Archive for the 'Uncategorized' Category

24
Apr
14

lead and crime

Says a reader of the Wandervogel Diary:

“I heard about this correlation in a podcast about six months ago.  The part of the story that is missing from the Daily Mail article (below) is what the podcast interviewee was talking about.
brain scans“As far as I can remember, his research was doing brain scans of murderers and finding that their scans showed marked differences between their brains and those of a control population.  Then he made the connection that their scans closely resembled those of people with lead poisoning.  His hypothesis was that the peak time for kids to be exposed to lead was playing outdoors in the 1950 and 1960 period, when car ownership was widespread and leaded gas was the only sort. That would overcome the complaint that correlation does not imply causation.
“What a tragedy if the whole ‘feral’ or ‘superpredator kids’ notion was a reaction to a physical cause.  We are suffering the effects of that superpredator notion even now.”

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lead pollution 4

Has removing lead from paint and petrol reduced crime?

Toxin is linked to surges in theft and violent assault

by Ellie Zolfagharifard, The Daily Mail

April 23, 2014

Poverty, drugs and alcohol may seem like the obvious causes of crime–but some scientists believe we should add lead to the list.

For a number of years, researchers have been stating that the presence of toxic lead in the environment can damage a child’s brain, making them more likely to be violent later in life.

They claim that lead could be a factor in explaining the dramatic surge in crime in England and Wales in the late 80s, which peaked in 1993–and the fall in crime in recent years.

In a BBC radio 4 programme last night, Dominic Casciani revisited the theory by looking at how crime rose from the mid-20th century before peaking in the early 90s and then falling back sharply.

Previous explanations for this change include decline in the use of crack cocaine, the rise of zero-tolerance policing and even the legalisation of abortion.

For a number of years, researchers have been stating that the presence of toxic lead in the environment can damage a child¿s brain making them more likely to be violent later in life. When the amount of lead in the environment increased, this graph shows a corresponding rise in violent crime two decades later.

For a number of years, researchers have been stating that the presence of toxic lead in the environment can damage a child¿s brain making them more likely to be violent later in life. When the amount of lead in the environment increased, this graph shows a corresponding rise in violent crime two decades later.

But in the early 1990s, US economist and housing consultant Rick Nevin calculated the rise and fall of the presence of lead from petrol and he compared that curve to the modern history of violent crime.

When the amount of lead in the environment increased, Mr. Nevin showed a corresponding rise in violent crime two decades later.  When the amount of lead in the environment fell, violent crime reduced about 20 years later.

Tetraethyl lead was used in early model cars to improve performance and reduce wear. Due to concerns over health risks, this type of petrol was slowly phased in the 1970s.

Today, the most common way young children are exposed to lead is though contaminated household dust, ingested via normal hand-to-mouth activity as they crawl.

Heavily-leaded circa-1900 paint can deteriorate by “chalking”, causing lead dust hazards, and lead-contaminated dust from lead paint in older homes.

In Britain, males ages 12-14 in 1958, born as leaded gas use rose after World War II, had higher index crime "caution and conviction" rates than older teens born before that rise in lead exposure.

In Britain, males ages 12-14 in 1958, born as leaded gas use rose after World War II, had higher index crime “caution and conviction” rates than older teens born before that rise in lead exposure.

The leaded share of U.S. paint fell from nearly 100% in 1900 to 35% by the 1930s, but the country didn’t ban lead paint until 1978.

Lead-based paint in the United Kingdom was banned from sale to the general public in 1992, apart from for specialist use.

Lead can be absorbed into bones, teeth and blood and be devastating to the human body, inhibiting oxygen and calcium transport as well as altering nerve transmission in the brain.

Studies in the 1970s revealed that even low concentrations of lead in children can cause permanent damage including reduced IQ, learning disabilities, aggressive behaviour and shortened attention span.

Lead-based paint in the UK was banned from sale to the general public in 1992, apart from for specialist use.

Many cities in the U.S. removed lead from petrol in the mid-1970s and from paint a decade earlier.

At the same time violent crime began to fall in the 1990s and has continued to fall since.

Since then, the data for the lead theorists has become more detailed. Separate studies found a statistical correlation between lead levels and violence in Chicago, Minneapolis, San Diego and other U.S. cities.

Researchers took other causes such as social, economic and legal factors into account, including drug use, poverty, policing effort and incarceration rates.

Mr. Nevin told the MailOnline: “My 2007 study shows the same relationship between lead exposure and both property crime and violent crime trends in the USA, Canada, Britain, France, Finland, Italy, West Germany, Australia, and New Zealand.

“Across all nine nations, the statistical best-fit time-lag for the impact of lead exposure was 18 years for property crime, 23 years for violent crime, and 19 years for overall index crime.

“The time lags are the same within each nation even though the rise and fall of gasoline lead occurred at different times in different nations.”

Professor Howard Mielke, of Tulane University in New Orleans, who has studied the effect of lead on children, said there was a “strong association” between criminal activity and lead in different parts of the city.

He added that police were even using the data on lead to target specific areas of New Orleans where they expected crime to be higher.

This would allow them to focus resources at particular crime hot spots where lead poisoning had been higher in the past.

Dr. Bernard Gesch told the BBC that the data now suggests that lead could account for as much as 90% of the changing crime rate during the 20th Century across all of the world.

But the BBC notes that this only remains a theory because nobody could ever deliberately poison thousands of children to see whether they became criminals later in life.

exhaust

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Groove of the Day

Listen to Sacha Lee  performing “The Music Made Me Do It”

23
Apr
14

the ebb and the flow

beached 7

Ebbing and flowing…
As it was,
As it is,
As it shall be evermore –
The ebb and the flow.

- Traditional Scottish adage

 

۞

Groove of the Day

Listen to Ben Harper and Jack Johnson performing “High Tide or Low Tide”

22
Apr
14

magic

spooky magic

۞

Groove of the Day

Listen to The Cars performing “Magic

21
Apr
14

death’s heads

death head 66.

totenkopf.

Totenkopf in Hand.

deaths head 3

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tree-of-death-photomanipulation.

deaths head 4.

tumblr_mcns6clBCT1rojphdo1_500.

deaths head 999.

skull.

deaths head 6.

tumblr_mco8s9H3Gp1r79v1io1_500.

Deaths Head

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tumblr_lutt8sL4xq1qfmfmfo1_500

۞

Groove of the Day

Listen to Ralph Stanley performing “O Death”

20
Apr
14

jlwop update

old man in prison

States Are Spotty In Following High Court Lead On Juvenile Sentencing

by Robert Siegel, All Things Considered, NPR

April 17, 2014

Over the past few years, the US Supreme Court has held that mandatory life without parole sentences for juveniles violate the Eighth Amendment ban on cruel and unusual punishment. In 2010, the court ruled that was true for young offenders convicted of crimes other than homicide. And two years later, it added homicide to the ban.

As the court held in one opinion, Children are constitutionally different from adults, for purposes of sentencing, because juveniles have diminished culpability and greater prospects for reform. Those Supreme Court decisions were widely reported when they were announced. What has not been so widely reported is what happened to implement the ban on mandatory life without parole sentences for juveniles by the states?

Law Professor Cara Drinan, of Catholic University in Washington DC, has looked at precisely that question and published a law journal article on the subject. And she’s found great reluctance to comply with the court’s rulings. And she joins us now to talk about it.

Welcome to the program.

CARA DRINAN: Thank you for having me.

SIEGEL: And first, how many states have taken action to change how they sentence juvenile offenders in light of the court’s decisions?

DRINAN: Right, so 11 jurisdictions to date have made attempts to bring their state laws into compliance with the court’s decisions, either through judicial opinion or through legislation.

SIEGEL: Eleven states out of how many that would be affected by all this?

DRINAN: Well, the two decisions had different implications. The court’s first decision in 2010 affected legislation in 39 jurisdictions. And the mandatory sentencing decision in 2012 affected 29 jurisdictions. So that means there is quite a bit of work to be done still.

SIEGEL: But explain this. Does being in compliance mean rewriting the law that lists all the sentences? Or does it mean the judges don’t sentence children to those terms?

DRINAN: So the real onus is on state lawmakers to change the laws on the books. Unless and until that happens state court judges and executive actors—prosecutors and, in my opinion, governors—have an obligation to bring state practice into compliance.

SIEGEL: You describe the reaction of one state, Iowa, to the court’s rulings that seems to be a very narrow, literal reading of what the court decided. But it seems to violate the whole spirit of what the court did. What happened in Iowa?

DRINAN: So, in Iowa, the governor determined, OK, we have a set number of individuals who have received this now-unconstitutional sentence. What we’ll do is simply commute the sentences to term-of-years sentences and call it a day. And so that is in fact what happened in Iowa. All of the juvenile offenders who were serving life without parole, their sentences were commuted to 60 year terms. And then…

SIEGEL: So effectively they’re still doing life without parole. They’d spend the rest of their lives in prison in all likelihood.

DRINAN: Right, well, that actually is a question that’s been litigated: What is the de facto life sentence? But in Iowa, the State Supreme Court did, in fact, agree with the defendants in that case who challenged those commutations, and said that’s an overreach on the governor’s part, and it’s not in keeping with what the Supreme Court intended. So those individuals are now seeking individual re-sentences. Although, I have to say, they have not had much luck before the parole board in Iowa.

SIEGEL: How many juveniles are we talking about here? How many people who at least were juveniles when they were convicted, have been serving life without parole?

DRINAN: Right, so in the 2012 decision, the court estimated that it was dealing with about 2,500 inmates nationwide who had been sentenced, as juveniles, to life without parole for homicide offenses. There are about probably another 100 or 200 who were serving life without parole for non-homicide offenses.

SIEGEL: And they’re scattered all over the country? Or where are they concentrated?

DRINAN: Scattered all over the country, yes, but concentrated inside jurisdictions. So it’s Pennsylvania, Michigan, Florida, California, and Louisiana that house the bulk of those 2,500 inmates.

SIEGEL: In Pennsylvania, earlier this month, there was a notorious mass stabbing at a high school for which a 16-year-old was charged. And he was charged as an adult, which seems typical. That is, many people seem to think that juvenile justice is for kids who steal cars for joy rides, or kids who shoplift. But that if there is a seriously violent crime you should automatically try the child as an adult. What does the court actually say about that?

DRINAN: Well, I think it’s only recently that the court has taken a position on that. For decades, you’re absolutely right. The sort of majority view in this country was if you do an adult crime, you will do adult time.

The court has said in its recent opinions, to which you referred earlier, that that does not make sense. That brain science in this day and age tells us that children at 16, at 17, they simply don’t have behavior control, impulse control, the capacity to assess risk and plan ahead. That they’re fundamentally different in the eyes of the law and that our sentencing practices need to reflect that.

SIEGEL: Your article, it reminds me that the Supreme Court banned segregated public schools in the 1950s. And it took years to get Southern states to implement that. What is the Supreme Court supposed to do after it bans something? How does it enforce implementation of what it’s done? And what is considered quick implementation of a big Supreme Court decision?

DRINAN: Typically the court enforces it when the issues percolate back up to the court. So, for example, one of the issues in the wake of the court’s 2010 decision that said juveniles who commit non-homicide offenses may not be sentenced to life without parole, one issue that has come up in the wake of that decision is, OK, we hear you, we can’t sentences young, armed robber to life without parole, how about an 89-year sentence. Is that permissible?

So there’s been a whole crop of litigation in the lower courts, state and federal, addressing this question of what is permissible. And if there’s enough split across the country it will have to squarely resolve that issue.

SIEGEL: One thing that always arises from parole or certainly from shortened sentences is the family of a victim will say, we were told when all this happened back, don’t worry, that kid is going to be locked away, he’ll never see the light of day for the rest of his life on the outside. Suddenly they’re told, no, actually has a chance to get out.

DRINAN: Absolutely, yeah. No, that’s, and that is playing out, for example, in Massachusetts where the State Supreme Court has said that these decisions will be retroactively applicable, meaning they apply to all people who are currently serving life without parole sentences for juvenile offenses. And there has been enormous opposition from victims’ family members who have said exactly that.

And understandably so have said that, you know, this was a horrific experience for us, the trial itself was traumatic, and the thought that we now have to relive one parole hearing or more than one parole hearing, right, maybe even sequential parole hearings, that’s understandably upsetting. And so, I think that whatever legislation is enacted has to be respectful of that viewpoint.

SIEGEL: Professor Drinan, thank you very much for talking with us.

DRINAN: Thank you for having me.

SIEGEL: Cara Drinan has written about state juvenile sentencing laws in light of recent Supreme Court rulings. She teaches at Catholic University in Washington DC.

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Groove of the Day

Listen to Anita O’Day performing “The Ballad of the Sad Young Men”

19
Apr
14

celibate pedophiles

lolita

Sometimes we exercise control over our actions, but our thoughts are out of control. An alcoholic may be able to remain on the wagon, but they say that the desire for a drink never abates. We may be able to refrain from violence despite the involuntary desire to knock out someone’s lights. If we could be jailed for our thoughts, most of us would be wearing stripes.

Earlier this week, one of my readers contacted me about a small number of pedophiles who are sexually attracted to children, but choose not to act on their desires. Yet society, in its hatred of the pedophilic act, reacts to these unfortunates as if their actions have already crossed the line, as if their commitment to “doing no harm” never existed.

How many of them are there? A 1989 study of about 200 male college undergrads found 5% admitted to masturbating to pictures of children, and 7% said they’d have sex with a child if they could get away with it. A 1991 study found 3% of some 600 college men reported having had a sexual experience with a child when they were 16 years or older. Although mostly documented in men, there are also women who exhibit the disorder (about 10% of males), but researchers assume available estimates underrepresent the true number of female pedophiles.

No cure for pedophilia has been developed, but there are therapies that can reduce the incidence of persons committing child sexual abuse. But therapists typically discourage pedophiles from becoming their clients, and the surest means of keeping the incidence of pedophilia to a minimum is supporting the restraint of the pedophiles themselves.

Yet, as I have said before, such a reasonable and tolerant reaction is the rare exception, and not the rule. It is an attitude which needs to change, and I will return to this subject periodically with the goal of reducing the sexual abuse of children by many means. If this involves treating pedophiles with respect and as a part of the solution, so be it.

In the interest of using this blog as a soapbox for people with an authentic personal stake in this goal, I am reprinting here a portion of a post on another blog, so you can see for yourself the experience of one young man who has made a commitment to living a celibate life:

I am a young adult, 26, and I am exclusively attracted to boys approximately between the ages of 8 and 14. I don’t know particularly why I am this way. What matters is that at this point in time, regardless how I got here, this is who I am and who hundreds of thousands (if not more) are and will be. I do not believe any one thing biologically or environmentally is responsible for any one other thing. I am who I am because of bidirectional influences of nature and nurture. I had a completely sexless childhood (to my knowledge) and I agree with my current therapist who says that is quite uncommon. I go so far as to say that has contributed to my sexual orientation.

Many people believe being molested as a kid turns them into child molesters or pedophiles (not the same thing), and “research” likes to make the same conclusion of cyclical “offending” because it is so convenient. Researchers can frame their research to say anything they want. This is what made me realize the true problems with research on pedophilia and child sexuality. In fact, the laws we have on the books about age of consent and anything to do with sex and kids is founded on nothing. The laws prevent research from being done that would either prove or disprove the correctness of those very laws! It is a catch-22 that is designed as such. I am involuntarily celibate as nobody I have liked has liked me back. And, I obviously refrain from any sexual activity I desire due to the legal ramifications, both to me and to the hypothetical younger partner.

My beliefs fall in line with the works of Bruce Rind (et al.) and Theo Sandfort to name a very few. I believe the majority of traumatization from childhood sexual activity with adults spawns from social disapproval of the sexual activity, not necessarily the activity itself. I believe things like rape, violence, coercion, extortion, drug abuse, exploitation and non-consent are characteristic of true child molestation, not a consensual, loving, positive sexual experience. Of course, trauma can and does occur when the things listed above occur in a sexual interaction between an adult and a child, but I do not believe trauma results from a child’s desired sexual interaction with anyone, including adults. It is assumed that because adults are older and more powerful that they, without question, will take advantage of a younger person, but this simply isn’t always the case.

If you think about it, the child has more power because they have the ability to destroy the life of the adult by reporting to parents and authority figures, even if an adult has done absolutely nothing to them. Many people do not buy this perspective, but it is incredibly real when you understand just how smart and powerful some kids are. No, not all kids can consent to sexual activity just as I believe not all adults can. We have literally retarded human development with the creation and sensationalization of childhood. We oppress the learning process and keep kids “innocent” and ignorant as long as possible, raising the age of legal permissions higher and higher. Ignorance is not knowing something one should know while innocence is not knowing something one shouldn’t know. Who is to decide what one should or shouldn’t know? Parents want their little ignorant angels as long as possible, stunting their psychological, social and sexual growth.

My “sexual neglect” is, I believe, partially responsible for my sexual orientation. I believe in the zone of proximal sexual development where the zone of proximal development refers to a person’s ability to solve a problem or puzzle as far as they can until they need intervention from a more knowledgeable person, whether or not they are older. I believe this can fit into comprehensive sexual education, tailored to each individual. Some kids may just need conversation, others might desire contact. This is a very scary thought for many because people simply cannot be trusted and our fish nets catch dolphins (metaphorically, hopefully you understand).

The first time I masturbated was my first sexual experience at 14 years old after asking a boy I had a crush on how to masturbate. The week leading up to this fantastic discovery I was at a church beach camp with a new church I had found because I was attracted to the boy who invited me to attend. There was a running bet among the boys in the youth group who could go the longest without masturbating. So I thought “I gonna win this thing. I have to! I’ve never masturbated before so I don’t even know what I’m missing out on. I’ll win for sure.” The thought of me missing out on this incredibly tempting and widely practiced thing was eating away at me and made me feel quite isolated, out of the loop and lame. So after asking my crush how to do it the day after the bet started, I was the first one to lose! Lol! If I had had a man I loved and trusted help me with my sexuality, emotionally and physiologically, through discussion and sex play, I would have been such a happy kiddo and probably might have a more socially acceptable sexual orientation today.

Unfortunately, about a week after having masturbated for the first time (and all week long) I realized I was thinking about my crush and that meant I was gay. The thought of me being gay and, therefore, unacceptable to my church and my family made me severely depressed. I went to therapy which helped me to love myself no matter what, but a few years down the road I was still severely depressed and anxious. By the time I turned 17 I realized my attraction wasn’t growing with me and if I didn’t have sex with a boy I liked before I turned 18 I was screwed for life having missed the boat to legally act on my innate desires. Up to that point I thought I was (merely) gay, but then I realized I was a pedophile.

Everything I had known about pedophilia was that is was evil, sick, wrong, disgusting. I top-down processed it, attributing all the negative characteristics to me, the sweet, kind, old-soul, loving pudgy little boy. I was now a monster who had to live a double life in hiding and without the greatest pleasure of life, forever. I immediately became suicidal.

Going into college I decided to shoot the moon and dedicate all of my research papers and everything I did in college to shedding truth and critical thinking on pedophilia and child sexuality. Upon graduating university with a B.S. in psychology, I had outed myself to nearly 140 people through interpersonal interactions (friends and acquaintances), research papers and presentations, and a monologue/Q&A with about 60 people at a sexual minorities event at the university’s LGBTQIAA club.

Also, I was assaulted with intent to be murdered by a group of 5 skinheads 5 to 6 years younger than me because they heard that I was gay. I wouldn’t tell the police why they attacked me because I was afraid and ashamed. They documented it as a hate crime (even though I don’t believe in hate crimes. I believe in punishment or correction of an action, but not particularly because of the motivation behind it. I suppose correction couldn’t avoid dealing with motivation). I was slapped with a minor in consumption of alcohol even though I was months away from my 21st birthday and they let the assailants go free.

I found out 2 days later at the hospital my left eye socket was shattered. That event left the biggest scar on my life to date and reinforced my will as an activist for queer youth. I moved to a suburb just south of San Francisco after college to immerse myself in the queer community. I found it quite the bubble of gays who display just as much if not more ‘groupthink’ than conservative communities. Almost every gay man I met out there was either a boylover (homoephebo/pedophile), a loved boy as a kid or both. But, not one of them was out about it. They had only come out of the closet about it when I walked into their lives and opened up about myself, but they absolutely would not be open about it in public. That is a hugely disappointing secret I found out about the gay community. Because all of these gay men are fortunate enough to have a more acceptable attraction to men, they are able to throw their attraction to boys and those who are exclusively attracted to boys under the bus to gain their own rights to love men. They’ve created a common ground of hatred to share with conservative communities to gain their own acceptance. “We think they’re sick and wrong too. We’re not like them so now we’re on the same team.”

I was a private percussion instructor and a program leader at an after-school “club” that everyone knows about, but shall remain nameless, and a roady and drum technician for a rock band of tween boys. The band of kids was getting rather big so the manager wanted to start a reality show about us on Cartoon Network. He gave the parents, roadies and everyone involved a sort of autobiography to fill out in which he wanted is to each give a bit of dirt on us to create some necessary drama. This is where I went way overboard, yet somewhat on purpose. I came out in this autobiography as a celibate, virgin homoephebopedophile or boylover. This scared the shit out of the manager (who is actually a tyrannical child abuser himself) and the parents. I knew what could potentially happen and it did. I was kicked out of the group and given absolutely no understanding or sympathy. My place of employment was notified and I was illegally let go from being a program leader as well.

About a year later after I got a gig teaching drumset and marching percussion at a local mom-and-pop music store, I had a deep conversation with a parent I’d known for a while who I thought I could trust with coming out to. Nope. She freaked out, printed out the online conversation and spread it around the community. There were no incriminating things in it, but just labeling myself as a boylover was enough to get me illegally fired from my teaching position.

Boy, when will I learn!? My prefrontal cortex still isn’t fully developed so my ego still trumps the superego on occasion. The printed out conversation made it into the hands of local law enforcement who asked me to meet them at the police station for discussion. They basically lectured me on how acting upon my desires is illegal (as if I didn’t already know that) and refused to release the 40-page conversation to me as it still sits in that evidence room today (in case they ever want to fabricate a serial molestation story and pin it on me, brainwashing kids to think I had inappropriately touched them).

I looked for several lawyers to help me out with all of this, having lost three jobs over simply stating my sexual orientation and no illegal activity. I could not find one lawyer who would help me (what lawyer wants to say they helped the pedophile go back to work with kids?). All of this actually spilled over into my professional drumming career and cost me two bands.

I tried to commit suicide a third time by hanging myself. I hung for a few seconds before I chickened out and got myself down. I had posted to Facebook that I had gotten the supplies to kill myself and a friend had notified the police who, shortly after the attempt, 5150ed me, taking me to the loony bin for three days. I managed to get out of there by showing them I could overcome my depression by playing music. I decided to move back to my home state and city after all this.

Pedophilia will not simply go away. No pedophile holocaust will rid the world of kids being born pedophiles or becoming them through the bidirectional interaction of their biology and their environment. I am not an activist about the critical understanding of pedophilia and sympathy for pedophiles for myself anymore. I do this for the countless KIDS who are or will realize they are attracted exclusively to kids. How many kids actually kill themselves because they aren’t merely gay or lesbian, but because they know they are only attracted to kids? I do what I do because no kiddo should EVER have to feel the way I did a go through what I did.

If only there were a more direct way of reaching those kids to tell them they are perfect the way they are and that while we most likely won’t gain acceptance in our lifetime, it is up to us to fight for future generations, and that they are loved for who they are (and by pedophiles). Pedophiles do serve a purpose in society and that is to help kids (particularly queer ones). Heteronormativity and sexual neglect during childhood absolutely crushes queer kids and traumatizes them (I would know, I was).

The main messages I try to get across to anyone and everyone are these:

1. Pedophiles are not child molesters. Just as homosexuals are no more likely to molest kids as heterosexuals, the same goes for pedophiles. Most perpetrators of child molestation are power-hungry people who do not necessarily have an attraction to minors.

2. Celibate pedophiles deserve sympathy and understanding. How many people can say they know what it’s like to not be able to partake in one of life’s greatest pleasures/gifts and be aware of that every single day of their life!?

3. Not all kids are incapable of sexual behavior or knowledge of sex. In fact, as I have stated above, sexual exploration and play can be critical to the healthy development of some children. Just because you developed into a heterosexual teleiophile without sexual interaction as a kid doesn’t mean everyone else will. Or, just because you didn’t know about or have sex as a kid doesn’t mean you can apply your experiences to everyone else and say all kids are immature.

4. Everything the queer community endured is what the pedophile and other -philia communities are putting up with now.

5. Objectivity is moral, but morality is subjective.

6. Kids aren’t our future. They’re their present.

۞

Groove of the Day

Listen to Madonna performing “Forbidden Love”

18
Apr
14

remembrance

holocaust remembrance in hungary

I am struck by a recent boycott which is being carried out against the government of Hungary. On Wednesday, Hungary began 70th anniversary commemorations of the Holocaust amid boycotts and protests by Jewish groups.

Marking the day when Hungarian Jews were first placed in ghettos in 1944, ceremonies were held around the country as part of “Holocaust 2014″, a program of events organized by Prime Minister Viktor Orban’s government. In Budapest, President Janos Ader and Deputy Prime Minister Tibor Navracsics lit candles at a monument by the Danube commemorating the thousands of Jews shot in 1944-1945 by the Hungarian fascist Arrow Cross party and militia.

The Jewish groups are concerned by what they see as the government’s concerted efforts to whitewash Hungarian responsibility for the Holocaust. The current hub-bub is about a monument to be unveiled on Saturday which depicts Hungary, a Nazi ally in World War II, as the Archangel Gabriel being swooped down upon by an imperial eagle representing Germany.

Protesters say this is an attempt by the current government to revise history and deflect responsibility for the Holocaust to the Nazi invaders.  Lawmakers have included in the preamble of a new constitution stating that Hungary lost its sovereignty with the Nazi invasion on March 19, 1944—before mass deportations started to concentration camps—and didn’t regain it until the end of communism in 1990.

421px-azertisProtesters say that in 1920, 24 years earlier, Hungarian lawmakers approved what is considered as the first anti-Semitic law passed in Europe after World War I, restricting university access to Jews. Admiral Miklos Horthy governed Hungary from that year until October 1944, when the Arrow Cross Party formed a “Government of National Unity” and led the country into World War II on Adolf Hitler’s side. During its short rule, 10,000-15,000 people (many of whom were Jews) were murdered outright, and 80,000 people were deported from Hungary to their deaths at Auschwitz.

The current Hungarian government was elected in October to take over in 2015 the presidency of the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance, an inter-governmental organization dedicated to placing “political and social leaders’ support behind the need for Holocaust education, remembrance and research,” according to the organization’s website.

The government also has commenced planning for a new Holocaust memorial center in Budapest. Protesters say the project’s organizers have rejected engaging with Jewish groups in its development and haven’t made their plans public, and that therefore the memorial center should be rejected, too.

I don’t know what the exact truth of the matter is. The story of the Holocaust is part propaganda and part empirical fact. The famous six million death toll is a number that has been promulgated since as early as 1933 in the Anti-Nazi Boycott of that year (almost a decade before the Jewish Holocaust even happened). The Holocaust story has been transformed into something that looks like a reparations racket for financial gain. In my own lifetime, I have seen downwards revisions in the official number of the dead at Auschwitz, and the gas chamber on that site has been shown to be a postwar structure put up by the Soviets to accommodate millions of visitors.

It seems to me that when a country like Hungary attempts to officially come to terms with its past, this should be viewed as progress. “Holocaust 2014″ is best seen within a context of European anti-Semitism which goes back many centuries. Protesters are focused on perceived shortcomings of the official program, while more progress might be made by celebrating what admissions of responsibility they can.

The truth of history is something which emerges over many generations.  Sometimes the myths of history must be tempered and revised before truth resolves. The truth of history is something which requires many iterations and the participation of an increasing number of people and viewpoints.

800px-Diffusion_of_ideas copyAs Everett Rogers showed in his 1962 theory regarding the diffusion of a message, idea, or technology through cultures, the spread of any new thing through time involves a social process in which some people (the “innovators”, “early adopters”, and “early majority”) take the lead, while others  (the “late majority” and “laggards”) bring up the rear. Within the rate of adoption, there is a point at which an idea reaches critical mass. Any idea must reach this critical mass in order to self-sustain.

The promoters of the story of the Jewish Holocaust have been so effective in spreading their message that over 80% of people today are unable to name a genocide since the Jewish Holocaust of the 1940s. A recent survey, conducted by Opinion Matters on 2,304 UK adults, has revealed that more than half of the British population can not recall the genocides in Cambodia, Bosnia, Rwanda, or Darfur. It is as if no other mass killing of anyone but the European Jews of 70 years ago happened or even matters.

Furthermore, only a third of young people were even able to identify the correct definition of genocide, which always involves the belief of one population that they are superior to another which deserves extermination.

This is not as it should be. If we are to learn anything from the genocides which periodically take place in various parts of the world, it is that all human life is sacred, and that no particular race, nationality, gender, color, or creed is superior in value to any other.

I think it is a good thing that the Hungarians are beginning to come to terms with their history and prejudices of superiority. I think they should be welcomed to the table.

۞

Groove of the Day

Listen to Ed Ames performing “Try To Remember”

17
Apr
14

sexual abuse in perspective

kid-bubble-wrap-439384

There are many estimates of the number of young people who are sexually abused.

Despite the outsized publicity about this subject, the annual incidence of sexual abuse is fortunately lower than we are led to believe. One US government source counts 78,188 child victims of sexual abuse in 2003. That’s a rate of 1.2 per 1,000 American kids—a small rate, but unacceptable. The 2001 National Crime Victimization Survey (which only covers youth 12-17) estimates that 1.9 per 1,000 young people are raped or sexually assaulted, and reflects a higher risk and vulnerability for teenagers.

Yet these relatively low annual numbers have a way of adding up over time. National surveys of adults find that 9%-28% of women say they experienced some type of sexual abuse or assault in childhood. I don’t have any figures for adult males, but I have no doubt that at least 10%-20% of boys have, over their lifetimes, experienced sexual adventures and experimentation which could qualify as “abuse.”

You may not like my saying this, but for a subset of people, it is a part of what we, as sexual beings, experience as “growing up.” I would even go so far as to speculate that sexual “abuse” is more normative than we might like to think.

Until recently, I have been using a history of sexual abuse as a kind of heuristic in deciding which juvenile parricides the Redemption Project would back. Sexual abuse of young people by their caregivers is so beyond the pale, that its presence presented a kind of shortcut for understanding and, to a degree, even justifying the desperate states of mind that preceded the murder of some parents.

But notice that I said “until recently.”

My thinking has taken quite a turn since I have focused on the Clemens Initiative, because two of the four inmates reported no sexual abuse at all. All four inmates, however, reported horrendous emotional abuse, and it is only after recalling that most parricides say that this emotional abuse is more damaging than sexual abuse that I have concluded that it was an error for me to rely on sexual abuse as the acid test of a parricide’s lessened culpability for their act of murder. In other words, I have concluded that sexual abuse, as terrible as it is, is only an indicator of what has led to the act of parricide. Far worse and more damaging—and probably the more direct contributor to murder—is the emotional abuse parricides suffered. After some intense soul-searching, I concluded that rejecting parricides who had not been sexually abused was as arbitrary and unfair as selecting only people who were blue-eyed or left-handed.

Childhood sexual abuse cases are probably made as traumatic as they are, not because of the sexual act itself, but by society’s reaction to the sexual activity when it comes to light. Society has invented a certain idealized conception of childhood, attempts to keep kids “innocent” (that is, ignorant of sex) as long as possible, and oppresses the natural learning process. I have had the recurring thought that kids do not “break” as a result of their sexual experimentation unless they receive a lot of reinforcement from society to see the sexual activity as anything but disastrous to their development—a self-fulfilling prophesy that sells short the resilience of positive-minded young people.

We make it worse for kids than it needs to be. And unless you may believe in a moral or religious tradition that insists there must be pain for learning to occur, I suggest that we can do better for kids who find it necessary to deal with this reality.

To give you an idea to what lengths society will go to turn sexual abuse into a personal catastrophe, I will write the day-after-tomorrow, Saturday, about society’s treatment of pedophiles who attempt to live celibate lives. This category of people is a is not just some priests who have avoided recent troubles, but a sizable chunk of the population.

If the question of sexual attraction is even discussed, society rejects these individuals because of their mere attraction to young people (a thought crime), and condemns them as severely as it does pedophiles who actually act on their desires and can be called predators.

This reaction by society is understandable, but it somehow doesn’t seem right or productive. I say we make a commitment to developing a perspective which contributes to more hopeful futures for young people who have experienced sexual abuse.

It is up to us to figure out a better way.

۞

Groove of the Day

Listen to The Paris Sisters performing “I Love How You Love Me”

16
Apr
14

just can’t get enough

pie eating contest 1

۞

Groove of the Day

Listen to Depeche Mode performing “Just Can’t Get Enough”

15
Apr
14

undifferentiated hatred

cross-miller being taken into custody

It is ironic that the only people killed in Sunday’s attacks on two Jewish institutions in Overland Park KS were a Catholic and two Methodists. The targets were at the wrong places at the wrong times.

dr-william-lewis-corporan-reat-griffin-underwoodTwo of the victims were a teenage boy and his grandfather: Reat Griffin Underwood, 14, and Dr. William Lewis Corporon, 69, were members of the United Methodist Church. Dr. Corporon and his grandson were at the Jewish Community Center of Greater Kansas City so that the high school freshman could try out for KC SuperStar, a singing competition for students.

terri lamannoThe third victim was Terri Lamanno, 53, of Kansas City. Ms. Lamanno was a member of a Catholic church in Kansas City and was visiting her mother Sunday at Village Shalom retirement community—as she usually did—when she was fatally shot by the gunman.

The suspect first opened fire in the parking lot behind the Jewish community center. The attacks were apparently timed to coincide with Passover eve. The shooter reportedly yelled “Heil Hitler!” as he commenced the attacks.

Dr. Corporon died at the scene and his grandson later died at the hospital. The suspect then drove to Village Shalom, where he shot Ms. LaManno. The gunman also shot at two other people during the attacks, but missed them.

A Johnson County KS jail official said that authorities had identified the suspect in the shooting as Frazier Glenn Cross, aka Frazier Glenn Miller, 73, a resident of Aurora MO, a small town southwest of Springfield.

According to the Southern Poverty Law Center, Cross/Miller has been involved in the white supremacist movement for most of his life. He founded the Carolina Knights of the Ku Klux Klan and was its grand dragon in the 1980s before the SPLC sued him for operating an illegal paramilitary organization and using intimidation tactics against blacks. He later founded another white supremacist group, the White Patriot Party.

Cross/Miller, an Army veteran and retired truck driver, was the subject of a nationwide manhunt in 1987 after he violated the terms of his bond while appealing a North Carolina conviction for operating a paramilitary camp. The search ended after federal agents found Cross/Miller and three other men in an Ozark mobile home, which was filled with hand grenades, automatic weapons, and thousands of rounds of ammunition. Cross/Miller tried running for the US House in 2006 and the US Senate in 2010.

The Overland Park police chief said the shootings are being investigated as hate crimes. He said the suspect was not known to area law enforcement and there was no indication that he knew his victims. Cross/Miller was booked into the Johnson County jail on suspicion of premeditated first-degree murder Sunday evening, but had not been formally charged. Authorities say they expect to have more information available for possible charges Tuesday.

It seems to me that this is the time for everyone to ratchet down the hatred—on all sides—so that this heinous crime can be seen in its true light. There has been an unfortunate conflation of the terms “Jewish,” “Hebrew,” “Israeli” and “Zionist” which encourage broad-brush stupidity where a nuanced view is required. Historical facts have been falsified and used by all sides to justify black-and-white positions which should have died long ago under their own weight. Truths, half-truths, misinterpretations, and outright myths and lies are used to buttress postures which make ignorant partisans confident of the veracity and righteousness of their positions.

The utter senselessness of these murders, and the inability of Cross/Miller to justify the deaths even by his own warped logic, provides us with an object lesson in how hatred metastasizes in unintended and tragic directions.

۞

Groove of the Day

 Listen to Erasure performing “I Love to Hate You”




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