aTypical Joe: a gay New Yorker living in the rural South
Thursday, April 10, 2008
NBC on nursing home sexual predator problems
NBC’s today show had a “Consumer Alert” report this morning that had me screaming at the television set. It told the story of a Jacksonville, FL, woman who was raped by an 83-year-old man with a criminal record 20 pages long that included convictions for sexual assault and child molestation.
And so begins the sensational story of an
epidemic apparent wave of sexual predators preying on nursing home residents:
MORALES: Elder rights advocate Wes Bledsoe says this is not an isolated case. He’s tracked more than 1600 registered sex offenders living in nursing homes across the country.
Mr. BLEDSOE: We’ve uncovered over 50 murders, rapes, sexual and physical assaults committed by criminal offenders while they were residing as residents in long-term care facilities.
MORALES: In 2006, this government report also raised concern. It found registered sex offenders living in nursing homes were considerably younger than the general nursing home population, making other residents attractive targets. Despite this, it found most homes do not impose different supervision or separation requirements on residents who are offenders.
Mr. BLEDSOE: Two questions remain: who’s next and when? Because when you put predators in with the prey, somebody’s going to get bit.
Now, I just want to say that I do sincerely sympathize with anyone victimized by a predator in a nursing home. But on its face this report is problematic.
Mr. Bledsoe’s numbers do not show an
epidemic overwhelming problem. Out of 1,600 offenders in how many homes he comes up with a whopping 1 crime per state over an indeterminate period of time (the government report wasn’t tied to Bledsoe’s findings and apparently only raised “concerns"), and the assortment of crimes he sites varies widely (from murders and rapes—how many, who knows?—to physical assaults—how severe, who can say?).
For comparison purposes, how many cases of neglect do you image we might find in nursing homes? Or malnutrition? Or missed medication leading to serious, even deadly, complications? Or abuse of patients by staff? Do you want to bet it’s more than one per state???
But let’s go ahead and call the problem of sexual predators in nursing homes severe. Let’s call it heinous. What’s causing it?
Well, first we’ve got underfunded, understaffed, under-regulated nursing homes. And then I’d throw some blame at our star-spangled health-care system given that the geriatric set is not its favorite population.
Let’s move on to the sex offenders.
Our “brand-them-for-life, track-them-by-bracelet, or GPS, or any means necessary, and put in place residency restrictions that don’t allow them to live near schools, or day care centers, or bus stops, or churches, but by all means DON’T!!! TREAT!!! THEM!!!” approach means that they, of course, HAVE NO PLACE TO GO!!! So is it really, really, surprising that they are winding up in those under-funded, under-regulated, under-supervised nursing homes?
I don’t think the Iowa County Attorneys Association would find it surprising. Two years ago they put out a potent and important prosecutorial statement against sex offender residency restrictions saying that the broad sex offender residency restriction in place in Iowa then “does not provide the protection that was originally intended and that the cost of enforcing the requirement and the unintended effects on families of offenders warrant replacing the restriction with more effective protective measure.”
Even Georgia’s parole officers—not exactly the liberal elite—called for earlier parole for some sex offenses. That was quickly shot down. But these groups are seeing a problem and proposing a real fix, not just whipping up paranoia then pandering to it!
Back to the topic at hand…
The horror of stories like this is the distorting effect it has on public perception. I have no doubt that there are stories to be told here. But the one NBC is telling is so dramatically warped that I honestly had to wonder if it was an elaborate hoax. A bad joke. Of course, it wasn’t. It was a tragedy. Because the consequence of this story will be bad policy. Money spent in bad ways when there is so much real need.
For example, this is what the NBC report proposed as the solution to the nursing home predator problem:
MORALES: Now, [Wes Bledsoe has] rallied lawmakers in his home state of Oklahoma to introduce new legislation to create separate nursing home facilities for registered sex offenders.
That’s right. A whole separate system of nursing homes, just for sex offenders. And just exactly who is going to pay for that? And is that going to solve, or exacerbate, the problems described?
LATER: I have removed the word “epidemic” from my post. NBC didn’t use it, I don’t need to. Their report is incendiary; I was playing their same game. The change is intended to clean up my act.
Couric likely to leave CBS before contract is up
After two years of record-low ratings, both CBS News executives and people close to Katie Couric say that the “CBS Evening News” anchor is likely to leave the network well before her contract expires in 2011—possibly soon after the presidential inauguration early next year.
Ms. Couric isn’t even halfway through her five-year contract with CBS, which began in June 2006 and pays an annual salary of around $15 million. But CBS executives are under pressure to cut costs and improve ratings for the broadcast, which trails rival newscasts on ABC and NBC by wide margins.
The story speculates that Couric could replace Larry King on CNN. How pathetic! Now, I had very high hopes for her move to CBS. In fact, I saw it as an opportunity and kept quoting former ABC News producer Paul Friedman that they should completely reformat and rethink the show along the lines of the old Nightline:
Summarize the news of the day in five minutes or so; spend a big chunk of time-10 minutes or so-on covering one really good story; and give people even more to think about by ending with opinion.
I thought it could easily be ported out to other platforms and she could really become a new kind of evening news star.
So Katie still gets crap for doing the crappy show that I sure as hell don’t watch while the guy who I was quoting calling for a revamp was overseeing the stagnation!
I have no idea who is heading up the show now but I have to hope that the notion of Katie taking Larry King’s CNN spot was some disgruntled production assistant gloating at how successfully they have duped the Wall Street Journal. Howard Kurtz puts the kibosh to that flight of fancy:
Couric had lunch earlier this year with CNN President Jon Klein, a former CBS executive, prompting speculation that he might be eyeing her as a potential successor to Larry King. But another source said the two are friends and that there are no plans to replace King, 74.
Kurtz has some more reasonable speculation:
If Couric is eased out as anchor, CBS plans to offer her either a syndicated talk show or a full-time role on “60 Minutes.” Otherwise, executives have signaled they would release her from her contract to seek a better deal elsewhere. [...]
CBS considers Couric, 51, a valuable franchise, whether she remains as anchor or not, but economics will be a factor. Network executives could not justify Couric’s $15 million annual salary through 2011 if her only role were at “60 Minutes,” and Couric has indicated she wants to ensure a successful launch if she assumes a new role, the sources said.
Whatever happens I think Couric a terrific talent and would like to see it put to good use somewhere. God knows it’s needed.
Sally Kern: lying homophobe exposed
I think I have been fairly generous towards Sally Kern. Appalled at the outset as any self-respecting gay person would be, I thought her son made a decent case that his mother might come around one day.
While the meeting with Oklahoma PFLAG was hopeful, things turned sour quickly. From PFLAG’s National Blog:
Oklahoma Representative Sally Kern just doesn’t seem to learn: Tape recorders are decidedly not her friend.
It’s been just over a week since the midwest’s favorite homophobe told her local paper, The Oklahoman, that PFLAG supporters from the state took her “statements and have spun them” to misrepresent her views on anti-gay job discrimination and her vow to at least consider an ongoing dialogue with us. Her comments followed a meeting at the state capitol with Oklahoma City PFLAG president Rev. Loyce Newton-Edwards and two other local supporters.
PFLAG applauded Kern for agreeing to the sit-down . . . only to be on the receiving end of a mad Sally slap-down. Kern and her supporters went so far as to refer to the three members of the clergy who took part in the meeting as “false prophets,” and attacked the credibility of our Oklahoma PFLAG families. And even though we weighed in with our own fact-check of Sally’s allegations, she continued to insist that she did not say what she said.
So now it’s time to get out the audio player again. Sally Kern, meet yourself on the YouTube.
That’s right. Sally’s staff consented to having her meeting with PFLAG recorded, and her words speak for themselves. . . listen in as Sally pontificates on job discrimination . . . gay millionaires . . . lesbian golfers . . . and a little boy named “Jimmy.”
As the full 40-minute audio recording released this morning by PFLAG proves, Kern said not once (at about 15 minutes and 30 seconds in) that she does not believe GLBT people should be fired from their jobs . . . but she said it twice (again at about 33:15), confirming her stance when Rev. Kathy McCallie recaps the meeting near its end. [...]
Kern also weighs in on “the homosexual agenda,” which, she explains, is a lot like a “to-do list.” And to-do lists are suddenly all the rage, for sure. According to Kern, everyone has one these days, Jesus and Tim Gill included.
But perhaps Sally’s most poignant moment is one that exists only in her head. Midway through the conversation, and clearly an hour or so before her next round of medication is due, Kern waxes philosophical on the awesome power of teachers . . . to convince our children they’re gay.
It is the story of little Jimmy, a theoretical Oklahoma school boy who leaves home one day, presumably heterosexual, and heads off to learn his ABCs. But little Jimmy is unaware that his teacher has an entirely different “to-do list” for the day.
The teacher, Kern explains, lines the children up on the playground and begins to count off: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10 . . . and then, abruptly, declares little Jimmy to be a little bit gay.
Yes, it’s all included - in five parts, kind of like the Star Wars saga - in the long awaited Sally Kern sequel. Our lady of the perpetual audio tapes answers all of our burning questions.