aTypical Joe: a gay New Yorker living in the rural South
Thursday, February 22, 2007
If it had been in CT, they’d have arrested the priest…
...and he’d be facing a 40 year prison sentence. AP:
SANTA FE, New Mexico (AP)—Three CD players hidden under a cathedral’s pews blared sexually explicit language in the middle of an Ash Wednesday Mass, leading a bomb squad to detonate two of the devices.
Authorities determined the music players were not dangerous and kept the third one to check it for clues, said police Capt. Gary Johnson.
The CD players, duct-taped to the bottoms of the pews, were set to turn on in the middle of noon Mass on Wednesday at the Roman Catholic Cathedral Basilica of St. Francis of Assisi.
The recordings, made on store-bought blank discs, featured people using foul language and “pornographic messages,” Johnson said. He would not elaborate because of the ongoing investigation.
If you missed it, the reference is to Julie Amero, the Connecticut substitute teacher who was convicted of four felonies and now faces a possible forty year prison sentence because a malware-infected school computer with an expired content filter flashed pornographic popups at a seventh grade language arts class. Learn about Julie Amero.
LATER: USATODAY.com technology writer Andrew Kantor today, “‘Miscarriage of justice’ doesn’t begin to describe it.”
Julie Amero, fear, and fear-mongering
Nancy Willard, M.S., J.D., from the Center for Safe and Responsible Internet Use, wrote PC World’s Steve Bass about Julie Amero:
Amero did what she though was appropriate to protect the students in her classroom, given her understanding that she was not to turn the computer off or close the classroom door (it is common safety practice to require that doors remain open). Based on a review of the reports from the students, what she did was successful.
Of the 60 students who could have seen pornographic material, only 10 reported that they did. Of these, eight reported seeing only mild erotica. The other two reported they saw “little pictures” that depicted some sexual activity. It appears that seven of the ten tried to look at the computer after being told by another student of the concern. None of the students reported any emotional upset or distress whatsoever.
Given the recent research study finding that 42% of young people between the ages of 10 and 17 have viewed online pornography, consider the implications if the police and prosecutors around the country now think that any parent or teacher who fails to take the steps that others think necessary to prevent this from occurring? Do we have sufficient prison space and foster care resources?
Willard has authored a report, The Julie Amero Tragedy:
I believe that the underlying issue is that of fear. Especially in the last year there has been an overwhelming increase in the level of fear-mongering about young people and the Internet. I believe such fear-mongering has reached the level that it is clearly interfering with proactive efforts to address the very real, but manageable, concerns about young people online.
Frequently, politicians and the media are engaging in activities that are unreasonably exacerbating the fear. Politicians want to present an image to the electorate that they are “protecting children online” and frequently call for legislation that will do no such thing. While some media sources are reporting responsibly on the concerns, others are sensationalizing the issues.
The fear-mongering is interfering with efforts to effectively educate young people about the risks. When they hear the message that all online strangers are dangerous and they know otherwise, they realize that adults simply don’t understand the Internet and are fearful about what they do not understand.
The fear-mongering is also undermining efforts to encourage young people to report to an adult if they have encountered a difficult situation online. Many young people are not reporting to adults when they have become involved in a difficult situation because they fear adults will overreact, blame them, and cut off their online access. If a teen reports to a parent that he or she accidentally accessed pornography, how many parents will act in the manner evident in the Amero case: assume that the access was intentional, fail to conduct an effective evaluation of the circumstances, and punish the teen?
And, in my opinion, the fear-mongering has resulted in the conviction of a woman whose computer was porn trapped and who clearly was trying her absolute best to protect the students who were under her care.
NOTE: Bass’s piece includes an apology to the juror and an examination of the jury instructions. He concludes they “had no choice but to vote guilty.” And for all the others who have not gotten our attention, the plea I’ve appended to all of my Amero posts:
WE NEED A COMPUTER FORENSICS INNOCENCE PROJECT; a Barry Sheck and Peter Neufeld of the computer forensics world. We need experts who believe in the presumption of innocence and are willing to spend the time it takes to dig through logs, registry entries and hard drives to find exculpatory material when present. This is hardly the first case of its kind and, unfortunately, it’s not likely be the last. Prosecutors who look for - and presume - guilt do selective searches for data supporting guilt; those accused rarely have the resources to pay computer forensics experts to counter that selective evidence.
Radio sucks (& why)
Howard Kurtz yesterday while discussing the Sirius-XM merger:
In all the very fine stories about the proposed XM-Sirius merger, there was one glaring omission.
The reason these two companies have 13 million subscribers willing to cough up $12.95 a month for something we all grew up thinking should be free is that commercial radio has self-destructed.
All these folks (including me) are paying for satellite because they’re tired of cookie-cutter radio formats stuffed to the gills with commercials. They’re also fed up with focus-grouped music stations that play the same 60 songs until you keep hearing the chords in your sleep.
And local radio stations covering news? There are a few across the country. For the rest, forget about it.
Really, can you think of an industry (okay, maybe American automakers) that has frittered away such huge advantages and sent its customers scrambling for alternatives?
Via Jeff Jarvis.
In Fighting for AIR: The Battle to Control America’s Media Eric Klinenberg explains what happened. Here’s a podcast of his Vanderbilt lecture. Here a C-Span After Words interview with Ben Scott.
Washington establishment bemoans bloggers
Surprise, surpirse. Not:
In a press roundtable at the National Press Club tonight, White House Press Secretary Tony Snow led a discussion with White House correspondents about the impact of the internet on their respective jobs. Their conclusion? They don’t like being challenged by blogs.
NBC News’ David Gregory bemoaned how political coverage has “become so polarized in this countryÃ¢â‚¬Â¦because it’s the internet and the blogs that have really used this White House press conferences to somehow support positions out in America, political views.” Tony Snow admitted he sometimes reads blogs ("I’ll occasionally punch it up") only to find “wonderful, imaginative hateful stuff that comes flying out.”
Newsweek’s White House correspondent Richard Wolffe added, “[Bloggers] want us to play a role that isn’t really our role. Our role is to ask questions and get information. Ã¢â‚¬Â¦ It’s not a chance for the opposition to take on the government and grill them to a point where they throw their hands up and surrender.”
Fear not, MTV fans. Episodes of “Laguna BeachÃ¢â‚¬Â� and “The Real World” will soon be back on the Internet, free of charge. But this time, viewing is on Viacom’s terms.
Viacom, the parent of networks like MTV and Comedy Central, which produce the types of programs that are ideal for watching on the Web, said yesterday that it had reached a deal with the Silicon Valley start-up Joost to distribute video online.
The agreement came a little more than two weeks after Viacom demanded that YouTube remove more than 100,000 clips of its programming.
The Joost partnership gives Viacom something it pressed with YouTube but never received: a share of advertising revenue. Neither company disclosed the terms of the agreement, but media experts said a 65-35 split in Viacom’s favor would be reasonable.
Programs will have commercial breaks, but the number of commercials in each episode will be fewer than on regular network television.
The Joost deal also provides a level of control for Viacom that it lacked with YouTube. Joost will not allow users to upload any of their own content.
Exactly the kind of deal media giants like: they get the lion’s share of the ad money, they can clutter up their content with as many ads as they want, and the environment is not sullied by any of that user created content. Fine with me. Let them set up their space; the more they limit the availability of their content (whether through technical limits or ad clutter that makes a viewing experience all that much less appealing) the more room they leave in the media space for you and me to get ours seen.
SEE ALSO: YouTube’s media relationships going south fast.
GA law a no-brainer
Senate Bill 37, sponsored by Sen. Emanuel Jones, D-Atlanta, that Towery endorses, that would allow judges to modify sentences involving convictions of teenagers that took place prior to July 1, 2006, when the sex offender law was modified. This measure is a no-brainer and should receive speedy approval. There’s just one holdup, but it’s a big one: President Pro Tempore Eric Johnson, a Republican from Savannah, doesn’t want to pass a law that would “release sex offenders on the street.”
Perhaps Sen. Johnson doesn’t understand. This measure isn’t drafted to put sex offenders back on the street. Its prime purpose is to undo a wrong perpetrated against a teenage boy caught up in a law that had unintended consequences. Wilson is not a sexual predator, but a kid that had oral sex with a girl slightly younger than he is.
He deserved a slap on the wrist, not a 10-year prison sentence and a lifetime designation as a sexual offender.
Senate President pro tem Eric Johnson won over Neal Boortz on WSB radio yesterday (audio here) through the use of selective facts, demonization and guilt by association, and blatant misinformation.
Add AZ to the states criminalizing our kids
Family members of young sex offenders pleaded with lawmakers on Monday to change state laws that sometimes result in long sentences and lifelong consequences for those who commit crimes when they are minors.
Two bills, sponsored by Sen. Karen Johnson, R-Mesa, would have given judges, instead of prosecutors, discretion in sentencing juveniles tried as adults and would have expanded the age range that teenagers could have consensual sexual contact without criminal ramifications. With prosecutors mounting an aggressive defense of the status quo and one lawmaker absent, both bills died in committee on tie votes after a lengthy and emotionally charged hearing.
The legislation evolved from hearings last fall in which families, public defenders and others involved in the system told of unintended consequences of existing laws, including those that make consensual sex among teens a crime. [...]
Senate Bill 1425 would have changed the age range that can result in a felony conviction for consensual sexual contact. Under current state law, sexual contact, from touching to intercourse, with anyone younger than 15 is a felony, even if the youths are close in age and the contact is consensual.
My gut objects to these laws for what they do to the kids. When I think it through it gets worse. Even if these kids are out of line, the place to find answers to address that is in the home, in schools, churches, counseling; in the community. The law is a blunt instrument. If there is a crime, fine. Most of this does not rise to that level.
What we’re talking about here is adolescence. And what we’re doing by putting our adolescents into the criminal justice system is abdicating community responsibility; worse still, it’s making criminals. Because when they come out of that system, if they ever do (remember, those sex offender convictions stay will them forever), they will be criminals. That harms us all.