Tuesday, April 12, 2016

Why are people afraid of truth and facts?

I have just had a lesson in how far those who are opposed to our advocacy are willing to go to suppress the truth.

This started exactly a month ago with this op/ed in the March 13 online edition of the Longview, WA Daily News. RSOL wrote a rebuttal, received assurance from the News' online editor that she would consider it, and sent it off. After a week of hearing nothing, receiving no response to inquiries, and not finding it online, it was posted on this blog and a link sent to the News' publisher. The online editor responded on March 23rd that it would be printed sometime that week. When I looked for it on the 24th, imagine my surprise when, instead of the rebuttal piece, I found another op/ed defending their first op/ed supporting public registration. I updated my blog entry, and she was immediately
contacted about the rebuttal piece; to the best of our knowledge, no response was received.

I looked every day; she was written again on the 29th, and, again, no reply was seen. March turned into April. On April 10th both she and the publisher were emailed with an inquiry. She responded the next day saying that she had replied on the 29th and that the piece had been printed on March 25th. She sent the link and, sure enough, there it was!

How could it have escaped our attention? We scoured the dailynews.com site every day looking for it. And how was the email of the 29th overlooked? We will never have an answer to the second question. The email has been searched repeatedly, and the searches have turned up no communication from her or anyone at the News on the 29th. If she did indeed send one, it has dissipated like the morning dew in mid-summer.

We can, however, answer the first question. It escaped our attention -- and our fervent hunting day after day -- because it appears to have been buried. It was not listed with other pieces printed in the Opinion section. If we had known what they named it, we could have searched on their site and found it. But no one else could have found it. No one else could have seen it. No one else could have determined that it existed in order to find it in order to read it.

When it was printed, all of the hyperlinks to the studies cited were removed. But then if no one will be reading it, no one will need any links to click, will they? Additionally, every op/ed printed there that we saw has a comment section. The rebuttal piece has none. But if no one will be reading something, they won't be commenting on it, will they?

Just out of curiosity, we looked at other types of articles on the site. Whether it was news or sports, opinion or entertainment, it has a comment section. Even the articles taken from AP have comment sections. Certainly we did not look at every article they have posted over a lengthy period of time, but we looked at many, and every one looked at has a place to leave a comment. Only one was found with no comment capabilities, and that is the one rebutting theirs.

So that leaves only one question for the Longview, Washington Daily News: Did you bury our op-ed? If so, what are you afraid of? What do you not want people thinking about if they read that article? What do you not want people seeing if they click the links and read a couple of research studies? What do you not want people saying if they left a comment on the article?

What are you afraid of?

Monday, March 21, 2016

With sex offender issues, many media outlets don't want both sides

UPDATE: After this was sent to the publisher and editor, and after W.A.R. contacted them, I received an email yesterday -- 23rd -- saying the rebuttal would run "later this week." Today, the 24th, they ran a reiteration of their position. That means that this one should see print tomorrow, the 25th, or Saturday the 26th. Watch this spot for updates.

A May 13 editorial in the Longview, WA News Online proclaimed, "Laws Help Keep Children Safe." The editorial was essentially an expression of outrage that the organization W.A.R. -- and by extension all such-minded advocacy organizations-- even existed. "It takes a moment to digest that such a group exists...." Apparently the news outlet had received a brochure and some factual information from W.A.R. after a vigilante incident occurred in Longview.

The editorial angered me as it included several references that are blatantly untrue. I wrote the online editor inquiring whether she would consider for publication a rebuttal piece that I had started working on. By the time she responded that I could send it to her, I had finished it and immediately did so as this was a time-sensitive issue. That was over a week ago. Two separate inquiries to her as to whether
she had made a decision yet went unacknowledged.

A week is enough time to decide to print or not print submitted material. Besides, I have experienced this too many times to count: journalism, which once long, long ago in a place far, far away, would almost always respond favorably to a request for "equal time," no longer feels the necessity to do that.

And so I print it here, and I will send a link to the publisher and online editor of the Daily News.

In response to your editorial of March 13, "Laws help keep children safe," I would first like to thank you for your condemnation of vigilante activity. Fully agreeing with the title of your op-ed, I too want laws that help keep children safe, and there is nothing about vengeance-motivated activity that works toward that goal.
The organization you criticize, WAR, or Women Against Registry, is one of several organizations that advocate for laws that do just that -- keep children safe. Another is SOSEN, Sex Offender Solutions and Education Network. And yet another is RSOL, Reform Sex Offender Laws, Inc. These organizations agree with what research studies show: laws that keep children -- and indeed everyone -- safe must, in order to do that, be based on facts and empirical evidence.
The public registry system is not based on empirical evidence, and, in your defense of it, you say that the murder of Adam Walsh is "not uncommon." Actually, it is very rare. Whether or not Adam's kidnapping and subsequent murder were sexually motivated will never be known, but it was a heinous crime as was the murder of Megan Kanka and another handful of horrific child murders at the hands of murderers.
Your statement that WAR grew out of murders such as these is untrue. WAR, SOSEN, and RSOL grew out of a realization, based on research, that public registration of those who had previously committed a sexual offense -- not murdered, not decapitated, but committed an offense ranging from the trivial to the serious -- actually was not deterring sexual crimes against children at all. It was in some cases increasing the risk for re-offense, and it was and is creating conditions that seriously interfere with mandated rehabilitative efforts. 
It was and does negatively impact the lives of family members, especially the children of registrants. This is well documented through research studies. 
According to yet another study, "These policies have led to multiple collateral consequences, creating an ominous environment that inhibits successful reintegration and may contribute to an increasing risk for recidivism. In fact, evidence on the effectiveness of these laws suggests that they may not prevent recidivism or sexual violence and result in more harm than good." 
Reform organizations do not defend the actions that have triggered registration, and we recognize appropriate punishment as desirable and necessary, but it is difficult to claim that, in all cases, the children suffer through the actions of the registrant family members rather than the effects of public registration. Many situations exist where the offense was committed when the registrant was a child or juvenile himself. A number of cases involve premarital sex where the offender and "victim" later married and had a family, yet the offender remains on a public registry, often for life, and his children suffer greatly due to it. This continuation of punishment long after a sentence has been completed is but another form of vengeance and amounts to legalized, governmental vigilante action, exacting punishment far beyond what the courts assessed.
The impotency of the public registry to deter re-offense and to protect children is well documented also. Dr. Bill O'Leary is a forensic psychologist and longtime critic of  public notification and tracking. He notes, "95 percent of sexual abuse occurs between a victim and a known acquaintance, not a stranger living down the street. One of the most unethical pieces of the situation has been saying that we need to do this to prevent sexual abuse when we know statistically that this has nothing to do with preventing sexual abuse.”
According to the United States Department of Justice, from 1992 to 2010 there was a steep decline in all major crime. There is no evidence that a decrease in sexual crime is due to our current policies, and that theory is actually negated by research.  
Many people and organizations advocate every day for policies that will keep children safe, but we know that until the focus is put on the victims and the actual facts about child sexual abuse, that is highly unlikely to occur.

Saturday, March 12, 2016

Predator panic -- it might get worse, but it couldn't get sillier

Imagine this. You are at a Monster Jam event, and you see a booth selling pink, fuzzy toy trucks. You buy one for your little girl, and then you find out -- how? -- that the heart pattern on the toy is a secret symbol to pedophiles, and that your purchase has just marked your child, according to channel 8 in Florida, as one "ready to be traded for sex" to a pedophile who has a preference for girls.


My mind was instantly flooded with questions: How do the pedophiles match up with the pink-truck-owning children? Scour neighborhoods looking for the trucks lying in a yard or clutched in the hands of the ill-fated child? And what if the parent isn't home and a baby-sitter is? Will the pedophile make an appointment to come  back when the parent is home to complete the sale, or is the baby-sitter authorized to do so? Or are they staked out at the venues that are selling the toys and swoop in right then to complete the transaction?  What if a parent unconcerned with the whole color-gender thing bought the pink truck with the heart for his son? Would the pedophile union sue for false representation when a member went to claim his girl-child and instead was given a boy?

In what I suppose is a desperate attempt to introduce some note of authenticity into this fantasy, channel 8 interviews a detective with the cyber crimes unit at the Pasco Sheriffs' Dept. He speaks of the pedophiles he "busts" and the horrors he sees of children raped and tortured on a daily basis and how what keeps him going is protecting children and putting the bad guys away.

And there goes my crazy mind again. What does anything he is saying have to do with heart symbols on stuffed toy trucks?

And then the company who makes the toys, the same company who owns the Monster Jam franchise, is asked about the symbol, and they freak out, avow all innocence in this nefarious plot -- give me time; I'll figure out how it works -- and recall the trucks.

Again -- whaaat???

Now I have a couple of serious questions. Did channel 8 ask anyone -- the cyber crimes detective, any other police department, the FBI, anyone -- approximately how many children have fallen victim to the pink truck caper and have been sold to pedophile rings? Surely the sale of the toys can be traced to the duplicitous parents; are any of their little girls "missing"? Has an investigation been launched? The toy manufacturer said they haven't been contacted by anyone in law enforcement. Huh? They are serving as a conduit between those who want to buy children and those who are selling them, and law enforcement doesn't even contact them?

And, finally, how long will it be before the toy manufacturer / Monster Jam promoter realizes what insanity this is and sues everyone involved for slander, loss of income, and damage to their reputation?