Monday, July 30, 2012

The child safety lottery

There's a short story called "The Lottery", written in 1948 by Shirley Jackson, that was required reading when I was in high school. It's a dark, controversial (at the time, at least) commentary on the hypocrisy, weakness and possibility of underlying evil present in every human being and in society. If you're not familiar with the story, an excellent and brief summary is here.

Now that I Love a Sex Offender is on Facebook (pleasie-please LIKE the page - I Love a Sex Offender Official Facebook Page!!) I have been creating some "freeware" graphics for supporters and advocates to easily share with friends, family, neighbors, and politicians/legislators. It's been cathartic and a bit of a brain exercise. It was while creating the following graphic that I was reminded of "The Lottery":

I've often challenged those who support the registry and related legislation with the effectiveness of laws that literally put some children in danger to supposedly protect others. Their answers range from none at all, to placing the blame on the offender themselves. But the fact is that WE (in theory) are to blame. Committing a sex offense is not the act that puts the offender's family in danger. It is the law that legalizes the posting of their personal information, willingly enacted by lawmakers that WE elected, that puts these children in danger. A law that has harmed so many, yet gone unquestioned, unopposed, and touted as something it's not. Just like in "The Lottery."

Thanks to the ever-increasing number of families of sex offenders standing up and finding their voices, we are getting closer to exposing the truth every day. There is a long road ahead, and it will be paved with hardship and tears (boy, I'm in a cheesy cliche mood today apparently) but the the truth is with us. I found an excellent quote from George Washington earlier, which could not be more appropriate here: "Truth will ultimately prevail where there is pains taken to bring it to light."
Amen. And below are several of the graphics I've created within the last few days. Please feel free to use, re-use, re-circulate, whatever, just get them out there! And if YOU have any photos or ideas you'd like to contribute, please do so by contacting me via the button in the top right corner. 

 Just FYI, this one above ^^^^ is the EXACT dimension of a Facebook "cover" photo... if you are so inclined... 

"The registry was intended to prevent other children from falling victim to a similar fate, a desire shared by everyone. But the laws have so drastically expanded what qualifies as a sex offense, there are now over 700,000 Americans on the registry, many of whom have never harmed a child and are unlikely to ever harm a child, rendering it a self-defeating tool." - Sadhbh Walshe, The Guardian, 2012

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Being a "victim": the new free pass to victimize others

6/2/2012: Patrick Drum murders two registered citizens in Washington. He widows two wives, orphans five children, two under the age of three, and rips away the last living family member (and caretaker) of an elderly senior citizen. Read about it: "Clallam County prosecutor: “Vigilantism has no part in a civilized society and will not be tolerated by law enforcement or prosecutors in this county,"

7/5/2012: A $600,000 settlement and 30 years later, self-proclaimed sexual abuse victim William Lynch enters a senior citizen care facility and savagely beats the 69-year-old alleged abuser. A jury acquits him of all charges. Read about it: Vigilante attack on elderly man described as "a rapist" with no proof unpunished and cheered by the public

7/17/2012: Sentencing begins for Robert Pascale, who along with Michael Garay, gruesomely beat 78-year-old Hugh Edwards to death in his own home, because they thought he was a "child molester." Read about it: Elderly man murdered "for the victims"

There's a new trend now. Instead of being carried out by thuggish young men with supposed interests in child safety, or middle-aged supposed sexual abuse victims looking for revenge, a different type of vigilante martyr is emerging: the young, pretty female rape survivor. Meet the new face: Savannah Dietrich gets away with breaking the law and putting others in danger, simply because she's pretty and endured sexual assault.

It's almost the perfect, untouchable strategy. It appeals to so many: other survivors victims, anyone with a loved one who has been violated, people who wouldn't typically even be overly interested in the subject but whose good intentions are exploited by the slanted portrayal of a blatant, calculated choice to not only evade the law, but to cause harm to others. It's all okay, though, since she was raped.

To me this only reinforces how weak our society has become. Pretty young rape victim needs support? It comes in droves, and not a single question about her intentions. Millions of families and children in direct danger because their addresses and vehicle descriptions are published all over the internet, tacked onto telephone poles, and gossiped through towns? Nothing. That would be too hard, too scary. Too much work.

Apparently, Ms. Dietrich's petition on to drop the contempt charges against her gained 82,000 signatures. Our petition to the ACLU of Washington - asking them to get involved in the prosecution of Patrick Drum, who literally shredded two families into pieces? 284.

I've been accused innumerable times of being unsympathetic towards victims - of having no idea what it's like to be overpowered, violated, terrified. Usually I counter with the fact that the person I love is a victim of brutal childhood abuse, the aftermath of which is still palpable. But today I am going to remind everyone that I myself am no stranger to the terror.

I remember the mad dash to the kitchen door, desperately trying to undo the latch and make it to my car...and losing almost every time. I remember being yanked back, forced to the ground on my hands and knees, a chunk of my hair in his fist and feeling the force of the vinyl floor to my face over and over and over again. I remember the way he grasped my head and knocked it into a butcher block cutting board leaning against the wall. I remember being chased into the bedroom, knowing it was a dead end, and just melting into the bedspread, hoping it would somehow soften the blows to my thighs and my stomach...holding my breath while his hand clamped over my lips so tightly that they bled onto his fingers. I remember after he was done, trying to brace myself between the floor and the chair, attempting to stand up - and realizing I could not breathe without the sharp stick of a knife in my ribcage. I remember the terror. I remember it well. 

But I survived. I am alive. And with that life, I will do my best to do only good. If I ever hurt somebody, do something wrong, break a law or kill somebody, I won't blame it on my past. I want to be treated like the human being that I am and held responsible for my actions - not a person incapable or undeserving of consequences. That's the right thing to do - NOT the easy one.

Friday, July 20, 2012

Shana Rowan Loves a Sex Offender

Well, duh. And I'm not ashamed to admit it. The man I love, like so many others, made a mistake - as a terrified, desperate, viciously abused child. He hurt another child with his actions, and has been paying the price for over half of his life. Both of them, like victims of any kind of traumatic childhood event, have struggled in similar and different ways in their recoveries. As I live with the aftermath of what some survivors of childhood abuse endure on a daily basis, it isn't something I condone. It certainly is not something I would wish upon any child. My dream is that one day, all children and families are protected equally - via legislation and public attitudes that allow for this to occur.

I just figured this might be a good time to remind my readers, once again, that I am not, never have been, and never will be affiliated with NAMBLA. I do not agree with their objectives, nor do I advocate for changes that would further those objectives. Any person, website or entity which asserts otherwise is in danger of being sued for defamation, slander, libel or any combination of the three.

My last thought for today, that I heard from a fellow activist:

"The only people who get angry at you for telling the truth are those who are living a lie." 

Sunday, July 15, 2012

Defaming Joe Paterno doesn't protect children.

I just need to get this off my chest.

For the first week after Jerry Sandusky was found guilty, we had the slew of "groundbreaking" articles lauding the need to "talk about it" (as in child sexual abuse.) My editorial in the Syracuse Post Standard was the only piece I'm aware of that explored the entire picture, discussing the need to re-evaluate our billion dollar industry of ineffective "sexual abuse prevention" laws (if you haven't read it:

This past week, it's been all about Joe Paterno and his role in covering up the abuse. There's been talk of suspending Penn State football season. After painting over Jerry Sandusky's image in a mural at Penn State last week, an artist painted over a halo that was previously depicted over Joe Paterno's head a few days ago.

The fact that child sexual abuse is real, needs to be talked about, and dealt with in an effective manner is not something that many would debate about. No one should have to endure it, nor should their families.

But guess what? Removing a halo out of a picture doesn't help those victims. Railing on a dead guy who made a grave mistake in his life - AFTER the perpetrator actually responsible for the acts has been sentenced to life in prison - doesn't help the child suffering alone behind closed doors. Suspending a football season and forcing young men who have no connection to sexual abuse of children whatsoever to miss out on opportunities doesn't protect children. It makes (some of) US feel good, and that's about it.

Can anyone even begin to imagine the impact we could have on sex abuse prevention if just a quarter of all the media attention laser-focused on Joe Paterno in the past week, were instead dedicated to exploring the massive failure of the sex offender registry, sex offender legislation, and the overall ignorance of society and politicians to reality? If for just ONE day, newspapers and reporters and journalists swore off the easy stuff, and exposed all those studies proving "common knowledge" wrong to viewers across the country? "If it saves just one child" could easily become thousands. 

But that's just wishful thinking, I guess.

Sunday, July 1, 2012

Sex offender serial killer: URGENT Call to Action!

This morning it came to my attention and horror that Patrick Drum, the confessed double murderer of Gary Blanton and Jerry Ray due to their status as sex offenders, has struck again. This time, his victim was a 19-year-old man serving time for a "failure to register as a sex offender" charge. The victim has been a registered sex offender since the age of 13. Read the story here.

Mr. Drum has now harmed three innocent families. The tool that made this possible is the sex offender registry. Not far behind is the public support of Mr. Drum's actions.

Anyone who is or loves a sex offender - or simply values human rights - is encouraged to PLEASE sign our letter, addressed to the ACLU of Washington and asking them to get involved in this case. This is not only so that the families of Gary, Jerry and Mr. Drum's most recent victim may receive justice for their loved ones. This is for the safety and well-being of everyone on the registry and their families.

I've created an online petition for people to sign via, where you can read the text of the letter. PLEASE sign and share this as widely as possible. If you prefer to send me your name and hometown directly, please do so by emailing (link is at the top right of the page.)

Thank you for being the compassionate people that you are.