a. 'All About Sex' shut down
It appears as though George Bush's moral campaign is having its desired effect on those who wish to provide factual information to young people about their bodies and sexuality.
The webmaster explains this decision in a last message:
Quote: SOME ADDITIONAL FACTORS...
To be perfectly honest, there are other factors in our decision to shut down, and although those factors are a little embarrassing to admit, they are important enough that others need to know about them. Speaking now just for myself as the creator of this site and primary owner, I have had other things to consider in keeping AAS open the last year or so including the fact that I now have a wife to consider and a family of my own to start, and negative opinions about this site (even though we rarely hear any) no longer affect me alone. Also, sadly, the political climate in America has changed so dramatically since the Bush Administration and the Tom Delay Congress came to power that people no longer feel that they can speak out freely on controversial issues - especially if one is daring to disagree with the current political forces. Free Speech in America has been chilled by the Bush Administration in ways I did not think was possible in this country.
Obviously I am not a fan of President Bush - no secret there - but my dislike is not based on anything personal; it is based on the sweeping policy changes related to sex education and reproduction issues in area after area of our government. In order to push their religion-based idea that there should be no sexual activity outside of marriage (between a male and female only) they have issued Executive Orders and quietly issued new policies to department after department in the U.S. Government, and most recently has begun targeting for investigation organizations and websites speaking out against their "abstinence-only" programs and ideology. As much as I hate to admit it, this is very intimidating, especially for a couple of individuals who could be ruined, financially, just attempting to defend themselves against such an investigation, even if no wrong-doing is ever found. Below is a clip from a Salon.com article :
"Only a few weeks after No New Money went live last August, 24 House Republicans, led by Joseph Pitts, R-Pa., jotted off a letter to HHS Secretary Thompson asking that both SIECUS and Advocates for Youth (which was listed on the site along with more than a hundred other 'supporting organizations') be investigated."
And that is just one small example of what the political climate has become... SIECUS is now under further vicious attack by Republicans in Congress and a score of Religious Right groups. Keep in mind that SIECUS has been writing the sex education curricula for public and private schools in America since 1964 and is hardly a "controversial" group. To get a better idea of exactly what is going on, you can read the complete last article posted on the AAS site in December 2003. You can also visit the SIECUS website for the latest news.
On the up-side, All About Sex has never taken grant money to operate and there was nothing illegal on this site. However, neither of these organizations are anywhere close to being as controversial as some of the content on this website and we cannot afford the high-powered attorneys they can in defending themselves.
In past rulings about Free Speech by the United States Supreme Court they have talked about situations like what the Congress and Bush Administration is doing and said that such intimidation and censorship "chills" the air for those speaking out against government policies. This is what our elected officials are doing - and will keep doing until the American public decides they've had enough. Well, the way I see it, when it comes to talking honestly and openly about teens and sexuality in North America, it has gotten downright freezing, and is likely to remain that way until a new, less conservative Administration is voted in. And American children will be the ones paying the price for years to come.
b. Immigrants and 'predators' deported
A part of:
Mass Deportations Mostly Go Unnoticed; 63,000 and Counting
By TOM REEVES
CounterPunch, 6-7 March 04.
The sub-headings are added by us. The full article is on the Ipce web site.
After reporting about the mass detentions and deportations of immigrants, especially those who have committed any tiny misbehavior, Reeves continues:
This past July, Homeland Security announced a new initiative, Operation Predator, spearheaded by ICE.
"Sexual predators, especially those who prey on children, will have the highest priority in terms of deportation."
As of late February, 2004, Operation Predator claims to have detained nearly 2000 of these 'predators,' since last July alone.
(see the ICE website -- http://www.ice.gov )
Operation Predator and Homeland Security have widely publicized the sheer numbers of detentions -- though seldom reveal the names and details of the individuals arrested. Officials seek to validate the link between snagging so-called pedophiles and other sex offenders and anti-terrorism.
John Walsh -- host of the Fox program, "America's Most Wanted," appeared with Homeland Security Secretary Tom Ridge at a press conference in July, 2003, announcing Operation Predator:
"If you are the parent of a murdered or missing child, if there's a predator lurking in your area trying to grab kids in the vicinity of a school, that's a terrorist... That kind of terrorist is at the top of my list, a terrorist who preys on children."
All of this provides a sad déjà vu.
The U.S. government has long used "predator" to stigmatize other groups.
Yale Law School Professor of Jurisprudence William Eskridge traces its history in the second half of the 20th century, during which conventional society, he says, sought to eliminate homosexuality in the United States:
"The concept of the predatory homosexual crystallized as an idée fixe," wrote
("Privacy Jurisprudence and the Apartheid of the Closet, 1946-1961", 24 Fla. St. U. L. Rev. 703 .)
An intensification of this preoccupation occurred under FBI Director J. Edgar Hoover. Mark
McHarry, who has long studied the ongoing world-wide sex panic, says Hoover added a lavender tinge to the now-discredited government driven "red scare" of the 1950s. Writing for Z Magazine, McHarry
[His article is also
"[T]oday the government is branding others as predators, including young people themselves."
The government sees its best-selling initiative as protecting children, preying on people's fears to push for greatly expanded powers to deport persons not accused of child-related violations.
"Homeland Security has been able to coordinate fragmented resources to protect children from these horrendous crimes in a way previously unheard of," says a statement from the Operation Predator homepage.
OP Director, Michael J. Garcia, details coordination not only with other government agencies such as U.S. Postal Inspectors, FBI, CIA and Secret Service, but with quasi-private groups like the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children. They often coordinate "multi-level" investigations with state and local police, using the NICC database. The ICE mission statement says,
"Children are one of the most important and vulnerable assets of the American homeland. ICE will do everything in its power to protect them."
Like the flashing electric boards above many interstates, both ICE and OP home pages flash a tips hotline, operating 24 hours a day, and urges citizens to "report suspicious activity." In this case, it urges reports of any "foreign nationals" suspected of immigration violations or more serious crimes, especially against children.
"Keep your eyes peeled," is the watchword, "You may save a child from death or worse."
One of the few major national articles about Operation Predator, "Sex Criminals from Abroad Are Arrested in Crackdown," by Susan
Saulny, in the Oct. 30, 2003 New York Times, is entirely dependent for its information on government spokespersons. She quotes them as saying 1,300 people had been arrested as of that date -- yet nowhere is it clear how many of these are legal aliens in the U.S., how many have been caught in international cyber-crime investigations, and how many were U.S. citizens indicted for acts abroad. Saulny quotes an OP spokesperson in listing types of cases as including sexual assaults on infants and violent rape, but also "sodomy and public indecency." It is nowhere clear how many of the 1,300 (or nearly 2,000 by late February 2004) had committed crimes against children -- as opposed to other types of sex offenses.
A great many of the foreigners apprehended had been living quiet, law-abiding lives for many years -- and in many cases their offenses from long ago were quite minor. The Operation Predator spokesperson told Saulny of the Times, "Most were arrested at their homes." Many of the 'sexual predators' are far from fitting the image conjured up in most people's minds by 'predator.'
Jeff Joseph is the Colorado chapter president of the American Immigration Lawyers Association
(AILA), who represents a number of recently apprehended aliens, including sex offenders. One of his clients is a Laotian immigrant living in Idaho. Joseph told me recently,
"He came with his entire family as refugees in 1980, after his father was killed in Laos. He married here and now has a son serving in Iraq."
According to Joseph, this Laotian pled guilty in 1990 to sex with a woman under 18.
"Both of them were in a Laotian rock band -- he was 36, she was 16. The Laotian told his wife about the relationship, and when the girl's mother found out, she went to authorities. He was given a 120-day sentence plus five year's probation. He complied with all requirements of probation. He registered as a sex offender when Idaho initiated its registry. He reconciled with his wife, and has had a clean record since, gainfully employed and active in a Buddhist temple. Suddenly he was picked up and threatened with return to Laos -- which he does not know at all, and where he might be in grave danger."
The Laotian was held without bail until an immigration judge ordered his release pending a hearing. Yet ICE intervened directly, as it claims it can in cases related to homeland security, and blocked the man's release. Finally, at a bail hearing this January, the immigration judge granted the man one of the rare 'forgiveness waivers,' and ICE, perhaps realizing this case represented an over-reach, did not appeal the decision.
Joseph also spoke of a man arrested years ago, while homeless in Chicago, for urinating within 100 yards of a school, who had since turned his life around and had no further arrests, yet who was detained by ICE and held without bail.
"In these cases, the consequences are often more severe than mere imprisonment. People are being separated from their families, their lives, and sent off to places largely unknown to them, with no hope of ever returning."
President Palma Yanni, of the national AILA said in a press release last fall,
"America is a nation of immigrants, but our immigrant communities now feel besieged as a result of the continuing assault on their fundamental liberties."
"September 11 has now trickled down to our bedrooms. Terrorism has put such a fear into us that our civil liberties seem to mean nothing. There is an ever-expanding area of civil liberties infraction. The proposed Patriot ACT II actually proposes that the U.S. do something we have never even talked about in our history -- revoke citizenship in some cases."
David Shomloo, the attorney in the Oregon cases, is quoted in the Oregonian,
"(These arrests) do not take into consideration any evidence of rehabilitation, history of employment or treatment. There is no safeguard in this policy."
"If that's what we're fighting for in the war on terror, we've already lost it."
It is difficult to oppose expelling child molesters. Although many cases have been uncovered of gay men who are being expelled for various sex offenses -- usually sex between young adults and adolescent males, but also for public sex, and even the now legal act of sodomy -- gay rights organizations will not touch these issues.
Victoria Nielson, a spokesperson for the Lesbian and Gay Immigrant Rights Task Force told me,
"We would not get involved unless there is a specific complaint from a gay man, and unless he was convicted solely of a sodomy offense. Our position would be that detentions for people with past records of sex offenses is not a gay issue."
In January 2004, the Supreme Court agreed to decide whether authorities can indefinitely imprison hundreds of Cuban immigrants among those detained -- and others whose countries refuse to accept them if deported. Homeland Security says there are 2,200 such people currently in U.S. custody. Among these are 920 Cubans who fled during the Mariel exodus when Castro's 'undesirables' (homosexuals, sex workers, and others deemed social misfits) were expelled. Many of these men were subsequently arrested for various offenses. Some Mariel Cubans have been held for up to six years. (Baltimore Sun, Jan. 17, 2004). The Court is considering how to deal with such cases, but is not likely to rule on automatic detention and deportation for other immigrant offenders.
For now it would seem that U.S. justice simply does not apply to several hundred thousand men and women who came to these shores legally, made mistakes, paid for them, and assumed law-abiding lives for years, only to be taken from their homes and jobs, imprisoned without bail, and detained or deported. The old adage, "they've paid their debt to society," does not apply. Common practice in most democracies is to treat such cases much more humanely. As in so many other instances, the U.S. standard is far harsher and less tolerant.
The Patriot Act has provided the government the power it needs to rid this country of a whole host of what it considers 'undesirables,' including many who have lived here decades, mostly without a problem. Since so little of this mass deportation has been reported, few of our country's citizens will have the information they need to decide if this is truly in their interest.
Tom Reeves is a retired Caribbean studies professor from Boston.
c. In Memoriam: Ralph C. Unterwager
Minneapolis Star Tribune: Ralph Underwager deceased
Underwager Ralph C. Underwager, age 74, of Northfield, died November 29, 2003.
Born in Elgin, IL. Survived by wife, Hollida Wakefield Underwager; son, [… etc …]
Dr. Underwager, a 1955 graduate of the Concordia Seminary, was an ordained pastor with the Missouri Synod Lutheran Church. He served as pastor at Lynwood Lutheran Church
(California), Zion Lutheran Church, St. Paul Lutheran Church (Iowa) and Grace Lutheran Church (Colorado). He was assistant pastor at Christ Church Lutheran in Minneapolis from 1966 to 1976. From 1980 to 1983, he was associate pastor at Family of Christ Lutheran Church in Chanhassen.
Dr. Underwager received his Ph.D. in 1970 from the University of Minnesota. He was a research scientist at Youth Research Center in Minneapolis from 1969 to 1972. From 1972 to 1975, he was an associate professor at St. Olaf College in Northfield. In 1974, Dr. Underwager founded the Institute for Psychological Therapies and served as its director with his wife, Hollida Wakefield until the time of his death.
In 1989, Dr. Underwager was elected a Fellow of the American Psychological Society. Over the years, Dr. Underwager consulted in over 1000 cases of sexual abuse of children as well as false accusations of sexual abuse. As a licensed psychologist, Dr. Underwager and his wife published books and papers, and presented numerous seminars and workshops on sexual abuse allegations and related issues.
Consider his words below:
PAIDIKA: Is choosing paedophilia for you a responsible choice for the individual?
Underwager: Certainly it is responsible... Paedophiles can boldly and courageously affirm what they choose. They can say that what they want is to find the best way to love. I am also a theologian, and as a theologian, I believe it is God's will that there be closeness and intimacy, unity of the flesh, between people.
A paedophile can say: 'This closeness is possible for me within the choices that I've made.' Paedophiles are too defensive.... With boldness they can say, 'I believe this is in fact part of God's will.'
PAIDIKA: You are speaking mostly about paedophiles in the U.S. What tack should they take given the societal attitudes? What solutions do you envision for their lives?
Underwager: The solution I'm suggesting is that paedophiles become much more positive. They should directly attack the concept, the image, the picture of the paedophile as an evil, wicked, and
reprehensible exploiter of children...
I was in the courtroom for the case that Holly just cited and I actually heard the prosecutor say, 'No man should ever be permitted to claim as an excuse that he was just being affectionate when a child says they were uncomfortable.' I don't know; I don't think, we can just label these
attitudes 'hysteria'. Perhaps 'madness' is better, or 'pathology'. What we see going on in the United States is the most vitriolic and virulent anti-sexuality I know of in our history.
d. Levine wins Times award for powerful 'Harmful to Minors'
By J. Michael Kennedy, Times Staff Writer
(discussion of other prize winners snipped)
Judith Levine, whose provocative book on children's sexuality created a firestorm of controversy even before it was published, was awarded a Los Angeles Times Book Prize in the current interest category Saturday night.
"Harmful to Minors: The Perils of Protecting Children from Sex" presents the argument that children are often deprived of realistic advice about sex. She also makes a case that young Americans are entitled to safe, satisfying sex lives.
The award came as something of a surprise, given the topic and that one of the finalists was Samantha Power, who recently won the Pulitzer Prize for "A Problem From Hell: America and the Age of Genocide," which documents the United States' failure to confront global crimes against humanity.
Levine was rebuffed by numerous publishers before the University of Minnesota Press accepted the manuscript. One publisher called the book "radioactive." But the judges for the book prizes thought differently, calling the work
"a cogent and passionate critique of the war against young people's sexuality. An uncompromising humanist and feminist, Judith Levine exposes the moral panic behind such policies as 'abstinence-only' sex education and insists on adults' responsibility to give affirmative support to children's and teenagers' sexual development."
The judges also commended the University of Minnesota Press for its courage in publishing the book in the face of attacks by outraged state legislators. Levine was presented the prize, a commendation and $1,000 at UCLA's Royce Hall as part of the 2003 Los Angeles Times Festival of Books.
The prizes reward excellence in nine categories to books published in 2002, including fiction, biography, current interest, history and poetry. Each category was judged by three notable writers from the genre.
e. Express article
'I'm tired of being forced into the shadows by society'
Sunday, February 22, 2004
By RUSS FLANAGAN
After nearly three decades of failed relationships and emotional discontent, Lindsay Ashford has finally found himself.
Since he was a child, Ashford has always had a deep attraction to young girls but never acted on his urges or knew they had a name.
It wasn't until five years ago, at the age of 30, that Ashford realized why his brief marriage and his countless flings across the United States and Europe always ended the same. Ashford is a pedophile.
For most of his life, he has buried his emotions and masked his long-secreted attraction. It wasn't until recently that Ashford decided to throw off the shackles of pedophilia and shed light on what he says is a misunderstood "sexual orientation." Last year, he became perhaps one of the first pedophiles in the world to put his name and face on a Web site to publicly profess his love for children.
"I am tired of being forced into the shadows by society," Ashford said recently in an e-mail interview. "I have committed no crime, therefore there is no good reason that I should have to hide myself. As long as pedophiles continue to hide, there is no chance of them ever being accepted."
Ashford, an American expatriate living in the south of France, believes it is time the public learned pedophiles are different from child molesters in that they enjoy a romantic and emotional, but not always sexual, connection with children. He also believes it is time for a child rights movement that will give kids more say in how to live their lives.
Ashford, 35, an unemployed business consultant, is part of a pioneering group of pedophiles from around the world who also believe pedophilia is not a sexual disorder that can be cured by medication and psychotherapy. He believes, rather, that it is a sexual orientation with which he was born, and therefore, cannot deny.
This is a view shared by numerous pro-pedophilia groups around the world. In the United States, the most notorious may be the New York-based North American Man/Boy Love Association, or NAMBLA.
According to its Web site, NAMBLA's goal is to end the "extreme oppression" of men and boys in mutually consensual relationships by educating the public on the "benevolent nature of man/boy love," and working to abolish age-of-consent laws.
NAMBLA representatives did not return telephone messages left at their New York offices seeking comment, but the association's Web site is clear about its agenda.
"NAMBLA calls for the empowerment of youth in all areas, not just the sexual. We support greater economic, political and social opportunities for young people and denounce the rampant ageism that segregates and isolates them in fear and mistrust," the Web site says. "We support the rights of youth as well as adults to choose the partners with whom they wish to share and enjoy their bodies."
The Danish Pedophile Association is another group with global reach and may offer the most-extensive set of links to similar pro-pedophilia groups on the World Wide Web. Like Ashford, it takes the position that pedophilia is not a sexual disorder, but an orientation that cannot be changed.
Pedophilia "has all the same characteristics as homosexuality, transvestism, fetishism, etc.," said Dan
Markussen, spokesman for the 100-member association, which was founded in 1985.
"Sexual orientation is defined as a lifelong attraction, which pedophilia obviously is."
Homosexual groups keep their distance
The assertion by pedophiles that their attraction to children is a natural sexual orientation with which they were born has done little to gain them allies. It is especially touchy for homosexuals -- who were similarly maligned in the past -- because gay advocacy groups used the same argument to win segments of social acceptance over the past two decades.
That, coupled with the notion of man/boy love, has caused gay rights groups to distance themselves from the pro-pedophilia movement to preserve their efforts for acceptance in the mainstream.
"We completely condemn these types of organizations. There's no question about it," said Michael Young, the associate director of regional media for the Gay and Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation, or
While many may disagree with the pedophiles' claim that they are born with a taste for the young, a leading American doctor on the subject of pedophilia is willing to concede they are half-right.
"I think it can be both a disorder and an orientation," said Dr. Frederick Berlin, founder of the Sexual Disorders Clinic at Johns Hopkins Hospital in Baltimore.
While he believes people who are sexually attracted to children should not feel ashamed of their condition, he also says they should not act on them.
"Many of these people need help in not acting on these very intense desires in the same way that a drug addict or alcoholic may need help," he said. "We don't for the most part blame someone these days for their alcoholism. We do believe that these people have a disease or a disorder, but we also recognize that in having it that it impairs their function, that it causes them suffering that they need to turn for help."
Markussen, the Danish Pedophile Association spokesman, said that Berlin's line of thinking only leads to further public persecution of pedophiles.
"If it were a disease then it should be possible to cure it," Markussen said. "A few therapists have claimed that they could cure pedophilia as well as homosexuality, etc., but follow-up studies have never confirmed this."
Berlin, who also is a consultant on the National Conference of Catholic Bishops' ad hoc committee on sexual abuse, said many pedophiles have an unhealthy tendency to think of children as "mini adults," and want to lavish them with all the rights and responsibilities
currently given only to those over the age of 18.
Battle continues to change perception
Pedophiles need to understand that "children are not mini adults, they can be harmed by these activities," he said.
Ashford said pedophiles see children as nothing more than children and are attracted by their innocence.
"This is a total nonsense," he said. "I do not see children as 'mini-adults' at all. I would argue that society sees them this way much more than I do. I see young people as individuals who see the world more clearly than many adults do, due to the fact that they have not yet been conditioned by society to see things the way that society wishes for them to."
Ashford and the other pedophile groups are quick to condemn child rape and those who prey upon children for sex. He said that while pedophiles and child molesters are often linked, they are in reality nothing alike. He blamed the media for distorting the difference.
"The media has an inaccurate conception of what a pedophile is, using the term 'pedophile' synonymously with 'child molester,'" he said. "In actual fact, most pedophiles are not child molesters at all and do not act out upon their desires, while many child molesters are not actually pedophiles. Numerous studies support this claim, and indeed, many anti-pedophile organizations state this as well."
Still, pedophiles, and NAMBLA in particular, fail to get the same support from organizations that traditionally stand up for groups fighting for acceptance, such as the American Civil Liberties Union.
"We're not taking any position on NAMBLA," said Larry Frankel, legislative director for the ACLU in Pennsylvania.
Despite public outrage, pedophiles will continue to press on through their intricate links of Web sites. Both Ashford, who has a daughter from his failed marriage, and Markussen claim to be celibate pedophiles, which they say has led to a feeling of emptiness in their lives.
"For a long time, I found a physical level of satisfaction by having relationships with adult women or with teenage girls over the age of consent," said Ashford, who claims to have twice tried to take his own life. But "emotional or spiritual satisfaction is not a possibility. The feeling of futility leaves me frequently sad and depressed."
Markussen's tale is similar.
"Most pedophiles lead a terrible life," Markussen said. "They can't tell anybody about their feelings. They have to fake interest in adults. Many live in social isolation which leads to weirdness."
Both Ashford and Markussen maintain they have never been arrested for having sexual relations with minors. Ashford said that because he has broken no laws, he does not fear retaliation from law enforcement for his beliefs.
"I am certain that law enforcement knows about me since a number of anti-pedophile organizations have informed me that they have reported me to the FBI, Interpol and other law enforcement agencies," he said. "But since I am guilty of no crimes, I do not see why this is a reason for fear. I believe that there is a greater danger from vigilante activity than from
law enforcement. At the same time, I must remain mindful that official harassment and persecution of pedophiles does exist."