aTypical Joe: a gay New Yorker living in the rural South
Tuesday, June 20, 2006
Challenging Georgia’s new sex-offender law
AP on a suit challenging Georgia’s new sex-offender law:
The law, believed to be among the nation’s toughest, sets 1,000-foot buffers for convicted child sex offenders around all school bus stops, churches, schools, child-care centers and other places where children congregate.
“Thousands of people on Georgia’s sex offender registry will be forced, by legislative fiat, to evacuate their homes, leave their jobs, cease attending their churches and abandon court-mandated treatment programs,” the lawsuit says. [...]
The lead plaintiff in the lawsuit is Wendy Whitaker, a 26-year-old criminal justice student. According to the complaint, Whitaker was convicted of sodomy when she was 17, after a consensual sex act with a 15-year-old boy.
Plaintiffs argue that too many people with similar stories will be labeled child sex offenders under the new law.
How has the get tough policy worked in other states?
In Iowa, a similar measure went into effect last year, and now some of its loudest critics are prosecutors and police. They say the state law barring sex offenders from living within 2,000 feet of a school or child care center has driven offenders from cities and caused many to become homeless, cluster in motels or vanish from authorities’ sight. Iowa prosecutors are calling for a repeal.
They want to stop amateur shopping-mall-Santa pictures?
I’ve been hardly interested in the news that our own Georgia Tech has developed a prototype device that can block digital still and video cameras from functioning in any given area. I think pretty much along the lines of Alan Wexelblat at Corante Copyfight that new camera technology will stay ahead of the anti-camera technology. But he adds this:
Also problematic are some of the other proposed uses, such as stopping people taking pictures of their own kids in spaces like malls. When, exactly, did we cede THAT right to the Cartel?
So I went back and looked again and sure enough:
[T]he small-area product could prevent espionage photography in government buildings, industrial settings or trade shows. It could also be used in business settings—for instance, to stop amateur photography where shopping-mall-Santa pictures are being taken.
Wikipedia has declared venture capitalist and blogger Fred Wilson not notable. Fred authored and posted his own page then watched with interest as it was discussed. Along the way he made the argument that selfish activity matters, but in the end his page was deleted and, apparently, the discussion along with it.
I consider that a big mistake. A primary strength of Wikipedia is its breadth and depth; for that I accept its probablilistic accuracy and don’t regret its lack of definitive authority. Deleting Fred narrows that breadth.
On prohibiting articles written about yourself and your friends, first an idea then a critique. The idea: Wikipedia is in search of a business model. Why not an ad supported people directory based on the Wiki model?
Now the critique. I beleive that in the model of the oral tradition our stories, as told by us, hold real and valuable truths. Prohibiting them outright loses that truth:
When a reporter - whether the Times or the local student paper - quotes our words, they choose the context those words are placed in. That context imparts meaning. Often the wrong meaning. When we tell our stories, we choose the context. With that choice the meaning can be more honest and more complete. Certainly it’s more authentic. Adam Curry was telling his truth. [So was Fred Wilson.] That’s legitimate.
An oral tradition is less technically accurate, but it is more whole and, I think, equally legitimate. In Alex Ross’s outstanding New Yorker article, The Record Effect: How technology has transformed the sound of music, Ross describes how music once was appreciated for the variations that came from live and more impromptu performance. Now, with recordings heard over and over, what we want and reward in a live setting is the precise technical replication of that recording.
Applying those notions to information, once the stories handed down to us by those who had gone before, those who were actually there, were told with their individual idiom and emphasis. That’s how we got our rich histories. Now those tales may be more technically accurate, but are they still just as rich? And are they any more honest? I don’t think so.
I like to believe that our broadening access to communications technologies means much of our individual rich authenticity can be captured, saved and shared. And if that means a loss of technical accuracy, I’m not convinced that’s a loss of anything worth saving.
So with Wikipedia I’ll stand by my wish for a new emergence of that old oral tradition. And enjoy its honest inaccuracies along with those presented each day by both the “objective” press and the “balanced” press.