aTypical Joe: a gay New Yorker living in the rural South
Tuesday, March 13, 2007
Lottery ticket-holder losing big time
So says The Philadelphia Inquirer about the no-show New Jersey half-winner of the $390 million Mega Millions prize. “The mystery millionaire has already lost as much as $140,625 - interest that the giant jackpot could have earned in a bank for a week. That’s nearly three times what the typical New Jersey resident makes in a year.” But does the winner actually get that lump sum?
I don’t think so but I can’t find an explanation of how the winnings will be paid out anywhere in the ample press
coverage of whoop-dee-doo over the jackpot give-away. If the winner actually gets what the Inquirer implies, things have changed more than a little since that April 23, 1995 New York Times Magazine cover story on lottery winners, TICKET TO TROUBLE: Congratulations! You’ve won one million dollars. Your troubles have just begun, by Lois Gould. I still haven’t found a web reference to it (including in the NYTimes archive). I went to the library and found it on microfiche:
A Lotto grand prize winner who drives a yellow truck for the District of Columbia Department of Public Works has left the truck double-parked, lights flashing, while he meets for lunch at Union Station with his lawyer and a man who wants to pay him cash for what’s left of his million-dollar prize.
Eugene Peterson has no appetite for lunch. He has just lost Round 1 in his lawsuit against the Washington lottery over its refusal to let winners sell their prizes, or even give them away. Most lottery states have the same rule, which they say is for the winner’s protection. Left to his own devices, the argument goes, a winner with a really big wad of money in hand would probably squander or lose it all.
Peterson’s lawyer, David R, Fontaine, is hardly the first to ask the question: “Why doesn’t the state worry about people squandering their money on Lotto” - with up to 18-million-to-1 odds? [...]
Five state lotteries now offer a lump-sum “winner’s choice” paying about the same as companies like Stone Street, 40 or 45 cents on the dollar. You get the option only when you claim the prize; some states, in fact, require you to choose in advance, when you buy the ticket. For those who do take their lumps this way, the tax bite - on the whole amount - is instant too. And the lottery won’t wait while you consult a financial planner.
More winners now take some time to chink things over, and get advice, before they even identify themselves and show up to claim the prize. Peterson is thinking things over now, while his appeal is pending: The court upheld the D.C. lottery’s no-assignment rule, even though it didn’t exist when Peterson won.
If you play Lotto, what you buy for your dollar, besides a chance at a fortune, is a binding contract with the state. On the back of the ticket you sign an agreement to abide by the lottery’s rules. If they change the rules later; as they did in Washington, you’re still bound by your agreement.
SEE ALSO: The lottery: You’re rich! Wait - got a calculator? and Winning the lottery: Your deadbeat pal’s on line 2. I’ll have more as the Mega Millions saga continues.
A lot more to learn than we’re ready to acknowledge
The scandal and the play...force consideration of a question perhaps more troubling in American society than British society: How to deal with precocious adolescents, with adults who desire them, and with the relationships that result when these two volatile elements combine? [...]
“History Boys” follows eight young men of exceptional intellectual abilities, but who desperately need shaping and discipline if they are to be serious “Oxbridge” contenders. Two teachers, whose highly contrasting educational styles form the philosophical conflict of the play, undertake the work of refining the boys. Both men are homosexuals and both are perilously attracted to their students.
Hector, the orotund, poetically inclined older man who teaches with no particular program but the spirit of intellectual play and adventure, has been groping the boys under his tutelage for years. Irwin, a newcomer, younger and more brutally pragmatic about teaching, is brought in to teach them the art of intellectual pizazz, the style-over-substance tricks that will make them stand out among the competition.
Bennett stacks the deck mostly but not entirely in the favor of Hector, who is charismatic, witty and erudite. Hector’s also taking liberties—reaching back for the occasional grope while driving a boy on his motorcycle—that the boys have come to accept as one of their teacher’s eccentricities. The boys don’t particularly enjoy it and they casually banter about what they consider Hector’s pathetic personal life. But they also love him, and not only do they dutifully submit to the groping, in the end, they defend Hector when outside (and more puritanical) forces threaten his cozy relationship with them.
The acceptance of homosexuality within the English school tradition is legendary. Nicholas Hytner, the director of the “History Boys” film, says he attended a high school not unlike the one depicted in Bennett’s play. “Even in the ‘70s,” he says, “we would have found casual homophobia disgusting.”
But it’s not just the attitude toward homosexuality that distinguishes this play from anything that could be written in the United States during the age of programs such as NBC’s “To Catch a Predator” or fallout from the Foley scandal. Bennett, in an interview in an English newspaper, said (of the sexual encounters between Hector and his students): “I think I’ve been criticized for not taking this seriously enough. I’m afraid I don’t take that very seriously if they’re 17 or 18. I think they are actually much wiser than Hector. Hector is the child, not them.” That acceptance of a gray area about sexuality involving late adolescents is all but impossible in this country, where the sexual predator has become an absolute category, a universal figure for evil and nightly fodder for pursuit and punishment on programs such as “Law and Order: SVU.” The collective response from society—concerned that sexual abuse is being ignored—is a vigilance so strict that there is no room for exceptions of any sort, even if the abused are all-but adults and don’t feel particularly victimized. [...]
In Bennett’s play...the boys’ canniness about a flawed teacher’s sexual desires gives them a power over him that they also refuse to use. They know their teacher is what used to be known, in so many small communities, as the dirty old man—slightly ridiculous, and often harmless. And in their acceptance of Hector in that role, the boys seem preternaturally wise.
That may be the most controversial thing about the movie, which could reach an audience well beyond the theater world of New York and fans of Bennett’s work. Bennett’s boys are intellectually sophisticated and live in a rarefied (and fictional) world where their youth and brilliance make them little princelings. Their ability to negotiate, with grace and understanding, what would in almost every other context be considered sexual abuse is very much limited to the particulars of their social position, and the particulars of Bennett’s play. And Bennett’s play is also the work of a mature man, imagining the inner lives of high school boys. The sexual dynamics imagined in any such work—call it the Lolita factor—must be subjected to the following suspicion: Is this an apologia, by an adult, that mischaracterizes the sexuality of youth?
The American drama of sexual abuse, played out almost weekly in hysterical terms on “To Catch a Predator,” has very little room for the larger continuum of the sexual interactions between adults and youth suggested by Bennett’s play. NBC’s popular but scabrous program, in which adults impersonate highly sexualized children in order to entrap other adults into sexual encounters, eliminates any actual children or youth from the equation. The voices heard in Bennett’s play or Burroughs’s memoir or the transcripts of the Foley case, have been eliminated. NBC uses “reality” TV to fictionalize child sexuality as much as Bennett or Nabokov or any other author. But works such as Bennett’s and Burroughs’s, and even the transcripts of the Foley exchanges, suggest that there is a lot more to be learned about how sex is negotiated—especially between adults and youth who are almost adults—than American popular culture is quite ready to acknowledge.
I realize that the $1bn lawsuit that Viacom filed against Google and YouTube today is all about negotiating leverage.
But I for one hope that this suit doesn’t settle.
I want to see Viacom prove the ‘massive and intentional copyright violations’ accusations in front of a jury of reasonable people.
Another teacher-on-teen sex scandal
A Colorado teenager whose alleged romance with a female teacher sparked a scandal that rocked a charter school said Tuesday that he initially tried to protect the woman’s job and her marriage to the school’s principal.
“I didn’t want her to end up losing her job. I figured I had a lot less to lose than she did,” Tommy Clay, who was 17 at the time, told TODAY anchor Matt Lauer in an exclusive interview.
Carrie McCandless, 29 at the time, did end up losing her job as a social-studies teacher and now faces two felony criminal charges over allegations she had improper sexual contact with Tommy and supplied him with alcohol during an overnight school trip in October she chaperoned.
I will not be arguing that what the teacher did is right. It is wrong, clear and simple, and should be punished. I will argue that the woman is not a “sex predator” in that there is a big and important difference between what she did and the kind of dangerous sex offender the legal system should be focused on.
I watched the boy on the Today Show “exclusive” and I wondered, what in the world were his parents thinking? I am quite confident that he has indeed suffered serious emotional harm that he will be dealing with for the rest of his life, but do we really believe that trotting him out in front of the cameras accomplishes anything good and valuable?
I would think a national television appearance on that scale - and we can bet that press frenzy has not yet peaked - would serve only to distort and exacerbate his problems. Then there’s the fact that describing and diagnosing a condition has the unintended consequence of promoting and normalizing it and thereby increases its frequency.
There’s more going on here than I know or want to know - the teacher was the principal’s husband, the son of the school board president had his own sex scandal in the same school, the school asked the boy to leave - but clearly these are people like you and me dealing with a human tragedy. I’m not at all sure the criminal justice system is the appropriate venue to address that tragedy.
On Pace: I’m not outraged
Well that gets right to the nub of the issue:
Gen. Peter Pace, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, said Monday that he supports the Pentagon’s “don’t ask, don’t tell” ban on gays serving in the military because homosexual acts “are immoral,” akin to a member of the armed forces conducting an adulterous affair with the spouse of another service member.
Responding to a question about a Clinton-era policy that is coming under renewed scrutiny amid fears of future U.S. troop shortages, Pace said the Pentagon should not “condone” immoral behavior by allowing gay soldiers to serve openly. He said his views were based on his personal “upbringing,” in which he was taught that certain types of conduct are immoral.
“I believe homosexual acts between two individuals are immoral and that we should not condone immoral acts,” Pace said in a wide-ranging discussion with Tribune editors and reporters in Chicago. “I do not believe the United States is well served by a policy that says it is OK to be immoral in any way.
“As an individual, I would not want [acceptance of gay behavior] to be our policy, just like I would not want it to be our policy that if we were to find out that so-and-so was sleeping with somebody else’s wife, that we would just look the other way, which we do not. We prosecute that kind of immoral behavior,” Pace said.
ForEVER we’ve been dealing with the conservative Right claiming that they only object to special rights and that they’re worried about military morale, not morals, when the whole time it’s been a euphemistic front for their own personal biases.
For example, Pace says there’s a moral equivalence between adultery and homosexual acts (thankfully, James Joyner is among those who disagree). Does he then want to disqualify adulterers for military service? Let’s have that debate.
NYT editorial: Wrong Turn on Sex Offenders
It starts off clear enough:
With little public discussion and no opposition to speak of, Gov. Eliot Spitzer has made New York the latest state to travel down a murky legal road, to a place where laws are made not in response to facts, but to wishfulness and fear. It is a place where prisoners who finish their sentences remain locked up for crimes they might commit, submitting to psychological treatment that nearly always fails and whose only sure outcome is the open-ended spending of tens of millions of dollars a year.
This is the result of the Legislature’s passing a bill last week calling for the civil commitment of sex offenders. Nineteen other states have such laws, which are motivated by the public’s intense revulsion at sexual crimes and fear of predatory offenders. Gov. George Pataki pushed for one for years, but never was able to get a bill past the Assembly. Then Mr. Spitzer tried and quickly got a different result, using the method he supposedly went to Albany to abolish: hashing legislation out behind closed doors and presenting it to the public as a done deal.
After reading through the whole piece I’m not sure what they’re saying. Or what I think. It goes on with a litany of criticism then says Spitzer “grappled seriously with the issue” and calls the law “a bill that is more decent that it could have been” then concludes:
If the goal is to prevent as many sex crimes as possible with the resources at hand, then the state should be prepared to conclude that it might be smarter to spread its effort around. This might mean treating and supervising the large cohort of criminals who would never qualify for civil commitment, rather than lavishing resources on the impossible task of identifying one tiny subset, the worst of the worst, locking them indefinitely in dubious therapy as a much larger universe of offenders continues to abuse at will.
Hey, I don’t know what we do but it seems to me that we should narrow the definition of offender down to those who are truly dangerous and focus our limited resources there rather than include those who are merely deviant in “the large cohort” and “spread [the] effort around.” One thing I do know is that we need leadership that stays focused on the threat, rather than politicians pandering to - and thereby exacerbating - our fear.