aTypical Joe: a gay New Yorker living in the rural South
Thursday, June 14, 2007
Same sex marriage will stay legal in Massachusetts
Same-sex marriage will remain legal in Massachusetts, as its proponents today won a pitched months-long battle to defeat a proposed constitutional amendment to define marriage as between a man and a woman.
“In Massachusetts today, the freedom to marry is secure,” Gov. Deval Patrick said after the legislature voted 151 to 45 against the amendment, which needed 50 favorable votes in order to come before voters in a referendum in November 2008.
Today’s vote means that opponents of gay marriage would have to start from square one to sponsor a new amendment, which could not get on the ballot before 2012. Massachusetts is the only state where same-sex marriage is legal, although five states allow civil unions or their equivalent.
McDade a friend to victims?
District Attorney David McDade, whose office prosecuted him, could let Genarlow go free in the meantime if he would agree to bail. Standing firm in the face of public outrage and protests, he won’t. [...]
McDade, who has won recognition as a friend to crime victims, wasn’t acting like one when he gave legislators a videotape of the party that led to Genarlow’s prosecution.
Not only was the oral sex captured on tape, the video also showed a 17-year-old girl—who claimed she had been gang-raped—having intercourse. Genarlow’s jury decided what happened to the older girl wasn’t rape, though McDade has continued to characterize it that way as have legislative leaders justifying their refusal to give Genarlow a break.
It isn’t clear whether the girls’ faces were obscured in the video. But the idea of a prosecutor distributing a sex tape to lawmakers in the name of victim protection is bizarre at least. The young women and their families can’t possibly be grateful for help like that. We aren’t talking about Paris Hilton here.
Girl’s mother defends Genarlow
Not only was the punishment too severe, the mother of the then 15 year old girl said the prosecutor threatened her if she would not cooperate in prosecuting Genarlow for being on the receiving end of the sex act. She apparently said that on Tuesday. On Wednesday:
A bizarre series of events occurred Wednesday morning after Douglas prosecutors learned [Veda] Cannon was speaking to the press. Cannon said [Douglas County Assistant District Attorney Eddie] Barker and a colleague soon showed up at her home with an audio recorder to discuss her comments to the AJC.
In a subsequent interview with the AJC, she raised concerns that she was being misquoted.
After that conversation, Douglas County District Attorney David McDade disclosed his office had taped Cannon’s conversation with the AJC.
“We were actually at her home when you were talking to her [Wednesday] morning,” McDade said. “We were recording the conversation and so we have a tape of her telling you that you were twisting her words.”
In the initial interview Tuesday, Cannon described a conversation she had with Barker before Wilson’s case went to trial. She said she had asked Barker what would happen if she did not want to participate in the prosecution, and she said he responded by telling her she could face legal trouble for “neglect” as a parent, an assertion Barker vehemently denied.
On Wednesday, Cannon said Barker was not “threatening” her when he told her what could happen if she did not cooperate with the prosecution. She said Barker was giving her advice she had solicited and that his office was open and helpful to her.
Cannon ultimately testified in Wilson’s trial, pointing out her daughter on a videotape of the party that was played for the jury. Her daughter did not take the stand. [...]
“She did not want any of this to happen,” Cannon said of her daughter. “She was friends with all of them.”
More and more I’m telling you, it looks like David McDade and Mike Nifong are birds of a feather.
Justice is the victim
I was once beaten and robbed. My face was swollen, bruised and bloodied to the point where friends gasped when they saw me. The small grocery store on West 96th Street spontaneously gave me my groceries for free.
People stared as I walked on the streets and I experienced a trauma I can recall but cannot really explain. That trauma was repeated months later when the perpetrators went to trial. Lucky for me they plead guilty the night before I was to testify.
I say this to explain that I do have real sympathy for the victims of crime. Even so, I oppose victims’ impact statements. They don’t make a safer or more just society. Instead, abetted by ardent prosecutors, they feed vengeance and lead to more wrongful convictions and excessive punishment.
Yet victims are becoming more involved in trials than ever before. All Things Considered looked at the value of victims’ rights laws some weeks ago:
Ms. SARAH HAMMOND (National Conference of State Legislatures): There’s been - I think it’s 27,000 victims’ rights enactments passed since 1980 in all the states.
ARI SHAPIRO: The rules go beyond impact statements and consultation rights. Some laws mandate notification, keeping victims posted about the progress of the case, or restitution - letting victims try to get money back from criminals.
Then there are laws that provide for witness protection and confidentiality.
SHAPIRO: Thirty-three states have victims’ rights in their constitutions. A proposed federal constitutional amendment failed in 1995. Then, three years ago, Congress passed a law called The Crime Victims’ Rights Act. The wording is very broad. For example, victims should be, quote, “treated with fairness and with respect for the victim’s dignity and privacy.”
A federal panel is trying to figure out what exactly that means. One proposal they’re considering would entitle victims to their own attorneys and let them appeal verdicts they don’t like. University of Utah Law School professor and judge, Paul Cassell says the traditional two-party adversarial criminal justice system may become a thing of the past.
Mr. PAUL CASSELL (Judge; Law, University of Utah): I think we are moving in the direction of a three-party system: The prosecutor represents society, the defense attorney represents the defendant, and we need to get counsel for crime victims so that they have their voices heard in the process as well.
SHAPIRO: The Justice Department recently funded nine legal clinics across the country for victims’ attorneys. John Gillis directs the Justice Department’s office for victims of crime.
Mr. JOHN GILLIS (Director, Office for Victims of Crime) These are attorneys who work pro bono. They will represent the victim in court. They will help them get through that maze of the criminal justice system. They are not involved in the prosecution of the case; just the victim’s rights to make sure that those rights are afforded the victim.
SHAPIRO: That sends shivers down the spines of many defense attorneys who worry that these developments will skew the balance between government and accused in a trial.
Me, I think that balance got skewed some time ago.
Internet strategies for parents with children
CNet has posted a guide for developing safe and smart Internet citizens from attorney and child advocate Parry Aftab. Here’s the advice for 16 and up:
By age 16, child advocates say, it’s time to take off the training wheels and trust your child to do the right thing. General guidelines:
Ã¢â‚¬Â¢Teach your children their online responsibilities. Stress the importance of respecting others online and the need to read Web material with a critical eye.
Ã¢â‚¬Â¢Talk to them about the risks of sharing personal information online and meeting strangers offline.
Ã¢â‚¬Â¢Have them google themselves regularly--and even establish a Google Alerts pegged to their screen name--to monitor what surfaces.
Ã¢â‚¬Â¢Teach teens to use antivirus programs and security firewalls and to check regularly for adware and spyware on their PCs.
Ã¢â‚¬Â¢Tell them to come to you if anything goes awry for them when they’re online.
Ã¢â‚¬Â¢Enlist the help of older teens to help younger brothers and sisters navigate the Web safely.
Ã¢â‚¬Â¢Pick your battles.
Ã¢â‚¬Â¢Advise teens against using a Webcam; remind them that they’ll have little or no control over videos or still images once they’re posted online.
SEE ALSO: Danah Boyd on Educators, Social Networks and “Mediated Publics.”
The NCAA’s ransome
Whose first amendment is it anyway???
The NYTimes today reports on the newspaper blogger evicted from a baseball press box for blogging about a game while it was in progress. The paper is considering suing. The NCAA claims:
“Reporters covering our championships may blog about the atmosphere, crowd and other details during a game but may not mention anything about game action. Any reference to game action in a blog or other type of coverage could result in revocation of credentials.”
Rich Gordon, an associate professor of journalism at Northwestern University and a director of its new media journalism program, said that “this is just the latest skirmish in a longer-term war” that will get more contentious.
“The law, as happens in many cases, has not kept up with the technology,” Gordon said. “As a journalist, you’re inclined to wave the First Amendment flag. This is going to get messier before it gets figured out. The media trends are at odds with the leagues’ goal of controlling distribution and extracting a ransom.”
Big Media had bought and paid for those free speech rights, so competitors can’t have it! You and me? Free? Speech? Huh? We’re not even in the picture!
Michael Savage says gay parenting is “child abuse:”
On the June 7 broadcast of his nationally syndicated radio show, Michael Savage called gay parenting, “child abuse,” echoing remarks he made during the February 26 edition of Talk Radio Network's The Savage Nation.
Savage made his comments while criticizing Republican presidential candidate and former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney, who, at a June 6 campaign event, reportedly referred to same-sex parenting as part of “the American way” and an example of “freedom of choice.”
Police in northwest Georgia have rescued a boy from a hot car where his mother’s companion is accused of tying him up.
Ringgold, Georgia, police say a Cracker Barrel restaurant employee called police after seeing Raymond Minchew take the 6-year-old out of the restaurant and return without him—then finished eating his meal. Ringgold is 13 miles southeast of Chattanooga, Tennessee.
Police found the bound boy sitting in the car, crying.
Sgt. John Gass says the child was soaked with sweat and had a rope tied to one of his ankles. Gass says the temperature was in the 80s Saturday in Ringgold.
The 61-year-old Minchew and the boy’s mother—35-year-old Rachel Gilchrist—were arrested and charged with cruelty to children and concealing a weapon. There was a handgun in the car.
Says Terrance, “I guess being heterosexual doesn’t automatically make you a good parent, but in Savage’s world being gay automatically makes you a bad - even abusive - parent.”