aTypical Joe: a gay New Yorker living in the rural South
Thursday, December 15, 2005
A friend tipped me off to Bill Maher’s comments on Larry King. A caller asked whether he believed that child molesters could be rehabilitated:
MAHER: Santa Claus? Child molesters. Probably not. I mean, they themselves admit that they can’t. They themselves. I’ve heard this many times, read it that a child molester will say, you know what? If you let me out, I am going to do it again.
It’s such a sick thing that that kind of makes sense. I mean, if that is what you really want to do, it doesn’t seem like that is something that is going to go away. It’s much like the right wings thinks that you can reform homosexuals, that if you send them away to camp and get them to pray enough about Jesus, that they’ll start to like women again.
That’s just silly. People have these—I mean, that’s a tough question. Because what do you do with a child molester after they’ve served their time? If you send them back into society, you’re almost asking for it.
He’s got the anecdotes and public opinion right, but he’s wrong on the facts and the prognosis.
On the National Institute of Corrections website they have Myths and Facts about sex offenders which states, “It is noteworthy that recidivism rates for sex offenders are lower than for the general criminal population.”
In May, John Q. La Fond, author of Preventing Sexual Violence: How Society Should Cope With Sex Offenders said on NPR’s Science Friday that studies have shown a 20% recidivism rate 5 years out.
And in August USA Today reported sex crimes against children have dropped dramatically. Our perceptions don’t match the facts.
But Mahr caps his mistaken perception with the unfortunate parallel of sending gay kids to Christian camps, thereby linking - by his association - gay people and child molesters.
Personally, I’d like to send Mahr off to a camp to teach rich libertarian comedians to think before they speak.
More holiday travel woes
A snowstorm today and tomorrow. Then I arrive in NYC - via auto of all the ridiculous things to take into that city - on Saturday morning. Not only is there a threat of a transit strike, now the cabbies may go out in sympathy.
Last time around I was living there. I don’t remember a thing about it, probably because I lived in the village then and could walk anywhere I wanted to go. I’ll be staying in the village this trip, too, so the only trek I’ll have to make is too see Sweeney!
I do have to get Doug into the city from JFK on Monday night so maybe it will be good to have the car…
UPDATE: Strike vote delayed until Tuesday.
Michael Stickings sent me a note confirming my gut reaction to yesterday’s speech:
Essentially, Bush neglected to mention the political filter that connected the “wrong” intelligence to his “decision” to go to war. It was that filter that selectively picked out the intelligence that turned out to be wrong, ignoring warnings from the intelligence community. Plus, Bush blamed other intelligence communities for making the same mistakes and deflected ultimate responsibility by declaring that the war was Saddam’s choice, not his own—how’s that for leadership?
His excellent post breaks it down in detail.
RELATED: The NYTimes looks at all four of his recent speeches and finds that the path forward has many ifs.
The AFA thought they had a deal
Now they’re threatening a boycott:
The American Family Association says that Ford Motor Company reneged on some agreements reached in discussions with the automobile giant, and the organization is considering its next move.
“We had an agreement with Ford, worked out in good faith. Unfortunately, some Ford Motor Company officials made the decision to violate the good faith agreement. We are now considering our response to the violation and expect to reach a decision very soon,” said Donald E. Wildmon, chairman of AFA.
AFA had called for a boycott of Ford last spring because of Ford’s support for the homosexual agenda and homosexual marriage but suspended the boycott for six months at the request of a group of Ford dealers. Wildmon said AFA and Ford officials hammered out an agreement in the interim that was accepted by both parties.
“All we wanted was for Ford to refrain from choosing sides in the cultural war, and supporting groups which promote same-sex marriage is not remaining neutral,” Wildmon stated.
He stated that because Ford broke the agreement, the option of a boycott is now very much alive.
They now say this was about Ford “refraining from choosing sides” by supporting gay groups. No. AFA said this was about Ford promoting “gay marriage” by advertising its products to gay consumers, by providing its gay employees with company benefits, and by including sexual orientation discrimination in the company’s diversity training.
Remember folks, gay and straight alike, thank Ford! This is bigger than just Ford; if we can hang on to this victory any company threatened by the AFA will know they need not cave to their demands.
Glad I left yesterday
The faith-based book
Scholar Bart Ehrman’s new book explores how scribes—through both omission and intention—changed the Bible. Misquoting Jesus: The Story Behind Who Changed the Bible and Why is the result of years of reading the texts in their original languages.
An interesting show, worth a listen. In the context of our discussion of the accuracy of Wikipedia, dare I point out the huge percentage of folks in this country who read the Bible as technically accurate literal truth?
Now, I’m no Bible scholar, not even an amateur, but I know that the technology of the day required that it came down to us either as oral stories, or it was hand written and copied. Then we toss in the vagaries of translation.
But still today I live in a country where 45 out 50 states prohibit legal recognition of my committed life-partnership based largely on people’s faith in the accuracy of that book.
And we’re upset that Wikipedia is badly written and has errors?
Whose Faith-Based encyclopedia?
Robert McHenry, a former Editor in Chief of the Encyclopedia Britannica, calls Wikipedia a faith-based encyclopedia:
A little more than a year ago I first wrote about Wikipedia. In that article I attempted to make two points: that the basic premise of the project is fatally flawed and can only be embraced as an article of faith, and that the project lacks a proper concern for ordinary users, those who are not in on the game.
I’ve already addressed his notion that the word encyclopedia “carries a powerful connotation of reliability.” And disputing the notion that the expert hands down wisdom to the amateur - rather than that it is a process that works the other way around too - is a recurring theme of mine.
Here I’d rather discuss his take on the editorial process:
I was once an encyclopedia editor, but I wasn’t one just because I said so. It’s not like being an artist, after all. When I began I first learned to proofread, then to fiddle about with galleys and page proofs, then to fact-check, then to write clearly and concisely, and so on; at length I learned (so we agreed to say) editorial judgment. Late in my days I took a hand in training others. There really is something to the job—skills, knowledge, experience, and maybe even a touch of talent.
My bottom line is that today we all have to develop our own “editorial judgment;” that technology gives us the tools and we no longer need accept the fiction that there is one definitive authority. In my view, Britannica was the faith-based encyclopedia, and they, steeped in their belief system, are upset that they will no longer be.
I see Wikipedia as part of a welcome return to an oral tradition. In that argument, I say that I won’t miss the lack of technical accuracy. To be clear, I won’t miss it in the oral tradition, or the Wikipedia entry, because I agree with Ray Kurzweil that old paradigms don’t die. We’re not talking about replacing the encyclopedia. We’re talking about an additional information source that can inform the others.
I don’t want one definitive source. I don’t need one definitive source. George Orwell described a world with one definitive source. I want to be empowered to make my own decision. And the freedom to choose the consensus choice or the popular choice or the contrary choice or to propose my own choice!
You know what, I’m wrong. I DO WANT A DEFINITIVE SOURCE. Unfortunately, I can’t have one. I can’t impose mine on you. You can’t impose yours on me. And that’s as it should be. Now given that, I want as much choice - and INPUT - as possible.
Via James Joyner.