Thursday, August 31, 2006

If You Wrap Your Bull In Christianity Does It Mask The Stink?

Many seem to want the answer to be yes. And they want to do a sleight of hand and make opposition to bull into opposition to Christianity. It's the same dim-witted process used by some Christians to say Darwin and evolutionary theory caused Hitler's rise and the Holocaust.

The problem this creates for other Christians is that these people might as well be saying, "If you can find a valid reason to reject my bull, you must also reject all of Christianity. For my bull is so enmeshed with Christianity that the two can't be separated."

What's the bull?

If the list seems to run the gamut from racism to child sex, that's because it does. Since one "Christian" group doesn't embrace the same bull as all the others, Christianity is no more enmeshed with any of this bull than "American" is enmeshed with the bull embraced by various Americans.

So why do people keep trying to market this mixture as if it were a Reese's Peanut Butter Cup?

Those who have studied marketing know that bull goes down easier when the message is something like this, "I'm just a humble follower of God. This isn't my opinion, this belief comes from God. You do believe in God, don't you?"

Strip out the marketing spin and they would say, "This is God's bull, not mine. You are either with me or you are against God."

Yeah, and scammers who get rich by emptying people's bank accounts are just entrepreneurs. Would we take this statement seriously from a financial scammer: "Attack me and you are attacking democracy and supporting fascism"?

Opposing scams is not the same as opposing democracy and basic human freedoms.

Opposing bull and harmful actions that come from that bull which has been labeled as Christian is not the same as opposing Christianity.

Minneapolis Star Tribune (hat tip to Pandagon)

The Minneapolis Police Department has temporarily suspended the use of a well-known psychologist who has been screening potential officers for more than a year after community members questioned his affiliation with a group that opposes civil rights for gays.
What the police are likely hoping to weed out in their applicants are those who will snap under pressure and either kill an unarmed civilian or who will easily bought off by drug dealers. If this psychologist, Michael A. Campion, is instead screening based on his personal criteria, whatever that criteria is, he's not doing the job he was hired to do.

The bottom line which those who oppose this suspension neglect to see is the city can't look the other way when it comes to their attention that someone may be causing them to violate the Equal Opportunity Employment Laws.

If this action must be seen as anti-Christian discrimination, then you must agree with Warren Jeffs since he considers the charges against him religious prosecution. Why else would any authorities take issue with the reports that he had sex with underage girls and facilitated other men doing the same?

(CNN) During the four years Jeffs has led the sect, the number of underage marriages, some involving girls as young as 13, escalated into the hundreds, church dissidents said. People expelled from the community said young men were sent away to avoid competition for brides. Older men were cast out and their wives and children were reassigned by Jeffs to new husbands and fathers, the former members said.
It's got to be that hatred of all things Christian that makes anyone see any of this as criminal. Not.

Still smells like bull to me. And that wouldn't change if Christianity were replaced by another religion. Bull gets wrapped in many packages and gets imbraced by people grouped by every available label.

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posted by Marcella Chester @ 11:54 AM   2 comments links to this post

What Was The True Cost Of Bringing John Mark Karr In?

That's the question being asked of the DA in Boulder, Colorado. The automatic response by many would be that the cost was too high and that only John Mark Karr benefited from that decision.

But was the cost too high? And I'm not just talking about cost in dollars and cents.

Others have decided to turn this latest development into an event so ridiculous that it's become nothing more than a joke that can be used to mock this case, the media and the prosecution team. I refuse to link to those doing this mockery because I don't want to support their motivations for jumping into this fray when I doubt they understand what they are mocking.

Yahoo News

The prosecutor in the JonBenet Ramsey case Tuesday defended her decision to ring John Mark Karr halfway around the world to Colorado for investigation, saying it was difficult to separate fact from fantasy in his lurid account because every detail of the slaying is public knowledge.

District Attorney Mary Lacy said that in addition to Karr's graphic account, his obvious predilection for little girls forced her hand.

This last point is one that many people, including the mockers, miss. Just because he didn't kill JonBenet Ramsey doesn't mean he wouldn't commit a similar crime to get the pleasure and the notoriety he obviously craves.

The reporting on what this man ate and drank of the flight to the US was over the top. If Mr. Karr had been let go rather than held to face child porn charges in California, I would have questioned bringing Mr. Karr all that distance.

Do you assume he only fantasized about JonBenet and therefore must be someone who only fantasizes about violence against children? Here's more from that same article.
"We felt we could not ignore this. We had to follow it," she [DA Mary Lacy] said. "There was a real public safety concern here directed at a particular child" in Thailand, and a forensic psychologist said Karr "was dangerous, this person was escalating."
Bringing this man in and spending all that money may have saved another child's life. This man isn't the first person to confess to this particular crime so it wasn't his confessions alone that resulted in the DA's decision to bring him in.

Preventing rape and possibly murder is NOT a waste of taxpayer dollars and it isn't something that should be mocked so easily. The next DA with a case as bizarre and as publicized as this one may decide to err on the side of PR. And all of the mockers will have a hand in what happens if that is the wrong decision.

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posted by Marcella Chester @ 12:02 AM   1 comments links to this post

Wednesday, August 30, 2006

Guilty Verdict Returned In Dru Sjodin Rape/Murder Case

WCCO

Fargo, N.D. Alfonso Rodriguez Jr. has been found guilty of kidnapping resulting in the death of University of North Dakota student Dru Sjodin in federal court. Investigators said Sjodin, 22, had been stabbed and raped after she was abducted from the parking lot of a Grand Forks, N.D. shopping mall in November 2003.
Since the defense team seemed more concerned with proving that Dru was no longer alive when she was taken from North Dakota to Minnesota (to help them in their fight against the death penalty) than in attempting to prove that he didn't kidnap her, this verdict is no surprise.

The jury will soon hear the death penalty portion of this case, probably beginning after the holiday weekend.

While cases like this are the minority of sexual assaults and shouldn't make us forget about non-stranger rapists and murderers, this woman and others like her should never be forgotten in an attempt to counter the monster myth.

All victims must matter to us. All perpetrators must be judged based on their crimes, not on their reputations -- good or bad.

If you only care about this case because you are for (or against) the death penalty, you need to reexamine your priorities. Issues and positions should never trump the human lives that are impacted by those issues and positions.

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posted by Marcella Chester @ 1:36 PM   2 comments links to this post

Man, 84, Is Jailed For 1962 Rape Of 11 Year Old

This case shows a huge flaw in the argument made by those who are quick to accuse women of lying about rape if a charge isn't brought immediately after a rape.

The reality is that most rape victims don't go immediately to the police or get nowhere when they do. But rather than considering that rape victims have courage whenever they do seek justice, many want to impose their own personal statute of limitations.

Like 72 hours. (No DNA? No problems for the rapist.)

It's bad enough that an alleged victim who behaves like the majority of rape victims should be assumed to be a liar. Yet because this delay is typical, rape victims who go to law enforcement immediately are frequently accused of plotting against the alleged rapist.

If she remembers too many details, she obviously wasn't traumatized and therefore couldn't have been raped. If she can't remember details because she was in and out of consciousness, she's obviously hiding something.

You get the picture.

If people who hold these opinions are the helpers (parent, doctor, police, etc.) they will likely do everything they can to "help" prevent a victim from going public with what they refuse to believe is the truth.

For the alleged victim's own good of course.

Yet this contradiction of logic reveals that the opinion that girls and women lie about rape, at least as often as they tell the truth, came first and only then did the person search for supporting evidence if they searched at all.

Their justifications only have to sound good they don't have to be logically sound.

Many who spout this nonsense market themselves as moral people. But can someone be a truly moral person if that person enables rapists' rationalizations and the continuation of very dangerous behavior patterns?

That's a question many asked about those in the Catholic church who covered up for abusive priests. It's a question that should be asked in any other system that protects the system at the expense of victims.

Here are details of this case from the BBC:

When the girl told her mother about the rape it was dismissed as a "fantasy". Griffiths was arrested after the woman made her accusations again. He admitted carrying out the rape, telling police it only happened once. Sitting on Friday, the court heard that Griffiths' victim had accused the man of rape in the 1970s. Prosecuting, Elizabeth Pearson said: "Her mother took her to see a doctor and the allegations were dismissed as a fantasy." (emphasis mine)

The man's defense that he only raped an 11 year old girl once reveals the mind games that rapists play to continue believing they've done nothing seriously wrong.

With enough rationalizations a rapist can convince himself and others that he isn't the criminal and that in fact it is his victim who is the criminal and that she is the one who should be prosecuted for committing a crime worse than rape.

Attempting to destroy the life of a man who did no real damage to anything of significance.

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posted by Marcella Chester @ 12:02 AM   0 comments links to this post

Tuesday, August 29, 2006

Hurricane Katrina One Year Later

We not only should remember those who died, we should remember that most of those deaths were preventable. Never again needs to be more than a slogan after tragedy.

I blogged about this on my other blog today in a post titled: Re-thinking: Every Man For Himself.

Frankly, that motto of every man for himself is a handy thing for those who couldn't care less about others to excuse their negligence.
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posted by Marcella Chester @ 10:24 PM   1 comments links to this post

Preempting Subversives, Preempting Freedom

AP

Candidates for public office in Pennsylvania no longer have to sign a McCarthy-era loyalty oath pledging that they are not "subversive." The requirement was unconstitutional, Attorney General Tom Corbett has told election officials.

and

The 1951 law describes as subversive anyone who advocates or takes part in "any act intended to overthrow, destroy (or) alter" the government. The U.S. Supreme Court declared an Indiana loyalty oath unconstitutional in 1974, finding that the oath violated free-speech rights by equating an abstract belief in radical change with inciting "imminent" violence.

The key irony in this McCarthy-era loyalty oath is it would eliminate all of our nation's founders from holding office. Instead of being honored, our founders would be vilified if this oath held unalienable truths.

George Washington, Subversive in Chief?

We don't call him that for an important reason. These loyalty oaths have nothing to do with truth and everything to do with paranoia and a grab for unquestioned power. Fortunately, critical thinking prevailed over that paranoia and the persecution that was done under the cover of patriotism.

It prevailed, but it wasn't a full victory.

The damage done by McCarthyism was more than damage to the individuals identified as subversive. By cleansing our government of analysts who could sympathize with communists, they cleansed our government of analysts who could understand communist countries and who could balance the voices that said our presence in Vietnam would go well from start to finish.

I heard it said that Vietnam was the first major conflict where we didn't have a clue what we were getting ourselves into. I believe we can thank McCarthy and his supporters for that. How many of the 50,000+ Americans who died in Vietnam lost their lives because of the cluelessness of those who fit McCarthy's ideology and the silencing of those who knew better? We may never know and we can't go back.

But that lesson is forgotten at our own peril.

In effect, the loyalty oath attempts to maintain and strengthen the status quo as interpreted by those who don't want anyone to question their position, their beliefs or their plans. Not only are subversives the enemy so is transparency of government.

Fifty years after McCarthyism ruled, many politicians, under the cover of a post 9/11 world, introduced McCarthyism 2.0 by labeling their opponents as treasoneous and Godless.

Power can afford to be questioned when it's working for the good of everyone. It's corruption that says it is above inspection and above correction.

Oaths of this sort put paranoia above reason and critical thinking. Make no mistake, there are politicians who want to bring dangerous changes to our government, but more often than not we have money, personal power and short-sightedness as the motivation.

For those who feel a pledge is needed, try this one on for size:

"I pledge to always put the interests of all of the citizens I represent above my own personal interests and above the interests of those who contribute to the success and comfort of my political career and above the interests of those who promise me great things when I re-enter the private sector. "

Now that would be subversive.

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posted by Marcella Chester @ 12:04 AM   1 comments links to this post

Monday, August 28, 2006

John Mark Karr's DNA Is A Mismatch

Well, it looks like the murder of JonBenet Ramsey is still unsolved with no suspect to match the DNA collected in the case. Despite initial reports, John Mark Karr wasn't released and is set to face charges in California on child pornography charges dating from 2001.

AP

Prosecutors abruptly dropped their case against John Mark Karr in the slaying of JonBenet Ramsey, saying DNA tests failed to put him at the crime scene despite his repeated insistence he killed the 6-year-old beauty queen.

As I said in my previous post on this case, Confession of Sorts Reported in JonBenet Ramsey Murder, this man can in no way be dismissed as a harmless attention seeker. His first wife (13 when they married) spoke about him on Good Morning America. Something is definitely wrong when your 13 year old bride is too old for you.

Maybe the child porn charges will keep this man off the street while experts can decide if it will ever be safe to let this man go.

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posted by Marcella Chester @ 5:57 PM   1 comments links to this post

Porn Up, Rape Down Or ...

... Porn Up, Brain Down?

In the Daily Kos's efforts to mock conservatives who want porn eliminated, a huge mistake was made to say the least. Troutfishing, the author of this post, either doesn't know about all of the concerted effort that's been made in the fight against rape since the beginning of the 1970s or sees the creation and rise of rape crisis lines (the first US rape crisis center opened in 1971) as immaterial to the incidence of rape.

The author of the Porn Up, Rape Down study, Anthony D'Amato of the Northwestern University School of Law, who was quoted in the Daily Kos post, lists 4 minor factors for the decline of rape, but rape crisis lines and the related improvements in enforcement are AWOL.

Here are those 4 minor factors:
(a) less lawlessness associated with crack cocaine;
(b) women have been taught to avoid unsafe situations;
(c) more would-be rapists already in prison for other crimes;
(d) sex education classes telling boys that "no means no."
I won't go into the flaws in the first 3 items on this list other than to say they reinforce old stereotypes about who ...

Does rape: skanky crack addict lurking under busted streetlight waiting for some foolish girl to wander too close.

Doesn't rape: clean-cut boy who wouldn't know crack cocaine from the crack of his ___, but does know he's going to score before he lets his tease of a girlfriend out of his grip. He's a real man, not a rapist. Rapists lurk ...

Enough about rapist stereotypes. What was the watershed moment in this decline in rapes according to this study?

Deep Throat's release in 1972. (The year after the first US rape crisis center opened.)

Yes, all those rapists were enraptured and temporarily taken off the streets. If this study is correct, each new porn delivery system has taken more and more of the would-be rapists time. Basically, social crimes are down today because would-be rapists can't pull themselves away from their Internet porn long enough to even think about getting their rape through actual human contact.

Social crime prevention through total social isolation.

Internet access rates are used to prove this hypothesis (though not worded this bluntly). Minnesota is listed as one of the 4 states with the lowest Internet access rates and rape statistics are actually up here in 2000 vs. 1980.

Mr. D'Amato again either doesn't know or doesn't care that Minnesota has been a national leader in the fight against rape, from raising awareness about rape to improving the criminal justice system's concern for how rape victims are treated. The acknowledgement of rape is up, but that might not mean that there is a corresponding increase in the number of rapes committed since estimates are based on reports to police and reports to surveys.

And you can't coun't what no one will or can acknowledge.

Instead of giving great crime-fighting effort its due, an industry that exploits sex and which does little or nothing to protect the safety of those recorded are given hero status. It's a very convenient linkage.

The rapes that are committed and then sold as porn aren't even a blip on Mr. D'Amato's radar, neither are sex tourism and sex trafficking.

Apparently, all those victims suffer for the greater social good.

Yet an article on false allegations of rape on what may be a sex tourism site recognizes a shift in attitudes in America regarding rape. Here's the most telling line:
Males now feel much more vulnerable than they did just two decades ago, and this has resulted in strongly modified behavioral patterns, designed to avoid becoming the victims of made-up charges.
A fair number of males who aren't skanky crack addicts but who refuse to have their sex lives ruled by the whims of women (She had me at, "HELL NO!") realize more than porn has changed in the last two decades.

I blogged about this same claim of porn as rape prevention made by Glenn Reynolds in his article Porn: Good For America! back in June in a post titled: If Porn Doesn't Make Men Rape Why Not Support Porn?

People may choose to believe that the majority of porn doesn't record sexual exploitation or flat-out rape, but to choose to believe that porn is the best preventative to rape is to refuse to see beyond stacks and megabytes of porn.

If you still don't get it, put the porn down for 24 hours, let blood flow return to brain. Read post again tomorrow.

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posted by Marcella Chester @ 12:02 AM   5 comments links to this post

Sunday, August 27, 2006

HPV Vaccine Article Worth Reading

I've shared my personal history related to HPV, but this article does such a good job covering the issues related to how parents can approach the decision to give the new HPV vaccine to their child and how to approach the child about the vaccine, that it's worth reading.
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posted by Marcella Chester @ 1:32 PM   1 comments links to this post

Kick Em When They're Homeless

AP

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) -- Tara Cole, who had been living on the streets of Nashville for more than three years, spent her last night alive sleeping on a boat ramp along the Cumberland River. She was killed in the early hours of Aug. 11, when two males pushed her into the river, according to witnesses. Other homeless people couldn't save her.

and

In cases where the perpetrator of attacks on homeless people is known, 76 percent are people 25 or younger, Stoops said. About 80 percent of attackers are white, he said. "This might give an immature or drunk or high young adult encouragement to attack homeless people," Stoops said. "Were they to do this to any other minority group, there would be a national outcry."

That this violence happens at all is disturbing, but it's more disturbing when the perpetrators are attacking the homeless for nothing more than the thrill.

This behavior is not a sign of immaturity or caused by alcohol or drug use, this behavior is ego driven. People who enjoy hurting or destroying others they see as inferior or useless, need to see themselves as all powerful. But violence against the vulnerable doesn't make people more powerful, it makes them pathetic and a danger to everyone around them.

Any fool can hurt others. Real power comes from helping people weaker than yourself.

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posted by Marcella Chester @ 12:28 AM   0 comments links to this post

Saturday, August 26, 2006

Wrongful Rape Convictions: Bad Reasons For Highlighting Them

AP


A convicted serial rapist has been indicted in a 1982 rape and slaying that another man spent 18 years in prison for, at one point coming within days of his execution.

and

In May, Washington was awarded $2.25 million by a federal court jury that ruled that the mildly retarded man falsely confessed after he was fed details of the crime by a state police investigator.

There are good reasons for highlighting wrongful convictions such as this man's imprisonment, and his close call with execution. Correcting injustices and making sure the right people are convicted tops that list for me.

So what's a bad reason for highlighting wrongful rape convictions?

A desire to use one type of injustice to facilitate another injustice. A desire for the absolute freedom of rapists and sexual abusers/exploiters who don't commit sufficiently gruesome crimes.

As if all rapists start at gruesome.

What some people are most concerned about isn't that innocent men are found guilty of real rapes. It's that otherwise "good" men are charged with rape when they have just done what comes naturally.

The reasoning seems to go something like this:

Was she drunk? Check.
Did he refrain from using a knife or gun to get sex? Check.
Is his reputation better than hers? Check.

Bottom line: False allegation.

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posted by Marcella Chester @ 8:29 AM   1 comments links to this post

Friday, August 25, 2006

Reminder And A Request

With the Labor Day weekend approaching and people taking time off before the end of summer, I wanted to remind everyone that the next deadline for the Carnival Against Sexual Violence is Tues. Aug. 29th at 11 pm.

The request is for help raising awareness about the carnival throughout the blogosphere and through that effort raising awareness that many of us are serious about wanting sexual violence to end and that in no way are we a tiny minority out of touch with the mainstream.

Read my call to help get the word out about the carnival at the Carnival Against Sexual Violence home page. If each of us takes at least one tiny action that helps in this fight, together we can take great actions.

Because of all of the emotional triggers and issues related to this subject many of us who have been victims of sexual violence remain silent and I respect the reasons behind that silence. Self care is as important as caring for others.

If you can't speak of your pain, you can speak through something as simple as making the the carnival against sexual violence one of your Technorati favorites. And with the number of bloggers who are also survivors, we can show our numbers in very simple ways.

In a comment on another post of mine someone said that personal experience counts for nothing, but that man was wrong. Our experiences count and they are not to be dismissed as if they and we are meaningless.

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posted by Marcella Chester @ 10:23 AM   2 comments links to this post

Newsflash: There's Evidence Behind The Duke Rape Case Charges

NY Times


Defense lawyers, amplified by Duke alumni and a group of bloggers who have closely followed the case, have portrayed it as a national scandal -- that there is only the flimsiest physical evidence of rape, that the accuser is an unstable fabricator, and that Mr. Nifong, in the middle of a tight primary campaign, was summoning racial ghosts for political gain.

By disclosing pieces of evidence favorable to the defendants, the defense has created an image of a case heading for the rocks. But an examination of the entire 1,850 pages of evidence gathered by the prosecution in the four months after the accusation yields a more ambiguous picture. It shows that while there are big weaknesses in Mr. Nifong's case, there is also a body of evidence to support his decision to take the matter to a jury.

This is no surprise to me whatsoever.

I also expect the defense's operatives to attempt to spin the contents of this story into proof that a gang rape couldn't have happened. Everyone knows that all real crimes result in open and shut criminal cases where the guilty can't possibly be found not guilty. Right?

The defense team and those committed to denying that "nice young college men" could even possibly commit rape have put forth a nice fairy tale with the alleged victim as the wicked witch and the prosecutor as the evil genius attempting to give life to a lie. Their shouts of, "Innocent until proven guilty," very conveniently only apply to alleged rapists and not to alleged victims, prosecutors or law enforcement personnel.

The conspiracy theorists are marketing the Duke Rape Case as the Duke Rape Hoax with the hope that their attacks on everyone and anyone who supports the continuation of this case will pressure someone into dropping the case before it reaches a jury.

After all those nice boys don't deserve to face the legal justice system.

This issue is bigger than this one case. What's being attempted by those who attack this alleged victim is also being attempted against many other rape victims individually and as a group. All of us who have spoken up and said, "I was also a rape victim," are part of the conspiracy against men -- who of course have done nothing that should be a crime.

All sensible people know that sexual assault isn't a pervasive problem. After all, by conservative estimates, it only happens once every five minutes or so. Why there's a bigfoot sighting nearly that often.

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posted by Marcella Chester @ 12:09 AM   5 comments links to this post

Thursday, August 24, 2006

Why Teen Rape Victims Should Be Denied Plan B

The FDA approved the non-prescription sale of Plan B to women 18 and older today despite opposition from many social conservatives.

I believe it's the myth of birth control, including Plan B, as a precursor to female immorality that makes so many people oppose emergency contraceptives. To them it's horrifying that women and girls could escape the consequences of sex (that's for men only) and now it's even more horrifying that women can have unplanned sex (wanted or unwanted) and still escape the consequences.

If God decides he wants to bless a particular girl or woman with a baby, that girl or woman had better lay back and think of heaven.

But the link which makes birth control a sex toy and aphrodisiac is rightfully the stuff of exploitation films like the one advertised in this 1967 trailer for The Girl, The Body and The Pill. The reality is much less sexy.


Hat tip on the video to Feministe.

It's time for the social conservatives to get their brains (and all other parts) out of the gutter. Rather than condemning rape victims who want birth control, they should condemn boys and men who use coercion or force to get sex which might lead to pregnancy.

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posted by Marcella Chester @ 2:11 PM   1 comments links to this post

Man Who Want Wife Stay When Bad Avoid Women Have Options

Okay, that's a cavemanish characterization of the Forbes story, Don't Marry Career Women written by Michael Noer, which was removed from the Forbes web site before I attempted to read the whole thing. From what I did see, my title is a better fit for this article.

Note: the article is up again minus the slide show and with a rebutting article.

If the target of the article is a man who wants to pick out a wife the way he picks out a car and who takes better care of his cars than he will his future wife, then the advice is spot on.

If you want a broodmare and a not-so-glorified servant as your wife then by no means should you attempt to marry some woman who knows she deserves to be treated as a partner in marriage and who has the financial means to get herself and her children free of you if you neglect or abuse her.

Just tell your future wife exactly why you're picking her.

No bait and switch please. Wives deserve to know what they will and will not be getting from you. If you have enough money, don't worry, you'll eventually find some woman willing to marry you on honest terms.

Since I only read the quotes of this article, I'll send you to other commentaries on the full Forbes article.

Feministe
Feministing (first post)
Feministing (A must read follow up where the article's author is quoted comparing wives to prostitutes. )
Shakespeare's Sister
Echidne of the snakes
Pandagon
Pinko Feminist Hellcat

Visit Hipster pit for a send up of the advice given in the original article.

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posted by Marcella Chester @ 12:14 AM   1 comments links to this post

Wednesday, August 23, 2006

A Civil Resolution To Domestic Violence

MSNBC

"Domestic violence victims are increasingly using the civil justice system to hold their perpetrators accountable," Dion [director of the National Crime Victim Bar Association in Washington] said. If a batterer is arrested, he said, the victim often loses a key source of financial support and may need medical help, counseling or to move.

Since many of these cases don't have strong criminal justice consequences, the possibility of a financial hit may provide some abusers with an incentive to get help for their problem.

And, yes, it's the abuser's problem not the entire family's problem.

When abusers decide to inflict damage, they should be aware that they may have to pay for what they've done. This option won't be a viable choice for some of those abused by loved ones if they feel that pursuing a case in civil court will be hazardous to their health. Unfortunately, many of these people (primarily women and children) are right to fear additional violence.

If the criminal justice system worked as it should, men like this one will never be released from jail, but that isn't a sure thing. When the criminal justice system doesn't provide adequate punishment and restititution, the civil justice system should be an option.

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posted by Marcella Chester @ 8:48 AM   0 comments links to this post

Tuesday, August 22, 2006

When Child Modeling Sites Creep Toward Porn

NY Times


To attract subscribers, central marketing sites, called portals, list scores of available modeling sites that accept money in exchange for access to children’s images. The portals promote the busiest sites, ranking them by the number of hits they receive. Such a marketing approach proved effective for some online child pornography businesses that have disappeared over the last year, including those that offered illicit videos of children generated by Webcams.

The Times did not subscribe to any sites, which it first saw referenced in online conversations among pedophiles. The Times followed a link posted in those conversations to forum postings and images on freely accessible pages of the modeling sites. Because those sites appeared to be illegal, The Times was required by law to report what it had found to authorities. Federal law enforcement officials were notified in July about the sites.

In contrast to their advertising, many of the sites portray themselves on their main pages as regular modeling agencies trying to find work for their talent. But executives in the legitimate modeling business said that virtually everything about the sites runs contrary to industry practice. Most child images for genuine agencies are password-protected, the executives said, with access granted to companies and casting agents only after a check of their backgrounds. (emphasis mine)

This mismatch between the advertising directed at the web site's paying customers and the advertising directed at parents of potential models is very important.

Caring parents may not see anything troubling on a very dangerous modeling site.

It wouldn't surprise me if those who run these types of web sites, ask for an increase in the level of sexuality little by little so the parents gets sucked in by the positive feedback and the money.

For an interesting discussion on the newspaper's reporting of illegal web sites to law enforcement, visit Prawfs blawg.

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posted by Marcella Chester @ 2:43 PM   0 comments links to this post

Is The War On Terror Contributing To Murder?

After 9/11, everyone was given a stark reminder about why we need to prevent future acts of terrorism committed by foreigners who hate America. However, the danger in focusing tightly on preventing one type of disaster is that other disasters are either forgotten or neglected.

With domestic violent crime we don't have one or two images that can be broadcast to remind us of all of the lives lost or changed forever.

Reuters

In a shift from trends of the past decade, violent crime is on the rise, fueling criticism of Bush administration policies as a wave of murders and shootings hits smaller cities and states with little experience with serious urban violence.

and

After dramatic declines in murder rates in the 1990s, some cities dropped programs that emphasized prevention and controls on the spread of guns, often citing budget cuts.

and

From the expiration of a federal ban on assault rifles to tougher restrictions on databases that identify gun owners, gun laws have weakened in the past five years, said Daniel Vice, an attorney with the Brady Center to Prevent Handgun Violence.

Part of the problem is that we want clearly defined heroes and we want clearly defined villains. Yet murders committed thoughout America rarely gives us what we want in a tidy little package.

Which brings me to a key difference between fighting terrorism and preventing violent crimes like murder.

Perception.

Some very effective prevention programs could be seen as soft on crime and soft on criminals. Helping those at risk of offending may seem counter-intuitive, especially if you believe crime is biological. As I discussed in my post, The Iron Fist Fallacy using brute force to fight crime can backfire.

We have to respect the humanity of potential murderers to reduce the number of real murders.

Revenge alone gives only shallow satisfaction.

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posted by Marcella Chester @ 12:01 AM   0 comments links to this post

Monday, August 21, 2006

Internet Safety Warning - For Girls Only?

AP

Attorney General Alberto Gonzales announced a new public service campaign Monday that will warn teenage girls against posting information on the
Internet that could put them at risk of attack by child predators.
Teen girls may be at higher risk, but the message needs to go out to both boys and girls since boys are victimized too.

The other educational message that needs to get out is education on what is and is not acceptable behavior. Children need to learn the signs of inappropriate contact to protect themselves and, just as importantly, they need to learn what actions are harmful or even illegal before they step over the line and harm.

Prevention that only focuses on victims and potential victims is half blind.

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posted by Marcella Chester @ 7:58 PM   1 comments links to this post

An Army of Scum?

Whether that's what people will think when they see military recruitment ads may come down to the decisions made in the Army and other branches of the military regarding sexual misconduct, especially by recruiters.
  • Decisions about what, if anything, the military will do to prevent misconduct.

  • Decisions about how the military will respond to reports of sexual abuse and whether criminal behavior will be treated like a true crime.
If those who set the policies and the tone assume the problem of sexual misconduct isn't worth addressing directly or that the victims are the ones at fault, then that will be reflected in a backlash against the military.

From the AP:


More than 100 young women who expressed interest in joining the military in the past year were preyed upon sexually by their recruiters. Women were raped on recruiting office couches, assaulted in government cars and groped en route to entrance exams.

and

Weirick, the Marine Corps defense attorney who has represented several recruiters on rape and sexual misconduct charges, said it's a problem that will probably never entirely go away.

"It's difficult because of the nature of nature," he said. "It's hard to put it in another way, you know? It's usually a consensual relationship or dating type of thing." When asked if victims feel this way, he said, "It's really a victimless crime other than the institution of the Marine Corps. It's institutional integrity we're protecting, by not allowing this to happen."

It's this sort of rationalization of rape equals nature that refuses to see this abuse of power as a true problem. The only crime becomes getting caught.

Fortunately, this attitude isn't universal.


Although the Uniform Code of Military Justice bars recruiters from having sex with potential recruits, it also states that age 16 is the legal age of consent. This means that if a recruiter is caught having sex with a 16-year-old, and he can prove it was consensual, he will likely only face an administrative reprimand.

But not under new rules set by the Indiana Army National Guard. There, a much stricter policy, apparently the first of its kind in the country, was instituted last year after seven victims came forward to charge National Guard recruiter Sgt. Eric Vetesy with rape and assault.

"We didn't just sit on our hands and say, 'Well, these things happen, they're wrong, and we'll try to prevent it.' That's a bunch of bull," said Lt. Col. Ivan Denton, commander of the Indiana Guard's recruiting battalion.

The Indiana National Guard took a proactive stance that protects potential victims and which also helps recruiters avoid situations where they can rationalize away responsibility for their sexual behavior. At the first contact with a recruiter, a recruit is given a card that explains the rules and gives them a phone number to call if they experience anything that doesn't seem right.

This change means the rules are clear to all involved with a clear system in place to give the rules a backbone.

Rather than seeing themselves as one of the victims, the leadership of the Indiana National Guard looked at ways to make it harder for recruiters to commit sexual misconduct and rape. By doing so they are protecting potential victims, but they are also protecting soldiers who might have crossed the line from upstanding soldier to sex offender under the old system.

That means the answer to the question posed in the title of this post isn't fixed. The military leadership simply needs to view the fight against sexual misconduct (including rape) as a war that must be won.

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posted by Marcella Chester @ 12:09 AM   0 comments links to this post

Sunday, August 20, 2006

Latest Carnival editions

Here are some of the latest carnival editions:

Erase Racism Carnival at Rachel's Tavern

Carnival Against Child Abuse at PTSD

Carnival of Feminists at Being Amber Rhea

Carnival of the Liberals parody poetry edition at One Flew East

Radical Women of Color Carnival at Mamita Mala

And of course if you haven't already seen it, I posted the 5th edition of the Carnival Against Sexual Violence here on Aug. 15th.

If I've missed any recent carnival editions, please let me know in a comment.
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posted by Marcella Chester @ 1:04 PM   1 comments links to this post

Poverty Now On Most-Wanted List Because ...

... Poverty Enables Child Sex Exploitation

That story headline caught my attention because it leaves out a key component. The true enablers.


  • Those who exploit children and other vulnerable people to meet their sexual desires.

  • Those who will exploit children's and other vulnerable people's bodies as a money-making device.

  • Those who don't care as long as this exploitation isn't happening in their neighborhood.
I bet that last group of enablers will shock many people, but people who only care when their lives are impacted do enable those actively involved in child sexual exploitation. What we won't talk about can have as much power as what we will talk about.

To endure continued exploitation, many of the most vulnerable develop a jaded exterior and may appear tough rather than vulnerable. They may cope in ways that make them look nothing like innocent victims and which may cross the line into criminal behavior such as drug use. If we see this as a reason to strip them of the label victim, we aid their exploiters.

What also fools many people who don't want to think about this problem is that many of the alleged exploiters look happy and well adjusted.

Why is this so?

Simple. Exploiting isn't nearly as traumatic as being exploited.

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posted by Marcella Chester @ 12:31 AM   1 comments links to this post

Saturday, August 19, 2006

Carnival For Book Writers #5 Deadline Tomorrow

The next edition of the carnival for book writers will be up at my other blog, remodel4life, on Aug. 23rd. The submission deadline is tomorrow night at 11 pm.

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posted by Marcella Chester @ 12:49 PM   0 comments links to this post

Does God Bless Women Through Rape?

From Timothy's Burden: The rape dilemma:


As a result of being raped, you conceive. A living being begins its formation within your womb, a being which God has foreknown from eternity and has determined would be yours to receive. If children are a gift, then He has already worked that rape for your good. He has blessed you through that tragedy.
The thinking in this post is so twisted I couldn't let it pass without comment. By focusing only on a potential child, it allows a rapist to think of himself as a Johnny Rapeseed, spreading God's blessing everywhere he can.

According to this rationalization if God didn't want that girl/woman blessed, He would have prevented the rape. Wrong. Rape is never God's way of blessing you. Never.

Then there's this statement from the same post:
Children are a gift. God gives them. If you conceive, God has given you a gift, and you owe Him thanks for your child; if you do not conceive, it is because God has chosen not to give you the gift of a child.
He's addressing rape victims. Did God turn his back on me because pregnancy didn't result from rape? And should a sixth grader thank God because a sexual abuser got her pregnant? I think not.

This is the sort of reasoning that added extra layers of torment to the trauma of my rape. This isn't pure Christianity, it is filtered Christianity. To reject this conclusion is not to reject Christianity, it is to reject one way people use Christianity.

If a rape survivor gets pregnant through rape and decides to carry to full term, that person hasn't been blessed by a tragedy, that person is doing what is right for her under extreme conditions. To say she has only one choice is to say that her boundaries are meaningless.

It also conveniently lets rapists and those who do nothing to help rape victims off the hook for viewing girls and women as mere vessels. Both are dehumanizing.

I was surprised at the following admission.

This brings me to one of my final verses, one which I sadly don’t obey nearly as often as I should:

Bear one another’s burdens, and thus fulfill the law of Christ. Galatians 6:2, NASB

While I was surprised at the admission, I wasn't surprised at the failure to do this since people who condemn rape victims for the sin of wanting the morning after pill (birth control, not abortion), are in the mode of backseat Christianity, not service to others.

This rule-based approach to Christianity, applied more rigorously to others than to self, is a very brittle thing and can rarely withstand bearing someone else's burdens. They are either going to bend, break or keep their distance.

I know since I tried the rule-based approach and it nearly destroyed me. How could it work when it had me repenting my own rape and the aftermath of rape?

Christians who insist on calling oral contraceptives tools of murder are attempting to turn many rape victims into people worse than their rapists.

What type of message does that send to rape victims and to rapists?

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posted by Marcella Chester @ 12:27 AM   2 comments links to this post

Friday, August 18, 2006

Feminist Rape Crisis Over?

Relapsed Catholic

Women are not being raped every 26 seconds, nor even every 90 seconds, as feminists frequently claim, but are in fact experiencing sexual assault -- not necessarily rape -- including both reported and all unreported incidents, at a rate of less than 1 per 5 minutes.
And that changes everything, obviously.

As a rape survivor, when I believed women were being raped every 26 seconds, I wanted to do something to prevent others from becoming rape victims. But now, if it's estimated that adult women in Australia are only being sexually assaulted once every 5 minutes, I can stop focusing on what is obviously a non-problem.

Tell that to the family of Dru Sjodin.

I've just begun to look at the summary from the survey where the quoted conclusions were drawn from and noticed immediately that the age in the survey begins at 18. Which means it doesn't include estimates for current physical or sexual assaults against minors. The history of violence statistics begin with age 15 so that also excludes many acts of violence.

Also since physical and sexual violence is not innate, but is influenced by societal attitudes, the rate of sexual assaults in Australia may in fact be lower than it is in the U.S.

I'm still shocked by how frequently people turn their backs on this serious problem and the reasons they give for doing so. The top contenders seem to be disagreement over the exact rate of attacks and not wanting to appear feminist in any way. If it weren't for victim blaming and feminist bashing, you might not know some people realize that anyone but small children and dead women are raped and that rapists are anybody except gays, illegal aliens, minorities and muslims.

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posted by Marcella Chester @ 10:28 AM   3 comments links to this post

Undercover Sting Got Stung

WCCO


(CBS) NEW YORK Last April, police targeted a sex-for-money operation at a well-known Brooklyn massage parlor. They sent in an undercover officer to catch them in the act. Instead, the cops involved were the ones who got stung.

Pictures taken from a series of hidden surveillance cameras show the undercover officer entering, standing in the massage parlor lobby and then walking out. He spends a total of 43 seconds inside. Yet the officer claimed that during those 43 seconds he was solicited by all eight women working there. Moments later the vice squad moved in and the workers and massage parlor owner were arrested for prostitution. Based on the surveillance photos, prosecutors now believe the undercover officer was lying.


Oops.

Besides embarrassment, this case highlights the issue of police credibility.

When the police take shortcuts in cases they consider to be obvious or an embarrassment, it has a ripple effect in the tougher cases where misconduct can result in letting the most violent offenders go free or in locking up innocent people.

We need a strong and ethical police force.

That means more than a quick fix of firing the officers who were caught doing wrong. It means identifying the contributing factors and changing those factors until it is easier for the police to be ethical and harder for them to be unethical.

If contributing factors are lack of funds for investigations, evidence handling or training, then we as members of the public need to decide if we are willing to pay for a strong, ethical police force.

Update:

I missed something about this story the first time I read it, but the sophisticated surveillence system likely captured much more than the activity of the police. Every customer who entered the premises must have also been recorded. The only question is whether everything was recorded.

I wonder how many of their customers have realized this and whether that's keeping them from getting a peaceful sleep.

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posted by Marcella Chester @ 12:03 AM   0 comments links to this post

Thursday, August 17, 2006

Confession Of Sorts Reported In JonBenet Ramsey Murder

John Mark Karr was arrested and will be returned to Colorado to face first-degree murder charges.

AP


BANGKOK, Thailand (AP) -- A former American school teacher said publicly Thursday that he was with JonBenet Ramsey when she died in what he called "an accident," a stunning admission after a decade without answers in the 6-year-old girl's murder. But the suspect's ex-wife said she was with him in Alabama at the time of JonBenet's 1996 death.
I'm not surprised at all that John Karr would call the death an accident. Many people who use others rationalize constantly to excuse their actions. It's his way of saying he's not a bad man. Saying, "I was with JonBenet when she died," is another way of separating himself from his actions.

Asked what happened when JonBenet died, he said: "It would take several hours to describe that. It's a very involved series of events that would involve a lot of time. It's very painful for me to talk about it."

He told the AP he made "several efforts to communicate with Patricia before she passed away," referring to JonBenet's mother, who died in June, "and it is my understanding that she did read my letters."

Again, I don't find this surprising. He needs to see himself as a good person and wants everyone to agree. If he's deep enough in self-deception, he may assume that everyone else will agree with him once they see the truth through his eyes.
Karr's ex-wife, Lara Karr, told KGO-TV in California that she was with her former husband in Alabama at the time of JonBenet's killing and she does not believe her former husband was involved in the homicide. She said her ex-husband spent a lot of time studying the cases of Ramsey and Polly Klaas, who was abducted from her Petaluma, Calif., home and slain in 1993.
If this confession turns out to be an obsession taken to extremes, this man remains someone with thought processes that could easily tip over the edge from fantasy to reality. The question then becomes whether he paid someone to help him make his fantasy come true.

Either way, I hope this man remains in custody.

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posted by Marcella Chester @ 9:56 AM   2 comments links to this post

DNA Links 4 Out 13 Murdered Prostitutes In Detroit

In my post, Prostitution ring arrests made, I talked about exploitation of prostitutes by those who run sex rings. Since that post, arrests were made in a Sex ring smuggling Korean women into the US.

But those dangers are just the beginning of the risks these women face.

AP

DNA testing has connected a man in custody on sexual assault charges with at least four prostitutes found beaten to death on the city's east side, Detroit police said. At least 13 prostitutes have been killed in that area since 1999, leaving area residents worried about their own safety.

Police said last month that they had retrieved DNA evidence from eight of those women and found the same DNA on four of them. DNA samples taken from the four others were all different, however, and police Chief Ella Bully-Cummings said there could be as many as five perpetrators.

This story is a stark reminder that too many men have been taught that prostitutes (willing or not) are nothing more than disposable sex toys.

How, with crimes like this, can any reasonable person say prostitutes can't be credible witnesses to rape or other violent crimes when they are the alleged victims? Those who dismiss these people as "not credible" or "just asking for it" contribute to the belief that certain people are valid targets for violence.

Nobody is a valid target.

Nobody.

To believe otherwise is to nourish the rationalizations that turn men into rapists and murderers.

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posted by Marcella Chester @ 12:21 AM   0 comments links to this post

Wednesday, August 16, 2006

JonBenet Ramsey Murder Arrest

AP

BOULDER, Colo. (AP) -- A man suspected in the slaying of 6-year-old beauty queen JonBenet Ramsey nearly a decade ago was arrested Wednesday in Thailand, the district attorney said. District Attorney Mary Lacey said the arrest followed several months of work. She disclosed no details about the suspect before a news conference scheduled for Thursday.
Even though this arrest comes so far after the crime, it's good news.

One of the issues that has been repeated over and over was that JonBenet's participation in child beauty pageants caused her death. That's nonsense. Her murderer caused her death.

The merits and pitfalls of beauty pageants should be separate issues from rape and murder. If they are enmeshed, the voices of concern will be diverted into voices of support -- in the ears of rapists and murderers.

Update:

CNN: statement from John Ramsey

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posted by Marcella Chester @ 5:48 PM   0 comments links to this post

Prostitution Ring Arrests Made

CNN

RIVERSIDE, California (AP) -- Two men were arrested on suspicion of running a massive prostitution ring that employed more than 240 women across several Western states and generated millions of dollars, authorities said.
The orginal article's headline says that 240 call girls were employed by this group, but make no mistake about it when the amount of money involved goes into the millions, exploitation is the name of the game, not employment.

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posted by Marcella Chester @ 12:02 AM   1 comments links to this post

Tuesday, August 15, 2006

American Legion Legacy Run

On Friday Cyberotter will be participating in American Legion Legacy Run.

Motorcyclists will be riding from Indianapolis to Salt Lake City to raise money for college grants.

Do what you can to support this effort.

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posted by Marcella Chester @ 2:50 PM   3 comments links to this post

Carnival Against Sexual Violence #5

Welcome to the August 15, 2006 edition of the carnival against sexual violence.

Thank you to everyone who nominated a post or who wrote a post against sexual violence whether it was nominated/selected or not. For this 5th edition I particularly wanted posts related to what messages prevention advice given to women sends to potential perpetrators and how to avoid victim blaming when talking about rape prevention. I got a variety of nominations that addressed this issue.

So here's 5th edition of the carnival against sexual violence:

personal stories

In International Rape Convict Denied Parole With Help of Victim posted at Why Holly's Fight to Stop Violence, we get insight into one part of a very long journey toward justice.

In on rape, disclosure, and relationships posted at Righteous Revolution, we get to see the impact rape has long after people expect victims to be over it.

In Walking Through Hell posted at Raves, Rants & Rambles, we have a must read post for anyone who is itching to say so-called vulnerable girls and women get what they deserve when they are raped.

media watch

In Blogs for Outright Insanity posted at Hell's Handmaiden, John takes on Mark Noonan's attack on "the Liberals" which attempts to equate attitudes about sex in general to rape in particular.

In Conservatives Slander Feminists and Whitewash Harms To Iraqi Women posted at Alas, a blog, we get to see the flaws in an argument that attempts to make feminists look like they want to paint Saddam as one of them.

In Now I hate the show "Cops" too...*sigh* posted at Biting Beaver, we get a discussion of insensitive and possibly dangerous police treatment of a victim of an attempted rape when the police know their actions are being filmed.

In Marital Rape posted at Teardrops on Roses, we get a discussion of Dr. Phil's response to a couple where the man had non-consensual and unprotected sex with his wife as she slept in an effort to have a baby.

In Scumbag posted at Pandagon, we get reaction to an article about the founder of Girls Gone Wild.

In The Storyline posted at Echidne of the Snakes, we get a discussion about the balance between the need for self-defense and the temptation to blame those whose defenses are breached.

In Newsflash - sobriety stops rape! posted at Not A Feminist, but ..., we get one blogger's response to an attempt at rape prevention education.

raising awareness

In I don't make any promises posted at xhosabutterfly, we get a discussion of male entitlement and the impact that entitlement has on women's choices.

In Preventing Rape posted at Sage, we get a discussion about how reaction to reports of stranger rapes can make people overestimate the danger they face on the street and how that overestimation causes us to see danger in every dark space.

In Nothing says male privilege like demanding that we ignore biology so you get to f*ck unwrapped posted at Ginmar, the main topic is about a man's wish to not pay child support, but the bigger issue addressed is some men's desire to have women take all responsibility for men's decisions regarding sex.

In Who is responsible for safety? posted at 2 B Sophora, we get a discussion about how concern about rape and liability for rape can close doors of opportunity for women.

In A good bishop gets it dead wrong: more on women's clothing, male desire, and God's gift of self-control posted at Hugh Schwyzer, we get a discussion about the problems created when clergy tell women to refrain from being tempting to Godly men.

solutions

In The Ethical One Night Stand posted at Willing ....., we get a post on something many people dismiss as being either totally harmless or totally unethical.

In Compassionate Assistance for Rape Emergencies Act posted at Afaeyre Maede, we get a post on proposed legislation related to the dispensing of prescription drugs to rape victims.

whatever

In Know About It posted at Talk About It, we get a discussion of the complex relationship between men's use of porn and men's decision to rape.

In Sexist attitudes that brought upon the interstate abortion ban need to be addressed posted at Cats Against Bush, shows how attitudes about this ban relate to attitudes about rape and sexual abuse.

In Catharsis for the woman/prostitute posted at Mad Sheila Musings, we get one woman's response to the argument that Sex Work = Freedom/ Sexual Liberation /Trauma Therapy.

In Angst of city's sex workers posted at Mission & Justice, we learn that sex workers surveyed on Sydney, Austrailia’s streets are more likely to suffer from post-traumatic stress disorder than soldiers returning from combat or police officers.

In Teen Boys Still Feel Good About Pressuring Girls To Have Sex posted at Abyss2hope, we get insight related to boys' sense of entitlement regarding sex.

In Mind the Gap III posted at Geek Lawyer, we get a post about a few of the factors that allows so many rapists to go unpunished.

In On Rape and "Precautions" posted at Righteous Revolution, we get a post inspired by a surprising/disturbing amount of victim-blaming by a number of people from an otherwise very progressive/left-leaning/politically correct college.

In She Wasn't Asking For It posted at crooked timber, we get another take on victim blaming, including an interesting assortment of comments.

In Life After Exoneration posted at Injustice Anywhere . . ., we get a public defender's take on justice and our biases related to those tainted with the label sex offender.

That concludes the 5th edition of the carnival against sexual violence. Thank you for taking the time to visit this carnival and thank you to the authors of all the posts included in this edition. Together we can make a difference.

The next submission deadline is Tuesday, Aug. 29 at 11 pm. The 5th edition will be out on Sep. 1.

Get notified by email when a new edition comes out.

Recommend this carnival to someone you know.

To nominate a post (your own or someone else's) to the next edition of carnival against sexual violence, use our carnival submission form. Links to everything related to the carnival can be found on the new blog dedicated to this carnival, http://carnivalagainstsexualviolence.blogspot.com/

If anyone has suggestions for future editions of this carnival, let me know.

Marcella Chester

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posted by Marcella Chester @ 12:13 AM   2 comments links to this post

Monday, August 14, 2006

Jill Carroll speaks up

Checkout the CBS News article with a first person account of key moments of her ordeal.

Here's the story from the Christian Science Monitor: Hostage: The Jill Carroll Story - csmonitor.com

Shortly after she was freed, I blogged about those who want on the attack against her:
Jill Carroll backlash and the denial of violence against women
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posted by Marcella Chester @ 4:12 PM   1 comments links to this post

How The Images Included In The War On Drugs Exposes Our Lies

Washington Post
A photograph of President Bush waving a flag after the Sept. 11 attacks is juxtaposed against a black-and-white image of an African American mother smoking crack cocaine in bed next to her baby. Larger-than-life portraits of Osama bin Laden and Pablo Escobar line the walls. The central message of a traveling Drug Enforcement Administration exhibit unveiled at Chicago's Museum of Science and Industry yesterday is that terrorism and drugs are inextricably linked.
I find it telling that a key poster "consumer/funder" of drugs=terrorism is a poor African American mother not a rich white man who spends more on "recreational" drugs than many people make in an entire year. If the overt message is that terrorism and drugs are inextricably linked then the subtext says that non-caucasians are the missing link.

This image supports many stereotypes that feed into the hope that only people less deserving than us are seriously hooked on drugs or support crime through their drug use. Whatever we and ours do is somehow less harmful than what those people do.

We have excuses, those people have no excuse for what they do.

If they fail to meet our expectations, they are just confirming what we already knew about them so why worry if the schools they attend have enough funding to ensure they are functionally literate and why worry about giving them the same opportunities in their communities as we have in ours?

If a pregnant drug user got pregnant because of rape, we don't want to know about it since seeing her as a victim in any way (even as a victim of lack of viable opportunities) doesn't fit our preconceived model -- in this case as her being an underwriter of terrorism and so evil that she does drugs in a way that harms her child.

Neither do we want to know if drugs are this woman's way of attempting to cope with the trauma in her life. If we saw her as more than someone funding evil acts, we'd have no viable excuse for ignoring her plight or the plight of others like her. Helping people is the antithesis of war and can make it seem like we are forfeiting numerous battles.

I don't support legalization of illegal drugs, but do I oppose any get-tough-on-users (especially the poor and minority ones) strategy which neglects all the serious social issues which push people toward drug use.

But how would we fund this help? Wouldn't it be wrong to increase taxes to help people who may not be helpable?

From the Human Rights Watch
Since the mid 1980s, the United States has undertaken aggressive law enforcement strategies and criminal justice policies aimed at curtailing drug abuse. The costs and benefits of this national war on drugs are fiercely debated. What is not debatable, however, is its impact on black Americans. Ostensibly color blind, the war on drugs has been waged disproportionately against black Americans. Our research shows that blacks comprise 62.7 percent and whites 36.7 percent of all drug offenders admitted to state prison, even though federal surveys and other data detailed in this report show clearly that this racial disparity bears scant relation to racial differences in drug offending. There are, for example, five times more white drug users than black.
If the money spent on imprisoning the lowest level of drug users -- out of proportion with the reality of drug use -- was instead used to create and run programs that dealt with the causes of drug use and the cause of low level drug dealing, we could reduce the flow of drug money. Ironically, often it is cheaper to help people than it is to punish them.

Also if we viewed the failure of war-on-drugs programs as program failures rather than merely the failure of the individuals who didn't manage to get or stay clean, we wouldn't be such faint-hearted supporters of helping other people in a way that reduces the money that goes into the drug trade.

To see the contradictions in the war on drugs in one locale read: Green Bay Press Gazette: Statistics: Race plays part in drug arrests

The drug problem isn't their problem (whoever they are), it is ours and we need to take responsibility for our contribution to this problem.

Finally, when educating people on the deaths that can be caused by drug money, why doesn't the DEA focus as heavily on those who were murdered by white drug dealers and those who died from drugs mixed with lethal fillers?

Could it be that we don't see those victims as being as innocent as victims of random terrorism?

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posted by Marcella Chester @ 12:37 AM   1 comments links to this post

Sunday, August 13, 2006

Announcing New Blog: Re-model 4 Life

Since Abyss2hope focuses on raising awareness about sexual violence and the various factors that allow people to justify harming others and because many people find that subject too intense, I'm creating a separate blog, Re-model 4 Life, to discuss ways to create and sustain new models for living -- either after trauma like rape or whenever an old model of living isn't working as well as it should.

My focus on Re-model 4 Life is going to be on how at a very personal level to have inner peace and contentment while still being aware of how much is wrong with your life and the world. As someone who had neither of those for far too long, and who is finally learning to find a way to balance optimism and the awareness of unwelcome realities, I will continue exploring how to maintain that balance without slipping back into denial.

The political will come in at Re-model 4 Life only when it directly relates to the personal.
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posted by Marcella Chester @ 10:46 AM   0 comments links to this post

Saturday, August 12, 2006

Psychologists New Anti-Torture Policy Still Allows Participation In Military Interrogations

AP

The American Psychological Association took a stand against torture Thursday but kept an existing policy saying that it's ethical for psychologists to assist in military interrogations. Critics said the new policy, adopted at the group's convention, does not go far enough to keep its members from becoming embroiled in practices that could violate the principles of human rights. "The ultimate question is, should psychologists participate in national security interrogations, and the answer is no," said Leonard Rubenstein, executive director of Physicians for Human Rights. "It's a question that other medical groups have addressed and the APA has not."
Since many people get snagged into participating in acts that are torture because they don't see their actions as rising to the level of real torture or as being part of a group of actions that together reach that threshold, this policy could come back and bite psychologists.

Once a participant in interrogations becomes convinced that the results of a specific interrogation could mean the deaths of thousands of innocent people and that not doing enough to get the truth could make the participant partially responsible for those hypothetical deaths, it's easier to overwhelm that participant's sense of right and wrong.

If someone is bombarded with messages like:

9/11 - leaving a hood over someone's head - 9/11 - forcing someone to stand for 23 hours - 9/11 - sexually humiliating someone - 9/11

That drumbeat of comparisons between mass death and what the person is being asked to do becomes a form of psychological manipulation meant to drown out the listener's conscience that what they are being asked to do or support is wrong.

If psychologists only consult on interrogations, the danger can be even greater because the psychologists may not see the full ramifications of their help in stark detail. It's that separation from the reality of what they are supporting that makes people minimize abusive tactics until they say they don't mind or enjoy what detainees must endure.

The psychologist also may have no clue when there is no evidence connecting a subject of the interrogation to any acts of violence or any terrorist plot. It's too easy to assume that no innocent people will be subjected to military interrogations and to forget that a possible reason the subject of interrogation hasn't given up the information we want is because the person doesn't have any real information to give.

Even though most of us will never be in a position to directly impact an interrogation, our attitudes impact what others do either by our willingness to speak out or our willingness to look the other way or excuse wrongdoing committed by people like us.

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posted by Marcella Chester @ 12:39 PM   0 comments links to this post

Friday, August 11, 2006

Submission Deadline For 5th Edition Of Carnival Against Sexual Violence Approaching

Just a quick reminder that the next submission deadline is tomorrow, Aug. 12 at 11 pm. The 5th edition will be out on Aug. 15.

All posts related to sexual violence are welcome, but for the 5th edition I particularly want posts related to what messages prevention advice given to women sends to potential perpetrators and how to avoid victim blaming when talking about rape prevention.

To nominate a post (your own or someone else's) to the next edition of carnival against sexual violence, use our carnival submission form.

Several people have responded to my call for hosts of special editions, but no special editions have been scheduled yet so the call is ongoing.

Links to everything related to the carnival can be found on the new blog dedicated to this carnival, http://carnivalagainstsexualviolence.blogspot.com/ If anyone has suggestions for future editions of this carnival, let me know.

Marcella Chester

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posted by Marcella Chester @ 12:18 PM   1 comments links to this post

Red State Feminist: Ms. Magazine Writes to RSF; RSF Writes Back.

Red State Feminist: Ms. Magazine Writes to RSF; RSF Writes Back.

An interesting post about the choices we make about where to focus our attention and our PR efforts.
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posted by Marcella Chester @ 12:00 PM   0 comments links to this post

Rumsfeld Named Soldier Who Blew The Whistle On Abu Ghraib

And he did it when that soldier was still serving with those he blew the whistle on. Yet with the newest terrorist plot, why should we care about how Iraqi prisoners are treated or about one soldier who did what he believed to be right?

First, here's the whistle blower's story:

CBS News


The soldier who triggered the Abu Ghraib prisoner abuse scandal by sending incriminating photos to military investigators says he feared deadly retaliation by other GIs and was shocked when Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld mentioned his name at a Senate hearing.

Within days, Joe Darby was spirited out of Iraq at his own request. But his family was besieged by news media, and close relatives called him a traitor. Ultimately he was forced to move away from his hometown in western Maryland.

"I had the choice between what I knew was morally right and my loyalty to other soldiers. I couldn't have it both ways," the 27-year-old military policeman said in the just-released September issue of Gentleman's Quarterly.

and

Darby said he was still being interviewed when Graner and two others were brought in, and the agents had to smuggle him out wrapped in rugs and blankets to conceal his identity. Stunned when Graner and the others returned for a month's duty at the prison, he slept with a loaded pistol. "They'd be walking around with their weapons all day long, knowing somebody had turned them in and trying to find out who. That was one of the most nervous periods of my life," Darby said. His worst moment, he said, came on May 7, 2004, during lunch with 10 fellow MPs in a mess hall filled with 400 troops. "It was like something out of a movie," he recalled. Rumsfeld appeared on television, dropped Darby's name, "and the guys at the table just stopped eating and looked at me. I got up and got the hell out of there."

Something is wrong with the tone set from leadership when the one forced to hide his actions from his fellow soldiers is the one exposing wrongdoing, not the other way around.

Saying that the people who were or are mistreated deserved it or they wouldn't have been in Abu Ghraib in the first place doesn't cut it with me. Like rape, there is no threshold that makes someone deserving of being a victim of abusive treatment.

That isn't justice or investigation, it's a cheap outlet that makes us feel powerful.

Then there's this passage from that article which I find terrifying:


He said he has returned home only twice, for a wedding and his mother's funeral. "I'm not welcome there. People there don't look at the fact that I knew right from wrong," he said. "They look at the fact that I put an Iraqi before an American."
What he put first wasn't an Iraqi, it was American ideals like honor. What a horrid American would do such a thing?

I would blame the attack of 9/11 for this anger except no Iraqis were on those planes. This puts a lie to the idea that all those who support the war in Iraq want to liberate Iraqis. What it does is turn many Americans into the type of people who support any and all harm done as long as that harm is directed at those we see as our enemies.

Damn the ethics, full speed ahead. Exactly the attitude that creates support for acts of terrorism against the United States such as the attacks on 9/11/2001.

Unfortunately, there are some who actively feed this attitude for political gain. The problem with putting politics first is that you become more interested in ferreting out your political opponents' Willie Hortons than dealing effectively and fairly with all aspects of the problems facing our country and our world.

If the only war that must be won is the PR battle, a whole lot of American lives will be little more than collateral damage.

Soldiers and others who crossed the line because the push to act improperly was stronger than the pull of what they should have been doing are responsible for their behavior, but to call them bad apples is to miss the significance and source of the push they felt to act in ways that got them court martialed.

As long as the push continues, some will fail to resist that push.

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posted by Marcella Chester @ 12:01 AM   0 comments links to this post