Tuesday, October 31, 2006

Carnival Against Child Abuse #5

It's up over at Survivors Can Thrive and I'm thrilled to have one of my posts included. Go check out the variety of posts included.
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posted by Marcella Chester @ 10:31 PM   1 comments links to this post

Duke Lacrosse Rape Case Bombshell

ABC News

Dancer Kim Roberts made the new allegation -- which she has not shared with authorities -- in an interview with Chris Cuomo that aired today on "Good Morning America."


As she drove the accuser from the March 2006 Duke lacrosse party, Roberts told ABC News the woman was clearly impaired and "talking crazy."

Roberts said she tried several different times to get the accuser out of her car.

"The trip in that car from the house ... went from happy to crazy," Roberts told Cuomo. "I tried all different ways to get through to her."

"I tried to be funny and nice," she said. "Then I tried to, you know, be stern with her. ... We're kind of circling around, and as we're doing that, my last-ditch attempt to get her out of the car, I start to kind of, you know, push and prod her, you know."

Roberts said she told the woman, "Get out of my car. Get out of my car."

"I ... push on her leg. I kind of push on her arm," Roberts said. "And clear as a bell, it's the only thing I heard clear as a bell out of her was, she said -- she pretty much had her head down, but she said plain as day -- 'Go ahead, put marks on me. That's what I want. Go ahead.'"

Roberts said the comments "chilled me to the bone, and I decided right then and there to go to the authorities." (bolding mine)


She [Roberts] has said consistently that she doesn't know whether or not a rape occurred.

When I first read this description of events I thought that if it were true that it would undermine the prosecutor's case. However, as I read it again and thought about what the security guard saw and considered all of the elements included and the key elements which I bolded, it hit me that this described behavior fits with a post-rape scenario. Victims are often giddy when they escape a dangerous situation. Then when the risk is over adrenaline can nosedive.

After my own rape it was like I was no longer in my own body so the description of "crazy" isn't surprising to me at all. Nobody who saw me later that day had a clue what happened to me so the failure of people to see this woman as a rape victim is no surprise either.

There was a case a while ago where a woman was held as a man's sex slave and then let go unexpectedly. The woman wasn't believed when she went to the police because someone saw her saying thanks and assumed she was thanking the man who let her out of his car. Only when the police found where she had been held and saw that it matched her description did they finally believe her.

She was thanking God for getting out alive. She wasn't thanking her rapist. The observer had the details right but had the meaning of those details all wrong.

The words which were reported as being spoken by the Duke rape alleged victim and which many people are interpreting as a request to fake evidence were spoken when the alleged victim is sitting in the passenger seat with her head down. She's unresponsive or at least incoherent until she's pushed. Then those words ring out. By the time the security guard is asked by Kim Roberts to help get the alleged victim out of the car, she is unresponsive.

If the alleged victim was gang raped, being pushed could bring that danger back to the surface as if it were happening again. Adrenaline could make her words come out clearly and she could be experiencing both the present (being pushed and yelled at) and the past (rape).

'Go ahead, put marks on me. That's what I want. Go ahead.'

If those words were spoken during a flashback even the echoes of a gang rape would send chills down my spine too.

With the physical and cognitive state of the alleged victim as described when she was in that car, the idea that this outburst is a request to falsify evidence makes absolutely no sense. It's only supported by what people read into those words and their beliefs about this case or about rape.

The witness-given evidence in this case is what witnesses saw and heard, not the conclusions witnesses came to based on what they heard and what they saw.

People see the sun come up every morning and see it go down every night, but it isn't true that the sun circles the earth once per day even if some people have assumed that's what happens based on watching the sun move from horizon to horizon.

Update: I received an anonymous comment which I deleted since it included claims about the alleged victim's medical file, but the bottom line in the comment was that her history proved that she had to be lying and couldn't have been raped.

This person doesn't seem to realize the gaping fallacy in this idea. No medical condition, state of mind or criminal activity or job protects someone from the possibility of rape. What it often does is make men feel they can get away with raping that person though they will likely not think of it in terms of rape since that would make them think of themselves as rapists.

"She's just a stripper. She lets everyone do it to her."

That attitude can actually put these women at greater risk of being raped since they are perceived as having no credibility. "It's her word against mine and my word is golden."

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posted by Marcella Chester @ 12:09 AM   1 comments links to this post

Monday, October 30, 2006

Understanding Systematic Domestic Violence

Thanks to the heads up from Red State Feminist about the 20/20 segment which aired Friday night on a domestic violence case where the abusive husband ordered one of their children to videotape his wife as he verbally and physically assaulted her.

The videotape was key to getting a jury to believe that abuse occurred, but it was the victim's boss's decision to record in her calendar each sign of abuse she saw which provided evidence that this was a systematic abuse rather than an isolated incident. And it was that documentation of multiple acts of violence which resulted in a sentence longer than 9 months.

As I watched the videotape of the abuse, it not only brought back memories of my first marriage, it also reminded me of the 1971 Stanford prison experiment where half the students in the study were assigned to be guards and the other half were assigned to be inmates and then the situation was allowed to unfold from there. The behavior was so disturbing the experiment had to be stopped early.

The power imbalance between the assigned roles, the isolation and the lack of ethical guidelines were a toxic mix at Stanford and they are a toxic mix in relationships. This toxicity is protected by those who say what happens inside a family should never be interfered with. This toxicity can turn a house or apartment into a mini-prison and the victim's outside activities become like carefully monitored furloughs.

The people who abuse in an attempt to enforce their control inside a marriage or a relationship, unlike the ones who attempted to do the same within a mock prison will find less satisfaction because they want validation from their "partner." That loss of validation and an accompanying loss of respect can lead to escalation. When "I love you" stops being offered freely, the person who takes on the role of prison guard can coerce the words out of the other person or use acts like choking to break the other person.

Children in this type of situation then either take (or are given) the role of inmate or fellow guard.

Once the toxicity enters the relationship, the relationship will be unsatisfying for all involved until someone leaves, is killed or the abuser gets help to break their pattern of behavior. For the relationship to possibly change to a healthy one, the person who takes the role of guard must see the situation for what it is and stop believing that the problem would go away if the partner shaped up. If only those in the inmate role change, those in the guard role may see the other person's behavior change as rebellion and may respond with increased violence.

The traditional model of the man being the leader and the woman having to obey her husband explains why in this toxic environment men are more likely to inflict the greatest damage. It also explains why women who leave are at great risk for being murdered since the men may be in the same mindset as prison guards responding to a jail break, but without the training on when violence is not allowed.

Support for the institution of marriage should never equal support for a spouse's right to inflict psychological and/or physical torture.

The good news in this parallel is that it means that this dynamic is not biological. The bad news is that abusers have to acknowledge the damage they've done before their behavior can change and they have to stop blaming those they've hurt. It may also mean dealing with past experiences where they were put in the role of inmate. Then they need to find a healthier model to replace the guard/inmate model.

Breaking this mindset is a painful process for a variety of reasons and some people will go into denial to avoid the painful truth.

If the model doesn't change this type of abuser will fall back on familiar habits in future relationships. And of course if they refuse to see what role they've assumed as their own, their abusive behavior will be seen as being caused by the other person's unacceptable behavior or attitude.

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posted by Marcella Chester @ 9:12 AM   3 comments links to this post

Do Millionaire Scum Deserve Their Taxcuts?


WEST PALM BEACH, Florida (Court TV) -- A millionaire on trial for plotting his ex-wife's murder interrupted the proceedings Tuesday by loudly threatening the prosecution's star witness and calling him "despicable scum of the earth."

The outburst came on the second day of testimony in the murder trial of Ronald Samuels, 58, who is accused of hiring four men to kill Heather Grossman on October 14, 1997. "I'll meet you in hell, you son of a bitch," Samuels yelled at the witness, who is the admitted gunman. "I'll find you one way or another."

The witness Roger Runyon admitted firing a high-powered rifle at the defendant's ex-wife and her second husband, John Grossman, and was granted immunity in exchange for his testimony. He responded to Samuels just as the jury was entering the courtroom. "You're right," Runyon said. "I will go to hell, and you will see me there."

This story caught my eye because of how it contrasts to all of the Republican ads I've been seeing lately lauding the goodness of all those who have a high enough income to benefit the most from President Bush's precious tax cuts and that are trying to convince me that I will be hurting all these good people and all those they help if I vote for the Democratic candidates for the US House and Senate.

A few of the people highlighted in the ads seem like they should be nominated for sainthood.

Why would I want to vote for someone who wants to hurt the saintly?

This raises the question about what type of people are most likely to benefit from the so-called entitlement programs the Republicans oppose. Are they bad people? That's the implication from the Republican ads.

This image of rich = good and poor = bad is very dangerous in that it allows those who exploit others with fewer resources to rationalize their actions. Rather than seeing anyone trapped in poverty, the poorest are seen as not deserving better.

I wonder how much this image contributes to the recent trend of groups of teens attacking the homeless and sometimes murdering them.

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posted by Marcella Chester @ 12:07 AM   1 comments links to this post

Sunday, October 29, 2006

David Letterman Has it Right

.. when he responds to Bill O'Reilly's demand for a yes/no answer to a substance-free question on Iraq.

We need more thoughtfulness in politics and political analysis and less posturing which hopes that people will view thoughtfulness as uncertainty or weakness.

Those with weak positions need to shout catch phrases the loudest and do everything they can to stop people from viewing issues from all angles and viewing all types of people as being equally human and deserving of consideration. That means blatently turning groups of people into Halloween-style menaces.

There is a huge difference between opposing other people's positions and opposing other people's basic human rights. We forget that at great peril.

Following shallow pundits like Bill O'Reilly is an easy path because his followers can escape responsibility for their choices (I was steered wrong) or lack of interest (I have a life) by claiming that the pundit in question became corrupt. Then they can latch onto the next shallow pundit who reinforces both their hopes and their fears.
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posted by Marcella Chester @ 2:04 PM   2 comments links to this post

An Example Of The Devastation Rape Can Cause

Scripps News

Kristin Cooper, a college sophomore, lay dead in her family's living room. At her side was a spiral notebook that kept her fatal secret.

She was home from Baker College, a small school in Kansas, for the winter break. Earlier that
night _ New Year's Eve, 1995 _ Kristin had told her parents she was going out with friends and that she was the designated driver. Instead, her mother says, Kristin shot herself in the head.

Kristin's nearby journal chronicled her first 1 1/2 years of college life, including the five pages of red ink that told about the night she was raped by a man she thought was her friend and the
subsequent "blackness" and grief she felt.

So many people, especially those who oppose taking all rape allegations seriously, either don't know rape can be this devastating or they don't want to acknowledge this reality. Most likely Kristen's rapist seemed like a nice man and she thought if she reported it that the niceness which fooled her would fool many other people too.

I understand the darkness that comes from a rape you're afraid to reveal. The anger I had toward my rapist/boyfriend and anyone else who tried to control me kept me from internalizing my pain to point of considering suicide, but the way I coped exposed me to other potentially deadly forces.

The amount of victim blaming that goes on and the amount of responsibility put on girls and women to prevent their own rapes can take a heavy toll.

We need to reach out to victims in pain, but we all need to reach out to those who feel they have the right to trample other people's sexual boundaries and get them to change their ways before they hurt someone.

Just as we don't focus on defensive driving to reduce the number of drunk driving accidents, we shouldn't focus on defensiveness to reduce the number of rapes. We understand that one sober person's ability to slam on the brakes in time to avoid a crash doesn't reduce the danger from that drunk driver, but many of us don't understand this concept when it comes to rape.

The drunk driver is a menace and the danger is eliminated only when that person stops getting behind the wheel under the influence or that person is locked up.

We understand that not all drunk drivers are monsters so we try to educate them before they put themselves and others in danger. Why is it so hard for people to understand this same strategy should be taken when it comes to rape?

Prevention must include a strong focus on those with habits which are dangerous to others.

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posted by Marcella Chester @ 12:15 AM   1 comments links to this post

Saturday, October 28, 2006

Carnival Against Sexual Violence Deadline Approaching

The next deadline for the carnival against sexual violence is tomorrow night Oct. 29 at 11pm. Please nominate a post for the tenth edition which comes out on Nov. 1.

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posted by Marcella Chester @ 3:11 PM   1 comments links to this post

Study: Minnesota Prison Boot Camp Works


To qualify for the boot camp, prisoners must be non-violent with relatively short criminal histories. Most today (62 percent) have meth-related offenses. Instead of spending 48 months in prison, these inmates spend 6 months in an intense boot camp. Then they move onto a second phase consisting of frequent visits by corrections officers and frequent treatment for drug or alcohol problems.


The report estimates that boot camp has saved more than $18 million, by keeping graduates from landing in prison again. According to Duwe, the Minnesota camp lasts longer than the average of other states, and is followed by a year of home supervision and intense drug treatment.

When these sorts of programs are run based on practical skill rather than ideology or intimidation, they have the potential to do more than save taxpayers money. They have the potential to improve the lives of the inmates.

A key part of making this sort of program work is the follow up that helps people apply what they've learned and to know there is a consequences for returning to bad habits.

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posted by Marcella Chester @ 11:37 AM   0 comments links to this post

Politicians Who Run From Those They Demonize

Michael Schiavo writes about his experience at a Colorado political debate on Daily Kos :

But underneath it all I'm left with something I can't get past. Congresswoman Marilyn Musgrave, as I said, had no problem at all in speaking about me and my family on the floor of Congress. Yet she can't bring herself to even look at me. She has to seek help from the police to have me removed from a public debate.

It's crystal clear that Marilyn Musgrave not only can't admit she's wrong, she can't even face the consequences of her own actions. She must believe that if she runs away fast enough or surrounds herself with enough people who tell her she's great, it never happened.

Well, Marilyn, it did happen. You were wrong. And that you don't have the decency to admit it or even face me - even to disagree with me - is more than cowardice. It's un-American and disgusting.

Even though you'd rather not see it or hear it, Congresswoman Musgrave, your votes have consequences. What you do impacts real people. And a wall of staffers, police and debate complaints won't hide the truth.

Unfortunately many politicians don't want to know about the negative consequences of their actions or acknowledge the humanity of those they stand up against whether it be Michael Schiavo or those who lost their medical coverage.

When sound bites are all that matter, politicians have failed whether or not they get re-elected.
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posted by Marcella Chester @ 12:01 AM   0 comments links to this post

Friday, October 27, 2006

Cheney's Remarks Fuel Torture Debate

Washington Post

Vice President Cheney said this week that dunking terrorism suspects in water during questioning was a "no-brainer," prompting complaints from human rights advocates that he was endorsing the use of a controversial technique known as waterboarding on prisoners held by the United States.

In an interview Tuesday with Scott Hennen, a conservative radio show host from Fargo, N.D., Cheney agreed with Hennen's assertion that "a dunk in water" may yield valuable intelligence from terrorism suspects. He also referred to information gleaned from Khalid Sheik Mohammed, the captured architect of the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks, but stopped short of explicitly saying what techniques were used.

"Would you agree a dunk in water is a no-brainer if it can save lives?" Hennen asked.

"Well, it's a no-brainer for me," Cheney said, "but for a while there, I was criticized as being the vice president for torture. We don't torture. That's not what we're involved in."

Whenever decisions are made about interrogators using no-brainer tactics, the person making the decision is poorly trained at best.

Would we want this same sloppiness in other critical areas such as health care policy? "Hey, I've heard that technique saves lives so don't worry about doing double-blind studies or about getting FDA approval. What are a few mistakes if this technique might save lives?"

The trick is to find a different name for sloppiness or to classify the sloppiness as top secret so the public never has any proof of that sloppiness.


President Bush said Friday the United States does not torture prisoners, commenting after Vice President Dick Cheney embraced the suggestion that a dunk in water might be useful to get terrorist suspects to talk.

Human rights groups complained that Cheney's words amounted to an endorsement of a torture technique known as "water boarding," in which the victim believes he is about to drown. The White House insisted Cheney was not talking about water boarding but would not explain what he meant.

(raises hand) "I know! I know! They take terrorist suspects to the nearest county fair and put them in dunk tanks. Yeah, that's it."

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posted by Marcella Chester @ 6:24 PM   0 comments links to this post

Why I See Ant-Gay Activists as Manipulators

When I saw the Washington Post headline: Religious Conservatives Cheer Ruling on Gays as Wake-Up Call I wasn't surprised at all.

Frankly, gays are being used as a handy political tool that can distract conservative voters from every other issue that impacts them except abortion. This exploits those who are demonized and exploits those who are vulnerable to political manipulation because they assume that they are getting messages from people who have absolute integrity.

[Tony] Perkins agreed, saying that he "had long anticipated a bad ruling from New Jersey" and was glad that it occurred in time for voters to see the "very real and present danger" that same-sex marriage could spread.
Yes, that's right gay marriage must be a bigger danger than terrorism.

Attacking gays and abortion rights is easy, solving complicated issues where nobody can be demonized is hard.
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posted by Marcella Chester @ 11:05 AM   0 comments links to this post

Higher Penalties For Unemployed Criminals Proposed

Guardian UK

Mr Denham will tell a conference organised by Policy Review magazine that beefing up community punishments for unemployed people is the equivalent of the courts imposing higher fines for those with higher incomes.

A 100-hour community sentence will have far less impact on someone on the dole than their counterpart holding down a full-time job or looking after a family, he will say. Mr Denham's comments are likely to enrage civil liberties campaigners on the grounds that they amount to discrimination against the poor.

Rather than giving the unemployeed higher sentences, how about giving them help. If someone is unemployed because of mental health issues or drug addiction or illiteracy or lack of job skills it may be cheaper to help those people with the problems which contribute to criminal behavior.

Unfortunately many systems that are supposed to help instead fail large numbers of people and then put all of the blame on those who weren't helped into self-sufficiency and non-criminal behavior.

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posted by Marcella Chester @ 10:03 AM   0 comments links to this post

Dixie Chicks Documentary Shut Up and Sing

For me the reaction to Natalie Maines' comment about President Bush shortly before the invasion of Iraq in 2003 illustrates something that has nothing to do with the Dixie Chicks. The lesson is important no matter your politics or your opinion of singers who don't just shut up and sing.

The smoking gun in this situation isn't a mushroom cloud but a systematic effort to link all dissenters of that era with the 9/11 hijackers. In effect, many people who looked at the Dixie Chicks felt as if they were looking at terrorists.

Viscerally they were one and the same.

To understand that there was a major distortion going on at the time all you have to do is remember when ordering French fries became a treasonous act. The US congress went so far as to dub the French fries in their cafeteria Freedom fries so they could do what they always did but do it in the name of patriotism.

When ordering French fries became an act of sedition something had gone off kilter big time.

What had previously been meaningless and harmless became more threatening than a right-winger sending death threats or stockpiling enough munitions to blow up a city block.

This change wasn't caused by 9/11 itself, but by efforts to get people's memories and terror related to 9/11 to be seen as nothing compared to the fast approaching menace. By bombarding the public with linked images (Saddam, 9/11, mushroom cloud, Saddam, 9/11, ...) the facts behind that linkage became so sinister that to reveal the links would endanger life as we knew it. But we had a hero who would go against the world to save us if we'd only do what he wanted.

If obedience equaled salvation then the equivalent of disobedience was obviously damnation.

When people respond without critical thinking and healthy skepticism they become easy to manipulate. They become the willing pawns of those who seem to keep their hands clean because they don't give specific instructions to destroy everyone who disagrees. Instead they shrug their shoulders and let others scream "Traitor!" and benefit from the atmosphere of fear and suspicion that someone near them is plotting to destroy our country.

Because this hysteria is dependent on unquestioning emotion and because the mob mentality is inherently unstable, sooner or later the manipulation will be seen for what it is.

Shameless exploitation of people who have been traumatized.

But like the molester with a history of being molested, we can't call those who do wrong after being manipulated mere victims. Between stimulus and response there is always at least one decision.

At the very least we as a country can see the crushing of dissent as a red flag which indicates that the very freedom we want to defend is being eroded in the name of freedom.

To get an idea of how surreal the experience was for the Dixie Chicks and many others watch the commercial for the documentary about the Dixie Chicks, Shut up and Sing which opens in NY & LA this weekend and around the country on Nov. 10.

UPDATE: From Variety it's been reported that NBC and CW have rejected the commercial for Shut Up and Sing. From some of the political ads I've seen lately which are getting aired in support of the Republicans and in opposition to Democrats, this ad is tame.

According to the Weinstein Co., NBC's commercial clearance department said in writing that it "cannot accept these spots as they are disparaging to President Bush."

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posted by Marcella Chester @ 12:19 AM   0 comments links to this post

Thursday, October 26, 2006

Sheik: Rape Caused Not By Criminals But By Victims

Herald Sun

THE devastated father of a teenage girl shown degraded and sexually abused on a DVD vows to hunt down those responsible. The film shows up to 12 youths from the outer western suburb of Werribee [in Australia] attacking the girl, said to be intellectually impaired. It shows members of the group urinating on the girl, setting fire to her hair and shows her performing lurid acts on the boys. DVD copies of the video have been sold in schools in Melbourne's west for $5.


"I guess we will see what the (community) response is, but this taints the students of Werribee and (the City of) Wyndham in a very unfair way," he said. "A very small percentage of youth in Werribee and Wyndham have been involved, but all our youth will be tarred with the same brush."

I believe that the worst of our citizens, whether they be American or Australian, reflect many of the beliefs held by those who see themselves as good and who would never rape. One of these beliefs in this case is that it is the duty of potential victims to avoid danger and that violence will be dismissed when the accused is acceptable in some way, whether it is social position or blood relation.

That belief system is expressed clearly by an Australian cleric.


Sheik Hilaly's reported comments, made in a Ramadan sermon, compared women who wore make-up and dressed immodestly to meat that attracted cats. He blamed women who "sway suggestively" and who wore make-up and no hijab (Islamic scarf) for sexual attacks.

"If you take out uncovered meat and place it outside on the street, or in the garden or in the park, or in the backyard without a cover, and the cats come and eat it ... whose fault is it, the cats or the uncovered meat?" he said.

"The uncovered meat is the problem. If she was in her room, in her home, in her hijab, no problem would have occurred."

Mr Howard said the sheik's remarks clearly related to a "particularly appalling" rape trial in Sydney.

Other than the analogy used and what garb should be used to preserve modesty this is the same basic idea many Christians have about rape. All those who advocate for modesty as rape prevention or who admonish women not to tempt their Christian brothers have no right to attack this sheik because he is their Muslim counterpart.

If people condemn him they must also condemn all those who talk about women who might as well have a "rape me" sign hanging around their neck.

This idea works under the assumption that all men are rapists and the only way to keep men from raping is to keep them from seeing something that triggers their lust. It puts all responsibility in the hands of potential victims and views men as Pavlov's rapists.

This idea rejects the existence of innocent victims and turns them all into temptresses overpowering weak-willed men.

This idea says that rape is as natural as eating.

This idea turns women into objects to be consumed by men.

This idea is bullshit.

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posted by Marcella Chester @ 9:35 AM   5 comments links to this post

Another Accusation Against Priest Who Allegedly Abused Mark Foley


Another former altar boy says he was sexually abused in the 1970s by the same retired Catholic priest who acknowledged fondling former Rep. Mark Foley when Foley was a teenager, the man's attorney said Wednesday. The new allegations against the Rev. Anthony Mercieca were made by a man who lived in North Miami and was an altar boy at St. James Catholic Church, where Mercieca worked, attorney Jeffrey Herman said.

Unfortunately, this news isn't the least bit surprising since most abusers and exploiters are self-motivated rather than being reactive to what their victims do. While the abuser may talk about relationships there is nothing truly mutual about the abuser's habits.

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posted by Marcella Chester @ 12:05 AM   1 comments links to this post

Wednesday, October 25, 2006

Shameless People Who Bring The Personal Into Politics

In this video which shows one of Michael J. Fox's recent ads followed by the audio of Rush Limbaugh's response, the conservative commentator demonstrates his sensitivity.

It's interesting that Rush Limbaugh sees showing the ravages of a disease as exploitative since this is just another version of Ann Coulter's attack against 9/11 widows. If politics impact your life, Rush doesn't want hear about it.

Exploiting a personal condition is wrong, wrong, wrong.

Too bad Rush Limbaugh and others like him didn't show this same disgust when conservatives exploited Terri Schiavo's medical condition.

Remember this coverage of the US congress's actions related to Terri Schiavo, from the Daily Show?

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posted by Marcella Chester @ 1:46 PM   1 comments links to this post

From Baghdad To Sexual Exploitation In Damascus

The Guardian UK

Um Ahmad, as she was known to the girls, had it all planned out. From Baghdad to the border and on to Damascus and a new life, Mona and her three Iraqi friends didn't need to worry about a thing. The job in the textiles factory outside the Syrian capital would pay $300 (£160) a month, travel for the long journey was already arranged, a place for the girls to stay was ready and waiting and - best of all - Um Ahmad would pay Mona's father one month's salary in advance.
For the 26-year-old eldest daughter of eight children whose parents faced a daily despair of car bombs and poverty in their Baghdad slum, the offer sounded too good to be true.

It was.

Within a week of arriving in Damascus, Mona - whose name has been changed to protect her identity - had been plied with alcohol by Um Ahmad, required to dance for "friends of the factory owner" and had lost her virginity. Unable to return to her family due to the perceived shame she had brought upon them, Mona began her new life in Syria as a prostitute working for Um Ahmad, dancing in bars outside Damascus and having sex with clients.

When politicians fail to plan more than their sound bites and how to impliment their ideology through political strategy, it isn't the politicians who face the worst consequences of their decisions and their policies.

It's far too easy for politicians to plead ignorance when they only wanted to listen to people who told them what they wanted to hear. Just as ordinary citizens aren't allowed to plead not guilty by reason of ignorance, we should never allow politicians to escape accountability for the results of their actions.

Whether the politicians failed because they didn't care about the side effects of their actions or because they didn't do their homework, the result should be the same.


Like teenagers, politicians need to be held aocountable so they will learn to act like responsible adults.

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posted by Marcella Chester @ 9:09 AM   0 comments links to this post

New Place For Domestic Abuse Victims


Last year there were more than 18,000 domestic abuse calls to St. Paul Police. Many of those victims had a difficult time getting help. "He kept telling me he was going to kill me and I was scared to go to sleep," said "Debbie" a domestic abuse victim. "Debbie" is on the run from her abusive boyfriend. She's not alone. Police say domestic violence accounts for more than 26 percent of violent crimes in Minnesota, and getting help is not always easy.


"What good does it do -- you walk home, lock your doors and you get beat up in your own home?" said Retired Police Officer Michael Toronto. He's worked the domestic abuse beat for more than 20 years and is now working to put the center together. "I want victims to know that the community is ready to stand with them and support them. And I want perpetrators to know that you're not going to get away with this anymore. That we're going to track you, apprehend you and we're going to prosecute."

Plans like this make me believe that my efforts and the efforts of everyone else who focuses on violence against women, in a variety of ways, are making a real and substantial difference. Fortunately, there are more and more members of law enforcement who see domestic violence as a problem that needs to be addressed in ways that are effective for both the criminal justice system and for the victims of domestic violence.

I know there will always be those who blame victims or consider domestic violence to be a private matter, but they don't have to be the most influential voices.

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posted by Marcella Chester @ 12:25 AM   0 comments links to this post

Tuesday, October 24, 2006

Millionaire Date Rape


NEWPORT BEACH, Calif. - Prosecutors charged a real estate agent Monday with the rapes of three women, including two he met through a Web site claiming to be the largest online dating hub for millionaires, authorities said.

Joseph Garcia, 47, of Irvine appeared in court, although he did not enter a plea to six counts
of forcible sodomy and one count of forcible rape. His arraignment was scheduled for Nov. 3, and bail was set at $1 million. Deputy Public Defender George Abbes, who appeared on Garcia's behalf, declined comment.

Our "millionaire" defendant has a public defender?

While the stereotypical rapist continues to be seen as desperate and unkempt, real rapists come in all shapes, sizes and economic classes.

Respectability is often only skin deep.

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posted by Marcella Chester @ 3:09 PM   1 comments links to this post

How Can A Group Be Pro Life When Those They Want To Shut Down Need Bulletproof Glass?

The experience Biting Beaver had at a Planned Parenthood clinic to end her pregnancy contrasts starkly to the experience I had after my rape decades ago. The clinic I went to had zero security and nobody in town, no matter their belief about abortion, was likely to mount a violent offensive against the clinic.

With all of the myths I heard back then not one of them equaled the one Bill O'Reilly, the Vulture Warrior put forth that women can't die from a medical condition if they carry to term. Pregnancy had risks back then and it still has risks today.

If entering the PP clinic had required me to go through a gauntlet of protesters, I wouldn't have done so. For the pro-lifers who think they could have saved a life if they had started their sieges sooner, they would be wrong. My rape didn't result in pregnancy, but without PP I don't know how long I would have had the torment of not knowing and the fear that I'd have to marry my rapist.

I don't know what I would have done if faced with pregnancy from rape. Any choice would have been traumatic. It's a very real possibility that I might have seen all of the pro-life options as unbearable. My state of mind was fragile at best and it would have taken very little for the torment to seem insurmountable.

Like the rapists, those who believe they have the right to take women's choices away from them turn girls and women into vessels that are less than fully human. Often the use of statistics to show how few abortions might ever be "medically necessary" reduces girls and women to nothing more than data.

In many ways the rabid pro-lifers remind me of the rabid animal rights activists. In both cases the lives of breathing people are reduced to caricatures whose lives and work can be trampled on while the protection of fetuses and animals, respectively are all that matter.

I wonder if people such as Bill O'Reilly actually like people in general. Do they appreciate the complexities and messiness of life? Do they understand or practice true compassion?

If the answer to the last 2 questions is no then fetuses may seem like the only human life forms worthy of compassion. That would be very sad indeed.

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

Monday, October 23, 2006

Another Reason Men Shouldn't Act As Judge and Jury


NORFOLK, Va. (AP) -- A sailor pleaded guilty Monday to abducting and killing a Marine corporal he thought had been involved in a gang rape. The rape turned out to be a lie, but the truth surfaced too late.

Petty Officer 3rd Class Cooper Jackson, 23, pleaded guilty Monday to premeditated murder, kidnapping, impersonating a Naval Criminal Investigative Service agent and obstruction of justice in connection with the death of Cpl. Justin L. Huff, 23.


"I'd broken several laws and I had a missing Marine with me," Jackson said at his hearing Monday. "Quite frankly, I was scared of the consequences of what would happen, of being caught, more so than I was of the consequences of taking his life."

This statement speaks volumes about what kind of man this is. He'd killed another man, but his thoughts continued to only center around himself.

I'm sure some people will see this case as a reason to bash women, but the decision to take another man's life was made by the man who slit another man's throat with cool calculation. His willingness to commit violence was there before the lie -- even if the violence remained dormant.

With this level of violence it makes me wonder if the woman lied because she was scared of what would happen to her if she didn't lie. Since he successfully lured his victim to a remote location and hid the body, there's no certainty that this murder was his first.

I've met men who were so violently jealous that it seemed like only a matter of time before they'd kill "their" woman or some man who ended up in the wrong place at the wrong time. The first woman I met who had a boyfriend like this was terrified of leaving him and didn't see that she had any options other than appeasement.

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posted by Marcella Chester @ 2:53 PM   1 comments links to this post

Sudan Kicks Out UN Envoy

NY Times

Sudan's government ordered the chief United Nations envoy out of the country today, saying he was an enemy of the country and its armed forces. Secretary General Kofi Annan said that he was reviewing the letter from the Khartoum government and had requested the envoy, Jan Pronk, to return to New York for "consultations." The Sudanese order said he had to leave by Wednesday. United Nations officials confirmed he would depart before then.

Mr. Pronk, a blunt-spoken former Dutch cabinet minister, has been outspoken in reporting on the killings, rapes and other atrocities in Darfur, the region in the western part of Sudan where 200,000 people have died and 2.5 million have been driven from their homes. He has become increasingly pointed in his comments because of the rise in violence across the area despite a May peace accord between the Sudanese government and a major rebel group, and because of the government's refusal to grant permission for a new United Nations force to take over peacekeeping in the country from the overstretched African Union.

Since President Bush agrees that the Darfur killings amount to genecide, this action should be seen by the US as a very serious matter. If the 60 Minutes report is right and the Sudan leadership is using their past connection to Osama Bin Laden to feed the US leads about terrorists, there could be a real conflict of interest at work which mutes our response to this genecide.

How much collateral damage in this war on terrorism is too much for the information gained? Are we willing to make excuses as thousands of people die over there so thousands or hundreds or tens don't die here?
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posted by Marcella Chester @ 12:34 AM   0 comments links to this post

Faithful Mass Suicide: Lessons of Jonestown


In November 1978, 913 people died in a shocking mass murder-suicide, and 28 years later, the Jonestown Massacre still remains the most chilling example of faith turned against the faithful. The group was led by the charismatic Jim Jones, who started his church, the Peoples Temple, in Indiana. He then moved the group to the San Francisco area, and ultimately to a desolate area of Guyana, where the tragedy played out as a concerned group showed up to investigate.

Cults like this one are a key reason I reject all those who attempt to link obeying them (whether the them is a particular person, church or party) with obeying God.

I've attended a few churches run by pastors who exploited their members' faith, fears and uncertainties with their calls for obedience. I see this same attitude in pastors who want to extend their control beyond the church doors.

Like the cult leaders, the goal of those who want to eliminate the church/state separation quickly shifts from spirituality to very unGodlike power. They want to create a world in their own image and that desire can have terrible consequences.
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posted by Marcella Chester @ 12:03 AM   0 comments links to this post

Sunday, October 22, 2006

17th Anniversary Of Jacob Wetterling Abduction

Back on Oct. 22, 1989 Jacob was abducted on his way to a convenience store just a half mile from his home in St. Joseph, Minn. The eleven-year-old was with his brother and a friend when he was grabbed by a masked man and never seen again.
Jacob's mother is Patty Wetterling who is currently running for U.S. congress against Republican Michele Bachman.

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posted by Marcella Chester @ 11:23 AM   0 comments links to this post

Man Makes False Sex Offender Allegation Through Flyers

When most people talk about false allegations related to sex crimes they are referring to girls and women who go to the police to report a rape. The term false allegation is often used before there is evidence that the accusation was indeed false.

But vindictive use of lies about sex crimes is by no means limited to one gender.

WCCO: False Sex Offender Flyers Ruin Family Name

Flyers posted in a Twin Cities neighborhood are warning of a sexual offender, but it's all a lie. In a quiet Highland Park neighborhood, everyone was surprised to see a flyer warning that a neighbor named Richard Wexler was a sexual predator. The flyers were false. Investigators think a disgruntled man was trying to defame a health department worker.
Because of the stigma attached to someone on a sex offender list this sort of action may become more common. And since the police have only narrowed the suspect down to being a man who failed a health department background check, the person who did this may not get caught.

False allegations made outside of the criminal justice system have the potential of being a far greater threat than alleged victims who make their claims to law enforcement will ever be.

The police won't react to a false allegation by breaking into a neighbor's house and stabbing the neighbor to death.

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posted by Marcella Chester @ 10:14 AM   0 comments links to this post

Saturday, October 21, 2006

How Abusers Convince Themselves They Aren't Doing Anything Wrong

In my post, The Sexual Education of Mark Foley, I talked about what sexual abuse teaches children about sex and sexual boundaries and the problems that can occur when that type of education isn't countered by healthier sex education.

FYI saying "Just say no to sex until you marry" is a platitude not education.

Now I want to talk about how abusers (those who exploit their victim's trust vs. those who kidnap children) will distort what they do and what others do (and say) to make their actions not only acceptable, but good. Unlike aggressive defense attorneys who either deny the charges as pure fabrications or attack the victim, these abusers turn what happened into a special connection.

They see the violation of another human being as the truest form of intimacy which is amplified by secrecy. In their minds the relationship doesn't become polluted unless or until the secret is revealed. The abuser will likely convince both himself (or herself) and the victim that the abusive actions stem from a deep sense of caring for the victim.

These abusers are conning not only their victims but themselves.

The fact that not all children are vulnerable to that particular abuser's tactics may give the abuser a false sense that every action is fully consensual. This attitude is reinforced by victim blaming or statements like, "what were you thinking when you agreed to ___." (fill in the blank with something that preceded the worst of the abuse.)

A child who has not yet learned that people they trust can lie to them may view the abuser as bigger than life. That image can be reinforced if the abuser finds and exploits an unmet need the child has. The abuser may seem like the most positive person in the child's life.

The reward for the abuser may be hero worship. To be seen by another human being as grander than you really are can be thrilling and addictive if you otherwise feel empty. For a few moments the abuser can feel like a god.

The goal for some abusers may be to get a feeling of worthiness. If sex and sexualized contact are the means to reaching that goal the abuser can say they aren't after sex without it being perceived by them as a lie.

From the AP:

The Rev. Anthony Mercieca told The Associated Press in a telephone interview that he was naked with Foley in a sauna, and was quoted in other interviews saying he also fondled him. Mercieca told the AP that the encounters weren't sexual, a distinction abuse experts found disturbing.

"The priest is very focused on the legalities here and I think it's important for the rest of us to see the enormous power differential between these two," said David Finkelhor, director of the Crimes Against Children Research Center at the University of New Hampshire. "There is a tremendous abuse of authority and position involved in these activities whether or not they constitute child molestation."


Abusers assume that because a young person seems to be enthusiastic around them, that any boundary crossing or sexual activity is OK, Finkelhor said. And if no penetration occurs, molesters convince themselves that the interaction does not hurt the youth, he said.
Mercieca's "basic approach is, 'You're trying to take something good and trying to turn it into something evil,'" said Peter Isely, a clinical social worker who counsels abuse victims and a leader of the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests.

"He literally describes this 12- or 13-year old child as if they're equals in age and in personality and characteristic, as if there's absolutely no power differential," Isely said. "This is what makes these offenders so dangerous."

The abuser needs to see the interaction as an equal relationship to justify past abusive acts and to justify grooming new victims. The abuser needs to believe that the child's experience mirrored their own.

The more we as a society refuse to think about the dynamics of abuse because it is depressing, the less abusers are going to hear messages which counter their rationalizations.

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posted by Marcella Chester @ 11:58 AM   0 comments links to this post

Friday, October 20, 2006

If Men Want To Understand Male Sexual Exploiters Listen To Female Exploiters

I watched yesterday's Dr. Phil show on female teachers who have sex with male students. Several guests complained about the double standard between male and female offenders. This is a familiar complaint made by anti-feminists who sometimes go as far as blaming feminists for the female teachers' behavior.

Most of those who complain about indifference by the public toward most female sexual offenders assume that it is the offender's gender which makes the difference and that women will excuse their own.

The more I listen to what people say about a variety of cases, the clearer it is that this assumption is wrong. The double standard is caused by the very same rape myths which causes the blaming of female victims and the excusing of "good" accused male rapists.

As long as most male rapists and sexual abusers escape justice the same will happen for the female perpetrators.

Often the judgments people make when deciding who is a real sexual abuser and who simply made an error in judgment come down to general character attributes and stereotypes about those attributes.

An exploiter who is considered crass but who commits the same acts will likely get more punishment than his or her nicer counterpart.

Those perpetrators who come across as sincere in stating they and the victim had a mutual and consensual relationship are going to be given lighter treatment, be they male or female. When female teachers try to explain away their criminal responsibility, they are giving us a window into the rationalizations used by men who sexually exploit girls.

At the top of the list is the insistence that there was no intent to harm the other person.

If the victim seems sexually mature and the adult seems sexually immature, either because of their actions or because of our perceptions, there's a temptation to create an artificial equality in the interaction and to dismiss the reality of crimes which happened and to increase the level of victim blaming.

Just as female teachers say that it was the student who sent out the non-verbal invitation, men who exploit girls do the same thing when they are caught often in a much cruder way such as calling a girl a tease.

Like military recruiters who have sex with girls who want to join the military, female teachers can pretend that their position doesn't give them power which can be used to exploit others.

Fortunately in recent years more people are recognizing this non-violent sexual exploitation for what it is and not excusing it for any reason or for any gender.

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posted by Marcella Chester @ 2:12 PM   1 comments links to this post

Christians Aren't The Only Ones Who Want The Right To Discrimate Based On Religion

Star Tribune

Imagine you're returning from a trip with a bottle of French wine to celebrate your wedding anniversary. At the airport, you drag your bags out to the taxi stand in the cold breeze. As the cab pulls up, you hoist your suitcases, eager to get home. But when the driver spots your wine, he shakes his head emphatically. The Qur'an prohibits him from accepting passengers with alcohol, he tells you. OK, so you'll take the next cab. But the next driver waves you off, and the next.


On Oct. 6, the Daily Mail of London reported that two cab drivers had been fined for rejecting blind customers. In Melbourne, Australia, "at least 20 dog-aided blind people have lodged discrimination complaints" after similarly being refused service, the Herald Sun reported.


Daniel Pipes, director of the Middle East Forum, wrote about the MAC's two-light proposal in the New York Sun on the day its rejection was announced. While the proposal seemed like a common-sense compromise, he wrote, on a societal level, it has massive and troubling implications. Government sanction of a two-tiered cab system would amount to an acknowledgement that Shari'a, or Islamic law, is relevant to a routine commercial transaction in the Twin Cities. The MAC, a government agency, would be officially approving a signal that differentiates those who follow Islamic law from those who don't. And what if Muslim drivers demand the right not to transport women wearing short skirts or tank tops, or unmarried couples? After taxis, why not buses, trains and planes? Eventually, in some respects, our society could be divided along religious lines.

When a job puts someone in conflict with their religious beliefs, discrimination on the job is never an appropriate response. Once one group, be it Christians who refuse to dispense birth control or Muslims who refuse to accept certain passengers are given a free pass to discriminate then all groups must be allowed to discriminate based on their religious beliefs.

Once that happens, all sort of bigotry would flourish under the name of religious freedom.
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posted by Marcella Chester @ 11:21 AM   0 comments links to this post

First Anniversary Carnival of Feminists

Check out Carnival of Feminists No 25 at Philobiblon, which is the blog of Natalie Bennett who founded this carnival.

I'm thrilled to be included.

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posted by Marcella Chester @ 8:06 AM   0 comments links to this post

Thursday, October 19, 2006

The Sexual Education of Mark Foley

Washington Post: Priest Acknowledges Relationship With Foley

A retired priest from Malta acknowledged today that he had intimate contact with a youthful Mark Foley that involved nudity and -- on at least one occasion -- "light touching," but denied that he and Foley had "sexual intercourse." The Rev. Anthony Mercieca, in a telephone interview with The Washington Post from the Maltese island of Gozo, said he was surprised that his long-ago interaction with Foley had become linked to the scandal that erupted last month and cost the former congressman his job .


Mercieca told the Post that issues like molestation and sexual harassment are "in the eye of the beholder," and that Foley -- who was 12 or 13 at the time -- might have interpreted some of their contact "the wrong way." Mercieca said he is currently 69, meaning he would have been close to 30 at the time he served in Foley's Florida parish. During at least one encounter with Foley, "I was a little out of myself," Mercieca said, from using tranquilizers as a result of what the Sarasota paper described as a nervous breakdown. "The whole idea is . . . that I did something that he did not like, but at the time he did not say anything."

In no way does a history of abuse remove the responsibility from an abuser or an exploiter, but we should all see it as a problem when children are getting their most comprehensive sex education from exploiters. When sexual exploiters are the defacto educators, victim blaming will always be at the top of the agenda, but with a spin which obscures the ugly truth.

Understanding and respecting proper boundaries will always be off the exploiter's educational agenda.

When those around the sexual exploiter join in on the victim blaming and shaming, they are teaching the victims how they should get their sexual needs met. By mimicking their defacto teachers in order to:
  • Turn yourself into the child's close friend.
  • Exploit the child's needs and trust.
  • Find some action which you would never do to a child and call that real abuse.
  • Manipulate the child and the environment you and the child share.
  • Exploit in creative ways.
  • Keep an eye on what the adults around you will tolerate or shrug off as a misunderstanding.
  • Rationalize everything to avoid feeling guilty.
  • Tell yourself that real abusers use physical violence.
  • Use the child's positive feelings toward you as a weapon and as a way to feel good about yourself.
  • Tell yourself that you would die before hurting a child.
Leaving sexual education to the exploiters sets the stage for people paying it forward in the worst way.

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posted by Marcella Chester @ 1:09 PM   1 comments links to this post

Expunged Criminal Records That Won't Go Away

NY Times

In 41 states, people accused or convicted of crimes have the legal right to rewrite history. They can have their criminal records expunged, and in theory that means that all traces of their encounters with the justice system will disappear.

But enormous commercial databases are fast undoing the societal bargain of expungement, one that used to give people who had committed minor crimes a clean slate and a fresh start.

The data mining companies who sell personal information have a moral obligation to do more than collect information and sell it as is. They have, or should have, an obligation to correct factual errors and to correct obsolete information immediately upon proof that the data is no longer accurate. Quarterly or annual corrections are not enough.

If companies won't voluntarily keep their records up to date then they need to be legally compelled to do so with stiff fines to companies who don't promptly correct their inaccurate records or to those who don't have a system for correcting bad data.

While there are certain crimes I don't feel should be easy to erase if the person is actually guilty of that crime (especially crimes which involve serious personal risk to others) whatever system we have needs to work on a practical level.

Some database errors can make people largely unemployable. And doing that in error must not be acceptable.

If someone's record was expunged because that person was cleared of the charges, they should have the right to know that the commercial databases won't deliver a defacto reversal of the court's actions. Employers who use the results of database searches should be obligated to notify the potential employee of that result so the potential employee has the chance to prove that information wrong.

With the amount of identity theft going on, this problem has the potential to significantly impact people who have never been charged with a crime. Those who think this issue will never affect them may find out the hard way that they are wrong.

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posted by Marcella Chester @ 9:01 AM   2 comments links to this post

Is this what a secure border looks like?

People who are insistent that the US needs impenetrable borders seem to want borders that resemble the Berlin Wall. But is this really an acceptable solution for a nation that calls itself free?

Will we spend millions to build fully defendable borders and end up hearing some foreign leader proclaim, "Mr. President, tear down this wall. I understand the fear ..."

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

Wednesday, October 18, 2006

Why Aren't Victims More Cooperative?


A couple weeks later, police still can't find the victim to get a formal, written statement about what happened. To get that statement, police have repeatedly visited the victim's home and left phone messages for him. So far, they haven't heard back."We are talking about putting people in prison for a long time and the County Attorney has certain standards," explained Fossum. Police said what happened in this case is too common in other shooting cases. Cooperative victims sometimes have a change of heart. Others prefer their own form of violent "street justice".
This story caught my eye for several reasons. While this story focused on gun crimes in the most dangerous parts of Minneapolis, the issues are similar to the ones police encounter in domestic violence. In both cases, the puzzlement comes from seeing only certain parts of the situation.

As with the woman who has been attacked by her husband or another man in her life, a victim who cooperates with the police is taking great risks. The person under investigation has already demonstrated the willingness to use violence or the threat of violence to control others.

If the police or the criminal justice system fails, it's the victim who will most likely pay the price.

That means the police and the entire criminal justice system have to prove that the system is the best option for victims. It also means that the criminal justice system needs to look at how to keep victims who cooperate safe if or when the person charged with a crime is allowed out on bail.

Another element in understanding the full dynamics at play is the victim's daily life and how cooperating will disrupt that.

What might look to the police as the victim choosing danger or abuse over safety may be much more complicated in reality. Changing that basic reality is where many prevention programs make a positive impact on the level of crime. Unfortunately, prevention programs are often seen as an expensive luxury when they can be cheaper than purely reactive systems.

And of course there are the times when victims who cooperate with police find themselves treated like criminals but without any of the legal rights given to those accused of a crime.

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posted by Marcella Chester @ 3:08 PM   2 comments links to this post

Arrest Made In Arizona Fake Cop Rapes

An arrest has been made in the series of rapes committed on the Fort Apache Indian Reservation by a man posing as a cop. This is the case where a stranger rapist used strategies of the date rapist to prevent his victims from knowing he was a rapist until it was too late and appearing to be someone people don't think would commit rape therefore increasing the chances that his victims would expect to be called liars if they reported the rape.

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posted by Marcella Chester @ 8:07 AM   2 comments links to this post

Tuesday, October 17, 2006

Duke Rape Case: The Danger Of Screaming No Rape

HuffPost: The Danger of Screaming Race in Rape

... the bombshell admission on CBS's 60 Minutes by a friend of the black female student who claimed rape by a pack of white Duke University Lacrosse players that the rape may not have happened.


Women's groups should have taken the same wait and see approach to the case.

This admonishment to take a wait and see approach is ironic coming from someone who has decided he knows what really happened based on the 60 Minutes interviews designed by the interviewees to make the defendants look like they are not only not guilty of the crimes they've been charged with but that they are victims of a corrupt system which doesn't care about truth and justice.

It's carefully crafted melodrama. Yes, folks the villains in act one are shown in act two to be the victims. (Picture Nifong removing his white hat and stroking his long black curly mustache.) But what will happen in act three, the trial? Will our hapless victims turn out to be as villainous as they seemed in act one or will our innocent victim turn out to be an evil Jezebel?

The defense attorneys are hoping the show will close during the intermission.

I notice there is no similar admonishment directed at all those who "knew" from the moment they heard about this case that this allegation had to be a hoax perpetrated by these 2 evil strippers. As details of this case have emerged the justifications for how and why this "hoax" was perpetrated have shifted with the smoothness used to justify invading Iraq once the initial story fell apart.

Apparently, attacking alleged rape victims before trial is good citizenship, but defending alleged rape victims is bad citizenship.

And the so-called bombshell is doubt by a witness who from every detail I've read on the case was a co-worker and not a friend of the alleged victim as described in HuffPost and whose credibility was shredded by those who believe this is a hoax. First she was a co-conspirator then she was a greedy opportunist with a criminal past who would capitalize on her involvement and now she's an innocent bystander brave enough to do the right thing.

I know people can change, but that's pushing the boundaries of credibility.

In other places I've read people saying that the revelation that the alleged victim was back working as a stripper 2 weeks after the alleged rape proves she wasn't raped. But if something happened to anyone else and they didn't go to work again for 2 weeks, that gap would be significant.

Does it only become insignificant because of her job? Or because of stereotypes about rape?

Also what does this do to the credibility of those who said she came to the Duke lacrosse party already raped?

There were those who said she couldn't have been raped because there weren't blood splatters all over the bathroom walls. If any sexual violence that doesn't leave blood splatters on the walls isn't considered real rape, I would never want to be alone with people who hold that belief.

In years past far too many authorities routinely laughed off, victim blamed, or simply turned a blind eye to the cry of rape, the only exception to that was when a white woman fingerpoints a black man as the assailant.
This is still happening far too often and many of those who paint the Duke Rape Case as a hoax want to go back to those good old days when all but the most violent of rapists didn't have to worry about being arrested and treated like a criminal. They were just men who could say, "I was young, I was naive."

Those tempting women are the ones to blame. When they describe what happened to them as rape, they are lying.

Update: I just saw this quote from the second stripper describing (in her 60 Minutes intervew) what she said when she and the alleged victim briefly left the house: "And how he couldn't get it on his own and had to pay for it."

That resulted in her being called the N-word.

This shows me that those who called for dancers were really looking for prostitutes and were thinking that the payment for dancing included sex. In the selfish minds of the lacrosse players that could turn a gang rape after handing over money into nothing more than taking what had been bought and paid for.

These were just strippers after all so it wasn't like they had any moral reason for not giving the lacrosse players what they wanted to make their party special.

If that's the case then the lacrosse players are Johns who broke the law before the N-word was uttered. I'm sure verbal crudeness is the normal treatment many strippers experience so that alone isn't a red flag for rape.

Drunken entitlement and a feeling of superiority is not a valid rape defense. Too bad so many people who hear details of this case seem to think it is.

It's also interesting that in the 60 Minutes story there was nothing about the taxi driver's report of overhearing some lacrosse players talking about how she was just a stripper and wouldn't go to the police.

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posted by Marcella Chester @ 3:01 PM   8 comments links to this post

Three Strikes For Bars?


The City of St. Paul is considering a law that would hold rowdy bar owners accountable, revoking a bar's license after three incidents resulting in death or severe injury.
If rape isn't included in all anti-crimes law like this, it should. During my time as a volunteer victim advocate, there were definitely hotspots that were far much more dangerous for women.

For those who say bars shouldn't be punished for their patrons' behavior, then there could be a requirement to have the poor safety rating posted on all entrances.

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posted by Marcella Chester @ 11:25 AM   3 comments links to this post

This Is Why I'm For Legalized Abortion Across The Board

Media Matters

On the October 11 edition of his nationally syndicated radio show, Bill O'Reilly falsely claimed that it "is never the case" that a "mother's life is in danger" during the course of a pregnancy. In fact, there are several potential pregnancy complications that can threaten the life of a pregnant woman. For instance, an ectopic pregnancy, which the Mayo Clinic estimates occurs in "[a]bout one in every 40 to 100 pregnancies," is a condition in which the zygote, a fertilized egg, attaches itself outside of the uterus and "may destroy important maternal structures" with the potential to cause "life-threatening blood loss." According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), ectopic pregnancies "are the leading cause of pregnancy-related deaths in the first trimester." Additionally, other potential pregnancy complications, such as preeclampsia, which can cause HELLP syndrome and eclampsia, can also threaten the life of a pregnant woman.
This intentional blindness terrifies me because the so-called pro-life laws with their narrow exceptions for life-saving measures can end up killing women.

Some doctors will be afraid that if the woman lives after a medically-prescribed abortion that they will not have sufficient proof that an abortion actually saved the woman's life. So rather than risking their freedom they will wait and see for too long or they will do everythng possible not to treat women with high risk pregnancies and refer them to someone willing to take the risks.

I'm also disturbed by men who take leadership positions on this issue since it will never be their lives on the line. The lives they are risking will always be someone else's. But the lives of girls and women are not pawns in some political or religious game.

When this belief is combined with attitudes which deny most rapes and call domestic abuse a private matter and hold women responsible for men's sexual behavior, the result is that women are useful but replaceable. Lose one and nothing important is lost.

The story would be different if the anti-abortion legislation made it illegal for men to have unprotected* sex with women without the man having received the level of counseling often given to women considering abortions and without the woman's written legal consent (notarized of course) stating that she is willing to carry a pregnancy to term with this particular man.

The counseling could be given by clinics which advertise themselves as escort services for men. Lure them in with the idea of unprotected sex and then isolate them so the anti-abortion message gets through loud and clear. When they leave they will understand that men who have unprotected* sex are the leading cause of murder.

If a man's DNA is found inside a woman who hasn't signed a parental consent decree (Mommy To-Be decree), this anti-abortion law could make it an automatic felony.

None of this "he said, she said" issues would exist to muddy the case of attempted illegal fathering in the first degree. The sperm of product of the sperm would be the only evidence needed.

If the woman got pregnant, the criminal justice system could require the biological father to post a baby bond (large enough to cover the father's legal obligations for 18 years) before he'd be let out of jail. If the woman didn't get pregnant then the man could sign a plea deal in exchange for a vasectemy.

This fits perfectly into the worldview of those who think women have no right to be considered equal to men and have no right to choose an abortion. If we aren't equal, then men should have the greater legal responsibility for letting their sperm come in contact with a girl's or woman's eggs.

Since all pregnancies are to be carried to term, all girls and women should have free health care and free healthy meals and housing subsidies until they are certified as being beyond child bearing years. This would prevent the needless deaths of thousands of babies.

This system would surely reduce not only the number of abortions, it would reduce premarital sex and rape as well. I'm surprised nobody in the right-to-life movement has proposed laws like these.

Without the sperm no girl or woman can have an abortion.

Simple. Effective. Safe.

What law-abiding person would vote against laws like these?

Of course using this logic, the biological father would be charged with murder if the woman he got pregnant died from the pregnancy or complications of the pregnancy. Without the man's sperm she'd still be alive so he's criminally liable for her death -- unless he can prove in criminal court that he was raped.

* unprotected sex is defined as using any method which isn't 100% effective at preventing the creation of a fertilized egg and which can be ethically dispensed by all those in the medical profession.

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posted by Marcella Chester @ 12:03 AM   7 comments links to this post

Monday, October 16, 2006

Israeli President Subject Of Rape Charge Recommendation


Police recommended Sunday that Israeli President Moshe Katsav be charged with rape, sexual assault and fraud, the most serious charges ever to face an Israeli leader. The recommendation came at a meeting between police investigators and Attorney General Meni Mazuz. The final decision on whether to put the president on trial is up to Mazuz.


A police statement issued Sunday said the complaints were filed by "women who worked under his (Katsav's) authority." It said there was evidence he committed crimes of "rape, aggravated sexual assault, indecent acts without permission and offenses under the law to prevent sexual harassment."

The statement also said police found basis for charges of illegal wiretapping, and fraud and malfeasance in office in the case of pardons granted by the president.

Hopefully this case will proceed based on the merits of the case and not on politics. Since five women's cases are old enough to be beyond the statute of limitations, this man's behavior is habitual.

It will also be interesting to see who says he can't be a real rapist since he hasn't been accused of using threats of physical violence to get sex.

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posted by Marcella Chester @ 1:03 PM   0 comments links to this post

Suggestion On Carnival Against Sexual Violence

A question came in about allowing carnival participants to repost the carnival edition on their blog.

Here's my answer:

Currently participants and others who want to help get the word out about the carnival have posted a link to the carnival edition from their blog with comments, but not a full reprint.

I'm the organizer of this carnival and I don't want to have people posting a full word for word reprint.

What I can support is having participants and others include the links (and descriptions) which would be of interest to their blog readers along with a link to the carnival homepage and the carnival edition where the links came from. Of course, a link to my blog is always welcome.

That way if someone wants to focus on a particular subtopic, they can post links from the current and past editions and add their own commentary about a particular subject.

Then their readers can go to the carnival edition(s) to see all the links. This also gives those who have read the full carnival edition a good reason to check out all the blogs that link to that edition.

Rather than having copies of carnival editions out there, the carnival edition can serve as a starting point for further discussion.

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posted by Marcella Chester @ 9:10 AM   3 comments links to this post

Flaws In The Inevitability Of Sex Argument To Counter Abstinence Only Rhetoric

Pandagon: Plus orgasms increase worker productivity

... I see feminists making this argument often, but I also see it undermined a lot by what I'd call the "inevitability of sex" argument, which I'm guilty of making, too. It's usually in retaliation to the abstinence argument that wingers are so fond of, which is that women don't need reproductive freedom because we can shut our legs and that works 100% of the time. We then counter that abstinence might sound good in theory, but in reality it's not going to work and people are going to have sex.
The main topic of this post is a response to This Alternet article but this portion of the post brought back memories of my first interaction with feminists.

My hometown had a Planned Parenthood clinic and after being raped by my boyfriend (twice) I made an appointment there because I didn't know where else to turn. I was terrified of pregnancy and was generally terrified and full of shame when I snuck to the appointment I'd made. It felt like my world would shatter the rest of the way if anybody who knew me or my family saw me near this clinic.

The clinic staff didn't have a clue that I was a rape victim whose only sexual experience was 2 rapes (and lots of earlier attempts though I didn't label them as such until years later). They only asked if I was sexually active or not. Because of the possibility of pregnancy I had to say yes. There was no third option.

Rape crisis lines were beginning to crop up around the country but I'd never heard about any such thing and I doubt those at the clinic had any training on how to identify rape victims. So they made the assumption that my negative response to being sexually active was a societal matter.

I'd been brainwashed and they attempted to replace my sex-negative training with sex-positive thinking. Unfortunately for all of us, they were in effect trying to get me to have a more positive opinion of my rape experiences. Once it was confirmed that I wasn't pregnant, they gave me birth control and sent me on my way, assured that I'd finally be able to enjoy sex.

They didn't have a clue that they had heaped shame onto shame. Not only did I have the trauma of my rape, I felt bad for not liking it. I was basically told to go forth and enjoy myself sexually and to come back when I needed a refill on my birth control.

That advice was no more helpful than the minister who said I should repent for having premarital sex and abstain until marriage.

Since then most PP's understand their clients may be rape and/or sexual abuse victims, but many of the messages that are still being broadcast to dispel fundamentalist beliefs can send the same sort of message that I received all those years ago.

Something is wrong with you if you don't enjoy sex or shy away from it.

The intent of that message may be to say that the person has unresolved issues, but the wording can make it feel like a personal attack, like being told that you are a defective human being.

The message that nobody can avoid having sex unfortunately reinforces what boys and men can say when trying to steamroll over a girl or woman's boundaries. "Hey, it might as well be me." Some boys and men will even justify not stopping because "the feminists" say good girls don't have to wait for marriage.

Ignoring my beliefs about when I would choose not to have sex was no more respectful than those who ignore beliefs that don't match a church's teachings. Many people in both groups truly care about others and would never intentionally hurt others.

All I can do is try to keep myself among that number.

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

Sunday, October 15, 2006

Duke Rape Case Non-news: Accused Deny Charges

I consider the interviews airing on 60 Minutes this evening to be spin and decided not to watch them. What are the defendants going to say other than they were framed and this is the greatest miscarriage of justice since the invention of the wheel?

When it looked like the second dancer had changed her assessment of what might have happened to support the prosecutor's case, those who call this case a hoax said she wasn't credible for a variety of reasons including greed. Unless those reasons were a sham, she's no more credible if she makes the defendants look innocent without being required to be under oath.

After everything those who call this case a hoax said about the second dancer, how can I trust that she isn't being compensated for making the alleged victim look like a liar?

This quote from a preview of the interview caught my eye: "She obviously wasn't hurt . . . because she was fine," Roberts said.

"Fine" doesn't mesh with the evidence that the alleged victim was unconsious at the grocery store parking lot and unable to respond to the security guard's questions.

If the allegations are true then everything these defendants are moaning about were caused by their own actions and their PR efforts are designed to help them escape the consequences of those actions.

If the allegations are false then at this point there is so much spin out there that the taint the defendants complain about will only be removed by having juries find them not-guilty.

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posted by Marcella Chester @ 6:36 PM   1 comments links to this post

Republicans Pro Life Except In US Territory Northern Marianas Islands

With all of the news coverage surrounding the Abramoff scandals and Rep. Ney's (R-Ohio) guilty plea, there's one area I hadn't heard about before today when I watched Moyers on America: Capitol Crimes.

Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands

BILL MOYERS: American soldiers, sailors and marines fought hard to liberate the Northern Marianas during World War II. Today, this string of islands in the Pacific Ocean is U.S. territory, promoted as a tropical paradise with first class hotels, sandy beaches, and championship golf. But there are other realities here, too. Over the years, tens of thousands of people, primarily Chinese and mostly women, have been lured to the main island, Saipan, told they were coming to a job in America.
The disregard for human life and human dignity in these abuses is far more appalling than the publicized behavior by Jack Abramoff and his cronies which I had already thought of as an appalling abuse of power.

Slave Labor: Made in the U.S.A. (Excerpt)

Under the influence of disgraced super-lobbyist Jack Abramoff, former House Majority Whip Tom DeLay became an apologist for slave labor camps -- on American soil. Deep in a humid tropical island jungle, in poorly ventilated buildings ringed with barbed wire and patrolled by armed guards, impoverished Asian women -- most of them Chinese -- toil for 80 hours a week making brand-name apparel for export to the United States.


As is the case wherever the Chinese Communist Party claims jurisdiction, the female garment workers are subject to the regime's repulsive one-child policy. They are forbidden to marry or have boyfriends. Those who become pregnant are forced to have their children aborted.

(emphasis mine)

Daily Delay

As part of Abramoff's lobbying, Tom DeLay took a trip with his family and some staff members there in 1998. While there, as ABC News caught on tape, DeLay extolled the factories as the way capitalism ought to operate. When he returned he declared the Clinton Administration efforts to raise wages and clamp down on immigration dead on arrival.
That's right, a Right to Life Republican isn't so right to life when money can be made and power can be obtained at the expense of others. DeLay is gone, but his mentality isn't. Morality in public, exploitation in private.

Facade politics is what it should be called and it goes far beyond being a hypocrite with inconsistent views and becomes an outright scam heedless of those hurt by the scam.

When politicians put the interests of employers who deceive and exploit and imprison above the interests of those harmed because it benefits them personally and as a group, they show us what their values really are. Intential ignorance of the ugly details is no excuse because saying "How was I to know?" is just another part of the facade.

Update: From the LA Times:

Newly disclosed e-mails suggest that the ax fell after intervention by one of the highest officials at the White House: Ken Mehlman, on behalf of one of the most influential lobbyists in town, Jack Abramoff. The e-mails show that Abramoff, whose client list included the Northern Mariana Islands, had long opposed Stayman's work advocating labor changes in that U.S. commonwealth, and considered what his lobbying team called the "Stayman project" a high priority. "Mehlman said he would get him fired," an Abramoff associate wrote after meeting with Mehlman, who was then White House political director.
Now that's dedication. Too bad the dedication seems to be in opposition to human rights.

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posted by Marcella Chester @ 9:26 AM   1 comments links to this post