Wow and Triple Wow
The post I wrote about the anger and sadness I felt when looking at the photos of so-called, teenage "sex offenders" has gone viral. I honestly did not expect the response I received. Since this blog was created I have commented on this issue numerous times. I did so previously with sources referenced so people could verify what I said. That got very little attention.
Regular readers here were horrified by the stories but it rarely went beyond the confines of this little blog. The comments from a few days ago was not a dispassionate discussion of the issues. It wasn't filled with links to sources for verification. It was merely a summation of my own feelings, as they have jelled over this issue, based on years worth of accumulated evidence. It was raw and emotional—that got attention.
Wendy McElroy, a friend of this blog, noted it on her blog iFeminist. Radley Balko, at The Agitator, mentioned it as well. He called the post "one of the more moving blog posts I've read in a long time" and said the photos were "crushing." Truly, they are. That is how I felt when I first saw them myself. Several other sites started picking up the article as well. Earlier today Andrew Sullivan mentioned it on his blog. It got on some of the social networking sites and has gone viral. Since lunch today we have had new readers on the site at the rate of one every 2 seconds.
Now I discover that Dr. Christopher Ryan has written a piece at Psychology Today using the blog post as the foundation for it. He writes:
Adolescents all over the country are getting into serious legal trouble for sexting one another: snapping a risqué photo of themselves with their cell-phone and sending it to a friend. Turns out, in many states, these kids can be sent to prison (where sexual abuse is rampant) for photographing their own bodies (manufacturing child pornography) and sharing the photos (distributing child pornography). They're being forced to register as sex offenders despite the fact that they themselves are the victims. Being freaked-out about sex isn't just sad and ridiculous. It leads directly to horrible abuse of people who aren't responsible for the twisted sexuality of adults.In watching the explosion of visitors I could do some basic monitoring of who is on the blog. There were visits from the U.S. Senate as well as the House of Representatives.
There have been some issues raised which I commented on briefly in the comments section and in an update. Let me do so again here. First, some noted no females. Originally I came across the photos on another site, it was there that I first saw them. I used what they had gleaned from the records. I used them because they had the bars over the eyes to try and help protect the identity of these boys and it would be quite time-consuming to do that with photos I pulled from the registry sites. I spent some hours on two sex registries where I was able to sort "offenders" roughly by their age. In the course of that research I looked at hundreds of cases. Not one of the cases I saw on-line, at two registries, had a girl in the teenage section, that I saw.
I did stop looking after a couple of hours of depressing reading. I know that their are girls on the registry. But the law is mainly enforced against boys, not against girls. And I for one, hope the legal system doesn't start doing this to girls as well. I want equal justice, not equal injustice.
The other fact which was brought up at Obsidian Wings was that most the boys appear to be white though one "may be Hispanic." Again, since they were borrowed from another site I was using what I had, but my time on the registry offender sites showed me that the overwhelming majority of boys being arrested are white, or appear to be. (The use of Hispanic to denote race is very loose and imprecise and should be avoided. Hispanic is a language group not a race. Many Hispanics are black, many are white, many are Indian, many are mixed ethnicity. How it got used for race I don't know, but it is confusing.) With 50 registries the percentage of whites on a list may vary with the percentage of whites in the state. One state I looked at is clearly a very white state, but the other is quite mixed. Even in that state I saw few dark faces.
Why that is, I'm not sure. Certainly the adult sex offenders are far more racially mixed. Perhaps teenage sexuality is not viewed the same way in the minority communities. Perhaps it is white America that is horrified at teen sex more than others and thus more likely to report such incidents. I don't know. I sure hope the law is not equally applied to racial minorities. I want these laws changed not enforced equally.
Obsidian Wings wonders if the fact that these boys look like us made the story more emotionally compelling. Perhaps. I don't actually care why it got attention, I'm just thrilled it did. These laws are a blight on America. The true child molesters were the people who passed these laws and who enforce them. And I want people to realize this is happening.
Some dismissed the language as flowery—I take that to mean it that words were used which they don't understand. But, you know what? It worked. It got noticed where the previous articles, with the sources scrupulously linked, got ignored. If it takes flowery language and emotion to get people to sit up and notice a horrible injustice around us, they damn me for it, but I'll use all the flowery words and emotions I can muster. Unlike most the laws justified by this term, I can really say, "It's for the kids." It really is for them.
A film producer from California is interested in producing a documentary based on the evidence we have presented in this blog about this issue. I know others who feel the same way and want to see this project. The funds that need to be raised to produce it are $100,000. If you would like to help with that (and I believe we can get you a tax credit for any donations) or if you think you should be interviewed for the project, please email the project at firstname.lastname@example.org. Someone will be in touch.
A list of the numerous articles previously posted on this topic can now be found here. This is not a complete list but fairly complete and documents the claims made on this blog.