aTypical Joe: a gay New Yorker living in the rural South
Monday, July 23, 2007
Black & white on Capitol Hill
If it’s not about race it’s about gender. Either way it looks like bias to me. Facing South:
When Facing South read the news that Rep. Christopher Shays (R-CT) went ballistic on a Capitol police officer last week, it reminded us of the media frenzy that greeted another member of Congress last year, Rep. Cynthia McKinney (D-GA).
You may not have heard about the Shays episode—the media has largely ignored it, despite what was clearly a tense altercation between Shays and the Capitol police. According to CQ.com:[Shays confronted the officer] “in a profanity-laced tirade ... He delivered a tongue-lashing, including several instances of the ‘F-word,’ to the officer before grabbing the name tag on the front of his uniform.”
According to reports, Shays—who happens to be a European-American male—delivered this verbal assault because the officer declined to make a call on his cell phone (they can’t while on duty) to help Shays meet some constituents.
How does this compare to the Rep. McKinney episode? As was eagerly reported by major media, in spring 2006 McKinney was stopped by a Capitol Hill policeman, who put his arm on her shoulder to stop her from entering the building; he said he didn’t recognize her. McKinney turned around and pushed her cell phone into the officer’s chest.
Rep. McKinney, who happens to be African American and female, was widely vilified by the national media, with Fox News leading the charge. Blogger Michelle Malkin implicated all Democrats, calling them ”The Party of Police Haters.” The Capitol Hill police launched a legal investigation and McKinney faced arrest. Many credit the media hoopla around the event as a big part of what caused McKinney to lose her re-election bid in 2006.
Dinner was heavenly. And followed by a cool walk along the river. It’s an unusual dry 71 degrees.
Juveniles and sex offender registries
One more time from the NYTimes Sunday Magazine cover story, How Can You Distinguish a Budding Pedophile From a Kid With Real Boundary Problems?
Another unintended consequence may be that some families will remain silent to protect their children from decades on an Internet registry rather than seek intervention that would benefit both the victim and the offender. One mother I spoke to regretted not keeping quiet. When she discovered that her 11-year-old son had engaged in a sexual act with his younger sister (the mother wouldn’t specify the offense except to say that it did not involve penetration and no force was involved), she called a therapist. “I thought it was the right thing to do,” she told me. “I figured counseling would help.” She thought she knew how the law worked and that her son’s behavior might be reported to law enforcement. “But I thought: O.K., it will teach him a lesson. He’ll get a little probation, but his record will be sealed.” She didn’t realize that one year earlier her state had made children as young as 10 eligible for the state’s Internet sex-offender registry. Police entered her son’s DNA into a database. They took his fingerprints and mug shots. And they placed him on the state’s Web site. That’s where his photo and address have been for the past four years. “I feel it was my fault,” the mother told me. “I did it.”
Of all the worries the public registries create, though, the most frightening for many families is vigilantism. In 2005, a man killed two adult sex offenders he tracked through a Washington State community-notification Web site. And last year, a 20-year-old Canadian man with a list of 29 names and addresses from the Maine Sex Offender Registry went to the homes of two convicted offenders, shooting and killing them. Both men were strangers to the killer. One of the offenders had raped a child. The other was convicted for statutory rape; he was 19 when he had sex with his girlfriend, who was two weeks shy of her 16th birthday.
A self portrait of me by Daniel Shiffman
Why the USA fell behind in broadband access
Krugman has a terrific column today on the French Connections:
As recently as 2001, the percentage of the population with high-speed access in Japan and Germany was only half that in the United States. In France it was less than a quarter. By the end of 2006, however, all three countries had more broadband subscribers per 100 people than we did. [...]
America’s Internet flourished in the dial-up era because federal regulators didn’t let that happen - they forced local phone companies to act as common carriers, allowing competing service providers to use their lines. Clinton administration officials, including Al Gore and Reed Hundt, the chairman of the Federal Communications Commission, tried to ensure that this open competition would continue - but the telecommunications giants sabotaged their efforts, while The Wall Street Journal’s editorial page ridiculed them as people with the minds of French bureaucrats.
And when the Bush administration put Michael Powell in charge of the F.C.C., the digital robber barons were basically set free to do whatever they liked. As a result, there’s little competition in U.S. broadband - if you’re lucky, you have a choice between the services offered by the local cable monopoly and the local phone monopoly. The price is high and the service is poor, but there’s nowhere else to go.
Meanwhile, as a recent article in Business Week explains, the real French bureaucrats used judicious regulation to promote competition. As a result, French consumers get to choose from a variety of service providers who offer reasonably priced Internet access that’s much faster than anything I can get, and comes with free voice calls, TV and Wi-Fi.
It’s too early to say how much harm the broadband lag will do to the U.S. economy as a whole. But it’s interesting to learn that health care isn’t the only area in which the French, who can take a pragmatic approach because they aren’t prisoners of free-market ideology, simply do things better.
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Juvenile sex offenders: Johnnie’s story
More from the NYTimes Sunday Magazine cover story, How Can You Distinguish a Budding Pedophile From a Kid With Real Boundary Problems?
Last year, an eighth grader at a Delaware middle school arrived one morning to find kids in the hallway pointing at him and snickering. At first, the boy, Johnnie, who asked me protect his privacy by identifying him by a friend’s nickname for him, was confused. He thought it might be because of his new haircut. Then one kid called him a rapist. Another jeered, “Hey, aren’t you a sex offender?Ã¢â‚¬Â� One teenage boy threatened to beat him up.
Four years earlier, when Johnnie was 11, he put his hand on his 4-year-old half-sister’s vagina over her underwear. And then several months later, he told her to perform oral sex on him, which she did. When Johnnie’s mother found out, she called the police. She may have felt she could no longer control Johnnie, who, according to his grandmother, both adored his sister (he made pancakes and snowmen for her) and tormented her (he punched and bullied her). Perhaps his mother also worried that her son might abuse other children. It’s hard to know what went through her mind that day, because she never explained it to Johnnie or to her own mother, with whom Johnnie eventually went to live. And she did not return my phone calls.
Mac flat as Vista grows
According to Net Applications, in June Windows Vista accounted for 4.52% of all systems that browsed the Web, up from January’s 0.18%. Vista grew its usage share each month since its release to consumers Jan. 30, hitting 0.93% in February, 2.04% in March, 3.02% in April and 3.74% in May. Apple Inc.’s Mac OS X, meanwhile, accounted for 6.22% in January, hit its high point of 6.46% in May, but slipped back to 6% in June.