aTypical Joe: a gay New Yorker living in the rural South
Thursday, May 12, 2005
Sex offenders, the media, & O’Reily yet again
On Tuesday, the Houston Chronicle published an editorial which said that Florida’s new sex offender law “has emotional appeal,” but isn’t the best way “to stop sexual predators from preying on children.” It quotes an expert who says that abduction/murders are very rare, and that most sexual abuse is committed by people in the child’s household, or by family friends or acquaintances.
The editorial says there’s no proof that universal GPS tracking will work, argues that “less showy and better documented measures are likely to work better” and concludes:
Although some compulsive offenders can only be contained rather than cured, counseling reduces recidivism. Community watch programs - as simple as parents patrolling play areas - are a powerful disincentive for predators, researchers say. Finally, educating children about healthy and unhealthy touch, whether by family or acquaintances, remains the best defense against sexual abuse.
At the start of the segment, O’Reilly stated that the Chronicle had “taken a lot of shots at me, so it must be left of center.” O’Reilly’s name has appeared only once in a Chronicle editorial, which concerned not O’Reilly, but Fox News’ suit against Al Franken for his use of the phrase “fair and balanced.” The suit was thrown out of court...O’Reilly told his viewers that the Chronicle editorial said the Florida law was too harsh. He was mistaken. The editorial excerpts that O’Reilly projected on the screen said nothing about the harshness of the punishment. The editorial, citing extensive research on this subject, said hooking GPS monitors to sexual predators released from prison might prove less effective than closer supervision by parole officers and other low-tech strategies. The Chronicle did not call for lighter punishment; it called for the adoption of the most effective measures to protect our children.
O’Reilly said the editorial advocated “community service” for sexual predators. It did not.
O’Reilly accused his guest, Austin defense attorney Courtney Anderson, of misleading the audience when she defended the Chronicle editorial. O’Reilly then read what he said was a quote from the editorial. Unfortunately, not one word of what O’Reilly read appeared in the Chronicle editorial or anywhere else in the paper. He and his staff apparently confused someone else’s commentary with the Chronicle’s.
World O’Crap concludes:
Lately hosts from Fox News (and CNN) seem to be on a crusade to scare parents, and to convince them that sex offenders are poised to snatch their kids. For instance, on Monday, while talking about the case of the murdered girls in Illinois, Sean Hannity said that it’s no longer safe to left your kids ride their bikes unsupervised. He also stated that the police should round up all the registered sex offenders in the area because “These guys kidnap children from their beds, molest them, and murder them!” That the girls were killed by one girl’s father probably was as unwelcome a surprise to Sean and his ilk as was the fact that the missing bride wasn’t murdered by her fiance...See, instead of warning viewers of dangerous ex-cons, they could be educating viewers about domestic violence and the dangers it poses to children. But while info like that might actually be useful, it’s kind of depressing and unsensational, and so doesn’t bring in the viewers — plus, it might make viewers wary of guys with bad tempers who shout a lot.
Oprah, who looked at it as a domestic issue, introduced her show yesterday with this: “Child molesters are in your neighborhoods, your schools, your churches...” Her website has links to “research sex offenders in your area.”
Our school sent out a legally required announcement of how to find out if there are sex offenders in our area. There are lots. But are there really? Are that many people among us really that dangerous? Or are there false accusations and faulty convictions in amongst them? Is there proportion? Where’s the line?
To err on the side of caution may sound reasonable but all reason is gone. A woman at work bought a house, found out that a sex offender was in the neighborhood and sold immediately. The accusation alone is enough to ruin lives. There is no reason in that.
Pain & the police state
My uncle died last week; my aunt is dying and is expected to pass soon. They lived long happy lives, they were outgoing and gregarious; loved to dance. Joyful people. Dying so close together seems poetic in its way as well.
But then there’s this: my aunt is in terrible, tortuous pain. This outgoing convivial woman doesn’t want to see anyone. She’s suffering and alone. My mother went anyway.
She reports that my aunt says she never knew pain like this in all her 85 years. Her mouth is swollen to the point where eating hurts so much that she chooses not to. How is it that a life lived so fully can end like this?
I asked, why she wasn’t given pain medication? My mother said that soon they’d give her morphine. Soon? The woman’s been in this awful pain for two weeks. That’s two weeks too long! What on earth are they thinking? How can this be?
The world of chronic pain and its potentially addictive treatments is clashing increasingly with law enforcement, pitting patients and doctors against prosecutors and the federal Drug Enforcement Administration. While trafficking is a real problem, some contend those in chronic pain are suffering the most.
Richard Paey went from being an Ivy League law school student to serving 25 years in a Florida prison after a long, strange and painful journey from surgical patient to state prisoner.
A car accident led to debilitating pain. When he moved from New Jersey to Florida, doctors essentially refused to write prescriptions for the high dosage he was on.
When he moved there, Paey did not know that the pharmacies where he filled prescriptions were under surveillance by local police and the DEA.
Florida prosecutor Scott Andringa built a case accusing Paey of forging prescriptions using the name of his former doctor in New Jersey. According to a search warrant, Paey had filled more than 200 prescriptions involving 18,000 pills in the space of about a year.
Paey maintains he never sold the drugs. “I think a true pain patient would never sell their medication,” he said. “It’s too hard to get.”
In fact, the prosecutor concedes he had no evidence Paey used the drugs for anything other than his own pain.
“There was no proof that he had sold these substances,” Andringa said. “There was an implication, there was a suspicion, there was a belief that he must have been selling these medications based on the number of pills. But there was no proof, and therefore we did not argue that at trial.”
The guy’s in jail.
In Florida, the illegal possession of certain prescription painkillers - in amounts more than 28 grams, enough to fill less than two bottles - is considered drug trafficking. The penalty is equivalent to that meted out to hard-core heroin dealers - a mandatory minimum sentence of 25 years in prison. Prosecutors convinced a jury that Paey had forged enough prescriptions to qualify as a drug trafficker. He is barely a year into serving the sentence...Ironically enough, Paey is now getting the treatment for his chronic pain that he had such trouble finding outside of the prison walls. A morphine pump the size of a hockey puck has been sewn into his side, delivering a controlled dose of medication.
So what’s with the DEA?
In August, the DEA posted a set of policy guidelines - in the form of “frequently asked questions” - that had been ironed out over three years among top specialists and regulators.
It made clear that simply the dosage of narcotic painkillers or the number of patients in a practice who receive them do not, by themselves, indicate a problem.
But the guidelines were removed from the DEA’s Web site during Hurwitz’s trial in October due to legal “misstatements.” For pain specialists, that was an ominous sign that the DEA had issued itself a new hunting license...much of the medical community feels strongly that federal agents and prosecutors, so intently focused on drug abuse, are sending the wrong message to the vast majority of physicians whose primary concern is to ease suffering. And, intended or not, the practical result of such an aggressive policy is to sentence many innocent patients to a lifetime of pain.
Probably not really related to my aunt’s situation. Except in as much as we look at pain killers through the lense of criminal narcotics, instead of as medicinal relief from suffering.
Y! Music Unlimited (Beta)
When iTunes first debuted I pointed out that Apple missed an opportunity to undercut other services on price. In a way they did offer a cheaper alternative by dropping mandatory subscription fees, but Apple’s motto has always been “We’ll make it good; someone else will make it cheap.” This was true for the Mac, for digital music players, and for online music services.
Now comes Yahoo! Music Unlimited (beta) with the “we’re cheaper” philosophy. For a monthly priced USD7 or $5/mo if you sign up for a whole year, you get unlimited streams out of a 1 million+ song catalog. (Brief news coverage here on Market-day.net)
His conclusion? “I confess I don’t see anything here that I’m willing to try to plow through...”
Jeffrey Weiss writes: “Maybe 20 years ago, the Miami Herald did a sting that I considered brilliant and still do. Two reporters—one white and one black, about the same age—were given similar fictitious “resumes” and were sent out to try to rent an apartment at various places in the area. You can guess the results.” Kit R. Roane says the Chicago Sun-Times’ Mirage Bar sting “was a thing of beauty. And the idea that it is seen as a relic of the past should be mourned, not praised.”
Critics of the Spokesman-Review investigation of Jim West are just plain wrong!