California's homeless sex offenders on parole up 800%

[Ed: Yes, this was entirely predictable well before it was overwhelmingly supported by California voters several years ago. It made no more sense then than it does now. That, however, would be to miss the point.

These measures are not supposed to make any practical sense nor are they informed by rational, intelligent public policy impulses. No, they are about hating and punishing, even torturing, offenders beyond the punishments they have already received. This is revenge, pure and simple.

That the public does not have anything like a clear understanding of who most of these men are (and they are, mostly, men) they see in these measures the opportunity to give full expression to their collective rage, regardless of its actual source.

For the same reasons that the lynching of blacks in the Jim Crow South made no sense, these laws make no sense. In either case, their motives are closer to the reptilian than to the rational and are instead an opportunity to inflict pain on a largely abstract subgroup of humans. They serve no legitimate purpose nor will they result in beneficial outcomes for society.

But try explaining that to the mob. ]

Homeless sex offenders on parole jumps sharply

The number of homeless sex offenders on parole in California has increased dramatically since the approval two years ago of Proposition 83, an initiative that imposed harsh restrictions on where they can live, a state panel reported Thursday.

The Sex Offender Management Board said the number of parolees monitored by the Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation -- one of the only government agencies to enforce what is known as Jessica's Law -- increased from 88 in November 2006 to 1,056 at the end of June 2008.

"Common sense leads to the conclusion that a community cannot be safer when sex offenders are homeless," the report states, citing research concluding that unstable housing can lead to recidivism.

Jessica's Law, which prohibits sex offenders from residing within 2,000 feet of schools and parks where children play, was proposed by state Sen. George Runner (R-Lancaster) and his wife, Sharon, a former assemblywoman, and strongly backed by Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger.

When the state board looked at its effect on housing for all sex offenders, including those not on parole against whom the law has not generally been enforced, it found homelessness had increased 60%. Potential solutions mentioned included housing multiple sex offenders in the same place and putting them in mobile trailers until they can find a permanent home.

The governor's office said Thursday that Schwarzenegger still "strongly supports Jessica's Law, which all involved concede needs fine-tuning." Neither the governor nor the law's other sponsors have offered proposals to amend it.

Bringing childbirth to an orgasmic level

[Ed: So... Does this make them sex offenders? ]

When women describe childbirth they most often use words like painful, excruciating, agonizing, intolerable--maybe empowering, even amazing, but never pleasurable or sensual. Orgasmic? Are you kidding?

The documentary Orgasmic Birth, quietly released last spring, is changing that. The film, which makes a case for natural childbirth, gained attention when ABC's news magazine 20/20 announced that it will air a few minutes of footage on January 2. The news sent mommy bloggers into a tizzy of excitement and now everyone from Lisa Belkin of The New York Times to Tracy Clark-Flory of Salon has written something about orgasming, yes orgasming, during childbirth. (Sign me up for a third! Please!)

The documentary follows 11 beautiful and natural births; two of the women orgasm during labor. Amber Hartnell of Hawaii, who gave birth to her son in a tub in her yard, says: "All of a sudden the orgasm just started rolling through and rolling through, and it just kept coming, and my whole body was spiraling and rolling, and I was laughing and crying." Similarly, Tamra Larter of New Jersey says: "It was happening, and I could hardly breathe, and it was like, 'oh, that feels good.' That's all I could say really."

So exactly how does this work?

In the film, Christine Northrup, an ob-gyn and author of Women's Bodies, Women's Wisdom, explains: "When the baby's coming down the birth canal, remember, it's going through the exact same positions as something going in, the penis going into the vagina, to cause an orgasm. And labor itself is associated with a huge hormonal change in the body, way more prolactin, way more oxytocin, way more beta-endorphins--these are the molecules of ecstasy."

The documentary director Debra Pascali-Bonaro, a childbirth educator and a doula, says the right atmosphere is key. "A woman needs privacy," Pascali-Bonaro told SFGate. "She needs to be in a place where she feels undisturbed and that place is usually at home--not a hospital where you're hooked up to machines and doctors and nurses are coming and going. You need to be with people you know and trust. In many cases, the partner is involved and intimate in the experience but that isn't always the case."

Now before you get too excited, let's talk about the odds of climaxing when pushing out an 8-pound baby?

"In my 23 years of being present at over 850 births, I really can't say that I have seen anyone experience this," says Maria Iorillo, a San Francisco-based California licensed midwife. "Maybe they did and I didn't know it? Can you hide an orgasm? And even if someone did, we are almost looking at 1 in 1000 births. I think it is definitely too high a bar to set for women. My goal is to just have a safe and satisfying birth experience. When we have a majority of women experiencing that, then maybe we can look further."

Pascali-Bonaro says her movie is about much more than orgasms. "It's about sharing the different possibilities that are available to women," she says. "It's about showing women that they can have a pleasurable experience--an undisturbed birth free of unnecessary medical interventions. It's about having freedom of movement during labor and using birthing balls, being upright, dimming the lights. But for some women childbirth is really hard and painful, and I don't want to take away from that. This movie isn't meant to raise expectations. It's meant to inspire."

Holiday 'Jeer": Police Xmas tree bears sex offender photos


An Ohio police chief said photos of local sex offenders are adorning his department's Christmas tree as a way of identifying them to the public.

North Baltimore Police Chief Alan Baer said pictures of the eight registered sex offenders in the community of about 3,000 people adorn paper cutouts of stars and other shapes on the rotating artificial tree, The Findlay (Ohio) Courier reported Wednesday.

The top and bottom of the tree explain the decor, with ribbons reading: "North Baltimore sex offenders."

"I just wanted to raise awareness for the public," Baer said. "We have a lot of foot traffic that comes in and out of here. So I thought this would be a unique way to get their attention" about local sex offenders.
[Ed: Unfortunately, raising the "awareness" of the public to the point of obsession is a far cry from "educating" the public and engaging in intelligent dialog.  Weird and obsessive displays such as this have displaced critical thinking and informed opinion in public discourse. ] 

Deltona bans sex offenders from parks

[Ed: The proliferation of "status" crimes- in this case criminalizing behavior by sex offenders that is completely legal when exercised by non sex offenders- continues to gather a sinister momentum. These cynical know-nothing laws, by appealing to the ignorance and sadism of the public and its basest instincts, display nothing but contempt for essential liberties and establishes a path down which we will discover the extinction of justice in our land. Remain silent at your peril!

DELTONA -- Even as Deltona's existing sex offender law continues to face legal hurdles, city leaders unanimously voted to strengthen it Monday night by banning offenders from city parks and playgrounds.

It's one of two controversial issues the commission tackled. The other would let the city reimburse itself if it approved $69.5 million in bonds for four construction projects.

Even though both expressed concern, Commissioners Zenaida Denizac and Herb Zischkau approved the stronger measure, which basically forbids a sex offender from "knowingly entering into or on any public park owned, operated or maintained by the City of Deltona."

It's similar to a law passed by officials in Woodfin, N.C., and upheld in the North Carolina Supreme Court. Deltona leaders feel that this one will stand up in Florida also.

However, Denizac expressed concerns about the effectiveness and enforcement of the ordinance, saying it had no real power.

"I am concerned we are giving people a false sense of security," she said. "I am not convinced we have enough force out there to enforce it. It's just a feel-good ordinance."

Mayor Dennis Mulder disagreed.

"For me, this is a feel-good ordinance," Mulder said. "I am going to feel very good about passing it. We ought to feel good about protecting the public."

Deltona has had problems with its ordinance, which attempts to ban sex offenders from living within 2,500 feet of a school, a playground, a park or other site where children congregate.

It has been argued the city's law is too broad and basically excludes a sex offender from living anywhere in the city limits. Last year, a judge said the city would have to pay for legal representation of three sex offenders that Deltona had taken to court.

City leaders are still discussing how to proceed with that issue but have been unwilling to rescind the law, fearing the city would become a haven for sex offenders with surrounding cities all adopting similar laws.

Discussion of the bond issue became heated at times as Zischkau and Mulder disagreed.

The issue before commissioners was whether to approve four ordinances that would allow the city to reimburse itself for expenses should leaders decided to move forward with seeking bonds for these projects.

The four projects are $25 million for a public safety complex and fire station, $22 million for a new wastewater treatment plant, $15 million for the purchase of the county's Deltona North Water and Wastewater System and $7.5 million for drainage projects.

Denizac and Zischkau objected, saying now wasn't the time for the city to talk about encumbering funds. "I am not willing to put the city at risk. It's a very wrong step," Denizac said.

"These are good projects that I advocated for myself, but these are different times. I think we need to reassess what is really urgent and what can wait. I don't want to put the city at risk."

City Manager Faith Miller said approval of the four ordinances was just the first step, and that it didn't obligate the city. She said a bond issue for all four projects would have to be approved by city voters.

Richard Dawkins On Child Abuse

Excerpt from his spectacularly successful and brilliant "The God Delusion":

"Priestly abuse of children is nowadays taken to mean sexual abuse, and I feel obliged, at the outset, to get the whole matter of sexual abuse in proportion and out of the way. Others have noted that we live in a time of hysteria about pedophilia, a mob psychology that calls to mind the Salem witch hunts of 1692. In July 2000 the News of the World, widely acclaimed in the face of stiff competition as Britain's most disgusting newspaper, organized a 'name-and shame' campaign, barely stopping short of inciting vigilantes to take direct violent action against pedophiles. The house of a hospital pediatrician was attacked by zealots unacquainted with the difference between a pediatrician and pedophile. The mob hysteria over pedophiles has reached epidemic proportions and driven parents to panic. Today's Just Williams, today's Huck Finns, today's Swallows and Amazons are deprived of the freedom to roam that was one of the delights of childhood in earlier times (when the actual, as opposed to perceived, risks of molestation was probably no less).

In fairness to the News of the World, at the time of its campaign passions had been aroused by a truly horrifying murder, sexually motivated, of an eight-year-old girl kidnapped in Sussex. Nevertheless, it is clearly unjust to visit upon all pedophiles a vengeance appropriate to the tiny minority who are also murderers. All three of the boarding schools I attended employed teachers whose affection for small boys overstepped the bounds of propriety. That was indeed reprehensible. Nevertheless, if fifty years on, they had been hounded by vigilantes or lawyers as no better than child murderers, I should have felt obliged to come to their defence, even as the victim of one of them (an embarrassing but otherwise harmless experience).

The Roman Catholic Church has borne a heavy share of such retrospective opprobrium. For all sorts of reasons I dislike the Roman Catholic Church . But I dislike unfairness even more, and I can't help wondering whether this one institution has been unfairly demonized over the issue, especially in Ireland and America. I suppose some additional public resentment flows from the hypocrisy of priests whose professional life is largely devoted to arousing guilt about 'sin'. There is the abuse of trust by a figure in authority, whom the child has been trained from the cradle to revere. Such additional resentments should make us all the more careful not to rush to judgement. We should be aware of the remarkable power of the mind to concoct false memories, especially when abetted by unscrupulous therapists and mercenary lawyers. The psychologist Elizabeth Loftus has shown great courage, in the face of spiteful vested interests, in demonstrating how easy it is for people to concoct memories that are entirely false but which seem, to the victim, every bit as real as true memories. This is so counter intuitive that juries are easily swayed by sincere but false testimony from witnesses.

In the particular case of Ireland, even without the sexual abuse, the brutality of the Christian Brothers, responsible for the education of a significant proportion of the male population of the country, is legendary. And the same could be said of the often sadistically cruel nuns who ran many of Ireland's girls' schools.

The infamous Magdalene Asylums, subject of Peter Mullan's film The Magdalene Sisters, continued in existence until as late as 1996. Forty years on, it is harder to get redress for floggings than for sexual fondlings, and there is no shortage of lawyers actively soliciting custom from victims who might not otherwise have raked over the distant past. There's gold in them thar long-gone fumbles in the vestry - some of them, indeed, so long gone that the alleged offender is likely to be dead and unable to present his side of the story. The Catholic Church worldwide has paid out more than a billion dollars in compensation. You might almost sympathize with them, until you remember where their money came from in the first place.

Once, in the question time after a lecture in Dublin, I was asked what I thought about the widely publicized cases of sexual abuse by Catholic priests in Ireland, I replied that, horrible as sexual abuse no doubt was, the damage was arguably less than the long-term psychological damage inflicted by bringing the child up Catholic in the first place. It was an off-the-cuff remark made in the heat of the moment, and I was surprised that it earned a round of enthusiastic applause from that Irish audience (composed, admittedly, of Dublin intellectuals and presumably not representative of the country at large). But I was reminded of the incident later when I received a letter from an American woman in her forties who had been brought up Roman Catholic. At the age of seven, she told me, two unpleasant things had happened to her. She was sexually abused by her parish priest in his car. And around the same time, a little schoolfriend of hers, who had tragically died, went to hell because she was a Protestant. Or so my correspondent had been led to believe by the the then official doctrine of her parents' church. Her view as a mature adult was that, of these two examples of Roman Catholic child abuse, the one physical and the other mental, the second was by far the worst"".

"highrise buildings will provide opportunity for residents to observe, photograph and film children"

[Ed: Dangerous levels of stupidity achieved in Australia.]

A SECOND Brisbane school is fighting a high-rise development application amid fears of pedophiles who could prey on their children.

Parents at the Holy Cross School, in the inner-northern suburb of Wooloowin, are objecting to a proposed multi-level high-density affordable housing project that would surround their Morris St campus.

The development application - which includes 323 dwellings, shops, a childcare centre and a 602-space car park - was lodged by the Sisters of Mercy for land used as the school's oval for 50 years.

Brisbane City Council this week limited developments surrounding Wynnum's Guardian Angels Primary School to five storeys instead of the eight originally proposed following concerns that "highrise buildings will provide opportunity for residents to observe, photograph and film children".

Councillor Amanda Cooper said the council would ensure that children's security was a priority when considering any future development.

The Holy Cross Parents and Friends Association has distributed 1400 flyers to parents and residents urging them to object to the project, which would trade their school oval for buildings up to eight storeys overlooking the school's play and assembly area.

Traffic concerns were also outlined.

Parent Alisa Bradley-Moore, who has two sons at the school, said the loss of the oval and proximity of highrise buildings were her main concerns.

"I don't know who is going into those buildings, it could be pedophiles or people with freaky fantasies looking over our children," she said.

"It's a fantastic school that does a lot in the community and I would hate to think the Sisters (of Mercy) wouldn't listen. I would hate (to pull the children out)."

Another concerned parent, who did not wish to be named, said she felt parents were right to be worried.

"All it takes is one pair of bad eyes to target one child and do something nasty, and that's too many," she said.

"If we don't look out for these things, who will?"

About 14 objections have been lodged with council, many fearful of potential access by "irresponsible adults".

Submissions close next Friday, December 19.

An objection lodged by parents Amanda and Adrian O'Callaghan said: "The dramatic shrinking of the school's grounds represents a great loss to the children's sense of freedom and space and, much more seriously, the multiple levels of apartments immediately overlooking the school prompt genuine fears about access and surveillance."

Parent Natalie Pelusi writes in her submission: "It is not right for the public to have such direct access to hundreds of children. The privacy and safety of the children must be paramount."

Another lamented the increased possibility of "irresponsible adults watching, tracking and or getting to know our children in possibly unsafe situations", while a fourth stated they would not be comfortable sending their children to the school if the project went ahead.

A spokeswoman for the Sisters of Mercy was unavailable for comment.