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January 05, 2006

Comments

It's the self-righteous voyeur, in us all, that creates these situations.

(some of that slave-morality Freddy talked about)

Then there's the Fox News post-9/11 version.

I'm similarly worried about the localities listing sex offenders' home addresses on websites after their release from prison, especially since the definition of "sex offender" seems often to be very broad and encompasses people who don't seem to be a threat to the community.

I think Neodude has it right. There is a tendency toward what I call "Safe voyeurism" in this whole thing.

In the first incident you mention there is that sense of hypocrisy which may be involved, but even if there wasn't, any involvement of a public figure in this tyope of situation draws crowds, something along the line of flies around you know what.

I did not see the Dateline you mentioned, but this type of thing has been going on for ages. A couple questions I do have about that show revolve around the degree to which the identity of the people who showed up was dispalyed. In other words, were the faces blurred or were names provided.

I would think the latter, without consent of the people would be in some sort of violation of the law.

But then the media has always struck for the lowest common denominator. I have always detested the interviewer who asks someone who just lost a family member how he/she feels at that moment.

That to me is really obscene.

Edward, I think we've seen disagreements on this before.

Particularly in the NBC case, it's a no-brainer. These guys deserved every bit of shame they got. "Shame" is not fundamentally wrong in all cases, is it?

As for the anti-gay gay pastor, well, hypocrisy deserves what it gets. Would you feel the same about a KKK leader who got "outed" as Jewish? (That happened btw ... I wrote a letter to the editor applauding the new "equal-opportunity" Klan.)

IIRC there's "sexual predator" as a designation, which means something more specific and threatening than "sex offender". That might not be in use everywhere, though.

OTOH there are plenty of people WITHOUT that designation that I'd want my kids to steer clear of. Sexual battery on child under 12 is, in my opinion, a completely different sort of thing than the borderline statutory-rape cases you hear about.

I would think the latter, without consent of the people would be in some sort of violation of the law.

Why?

I would think the latter, without consent of the people would be in some sort of violation of the law.

No disguising of the people at all. In fact, the case that got us most upset at Dateline was the one where they identified the man as a local rabbi.

These guys deserved every bit of shame they got. "Shame" is not fundamentally wrong in all cases, is it?

Where would you draw the line then Anderson? Should their pictures be plastered on Billboards, or, more in keeing with the theme of the post, should they have some warning sign tattooed across their foreheads?


As for the anti-gay gay pastor, well, hypocrisy deserves what it gets.

Learn that in one of the four Gospels, did you?

Would you feel the same about a KKK leader who got "outed" as Jewish?

I believe some information is appropriate, but national attention for what is a local issue represents something more than that to me. It signifies an unhealthy voyuerism, as NeoDude notes. In other words, as much as you feel they deserve it, it reflects badly on us.

Regarding the first case (the second one seems pretty clear-cut as a case of tabloid media run amok)--I'm struggling with this one.

viscerally I object to the mass media public humiliation of people arrested for lewdness

No argument there. Last week, as part of his year-end wrap-up, Keith Olbermann did a whole piece on the most embarrassing mug shots of 2005, with the founder of The Smoking Gun providing commentary. It was really disconcerting. The phrase "Kick 'em when they're down" doesn't do it justice...more like "Cover them in shit and then take pictures!" And this was on one of cable's "serious" "news" programs.

Of course he reportedly encouraged that in order to try to convince gays that they can become heterosexual "if they accept Jesus Christ as their savior and reject their 'sinful, destructive lifestyle,"' which I object to because it's harmful and wrong-headed, but it seems to me this fella may have really just wanted to believe that might be true too much more than he wished to harm anyone else.

While I greatly admire your "propensity for empathy," Edward_, I can't go there with you. I honestly don't care whether "he wished to harm anyone else." The fact is that he did do harm, and that harm is compounded by his flagrant hypocrisy to the point where I can't dredge up much of anything in the way of empathy.

My head tells me that "Two wrongs don't make a right." My heart, on the other hand, is with the young gay folk whose lives were made that much more miserable because of the good pastor. And my heart says that a little media feeding frenzy & public humiliation doesn't even begin to redress the balance.

Great food for thought--I look forward to reading more reactions.

Just remembered the posting rules. Apologies for my four-letterism.

This is hardly the example for the point you are making, for which I am sympathetic. Your point involves those laws that purposefully advertise the fact of conviction beyond the normal public airing they get, in the hope that fear of shame from such increased publicity will deter further crime. That issue is not present here.

Criminal proceedings are always public proceedings. If you are arrested, that fact is in the public domain, and it should be. The trial ia also public -- it should not be something that one could, at one's option, keep secret.

This guy's arrest is significant for his hypocrisy, rather than because he is somehow being flogged publicly for his apparent crime (which is prostitution, for which the homosexuality is incidental). He has willingly placed himself in the spotlight both as a moral authority and as an advocate against homosexuality -- how can he complain that the same publicity that he sought has now turned on him because of his hypocritical behavior? The publicity would not exist but for his very public position against homosexuality.

...intellectually, I know I might lose this argument, if I'm honest...

Do you have a day gig in the Bush Administration?

Do you have a day gig in the Bush Administration?

Well! I NEVER!

How dare you, sir...how dare you????

;-)

On the pastor: I'll show some empathy for the Reds when they show some for anyone. Welcome to the idea of a social contract.
On the people meeting children: are you kidding? I'm uncomfortable with stings, but these people got off easy - it sounds like the sum total of their punishment was shame. Dollars to doughnuts says you can find a number of people stung by the police for the same facts who would trade their jail cell for shame.

I have to admit that viscerally I object to the mass media public humiliation of people arrested for lewdness.

The thought just occurred that there's another very compelling reason you might have mentioned for your objection: "lewdness" is a fairly flexible category. At one point in the not-too-distant past, "public lewdness" could encompass two men dancing together in a bar--and when the bars were raided, the men might be photographed on their way into the paddy wagon to "teach them a lesson."

I guess I'm with dmbeaster. You have an excellent point to make about the public humiliation, via the media, of people accused of crimes. The case in Tulsa, alas, is not a very compelling way of making it.

About not disguising identities as being against the law, this was not a case of exposing businesses. These were private individuals and although criminal cases may end up resulting from this, this was not a legal (meaning conducted by law enforcement) investigation.

If legal charges result then perhaps names etc could have been provided.

I think the issue is not just if some of this stuff should be covered (considering both cases) but the manner in which they get covered. It appears that everything needs to be presented in the most sensationalistic way possible.

But again, this applies to just about everything, from the war to weather. Common sense reportage is no longer present.

I think shame has its place, but the bit we're missing nowadays isn't the publicity -- it's the reaction to it, in many cases. It used to be that scandals -- even those involving financial misdeeds rather than sex -- would lead to the guilty resigning and being shunned by polite society, rather than getting a book deal and making a tearful appearance on Oprah. I'm not saying I want to bring back shame-based suicides, but we could stand being a little more Japanese about some things.

Of course, that doesn't apply to cases where the guilty party isn't famous and ends up being the target of a mob.

On the people meeting children: are you kidding? I'm uncomfortable with stings, but these people got off easy

Did you see it? First of all, the police did follow-up with most of them and cases against them were pending, but the looks on their faces when they realized they were being videotaped by NBC...it was excruciating. Perhaps I just have no stomach for shaming other people...or perhpas I just tend to believe in the adage about those with no guilt casting the first stones.

I'm not saying I'm right...just that watching these things unfold makes me cringe, and yes, despite what they've done, feel a bit sorry for those people. Why can't they pay their due to society with some semblance of dignity intact? Why do we have to totally dehumanize them?

The rabbi was the worst...he looked like a trapped animal. Yes he needed to be not doing what he was doing, but why does the whole nation have to pile on and add to his shame? It was the worst kind of gratuitous sensationalism...totally revolting.

Where would you draw the line then Anderson? Should their pictures be plastered on Billboards, or, more in keeing with the theme of the post, should they have some warning sign tattooed across their foreheads?

Well, the latter falls more within the State's province. But why are you so soft on the problem here? These guys were answering invitations to have sex with kids.

Learn that in one of the four Gospels, did you?

Christian ethics are not yet the law of the land. Would *I* out the guy? Nope.

Do I cry because someone who was cheerful in casting the first stone has now been shown to be most decidedly *not* without sin? Nope.

Is it the gay aspect that bothers you? What if he'd been a crusader for "family values" and had been exposed for trying to pick up a female hooker? Same reaction?

Of course, it's possible to confuse tenderheartedness with ethics.

I suspect Edward would be uncomfortable watching anyone being punished, period. That's fine & civilized, but it's not an argument against punishment (is it?).

But why are you so soft on the problem here?

Not on the crime...if he is guilty, lock him away for as long as the law allows...but why spit on him along the way? That, again, reflects more poorly on us.

Is it the gay aspect that bothers you? What if he'd been a crusader for "family values" and had been exposed for trying to pick up a female hooker? Same reaction?

I would hope I'm that consistent, yes. I wasn't thrilled about Swaggert's humiliation, as I recall.

I suspect Edward would be uncomfortable watching anyone being punished, period.

Not true. I know right from wrong and understand the importance of punishment. I like to think that punishment is not the same as humiliation though. One should be able to accept responsibility for what they've done, express believeable regret, accept their punishment, and return to society with some semblance of dignity. This need to pile on humiliation aspect to the whole thing seems barbaric to me.

The problem for me is that two separate things have gotten rolled together.

1. I do believe in exposing the sin of calculated public deceit, that is, lying. People who are themselves guilty of the vices they denounce as marking others as evil should be exposed for it.

2. I don't believe in the ever-escalating cycle of evenge. Partly because I do believe both in rehabilition and in erring on the side of caution when it comes to punishment in perpetuity. The stuff about sex offender registries and such isn't justice, a lot of the time, it's revenge. It provides no room for people to come to terms with their lives and (if any) crimes, and move past the condition they were in when they did their wrongs.

But balancing the two is hard, and as always, wshat seems obvious to me won't to you. Or vice versa.

Lots of people want to be "tough on crime!" "Let's make shame him in front of everyone!" "Throw him in jail for a long time!"

Then, a family member or a friend gets in trouble, and they realize that the defendant is an actual human being. The next thing you know, they are saying "he doesnt need jail. He needs help."

Of course, despite my best wishes for myself, I would be thrilled to see Pat Robertson caught in some sex scandal and very publicly humiliated.

I am weak.

Edward, first I think you would be consistent, because the issue is not about homosexuality, especially in the second case.

There are also two very different dynamics involved in these two cases. In the first the main issue is hypocrisy, which is not a crime in and of itself. There are also those who would argue that what he was doing should not be a crime at all.

And to some degree there is a political undercurrent to this. I really doubt this pastor was tolerant of Clinton's behavior.
And there is some degree of payback. Not justification, just explanation.

Besides, the public loves to wallow in the humiliation of the high and mighty. What that says about the public I leave to others to decide.

The second case is really quite different. These are people who are scum and who are a danger to others in society. Hopefully, many of them will face the legal system, and if found guilty, will face appropriate punishment.

The question here is if the ends justifies the means. Does public exposure, prior to legal proceedings, including arrest, serve a sufficient enough function to be justified?

Does the stated purpose of the freport, to alert parents to what is out there necessitate the actual disclosure of identities.

I have no real sympathies with these men, in afct I don't even have fake sympathies for them. My concern is more one of what does this all say about us as a society?

And to that, I don't have any answers.

I'm somewhat uncomfortable with sting operations run by the police - are they creating crime? are they discriminating in who they tempt? - but for "news" organizations to run fake stings against the general public disturbs me.

If Slart has Scarlett Johansen (sp?) knock on my door and seduce me while secretly filming events with a bugged hairclip, then sends the tape to my wife, who's at fault? If I call up von and tell him I've got some designer suits that fell off the back of a truck, then publish a picture of him handing me a hundred bucks for a Fioravanti, then something or other.

I have no real sympathies with these men,

That's the heart of it really. When they showed these men walking into the space we were gasping and recoiling...look at them..the monsters!

Once they were caught though, and the fear replaced the arrogance on their face, my reaction changed. Perhaps it was mostly imagining what agony it was going to be for their families to watch this, but I think it was also just seeing that this person, who was still human, wasn't just being caught in the act of something reprehensible, but they were having whatever evil seed inside them that leads them to do so exposed for the whole world to see...it was existentially cruel somehow.

I mean hopefully it served to make someone else considering doing the same thing stop in their tracks, but it was like watching them get disemboweled. It hurt.

If Slart could convince Scarlet Johansen to, er, make herself available, do you really think he'd come knocking at your door, rilkefan?

I was sort of assuming she's a rabid poetry enthusiast, much like Kiera Knightly and Uma Thurman.

I'd still try to keep her for myself, rilke. If I weren't married and bechildered, that is.

I don't know why shame is so strongly linked to sexual behavior and not to behaviors which are potentially so much mre harmful.. Why no TV show wherein we get to throw garbage at Enron exes? I want to see Karl Rove in handcuffs on TV! I'm all in favor of public shaming but I have a different notion of who the monsters are.

Just to stir the pot a little further, Edward_, I'm wondering why you specified "people arrested for lewdness" in your original post. Because this kind of "shaming" approach certainly isn't limited to crimes relating to sex. Nick Nolte's mug shot after his drunken driving arrest is practically iconic at this point, after all.

Now, about that Olbermann segment: the "worst mugshot of the year" was a guy who was arrested huffing metallic gold spray paint in the aisle of a hardware store. So naturally the mugshot shows him with a blob of shiny gold paint covering the bottom half of his face. Funny stuff, right?

Then you start to think about what a living hell this guy's life must have been in the days and weeks leading up to this. We're talking the bottom of the drug-addiction food chain here. And you start to wonder whether he has a wife or children, and if so, whether their lives must be as hellish as his, if not moreso. And then you reflect on a "news" industry that chooses to crown all this human wreckage with a dollop of public humiliation, turning this man into a figure of ridicule for millions of people, like the cherry on top of a sundae.

This was not a rich man or a celebrity--no "How the mighty have fallen" Schadenfreude to be had here. Nor, to my knowledge, was he out fulminating at town meetings against the evil of huffing the day before, so the hypocrisy angle is presumably absent. Just a poor SOB thrown into the meat grinder, for our titillation and amusement.

And then you think, "This is funny...how, exactly?"

Long story short, Edward_, I think you're scratching the surface of something very disturbing about our society here--and the examples are legion.

I'm wondering why you specified "people arrested for lewdness" in your original post. Because this kind of "shaming" approach certainly isn't limited to crimes relating to sex. Nick Nolte's mug shot after his drunken driving arrest is practically iconic at this point, after all.

Laziness mostly. Originally I was only going to write about the Tulsa pastor and that's what he was arrested for, but then I remembered the Dateline show and grafted that on it, without going back to edit carefully.

Uncle Kvetch - you're right in that this is just scratching the surface of something elemental in our society.

Before there started being mandatory sentencing of drunk drivers, there was a lot of screaming about how light some of the penalties were that were placed either by the courts or juries.

Lawyers will frequently have their clients ask for jury trials. A major reason is the same reason that we tend to react to this type of stuff.

There is a sense of relief at the comedic, such as the case you present. There is that "There but for the grace of God" reaction.

Plus, it serves to make us think we are more moralistic than we might really be in our real lives. We kid ourselves with the "I would never do that" type of thinking. And sure, we might not solicit sex with minors, of huff gold paint, but I defy anyone to say they woudl have no problem with having everything they have ever done up on public display.

I distinguish between victimless crimes (or at least, crimes where the victim is you) and pedophiles.

I mean, come on---these guys wanted to have sex with kids, and we're concerned they were humiliated? We're sorry for them as prey when they were actually trying to be predators.

Better now than when they're being arrested for doing the real thing.

One of them commits suicide? Better than the child he would've molested killing himself/herself.

So I am just on a different planet here, I guess. I can feel sympathy for them, but it's heavily outweighed.

There's a couple of things going on here beyond the simple 'did they deserve it or not'. The first is that with these tabloid pieces, you have a group of people appointing themselves as defenders of what is right and good. This moralism goes on when they refuse to speak truth to power. Why don't they try a sting on Novak or Bennett?

There is also the aspect of fear mongering for which they are trying to boost their ratings. We can argue whether these guys deserve it or not, but the bottom line is not that NBC has served the public good, but that they are only doing this because they want to boost ratings. This creates the dichothomy that forces Edward to defend the guys who get busted if he wants to take issue with what the media is doing. It's a neat trick, but that is all it is, a trick, and people who want to talk about this should avoid getting sucked into the dichothomy.

As far as blurring faces and such, here in Japan, they are very strict about doing that, but it only seems to feed into the vicarious release so that when they can reveal their faces, they can put it on TV 24/7.

Then you start to think about what a living hell this guy's life must have been in the days and weeks leading up to this.

Yes, well, that the thing, isn't it? You (i.e., Uncle Kvetch) start to think about it. And that speaks well of you. Most of us don't, though. At least, sufficient numbers of us don't that this sort of thing makes for successful TV. And that speaks ill of our species.

The first is that with these tabloid pieces, you have a group of people appointing themselves as defenders of what is right and good.

I kind of think that's it. Watching the Dateline reporter so smugly question the men who came to the house, as if anyone had elected him a judge, made we want to smack that smirk off his face. Who gave him the authority to decide their punishment was the humiliation he put them through? Let the police confront them if the segment is important enough a public service to do. There was this schmuck waltzing out to confront and judge these people, knowing all the while what they didn't, that it was all be recorded, and lording over them as if he some God-given right to do so.

They could have accomplished their objective of demonstrating the danger to the nation's children by video taping the men entering the house to then find some warning that they were being taped and then given the tape to the cops. But they didn't do that, because what made better television was to have the suited reporter enter to then humiliate them. That reporter doesn't have the experience or authority we place in the hands of either the police or the courts to know how to handle that situation. It was the grossest sort of gratuitous ratings grabbing.

The idea that anything the media can dream up to humiliate them is fair game because of what they were doing strikes me as dangerous.

I'm not sure where I stand on this general issue, but I noticed one rather unsettling thing when reading this thread: the comments that implied that because the people involved were (alleged) pedophiles, basically they had no rights, and were not entitled to decent treatment.

Now I've been around long enough to recognize that we (the American public?) always identify some kind of "worst" criminal, and to remember when this was NOT the pedophile. It was the Communist. It was the Drug Pusher. It was the Serial Killer. Now it *is* (also) the Terrorist. It was/is someone else who is SO bad that he (almost always male) is beyond the law, beyond redemption, beyond rights, beyond the need for us to display even fundamental human decency. Because he's EVIL.

Now I am not arguing the case for pedophilia, or Communism (with a capital "C"), or drug pushing, or serial killing, or terrorism. But I am uncomfortable with the kind of thinking that immediately fixates on whatever the Worst Possible case is and uses that as a basis for disputing the universality of rights or morality. Because next time around "they" (whoever they are) may decide that the Worst Possible criminal is the Bloviating Retired Professor, and then I'm in trouble.

Now I am not arguing the case for pedophilia, or Communism (with a capital "C"), or drug pushing, or serial killing, or terrorism.

Ahh, but you are because if you ain't against it, you're for it. At least that's my understanding of public discourse in the US. 8^(

I had a similar moment to Edward's when I saw a breathless CNN report about how convicted sex offenders were working as motel managers! They had keys to rooms where your loved ones were staying! Oh, the horror!

Have we always been this pathetic?

"Have we always been this pathetic?"

History suggests that people generally are, yes.

This is one reason I don't regard religion as an altogether bad influence in human history. It's quite imperfect, but lacking better alternatives, it's tended to help more than it has harmed, although this definitely is not the case at many specific times. (Note for the slow: this is a comment on ten thousand years of history, not a prescription for today or any specific place today.)

My own good news is that there's quite a lot of non-patheticness to be found both in history and today.

I'm also with drngo, because I'm a pedophile.

Oh, wait, I'm not at all, in the slightest.

But when we're pointing at green monkeys, I'm a green monkey. When they come to round up the Niebuhrs, I'm a Niebuhr. Whatever fits the fashion of the day and the fashionably accused.

Because I'm so damned noble. What the hell, it's something to do.

Once they were caught though, and the fear replaced the arrogance on their face, my reaction changed. Perhaps it was mostly imagining what agony it was going to be for their families to watch this, but I think it was also just seeing that this person, who was still human, wasn't just being caught in the act of something reprehensible, but they were having whatever evil seed inside them that leads them to do so exposed for the whole world to see...it was existentially cruel somehow.

I saw the show and, though I didn't have much sympathy for the guys, I did have some sympathy for their families and children. Respect for them is why I ultimately agree with Ed and think that this show crossed the line. (Incidentally, to answer a question earlier in the thread, they might have colorably causes of action against Dateline under some sort of invasion of privacy claims.)

As for the Rabbi: I did feel some sympathy for him when his excitement over a potential sexual rendezvous turned into a nationally-televised nightmare. It was uncomfortable to watch him squirm, particularly since he wasn't monstrous in any respect but seemed like the kind of guy who, in virtually any other circumstance, could be a colleague or friend. (Though unfair, one tends to feel more sympathy for those one perceives as one's peers.) And he clearly knew that what he was doing was wrong. But, again, the man traveled to a house in hopes of having sex with a thirteen year old boy (IIRC). Sympathy (for him) only goes so far.

Sympathy (for him) only goes so far.

Agreed. And the missing element in determining how far of course was the existence of the "13 year old." It may have been easier to feel sorry for the rabbi because we knew there was no actual child in danger there. Had there been one, I probably wouldn't have been as sympathetic.

Without doing a lengthy comparison of the position of others as compared with mine, here's my take:

The media should be respectful of the legal process, of course, but there's not much that constrains it any more than keeping the cameras out of the courtrooms.

The law, on the other hand, ought to be substantially less merciful, especially where pedophiles are concerned. But maybe I've just read far too much Andrew Vacchs.

It may have been easier to feel sorry for the rabbi because we knew there was no actual child in danger there.

If one neglects to consider the next time said rabbi trolls for fresh meat, perhaps.

I'm particularly uncomfortable with any situation that has people who predate on children in a position of trust in that regard. Just as I have issues with wife-beaters who preside in family court.

Slarti

I totally agree with you in a vaccuum, but watching him "squirm," as von put it, was incredibly uncomfortable.

I've yet to see anyone who saw the program not say the same. And those who translate that discomfort and the resulting feelings of sympathy for the guys as approving of their actions somehow grossly miss the point. I don't approve of murder, but I'd recoil from the sight of a murderer being stoned to death by an angry mob. This sort of humiliation ambush is similarly hard to watch.

The alternative assertion arising from folks who can't seem to separate the two is that because they disapprove of these guys' actions any fate that befalls them is fine. And I guess I can understand that feeling, but watching what befalls them, relishing in it, essentially using it as entertainment...again, for me that's barbaric.

In the NBC case -- what would prevent a truly violent and evil sex offender from holding them up at gunpoint, then raping the reporter and camera crew?

The police are involved in criminal investigations for one reasons: Criminals, by definition, harm others. There are men out there who'd have no problem assualting and killing for sport, *then* leaving the tape in the camera to be aired nationally, for the kick of it.

To sum, that Dateline crew seems really, really, really dumb. Like Darwin Award stupid.

I think that there does have to be some type of morality play that reminds grownups that adolescents and children ought to be left alone. Popular entertainment is doing a very poor job of this. Think R Kelly, or Woody Allen. Creepy. If teenagers are messing around, they should be messing around with teenagers.

On the other hand, putting an 18 or 19 year old on some sort of sex offender registry for having an affair with 15 or 16 year old seems kind of ridiculous.

"vaccuum,"

I let this pass as a typo several times, but since it keeps being repeated, it's clearly not a typo.

Vacuum. Vacuum. Vacuum.

I have a long list of words I have to check each time I try to write them, myself. Honest. Google works well for this, when in doubt. Just reverse vacuuming, though obviously not sucking up.

Besides, how many other English words use a double "u"? Not many, I think. Makes it memorable, at least for me, and perhaps in future for thee.

Work as a professional proofreader, and this stuff will be as painful for thee as for me. I only wish. Okay, not for the pain for thee. Just for the stopping the pain for me, because I'm all about the selfish there.

Oh, joy, Typepad isn't working here, either.

Signing out and trying without their damnedandforsaken registration.

Is there any chance that anyone, ever, might fix the ObWings/Typepad software so it works?

"Think R Kelly, or Woody Allen."

Dunno about Mr. Kelly, but the charge that Mr. Allen did anything with or to "adolescents and children" is simply blatantly false and slanderous. Regardless of what one might think of his interactions with someone over 18.

Nor has he ever portrayed, so far as I'm aware, an adult having any sort of sexual relationship with someone under the age of 18. Remotely.
I kindly invite you to reconsider the charge, DaveC.

It's an extremly scurrilous charge to make about someone.

Withdrawn to 17, since that's the age of the Tracy character in Manhattan, with my apologies.

Life is pain, Gary, even in a vvaaccuumm!

You'd probably be impressed with how many words I actually do look up...I'm just arrogant enough to sometimes believe that I know how to spell something I actually don't. My general feeling about that, though, is if I spell it incorrectly enough times, eventually I'll have rights to say it's an acceptable alternative spelling that the OED should just get over itself and publish. (Did I mention my arrogance problem?)

"(Did I mention my arrogance problem?)"

I'd never mention my own, because of the complete fame of my famous modesty.

I'll be quite willing to grant you rights to your own spelling when you write Finnegans Wake. Meanwhile, I am a sad and pained pissant. (Who doesn't even have to look up "Finnegans," but does, in fact, look up many other words, constantly.)

My new quest is to get you to at least put a space after the three periods of your ellipses that don't conclude a sentence without four periods.

Three makes the ellipsis. The period ends the sentence. Four altogether. The spacing online is subject to which style guide one adopts, and thus I won't quibble with choices there. Three and one makes it right.

I only say this because I love you, you know. And because I have no life. I'm sure we all know this.

You seem to be doing a pretty good job of making the most of this life, Gary. You're a far sight more engaged and curious than the average American. Even if you refuse to accept that blogging expediency demands a bit more leniency on grammatical rules and such. ;-)

"You seem to be doing a pretty good job of making the most of this life, Gary."

That's one way of describing the fact that I'm reading this with a towel over my head and the monitor, as my new only way to make out what's on my screen until a bit past 4 p.m.

:-)

3-4 hours: that's not so bad, I guess. It's red, and cotton, after all.

It will likely be less comfy in summer. But I digress.

"January 06, 2006 at 03:05 PM"
is 1:05 PM here, for the record.

Three hours to go.

And I do completely accept that we all make countless typos and solecisms, of course. Of course, of course, of course. Constantly, endlessly.

We all write in haste on the internets. We are all careless and sloppy. That's normal, forgivable, and inevitable.

It's only the simple repeated mistakes that I try to help people past. If anyone spots me making them, I thank them and welcome said help. I hope.

I have some small hope that eventually I'll learn to be a less crap writer, with such encouragement. I understand that that's just me. And doubtless I'll still turn out crap. It's just a hope.

Edward, I think this goes to what you're trying to get at as well. A completely purposeless exercise that does nothing to advance the cause of justice or safety, but sure makes the morally superior feel even more superior.

yikes, Phil

that's scary...what's next, lists of people who don't attend Sunday School?

Yes, well, that the thing, isn't it? You (i.e., Uncle Kvetch) start to think about it. And that speaks well of you. Most of us don't, though. At least, sufficient numbers of us don't that this sort of thing makes for successful TV. And that speaks ill of our species.

That's kind of you, Mrs. Tilton, but I hope it's clear that I wasn't trolling for compliments about my saintly nature. The fact is that Olbermann, padding out the end of the year by running and re-running various End-of-2005 segments, ran that segment about the worst mugshots of the year several times over, and it was only on the third go-round, IIRC, that I felt a faint stirring of "Wait a minute...." The first two times I merely chuckled a little--"Heh, poor sap"-- and gave it no further thought.

Which is exactly how it's supposed to be, after all. It's meant to be nothing more than an amusing, if slightly "naughty," little tidbit of entertainment, and it ends with a whoosh and then you're on to the next rapid-fire blur of images in the maelstrom that is cable TV "news." Nothing about it invites reflection on the deeper issues, and that's not a bug, that's a feature.

And most of the time, we--all of us--stay on the ride facing forward with the security bar firmly down and locked, and we don't get out until we're told to.

Edward, I think you identify with the perp.

Now, before you go all off the deep end, what I am saying is that you recognize your own state of "fallen from grace". I am quite sure you would defend a young person, or even an old person, from sexual assault. My point is that you see yourself as a potential user, rather than a potential victim. You know how easy it is to step over that line into the bright light of obsession, where all reality is washed out in the pure light of desire.

I am not a closet homosexual Baptist minister, nor am I a pedophile. But I can see in me the very things that would lead these men to become who they are. I too felt agony for the Tulsa minister - while recognizing his hypocrisy. But for me, the hypocrisy made the story that much more poignant. Not just his job, but his whole life is gone. In that one moment, he fell into a rabbit hole, and everything is new and terrifying.

No one is safe from the rabbit hole. Some of us are less likely than others to throw ourselves down the hole, but none are truly safe from a fall.

There but for the grace of God go I.

Jake

Some of us are less likely than others to throw ourselves down the hole, but none are truly safe from a fall.

When some of my daughter's friends come by the house I can't help myself from thinking "Oh. My. Dear. God. Please make me a teenager again, for say, a week or so".

Then I remember how truly awful it sometimes was to be a teenager. Got to separate the fantasy from the reality.

Dave, I think you have to be dead to be immune to the charms of teenage girls.

Or, frankly, girls (women) of any age.

:)

Jake

DaveC: Then I remember how truly awful it sometimes was to be a teenager. Got to separate the fantasy from the reality.

God yes. I would not want to be a teenager again for any money.

"I would not want to be a teenager again for any money."

We'd all like to be brighter, and not who we were then, quite.

Quite. But maybe almost. That's the interesting part, isn't it?

Those of us who don't say we might not like to have sex with the brightest attractive teenagers, I'm less convinced of their honesty, although it's entirely possibly that that's simply because I'm a pervert, rather than honest. It's not for me to say. It's quite possible I should be arrested.

I was a fairly bright teenager, myself. And hot. Which is probably why I had a lot of sex, as much as I wanted. Most teenagers don't know how to fend off as I did, and even I had some unpleasant moments, particularly when I went hitchhiking across country, and ran into the men who picked us cute kids up.

It's never simple.

I still miss being a teenager, though.

I wrote more here, but it disappeared, which is as annoying as ever. I wrote quite a lot more. Darn.

But why are you so soft on the problem here? These guys were answering invitations to have sex with kids.

This charge has got thrown around a great deal here, but the fact of the matter is that none of you know this about the men in question, and these cases are not that clear cut.

http://www.wired.com/wired/archive/8.06/mustread.html?pg=1>This story for instance - Patrick Naughton, of Java fame, was arrested for crossing state lines to meet with an FBI agent who had presented herself in a chat room as a 13 year old. Patrick's (entirely plausible) defense was that it was a fantasy chat room - he expected to meet with an adult impersonating a child. Kinky, yes. Not really a crime, though.

Certainly arrests and trials are and should be part of the public record, but in general law enforcement has a great deal of incentive to get it right, and have the necessary skills and experiance to do their jobs effectively. I do not see that the same holds for news media.

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