no actual report of that, the man would have been arrested on the spot and would have been in the earlier report.
Saturday, September 4, 2010
I am always hearing the term "unintended consequences" in many articles about the pitfalls of overbroad sex offender legislation, but I wonder if the people who have used this term really understand the term "unintended consequences."
"Is there anything left we can do to sex offenders with a few days left in the session?" -- Louisiana State Rep. Danny Martiny, R-Metairie, during the closing days of a 2006 legislative session
If Georgia passes laws to make living "onerous" and they are conscious of the fact, then the consequences are not "unintended." When a Louisiana state senator half-jokingly muses if we can find ways to destroy the lives of people who have completed their sentences, that is not unintentional. When a state passes residency restrictions knowing they have Iowa's problems as an example beforehand, or they pass the Adam Walsh Act knowing Ohio's problems implementing the laws, that is not unintentional.
Let me illustrate "unintentional consequences," because the concept seems to elude politicians.
In the span of a month, I have experienced both the death of one of my loved ones and the break-up of a two year long relationship which compelled me to move.
The grieving process over losing a loved one is my first exhibit. While in the process of grieving, I was also in charge of the arrangements. I also wrote the obituary. However, because I was afraid vigilantes would disrespect my loved one's memory or use the info to attack my living loved ones, I completely omitted myself from the obituary. That was also the week one of those local mug shot newspapers decided to feature me, and one of my neighbors were quick to mention it to my now ex-fiancee. Then the car broke down in Nashville when I went to pick up a traveler to the funeral, and my mind raced to thoughts of having to show my ID card with "Criminal Sex Offender" in bright red letters to an officer or repair man in a place far from home. Each of those experiences were examples of "unintended consequences." Or are they?
The second exhibit is my break-up with my long time fiancee. There were many reasons for the break-up, but a major aggravating factor is my status as a sex offender. Because she has a child, we cannot live together. For nearly two years, we lived a "double life." Our days revolved around trying to see each other as much as possible while spending as little time with her child as possible, not because I was a risk, but because of paranoia brought on by nosy neighbors. Busybodies abound in rural America. Once we broke up, tasks as simple as returning unwanted mementos of the broken relationship take on new dimensions. As an RSO, you're always suspect of being a threat, despite never showing aggression. It becomes a weapon to use against you. The neighbors stare and whisper, watching that "dangerous sex offender" being hassled by the police for doing nothing more than returning unwanted mementos to its rightful order in neatly stacked boxes. I wish to say those were unintended, but then I reflect upon the events of that day and ask myself it it was truly "unintentional?"
If I committed suicide, would that be an "unintended consequence?" I wonder if that is really what those who pass these laws against me intended for me to do.
I hardly think the impact of these laws are "unintentional." Unconsidered, possibly, but not unintended. The intent of tough sex offender laws is to make life as miserable as possible. It is not about child safety, or about reducing sex crimes, it is about causing the maximum amount of pain upon those who made mistakes. There is nothing "unintended" about that!
I see no changes wake up in the morning and I ask myself
is life worth living should I blast myself? -- 2Pac from the song "Changes"
Monday, August 30, 2010
Sunday, August 29, 2010
Looks like Mark Lunsford has cooked up yet another Get Rich Quick Scheme (TM). As a charter member of yet another group, the "Surviving Parents Coalition," Inc., Lunsford is a part of the "Ride For Their Lives," coming to a major city near you. So what is the purpose, exactly? Well it is pretty simple. Read it for yourself:
COMMENT: So let me get this straight. The purpose of "The Ride" is to raise a million bucks or more so Lunsford can have cocktails with Congressmen who already blindly support his legislation? Does it really cost THAT much to hang around in DC for a few days? I only spent $500 for a five day conference in DC back in 1996 when I was in college and that included my airfare and my hotel stay, and a couple of souvenirs. Damn, inflation is something else.
So what are they planning on doing in DC? They were at least kind enough to explain:
Oh great. They support more Big Brother legislation. I wonder if they'll be the first in line to give their DNA to the beast.
Ok. First off, why would Lungsfull lobby for a law ALREADY PASSED AND FUNDED? And where do these crazy stats come from? Do you think Lunsford is aware the law passed yet?
See #2. What the hell has Lunsford been doing all this time? Okay, I'll explain s-l-o-w-l-y in case Lungsfull ever reads this. THE AWA PASSED 4 YEARS AGO, AND BARACK HUSSEIN OSAMA FUNDED THIS STUPID BILL! Again, why waste a million dollars to send someone to lobby a bill already passed and funded? Of course, most states found implementing AWA has been a disaster.
Now see, I have no problems with education and prevention. However, will this education tell kids not to sext or have relations with each other lest they land on the registry? Of course, there have been such programs in place for years, but people do not utilize them.
If that wasn't enough to get you going, check out the "state report cards:"
Ohio is just one of the states they will ride through. Ohio has DNA testing already. Big whoop. They're also AWA compliant. Again, big whoop. Since the Ohio Supreme Court ruled retroactive application of SB 10 (their version of the AWA), I wonder if Ohio is still technically "compliant."
This is where it gets kooky. Their stat page claims Ohio has "100,624 known sex offenders." Wow. They must have something the NCMEC doesn't because the latest stats from the NCMEC show there are just under 20,000 Registered Sex Offenders in Ohio.
The site suggests the Protect Act stats are from the ICAC though there is no study that suggests anything like they are suggesting. However, even with my limited knowledge of the internet, I'm fully aware of the use of viruses to infect PCs with child porn, sometimes even as a set-up. Lunsford should know since a news article had reported it days after his daughter's death. Considering how we let John McCain, a man who admittedly cannot use a computer, much less understand the internet, pass laws restricting the internet. Well crap, that means I could write and pass laws on combatting Nuclear Proliferation.
One activist for the rights of Former Offenders attended the Chicago event. It seems there were only about 30 people who attended, he being one of them. If you want a play by play, you can listen to the play by play on the August 28 "Open Mic Night" on ARC Radio.
The play by play highlights of the Chicago event:
1. Only 6 riders
2. Event lasted 30 minutes
3. Lunsford arrived late, did not ride during rally, appeared drunk
4. No politicians or legislators
As of this writing there is not much media coverage of the events. It looks like squeezing a million bucks from the poor people of this nation is going to be just a little tougher than he thought.
Saturday, August 7, 2010
She has a child enrolled in public school. It seemed like every day, there were notes from the school asking for money. Hat day fund, one dollar. Pizza day, three dollars. Buy a school T-Shirt (a "requirement" I'm told, $10), a CD "yearbook" costs $10 (that anyone with a CD, a label making copying machine, and Microsoft picture slideshow maker could make). And I'm not even counting those "required" supplies on that list that we were forced to buy to "share with everyone" (yet when the kid actually NEEDED a pencil from that communal stash of school supplies they were nowhere to be found). Nor did I mention the endless barrage of other "fundraiser" activities-- the candy sales, the catalogue order forms, the bookmobile, etc. It was staring to sound like a Mastercard commercial, only without the "priceless" line. Actually it felt more like petty theft mixed in with extortion.
I kid you not, if we bought into every fundraiser, hat day privilege, party, field trip and event, we could have paid enough to send the kid to a private top-notch local academy. This is supposed to be a public school paid for by the insane amount of taxes even the poorest citizens pay, like the sales tax. It makes me wonder exactly what the schools do with all that money, that communal school supply stuff we had to buy the start of the year, and all those donations collected for that "tools for schools charity."
Despite Wal-mart selling pens, paper, and notebooks at pocket-change prices (an in spite of that tax-free holiday), we still found ourselves over school budget.
While our kids' educations are compromised by the constant need for funding, the feds are spending BILLIONS to run public lists of people who committed crimes as far back as the 1950s (or kids as young as age 10), to send US Marshals to knock on doors just to see if they are home, to keep them in mental institutions just to please the public, or to send someone out with a tape measure to ensure that guy on the public list is at least 1 foot outside that residency restriction buffer.
"If it saves one child" apparently is a relative term. After all, our attitude about sexual accountability education is to shield them from it until they have it, then brand them for life. Somehow, we've grown to equate teaching kids about the legal pitfalls is equivalent to condoning a "pedophile" act. How come we do not think that "scared Straight" is the same as teaching kids how to do drive-bys and how to turn powedered cocaine into crack rock? It just seems when we put the letters S, E, and X together to form a word, people become instant paranoid schizophrenics.
But I digress. I've written TWO articles on my website on the money issue in the sex offender field. They've been up there for a while. This is just another example of capitolism gone wild.
Wednesday, August 4, 2010
It made me think about all the things blasted in the media lately to scare the crap out of the public.
Let's play "fear mongering" game. I'll start off by listing as many events that was blasted over the airwaves over the years that got people afraid to leave their homes. Lets see how many we can come up with. Remember, these are fears where a few isolated cases created widespread panic or called "epidemics," or REAL epidemics where there was a lot of misinformation and acts of hate committed out of fear:
1. Sex offenders/ stranger danger
3. People sending powdered poison/ Anthrax in the mail
4. Swine/ Pig Flu
5. Bird Flu
7. Occult Ritualistic Abuse occurring in Day Care centers
8. Pit Bull attacks
9. Meavy metal/ violent movies/ Dungeons and Dragons/ violent video games turning kids into parent killers
10. School shootings
12. Food recalls (they'll recall millions of pounds of a product because it MIGHT have some virus that gives you diarrhea)
That's just for starters. Anyone else remember a good scare lately?
Wednesday, July 28, 2010
A few months ago, my fiancee and I were walking around the neighborhood on a lazy Sunday afternoon when this stray dog came up to us and started sniffing us. It looked like a pit bull. I was one of those people who believed the media hype about vicious pit bulls, so I was on guard. The dog was very friendly, however, and followed us like the lost puppy it was. It eventually followed us home, and after some tearful pleas for the dog's life (as shelters routinely euthanize Pit Bulls), my fiancee talked me into letting her keep the stray.
The stray turned out to be a "Rhodesian Ridgeback." They are related to bulldogs such as Bull Mastiffs by breed, so it could be rather easily confused for a Pit Bull. So now I'm the reluctant "co-owner" of an energetic, bone-chewing, poo-and-grass eating, hole digging bag of fleas that is scared of kittens. The dog is far from vicious. Rhodesian Ridgebacks were bred for chasing lions, but this particular dog is more cowardly lion than lion chaser. It reminded me how little I knew about Pit Bulls or dogs in general.
People stereotype everything. If I say a group of anything, such as "pit bulls," we conjure up a particular image. Many people, when asked to imagine a pit bull, will conjure up an image of a vicious dog that kills cats or people, is vicious, and has "locking jaws." I was one of those people. I just accepted news media accounts and my own fear of the dogs as absolute fact. Only when I thought I was on the verge of having to share part of my life with one of those "vicious dogs" did I really research the breed.
The first information I found was a website called www.pitbulls.org. There is a wealth of information at that site that breaks down the stereotypes surrounding the breed. The site refers to http://atts.org/, a site that tests various breeds for certain traits that make dogs less-than-ideal pets, like unprovoked aggression, strong avoidance, and panic without recovery. The more dogs than show one of these traits, the lower the score. Below are the numbers of a few select breeds:
American Pit Bull Terriers: 86%
German Shepherd: 84.2%
Miniature Poodle: 77.9%
As an aside, my Rhodesian Ridgeback scored a 84.4%. My fiancee's mother owns a chihuahua. She's quite a vicious little nipper, and I've been bitten by the little runt. Which dog is the more dangerous dog? [To see a really good video on the Pit Bull CLICK HERE]
Thanks in part to selective breeding, the Pit Bull is a very people oriented dog. In fact, at one time they were also known as "nanny dogs" because of their people-friendliness. However, it is also thanks to people that Pit Bulls have a very bad reputation. Many people are scared of Pit Bulls. Pit Bulls gained their reputation because they are powerful and tenacious dogs, making them perfect for pit fighting (hence the name). According to the Pitbulls.org site, the current state of Pit Bull Panic stemmed from a 1987 Sports Illustrated article on Pit Bull fighting. The 1987 cover was indeed a very powerful image depicting the dog in the most negative light. It is an image not easily shaken, and fits perfectly the "dangerous Pit Bull" stereotype. Sports Illustrated has admitted their 1987 cover played a major role in the hysteria surrounding Pit Bulls. As an act of penance, Sports Illustrated ran a more recent article following the success stories of the animals rescued from Michael Vick's dog fighting ring.
Destroying stereotypes embedded in our culture is no easy task. A recent article landed on CBS news, entitled "Pitbull Kills 2-Year-Old Boy in California: Recent String of Attacks Renewed Calls for Regulations on Dangerous Breed." The article lists a total of two attacks, on that killed a 2-year-old boy in California, and one that killed an elderly man in Memphis (the dog's owner is a registered sex offender). Apparently it does not take many incidents to declare an epidemic, especially when a child is involved. The article also highlights the city of Worchester, MA, and the typical knee jerk reaction to news stories. The city is looking to pass restrictions on Pit Bull owners, including muzzling the pets and placing warning signs on the properties of owners after dog bite reports. Other cities, like Minneapolis, MN, Seminole Co., FL, and Sarasota Co., FL all have public "dangerous dog" registries, complete with mapping software (Ironically, upon actually viewing these registries, there are a lot of non-Pit Bull type breeds on this list). They look a lot like the public sex offender registries run by the same sheriff's websites. Some cities have outright bans, including Miami, FL, Denver, CO., and Cincinnati, OH (as a former Cincinnatian, I can assure you they do not enforce the ban).These actions are referred to as "Breed Specific Legislation" or BSL.
In a heavily-criticised Miami Herald article on using Pit Bulls as service dogs, Broward County resident Larry Steinhauser states, "I've never seen one that isn't aggressive. I think they're a danger to society."
Pit Bulls are ALL dangerous, cannot be cured, the stereotypes, the inflated "OMG" epidemic statistics, the blanket bans, the targeted legislation, and the public registries, the outcries for more laws to protect our children from these vicious predators.
Does any of this sound familiar to you?
I was in the dark about Pit Bulls until I decided to research the facts. I eventually learned everything I believed about them was a lie. How many people have changed their opinions about American sex offender laws after they were targeted by the very laws they blindly supported? How many have read both of the story? How many have researched the facts?
Education is sorely needed to separate fact from fiction. We are indeed fighting an uphill battle. Many current laws were passed out of fear, loathing, and blind ignorance. It will take tanacity, persistence, and the ability to grasp the truth and never let go. Not all Pit Bulls fit the sterotype. Not all sex offenders fit the stereotype. The best example we can lead is in our own lives. Educate one person at a time. Live your live above the stereotype and do not believe the hype.