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Mo. House panel mulls voting for sex offenders – SFGate

Here’s a news story that makes me stop and scratch my head. Voting for sex offenders may soon be curtailed.

Current law prevents a registered sex offender from residing within 1,000 feet of a school or loitering within 500 feet of a school building. A spokeswoman for the Missouri Secretary of State’s office said registered offenders are not allowed to violate the state’s sex offender laws in order to vote.

via Mo. House panel mulls voting for sex offenders – SFGate.

Seems the MO house thinks that the imagined risk to a child is far more important than protecting the constitutional rights of a citizen. Even though this may well violate federal law prohibiting interference with the voting process.

I’m of two minds as they say.

First off it’s absolutely unbelievable that the MO house is taking up so much of it’s time to prevent a voter from perhaps sneaking a child in to the voting booth and sexually assaulting them while they ponder which lever to pull. Even if the threat was likely, or even reasonable, interfering with the voting process/rights of an individual isn’t something that we allow in this country.

So the other part of my mind is screaming ‘Yes, let them pass this law!’. Because I know, that even tho it may be a painful and expensive process this simply couldn’t stand up to constitutional muster.

Judge dismisses porn case against Minn. coach

A Minnesota football coach sidelined by accusations of child pornography involving his own children reacted with relief Friday after a judge dismissed the case, saying he was “thankful to be waking up from this nightmare.”

via Judge dismisses porn case against Minn. coach.

Well finally common sense prevails for Todd Hoffner, the head coach at Minnesota State-Mankato that we wrote about back in late August. Seems the judge hearing the case was a bit more in tune with the real world than the police and prosecutor handling the case.

While the legal battle may be over for Todd and the family is breathing a little bit easier; there’s no doubt in my mind that this will have a lasting effect on the Hoffner family. Todd now has to return to the real world; where prejudices and judgement don’t always follow the legal ruling.

Even if Todd never has to deal with the inevitable questions and outright dislike that others are going to display; there’s still the self doubt and anxiety that he’ll feel every time he start’s to take a picture of his kids. Having lived through it before he’s well aware of the fact that most innocent thing can be taken out of context, manipulated, and used against you.

Todd, I know my apology can’t make up for the months of doubt, uncertainty, fear, and anguish that you and your family have endured. But please accept it anyway.

Convicted sex offender found dead in pond near Conway | WBTW

Back in June we posted a story about a TV station in South Carolina that felt it was appropriate to title a news story about a tragic drowning accident with “Registered Sex Offender Drowns in Lake”. I added a call to action to let that station (WLTX.com) know that we felt the title and story was sensational and callous.

Our actions then led to the station pulling the news story entirely. But apparently this is common journalistic practice in South Carolina; only yesterday WBTW in South Carolina posted a similar story and title.

From the comments it seems that there may be more to this story. Hopefully the police will do their jobs despite the fact that the victim was a RSO. But regardless of the possibility of a crime being committed we need to let WBTW know that this style of ‘journalism’ isn’t acceptable.

I invite and encourage you to read the article and leave a comment at the WBTW website.

The form below will send an email directly to the General Manager and the Community Liaison.

Call to Action - WBTW in Conway, SC

This petition is now closed.

End date: Oct 28, 2012

Signatures collected: 1

1 signature

Minn. coach’s child porn case tests investigators – Boston.com

An interesting article at Boston.com, it seems that Minnesota football coach Todd Hoffner was arrested for child pornography charges as the result of what he, and his wife, are calling innocent family photos found on his employer issued cell phone. Of course the photos aren’t being released to the public so no one reporting on the case can make any kind of judgement on the pictures at all; that will be left up to the prosecutor and whatever twisted or convoluted bias that they may have.

But what really caught my eye is a quote of Parry Aftab, a New Jersey attorney and online child safety advocate.

A naked child in the bathtub is not pornography by itself, she said, but a nude girl with her legs spread or a boy touching his genitals meets that definition.

via Minn. coach’s child porn case tests investigators – Boston.com.

Now I have to start off by saying I’m not a parent, so no kids of my own. But I grew up in a large family as the second oldest, which means that I was often responsible for taking care of my younger brothers and sisters. So I do have a bit of perspective on how both male and female children act and play.

The quote above just absolutely floors me!

It implies that if a girl sits with her legs spread or a boy touches himself that it’s automatically sexual.

Now when I was taking care of younger siblings: either bathing, dressing, or getting them ready for bed, the girls often sat with their legs spread and the boys touched their genitals. Both actions are perfectly natural and more importantly totally innocent.

I mean come on, if you’ve every undressed or bathed a boy I’d be willing to bet you that the first thing they did was to reach down and grab hold or scratch themselves. From my experience it’s a common trait with boys; perfectly innocent and totally not a sexual or erotic act.

But this ‘child safety advocate’ and many, many others want to portray such an act as overtly sexual. They want to claim that children don’t or won’t do such things unless they have been taught to do so by exposure to sexual play or the result of grooming.

Now I know that sexual abuse of children happens. I certainly understand the desire and need to protect children, and yes in some cases even from their parents.

But have we honestly gotten to the point that we, as a society, expect someone to be arrested if a child touches themselves or sits with their legs apart?

As a child myself I never considered my younger siblings actions to be sexual, and as an adult I certainly don’t look back at it with any different point of view.

Or did I just completely miss the boat? Was every innocent action that I saw as a child an overt sexual gesture?

I don’t think so! I didn’t then and I don’t now.

Is this case honestly a question of child pornography, grooming or sexual abuse of a child?

Or is this perhaps the result of an overzealous and over sensitized approach to sex?

Children touch themselves, they sit with their legs spread, and boys get erections. It’s not always sexual and it’s not always a result of grooming or abuse.

So the real question here is; are we the adults imparting our own prejudices, perspectives, and misgivings on to what may well be perfectly normal and natural childhood behavior?

 

The Media, Facebook, and Law Enforcement

More on the media, well in this case social media and in particular Facebook. Two news articles this week about law enforcement and social media, both highlight misuse and abuse of position and office by either their inaction or very personal action in the name of a government agency.

First off there’s this article ‘Police Chief’s Facebook Letter Raises Eyebrows’

It reads, “Dear Twice-Convicted Sexual Predator, You are not a man. You are a male by chromosomes and DNA; however, you are not a man and you have no honor.”

He continues, “You are lucky. Consider yourself fortunate that this great country has “become refined” and that we are “too advanced” for a good old-fashioned public hanging…I would pull the lever myself and watch the bottom drop out. After that I would head home, have a big meal and sleep like a baby. Believe it.”

Brimfield Township (Ohio) Police Chief David Oliver uses the official police department Facebook page to spew toxic personal opinions. While I certainly don’t agree with his comments had they been posted on his personal page rather than the official page of a government agency I’d not even be commenting about it.

Oliver is entitled to his opinion but these comments and the underlying attitude from, and in the voice of a government leader is disturbing to say the least. Considering his leadership role I have no doubt that they indicate a systemic problem with the police department and his employees. One that may well indicate the widespread abuse of civil rights and the outright disregard for the rule of law.

Then this ‘When is an opinion an actual threat online?’

The Lonoke County Sheriff’s Department in AK posts pictures and notices of sex offender registration on it’s official Facebook page. Now either you agree with Sex Offender Registration laws or you don’t, but bottom line here is that posting this information is both legal and the responsibility of the sheriff’s office. But I’m not debating that here; what’s at issue is the disturbing comments, thinly veiled threats, and harassment of those posting in reply. You can view the official Facebook page here.

Chief Deputy White says, “They are discussing, they ought to go out and use them as target practice, and no one is specifically making a threat when you read these statements.”

White goes on in the article to say that they will be removing the offending comments and moderating the content. Twenty four hours later that has yet to happen.

While legally these comments may not be considered ‘threats’ in Arkansas their very nature and content is threatening, harassing, and intimidating. If you’d been the target of these comments I’m sure you would agree.

Nonetheless the Sheriff’s refusal to moderate and approve such comments before they are made public is in essence an approval of the comments and the threatening behavior; support by inaction. If the Sheriff was truly interested in protecting and serving all of the counties citizens he would have put a stop to this long ago.

As it is they have ruled the comments legal and have yet to moderate and/or delete them as promised in the article.

 

 

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